Category Archives: Rest Days

What’s Worked: Reflections on Marathon Training

As I approach these last few weeks of marathon prep— namely, the taper stage— I’ve been reflecting a bit on how this bout of training has fared compared to others.

There were a lot of different strategies I incorporated this time around which made for a lot of new experiences. And while it’s still 17 days ‘til race day (*shudder*), I think it’s pretty safe to say that these strategies have worked.

As of right now, I feel healthy, strong, and mentally prepared to make Eugene an “A” race. Since I’ve had more than a few marathon-training mishaps in the past, I thought I’d write a bit about the things I’ve implemented this time that seemed to have made the biggest difference.

Following an actual training schedule.

I know, right? NUTS.

But honestly, other than roughly sketching my first marathon training around a Hal Higdon program, I’ve never really followed a “schedule.” Before, I would just try to gradually increase my mileage and my long-run distances. And somehow I kept winding up with injuries that forced me to take weeks off at a time. I didn’t go into my last two marathons 100% healthy. In fact, I was more concerned with my injuries flaring in those races than the actual running. Luckily, I was able to complete both races—but they didn’t have that climactic, “I gave it everything I have” feel that 26.2 is supposed to have.

So I changed my method. I bought the Advanced Marathoning book by Pete Pfitzinger and decided to let him take the reins. I made a few tweaks to the prescribed programs (long runs on Saturday instead of Sunday), but otherwise—it was all up to Pete. The schedule wasn’t too much more demanding in terms of mileage, but if definitely offered components that I’d never used before.

Suddenly, all of my runs had intention behind them.  There were paces I never, ever trained at—both fast and slow—and workouts I’d never done before. I liked it though. This new approach was refreshing and interesting—and it added some color to the “10 miles at an average pace” runs that had become too frequent in my schedule.

I now have a pretty good idea of how my 5k pace, half-marathon pace, and goal marathon pace all feel according to effort as opposed to solely by my watch. I feel more in tune with my exertion levels and when to push and when to hold back. I also have a much better gauge of my strengths and my weaknesses—which feels good both going into race day and future training. For instance, to work on: hills, tempos, and workouts in the middle of long runs. To capitalize on: race day brain/competitive nature, speed work, and finishing strong.

I love that this new schedule has given me new favorite workouts, too. Somehow I’ve developed an infatuation for 800 repeats as well as half-marathon pace shorter runs—both of which require hard, fast rap…which I also kind of love right now.

Rest Days

I think there has been one week this entire training cycle that I didn’t take a rest day. Otherwise, they have been as integral to each week as the long run. I’ve gone from avoiding and hating any rest days at all to welcoming them with open arms whenever they come.

I am certain that this change has made a critical difference in my body’s health, but perhaps more so—I’m convinced that they’ve done wonders for my brain. While I definitely still get a little restless on rest days—it’s the temporary holding back that gets me excited to get back out there the next day. My workouts or runs the day after rest days always feel so fresh and strong, and I’m having a hard time remembering back to the time when I disliked rest days.

Through this, I bluntly have to state that, IMO, any runner who doesn’t take at least one day OFF a week is fooling themselves. There is everything to be lost, and nothing to be gained, by not letting our bodies recover. I’ve learned this the hard way too many times, and it took me too long to realize that this habit was actually the thing holding me back.

In our sport, sometimes the greatest strength of all can come from when we go against our instincts to keep pushing. It’s a strange concept in a country riddled with laziness and lack of motivation— but something I’ve come to realize is that there can always be too much of a good thing.

Running-specific strength training

On a similar self-preservation topic, I think a key component of this training cycle has been the strengthening I’ve incorporated.

I’ve always been a regular “lifter”—but mostly in an arms-and-core-only kind of way. Part of it was that I didn’t like straying from routine, and the other part was that I never wanted my legs to be too sore to run.

Overuse injuries that were all stemming from muscular weaknesses kind of forced me to change my habits. I started going to the total-body strength class that I always talk about, and all of a sudden—the aches that always plagued me weren’t there anymore.

The class toasts every single muscle group—including my glutes, hammies, and quads, and it also incorporates a lot of plyometric work that improves balance and ankle strength. All of it is so very good for runners, and while I don’t love the weekly DOMs screaming in the back of my legs, I have also seen my recovery time and speed increase.

And fine, maybe—MAYBE—PSJJ has helped too. I still hate it. Day 101 today, woof.

