Monday, February 28, 2011

Toughest Week Yet – Jenna

This past week I had a bit of a setback. I was not able to get my long run for last week in until this past Monday, due to the below 0 temperatures on Sunday in Vermont. I woke up early Monday morning and got all my gear together for a 15 miler along the Charles. Unfortunately, I forgot to check the weather, and it was snowing. I decided I wasn't going to let this get the best of me, so I packed on the layers and headed out. The Charles walking/running/biking trails had yet to be plowed and were extremely slick. Not to mention the snow was coming in sideways and I was having trouble seeing. All was well until mile 11, when I wiped out. I went down sideways on both knees, and it took me a good five minutes to get the feeling back in the lower half of my body. I decided to walk for five minutes or so, and compose myself, and wouldn't you know I fell again – on both knees. I knew at this point I had done some damage. I managed to jog/walk the last mile home, so unbelievably disappointed I couldn't finish. When I got home and could assess the damage, I found I had bumps on both knees where things had already swelled up, both knees were cut open, and already semi-bruised – worst case scenario. So to make a long story short, sore knees and hips, coupled with my shin splints, made for a very light week. I was able to get about seven miles in two 3.5-mile runs, and an hour of yoga.

I was super disappointed about this, but I knew taking the time to heal was important as I approach my longest runs yet. I had to skip my long run this weekend, and am hoping to make up some of that lost mileage this week in preparation for my 18 miler this weekend. Trying to keep my chin up here! Stay Tuned!

Figuring Out Walk Breaks – Jacqui

Week 6 was slightly better than last week. I felt great during the week as the mileage was the same for my short runs, but the long run was just as hard and longer at 15 miles. This is the first long run where I ended up walking more than my designated walk breaks, which is walking for ½ mile every five miles. Though I walked the long distance more than I would have liked, I did end the last two miles running at my goal pace. The exciting thing is that I think that I discovered a problem with my walk breaks; they seem to be a little too long. When I start running again after my second walk break, my legs all of a sudden feel like they have cement blocks on them. I thought it would be good to get a long rest in, but my body seems to get the idea that we are all done and starting back up is very hard. I did a little research and found that a lot of people recommend walking for one minute every 10 minutes or every mile. That seems like a whole lot of starting and stopping to me, but my way doesn’t seem to be working so well. I have been drinking a gulp of water every one mile and eating energy gels every five miles, so the new walk breaks will coincide with this and make for more coordinated drinking and geling.

I also took a couple of walks on Commonwealth this week to check out the hills and the snow. It is still pretty icy at places, but I feel that I can finally start training outside this week! I am hoping that the change of scenery mixed with the enthusiasm of fellow runners will help with the longer runs. The hills are as long and steep as rumored, especially given that they are at the 20-mile mark of the run. My plan is to power walk the hills with the jogging stroller on my cross training days, so come race day the hills will seem easier without my 27-pound son along for the ride!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Running with Audio Books – Elise

I had a good longer run (six miles) Saturday afternoon/evening. The only issue I had was that I started off when it was still light and warm outside and then realized about halfway through my run that the sun was going down and it was getting chilly quickly. I made it back with only some numb extremities but with little damage. I am almost done with "The Help" (audio book) so I went online and got another one, "Cutting for Stone". It sounds really good so now I am eager to run so I can listen to it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Tough Week – Jacqui

Five weeks down and only nine more weeks until I run in the Boston Marathon! I need to keep making statements like this so that I actually start to believe the realness of it all. This was a HARD week for me. My late entry is proof of this, as I felt that I had very little positive things to write about. This week’s mileage was 27 miles, almost one mile over what I will do in ONE run on that fateful day in April. Now those of you who are runners may not understand this, but I am sure that the rest of you are with me on this one: 26.2 miles is a REALLY long distance to run! That is the kind of distance that takes some time even in a car. All along I had been convinced that I would slowly get used to running longer and longer distances and that come April, 26.2 miles would not seem so insanely far. Yes I have been slowly ramping up the distances, but no I haven’t come anywhere near getting used to it!

