Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Better than Christmas! – Kristina

When I arrived home on Monday, it felt like Christmas. Waiting for me on the kitchen table was my official Boston Marathon Passport! Words cannot describe how excited I was. Reality is now setting in; I can’t believe the Marathon is right around the corner.

It felt so good to be somewhat back to normal health. Although a cough has been lingering, I did not let it slow me down. The weekly work outs went as well as planned. I was a little short on energy while still trying to recuperate but I was still able to get out there!

The biggest accomplishment in my training so far came Sunday. I participated in the Eastern States 20 mile road race. The race took place along the scenic seacoast from Maine to Massachusetts. My fellow race buddies were participating in a half marathon that day so it was just me and the road. I was determined to make it longer than the previous week (14 miles) without walking. I am proud to say that I was able to successfully complete all 20 miles without walking! This was the farthest I have ever run in my lifetime without stopping. This race gave me the much needed confidence boost for Marathon Monday.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

20….20….and Well Almost 20 – Kristina

Four weeks to go! Yikes! I still can’t believe I am doing this! Really me, I am running the Boston Marathon! This week may go down in the books as not the best week yet. Throughout the beginning of the week I was battling a stomach bug but still managed to get a few good workouts in, but then Thursday hit and so did the cough, cold, chills and bed. Due to not feeling well I ended up taking off three days from working out, something practically unheard of for me, but I could barely breath just sitting, never mind running. Then Sunday rolled around and so did our long run. I met the other two amigos at NWH for our normal weekend long run, and a long one it was. Sunday it was 20 degrees, with 20 mile per hour winds and our goal was 20 miles. The run started out pretty good, I was struggling a little on the hills but doing fairly well for feeling like I only had half a lung. I ran past the Citgo sign and saw the actual Boston Marathon finish line for the first time in my life! These were definitely the highlights of the day, but the rest I am pretty sure I would like to forget. After about 12/14 miles my body started shutting down. The last six miles back to the car was an extreme struggle, consisting of some jogging and mostly walking. I just could not get my legs to run even if I tried. I tried running from street sign to street sign, then I went to running on the down hills and walking up hills, to eventually just running when I can and walking the rest. Although it was probably one of the worst workouts of my life, now looking back I can’t believe I did it! It may not have been pretty, but this is the most distance in anything I have ever done before in my life. I ended up completing 19.30 miles, which is about 5/6 more miles than I have ever done before. As much as I am not looking forward to doing another 20 miles this upcoming weekend, I am looking forward to attempting another 20 miles! I know I know, that must not make any sense, but I am looking forward to bettering myself and improving on my experience from Sunday! This upcoming Sunday I am competing in the Eastern States 20 miler and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes! My goal is to focus on spreading out hydration, adding in more nutrition and keeping my head held high!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Longest Run Yet and Lululemon Event! – Kristina

Well it has been a crazy two weeks! I have been logging miles and lifting workouts during the week per usual. But last weekend was my longest run yet and boy did I test my body! Although it was only 14 miles (two less than I was hoping for) it truly put my body to the test. This was one of the first runs that my body had given out and I had to run/walk the last two miles, which is not something I like to do, but the key point here is listening to my body. I tend to push and push and push and run my body till it can’t take anymore. With marathon training this is something that I can’t do because whether I like it or not I have to get back out there the next day!

My Friday run after working two jobs, although only five miles, made me feel a true runner’s high! It was my best run to date. I beat my normal time by about 0:30 seconds per mile and I felt amazing after! I have not felt this good after a run in a long while and it truly brought the spirits up!

This Sunday’s long run was one that skipped right by me. I had an overnight shift the night before and was planning on meeting my running buddies Sunday morning, but my body had other thoughts in mind. The good thing was I listened to my body and sat the day out to sleep. If I ran that day I probably would have vomited and I probably would have put my body into complete exhaustion. With more and longer running workouts I am learning how much my body can handle and although I am pushing my body to extremes, I am allowing it to rest when needed.

One amazing event that my running buddies and I were able to attend was an event held by Lululemon, the athletic clothing store. This was an event for all Marathon runners in the area to get to know one another and hear each other’s stories as to why they are running the Marathon.  The staff was amazing and helped us try on clothing, allowed us to shop around for some swag and made us think about our future goals and dreams. I could not be happier to have been a part of such a great group of people. It is amazing how everyone in the room was running for a different cause yet we are all running together!

Radio Silence – Gabe

So a few weeks ago I got hit by a truck, not literally, but after 48 hours of the flu that’s what it felt like. I guess being around all those sick people caught up with me.  I lost a week of training from it. The symptoms started over the weekend, and I missed a long run, then sprint day. By the day before my tempo day I was feeling much improved, but I decided to lay low and get back to 100 percent. That weekend, I had 15 miles planned, and back on the treadmill I went. Previously, I had run 17 miles for my longest run, and felt pretty good.  But after a week of convalescing it turned out to be a bit of a battle. I completed the run, at the pace I had hoped for, but I was more fatigued than usual. It’s taken me awhile to recover completely from being under the weather. Getting back to my usual Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday routine has been tough.

