We three kings of Orient are Bearing gifts we traverse afar: A Runner’s Christmas Wish List

Matthew 2:9-12

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The shepherds might have been the first ones to the Christmas party, but the wise men started the tradition of giving gifts. My Christmas gift list isn’t on the caliber of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but then, none of us are the Son of God. 🙂  I’ve made a list of some of my favorite running items and things that may help you (or your running buddies) with running and gift giving.

  1. Devoted Training Journal: I am biased here, but I love my Devoted Training Journal, and I think it would make a great gift for your running friends. The journal covers 4 months, which is perfect for a training cycle or the start of a new year goal.
  2. Milestone Pod: This little pod is such a fun running tool, and it really does help me with running. It’s extremely reasonable in price ($29.95), and you can use the code PodTeamMeridith33 for 33% off of your entire order until December 5th.
  3. Beauty Counter lip gloss: I have always liked running with something on my lips, and for longer runs, you really need a gloss that will last for a while. I found this Beauty Counter lip gloss, and I love that it is also safe for Cadence, who always wants to share. 🙂  There is a great special right now for 3 for $48. You can order from my friend here.
  4. Beachbody on Demand: I was really surprised by how much I like this subscription. I really haven’t used many of the strength programs (although they are great), but I do love the yoga programs! I do not have the time or the money to go to a yoga studio, but for $99 a year, this is a great option.  I signed up for my Beach Body subscription through Heather here.
  5. Shoes: If you are looking for a pair of shoes under the tree, I have had great success with Saucony. My favorite shoes are the Kinvara for racing and the Freedom for training. I always have more than one pair of shoes to rotate during the week. (And the Milestone Pod looks really good on a pair of shiny Sauconys. 🙂
  6. Books: I love to read and run on the treadmill, and I find that I can go through a lot of books that way. One of my all time favorite running books is Once a Runner (followed by the sequel Again to Carthage). It’s fiction, and it will make you love running and feel super motivated. I love everything by Matt Fitzgerald. He adds a lot of research to his writing, and everything is relatable.  I read 80/20 Running for the second time this year, and I used a lot of the training strategy for my San Francisco Marathon. If you like science and biology (for females), you will love ROAR. Finally, not running specific, but getting the heart and head in the right place makes everything better: Nothing to Prove.  And my favorite cookbook of the year is Wellness Mama Cookbook.
  7. Clothes: I ran the Gorge Waterfalls 100k in April, and it was supposed to be chilly and rainy. I bought the Patagonia Houdini at the recommendation of a friend, and it was the PERFECT jacket for the weather. Super light and perfect breathability. For general running clothes, I love Rabbit clothes.  Get 10% off with this code.
  8. Nutrition: I started using the Juice Plus protein powder this year, and it is the best tasting protein powder I’ve ever tried. Plus, it is all plant-based, and I feel confident letting Cadence eat it. You can order yours here. If you just want a stocking stuffer, I love Honey Stinger waffles and Nuun.
  9. Recovery: I carry a Lacrosse ball in my purse and I keep them throughout the house. This is such a great way to recover! For my birthday this year, my husband surprised me with a Boom stick. It’s the kind of recovery that hurts so good and gets so deep!
  10. For your training buddy: If you have followed me for more than a minute, you know that I love the Thule Urban Glide for stroller running. I also love our Kelty hiking pack for cross training hikes with Cadence. We got our pack off of Craigslist, but you can find a new one here.

It’s easy to lose focus at Christmas time with all of the lights, presents, and parties.  At the end of the day, God gave us the best gift when he sent his Son to this earth. Merry Christmas everyone!

What’s on your Christmas wishlist?

