Why are you running so dang much?

Over the last couple of months (well except for the 10 days I was on vacation), I’ve been attempting to get my base mileage up.  My weeks leading up to vacation were: 72 km, 58 km, 90 km, and 100 km. Running two weeks over 80 kpw (50 mpw) when I don’t have a long race on the horizon for 3 months might seem like overkill to some, or like I’m asking for burnout or injury.  I don’t think they are, and here is why I’m training like this. Continue reading “Why are you running so dang much?”

Building a Strength Routine

For the past 3 years or more, I’ve been reliably fitting strength training into my schedule at least once a week.  Ideally, I try to strength train twice a week, and do yoga once.  Sometimes the second strength workout and/or the yoga slip, but I’ve been very reliably getting one workout in, and I do think that it has made a huge difference in how durable a runner I am.  Continue reading “Building a Strength Routine”

Marathon Training Update (and what’s with all that cross training??)

I haven’t blogged in a while, or given you an update on where my training is, so I thought it was about time!  Life has been busy as usual, and as always my blogging takes a back seat to both my running and my family.  But that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

I’m currently about 18 weeks out from my next marathon (Windermere in Spokane, WA).  If you follow me on either Facebook or Instagram, you might remember that I signed up for a distance education course on Marathon Training.  (If you don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you SHOULD! 😉 )

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I’m not 100% sure where this is going to take me as I currently have a full time job, a family, and am actually pretty busy.  I love running though, and am really passionate about helping people, and would love to learn more and be able to help people reach their running goal.  Because of this, I’ve decided that I would make myself my first guinea pig (aka client). 

I’ve been doing A TON of reading lately, well actually this isn’t really a new thing; I’ve always loved reading books about running, and training, and have just been digging into some new books lately.  I’ve specifically been reading a lot about Heart Rate training, and have also reading Brad Hudson’s Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to be your Own Best Coach.  For this cycle I’m taking Hudson’s Marathon 2 plan, and adapting it to fit with my schedule, my Running Partner’s schedule, and with my body and my needs. 

Here are the primary goals that I’m attempting to balance right now. 

  1. Run, lots, mostly easy.  I’ve been running really consistently since my second daughter was born, and my body is fairly happy with moderate mileage right now.  I know that lots of people think that the 40 mpw ish that I call moderate is A LOT, and others think that it’s peanuts… it’s so relative!  My body is used to this base, and I am extremely grateful to be in this place.
  2. Strength Train as much as I can, focusing on core, hips, glutes, etc.  I am of the firm belief that this is a huge reason why my body is happy with my current running volume.  The stronger it is the better able it is to withstand the running volume.  Right now, I’m working hard on incorporating 2 strength sessions a week.  It’s not always easy, I’m busy, and like most runners, running trumps all other workouts, but it’s important, so I’m making it a priority.  One big change I’ve made this cycle is to actually schedule these sessions into my training plan.
  3. Crosstrain.  I’ve never really cross trained much before.  Sure, I will bike or do other activities when I can’t run, or for a few months when I’ve lost my mind and signed up for a multisport race (haha!), but I’ve never made it a priority.  Why?  Because I’m a runner, so, well, I like to run.  Much like the strength training, I’m scheduling this in.  I have a bike trainer at home now, and bought the speed and cadence sensor for my bike (why?  Graphs, that’s why.)  This cycle, I’m attempting to have at least 2 non-running workouts per week (usually running or swimming, or the occasional x-country ski).
  4. Recover.  This is so important, and hard to do unless it is scheduled!  I’m taking a recovery week at a minimum of every 3 weeks, and sometimes more often, I’m also trying to build total rest days into my schedule.  Some weeks, I do not have a full rest day, just easy days, some weeks I have one day with absolutely nothing scheduled.  Everyone has different needs for recovery, and so far this is working well for me.  The other important building blocks of recovery are nutrition and sleep.  I’m trying to fuel my runs properly and to eat soon after them.  I’m also working hard at prioritizing sleep.  This is sometimes a challenge as my alarm is set for somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 Monday through Friday.  I do my best to get my butt into bed early so that I have the energy to get through the day!

I heard a coach compare writing an athlete’s schedule out to being much like a game of Tetris… remember Tetris?  It clicked for me at that point why I liked writing out running schedules so much!  I love me some Tetris…


I have another new tool in my arsenal.  It’s a new Training Schedule website.  It’s a bit different from the other ones out there, such as Strava or Dailymile (which I still love and post to – so feel free to go follow me there also!)  This new tool is NOT social at all (crazy I know!), but is a site that only I have access to, and can plan my future workouts, and have my garmin upload my current/past workouts to.  The site is http://www.TrainingPeaks.com  It’s often used by coaches to design their client’s workouts, and you can search/hire coaches through the site, or use it simply for your own use.  I bought a premium membership for myself because I liked the format so much, and have not regretted it for a second. It’s easy to use, and I love that I can plan out my training cycle, and watch as the workouts are completed.