This week’s long run was a half marathon, which is three miles longer than last week’s long run. To say that the run was very hard would be an understatement. I did complete my goal, which was to run a 12-minute mile snail pace and to only walk for a half mile every five miles. Upon completion of the run I quickly showered and got in the car to meet up with my family for a party. I got extremely nauseated while in the car and it lasted for a good 20-30 minutes beyond my arrival. I also had multiple severe toe pains. I was basically a wreck and it was only half the distance of the marathon!

This was very disheartening to say the least. I was demoralized, exhausted and in a whole lot of pain. The next day I slept a lot and I drained the blisters under my toenails, which provided much relief of my toe pains. I also decided to take the next two days off from my regimen to get back on my feet – literally. I was secretly afraid that I had begun to give up. It wasn’t until week six began that I started feeling like myself again. I don’t know if it was the extra sleep or the lack of excruciating toe pain, but something happened that made me want to get back into my running shoes again. I rearranged my running schedule for week six so that my weekly mileage was not affected by my two-day break. I was able to arrange things so that I only lost one day of exercise and it was only a cross-training day. I also realized that week six should be slightly easier as it will be the first week that I am not on the accelerated running schedule. When I first found out that I was going to run Boston, the marathon was only 14 weeks away. I was unable to find a running plan for non-runners for that short of duration. I guess bells and sirens should have gone off in my head at this point, but instead I modified the first five weeks of an 18-week schedule. I tweaked the schedule to ramp up my workout every week instead of every other week until I caught up with the 18-week schedule. Now this will be the first week that I will have a whole extra week to get used to a regimen before it advances again. Week six here I come!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Long Ski Runs – Todd

It is ski and snowboard season so for a few weeks in a row my long runs are being replaced by long runs of a different variety. This week I ran shorter distances of four and six miles. On the six-mile run I ran with my new full-length compression tights for the first time. They were not as warm as my other running pants. However, as the temperature rises my main concern will be keeping cool.

Running With the Running Club – Jenna

Running with the L Street running club was the best decision I made regarding my marathon training so far. It has made planning my long runs less stressful and more enjoyable. Each weekend they set a new route for the marathon training program long run, and you can choose to do some or all of it – they leave the decision up to you. They email out directions the week before that you can print out and take with you to navigate along the route, although there are usually so many volunteers along the route to help you find your way and make sure you’re okay, you don't even need them.

The running, snack and first aid stops along the way help ease your mind about remembering everything you need to take with you. The volunteers cheer you on, ask how you’re doing and will assist you if ever you needed to turn back or were hurt. Whether a seasoned marathoner or a novice like me, everyone is so welcoming and interested in what and how you’re doing. This past weekend I met a nice woman from Quincy who I ran with the last few miles as we chatted and cheered each other on (especially as we ran single file along Morrissey Blvd – not the safest street in Boston to be on foot).

My goals for this week are to get my running sneaks re-evaluated and possible have some arch supports put it, as I am suffering a bit from some shin soreness. Icing and stretching this week will also be a priority. I will be away in VT this weekend with my fiancĂ©’s family, and will be doing my long run up there. I am looking forward to the change in scenery.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Icy Run – Elise

So my 17-mile run was not so bad. I felt physically good after the run and didn't have too many points at which I wanted to quit. I ran the loop on the Charles River from the Science Museum bridge to the Watertown bridge. It was a nice loop but I will say it was incredibly icy. At times I just had to get onto the closest street and run because the path was a sheet of ice. It slowed my time down so I feel like I didn't get an accurate read on my pace. I am hoping in three weeks when I have my 20-mile run it will be better conditions. I also practiced my water and snack amounts on this run. It seems about every 45 minutes a sip or two of water and a Gu energy gel seem to be just the trick.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Expert Advice: Run Relaxed

Many distance runners, especially novices, complain of shoulder/neck pain and/or headaches as distances exceed 10 miles. Part of the problem can be how you carry your frame while running. Everyone has a different style, take a look around. Some people run on their toes, others on their heels. Some swing their arms and rotate their trunk, while others hold fairly still. However you run, don't try to make any major changes at this point in your training, if it’s working for you then go with it. There are some small suggestions that can help you stay relaxed, stay focused and take your mind off some of those negative thoughts that creep into your head.

Potato Chip Pinch: Imagine you are running while holding a potato chip between your thumb and middle finger. Some people tend to make a tight fist while running, and then the tension creeps up your arms and into your shoulders and neck. Keeping relaxed hands, will help you keep the arms loose and relaxed.