Hot to Trot and baby rucking

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Running in circles has never been so fun, @stacey__ferguson! 🙌Today was the Hot to Trot 8 hour event, and if Stacey wasn’t exhausted from running one mile loops all morning with me, I wore her out by talking her ear off the whole time. 😂Nothing like passing 20+ trail miles with a friend! ❤️ I ran the first half with Stacey, and then hiked with Cadence for the next 5ish miles. 👶 Didn’t quite make it to 8 hours once Cadence joined, but we had so much fun while we were out there! #guts #hottotrot #longrun #motherrunner #trailrunning #womenrunning #marathontraining #bestlittletrainingbuddy #21monthsold #kelty #babywearing #gobeyondpace #runyourworld

Today I ran the Hot to Trot 8 hour race, abbreviated to 5.5 hours for a baby. ❤ I started out running with a friend who I met over Instagram, and I enjoyed every lap so much getting to know her. I love our running community! My husband brought Cadence to me a little over 4 hours into the race, so I hiked another hour and a half with Cadence. I totaled about 20 running miles and about 6 miles hiking with Cadence.

Hiking with Cadence is one of my favorite things because she is a delightful passenger, but it’s also a great workout. Most people “ruck” with a weighted vest, but in this case, I have a weighted baby! 🙂 Here is a neat article that I read last year talking about all of the benefits of rucking. My favorite benefit listed by Men’s Health was this:

It Builds Your Endurance—Safely
Rucking turns your lazy walk into a heart health boosting endurance endeavor.

“The cardio benefits of rucking are comparable to those gained from other long, slow distance exercises like jogging,” says Jason Hartman, C.S.C.S. who trains Special Forces soldiers for the US Military.

But unlike jogging—which has an injury rate anywhere from 20 to 79 percent, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine—rucking actually makes you more injury resilient, says Hartman.

“It builds up your hip and postural stability, and that makes you more injury proof in all your other activities,” he says.

Anyone else love to ruck (with or without a baby)? What about timed events?

 

 

Race Report: Gorge Waterfalls 100k

I don’t exactly know where to start with this race.  It didn’t go the way that I had hoped it would.   I’ve been in my head a lot with this one, and unfortunately, I think that is also what influenced my race performance.  Either way, these are the ones that help you grow the most, and I’ve certainly gained a lot of strength from this experience. I’m relatively new to the trail and ultra scene, and I think I doubled in experience by this one race alone.

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Photo Credit Glenn Tachiyama

Leading up

I was given entry into Gorge (thanks to my coach for pulling some strings) after I finished my sub 3 marathon in January, and my confidence was super high after achieving that goal on the first try.  My coach had absolute faith in me that I could perform well in the race and I have always seen good (fast) results with her training method.  So commenced a time of recovery from the marathon and then a pretty intense cycle of training for about two months.  At one point, my training plan had me doing 340 push-ups of IMG_20170214_182740.jpgdifferent variations 3x a week.  And that’s just the push-up portion of the workouts.  Needless to say, I spent what felt like every free moment trying to finish my workouts outside of work, baby, house, and husband.  But I didn’t miss a workout. I got stronger and I felt really solid on my runs.

The biggest tension wasn’t how hard the workouts were, but more how hard it was to take time away from my family.  My husband is truly my champion, and he makes working out so much easier for me by helping me incorporate Cadence whenever we can.  We would family hike for cross training, or he would sit with her in our basement workout room while I finished the 340 push-ups.  The biggest struggle since Cadence was born has always been getting away to the trails. But I did it all.  I didn’t miss a training session and I got in the extras as well as I could.

 

Arrival in Oregon

We arrived in Oregon on Friday afternoon in the midst of big storms and high winds.  Cadence was great, but anyone with a toddler can understand how hard it is to keep an 18 month old confined to one lap for 5.5 hours.  As soon as we got our rental car, we drove to Benson State Park to scope out the start line and we also purchased a parking ticket for the next day.  We checked into our hotel, got an early dinner, and I was in bed by 7 pm PST, which is really 10 pm EST.

