Tag Archives: tempo

Shoe Switcheroo and Speedwork Surprises

Oh alliteration, I will never get sick of you.

Hey people! Happy Friday!

Jumping onto the blog for a quick update on running things, plus a couple of recent kitten pictures since I’ve been getting requests (and I’m a shameless mama who wants her baby fawned over by the internet 🙂 )

Unrelated photo of Lady Rainier from this past weekend in all her glory.

Unrelated photo of Lady Rainier from this past weekend in all her glory.

Shoes

I’ve recently been cheating on my Brooks Pure Connects. And it wasn’t me, it was them.

Oh dear, sweet, beautiful baby blues...I wanted so hard to love you.

Oh dear, sweet, beautiful baby blues…I wanted so hard to love you.

You see, when I first slipped into the first version of the Connects, it was like sunshine had broken through a metaphorical shoe cloud, and I was finally seeing the light. They were perfect for my foot, and I went through more pairs of them than my paycheck was happy with. Then came the Pure Connect 2s, which I figured, obviously, must be even better! I bought my first pair, and things seemed fine, except for a little nag that started in my right foot. At first, I thought it was just basic plantar faciitis that was coming from having a new shoe, but no matter how much I stretched and iced my foot (both go-to remedies for PF for me), the ache remained after most of my runs. It wasn’t anything serious, but it was annoying and although it took me a while to admit it…I had a feeling it was the shoes. Whenever I’d switch back to my older pairs, I had no issues at all, which only confirmed my suspicions that my beloved Pure Connects were no longer my ray of sunshine.

After a few months of refusing to admit the truth, I started looking elsewhere for a comparable replacement. I considered the Pure Drift, the more minimal in the line, but they were just too low. Good for short, speedy runs—not so much for long runs. And I’m a girl that likes my shoes to be able to do both. Basically, I needed all the qualities of the older Connects but without the new adjustments that were pulling on my arch.

So, I ventured outside of the Brooks family and started researching the popular Saucony Kinvaras. It sounded like they were pretty similar in terms of ride and drop to the Connects, and with so many rave reviews, I figured why not? I also found last year’s model on sale and I already had an REI gift card—making them a $20 purchase. Score. Okay Kinvara 3s, let’s try you out.

photo 1

Full disclosure: I did not love these on my first run. My feet didn’t feel very supported, and generally I just kind of felt— as Nicole puts it— like I was running in flip-flops. However, I didn’t want to write them off yet, so I stuck with ’em. It wasn’t until my 4th run that I realized that the shoes actually did feel good. It took my foot a little adjusting to not be hugged as tightly as the Connects do, but I think that once that hurdle was crossed, my stride and strike started to really like the Kinvaras. And so did I.

I definitely still feel like they’re not the best in terms of support, speaking even as a more “minimalist” runner, but they do offer what I was seeking all along—no arch pulling! I have a wide foot, and so I think by allowing my foot to spread out a bit more than that Connect 2s has made all the difference.

But, the Kinvaras haven’t (yet) gained long run or race approval. So, until I find “the shoe” that once again fulfills all my running desires, I’ll be alternating between my Connects and the Kinvaras. I raced in the Connects in Bellingham after having worn the Kinvaras for three-ish runs in a row and didn’t have any arch pain, so I think that this whole “shoe rotation” idea could be the ticket to happier feet.

This is now my life when I try to put on my shoes in the morning. Also, TEASER JASPER PIC.

This is now my life when I try to put on my shoes in the morning. Also, TEASER JASPER PIC.

I’m still hoping that the next version of the Pure Connects are closer to the originals, but for now I think Saucony can stick around to play.

Suggestions??

All it takes is one

One workout, that is. At least for me.

You see, one workout—whether good or bad—can make or break my confidence in terms of my running fitness. I’m certain I’m not alone in this, and it’s definitely something that’s both bad and good in different respects. However, I’ve found that the good workouts tend to outshine the bad ones, so I’m taking this trait of “it only takes one” as more good than bad.

Moving on.

Wednesday’s workout was a good one, a really good one. And it’s kind of helping me go back to the drawing board for both my short term and long term running goals—in a good way.

Due to some scheduling conflicts on Wednesday, I begrudgingly had to do my run in the afternoon, and we all know how I much prefer those early miles. My stomach is always wonky when I run in the afternoon too, which gravely thwarts my desire to do PM speedwork.

Nevertheless, Wednesday afternoon I had an unusual sense of enthusiasm and motivation to have a good, fast run—so I planned out a little tempo. I hadn’t done a real workout since Bellingham, so I was feeling anxious to reacquaint with my Garmin and my turnover.