So this post ended up being more an update on my philosophy than my training… oooops!  As for my training, it’s going well.  Below is a snapshot from TrainingPeaks of what I’ve been up to.  I’m learning a lot, and trying to adapt that to myself, I’m not sure exactly where that will take me, but I’m excited to find out.  Hopefully it’ll have me running more and faster in the coming year!


SeeyalaterMAF and on to Something New!

This week officially marks the end of the boring disciplined MAF running.  I won’t lie, I’m ridiculously excited to add some other ‘stuff’ back into my running!  That said, I have zero regrets in my running over the last 8 weeks (I had to go back and count the weeks – and yay for me, I lasted 8 weeks!)

First off, what did I think of MAF?  (If you want to know what MAF is and why I started training with it, read this post).

Overall, it was great.  I think it was the ideal way to get back into running post marathon, and I think I’ll do it after future marathon’s and ‘big’ races, or anytime that my body starts to get overworked and tired.  I can feel a HUGE difference in how I’ve recovered from the Okanagan marathon this fall compared to the Calgary Marathon last spring.  After Calgary I took it easy for the first month, but then jumped back into things.  From day one of my marathon cycle for the Okanagan marathon my legs had tight spots, my hips felt sore, etc.  I still felt beat up from the previous marathon cycle.  I also raced a half marathon just 5 weeks after the Calgary marathon.  Then I jumped into a Pfitz marathon cycle with both feet.  Obviously it all ended alright, and I don’t really have any regrets, but in the future I think I’ll try to recover more like I have from this last marathon.

I’ve spent the last 8 weeks running almost all my runs in my MAF heart rate zone.  There have been exceptions (like when it was crazy cold out), but even during those exceptions, I kept my effort level EASY.  I’ve also been working my mileage up nice and slowly, really trying to ease into things.  At the same time, I’ve been making my gym workouts a priority.  They had slipped a little, if not in frequency, then in quality, over the last month or two of the marathon cycle.  It’s really hard to balance everything and get everything in, and my Strength Training definitely suffered.  I’ve been working really hard in the gym, and have had a sore ass for a lot of the last 6 weeks or so, and I can really tell that I’m getting stronger.  My body feels more solid and stable.

Weekly km's for the last 8 weeks.
Weekly km’s for the last 8 weeks.

Over the last week or two I’ve also noticed a big difference in my paces.  I’ve felt bouncier, faster, and way better on my runs than I have in ages.  Last night I ran 8k, I took the first few km’s easy, my paces were 6:11, and 6:06 for the first 2 k, with my HR staying around 135 (my Max MAF is 145).  The remaining km’s were 5:34, 5:37, 5:31, 5:32, 5:19 (my HR steadily rose up to around 160), my last km was over a lot of super icy areas, and crossing back over McLeod, so was a slower 5:47/km.  My average HR for the entire run was 146, so just outside my MAF zone.  I’m really happy with this run, and feel like especially with the icy paths it shows that I have improved a lot over the last couple months of MAF running.  I didn’t actually do a MAF test, so don’t know exactly what my improvements were, but I feel great, and I’m looking forward to training hard through another cycle to see how it plays out in some races next year.

So all that said, What’s Next?

My plan for the next 4 weeks (starting next week) is to do a McMillan Hill Block.  I really like the idea of starting out a cycle with some hills.  They add a lot of strength, which in turn becomes speed later on.  The pathways are icy here, and I don’t want to pay to use an indoor track on a regular basis, so in Calgary during the winter, hills are much easier than speed.  I did a McMillan Hill Block last year before the Calgary marathon cycle, and it worked great.  This time around, I’m stepping it up a bit and doing the 6-7 days per week plan.  I’ve been running more, and working on getting my weekly average up around 60 kpw, and hope that I can keep that up, building a nice solid base so that I’m ready for a solid marathon cycle to start somewhere around the end of January/beginning of February.

I’m also going to try to get a bit more crosstraining in (because time is something I have in abundance, right… :-/ ).  The plan right now is to swim on Monday mornings, and do yoga on Fridays.  I’m hoping to get a short strength training session in sometime on the weekends also depending on the family schedule.  I’m excited and determined to spend 2015 getting into the best shape of my life, and enjoying every minute of it!

Here’s a snapshot of my basic plan that I’ve laid out.  Of course I’m sure it’ll change and move around as life happens (especially with Christmas happening in the middle of it).  I love making a plan though so had to get something on paper!


And by ‘paper’ I actually mean a very cool new training website that I’m now subscribing to.  It’s the site that a lot of trainers use to assign workouts to and track their clients.  It’s called Training Peaks.  There is a free version that you can use to link and track past workouts, but if you want to plan future workouts and use some of their more advanced analytics, then you have to pay for it.  I decided that the cost was totally worth it, as I love spending time planning and analyzing things.  Since I’ve upgraded to the paid version and have spent more time playing with it, I’m loving it more and more.  It’s different than the other tracking sites I’ve been using (Strava and dailymile) as it’s not social at all.  No one is going to see or ‘like’ your workouts, but it has a lot of data and is a very cool tool if you like to review workouts and plan them.


