Just getting warmed up

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We had a boat to catch this morning ๐Ÿ›ฅ๏ธ๐ŸŽฃ, so I just got in a quick 3 miles with this as the backdrop. ๐Ÿ˜ Hilton Head may be hot and humid, but it’s my favorite place to run. So many memories here. โค๏ธ #motherrunner #bestlittletrainingbuddy #21monthsold #seapines #harbortownyachtclub #marathontraining #womensrunningcommunity #womenrunning

I slept pretty badly last night, and my husband and I overslept for our run this morning. My parents joined us last night in Hilton Head, and they invited us to join them on a charter boat today.ย  We were not about to pass on that opportunity, so we ran a quick three miles and quickly showered for the boat.

After running 20 miles yesterday, my body really needed to ease into a run, but instead, we hopped out of bed and ran as soon as our feet hit the pavement. I’m so glad that my parents watched Cadence for our quick run because I don’t think I could have handled the stroller. For an 8:14 pace, it felt way harder than it should have!

I was pretty unwise not to warm up, especially since I’m walking a fine line with a potential injury. Here’s a good article by David Roche with some simple suggested warm-up moves.ย  Warming up not only helps prevent injury, but it also helps improve performance and perceived effort. My leg swing is always lower starting out on runs where I do not adequately warm up.

I survived the three mile run, and I was happy to get the blood flowing. We only caught 3 fish, and I discovered that I get seasick when rocking at sea on a boat. Once we started driving, things got better, and I had a great time! We finished the day with a family walk, and I wore Cadence in our Kelty carrier for an hour. Great core workout!

What’s your warm-up routine? Has the need for a warm up changed as you’ve gotten older?

 

(No) Shin Pain, a 20 miler, and the Heat of Hilton Head

 

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That time I decided to run a 20 miler in the late morning of a Hilton Head summer, finishing the last five miles with a stroller… ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐ŸŒžA lot can happen in 20 miles! I found a dirt trail and went off road for a bit๐Ÿž๏ธ, got back on the road and got lost๐Ÿค”, ran out of water and had to ask a nice construction worker for a refill๐Ÿ’ง, met up with my husband and picked up a sleeping beauty to finish out the run๐Ÿ‘ถ. Thank you @thrunningwife and @katyhaytay for the pep talk last night! ๐Ÿ˜˜ #longrundone #motherrunner #strollermiles #strollerrunning #thuleurbanglide #motherrunner #marathontraining #womensrunningcommunity #womenrunning #hshive #honeystinger #radrabbit #runinrabbit

I often have more to say on instagram than I think anyone will want to read while scrolling, so I thought I’d try adding to the blog to see how it goes.

We are in Hilton Head for the rest of the week, and I’m so happy to be on vacation with my family! My shins started giving me concerning pain about a week ago, so I’ve been incorporating more cross training on the bike and on the stair climber to help the inflammation. My doctor suggested that I decrease volume by 50% and roll my calves like crazy. My PT agreed, and said that tight calves are the cause to my pain. So I cross trained for several days to give my leg a better shot at running over this vacation. I’ll be back on the bike when I get home.

I’m currently training for the San Francisco Marathon, but my training has been a bit curtailed by this injury.ย  My traininig plan for the last year has been low volume, high intensity, with a ton of strength work. Given how my shins feel, I plan to go back to a more volume based training style and stop beating my body up so much. I haven’t just gone out for a normal run in so long, and this is a welcome change!

To boost my confidence, I decided to run a 20 miler today while we were in Hilton Head. Most marathon training plans contain several 20 mile runs, but my plan did/does not.ย  It’s been a while since I headed out for a long run! Today I ran the first ~15ish miles solo, and then I met up with my husband and took the stroller for the final 5 miles. Whew! The stroller is pretty easy to push on mile 1, but by 15, I was struggling.ย  Overall, it was a hot, thirsty, great run with no shin pain.ย  I found a dirt path at mile 4 and enjoyed an easier terrain for my legs. Then I got a little lost and had to ask a construction worker for more water before gps-ing my way back to our condo.