Unrelated photo #2 from Bellingham. Not too horrible somehow.

Unrelated photo #2 from Bellingham. Not too horrible, somehow.

CONFESSION: I have a very, very bad habit of doing all speedwork on the…wait for it…treadmill. I know! It’s not good. And as a 90%-of-the-time outdoor runner, I’m embarrassed by this little handicap. There’s a few justifiable excuses for it…but more than anything: speedwork scares me, and it scares me less on the treadmill. That’s really all there is to it, and it’s a habit I’ve consciously decided to try and break.

And Wednesday would be the start of that scary adventure. On the docket: 1 mile warm up, 6 miles between 7:25-7:30, 1 mile cool down. I thought it would be manageable but still a quality run. I had high hopes, which helped fuel my fire to work hard. Furthermore, the results were both surprising and encouraging:

speedFirst of all: I clearly suck at following workout directions. This turned into a tempo+progression+fast finish apparantly.

Second: What the what? How did that happen?

I was definitely working for those last miles; they were not in the realm of “comfortably hard” like a tempo is supposed to be. But I went for it anyway, and I can’t say that I’ve seen speeds like that during a training run, well, ever. The most encouraging part was how comfortable those first 4 harder miles felt. It felt like I was working, but not with the same discomfort that those paces brought not too long ago. I’m not really sure if it was the perfect weather, the motivated attitude I started off with, or simply that it was a good day—but this was one of the most encouraging runs I’ve had in a long time.

First time running 8 under an hour too!

First time running 8 under an hour too!

I think the biggest difference I’m learning when it comes to speedwork, which I certainly tried to apply during this run, was to let it be okay to be uncomfortable. Not that I should relish the discomfort—but I shouldn’t hide away when it shows up. I tried really hard to keep this in mind, and I found that there was a sense of strength in hurting a little that I haven’t recognized before. It goes right along with all the cliches—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, yada yada—but, there’s a lot of truth in it. What seems to work for me is staying in the mile and remembering that it’s outside of our comfort zones that the real progress occurs.

After runs like this, that scary 3:35 half goal suddenly feels a little closer than it did before. And yes, all after one little 8 mile run. But sometimes, all it takes is one.

That said, I’m realizing that if I want more of these speed-highs and if I want actual progress, I’m going to need to up the ante in my workouts. Setting the bar high shouldn’t just be reserved for race days, and I’m definitely going to try to break away from the comforts of my watchless, easy, go-to runs and seek out a little more hurt.

Jasper

photo 3

15 weeks, still as cute as can be. I go back and forth between thinking he’s the most wonderful, precious thing in the world and wanting to lock him in a closet. Little dude is so fun, but still a playful kitten, and he can turn into a rabid tiger at times—particularly right before bedtime and often at 3 am. Yes, he sleeps in our bed. And I refuse to lock him out. Good baby practice? Although I doubt little babies eat your ponytail whenever they get the chance. I’m certain though that he’ll outgrow his constant playful energy, especially when he has his special male kitty procedure in a few weeks 🙂

But really, how can you resist this face?

Just hanging out in the underwear drawer.

Just hanging out in the underwear drawer.

"My bed, not yours."

“My bed, not yours.”

His state of existence when not sprinting all around the house.

His state of existence when not sprinting all around the house.

"Pick me to scrub in Bailey!"

“Pick me to scrub in, Bailey!”

The calm before the storms... And fave Oiselle sweatshirt btw, coming soon in this color!

The calm before the storms… And absolute fave Oiselle sweatshirt , coming soon in this color!

Okay, okay…I’m done. For now. In case you couldn’t tell, all I do anymore is take cat pictures.

So, basically you get three blog posts in one. I wish I had time to separate them all out, but hopefully you can accept my random smorgasbord of posts.

Which shoes do you wear? Do you rotate shoes?

Best workout you’ve had recently?

Who wants to babysit my demon sweet kitten for the night ;)?

Chicago Marathon Training Week #3

Welcome to Monday, friends.

Lots of running related news to share with you, but let’s start with a recap of last week’s training.

M: Spin

T: 10 m run, 8:20 avg. pace

W: Body pump + stair-stepper

T: 7 m, 4 @ <7:30 pace +lifting

F: 80 min swim, 3500 meters

S: 8 m run (1.5 warm up, Float Dodger 5k, 3.5 m cool down)

S: 18 m run, 8:45 avg. pace

Total: 43 miles

This week felt great. I was feeling a little sluggish after last week, so I wanted to hit it pretty hard in terms of quality workouts this week. The swim on Friday was more of a “I’m awake and can’t fall back asleep so I might as well do something” kind of workout, but it was still refreshing and my muscles enjoyed it.

