Wednesday, July 31, 2013

OBX Marathon Training Week 4

Can you believe it? Already one month into this marathon training cycle. Things seem to be going well so far. This week was about incorporating a little more cross training as I prep for two more triathlons this summer in the next couple weeks. I also had to be more flexible with my schedule since my mother and father in law were visiting over the weekend, so I couldn't fit in a much longer run.

Monday: Swim, 1800 yds. Sunday night we learned that the community pool near us is actually being run by the YMCA this year. This means they are open almost all day, every day rather than only 2 hours a few days a week like previous summers. So for our Monday workout we went to check it out and swim a few laps during the open evening lap time.

The pool was a little crowded with kid's swimming lessons, and an aqua aerobics class, but they cleared a little space for lap swimmers. The area of the pool with lane markings on the bottom (no lane lines!) was short... about 17 yards. There is a second part of the pool with no lane markings that is longer at about 25 yards. For this day, I stayed in the 17 yd area.

I'm really excited that there is a pool that is easy for me to get to through the end of August! It is less than one mile from my house! Time to add a little more consistent swimming into my weekly schedule.

Tuesday: AM -- 3 miles easy. PM -- 1k repeats x 5

Now that I'm one month away from Hood to Coast, I want to incorporate a few double day runs into my schedule. I kept the AM miles easy to complete fast repeats on tired legs. I thought this wouldn't be a big deal due to last week's strong workout. It actually turned out to be much more difficult than I expected. Even the first 1000m repeat felt really hard! On the fifth, my left calf started cramping up, and I cut the interval short at 800m. I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't finish this workout strong, but I know I will do better next time.

Wednesday: P90x legs

Kept this workout quick so we could go out with a few friends to a local food truck event for dinner. Yummm.

Thursday: Swim 1500 yds in the AM.

Mixed things up this week. The pool is only open in the morning Monday - Thurs, and I wanted to get in a second swim. Marathon training is all about being flexible, right? Had to be flexible this week! I swam in the long side of the pool and worked on my sighting. It definitely made for a harder swim, but I think it was good practice for me.

Friday: 7 mi with 3 at tempo pace

I knew this weekend I wouldn't have quite as much time for the long run, so I made this tempo run a little longer than I normally would. It honestly felt so great! I was on pace and felt good the whole run. I think some cooler temperatures also had something to do with it.

My mother and father in law arrived around mid-day, so we spent the afternoon going out to lunch, and baking cupcakes.

Saturday: My birthday!! 8.1 miles with 6 hill repeats in the middle.

Celebrated my birthday with a morning run and an evening cocktail party. I incorporated some hill repeats into the run to make it a little more difficult since I wasn't completing as long of a training run. My stomach was a little off during the run, but I finished pretty strong.

The rest of the day included shopping for new shoes, lounging and getting ready for my party. Lots of tasty food and cocktails! It was so wonderful to celebrate with my friends, and have everyone get dressed up for the party.

 {not pictured: the many desserts!
including oreo truffles, cupcakes, and ice cream bon bons.}

Sunday: Slept in, enjoyed time with my family, and went kayaking! This was a great end to the weekend. The weather was perfect for being outside and on the water. 

Overall great week! :) How can you not enjoy your birthday week, right?!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Finding the Right Fit

This weekend I went to my local running store to get a shoe fit for the first time ever.

I know -- I should have it a long time ago! For the last three years of running I have been wearing the Brooks Ravenna shoe. Honestly, I think I chose it because it looked cool and I saw some other runners wearing them at races and on blogs. I never had a problem with the shoe, but I always wondered what the recommendation would be. I considered changing last year, but ended up sticking with what I knew. But I decided it was finally time to really find out more about my foot and what should be best for me.

It was so interesting! First my feet were measured. I think the last time I have had that done was when I was maybe 15 years old. HA! Then, I stood for a minute, and walked a little. Just from those two things, the salesman could tell enough about my feet and gait to determine what type of shoe I should use.

I learned a few things from my visit. First, you should size your running shoes up a whole size from your measured length (especially for marathoners!) so you have room for any swelling. For me, this meant that I measured at 7.5, so I should buy an 8.5. In the past, I have worn a size 8.

The salesman could tell that my calves were tight. They actually have been lately, so this was a good reminder that I need to keep working on stretching!

In the end, he determined that the best for me would be a neutral shoe with an insert to support my arch since it flattens when I walk rather than a support shoe. I actually used to wear an insert to support my arch when I was younger, but I stopped wearing them a long time ago. I don't feel like I have any major foot issues, but I'm interested to see how I like them.

I tried on three different pairs of neutral shoes with the insert. The salesman said from there, my choice really depended on personal feel. They should feel like slippers! First I tried the Saucony Ride 6. Then, the Brooks Ghost 6. I didn't really like the stiffness of the shoe, and preferred the Ghost. I then tried the New Balance 880v3. This made for a tougher choice. I did some short runs through the store down the street in each shoe, and did a side by side comparison between the Ghost and the 880.