One thing that I added to make this more than just a plain ol’ long run were strides every two miles. I only did 20 seconds of strides, and I kept the frequency lower because I want to protect my shins. Here’s a really helpful article about strides.ย  I plan to decrease the number of intervals that I run in training and increase the strides that I add. We’ll see how it goes!

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If you’ve been following me over the last couple of days, you know that I have had shin pain that’s scared me onto the bike for cross training and changed the way that I’m approaching my upcoming marathon. ๐Ÿšดโ€โ™€๏ธ One thing that’s been extremely helpful for me to know myself better as a runner and determine if the shin pain is related to my gait is the @milestone_pod. ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ๐Ÿค”It tells a fun little story and makes me a better runner. ๐Ÿ™Œ I didn’t have any shin pain on my run today, thankfully! I still have one little spot that’s tender to the touch, so I’m not out of the woods yet. ๐Ÿ˜Š #gobeyondpace #milestonepod #motherrunner #strollerrunning #thuleurbanglide #womensrunningcommunity #womenrunning #marathontraining #hiltonheadisland #runyourworld #sauconyzealot

I love using the Milestone Pod to track my metrics.

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Hope you are having a good week! I keep forgetting that it’s not the weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚ Do you like to run on vacation or take a break on vacation?

Running performance and the menstrual cycle

One of the aspects of running that I love the most is understanding how our bodies work.ย  I have a biomedical engineering background in sports medicine, but I didn’t really start to run until several years after I finished my masters degree.ย  (Ironically, I simulated the Boston Marathon for my thesis waaaaay before I had ever run a marathon.)

One of the most complex and fascinating areas of science are the hormones that make us tick.ย  I never gave hormones their due respect until I got pregnant and realized within days that my body had completely changed as a result of a few hormones starting the cascade of signals to grow a baby.

I have been breastfeeding for 20 months now (check out a recent post on extended breastfeeding here), so my hormones are still a bit on the postpartum spectrum, but my period returned at 16 months postpartum and so far I’ve been regular every month.ย  With this, I’ve taken a new interest in understanding how different levels of hormones during the menstrual cycle affect running performance.

I was on birth control for as long as I can remember before my husband and I decided to have a family. With that, I do not feel like I experienced the same shift in hormones that I feel now that I am BC free.ย  Before you give a point to BC for eliminating noticeable shifts in how I felt, also note that I think that BC may have negatively affected my performance.ย  I have come back postpartum way faster than I was pre-pregnancy, and I don’t have as much body fat. (Little sidenote: Steph Rothstein Bruce did not use BC because of her suspicions that it could affect performance, and that is how she unexpectedly got pregnant with blessing #2.)

So back to the hormones:ย  There are two main phases: the follicular phase (days 1-14), in which you have your period and ovulate, and the luteal phase (days 15-28) when the body is preparing for a possible pregnancy.

Follicular Phase: First menstruation occurs at day 1, and then around day 5 or 6, estrogen starts to increase along with a hormone called the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).ย  Around day 12 the estrogen levels surge with the luteinizing hormone (LH), which causes ovulation and an egg is released.

Luteal Phase: After ovulation, estrogen dips for a brief time, only to rise again with progesterone, as the body prepares the lining of the uterus for possible implantation.ย  Estrogen and progesterone peak around 5 days before menstruation. If the egg isn’t fertilized and implanted, progesterone levels fall and the body returns to day one with menstrual bleeding.

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This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at //commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MenstrualCycle.png under the creative commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license.

How our hormones affect us: Our carbohydrate metabolism and recovery are more similar to men in the low hormone phase than the high hormone phase. During the high hormone phase, in which we have higher amounts of both estrogen and progesterone.ย  High estrogen makes us spare glycogen and utilize fat stores instead. This is not a great scenario for high intensity exercise when we need a fast source of fuel.ย  High progesterone delays the sweat response, turns up core temperature, increases sodium loss, and increases muscle breakdown.ย  The result in this shift to the high hormone phase can cause fluids to move into the cells, resulting in bloating, as well as a predisposition to central nervous system fatigue. (Yay! Tell me more!) Ok, so here’s more.ย  During the high hormone phase, your body is more likely to break down muscle but not re-grow more (low anabolism, high catabolism).