Race Morning

I woke up at 2 am (5 am EST) and waited for my alarm to ring at 3 am.  I didn’t feel tired, my stomach was cooperating, and I felt like I was really prepared for the race. So many people had told me that the course was really runnable, and it’s “only” ~63 miles.  For all of you new momma’s out there, I am still breastfeeding Cadence, and so far, it’s not ever been an issue with my running.  She’s 18 months old, and we are down to mornings and nights now, so I knew that I wouldn’t have to pump during this race like I did during Hot to Trot and the Yeti 100.  We packed up the car at 4:45 am and headed to the park.  Parking wasn’t an issue at all (we had been told horror stories about long lines to park), and it was a pretty low-key check-in.  We waited in the car until about 5:40 am.  I got out, walked around, did some lunges to stretch and warmed up, and then waited for the RD James Varner to give final instructions and send us off.

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Course map provided by Rainshadow Running

Starting Out

I placed myself near the front because if I’ve learned anything in trail running, the mid and back pack move very slooooowly once you hit single track.  On the first little jaunt out of the park, I met a girl named Sara.  We briefly chatted and then started the ascent up the steepest climb of the race (until you go back up it again at the end of the race).  We were all in headlamps and rain jackets, and I was moving well in the front pack.  It didn’t take long to get warm and start to feel the effects of running up about 1600 feet of elevation gain in 2 miles.  I started out as one of the top female runners. Then about a mile up the mountain, 3 girls passed me.  Then one more.  And that’s when I started to think that they were stronger runners than me. I don’t know where this came from, as anyone who runs ultras knows that this is way too early in a race to determine who the leaders will be.  But there in that moment, I gave the race over to them.  Don’t get me wrong, I was surely working hard, but my head wasn’t in it anymore, and the head is pretty important for any type of performance.

Our headlamps were only needed for the first 20 minutes of the run, and mine was heavy and the rain jacket was hot.  And my legs were feeling tired from the climb.  Once we hit the downhill, things started feeling better, but I was aware that I didn’t feel fast and I started to feel discouraged.  I passed No Name aid station at mile 6 without stopping.  As beautiful as this course is, I didn’t like it very much at first.  The trail runs along the side of the mountain, and you can see the highway below and hear cars and trains.  I expected to be out in the wilderness, but we were always pretty close to civilization the whole time. (My opinion changed as I ran deeper into the fairy tale kingdom).

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Yeon Aid Station Mile 13 and Crew stop #1

The course is described as runnable, but there was about ~150-300+ ft of elevation gain within every mile, and that really pushed my fitness level.  Also, the course had a lot of rocks, roots, trees, and snow in its path, which is a big challenge to me.  The area had seen record winds and washouts, and this was clear by the incredible number of branches, trees, and detritus covering the ground.  About two miles before the Yeon aid station, we hit paved road, and that felt like heaven to my tired legs and beat up feet.

I had mapped for Jon to meet me three times along the course for crew, and I couldn’t wait to see him at Yeon.  My instructions to him had been that I didn’t want to waste any time at aid stations, so I asked him to help me get in and out as fast as I could.  When I got to Yeon, I was 5th female, and while Jon was helping me refill water and food, another girl passed through, making me 6th female.  Something in me just didn’t care.  My legs didn’t feel strong or fast, and I just didn’t think I had the ability to fight for a top spot.  Jon was kind of surprised, but he kept encouraging me and pushed me off on my way as any loving husband wearing a baby would do.

 

Cascade Locks Aid Station Mile 22 and a surprise crew visit #2

This is where the course started getting magical, and I decided that even if my body was letting me down (which I know sounds silly when the body to which I refer is carrying me 64 miles across tough terrain), I was going to enjoy the run.  I had been leap frogging with my new friend, Sara, and I found myself needing to talk to someone on the trails.  She was strong and carefree out there.  This was her therapy after going through some personal stuff the week prior, and her only expectation from the race was to let the run help heal some wounds. So naturally, we talked about boys and babies and futures.  And it really helped me get out of my emotional funk.  I fell twice during the race, and the second time during this section did a little damage to my knee, and I was aware of the swelling for the rest of the run.  In addition to the knee, my legs still felt heavier than they had ever felt in a race, but at least I wasn’t crying about it as I chatted with my new friend.

