Back to shuffling, and my favorite running beats that will make you faster

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I’m trying to figure out what an easy run feels like. πŸ€”My last plan did everything at intensity. 😬 This morning was another easy at 6 miles. My shins started to feel a little sore again yesterday. πŸ˜– So between figuring out easy and injury prevention, I’m glad that I have the option to cross train! πŸš΄β€β™€οΈHow do you guys decide what to run through and when to scale back? 😳

Yay! My wonderful husband found my shuffle wedged between my driver seat and the console. I swear I had looked all over my car. He’s my hero!

I mentioned yesterday that I like to listen to podcasts during strength work and other down time, but I really love to listen to fast music when I run. I started listening to a program called MotionTraxx a few years ago, and now that’s pretty much all I listen to. You can choose the beats per minute to download, and I always choose 180+.Β  They have several different playlists to choose on itunes to make it really easy.Β  For easy runs, I’ll mix in easy pop music for fun, but if I need to hit a hard workout or race, I always listen to MotionTraxx. The music is mostly instrumental fast beat, and you don’t have to think about anything (do I like this song? etc).

Check them out for free here and let me know what you think! I promise you will run faster if you listen to this music!

Do you listen to music when you run? Lately we’ve been playing children’s music in the basement.

No more shuffling and my favorite running podcasts

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Sunday worship before Sunday worship. β€οΈπŸƒβ€β™€οΈβ›ͺ 8 stroller miles with my little sidekick. πŸ‘Ά I “officially” started marathon training again today for a late October race, and it feels good to have a goal! πŸŽ‰ I’m changing things up and trying to learn what works best for me this cycle. πŸ€— Looking forward to easy days, baby days, cross training days, and lots of grace in the process!

I lost my shuffle somehow last week, and I realize how much I miss music and podcasts! Also, I happened to lose my shuffle just as apple decided to discontinue that perfect little running device. Nooooo! I listen to running podcasts while I do strength work, driving, doing menial chores, etc. I really prefer music when I run instead of podcasts, but I know that a lot of people pass the time of long runs with their favorite podcast host.

Here are my favorite podcasts right now:

I’ll Have Another by Lindsey Hein

Running for Real by Tina Muir

Runner’s Connect

Endurance Planet by Tawnee Prazak Gibson

The Science of Ultra by Shawn Beardon

Trail Runner Nation

Ultra Runner Podcast by Eric Schranz

There are several newer podcasts that I haven’t had a chance to check out yet, but as soon as I have a new listening device, I’ll be diving in!

Do you have a favorite to add to the list?

 

 

 

A TMI PSA

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I had planned to go for an hour on the bike this morning, but I heard a tiny voice calling my name as I was heading downstairs, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for morning snuggles AND a workout buddy. πŸ‘Ά Being a working mom and training can be a hard balance, but thankfully, we’ve found ways to make it work for our family. ❀️ I couldn’t do it without the support of my husband (who came and rescued Cadence so that she’d get breakfast today 😁). 50 minutes on the bike today with a few speed intervals to get the legs burning. πŸš΄β€β™€οΈ

This post might be a little too much information, but ladies, consider it a public service announcement. (Honestly, we all know that there is never TMI when you are a runner or a mom. haha) A few cycles ago I started using the Diva Cup after reading this article written by Clare Gallagher, who I respect for her success in running.

My period returned 14 months postpartum, even though I have continued to breastfeed. This is the first time in years that I have had a normal cycle without the influence of birth control, so I’m getting to learn my body and see how my hormones affect me day to day and in running. Here’s a blog post about how the menstrual cycle affects our running performance. (The SF Marathon was as a high hormone phase for me; you can’t always plan your races around your cycle. Guys don’t know how good they have it!)

Anyway, back to the point of this post. I started using the Diva cup a few months ago, and it’s a total game changer. I don’t have to worry about the chemicals that are in tampons, I don’t have to change anything all throughout the day, and I am way more comfortable using a menstrual cup. It’s also cheaper than having to buy tampons and pads. The menstrual cup can stay inserted for up to 12 hours without leakage, and you won’t notice it at all.Β  It’s almost like you aren’t on your period. I have not altered any of my runs using the menstrual cup, it doesn’t leak, and it is waaaaay more comfortable than any tampon ever dreamed to be.