What’s interesting to me about this whole strength-training concept is that I’ve actually decreased the amount of other cardio-cross training during this cycle. I spin or swim maybe once a week, and otherwise it’s just running and strength classes. I used to be a big believer in a more-is-better approach to cross-training, but I’m starting to think that for me—my body can handle running better than I previously thought, so long as I’m diligent about strength. Which is encouraging, because if there’s a choice of activities…I think you can guess that run > everything else.

Food

I love food. I’m very non-discriminatory when it comes to the food I love. As in, I love a big bowl of vegetables and quinoa as much as I love a piece of chocolate pie.

Really though, I’m all about diversification and all-encompassing love when it comes to my food choices. It’s part of what helps me feel balanced, and I like to think that it helps me become not too obsessed with what I put in my body.

However, the fact of the matter is, I have a digestive system that really does not appreciate being deprived of the things it really needs, therefore ample portions of fruits, vegetables, fats, and protein are essential to ensuring I’m not keeled over in abdominal pain every night.

And not to mention running. I’ve done a bit of experimenting this training cycle to see exactly what types of fuel (food) are best on my stomach for both comfort and performance. Instead of focusing on, “Okay, I know I need a lot of water and a lot of pasta before my long run…then I can have whatever the f I want afterwards,” I’ve started focusing more on the before-and-after fueling of every run. Through this, I’ve discovered that food is really magical. Good, whole, nutrient-dense food can make such a monumental difference in how we perform and how we recover, and it’s this special attention I’ve given to figuring out what works for me that’s yielded a greater understanding of what’s best.

A list of my current staples: sweet potatoes, kale, peanut butter, avocados, eggs, oatmeal, almond milk, apples, bananas, spinach, berries, quinoa, almonds, rice cakes, pasta, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, chicken sausage, squash, Picky Bars, and black beans.

Of course, I stray from these staples often—there’s lots of chocolate and cookies to be found too—but around my long runs and around key workouts, these are what I’ll go for. A lot of it has to do with my bad digestion, admittedly, but I suppose it’s a blessing in disguise because it’s forced me to think about fueling as opposed to rewarding.

….

Along with all these things, I think that being keenly focused on a tangible, quantitative goal has really helped me through this training. Whenever I get the urge to fall back into an over-training or haphazard habit, I remind myself of the truth that nothing changes if nothing changes.

Do I want to get in an extra couple of miles, or do I want to qualify for Boston?

Whenever I put things in this perspective…the answer’s always the same.

I’m ready to see if the changes I’vee made, and the habits I’ve broken, will yield something great—something I’ve wanted for a long time.

More than anything, I’m happy to have had a solid training cycle that has helped me improve as a runner and has helped me rediscover so many new and wonderful things about the sport I love so much.

 

What works for you in marathon training? What doesn’t work? What changes have you made that make the biggest difference in your training?

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Changes, My PSA, and an Epiphany

I had a bit of an “a-ha!” moment recently, and while it may seem trivial and a little like, “No shit, Sherlock” to most people…it’s kind of done a 180 on how I approach both my training and my running.

It all started when I first heard my new favorite quote/life mantra:

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

(First heard from this girl, originally coined by this guy.)

Simplistic and to-the-point. But when you think about this idea a little more closely, it starts to highlight some of the things in our lives we’d rather hide away from.

It got me to thinking about the things I always wish would change. Obviously, I eventually landed on one of my favorite parts of life: running.

“What do I wish would change about running?”

Well, a lot. I’m constantly thinking about the things I want out of running. I want to BQ, I want to be faster, I want to stop getting injured, etc. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: What have I changed to make these things happen?

The answer? Not much.

Let’s take the “stop getting injured” thing for instance. The last four injuries I’ve had were all due to overuse. They were injuries caused simply by wear and tear over time, and all of them were—in that regard—completely preventable. So why, then, did I keep getting hurt after my first 4-month of no running due to an overuse injury?

Well, because I was stuck in the habit of working my body too hard.

When I get hurt,  I convince myself that I’ve learned my lesson…I’ll never overtrain again, I’ll stop working out so much, and I’ll start taking more rest days.

4 injuries later, and that lesson hadn’t sunk in. And it’s because I, by habit, overtrain. I wasn’t changing any of my habits, so why should my body stop responding in a deconstructive way?

Let’s take a look at my most recent injuries (knee bursitis, IT band syndrome, and ankle tendonitis—yep, all this year). What was similar about all three instances?