The aid stations were spaced further than I would have liked, not because I was running out of food, but because it is such a great way to check off miles when they come in smaller chunks.  I ran into the Cascade Locks aid station to find Jon there!  I had not mapped this as one of his stops, but he surprised me by showing up. Just what I needed!  At this point, it wasn’t just what I needed to buck up and compete, but rather just what I needed to not want to quit the race.  That’s how disappointed and disillusioned I felt about it.

The halfway point: Wyeth Aid Station mile ~31 and crew #3

I had to stop to pee in the woods after leaving Cascade Locks and I got passed by another girl while my pants were down.  I still wasn’t too far behind in the ranks, but I was slowing down.  We ran past several snow covered patches.  The RD had tried to dig out little paths for runners to use as footholds, and it really helped.  There were also sections of hill completely covered by moss covered boulders.  It was pretty magical, and I kept thinking of The Princess Bride when they ran through the boulders (only my prince was several miles away waiting for me with a baby and a honeystinger in hand).

I was at mile 25 when Jim Walmsley past me on his way to the finish in a record breaking time.  That was pretty incredible.  I passed two girls hiking with their dogs, and we joked.  It felt so good to laugh.  I realize now how tense I was for this race.

There were several creek crossings that required you to get your feet wet.  I have resigned myself to blisters on long runs, so I don’t mind wet feet.  The front runner girls passed me when I was at mile 29.5 on their way to the finish.  They were 1.5 miles ahead of me and looking tough.  It was pretty humbling to think that I could have or should have been running with them. Maybe on another day.

I ran into Wyeth at around 31 miles, and I was so happy to see Jon and Cadence.  They were both wet, bless their hearts, from waiting for me in the rain.  I was running way slower than my projected pace, so Jon was guessing my aid station appearances the best that he could while also taking care of a toddler. I resupplied, went to the bathroom, and reluctantly headed back out.  This race wasn’t ever going to end unless I kept moving.

Cascade Locks Aid Station Mile 40

I came into Cascade Locks wanting to find a porta potty.  I had to walk down a hill to find it, and it was occupied, so I decided to just keep moving and pee in the woods.  I actually prefer to go in the woods, so I think I just wasn’t thinking clearly.  In the meantime, another girl ran through and passed me.  I grabbed a PBJ and headed out of the aid station.  The frustrating thing is that I felt like I was running in slow motion.  Compared to the other runners, I was passing some people, and some people were passing me.  But I had been so successful in my training, and I had never felt this slow in a race.  A 13 minute mile feels like forever when you have 20+ miles left to go. And I was really trying. The elevation change was no joke (still), and I was moving as well as I could.  At this point I was truly thinking that I didn’t ever want to run again.  I was thinking through new hobbies that I might like to take up like yoga and wine.  Those activities sounded way more appealing and comfortable at this point of the race.

Yeon Aid Station Mile 49 and Crew #4

I switched watches on my way to Yeon, and either my watch was wrong, or the mile markers were off because I felt like I kept running and running without reaching this aid station.  I reached Jon and Cadence at Yeon, and Jon knew exactly how to talk to me and feed me.  Nutrition and hydration had not been a problem for me all day (at least something was going right), and I relied mostly on Honeystinger gels, chews, and waffles, with the occasional Clif or Bonkbreaker bar as my go-to food.  Seeing Cadence both filled me up and made it really hard to leave (because I knew that my new slow pace would mean it would be a long time before I saw them again).  Jon suggested that I take my headlamp with me *just in case*, and I couldn’t help but feel depressed that this was my new position.  I had expected to finish around 5 pm, not possibly getting back after dark.  Through it all, Jon was nothing but supportive (despite the fact that he had been baby wearing and driving all over Hwy 84 chasing me all day).

I left the aid station and started running the two miles of pavement back to the trail.  This time, it hurt a little bit more, but it felt good to actually see my paces in the 8s and 9s. The miles between Yeon and No Name felt like forever.