There is not a ton of research on the effects of the monthly cycle and performance, but it is recognized that generally, low hormone times are the best for performance, with actual menstruation being noted as one of the best times to compete.ย  This is of course, highly subjective, as everyone has a different experience with their cycles.ย  If you are planning to compete during a high hormone phase, be aware that cooling will be more difficult and that proper protein ingestion will help with muscle catabolism.

What Next: If you want to learn more, I highly recommend the book Roar by Stacy Sims. She goes into much greater detail how the system works and ways to mitigate some of the negative effects of our hormone shifts.ย  While some of the side effects of the hormonal shifts women experience can be frustrating, we need to celebrate the amazing mechanism taking place so that we can stay healthy and grow our families.ย  As with just about everything in life, the more we understand, the easier it is to navigate the things of life.

Do you notice a change in your running performance at a specific time of the month?

Do you plan your races around your menstrual cycle?

 

Late to the Party

 

I just received my bib for the Peachtree Road Race 10k in the mail, and I’m in the seeded wave.ย  This is something new to me.ย  I’ve always been active, but I didn’t really run races until around 2013 when I finished my first marathon (3:45), and I had to work really hard (3 marathons) to finally BQ for entry into the 2016 Boston.ย  I ran my first 50k in November of 2014, then ran a 50 miler in January of 2015.ย  These were not fast races for me, but it was a great introduction to trails and the lovely trail community.ย  And then I got pregnant, and running took on a whole new meaning as a little human grew in my belly.

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Fast forward to postpartum running, and I was pleasantly surprised to have come back faster.ย  This wasn’t without effort, as I painstakingly ran through pregnancy and kept up a pretty tight strength routine.ย  I also think that pregnancy, delivery, and the whole process of keeping a baby alive gives a certain resolve that must be earned.ย  I can do hard things.ย  And I don’t take running for granted after what essentially feels like a year of injury as a pregnant runner.

My paces went from about an 8 minute mile to about a 7:30 minute mile. I trained for Boston, and ran a 3:24 at 6 months postpartum, which was a PR of about 5 minutes.ย  Things were definitely more speedy, but nothing like the speed that I would develop in less than a year after I hired a coach.

I signed up for my first 100 mile race shortly after Cadence was born, and decided to hire a coach since this was totally new territory for me, and as a postpartum momma, I wanted to make sure to do things right for my body.ย  My coach is a total badass and she has a little girl too.ย  A big part of my training is interval workouts.ย  I had never (never) run intervals before hiring Michele.ย  It turns out that speed work makes you fast.

I hear so many other fast runners who talk about their high school and college experiences running cross country or track with a coach who pushed them. I missed that somewhere along the way, but I’m so thankful to have a coach now who has shown me my potential.

I ran my 100 mile race in September of 2016, and I had an amazing experience and kind of accidentally placed 2nd female.ย  Then I set a goal for a sub 3 hour marathon in January of 2017 and surprised myself by hitting the goal in 2:58.ย  I have runs where I feel so slow and can’t believe that I could ever sustain that marathon pace, but then sometimes I get ambitious and want to keep getting faster.

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My next big race is the San Francisco Marathon on July 23rd. I get to start as an elite runner because of my 2:58 marathon time, which just blows my mind. I would never have dreamed that my mid-pack legs would line up with the elites.ย  It’s been really fun (and a lot of work) to see how fast I can get. As long as I am still enjoying the process and have the support of my sweet husband, I’ll keep chasing goals.ย  For anyone else who has dreams to get faster, keep pushing!ย  You never know what your legs can do until you give it a shot.

Have you ever surprised yourself in a race with a faster finish than you expected?