1) I was marathon training

2) I was over 50 miles per week

3) I was running 5+ days a week

The body is an incredible thing, and it can teach us a lot. Clearly, my body had been trying to teach me something about how it handles the above factors…and it only took me 3 different overuse injuries to figure it out. It seems so simple, so logical, however for me—and I’m sure for many runners—hindsight is always much more crystal clear than foresight.

Because running is a habit. We develop habits, and we stick to them—because they’re familiar. They’re comforting. Because we know we can do them and they satisfy us.

Running and exercising excessively became habits of mine…and unlike picking split ends or biting nails, the addictive nature of endorphins make these habits a lot harder to let go of. And why let go? These things are good for us, they make us happy. What’s the harm in continuing the habit of excess exercise?

Well, a lot actually. And it’s not just the tangible problems (injuries), either.

Now that I’ve kind of figured myself out, and I’ve recognized that injuries aren’t going to change if I don’t change, I’m realizing all the other problems that resulted from always wanting high mileage and high intensity workouts. Burnout, anxiety, chronically tired, isolated, etc.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

As someone who is constantly striving for the betterment of my own life and the lives of those around me, I’m all about constructive changes.

Constructive changes in the form of listening to my body instead of pushing it, taking rest days at least once a week, and realizing that there’s a lot of goodness out there that doesn’t come in the form of sweating for hours on end.

(And seriously…rest days have become the best days. Ever. How did it take so long?)

It’s a work in progress, and obviously I still and will always love me a good hard workout, but I’m feeling much better than I have in a long time thanks to this recent influx of “moderation.”

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that I had two significant PRs recently in conjunction with the extra rest and breathing room I’ve allowed myself. My body seems to be responding appreciatively to the changes I’ve made…and as a result, I’m reaching new levels that I didn’t really think were possible before.

Because I truly believe when you become proactive  in making real change happen, the things you always hoped would happen seem to follow closely behind.

I love running so much that I want to do it as much ans as long as possible. I would so much rather choose to not run an extra mile or an extra day for the sake of safety rather than let my body choose for me in the form of a disabling injury.

My body’s been choosing my breaking point for me for too long, and I’m deciding to regain control over the situation.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. 

And on that note, here is my PSA for the day:

Runners, take rest days. As someone who went weeks, sometimes even a whole month, without resting once, I really do know what I’m talking about here. I get it—you crave a workout, you love your workouts, you don’t feel right without them.

But guess what? You’re a human and an athlete—and your muscles and bones eventually will not tolerate incessant beating. Exercise necessitates rest…and you are undoing all the work you’ve put in by not letting your body recover. No progress can be made with continual wear and tear, so ask yourself why you’re really avoiding rest if your intent is to be fitter and stronger.

I was that type of runner and exerciser for so long, and while I’m still working out all the kinks, I’m recognizing just how much more harm I was doing than good.

Take care of yourselves. Take care of your bodies. I know so many runners in real life and through blogging who are constantly complaining of fatigue and lack of improvement, and I cannot emphasize enough how much rest and letting yourself of the “I must always exercise” hook will better your running and your life.

And to sum up this somewhat nonsensical ramble of a post, here’s another quote to chew on, which does a much better job of getting to the point than I do.

“Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running.”
– Julie Isphording

Chicago, the rest of it.

It was a whirlwind trip to Chicago, and before we were even halfway through it—I told BF that I wished we had an extra day.

I don’t know if it’s that I didn’t know enough about Chicago, or I was simply distracted by the whole marathon thing, but I truly underestimated the magnitude of this city.

Hello Chicago!

It is HUGE. Next to New York, I don’t think I’ve ever been so amazed by the size of a city. The juxtaposition with the crystal blue Lake Michigan was such a sight to be seen as well, and I fell pretty hard for this city. (I know, I know…the city-by-the-water thing shouldn’t get me so giddy any more, but I still can’t get enough.)

unrelated Friday night airport bar photo..

We arrived LATE Friday night, and after a little sleeping in, a 2.5 mile treadmill run, and a trip to the complimentary breakfast, we were off on the Blue line of the “L” headed toward downtown.

Ever since I studied abroad in Europe, I have a very deep affection for efficient and accessible public transportation—and Chicago was definitely not lacking in this regard. It was so easy to navigate our way around, and I can imagine you wouldn’t even need a car if you lived in the city.

Once in the city, we dropped our bags off at a friend’s apartment, and we jetted to the expo. I’m not going to do this expo justice in words or photos, but just take my word for it when I say that it was enormous. They held it in the convention center, and they used up every last space available. Hundreds (yes, hundreds) of booths were set amongst the packet pick-up areas, and you definitely needed a map to quickly find anything.