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Jon is trying his hardest to pump me up and help me get back out there.

No Name Aid Station Mile 56

Even though I didn’t stop for aid, there is something about reaching an aid station and seeing other people.  A lot of trail racing ends up being time solo on the trails.  Normally that is fine for me, but I was feeling more vulnerable during this race, and I welcomed seeing faces (unless it was a girl passing me, which was just depressing).

The volunteer at the aid station told me that it was just 6 miles to the finish, pretty much 3 up and 3 down.  My watch clocked a bit more than 6 miles to the finish, and those last miles were very hard!  We went back up the mountain at about 1600 feet elevation gain, and back down the mountain.  The switchbacks felt never ending, and I found the uphill actually more comfortable than the downhill. One final girl passed me on the downhill, and I didn’t have anything left in me to chase her down.

Finally reaching the finish was such a combination of emotions.  I was so disappointed in

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Jon is my hero ❤

this race.  I invested too much time in training for this to have been the result.  But I was also so happy to be finished and reunited with my family.   As always, Jon was my biggest cheerleader, and he took care of me by getting me pizza and introducing me to his new friends (while still wearing the baby).  I got to see my new friend, Sara, at the finish.  She came in 8th place about 30 minutes before me.

I ended up placing 12th female in 13:27 hours.  While this was not the way that I anticipated the race to go, I definitely learned a lot from it.  And, we got a nice little family vacation out of the deal.  Oregon is beautiful, and we thoroughly enjoyed sightseeing around Mt Hood and tasting wine at the local wineries.  I have a few more lessons learned, but I think I’ll save that for another post.  🙂

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Elevation profile by Rainshadow Running

 

About Brokenness

I was talking to my sister the other day about brokenness and how often it is not until we are in a state of brokenness before we truly allow God to work in our lives.  I’m not going to say that Gorge broke me, as that sounds a bit dramatic considering this is a hobby and I finished in a decent time as 12th female.  But the experience helped changed my perspective on a few things, and I came out a different person.  I’ll definitely learn from this one, and hopefully I’ll come out as a better runner (yes, I plan to run again despite what I was thinking around mile 40) and with a better understanding of my purpose.

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Photo credit Glenn Tachiyama

Have you had a race that was really disappointing?  How did you grow from it?

Here is my Milestone Pod data:

And here is my split data (my watch had me going 65 miles and 14,000 feet elevation gain):

