Thursday, January 31, 2013

Trail and Trial

By Two Little Runners ~ Kristen

I too ventured outdoors this week and did my first (and, so far, only) outdoor run of 2013. With temperatures downright balmy in the 40s, I ran a 10 miler along the Hudson River path over the weekend. 

My hotel is in TriBeCa, so I ran the south part of the path. The Hudson River path runs way up north to upper upper upper west side heights, as Penny calls her neighborhood, and beyond. (Penny and I ran the northern portion of this path when I was last in NYC for work during the fall, so I’ve run almost the entire Hudson River path in two runs!)

I ran from the World Trade Center up to 54th St. and back. The most scenic part of the route was through Chelsea. The path is nicely landscaped and built with tourists in mind - so they can wonder around after checking out Chelsea piers.

The most impressive sites along these parts are architectural. Not pictured is the Statue of Liberty. You can see it from the Canal St. pier, if you squint. 

WTC 1 - AKA Freedom Tower
Built near the site where the Twin Towers once stood, this tower
dominates the skyline of lower Manhattan.
The US Intrepid, now a museum.
The off beat Frank Geary building in Chelsea.
This week, I continued my marathon training with 30 easy, aerobic base-building miles. All easy paces (for all the treadmillers out there, 7.1/8:27) with a sprinkling of strides, fartleks, and short progressions. 

I'm struggling with consistency and volume at the moment. I've been sick almost constantly (along with most of the trial team), and again this week, prompting a renaming of our trial conference room from "The War Room" to "The Infirmary." Three doctor's visits since arriving on 12/27. I never see the doctor three times in a year - let alone in one month!

So in January, I took 12 days completely off of exercise due to illness. While I am doing the best I can to stay fit, I don't know how effective my training has been this month.

My current thinking is that I need to extend my base building period by a few weeks after I get back to San Diego (someday?) to allow time to build on my aerobic base while healthy and when I'm back to regular hours like a normal person. And to give myself time to gain back some strength (because haven't lifted weights since December) before engaging in more intense training. I can't even handle the thought of a tempo run at the moment!

~ Kristen

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fueling for Morning Runs II and Running in the Snow

BREAKING NEWS.  I FINALLY braved the cold and snow. It was 10 degrees the other morning, and when I checked the weather, I thought I had accidentally switched my phone to Celsius mode. F-degrees. F for Fahrenheit, F for Fail, F for Effen cold.

Proof, PROOF that there was snow. This was not the snow I ran in. My snow was everywhere and much colder.

I got up, got dressed, and went to go outside to the gym before work, and despite there being snow everywhere, it didnt feel toooo horrifically spirit-crushingly cold. So I decided to run in it. I'd never run actually on snow before, so that was an experience. I learned that if its dry and powdery, its actually got a fair bit of traction. That said, I am a massive klutz, and I didn't want to risk slipping, so I decided to head to the one place in the world - if there was ever one - that would likely have been cleared of snow by 8am in the morning: Central Park. Did a solid 8 miles (big loop + 1 mile to and from) and came home, immensely proud of my new-found bravery.

Total running mileage January 20-26: 38 miles. Mostly easy pace (around 8:00min/miles) with some fartleks and the occasional tempo mile here and there.

In other news, I got a few interesting responses to my questions re Fueling for Morning Runs - specifically hard workouts (I am fine to run on an empty stomach when its easy) - which Im going to copy and paste below:

My childhood friend Racer, said he runs fasted except the occasional long run: 
"[F]or anything under 2 hours I do all my morning runs with no fuel. When I did the handful of 30km+ runs I ate a banana before heading out and made sure there were plenty of drink points along my planned course. I don't know, but I've been told running on empty forces your body to be efficient? As for am sessions, I try to avoid doing speed work less than an hour after waking up. I'm told that when you sleep your core temp drops and it takes an hour or so to warm up in the morning. High intensity work before it warms up is risky. I figure tempo work is OK though - HMRP and slower isn't really high intensity.