I ended up choosing the Brooks Ghost.

I'll have to let you know what I think after a few runs in them, but so far I have found them really comfortable just walking around. So, stay tuned for more...

And finally, congratulations to Leslie from Triathlete Treats, who is the winner of my Nuun Hydration giveaway! Send me an email with which 4-pack you would like along with your address.

Don't forget that you can save 15% off your Nuun order through September with the code hydrateHTC!

When was the last time you got new shoes? How many miles until you usually replace yours? The ones I have been wearing, I got last fall and they have over 400 miles on them! Definitely time for a replacement.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hydration Tips & Nuun For You!

In one month, I will be running Hood to Coast with Nuun! I can't believe how quickly it is coming up!

If you haven't heard of Nuun (pronounced "noon") before, it is an electrolyte tablet that you can add to your water to help with hydration, without the need for excess carbohydrates and calories that are often in other products. Nuun Active Hydration is perfect for during and after exercise to replace the electrolytes lost due to sweating. I don't know about where you are, but this summer's hot temperatures are surely causing hot, sweaty runs here in California.

Besides being good just for runners, I learned from Nuun that nearly 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, so maybe others could use it too!

I also wanted to share with you some other facts and tips about about getting and staying hydrated:

- During endurance events, athletes can get to 1-2% dehydration. Even at this small amount, the body's temperature regulating mechanisms can be affected. (For a 130 pound person, this would mean losing less than 2.6 pounds during a workout.)
- Dehydration is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. It can also result in muscle fatigue, cramps, dizziness, nausea, and rapid heart rate.
- Water helps you regulate body temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen, and remove waste from cells.
- Determining your sweat rate can tell you exactly how much liquid you should intake during athletic activities. See how to calculate this here, or use Runner's World's new tool to estimate based on weight, air temperature, and pace.
- Your urine does not need to be clear for you to be hydrated. In fact, as long as it is light yellow, like lemonade you are doing pretty well. You want to avoid it being the color of apple juice or darker.
- Overhydrating can also be very dangerous. This is called hyponatremia, and is caused by too much fluid intake, leading to low sodium levels in the blood. A study done at the US Army Research Institute in Environmental Medicine found that drinks with electrolytes (like Nuun) can delay hyponatremia. The sodium in these drinks can help maintain healthy blood sodium levels.

In honor of this awesome opportunity to run HTC, Nuun is letting me giveaway a four pack of their choice to one lucky DYL reader! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you just can't wait for the giveaway, I have a coupon code for 15% off for all Defy Your Limitations readers. Enter the code hydrateHTC at checkout! The code is good through September.

Stay hydrated!
What are my favorite flavors?? Currently, strawberry lemonade, and lemon tea. mmmm!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Tough Week: OBX Training Week 3

This week felt tough! I don't know if it was because of a busy work week, or just the workouts starting to tire out my legs, but I'm already starting to really feel like I'm in the middle of marathon training. This is not saying it was a bad week by any means, just a lot going on!

I mentioned before that I am nearing the end of my PhD work, so this summer I am really trying to buckle down and finish the darn thing! This week was the first in a while where I really had time to work for the entire week (all that traveling was getting in the way!). It was great to feel accomplished on that front, but it was a good reminder of how exhausting work can be sometimes!

This week I also had a physical, where I got a Tdap vaccination. Man, do those things really make you feel like you got slugged in the arm! I got the shot on Tuesday morning, and on Wednesday I could barely raise my arm. By Friday it was feeling mostly back to normal... with just a little sensitivity at the injection site.

Onto the workouts...

Monday: P90x chest & back. Lots of pushups & pullups. I was sore from this for a few days too!

Tuesday: Intervals. Didn't get in the workout in the morning, so went to the gym for treadmill miles this week in the evening. Intervals were: 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 with 200 rest between each.

I had never done this type of workout before, and it was really awesome. I felt really strong and hit all my paces without a problem! Ran for 5.25 total miles.

{post run stretch. yep, there was a lot of sweating happening}

Wednesday: P90x legs. Arm was SO sore, so avoided adding in some back exercises.

Thursday: Again, no AM workout. Hot in the afternoon, but went with a few miles outside including 1.75 miles at almost tempo pace. The heat really got to me, and I had trouble pushing for those last 15 sec/mi. Total of 5 miles.

Friday: rest! Glorious rest!

Saturday: 13 mi long run. Proud of ourselves for getting up and out to the trail by 7AM... usually we are running a little later than that. High temp today was supposed to be 100 degrees, so we wanted to get out early. I had to run in the dirt the last 3 miles so I didn't get run over by bikers from a local triathlon. It made for a tough finish, but it was fun to get a free cheer squad and watch the bikers zoom by.