Shoulders Down: Check yourself; especially if you’re doing an outside run and its cold…don't we live in New England? Are your shoulders hunched up around your ears with your head forward? Try to relax your shoulders back and down, so that your arms are again light. This is where the majority of the neck soreness comes in – the upper trapezius. That’s the muscle on either side of your neck that connects the neck and shoulders…lots of tension here typically!

Jell-O Jaw: Again, especially in the cold weather, many people end up clenching their teeth and keep a very tight jaw. Try holding your tongue on the roof of your mouth and let your jaw be loose and wiggly…like Jell-O!

Pick something to regularly remind you to think about your hands, shoulders and jaw. Maybe every mile or so, every new song, every time you drink some water, have a Swedish fish, etc. Frequently check in. Focus on your tension state and that will also help you keep your mind focused while knocking down those miles. Good luck this weekend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hitting the Wall – Jenna

It is amazing how 10 miles seemed far, and now onto 14+ miles, things are getting easier as the miles fly by. Typically things are going well. I'm staying healthy and making sure I am eating and drinking enough so I don't get run down. It is also getting easier to decline late night plans Saturday night, and hit the hay early so I have plenty of energy for my long runs on Sunday mornings. However, I learned the hard way this past weekend, upon mile 11 of 14, what "hitting the wall" really feels like. I haven't been good about bringing Swedish fish, my running food of choice, with me, and although I wasn't mentally tired, I felt like I just couldn't stay moving. I felt totally fatigued, like my legs were made out of lead, which had me walk/jogging the last three miles, and eventually calling it quits a bit short of 14. I won't make this mistake again! My goal this week is to try the "goo" and see how I like that. All in all, training is going well and what is keeping me on track is the fact that every mile accomplished will make those 26.2 miles easier come April 18!

Battle in My Mind – Jacqui

I just completed week four of 14 weeks of training. The mileage is really beginning to add up as my training plan ramps up. This week alone I ran 22 miles. I am proud to report that I hit a “cool” first milestone: my short run was six miles this week, the same distance of my long run in week one! It is pretty hard to believe that I could think of a six mile run as short, but this shows how quickly things are progressing.

Thankfully, my body seems to be taking the abuse in stride (bad pun I know). Once I purchased real running shoes and began a more rigorous stretching program, my pains seemed to fade away.

Though I have put in a lot of mileage to date, I still have not found that elusive runner’s high. On my 10-mile long run this week, the miles seemed to pass slower and slower – though I did keep the same pace. I am beginning to see that the true battle is going to be in my mind, not my body. Surprisingly my legs are able to keep moving without much protest. It is the mental aspect of willing them to do so that is challenging.

I have experimented a little in meditation running and that really helps me pass the miles the best. In this practice, I think of nothing and look at a white brick wall while running on the treadmill (still no outside training due to the weather). If my mind wanders to a thought, then I just refocus again on nothingness. Since I have never been one to meditate, this is not easy for me and is taking some practice. So for the time being, I switch around from watching a show on TV, to listening to music on my iPod, to meditative running. This week I also plan to dabble in some audiobooks that I downloaded. I just need to find something to get my mind off the mileage marker and I think I will be all set!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fuel Trial Run – Todd

The snowstorm last week kept me from running again until the long run that ended week six. I wanted to try something different with nutrition and hydration in an attempt to feel better for runs longer than nine miles. For a future long run I will try some high-tech sports bars and gels but first I wanted to try something simple. I bought CVS Brand Candy Orange Slices for 99 cents. There were 23 in the bag. I ate a couple every mile and drank three Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemonades, one every four miles. All of that totaled to about 1100 calories and 20 ounces. I ran 15 miles, of which the first 13 felt great. I couldn’t taste anything sweet for the rest of the day. I ran back and forth on Comm Ave between Walnut Street and the Mass Pike with a hundred or so other runners training for the Marathon. After my run I took my kids to the Museum of Science where we had lunch, watched an Imax Film about the Great Lakes and wandered around the exhibit halls. This morning I saw only one other runner while running faster than my normal pace for three miles through slush.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting Ready for 17 – Elise