As a side-note, when we were in kindergarten, our mothers made me and Racer matching tracksuits. Maybe we should do that again for a race back in Melbs, whaddaya reckon R?

Jake, who is far too great an athlete/runner to not be listened to, also said he runs unfueled:
"I never eat before running in the mornings. I'm usually up and out the door in 15-20 minutes. I find that eating some carbs before bed (ice cream!) is helpful :-)
I've gotten myself very used to running on an empty stomach.
Training "fasted" at times is definitely advantageous in marathon training - as Racer said, your body learns to be efficient and use fat as fuel.
Speed work in the morning can be tough. It helps to go a bit slower on your first couple reps (if doing an interval type workouts) or start the first mile or two (if doing a tempo run) a little slower b/c it does take some time to wake up and warm up."
Roserunner takes in some extra calories before her epic morning long runs before she heads to work [no one messes with this girl's three dinners or mileage plans]:
"I almost only run in the morning, and almost never eat beforehand. I just eat huge dinners. Not so much that I go to bed stuffed, but enough calories to fuel me up to 15 miles in the a.m. Which is to say my dinner+dessert is typically at least 1400-1800 calories."

And of course my co-star and fellow trial minion, Kristen who hates running on an empty stomach... so her approach is to have just a little oatmeal before heading out:
"I hate unfueled runs, even easy ones! Downing a very small amount of oatmeal (less than 1/4 cup) about 20 minutes before I start out makes a huge difference. By the time I am warmed up, I have just enough fuel, but no discomfort in my stomach."

Finally, I found some great advice from the website of the disarmingly honest, humble and all-round awesome US 5000m runner, Lauren Fleshman:
  1. Get up 2-3 hours before the run and eat something “real” like a couple eggs and toast, or some oatmeal with some nuts, or 1 cup of good quality yogurt with berries and cereal, or other meal options with some protein and fat. Protein takes time to digest, but if you have the time, eating a breakfast like this leaves you well fueled for a tough morning session or race. I’d keep the total calories under 600.
  2. Eat something easy to digest 30-90 minutes before, like a piece of toast with a little butter (or a small amount of peanut butter) and jam. This is my favorite option because I like to sleep in. Calorie estimate is between 150-350 depending on how much time you have.
  3. If you are a roll-out-of-bedder, suck down a Powergel or an all natural Liquid Gold 5-15 minutes before you run with a little water. I do this when I have a basic endurance run, but never before a tough workout.
So basically, Im going to sum it up all this fantastic advice in a really generalized and altogether pretty unhelpful way. Everyone is different. I'm pretty sure we all just need to figure out what works for us through trial and error. I'm happy to know that running fasted is not uncommon, and I'll definitely keep doing that while it works. If I have a particularly epic tempo or key interval workout planned, I might keep it for the evening so I have something in the system.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fueling for Morning Runs

Leading up to Vegas, I began doing most of my runs in the evening, for two reasons. First, the race was in the evening, so I was trying to prep my body to know when it was time to run. Second, I just couldn't complete any kind of hard workouts in the morning on an empty stomach, and I could never seem to get up early enough to eat such that I would feel "fueled" on the run.  And I noticed a big difference in the energy I had for evening runs. I would have had at least a half day of eating (800 calories ish) and then would time a carb-y snack about 2 hours before the workout (a single banana or 3 shot blocks - around 100 calories of pure carbs - was the best).

Yesterday I did an easy 9 miles in the morning with some fartleks thrown in, having only drunk a coffee beforehand. This is pretty typical for my easy runs, and I don't mind feeling a little sluggish for them. But this time my legs felt very heavy. I posted the below comment on my fast running blog:

Legs felt heavy and my easy pace felt a bit harder today (outside of the fartleks, avg pace would have been around 8:15). I only ate a salad and a dish of scallops last night; virtually no carbs. Hadnt really thought about it before, but every time I have Mexican, and chow down on a bunch of fried delicious tortilla chips, I have a great run the next day. Must attempt to incorporate more carbs (and more healthy ones) in the evening meals.