Apparently these are all the rage in Europe, and I understand why! There are different brands of menstrual cups, and I’ve only tried the Diva cup. Anyway, just had to share with you. ❀

Anybody else tried the Diva cup?

Run less, party more: going coach-less

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RUN LESS PARTY MORE! πŸŽ‰πŸ˜. Thanks for the reminder @yetitrailrunners! πŸ™Œ I’ve had a change of heart in my training philosophy over the last few weeks, and I have a lot of stuff to figure out for my next training cycle. πŸ€” I always want to get faster, but my biggest motivators right now are to stay healthy and maintain the joy in running.

I’ve grown a lot as a runner over the last month. Facing a potential injury certainly changes perspectives!Β  One of the biggest things that I have changed is how I train. I worked with a coach for the last year as I trained for my first 100 mile race at one year postpartum, and she helped me nab a sub 3 hour marathon about three months later. Undoubtedly, my former coach helped me find speed that I didn’t know that I had.

I learned how to run intervals and tempo runs. And that’s about all that I ran.Β  It was good for a season (or two or three) but it’s been really hard on my body, and I was starting to dread running. When my shin splints started to hurt more than normal, I actually welcomed the excuse to cross train and scale back.

My (former) coach is a firm believer in her method, which is great, but it didn’t leave any room for modifying my next training cycle so that I didn’t only run with intensity. So now I am coach-less, and I’m kind of excited to see where this leads. It’s pretty scary because I have big goals for the end of the year, but at the end of the day, running is a hobby, and if it’s not fun (or worse, if I can’t run because of an injury), it’sΒ  just not worth it. Thankfully, I have some pretty amazing runner friends who can help guide me through this process and help me figure out the right blend of training.

Have you ever had to separate from a coach when viewpoints were different?

Still marathon recovering…

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I need to take notes from Cadence and try to get more sleep! πŸ’€ Mondays are tough! 5 easy treadmill miles this morning. πŸ™Œ

I haven’t felt very young for this last marathon recovery, but I can’t entirely blame aging as the culprit for my slow recovery. CTS came out with an article recently talking about the four things to do to recover from an endurance event. I’ve pretty much failed at all of them! Haha. Good thing our bodies are resilient!

1. Focus on Fluid Intake Throughout the Days Following Your Event: Unless wine intake counts, I did a pretty poor job here following the race. But traipsing all over wineries in Napa and Sonoma sure was fun!

2. Replenish Energy Levels With Quality Nutrition: When we ate, we ate at fancy restaurants. But we skipped lunch entirely on Monday, and fancy restaurants aren’t known for their huge portions. Between the breakfast buffet, snacks, and restaurants, we certainly ate plenty, but it wasn’t the quality of fruits and vegetables or timing that I typically like in my normal routine.

3. Get More Sleep: Ha! This one is probably the worst. Between the race that started at 5:30 am, the time zone change, and the red eye flight, we got pretty poor sleep, and I haven’t gotten a full 8 hours since. Totally my fault! I need to prioritize sleep better! Cadence still wakes in the night, and as much as I love the baby snuggles, it can be rough.

4. Utilize Compression: I definitely score the most points here. I like to sleep in compression socks as long as it’s cool in the bedroom. My hamstring is feeling a bit tight now as well, so I’ve added rock tape to my arsenal for recovery.Β  πŸ™‚

What’s your favorite recovery tool?

Race Report: The San Francisco Marathon

IMG_20170723_095843I pick a verse for every goal race to focus on throughout the training cycle and race. For the San Francisco Marathon, I came across Proverbs 16:9, and it really got me thinking about where my heart was in this process. Running can easily become such a self-focused sport, and we lose sight of the mighty plans that God has for us.

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Training Derailed

I formally started marathon training 7 weeks before race day, and about three weeks in, I started to have shin splints that hurt pretty badly, and more importantly, scared me enough to change up my training entirely. My coach utilizes intensity in practically every run, so I was out of a coach and out of a training plan once I made the decision to focus on health over performance. I’ve never had a stress fracture, and I want to take precautions to never reach that point! So I spent the last month with a lot of time cross training and running on a flat treadmill. I also added a few 20 mile runs that I wouldn’t have run with my previous training schedule.Β  Although it was disheartening to have my training derailed a bit, it was a really good reminder to evaluate my heart and keep my focus on God. Injuries are really good at giving us perspective!

Arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco was not a goal race for me to PR, but rather a race to go enjoy, perform well, and then enjoy our friends and drink lots of good wine out in wine country.Β  Jon and I spent the night at my parents’ house on Friday night so we could be with Cadence one more night before flying out. We did a quick 1.5 mile shakeout run before jetting to the airport for our first trip without Cadence. Since I’m still breastfeeding Cadence, I brought a manual pump to use at night and in the morning.

Jon and I arrived in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon and walked with our friends to the expo. On our way, I just about had a heart attack when I walked all of hills. I had been avoiding hills for the last month because hillwork made my shins hurt worse, and my goal was to make it intact to the race. This race was going to hurt! I picked up my elite bib at the expo, which was a really neat experience since this is the first race as an elite runner!Β  Dinner included lots of good food, great friends, and an early bedtime.

Race Morning

Our hotel was right across the street from the start, so race morning was pretty easy. My alarm was set for 4 am, but I didn’t sleep great and woke wide awake at 3:40 am.Β  I ate some of my mom’s homemade bread and half of a protein bar.Β  Jon and I got dressed and headed downstairs to meet our friends at 5 am. This is probably the first race where I haven’t used the porta potty before a start. It was so convenient to have the hotel so close!! I hopped into the elite corral at the front of the line and did a few warm up strides. I wasn’t nearly as warmed up as I should have been, but the corrals closed at 5:15 am, and I was afraid I’d miss the window if I went off and ran much.

One of the announcers was Dean Karnazes, which was really neat. I admit that I felt totally out of place standing up in the front, but it was still a really fun experience to stand with the elites. Finally, the whistle blew, and we all started running. I started out at about a 6:50 pace, and it felt like an effort. I knew I could hold the pace at that time, but I didn’t think this was a good sign for what was to come as far as pace was concerned. I didn’t have a goal though, so I didn’t worry. I was running beside the 3:00 pacer, and there were a few other guys clumped with him. I like to run with others, so I decided to stick with them as long as I could.

First Hill to the Golden Gate Bridge

We reached the first hill around 2.5 miles. I really wanted to see how the other guys handled the hill to get an idea of what I should be doing. We all slowed down to about an 8 minute pace and then flew down the hill. This was fine by me, and I was clicking right along. Things were feeling really comfortable and I was having a lot of fun. It was 57 degrees at the start, which is way cooler than anything I have run in a long time. There was a really dense fog and a headwind, so we were pretty much just running in a bubble.

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At about mile 5, we ran up a hill to the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn’t realize that we were even on the bridge until I looked up and saw the bridge towering overhead. It was so foggy.Β  The bridge is 1.2 miles with entry and exit adding to the distance. This was definitely my most fun part of the race. As we were crossing over, we saw the lead pack coming back over the bridge. And then it was our turn. All of the masses of runners were crossing the bridge as we were exiting. I saw our 3 friends and my husband. This is also where I learned that I was first female. I had so many other runners, especially female, cheering for me as I passed. If ever I felt like a celebrity, this was the moment.Β  I also knew that I should enjoy it while it lasted. πŸ™‚

Running to the Golden Gate Park

We left the bridge around mile 9.5 and ran toward Golden Gate Park. Up until this point, pacesthe race was flying by and I felt really good, albeit tired of hills. Golden Gate Park seemed to last forever. And it wasn’t as flat as I had hoped. A really nice guy was running with me and tried to give me an idea of the landscape for the rest of the race. While it evened out more on paper, to the legs, it still felt really hilly.Β  Two girls passed me around mile 13. I had not really slowed down, but they were flying. I know that it was too early in the race to chase, and I didn’t have it in me to run their paces.

I got to see my husband and friends several times while I was in the park (they ran the half and finished in the park). This was a great boost to my morale. I was hurting a little, but it was more that I was just ready to be done with the hills. It wasn’t so fun anymore. I remember reading a race report by Tia Stone (@arkansasrunnermom on IG) who said that she felt relief at mile 20 because it was downhill. So I just kept looking for mile 20. My legs were tired, but not so tired that I really felt like I needed to slow down. My paces for the whole race were very much dictated by the hills. I had lost the 3 hour pacer guy (Carl) somewhere in the park, and the sun was so bright that I couldn’t really see anything in front of me (it was no longer a cool 57 degrees!)