splits

Going into Gorge Waterfalls 100k

I don’t know if anyone ever feels ready going into a race. I mean, I’m ready to go ahead and get this show on the road, but there are always the questions about whether I prepared enough and whether I prepared in the right ways. This course will be different than anything I’ve run lately, including my training runs, but I know that it will be beautiful, and I’ll be there with my husband and baby, so what else is there to want?
A little info about the race
I signed up for Gorge 100k because my husband said that he wanted to travel if I was going to keep signing up for races, and my coach recommended this race as one of the most gorgeous races out there. (I have the best husband in the world in case you didn’t catch that.)  From the videos and pictures I’ve seen, I think I’m in for quite a show of God’s glory!  Gorge Waterfalls 100k is a golden ticket race, meaning the top two male and top two female winners get entry into Western States 100 for 2017.  So this will be a very competitive race with everyone going for gold, but it also means that I’ll get to race with some pretty impressive runners!  The course is out and back with about 12,000 feet of elevation change.  I have read that some parts of the course are very slick and rocky, while other parts are fairly rolling and easy.  With that much elevation gain, I don’t think my legs will get bored.  🙂  The RD is James Varner, and everyone who talks about this race also says that James is a great guy.  I look forward to meeting him at the finish!
It looks like the weather will be in the 50s with a 90% chance of rain.  We are also told that the trails may be icy and snowy in parts, so might be slick!  I mostly feel bad for Cadence and Jon to have to stand outside crewing for me if the weather is so unpleasant.  Hopefully the scenery will make up for it!
How I trained
I ran a goal marathon in the middle of January, and then my coach had me cross training for about a month.  During that time, I built up my strength with weights and continued with a pretty big weight schedule until the middle of February when I started running again.  My training plan is also heavy on speedwork and weights, and that’s what I’ve been doing for a little over a month now.  I haven’t had any really big long runs, but that’s not really part of my plan.
It’s so hard to trust the process, but so far, my coach has gotten me to the start of every race in good shape for a solid run!  As a working mom, it has been hard to get in the “extras” in cross training.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I incorporate Cadence into my training as much as I can.  Most mornings, I workout solo before work, but after work, Cadence is with me so a stroller or a baby carrier are often involved.  Time is so precious, and being present with Cadence, as well as a good night of sleep, have won in this training cycle.  We’ll see how that translates to race day.  🙂
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What I packed
Everything.  Just kidding!  I have all of my race food in little ziplock bags divided by aid station.  I’ve packed a lot of Honey Stinger products and Bonk Breaker bars.  I tried on my race outfit (same thing I wore for my marathon), and packed up extras just in case.  I have a race plan written up, but I know that that may fly out the window as soon as the race starts.  I bought extra pepto bismal after what happened for the first 66 miles of the Yeti 100.  Ha!  Packing for a baby is also another challenge, so hopefully we won’t be doing any last minute shopping out there for stuff that I forgot!
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Last Thoughts on Mental Toughness
I read an article yesterday saying that the best way to help train an athlete for endurance is to toughen them up. Hands down being a mom is the best mental toughness training out there!  The guilt (working mom + training), the late nights (still not sleeping through the night), the emotions (mine and hers, ha!), the breastfeeding (yep, still breastfeeding)… and still getting out there to train and do the hard stuff.  When I start to doubt myself, I don’t have a huge log of training runs or past performances to draw from, but I do have the confidence to know that I grew a tiny human in my belly, brought her into the world, and have kept her alive and thriving.  And my reward will be to see that tiny human and my strong husband at aid stations cheering for me as I pursue one of my passions.
Thanks for all of your support on my running journey! 
What do you do to relieve race nerves?

Selecting a goal race: things to consider

Recently I ran the Warner Robins Aviation Marathon as my goal race for a sub 3 marathon. Aside from wanting a more flat course, there are a lot of other factors that went into my race selection.  I made a list of considerations.  Some of these items may seem obvious, but I really struggled with settling on the Warner Robins race, so this list might end up helping someone trying to decide on their next goal.

Some really basic things to consider:

  1. Terrain: Do you want for this to be a trail race or a road race?
  2. Distance: Are you looking for speed or distance? Any PRs that you want to chase?  How long do you have to train? What shape are you in, and how soon do you need to be recovered?
  3. Type of run: Is this a goal race, or is this just a fun training run?  If it’s just a fun run, many of these considerations won’t make too much of a difference. But for goal races, it will be nice to focus on what will best help you succeed.

Getting more into the specifics:

  1. Destination: How far are you willing to travel for the race?  Will a long car ride or plane ride affect how you perform?  Will the stress of a new city add to your race jitters or make you feel more motivated?  Is it in your budget to travel, and will you need doggy/childcare if you leave town?  My next race will be a destination race, and my husband and I are really excited about the opportunity to travel. But we decided that my sub-3 marathon attempt was best run closer to home.
  2. Weather: What will the weather be like for the race?  Will you be able to train in conditions similar to race day?  One other element of weather to consider is humidity. Georgia, where I live, typically has really humid weather, but we can typically let that slide in the winter.  This is a really good website when thinking about humidity (and dew point).
  3. Running crowd: Do you like big races or small races?  Big races are great for feeding off of the energy of other runners and using the talent of other runners to push you to run harder. However, the larger the crowds, the more likely that you may have to weave around runners to maintain your pace. I love running Atlanta races, but they are always really crowded. For this reason, I intentionally selected the Warner Robins race so that no one could interfere with my paces.
  4. Fan support: is the race very accessible to spectators and how important is this to you?  Trail races very rarely have many locations for fans to gather.  Out and back races are more likely to have fan support because you get to see the same fans twice.  I did not realize how much I like some fan support when I’m road racing until the Warner Robins Aviation Marathon where there was only one place along the race at mile 13 for fans to stand.  I was fine, but it definitely would have helped to have a few more cheers.  The Boston Marathon is by far the best fan support I have ever experienced!
  5. Elevation change: If you are going for speed, are you willing to sacrifice some of the effort toward climbing hills?  For the right race, it’s always worth the sacrifice!  I really like hills (and the more the merrier on the trails), but for my sub-3 hour marathon attempt, I really wanted to limit the hills that I needed to climb.