So I ask any readers out there:

If you run in the morning, and need to do a hard workout (ie speed or tempo) that requires serious energy, how many hours before you run, do you eat? How much do you eat?  Does anyone know how quickly we digest and absorb carbs so they are actually usable on a run? Is it better to just eat a hefty meal the night before?  Do people just eat to not be uber hungry on the run? 

 On race mornings, I try to eat 2 hours before the race and get in at least a few hundred (300-400) calories of carbs... That seems like a lot for just a training run... but is it?

- Penny

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Running lots, working more and turning 30

Well hey there. After Kristen's diligent post - despite our current working conditions (ie, the work doesnt end) - I felt compelled to update the etherwebs about my last month or so. 

The last month running wise has been about slowly building my mileage back up with easy miles plus a few fast single miles and progression runs here and there. 

Dec 23- Dec 29: 23 miles
Dec 30 - Jan 5: 23 miles
Jan 6 - Jan 12: 36 miles
Jan 13 - Jan 20: 41 miles.

What else has been happening here? I got sick with a disgusting sinus infection right when we began trial. The group of people we are working with were all sick when we started, and it was only a matter of time before the festering germ-bank that is our work area began to infect us as well. 

Our heads feel like they are big enough to have their own weather systems. We're working til 10pm on New Years Eve. But smile for the camera!!
Also? I turned 30. Yup, the big 3-oh. I rang in my birthday with a lovely 10 miles.... followed by a 16-hour work day. That was a fantabulous way to enter my thirties. At least I got some lovely presents, including:

A road ID from the hubs (I think this was more for his peace of mind, than mine). As you can see, he decided to also get it engraved with my tongue-in-cheek running motto. 

I also received a lover-ly running swiftly lulu from Kristen:

These tops are deceptively warm, so I have been easily able to withstand running in 30 degree weather with these tops, a parka and running tights. 

In other news Ive decided Im gunna run a marathon in 2013. May 5. Jersey shore. I hope I see Snookie and the Situation there.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Help, I am on the wrong coast!

I’ve been a temporary New Yorker for 23 days. And I am adjusting, slowly, sort of!

I learned from Penny that a Kindle is a must for the subway. I read Advanced Marathoning entirely while underground.

Another major subway discovery:  I discerned that the subway stops are named after cross town streets, for the most part. This has been a revelation in my navigation skills. When I pop up out of a subway station, I have a good sense of which direction to walk. No more roaming around until I can read a street sign, check Google maps, possibly still walk the wrong way, and be 15 minutes late to everything as a result.

I learned that it is not that cold here. But first, in an extreme overreaction to mid 30s temperatures my first days in New York, I purchased snow boots, which I still have not had the occasion to wear (thankfully).  

I have not yet run outside in 2013. All treadmill. All the time. So still working on that temperature acclimation. 

On the day I arrived, the city greeted me with a sleet/rain/snow mixture for two days. Then the temps warmed up to mid 40s and even the 50s, but I simultaneously caught a cold, which turned into a sinus infection. Only after a solid week of no exercise, I managed to do some very light yoga. Between being sick and working early to late every day on the trial, I was completely wiped out and went 10 days without running.

But I am back on track now with the base building phase for my undetermined spring marathon (leaning toward San Diego RnR, especially because I learned today that the finish is at Petco Park rather than Sea World). I'm continuing to run all easy miles with a sprinkling of strides, fartleks, and short progressions here and there. 

Last week of December - 54 miles. Highest mileage week ever! These were all easy pace miles, but  I felt the pounding in my bones. So I don't think I can manage much more than 55 miles for my peak mileage week in marathon training.

January week 1 - 0 miles. 

January week 2 - 6.5 miles. 