Other than a few samples we grabbed along the way, there were only two booths I wanted to visit: Runner’s World and Girls on the Run. And look who I found at the RW booth…

Hal Higdon! This meant so very little to most people I tell, but most runners I know have at least heard this guy’s name. He was much friendlier than he appears in the photo as well.

They also had food everywhere, music, shoe testing, etc. It was a party. Although it would have been fun to hang out more, I wasn’t really in the business of staying on my feet for too long—plus we had more of Chicago to see!

With not a ton of time left between the expo and dinner, we decided to head up the Hancock Center. The building has 94 floors, and unlike the Sears tower—it’s free! The views at the top were unreal, and it helped us get a sense of just how huge Chicago really is.

View from floor 94.

Looking out at Lake Michigan.

As I said in the last post, BF made me dinner as opposed to going out. It was simpler, cheaper, and given the amount of carb-hungry runners flooding Chicago restaurants that night—I’m glad we avoided the crowds.

On Sunday, I decided to jog around the city to explore a bit. After 26.2 miles, I figured I ought to include BF in all my sight-seeing, and we went to the infamous Chicago Cloud Gate. I actually knew it was “the bean thing,” but I guess that’s not accurate.

This was the only tourist attraction I actually knew about before coming to Chicago, and I have to say it was pretty dang cool. I was also riding a marathon high and chowing on donut holes, so that helped with the “omg so impressive!” factor.

Where’s Waldo (RB/BF)?

Reflection photo! I told BF he wore the least obvious marathon spectating outfit in the word. He agreed. He also didn’t take up my offer of an enormous pink shirt. Rude.

BF told me I smelled, so I decided to shower before we ventured out to see more things. We had a bit of a time crunch before we had to get back on the train to head to the airport, so we narrowed our exploration down to two things: the Navy Pier and pizza. I really wanted to go on the architectural boat tour, but there wasn’t time—and admittedly I cared more about cheese and crust than pretty buildings.

The Navy Pier was definitely cool, and I loved being close to the lake and seeing all the different boats. Because the pier juts out so far into the lake, we were able to see a lot of the skyline.

Stop your showing off Chicago, you’re making everywhere else look bad.

 

Now comes to only disappointment from the trip…

So, we had just enough time to get to our chosen deep dish joint, eat, go back and get our things, and head to the airport. As we sat down at the restaurant (Ginos East of Chicago), and we ordered our delicious deep dish selection…our waitress informed us that the deep dish took SEVENTY-FIVE minutes to make, so we might want an appetizer. We didn’t have 75 minutes, and so we mournfully opted for the regular thin crust instead.

boring

I realize to a normal human this is a very first world problem…but for two people who were intent on Chicago pizza (one of whom just ran a marathon), this was equivalent to a small pet dying. Sure, thin crust was fine…but this was definitely a disappointment. Don’t worry, I still ate more than half.

Delicious 312 beer helped *a little*.

However, the good thing about missing things while visiting a popular destination is that it gives you a reason to go back. Chicago is definitely a city I’d love to see more of, and I’m very keen on visiting again.

By the time we got to the airport and were waiting for our flight…I was beyond spent. Two nights of little sleep in a row, plus a marathon, plus lots of travelling= a very, very sleepy bird. I can’t sleep on planes too well either, so needless to say after a FOUR hour plane flight home, I was ready for some horizontal time.

Note to self: when travelling for a marathon, don’t be a hero and take the next day off work.

The travel exhaustion, however, was insignificant compared to how great the rest of the trip was.

You put on a good show Windy City, thanks for being awesome.

In a non-related but kind-of-related sidenote, I am almost  pain and soreness free today from the race on Sunday. It’s kind of a miracle, and I credit it to all the walking necessary afterward. That—and all the rest I allowed/am allowing myself before and after the marathon. I also have zero blisters, very little chafing, and all my toenails in tact. Little victories…I accept them all.

However, the combination of little sleep and the marathon has resulted in a fairly heavy cold I’m currently sporting. But, I’ll take a sore throat and headache  if it means I get a race like Sunday’s any day. Does that make sense? I’m sick, don’t judge.

I might try running today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week…who knows. Right now, I’m soaking in some bonafied laziness right now. On Monday, instead of a “shake out swim” or “shake out walk” I decided a “shake out grilled cheese and chocolate” was a much better idea. That theme continues through today…and I could care less.