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Map provided by The San Francisco Marathon http://www.thesfmarathon.com/the-races/full-marathon/

Running Past 20

The last few miles went by pretty slowly for me, but I didn’t want to slow down because I wanted to be finished. I only saw fuel at one stop at mile 8 (apparently I missed the other aid station), but I ate my Honey Stinger Gel and Honey Stinger Chews.Β  I also drank water at every other aid station. The second half of the race was direct sunlight and pretty toasty.

The last two miles of the race were by the bay, so it was flatter, but by then I had started to slow regardless of elevation change. I had not been running tangents very well, and my watch chimed at 26.2 as a sub 3 hour marathon, butΒ I still had 0.34 to run. I knew that I was third female, but I did not know how much of a lead I had. I crossed the finish in 3:01:12 as the overall third place female, and my sweet husband and friends were there to cheer me on.

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Lessons Learned

The race was a challenge for me, but it was an incredible experience. The race director and all of the volunteers did a fantastic job with every detail! My least favorite part was definitely the second half, which was supposed to be the easier half. I am satisfied with my time and place, but I do wish that I had gone into the race with a time goal. I absolutely believe that if I had gone into the race with a time goal of sub 3, I could have hit the mark. By the time that I realized that I could have reached this goal, I didn’t have time to make it up. I believe that I could have shaved off time with a little more mental edge alone. So that’s a great lesson to be mentally sharp going into a race, even if you don’t feel very ambitious at the start. You never know until you try!

Post Race

After the race, we attended the awards ceremony. All of the top finishers were super congenial and energetic. What an honor to get to know them! As a prize, I got a new Fitbit, Jaybird wireless headphones, and some other smaller items. I also got a nice 3rd place plaque. My husband and friends made me feel like a queen, and I am so thankful for their sweet support. We all ate a big brunch together after showering, and then we masochistically walked all around San Francisco on tired legs. What an amazing city!

We finished up the trip with wine tastings in Sonoma and Napa on Monday and Tuesday.

Here’s some cool data from my Milestone Pod. The main thing that I notice is that my foot strike changed for the uphills and the downhills. My stride length and ground contact were also better for this marathon than on my training runs. The faster I run, the more efficiently I run. Isn’t God good!?

If you want to order a Milestone Pod, use code PodTeamMeridith30 for 30% off until the end of July!

Race week prep

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I’m in denial that we are leaving this little chickadee for our California excursion. 😭 But she’s going to have way more fun with her grandparents than she would sitting around at wine tastings all day. 🍷Today is an off day for me, so we rolled and had an easy walk with Maggie. 🐢 I still have a little cold and a tiny bit of calf/shin/ankle discomfort, but I feel like I’ll be good to go for race day! πŸ™Œ Anyone else running the San Francisco marathon this weekend?!?! πŸŒ‰ #marathontraining #taperweek #motherrunner #bestlittletrainingbuddy #21monthsold #sanfranciscomarathon #allthewine #orwhineafterirunthosehills #womenrunning #womensrunningcommunity

It really is true that the more races you run, the easier it gets. Since so much is mental with running, it helps to have experienced different scenarios and to know that in the end, it all works out. What if it rains? I’ve ran an entire marathon in the pouring rain and it was ok (maybe put on extra body glide next time?). What if I forget something? The expo is full of items that you can purchase, and if you can’t find what you need, there are typically stores all around. What if my stomach is upset? Been there and lived through it. Now I carry pepto bismal to races as prevention, and it works like a charm.
There are always unknowns with a race, but the more you can control, the better. During race week, I typically start to visualize myself running the race (although this process can’t start too early). I plan out what I am going to wear, order any fuel that I need (I just placed an order for HoneyStinger last week and it will get delivered just in time), order anything else like RockTape, etc. and review the course map and elevation profile. Check the weather, and prepare to bring throwaway clothes for road racing (not acceptable at trail races, haha).Β  Get a massage. Most of this stuff is not critical, but it makes race day much easier. If traveling, figure out where to go on race day before race day.
We spend the night with my parents tonight, andΒ leave for California tomorrow morning!Β  I’m going to miss that little baby!
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Do you have a race prep ritual?