Not much to update from my last blog. I ran my longer weekend run (six miles) on Friday of this past week because I was taking a short trip to New York City. This was my first time in New York City and I think the amount of walking I did made up for not taking any runs. This coming weekend I will be doing a 17-mile run. I think I have decided on doing the Charles River Loop, from St. Auburn's bridge to the Science Museum bridge. My audio book is getting really good so it is keeping me motivated to run, since I only allow myself to listen while I'm running.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Expert Advice: Shoe Wear and Foot Problems

Bruised toe nails? Get ready for them to fall off. The first two toes are particularly prone to bruising and can be related to shoes being even a 1/2 size too small. I'd make sure you keep your toe nails trimmed short and look into getting a slightly larger pair of shoes. Given that we have 2 1/2 months until the Marathon, you have plenty of time to break in a new pair. Actually, this is the perfect time to get new ones…because come race day, your current shoes will be 2 1/2 months older and have at least 320 more miles on them! Can you believe it?

It is recommended that you replace running shoes every four to six months or 400 miles, depending on body weight and your distance, frequency, etc. I'd suggest buying two pairs of the same shoe now, and alternate them with each run you do. This way, come race day, they're not worn out (only 120 miles each) but they're both broken nicely.

Basically, running shoes come in one of three basic styles: cushioned, stability and motion control. Cushioned shoes are typically recommended for runners with a neutral or high arch who just need cushioning and a shoe that lets their foot move naturally. On the other end of the spectrum are motion control shoes that have a reinforced arch with high density foam built into the arch. These shoes are better for people with collapsed arches/flat feet and will help to control overpronation (collapse of the arch during running). Stability shoes are a blend of motion control and cushioning for those that might be mild overpronators, but want more cushioning/less support.

If your current shoes are working for you, then don't rock the boat, stick with what works. If you're not sure, then visit one of the many great running specialty stores in the area or feel free to contact me. They'll be able to evaluate your foot type and gait pattern and make some recommendations. Bottom line, it should be comfortable! Run easy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Learning about Hydration - Todd

I ended week five of my training with an 11-mile run on Saturday. I went up and down Commonwealth Avenue between the Fire Station and Boston College. My older kids were in a science class all morning, so I played Cars (the movie) with my youngest son for two hours in the morning. After a small lunch I started my run. I rehydrated with “Honest Kids” juice pouches, the same ones my kids drink at school. I drank one every four miles. The first nine miles were great and the last two were miserable. I hope I can do something different with my nutrition and rehydration next week. On Sunday the kids and I went sledding and my legs didn’t feel too bad climbing up the hills. I started week six training today before the snowstorm. Some of my friends are becoming my unofficial coaches with recommendations for specialized compression garments and speed work. I haven’t decided to buy the fancy pants, but I did run two of my four miles today at a pace of eight min/mile, over one min faster than my regular pace.

Week 3 of 14 – Jacqui

My body and my treadmill are beginning to feel the effects of all the mileage that has been adding up: 52 miles to date! I have watched my treadmill calorie counter reach 999 – only to then start over at zero! I have also discovered that my treadmill has its own thoughts about marathon running. It apparently thinks no human should run for prolonged periods, as it stops when the clock goes over 99 minutes. This was not a fun fact to discover. As I was nearing the end of the longest run of my life (nine miles), suddenly the treadmill stopped! I suppose I am lucky that I didn’t fall and hurt myself, but I wasn’t thinking about how “lucky” I was at the time.

I am observing the effect running is having on my body. I have developed a bruised toe, which probably means a good pair of running shoes is in order. I fear breaking in a new pair of shoes, but at this point I think either the shoes go or the toenail goes. And after a long run the other day, I also had soreness under my arms. Who would ever think one could experience chaffing there? I have also begun to develop stiffening and tightness down my left leg. I was thankfully able to easily identify the area of concern and initiate a relieving stretching regimen. Though these problems all seem easily fixable, they have opened my eyes to the demands I am asking of my body.

Since I’m burning so many calories on long runs, I am beginning to wonder about other aspects of the marathon – like hydration, nutrition and digestion. I looked for a couple of books on the logistics of running a marathon. There are actually many of them out there. Believe it or not, there is even a Marathon Training for Dummies book! Since I sometimes feel totally clueless about what I have gotten myself into, I figured that was a good book for me. Hopefully next week, I will be a whole lot more informed and slightly more experienced!