Have you been to Chicago? What did you love most about it? Would you have been as sad about the pizza as we were? Do you think I overreacted? Mom, you don’t get to answer the last question…

Friday Favorites for Friday

I couldn’t think of another title. Forgive me.

Welcome to Friday, folks. It’s pretty safe to say that no one has ever been as jazzed about their rest day as I am right now. Pat me on the back people, and remember to tell your friends—yes, Robyn Broker is loving her rest days.

I was obviously super high on running in yesterday’s post. I was feeling particularly existential after an incredibly satisfying naked 10 miler. No watch, no music. And let me tell you…running without a watch after having used your Garmin for months is SO refreshing. I loved pacing according to how I felt rather than reaching a certain number. If only my “by feel” approach yielded faster times than when I use my Garmin 😉

Today, I’m still floating on running cloud 9, but let’s get real…yesterday’s post was a bit serious, and Fridays aren’t for seriousness. They are for big bowls of oatmeal (yes…every Friday, religiously), TGIF picture texts to people, and Favorite Things.

Onward and upward, or something:

Claussen Pickles

I realize this is a debatable topic in which there are normally two very divided sides of those who do and those who definitely don’t like pickles.

I am definitely the former, always have been always will be. I’ve started trying to integrate pickles into other things I eat…hey, isn’t the sodium good for runners? One time when I was little I ate so many pickles in one day I actually got sick the next day…but my love continues.

One of the best parts about dating BF is that he doesn’t like pickles, so not only do I get jars to myself—I always get his at restaurants.

Compression Socks

20120817-092311.jpg

I did it you guys. I finally resolved that spending over $50 on a pair of socks would outweigh the consequences of injuries due to calf tightness. My own issues with my calves has gone down a lot since starting to wear the Pure Connects, but lingering tightness is imminent…as was buying a pair of these babies.

Admittedly, I wanted a white pair (I have a thing about things that are bright and white) but these are kinda B.A. looking and I’m into them. I hounded the dudes at my running store for if they *really* work and both of them crossed their fingers and hoped to die that the socks really do help. Okya, they didn’t really do that…but I wish I’d made them.

*Update* When I went in the running store, I finally claimed my prize for my AG win at the Float Dodger 5k. I told the staff all about how two ladies had screwed me over for a 3rd place finish…but they still seemed to think it was my fault. Whatever.

Unfortunately, it’s been way too hot in Seattle to wear these babies regularly yet…but I have a feeling they will slowly start becoming a staple in my wardrobe.

Golf

Just kidding! I hate golf.

BUT on Monday, my new fancy employers are having a department-wide golf tournament for everyone. I read the “Come Join Us For Golf!” invitation as: “Skip a day of work and drink free mimosas in the sun!”

Obviously, I agreed. Luckily, one of the people in my “foursome” is a lady who sits across from me and we’re buddies…and she is self-proclaimed “bad at golf” too, so we’ll get to giggle in our shittiness together.

Fun fact: My ENTIRE family loves golf. My dad teaches a golf science class at the University he works for, my sister was captain of the varsity golf team in high school, and my uncle puts on a golf tournament/tv show every year. I’m really not kidding when I say my whole family is obsessive over this boring stupid country club sport.

So why not me? It’s simple. I don’t like golf because I suck at it. It’s childish really, but I don’t like being bad at things…particularly things where I can’t avoid people waiting for me and watching me. So while you’re all concerned with your pars and birdies and whatever, this birdie is more concerned with actually getting the ball off the tee…let along getting it to the hole.

Give me a pick up bball game, softball, capture the flag, or football game anyday. Golf…not so much. And actually no tennis either. Maybe I am just bound to never join a country club.

But, I’m glad that this sport is the reason for my freebie no-work Monday.

Strawberry ChapStick

The most wonderful ChapStick of all. Eternal love right here people.

Eat and Run

I know, I know… I just talked about this book yesterday. I’ll spare you a book review, but I really really enjoyed this book—and I recommend it. I got a lot more out of it than I thought I would, and it did a really good job of humanizing someone who the rest of the world sees as invincible. Ultramarathoners, specifically those as accomplished as Scott Jurek, seem so superior to those of us who run a few “big” races a year. And they are indeed very impressive…but Scott shows that even he deals with burnout, fatigue, and even plantar faciitis.

Next on my running reading list…Lore of Running, which I’m jazzed about.

And don’t worry, I have another non-running book in my current rotation too.