Sunday: open water swim. Finally got the chance to try out my wetsuit! Ryan and I both got wetsuits for Christmas from my parents, but we hadn't taken them out for a test swim yet. The water temperature was actually pretty warm, so they weren't needed, but we were glad to try them out. I had been a little nervous about fit, but it worked great. The swim was a little tough -- I think mostly from staying out late Saturday night, but we had a fun time. Total swim was probably about 0.75 miles.

 {The water levels were really low. Lots of people out at the lake though.}

Have you had the Tdap vaccine? How long did your arm hurt?
What was the best part of your weekend? Mine was hanging out with our good friends Saturday night. Good food, good wine, outdoor games. Lots of fun!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Science of Positive Thinking

I think I usually have a pretty positive attitude toward life, including how I view the world, my body, my work, and my running. But we have all had those days filled with negative thoughts, and know how one negative thought seems to lead to another in a huge downward spiral.

Recently, I read this article about the science behind positive thinking.

Negative emotions narrow your mind and prevent you from seeing the other options around you. For example, if you feel bad about not exercising or not eating healthy, all you think about is how little willpower you have, how you're lazy, and how you don't have any motivation

Positive emotions (joy, contentment, love, happiness) allow you to see more possibilities in your life and open up your mind. In turn, these posibilities allow you to build useful skills and enhance your life.

The article goes on to say that it is important to find things that you enjoy doing and spark these positive emotions. But also to be careful not to put off happiness until you have reached some arbitrary goal. Happiness should be the precursor to success (building your skills), but is also often the result of it.

So, what makes you feel positive? Is it running or other exercise? Reading your favorite book? Talking to your best friend? Mediating? Cooking a delicious meal? Whatever it is... make time for it!

{from -- another fav way to feel positive}

I think this is a good reminder that we need to schedule time and energy toward happiness.

For me, exercise is a key to feeling good every day. I feel stronger, it helps me work toward my goals, and eventually see results.

Ryan and I also really enjoy scheduling activities on the weekend, whether it is trying stand up paddle boarding, going wine tasting, or exploring a new place (going camping or hiking). Enjoying the outdoors and being active are things that make us happy.

So tell me, what makes you feel joy, contentment and love?

Let's focus on those positives.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

OBX Marathon Training: Week 2

This week was a little different for fitting in the workouts than last week because I was in CT visiting Ryan's family from Wednesday until Sunday. (See some tips about working out while traveling here.) We spent a lot of time hanging out with the kiddo's, and

Monday: P90x Back & Biceps

Tuesday: 4 x 800m with 2 min RI. 3 of 4 were within less than a second of each other in pace! 2nd 800 was a little slower...maybe I was still waking up? Times were 3:29, 3:35, 3:29, 3:29.

Wednesday: rest. We took a red eye flight Tues night to fly to CT to visit Ryan's family and didn't sleep so well, so most of the day was spent relaxing. It also included a nap and going to bed super early.

Thursday: 5.5 miles of hills. I tried to run all the hills in the neighborhood. Unfortunately there are too many, so I cut myself off at 5.5 mi. Haha. Oh yeah, and I got poured on in the first 5 minutes of the run. At least it helped with the humidity.

Friday: P90x legs. Really want to stay focused on leg strengthening this training cycle, so we made sure to fit in our usual Wed workout on Friday. We spent the rest of the day playing lawn games (croquet and corn hole)

Saturday: 6.75 mi run with one 0.8 mi long and steep hill. Heavy rain almost deterred us from getting out for this run, but luckily it slowed to a light drizzle. My two brothers-in-law joined Ryan and I for the run too! The rest of the day included bowling and laser tag!

{2 games of bowling + laser tag = awesome afternoon!}

Sunday: rest. Flew home, and needed to get some work done around the house.

This week's training was a little on the lighter side. We didn't want to use up too much time with family by being out running or training, but in general, fit in all the desired workouts. It was also great to do some good hill training to prepare for Hood to Coast! It's difficult to find good hills to run in Sacramento (so flat!!), so I enjoyed doing two days of hills in CT.

{View of Lake Tahoe on the flight back to CA}

I wasn't totally on top of doing core work or stretching this week, so I'm going to try to focus a little more back on that in week 3.

How did your week go? 
I'm looking for some ideas for speed days -- what's your favorite intervals workout?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

5 Tips to Work Out While Traveling

In the past month I have done a lot of traveling. First Hawaii, then to Sunriver, OR for 4 days (where I got to meet Leslie!) followed by a weekend of camping, and I for the last few days I have been in CT visiting Ryan's family. Lots going on!

When going on vacation or traveling for work, it can be so easy to just take time off from exercise.  Sometimes that is the right thing to do.... but often I will feel so much better by getting out for some kind of workout!