January week 3 - 30 miles.

two little runners ~ Kristen

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm always moving forward

Another inspirational story about how running changed a young teenager's life featured in Runner's World's December issue (article quoted here). Casey Revman suffers from a disability that makes it difficult for her to perform many complex tasks, such as driving and team sports. When Casey joined her high school's cross country and track teams, she gained got fit and her confidence soared. She shares an important lesson on running:
Dear Running . . . Thanks for making me a normal teenager
Casey Revman
Runner's World December 2012

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tacos make me nostalgic; therefore, I'll write about mountain lions (again).

For those who have been following along, I'm officially a temporary New Yorker. Penny and I are preparing for a trial that begins in New York on January 7. It's scheduled to run for approximately 4 weeks. So I've taken residence in TriBeCa for 42 days. In the middle of winter.

200 square feet of bliss.
It's been a difficult adjustment. It's cold all the time - every day I have to wear shoes WITH SOCKS, layers of clothing, and a HEAVY jacket. Luckily, this is not my first cold winter . . . I still have my winter coat from when I lived in St. Louis, circa 2002.

You know you are getting old when your
clothes reach the double digits in age. 
And after being in New York for a week, I am still half way on Pacific time. Being anywhere by 9 a.m. ET is a huge burden at the moment.

Then there is the mountain of work and extra long hours. And I caught a cold. Sniff, sniff.

But my attitude about New York improved approximately 30% today when I discovered an excellent Mexican restaurant mere footsteps from my hotel: Papatzul in SoHo.

I reluctantly parked myself at the bar, ordered a Negro Modela figuring the beer would be the only part of the meal I would enjoy. New York has a poor reputation for Mexican food, and I was certain there was no way SoHo Mexican food could live up to the Mexican at my beloved restaurants in San Diego (En Fuego, Las Olas, Rubios, Bull Taco, El Callejon to name a few).

To my utter shock and delight, Papatzul was awesome. These are skirt steak tacos with chorizo and fried pork skin. New Year's resolution to eat every thing on the menu?

So, with that long introduction, I'm feeling nostalgic and thought I would recap another trail run I did in the days just before leaving home.

Lake Poway Loop

On Christmas Eve day, I ran the trail around Lake Poway (trail map here). There is information about parking on the Lake Poway Recreation Area website. Basically, there is a huge parking lot at the trail head.

I recommend running the loop counter clockwise (turn right onto the trial from the trail head) because this part of the trail is very easy to follow, as the lake is in view at all times. On the back side of the loop (the first part you would get to if you took the trail clockwise), you leave the lake shore and do a bunch of switchbacks. It would be a confusing start.

The loop around the lake is about 3 miles. And there are a lot of hills! You can tell from the map that the Lake Poway loop connects to some other trails within the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, if you are up for excursions.

This was a run that almost didn't happen because I saw THIS at the trail head:

THIS is a sculpture of a MOUNTAIN LION!

Also available at the trail head - pamphlets about coyotes, rattle snakes, and, of course, our friend the mountain lion! To summarize: Coyotes are no big deal to full grown humans. Rattle snakes probably won't kill you, even if they bite you. But best to go back the other way if you see one on a trail. Don't jump over them. Mountain lions . . . if you see one, you are f*cked. Cold comfort? They are around but are rarely seen. And "REMEMBER: MOUNTAIN LION ATTACKS ON HUMANS ARE RARE!" (emphasis in original)

Because it took me nearly 30 minutes to drive there, I summoned my courage and headed out on the trail.

In the first mile, the trail stays close to the lake, and there are some steep hills. Nothing too long though.

Round about mile 2, there is a picnic table that would be fun to hike to with a group of friends. It is near an interesting rock pile formation.

Mile 3 descends below the lake (there is a dam). And there are a bunch of switch backs and some hills again to take you back up lakeside.

For a mostly road runner like me, this is a good route for an easy run, provided you take it easy on the hills. The trail is soft and footing just difficult enough to keep you in your easy pace zone. There were a lot of people on the trail, and since the trail stays close to the shore of the lake, I never felt like I was being stalked by a mountain lion. I would run this route alone again for sure. (Don't tell the mountain lions.)

two little runners