As for this weekend…I’m considering talking to the shoe store about the possibility of integrating the Pure Flows or Cadences into my routine. I love the Pure Connects, but I’m questioning if they’re best for distance?

Also, there’s a little tiny thing called a 20 miler tomorrow morning. I’m actually feeling good about it…hoping to settle into an 8:30 average and try out a new route for some entertainment. Some more paddleboarding will happen as well…I’m obsessed. More on that to come.

Til Monday…

Have a great weekend!!

Play my game! What are your favorite things? What’s your plan for the weekend? Do you know anything about the Pure Flow vs. Cadence vs. Connect? Do you love or hate golf? Love or hate pickles?

Embracing the Lazy

G’Day ya’ll.

Wow, two lingos I never use all in one greeting.

Call it an off day, I don’t know. Except it’s not an off day—today’s very on! Complete with a 10 mile (!!!) run, oatmeal, and too much coffee. It doesn’t take much to make this bird a happy camper.

I’d like to talk today about being lazy. Interesting, I know, with this being a running blog and all…but stick with me. You see, I am someone who really has a hard time being lazy. I don’t like rest days, I like bulking my schedule up with things to do, and I generally get hard on myself when I’m somewhat less than productive.

Call it Type A, call it crazy, whatever—I actually think many runners are the same way.

However, I’m starting to realize that there is a big difference between the runner definition of laziness and actual laziness. You see, as runners—we tend to get down on ourselves for every day off and every workout that feels lackluster. It’s in our nature, because for better or for worse, we expect ourselves to perform with a certain caliber. This is part of the reason runners end up burned out and injured (yours truly included).  And all for the sake of not feeling lazy or less-than-perfect or whatever other super logical reason we come up with to feel at the top of our game.

Recently, I’ve been learning to embrace my off days—and in fact, I’ve been looking forward to them. I know to some of you, this might sound really ridiculous, because duh—who doesn’t like a day off from exercise? But honestly, it took me a while to get to this point…but slowly but surely, I’m accepting that rest is equally as important in a training regimen as the actual training itself.

So, as someone who’s just now getting used to the off days and the designated rest—how do I differentiate between runner laziness and actual laziness? Because despite my preference for hard workouts and miles—goodness knows I can rock the couch and seasons of shows on Netflix like it’s my job. Which can definitely be a good thing, but it can also be just regular ole sloth like behavior.

Take yesterday. I was planning on swimming after the work day—but as the end of the day drew nearer, I was feeling less and less inclined to go. Ordinarily, I would decide that this meant it was time for a rest day (because that’s normally what it means), but I had one last Friday. No, after some scrutiny, I realized that my distaste for going was due more so to my aversion to getting wet and the call of the unopened, neglected jar of PB sitting in my fridge.

The reason I didn’t want to go was just good old fashioned laziness, and I kind of loved it. I liked the feeling of just not wanting to workout, it felt normal, and I thought it was a good indication of my ability to embrace how necessary rest really is for athletes.

That might sound twisted, and it might not completely make sense, but it really made me glad to feel my reigns loosening a bit. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned from how strict I’ve been in the past, and events such as the Tacoma Marathon, it’s that taking this whole running thing so seriously is the surest way to take the fun out of it.

I’m realizing that being lazy doesn’t make me, or anyone, less of a runner—and it’s runners who should probably learn to embrace laziness more than anyone else. Sure, you should probably not derail too heavily from your marathon training program during peak weeks, but if you miss a speed workout because you’d rather watch Friends reruns and spoon feed yourself Nutella, then it’s okay.

I know, I know…easier said than done. And I’m still figuring it all out myself, but I think I’m finally coming to a happy place in my approach to running. I’m going to embrace that lazy is acceptable, even encouraged, from time to time—and in that regard, taking running less seriously may just be the best way to get the absolute most out of it.

Can you embrace laziness? Have you had to differentiate between regular laziness and “runner laziness”? Can you watch 5 episodes of Gossip Girl in a row as joyfully as I can? I’ll answer that last one—no one can.

Friday Faves and Explaining my Hypocrisy

Happy Friday to you!

I’m definitely excited to reach the end of the week, however I’m also horrified that come tomorrow Christmas Eve is ONE WEEK away. I’ll be flying with BF to Colorado at 7 am on Christmas Eve morning, where we’ll spend the next 10 or so days hanging in our hometown. I’m really excited, it just seemed to creep up so quickly!