Here are some of my favorite tips for working out while traveling.

1. Use it as a way to see the sights or explore. When we were in Hawaii, Ryan and I ran through a park that we would never have seen if it weren't for going on a run! It can be so much fun to explore new areas on either a run or a bike ride. It might take some planning ahead of time so you don't get lost or to plan your distance, but it is totally worth it!

2. Aim for a morning workout
. While I don't always hold true to this, it often seems much easier to get a workout done in the morning when on vacation. Once you are sitting on the beach it takes so much more effort to get your butt up and just after rolling out of bed. Plus, you will feel accomplished for the rest of the day!

3. Try to schedule a step back week.
If you are training for a big race and you know you have a trip ahead, it can be best to build for a few weeks before leaving. Reducing mileage while you are away can keep you from needing to find time for a few hour run. I didn't do that this week for my marathon training, but I think it can be a good practice.

4. Fit in something in the time you have. Sometimes it is best to just be flexible. If you have 30 minutes, but at home you would have an hour, don't skip you workout! You can have a great workout in 30 minutes. Try increasing intensity or run intervals to mix things up. Or do some strength training with body weight exercises -- there are so many options.

5. Seize the opportunities.
When we were camping a few weeks ago, we ended up going to a lake for a day. We rented some kayaks and swam across with our friends kayaking nearby. This ended up being a great part of everyone's trip! If you are in a new area, it can be great to find different exercise opportunities -- biking, go on a long walk, kayak -- try out a new activity that everyone can enjoy and do together for a unique workout.

What are your best tips for getting in a workout while you are traveling?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

OBX Marathon Training Week 1

So last week was my first week of training for the OBX marathon, as I mentioned here.

It feels good to be on a regular schedule and officially training for a race after some time off.

Monday: P90X Shoulders, Biceps & Triceps

Tuesday: Speedwork (3 x 1 mi). Aimed for 7:20ish pace. Ended up with 7:21, 7:16, 7:29. Last one was a bit slow, but temp was getting HOT!

Wednesday: P90X Legs & Back

Thursday: 4 miles with 2 @ tempo pace
                 1.2 miles swimming -- outside!!

Friday: rest -- work late and relax!

Saturday: 12 mile long run @ 8:51 avg pace.

and some wandering between bars for a birthday celebration in Oakland

Sunday: 8.1 mile walk in San Francisco

A few friends had always wanted to walk over the Golden Gate Bridge, so we decided to check that out after staying over in Oakland. First we fueled up at the Off the Grid Picnic lunch in the Presidio.

Then we ventured over the bridge and back along the shoreline for a long and beautiful walk. By the end I think all our feet were getting tired and we couldn't wait to sit for a while.

We stopped for dinner at Q Restaurant & Wine Bar before driving back home to Sacramento.

Overall it was a great week! Only negative was that the temperatures this week were SO hot through Thursday. Over 105 degrees! It made Thursday's swim feel great since we were able to get to an outdoor pool. My legs were pretty tired yesterday after so many miles on my feet over the weekend, so this week I need to make sure I stay on top of stretching and rolling.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Marathon Training 2.0 -- OBX

So this week is officially the start of my marathon training cycle for the OBX Marathon.

Since this will be my second marathon, I'm hoping I can do things a little bit better after learning more about what works for me in round 1. 

Because of my past knee issues, and my love for too many different activities, I'll be subscribing to the 3 days per week of running plan -- something similar to the Run Less Run Faster philosophy. In general, it will go something like this: M - strength (arms), T - speedwork, W - strength (legs), Th - tempo/hills, F - rest or yoga, Sa - long run, Su - rest or swim or bike. Strength days will also include some core work.

I put together a 19 (yeah, I know...weird number) week plan with a nice slow mileage buildup, but leaving plenty of time for some other fun races thrown into the mix including one or two more triathlons, Hood to Coast, and a couple half marathons.

My big goal is to be more consistent on completing all scheduled runs. Last fall I let myself slip a little, both on runs and on strength training (legs) and yoga/stretching as the weeks went by. I think the strengthening and stretching aspects are really key for a successful race and to keep me without injury so I'm going to focus on being more consistent there too. Previously, I was trying to do a leg strength day on the day before my long runs -- that left me without enough umph for completing a good strong long run. So this go-round, I'm changing it up and making it Wednesday instead.

I think I am coming in with a much stronger base this year too, due to staying on top of running this spring and early summer, which makes entering this training cycle also better than last year. I'm really excited about a new round of training!

Hope you had a great 4th of July!! Did you do anything to celebrate? We went to a friend's house to hang at the pool and then another for a BBQ. But not until after a morning run and hitting the pool for a few laps. Holidays are perfect for getting in some extra exercise!!

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