It’s always fun to fill out the calendar.  I like to switch between trail races and road races. My next goal race will be on the trails, and I’m really excited to get back out there in my training and focus more on hilly distance over flatter speed.

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Ready to run at the ATC Thanksgiving Half

What races do you have coming up?

Seeing double: Training with two-a-day runs

This is the first year that I’ve hired a coach and actually followed a training plan. I’ve

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Second run of the day almost always includes a baby. ❤

learned a lot over the last year, including the value of intervals to help make you fast, how cross training is critical for ultra running, and most recently, the value of running doubles.

During my 100 mile training, my coach added a lot of two a day workouts, but I very rarely ran twice in one day.  Instead, I would run my workout in the morning and then hike, stair climb, or spin in the evening after work a few times a week.  For my current marathon training cycle, my coach has incorporated a few shorter tempo runs as doubles during the week.

There are several benefits to running double days once you’ve established a good running base:

  • You gain more cumulative miles, which helps boost aerobic endurance.  It also means that if you don’t have a lot of time in the morning, you can split up a longer run into two runs to still get the same mileage.
  • You challenge your body to recover faster when there is less time between runs. (It is recommended to give yourself enough time in between runs. Double runs are not as effective if you run them 2 hours apart, and many sources recommend five hours.)
  • According to Runner’s World, running doubles delivers a double boost of human growth hormone (production peaks about 40 minutes into a run), which helps build and repair muscle.
  • Along those lines, Runner’s Connect says running twice per day increases the frequency at which you speed blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles.  Running a double run after a hard workout will help flush blood, nutrients, and oxygen to and from tired muscles.
  • Running doubles can create a spike in resting metabolic rate because you are revving the engine twice in one day instead of once in a continuous longer bout of running, which can help runners maintain racing weight.  With that, it’s important to maintain proper nutrition so that you continue to perform.
  • This also means that you put your body into a glycogen depleted state, which improves training adaptations. Studies have shown that glycogen content, fat oxidation, and enzyme activity increase when training twice per day.
  • It forces you to use muscle fibers that are typically not used, and your body learns to adapt to a new strategy of digging a little deeper.

Research and anecdotes all corroborate the value of running doubles, but for a working mom and wife, it’s a tough schedule to maintain!  For my current training cycle, it’s been made easier because my husband often joins me for my after-work runs, and we bring the stroller.  It’s time that we can be together and knock out a workout at the same time.  My doubles are also kept under 30 minutes, which is a much easier pill to swallow once it starts getting dark so early in the winter time.

I have definitely felt the effects of fatigue as a result of the doubles, which according to everything that I’ve listed above, should be a good thing.  With the increase in training, even just adding a few <30 minute tempo runs at the end of the day requires proper rest on rest days and a good strategy of recovery!

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After work double with the fam!

Do you run doubles?  How long is each run and what’s the intensity?

Bringing in the New Year: How to build a home gym

Our basement is my favorite room in our whole house.  It all started with a treadmill, wp-1472224822536.jpgwhich also happens to be my favorite piece of “furniture”.  🙂  Then, over time, my husband and I started adding other favorite items. I’ve got to say, it’s pretty convenient to roll out of bed and head to the basement for my workouts in the morning, especially since Cadence was born.  It really doesn’t take too much investment for some basic pieces that will help build a great strength training circuit though. (I still posit that a good ol’ push-up is one of the best strength workouts that you can do, which does not involve any equipment at all!)