But with the change in weather, there’s been the opportunity for snowmelt, and with snowmelt comes outside runs. Tuesday, I got in a few mile repeats outside, and man did it feel good to get some Vitamin D.  This past week, my training schedule called for a 20-mile run.  It’s the first of two of the longest runs planned through my training. I was excited for this run; I looked at it as a good gauge to see where I stood in my training regiment. I had planned to get out over the weekend, and tackle the run outside, though after looking at the weather report I made the executive decision to go out a day early. I was actually dressed and in the car headed to go skiing, when I turned the car around and came home, threw on my sneakers and GPS watch and hit the pavement. 

This last minute decision to run was questionable decision making on my part. I probably should have prepared for a run of this length a bit more. Typically Thursday and Friday, I try to start pushing fluids before my longer runs. I also make sure when I wake up (since I usually run first thing in the morning) I eat a good breakfast. I did neither of these before my 20 miler. I packed three Gu energy gels, two 9oz bottles of water and headed west.  I went down Washington St, past the Hospital, continued on Rte 16 to Rte 135 and went out to almost the Natick/Framingham line. I turned around at the 10-mile mark and started heading back.  At around the 15-mile mark, I was pretty tired, and at 18 miles I was gassed. I trudged on, and finished the 20 miles. My pace was slower than it had been inside on the treadmill, as expected, but what I didn’t expect was how taxing those extra miles were physically. 

Now, I’m not sure if it was the lack of preparation in the days before the run, or the change in running environment that made those last miles so much harder, or a combination of both, but I am trying to stay positive about the challenges I faced.  In the end I finished the run, I survived. I know I can do it. I know I can push myself a few more miles.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Advice from the Newton-Wellesley Experts - Danielle

The Great Music Debate
To run with music or not – it has been a very hot topic between runners of all ages and competition levels. At one point (2007), USATF banned the use of portable music devices in its sanctioned events. The ban was later amended, but the clash between headphone lovers and haters continues on. A growing subgroup of “plugged-in” runners wouldn’t even think about running unless they had their motivating playlists cheering them on. Unplugged traditionalists, however, think being aware of one’s body and surroundings is a fundamental part of running. There has been a conglomeration of studies published related to music and performance enhancement, yet the debate continues on.

What are the pros and cons of “plugging in”?
- Music can sometimes make running feel easier; studies find that music reduces your perception of how hard you are running. An external stimulus such as music can actually block some of the internal fatigue-related messages trying to reach the brain. When these messages are blocked, perceived effort may be reduced, so you may feel like you can run farther and faster.
- Music also elevates positive aspects of mood and reduces negative aspects such as tension, fatigue and confusion, so it can be used pre-performance to get runners into an optimal mindset.
-Let’s face it, sometimes even running junkies lack motivation to go out for a run, especially when the weekly mileage is piling up. Music can help us ‘stay on track’.

-  Listening to music can remove you from the other sounds that running produces, such as breathing and foot-strike, which are essential cues that give runners feedback related to effort.
- Listening to music also removes you from the environment you're in, which can be unsafe. Especially when running around the massive snow mounds of Boston right now. Doing so reduces awareness and increases reaction time.
- If one becomes dependent on music to run, they may lose sense of what might be truly motivating to them to do so.
- The ability to reflect and be at peace is something we've lost in our culture; we've lost it in favor of multitasking. Listening to music while running keeps us too “plugged in” and can prevent us from enjoying the running experience itself.

Bottom Line:
- For the average person, music can be a motivational force and can be used as a distraction from the boredom that some people often associate with exercise. However, not everyone views running as a means to an end – some people enjoy running itself and being aware of how their body is responding. You do not have to be a stellar athlete to be in tune with your body. 
- Music is not effective for those who focus intently on internal cues such as breathing and heart rate. This type of athlete tends to not derive as much benefit from external stimuli such as music.

So how can runners use music to their advantage?
- The benefits from music tend to occur at low to moderate running intensities.
- If an athlete can consciously tie in their cadence to the rhythm of music, it may result in more efficient oxygen use during running. To do this, you need to figure out your typical cadence for your leisurely run versus a tempo run, and then find music with beats that are slightly above that rate.

- If the music is too fast, it isn't likely to boost your performance or endurance, according to Brunel University sports psychology expert Costas Karageorghis, PhD. "Findings show there is a sweet spot, in terms of tempo, between 120 and 140 beats per minute," says Karageorghis, who has studied the effects of music on exercise for more than 20 years. "Beyond that, it doesn't improve enjoyment or any other psychological variable while exercising." Songs over 140 bpm are unlikely to improve workouts, he says.
- To kick into high gear when you need it most, pick one fast-paced song (at least 130 bpm) whose lyrics fire you up and position it to play at the point during your run when you usually feel terrible.

- For as much as I enjoy running itself, there are days when my legs are tired and I would rather crawl into bed rather than go for a long run…this is when I turn my music on!

Final thoughts from a running junkie: If you chose to listen to music, make sure to turn it down so you are not completely unaware of what is going on around you. If you use music for every workout, you can become desensitized to it or rely on it in races, so periodically unplug yourself from the busyness of this crazy world, take a deep breath of fresh air, take some time to reflect on life and become more in tune with your body and surroundings.

Suggested website – can search music by beats per minute or pace per mile: http://jog.fm/workout-songs