All my runs went well, particularly the tempo and my long run yesterday.

I was running on somewhat tired legs from the 5k I raced the day before, but aside from a little shin split, I felt pretty tip-top. BF joined me for 4 miles toward the end, which was a helpful distraction. And not once did I feel any pain in my knee from my IT band. I’m still wary of saying a big “Hallelujah!” but it does seem that my knee/leg is starting to get its shit together—finally. I finished in 2 hours, 40 minutes, which is right around where I want to be in terms of LR speed.

Some more to report from this weekend!

My sister came and hung out which always makes for a fun and entertaining time.

Excuse the red mood lighting…

We did little shopping, a little fro-yo eating, and a lot of giggling. I love when she comes to town.

BF and I also ran the inaugural Float Dodger 5k on Saturday, which was a great local race as well as my first race since the Tacoma Marathon. I’ll be doing a full race report tomorrow, but I will say that it went better than I had expected…

As for the whole “I felt great about this week” thing, I think a lot of it had to do with my IT band behaving well. It’s always encouraging when you’ve been dealing with the same nagging pain over a period of time to finally feel like you can see some light at the end of the tunnel of sadness. I also feel really good about how my recovery from each run is going. I haven’t had any calf fatigue, which is something that’s always plagued me, and my soreness from particular workouts seems to be going away quicker than normal.

I’m crediting this recovery speed to two things: my shoes and strength training. I think my changed foot-strike (using the Brooks Pure Connect) has a lot to do with my calves feeling less sore, as well as why my IT band has started loosening up. I also think the fact that I’ve finally started doing squats, lunges, etc. in my regular lifting routine is paying off in my running. Ground-breaking…I’m sure no one has ever made that statement. I’m learning…

That’s about all for today, but I will leave you with this precious gem for a Monday pick-me-up:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/the-cutest-things-that-ever-happened

Baby animals are the best. Enjoy.

Happy Monday!

Running to Feel Clean

This morning I had a tempo run on schedule.

I woke up and knew within about .2 seconds that 8:00 miles were not on the agenda.

I did a body pump class yesterday, which was great, but it included several leg lifty things, meaning many squats and lunges. Needless to say, I had some unhappy hamstrings upon waking up.

However, I dragged myself out to do what I could, resolving that just getting the miles in was more important than the timing. And it was good that I started off with that mindset…because those first two miles were butt ugly. I felt awkward, slow, and just groggy.

Very standard for the beginning of a morning run with sore legs—I am sure you can relate.

But then, at my self designed halfway point, I decided to get over myself and kick it up. Miles 4, 5, and 6 clocked in around 7:50, which was very encouraging. Although it wasn’t the amount of distance I was supposed to cover at tempo pace, I was glad to get in some quick miles.

Ended with 7.1 miles in 55 minutes even. I’ll take it.

The truth is that when it comes to speed, my body is definitely stronger than my head most of the time. Normally, when I start picking up my pace, it’s unintentional—and I feel great. Then I look at my watch, get scared that I won’t be able to hold it, and slow down. It’s like my body wants to go fast, but then my brain gets scared and hits the brakes. I tried to push through this a bit today, and although I’m definitely feeling some tired legs, it did feel good to not let the watch scare me.

In running, I always love knowing that slowing down is an option. It makes me feel better about the times I want to go faster, and it’s comforting to know that no matter what speed—running is still running.

Afterward, per standard post run procedure, I felt great. Sweaty, tired, and satisfied.

I realized this morning that one of the primary things I feel when I finish running is…clean.

Strange, of course, because I’m normally everything but clean. In fact, I’m rather gross a lot of the time.

However, there are few times when I feel fresher than immediately following a run. It’s like through the sweating and panting, the grime of the day before just washes out, and I’m left with a fresh start.

So despite the stank and salty face and all that, I would say that just after a run is the cleaniest I feel. Of course, the greatest sense of cleanliness is the mental detoxification that happens along the way. As the saying goes…I never leave a run in the same place as I started. And 100% of the time, I always feel better afterwards. Cleaner, fresher, and lighter.

I think this is why that post-run shower always feels oh so good. You’ve already rid your body and mind of the waste it was holding onto, and the actual soap-and-shower process wipes clean all the residue of that grime.

What am I trying to say in this post? Why knows. I hardly ever know, actually.

I suppose it’s just to remember that running is refreshing, and it does an incredible job of extracting the dirt we carry around that perhaps we weren’t even aware of.