Alright, so obviously Friday Favorites will be presented shortly, however I need to take a brief minute to explain a bit about the conflicting posts that I had this week. On Tuesday I wrote all about being a morning runner; as you might remember I went on and on about the advantages of doing your workout in the morning, and from my high and mighty thrown I advocated how everyone should push their inclination to hit the snooze button aside and strap on some running shoes.

Something like that, right?

So then yesterday[during a particularly foul mood, could you tell?]I admitted that earlier that day I had neglected my plan for a usual Thursday morning run and went back to sleep instead. Directing contradicting my message about being all go-getter-ish.

Nice Robyn, negate your OWN advice on your own blog. Talk the talk and then immediately not walk[run] the walk?

However, that’s not exactly what happened, and let me explain—because I think explaining this conflict of principles will offer some insight into my own development as a runner.

I’ve advocated on this blog the importance of rest, both for runners and for regular exercisers in general. Rest offers muscle recovery, mental reprieve, and an overall rejuvenation of our motivation. However, I admittedly have a difficult time following this advice, and it finally caught up with me yesterday morning when I ignored my alarm.

Although I’ve become much better at making sure I don’t overdo it in terms of running, I still enjoy doing something active nearly every day. Because I include a lot of variety, I often don’t realize that I haven’t taken a day off in a while. What happens, then, is because I don’t really recognize the fact that I’m burning out, I start to get grumpy about my workouts and less inclined to enjoy them. Yesterday morning, it finally hit me that the easier choice (sleeping in) was actually the better choice for me. And in lots of ways, it actually wasn’t the easier choice. This might sound somewhat elitist or snarky, however it’s actually more difficult for me to choose to take a break than it is to get to the gym or get out for a run.

Frankly, I love the way I feel both physically and mentally when I exercise—and so I see nothing wrong with trying to feel that way all the time. I treat my workouts, both before, during, and after, as an athlete would, meaning I know my limits, I’m fueling and refueling properly, and I’m staying safe. However, part of being a smart athlete is knowing when your body is saying, “Time out here tiger.”

So, in a nutshell, that’s why I completely contradicted my morning running post yesterday. I know I have the capacity the get myself up and run, but reminding myself that I also have the smarts and the control to know when I need a break is equally as important to both this sport and my own mental health.

I was very grateful for the day off yesterday, and today I felt rested and ready to gear up once again.

Running in the morning is great, but so is knowing when rest is more important than a daily workout.

Enough heavy stuff…let’s get to Friday Faves!!

I want to give a quick shout out to my coworker Leanne, who has started doing Friday Favorites on her blog as well. It’s spreading!

Also, this week on Glee, they sang “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music, and yes my head was exploding from the overload of my own favorite things all coexisting in one united spectacle. It was awesome.

1) Foam Rollers

"I will hurt you so good."

If you are familiar with this innocent looking tube of foam, you know one thing: This shit HURTS. Seriously, I have to hide my face whenever I use these at my gym, or else people will be all, “Why does that girl look like she’s constipated and about to cry at the same time?”

Not a pretty visual, huh? Yea, it’s not.

So why, you may ask, is this little devil on my favorite list? Well, despite how excruciating it may be, foam rollers actually do wonders for runners. If you can endure it, rolling out your legs after a run does an incredible job of loosening the muscles that get super tight when you’re running. Namely, your IT bands, pirifomis muscles, hamstrings, and hips in general. I find that if I spend just 5 minutes rolling my legs on one of these after a long run, I recover much quicker and I can prevent injuries from developing.

If you’re a distance runner and don’t already use one of these, get on it. The prevention in and of itself will be worth it.

2) Fro-Yo

Art.

Let it be known: I. Love. Fro-Yo.

Specifically, the newest fad of pay-by-weight fro-yo joints where there are several flavors available and endless amounts of toppings to choose from. The best part is that you get to make your OWN, therefore the opportunities for combinations (and quantity) are endless.

Last night, BF was in the mood for sweets(99% of the time it’s the other way around), and so when he mentioned fro-yo, I said, “I actually I love you a little more right now.”

No, I didn’t say that—but I might have thought it.

3) Nicki Minaj

I know she’s uber popular and overplayed right now, but I really cannot get enough of this chick.

I think she’s mega talented and unique, and her songs have me constantly dancing in my seat. In public. Just try her out if you haven’t yet, and not just Super Bass or Fly—but some of her lesser known stuff.

And yes, Mom, I know it’s explicit content.

4) Yoga

You know, just me on the beach, getting my "Tree" on. Damn paparazzi.