Here are some of the items in our gym.  Whether you work out at the foot of your bed or in your own basement, there is something for everyone.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the list.  Any one of these items will give you many options for a variety of workouts.

  1. Basic dumbbells: I use 5, 10, and 15 pounds for just about everything.
  2. Bosu Ball: I bought mine at Target, and I love it for stability training.  There are specific workouts that you can do on a Bosu ball, but you can also stand on it doing basic moves like a dumbbell curl.  Just the act of standing on the Bosu ball will help increase stability.  For an extra challenge, stand on one leg while doing your strength work.
  3. Medicine ball: I bought this 10 pound medicine ball, and it adds variety to strength work by activating more of the core when holding it.  Even just holding it while doing squats or lunges makes the exercise more of a core workout.
  4. Kettle Bells: my husband bought me kettle bells for mother’s day (he’s a romantic :), and I love to sling them around!  A great workout that forces you to stabilize and utilize your core!
  5. Two frisbies: this is one of my favorites for its simplicity and difficulty.  I learned this move in my Oh Baby fitness classes as a newly postpartum mom.  Get in push up position with one foot on each slider or frisby.  Then use your arms to “walk” yourself forward while feet slide along the ground with the sliders.  It’s a really tough workout for the core and arms and it only takes a room and two sliders to slide up and down for a great workout!
  6. A stair step: I inherited my step from my mom, but any type of step will do.  This is great for stair lunges, calf raises, and any other stair exercise.
  7. Yoga ball: other than giving birth (no, I did not bring my ball to the hospital-ha!), this ball is great for ab work, and it serves as a replacement for a bench if you want to do arm work while sitting on it.
  8. Resistant Bands: tie off the band so that it is a loop, step in, and try to do side lunges.  Then you’ll understand the beauty of these little bands.  Also good for clamshells and a variety of other exercises.
  9. Barbell: I don’t really use the barbell very much, but my husband does.  It’s a great piece of equipment, but my coach doesn’t incorporate it. I like to do squats and deadlifts when I’m not following my coach’s plan.
  10. Pull up bar: I was so excited to get a pull-up bar, but I do not use ours anymore because I had hernia surgery in May, and the force is more than I want to risk.  But, if you did not recently have hernia surgery, this little bar will humble you and make you tremble!  🙂
  11. Treadmill: this is pretty obvious, but I love my treadmill. I run at least half of my weekly runs on the treadmill, and I have found that I especially like it for “hillwork” and for some of my standard weekly runs to see how I’m responding when the variables are all kept constant.  You can read more about treadmill selection here.
  12. Spin bike: My husband bought our spin bike, but I’ve gotten more use of it for my cross training than he has.  It was great to complement running through pregnancy, and I love to use it for recovery.  It’s not just for easy riding though.  You can get a mean workout in with the spin bike if you crank up resistance, increase cadence, or incorporate standing while riding.  Read more about the spin bike for cross training here.
  13. Stair stepper: This is another piece of equipment that I love for cross training.  I used it a lot during pregnancy because I could get a great cardio workout without all of the pounding.  It was also the first machine that I used during my postpartum recovery.

A lot of items can be purchased on Craigslist or some other consignment/second-hand store.  We bought my treadmill, bike, stair stepper, and barbell set secondhand.

My training plan involves a lot of strength training, and this actually turns out to fit our lifestyle really well because Cadence enjoys playing in the basement while we strength train. I trained for my first 100 mile race this past summer with Cadence playing beside me while I trained for most of it.  We “baby-proofed” the basement as much as a gym can be baby-proofed, and it has made all of the difference to allow my husband and me to have the freedom to work out and spend time together.  I also attribute not getting any injuries despite a high intensity running schedule to the amount of strength work in my plan.

What is your favorite piece of exercise equipment? (Shoes don’t count! 😉