A Day in the Life of Lori and Terry’s Strength Training – The Outdoor Edition!

Lori and I have a standing date every week for a medium long run, and strength training session.  We’ve been running up to 16 km’s and then going to the gym afterwards.  Since we’re now tapering for our marathon, our distances are going down, we decided to change up the strength training this week also.  We met on Tuesday night this week, and it was a lovely sunny day (something we haven’t had a lot of this spring)!  Lori suggested that we run in Griffith Woods, which is a beautiful park, but doesn’t have a ton of distance for longish runs, and then she suggested we workout in the park afterwards.  Awesome idea I thought!! Continue reading “A Day in the Life of Lori and Terry’s Strength Training – The Outdoor Edition!”

A Day in the Life of Lori and Terry’s Strength Training

Lori (my running partner) and I have been pretty dedicated to strength training for a while now.  We each aim to lift weights twice a week if possible, and most weeks we strength train together once a week.  I think that this is one of the BIG reasons that I haven’t had any significant injuries since my DNF at the 2011 Calgary Marathon, despite running more than ever before.  I wanted to do a few blog posts summarizing the kinds of things we do.  Here’s the workout we did last night: Continue reading “A Day in the Life of Lori and Terry’s Strength Training”

Sunday Runday, a Soup recipe, and finding time to blog…

It seems as if it’s been FOREVER since I’ve blogged… and I guess that’s because it has been.  I know there are a lot of bloggers out there who do a great job of writing nearly every day, or at least a few times a week.  The question was asked in a group of bloggers I’m a part of last week, “How do you schedule, or plan out your blog posts?”  Well the truth is, I really don’t.  I write when I have time, and when something inspires me.  I’d love to write more, but I have a lot of things in my life that trump blogging; family, work, running…. just to name a few.  I do love sharing my journey though, and have really enjoyed what this blog has become, so I’ll continue to write when I can.  Continue reading “Sunday Runday, a Soup recipe, and finding time to blog…”

What I’ve learned so far: Injury Edition

One of my greatest victories of 2013 was making it through *mostly* injury free.  (I did have a slight tweak in my left Achilles/calf just before the marathon, that caused me to cut my taper mileage and see my chiro).  In the past, anytime that I’ve gotten my mileage up, I’ve ended up injured.  When I look back on those injuries, I think to myself – “DUH… no wonder I got injured”.  When I think back to when I first started running, it’s actually comical, how little I knew.  Now, please do not interpret that as me laughing, or making light of anyone with less experience.  I do hope though, that maybe by sharing some of the hard lessons I’ve learned, maybe I can save a few people from learning things the hard way, from the sidelines. Continue reading “What I’ve learned so far: Injury Edition”

Anyone want to pay me to workout?? Anyone?

I had a great day yesterday.  I wish every day could be like that.  In the morning we headed to the gym, the girls went in the daycare, and I met Lori for a workout.  I started by running 2 miles for a warm-up, and then we did our weights workout.  I haven’t had a good strength training session in a while, so it was great!  We did a lot of our normal routine including:

  • Chest press
  • Deadlifts with a row
  • Kettlebell cleans
  • Side shuffles w/ a resistance band
  • Some TRX Abs – One new move from Lauren Fleshman’s blog, and pikes
  • Side planks
  • rolling and stretching… I always like rolling at the gym because they have the black uber hard foam rollers, soooo much pain, but oh so good!

My daughter has her daycamp on Thursday afternoons, so I loaded up my road bike and running gear.  I dropped her off at daycamp, and then had 2 glorious hours to myself.  I drove out to the highway, and got on my bike heading west towards the mountains.  I love cycling in the foothills, it’s hilly but so beautiful.  The ride was nice, the wind was in my face on the way out, and therefore at my back on the way back.  I managed a nice negative split over my 20km ride.  After the ride, I swapped my bike shoes for my running shoes, had a quick honey stinger waffle,  and set out for my 5k run.  I was in a bit of a hurry because I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to spare before having to pick up my daughter.  I just ran along an adjacent rural highway, staying on the left side facing traffic to be safe.  It would have been nicer to run in the city on the pathways, but I wanted it to be a true brick, running right after getting off my bike.  I was surprised to feel so good.  I started off downhill, which helped, but I was running at a good clip, and my legs felt super bouncy.  I finished my 5k in just over 27 minutes, which is a good time for me, after a day of working out, and a couple of other hard workouts this week (Tempo on Tuesday, and medium long run on Wednesday).  

I thought after my day of working out that this must be like a(n easy) day in the life of Kara Goucher, or some other pro runner.  Workout in the morning, lunch, more running and working out in the afternoon… except I think they also get a nap and a massage in there somewhere.  Oh the life, it would be amazing for it to be your JOB to run… So if anyone is looking for a mediocre, middle of the pack runner, who struggles with injury, I’m your girl 🙂