Yoga is a new found love of mine, and although it took me a while to actually learn to love it, I simply cannot get enough of it.

[When people say, “It took me a while to learn to love/like something,” it actually means, “I really effing hated/resented it for a long time.”]

There are so many reasons why I love yoga, both mentally and physcially, however I feel that the biggest reason is the sense of presence I get from it. Yoga forces us, whether consciously or not, to focus our attention on the present moment. I think it has a large part to do with the breathing, combined with the need to focus on each isolated movement.

No matter how stressed or distracted I may be, I never leaving a yoga class without feeling at least a little bit better and calmer. Yoga offers me an hour of stillness, which I think so many of us shy away from in our fast-pace world. We never long for the opportunity to be present because so few parts of our day allow us to really experience it. However, I truly believe that if we can connect with the present—independent of whatever else is going on in our busy lives—if even just once a day, we will can reacquaint ourselves with the beautiful things in life we so often take for granted.

Also…

yoga + running legs = ohhhh yaaaa

If you’re a runner, yoga feels fan-flipping-tastic, and it relieves our muscles of the impact they take on during running.

5) Peppermint Bark

For best results (and sustainability) store in freezer!

I always see peppermint bark around grocery stores during the holidays, and instead of shelling out to buy a small bag of it, I decided to make my own instead. I still shelled out a bit, but after making two batches of this seasonal treat—it was worth it.

This stuff has now become my drug of choice for December 2011. Not that I change metaphorical drugs every month, but you get the point.

It’s delicious, it’s pretty, and it makes a great present! I got the recipe from this post on the blog Peanut Butter Fingers, another recent addiction of mine.

There you have it, 5 more Friday Favorites! I hope everyone has a great weekend. BF and I will be racing on Sunday, so I’ll write a recap to post for Monday!

Now…tell me a few of your favorite things!

R&R&R

So, yesterday was my rest day, and true to my inner desire to veg out for 24 hours straight (wait, don’t we all have that?), I put laziness at the top of my list for the majority of the day.

I ate, I lounged, I watched a movie without multitasking (note…a very hard endeavor for me), I ate some more, and I went to bed early. Now, although it may seem that I’m pretty pro at being a slug, having a day like this is typically very hard and bothersome to me—and it’s very hard for me to consciously take rest days.

I know this is similar to many runners, as we are psychologically wired to go! go! go!. We are at our happiest when we’ve sweat through some good miles, so the thought of going through a day without our usual dose of endorphins seems daunting. I know it seems a bit obsessive and unnecessary (and yes, often times it is), but it’s hard to come across a feeling better than right after finishing a long run. Personally, I am happier, more patient, more productive, and generally just nicer to be around when I’ve logged a morning run…seriously, ask any member of my family or my boyfriend, they will quickly agree.

I don’t necessarily love this about myself, and I’m trying to get better about reaping both the physical and mental perks of taking some R&R time. Obviously, as runners, our bodies take a lot of beating—therefore resting our muscles is essential. Anyone who tells you otherwise is fooling themselves and will end up injured before too long—trust me, I used to be that person. Rest from running can come in the form of crossing training, however it is important to take a day to let our bodies rest completely from activity. During this time, our muscles heal, strengthen, and become all the more apt to taking on the miles we use them for.

The other side of rest—the mental side—is a little bit trickier to wrap your brain around (at least if you’re me!), however once you get a grasp on it—it can be an even bigger rest incentive than the physical reasons. For instance: planning out a day to sleep in, lie on the couch, bake cookies, watch a favorite show, etc. offers a great break from the exercise routine we’re so dedicated to. A mental time-out is sometimes exactly what we need to revitalize our psyches, refocus our goals, and just give our overworked minds a BREAK!

I’ve realized that when I take a day off, it’s not because I’m lazy, I’m weaker than other runners, or I’m somehow falling away from the entire running community by taking 24 hours for zero activity. Of course it’s not! And I have, admittedly, thought these things. However, by treating my rest days as an essential part of my training—I’ve begun to recognize not only their necessity but also their impressive benefits for both my body and mind.

And for those of you still trying to decipher my cryptic title in this post: The first R&R should be obvious, but the last “R” stands for running…which I did this morning in the brisk 35 degree weather. I finished 10 shore-front miles with 8:30 splits, pink legs, and a re-energized mindset— I reckon mostly due to the sweat-free day beforehand.

This is where I get to run. Yes, I'm bragging.

How do you feel about rest days? Do you invite them? Despise them? When do you know rest for you is needed?