Training Tips Tuesday #37: Pushing the Edges of Comfort

After running my weekday runs last week under a 10 minute pace, and it feeling pretty easy, I’m feeling like I need to start pushing the edges of what’s comfortable with my easy runs. I feel like I have recovered from marathon training and my body is ready to make some more progress even though I’m not training for a race.

And it makes sense that, even though last week I was running in 80 degree weather, sub-10 minute miles felt easy because the entire summer I was basically doing base building without even realizing it. I had consistent workouts for at least 10 weeks before I added in some speedwork and even after I added in speedwork, my easy runs were still very easy feeling. My body felt decreasingly sore after runs during the summer and I can tell my form has improved.

Since I’m not training for a race, it’s a little bit harder to push myself because I don’t have a specific goal in mind for my runs. But now I’m thinking about increasing my weekday non-speedworks to four miles and maybe doing a 10 mile long run every once in a while. I’m hoping to still keep up a faster pace on these runs so I continue to see improvement in my running.

This change also means I need to pay more attention to how I’m recovering and how I’m feeling after runs. It means I might need to take some cutback weeks to keep seeing improvements. And it will mean after 10-12 weeks of working harder, I’ll take a step back and do some base building again (or there might be some life changes that cause this to happen sooner). Either way, I’m excited to start pushing my run for the first time without training for a race. Since I’ve been doing basically back to back race training for so long, I don’t feel like I’ve really seen this much improvement in my pace in such a short amount of time!


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Weekly Running Report: September 10-16

I started off this week really excited to be training and see the heart rate feedback from Strava and start doing some more analysis. But by the time I got to Friday, I was excited just to see how much faster I’m running this week even with the heat. Let’s get into it!

Monday, September 10

I rocked my strength training and spin class tonight! Both were tough (plus I did a new workout on the NTC app) but I felt great afterward. In need of carbs (thankfully Mike had a protein smoothie waiting for me at home), but great.

I was surprised looking at my heart rate data afterwards that my heart rate didn’t get as high as I felt it did but it’s probably really good for me to get in some moderate heart rate cardio in during the week.


Tuesday, September 11

3.1 miles ~ 30:03 ~ 9:42 min/mile

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Even with the temperature being in the low 80s and my legs/glutes being so sore from yesterday's workouts, I feel like this was pretty awesome tempo run. The speed up section could have been a little bit better but again, heat and soreness made it tougher than usual. I need to get in some foam rolling post-strength training and not just rely on stretching.

Wednesday, September 12

3 miles ~ 29:16 ~ 9:44 min/mile

Well, I wasn't expecting a sub-10 minute pace or the fact that it wouldn't feel that hard. But that happened! I was still feeling soreness from Monday’s workouts but I just went by what felt good in my legs.

Thursday, September 13

3 miles ~ 29:54 ~ 9:56 min/mile

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Another speedy run to close out the week! Even though it was 84, this pace didn't feel that hard. However, looking back at my heart rate data, I was pushing harder on this run than on Wednesday’s even though I had a slower average pace.

I can't wait to see how it feels once we get into the 50s!

Friday, September 14

Since I’d been running hard most of the week and did a new strength training workout on Monday, I picked a 20 minute yoga for tight legs video to do after work. Other than that video, I took it easy and just tried to get in my 12,500 steps to make it a nice recovery day.

Saturday, September 15

5 miles ~ 47:22 ~ 9:27 min/mile

I was feeling good Saturday morning and started off the run with a quick first mile (9:00). I decided to pull back a little bit but wanted to find out if I could hold a faster pace for these five miles after running fast all week. My splits were up and down (with my slowest being a 10:02 minute mile) but it averaged out to a 9:27 average pace.

It’s just amazing that even with the heat and humidity, I’m running faster all of a sudden. And I’m thinking part of that is just my mental state around my running now that I’m not racing (more of this to come in this week’s Training Tip Tuesday).

Sunday, September 16

8 miles ~ 1:20:03 ~ 9:59 min/mile

Another run of trying to push my comfort zone and run a little bit faster. This run felt so good, I explored new places and saw lots of dogs! All of my miles were around 9:50-10 minute pace, with the two other ones being around 10:15. And my heart rate data proved that I was working hard, I spent 50 minutes of this run in zone 3 (tempo) and the rest in zone 2 (moderate) but not so hard that I was pushing myself into race pace effort for the distance.

Weekly Effort Summary from Strava

Since is the first week I have heart rate data for my cross-training workouts (weights and spin class), I’m not sure how much it compares to past weeks for weekly effort. But it is showing that I worked harder than past weeks (which my paces show) and I’ve ramped up my effort this week. Even if this isn’t exactly true if I had more heart rate data for past weeks, I will be paying attention to my body this week and doing some extra recovery if needed.

I already did some extra recovery to finish off this week with my monthly massage on Sunday. My right side was feeling a bit off, especially my trapezius muscle on that side, so it felt good to get some extra attention paid to that. So we’ll see how I feel in the upcoming week and add in extra stretching or slow down on my runs as needed!


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The Four Stretches I Always Do After a Long Run

I’ll be the first to admit that I am the worst about stretching after a run. I might get in one or two stretches but my go-to is always just a quick foam roll. Lately, I’ve been trying to be more conscious about my stretching after long runs to get myself into a routine. Here are the four stretches I’ve been after my long runs (plus I’ve been getting better about doing them after some of my other runs too)!

Pigeon Pose

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  • Begin in a tabletop position (hands and knees on the mat)

  • Bring your right leg forward and sink down so the outer edge is resting on the floor.

  • Extend your left leg behind you, keeping your hips angling toward the floor.

  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then step your right foot back under you and repeat on the left leg.

Butterfly Stretch

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  • Sit tall on the floor with the soles of your feet together, knees bent out to sides.

  • Hold onto your ankles or feet, engage your abs, and slowly lower your body toward your feet as far as you can while pressing your knees toward the floor.

  • If you're too tight to bend over, simply press your knees down.

  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Downward Facing Dog

  • Start on your hands and knees in tabletop. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.

  • Tuck your toes under, press into the hands and lift your hips to the ceiling.

  • Using straight (but not locked) arms, press your hips up and back reaching the chest towards your thighs. Lift up through the tailbone to keep the spine straight and long.

Piriformis Stretch

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  • Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you.

  • Cross your right leg over your left, and place your right foot flat on the floor.

  • Place your right hand on the floor behind your body.

  • Place your left hand on your right quad or your left elbow on your right knee and twist your torso to the right.

  • Repeat for the other side


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Training Tips Tuesday #36: Tracking Cross Training and Using Heart Rate Data

Since I’ve switched from my Polar watch to the Garmin Forerunner, I haven’t been tracking my cross training. It was super easy with the Polar watch (since I could select different training modes besides running right away) but it’s just as easy with my Garmin after I’m done uploading my activities. So, starting this week, I’m trying to record as many of my workout activities as possible.

Of course, I could just manually record sessions but the big reason I want to record my cross-training session is to monitor my heart rate and see when I can push myself harder (especially during spin class) or to notice a pattern where I need to take it easier during my runs. This is going to be especially helpful since I’m not training for a race and this last week especially, I’ve been running harder than in the past. I’m also hopeful this will help me figure out if I could push a little bit harder on runs because my fitness is improving!

As part of this, I’m also activating my 30 day free trial of the Strava Summit Analysis pack to see if it will help me break down this data a little bit easier. I’m especially interested in this because of the relative effort, workout analysis, heart rate analysis and fitness and freshness features.I’m excited to give it a try for the next 30 days and see if it would be helpful to continue paying $2/month for this extra analysis!

Keep a lookout for my review of the Strava Summit Analysis pack in October, until then I’ll be including some extra analysis at the end of my weekly running reports.


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Weekly Running Report September 3-9

We are a week into September and I am loving the change in weather! The humidity has basically disappeared and the temperatures are perfect both early morning and after work. It’s no wonder why I love fall running after my runs this week. Let’s get into it!

Monday, September 3

No spin class tonight since the gym has short hours for Labor Day. Got in my weights workout at the apartment gym and then headed to LA Fitness when it opened for some cardio. An hour on the stairmaster is no joke, I was drenched in sweat and wished I'd worn my heart rate monitor! But going forward, I think I’ll be wearing my heart rate monitor to track my cross-training workouts too.

Tuesday, September 4

3 miles ~ 27:34

It went from light rain to sheets but I got in a really great interval run. Not only were my 5K pace intervals 8:30 or faster but all my recovery intervals (except the uphill one that went a little long) were under 9:45!

Wednesday, September 5

3 miles ~ 31:21

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Gorgeous afternoon for a run after work! My legs felt great after yesterday's run and my paced showed it.

Thursday, September 6

3 miles ~ 30:32

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Speedy run after work with some pretty good negative splits! 10:11, 10:07, 10:06 which is amazing to me.

Friday, September 7

Just a nice day of work and recovering with some yoga afterwards. And lots of walks with Vinnie, including one that Mike grabbed a goofy picture of him enjoying the fall weather.

Saturday, September 8

5 miles ~ 47:46

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A nice, speedy five miles without even trying and my splits were between 9:28-9:37 which is pretty close to even for me.

Sunday, September 9

8 miles ~ 1:21:53

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Early morning miles (I started out before 6:30 a.m.) followed by a hike with my boys at Afton State Park! Both felt great but I was glad for an epsom salt bath and a nap after them.

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