#Sub60: 13. On location and circumstance

Running Buddha, Sub 60 10k
Right place. Wrong day. Too wet for strides.
Right place. Wrong day. Too wet for strides.

I ran at the wrong place today.

Don’t misunderstand me, it was my usual place, the closest trailhead of two nearby. The overwhelming majority of my runs start from here, but it wasn’t ideal for today.

Unless it’s the middle of a storm, I’ve decided to run rain or shine. Last night, it rained. For a slow or steady run, old faithful doesn’t pose a problem when wet. But today’s run was three slow miles with strides. The strides (sprints) are best done on dry land, or at the very least, on ground with strong traction. Most of the trail is wood, and slick when wet. The other trailhead? Right beside a track.

I realized my mistake within moments of arrival, but it was too late to relocate. The slow three would be fine, but I’d have to take it easy with the strides.

Me, at the end of today's run.
Me, at the end of today’s run.

I ran the first of four strides on concrete, so I took it at a pretty good clip.

The remaining three landed on wet boardwalks. I ran those much slower, more deliberately.

I had the energy to give my best effort at the end. As it turned out, I gave the best I could based on the circumstances.

The truth is, I always have this choice. Circumstances are never stagnant, but I can choose to give my best effort, whatever that means at a moment in time.

#Sub60: 11 and 12 of 61

Sub 60 10k, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge
Saturday's post-run sunrise
Saturday’s post-run sunrise

Yesterday Blue and I ran two miles and strides. We arrived early to the park, ahead of the 5k racers. We got our two on the greenway and closed out the strides on the track. I wore new running shoes for the occasion, but I didn’t run long enough to see how my feet liked them.

Today’s long run was a 5-miler. An extra rest day Friday and carb loading yesterday proved great choices. I experimented with my pre-run fuel this morning as well, eating a little banana with almond butter before the left. The combination left me feeling energized and strong the entire run. My shoes also worked pretty well, and I’m looking forward to some good miles with them.

Next week I move into more vigorous runs and increased mileage. As it is, last month I set a personal record for most miles run in a month (58.4)! I am traveling to Colorado later this month. It takes me a few days to get used to the altitude, so I’m expecting a few days off then.

#Sub60: 10 of 61, Rain or shine

Sub 60 10k, Zaimu Challenge

I planned to run rain or shine. It shined. After multiple forecasts predicting rain today, Mother Nature graced us with sun instead.

The agreeable weather did nothing to help my Garmin, which located me a quarter of a mile away from where I actually was. This is the first time I’ve experienced this malfunction, so hopefully it’s a rare occurrence.

The mistake confused me at first, and I invested plenty of energy troubleshooting and trying to adjust. Since I run the same trail most days, I knew where the first mile marker (not 1.20!) was. I restarted the Garmin from there and it had no trouble after that.

My legs, however, are another story.

Kaylin Whitney

Tuesday’s slow run with strides coupled with strength training yesterday, resulted in fatigued muscles today. The mileage itself has been no problem, and is on par with my running to date. But the strides – short sprints at the end of a run –  have worked my muscles differently.

Let’s just say they’re learning.

Muscle fatigue meant I worked harder to maintain my target pace, and although I had instant snapshots of my pace via my Garmin, I didn’t have my usual chirps  warning me to speed up or slow down to stay on track.

All said, it was a taxing run.

Even with the challenges, I enjoyed myself, and the beauty of spring. Looking forward to stronger legs in the weeks ahead.

#Sub60: 9 of 61

Sub 60 10k, Zaimu Challenge

Not sure if it was vacay mode this weekend (and yesterday), or something else, but I was a tad bit slower overall today. Still on pace for the plan, but after so many runs at a consistent pace, it was surprising to see the numbers.

I tried something a little different this morning. I usually treat my first mile as my warm up, which means the first half mile I’m a little slower than target. Everything balances out after that. Today I did two short strides and a little bit of walking to begin. It helped me start the run faster than usual, and that could also have added to my slower pace later on. Rather than a half mile of adjustments, I was pretty close to my target range in half that distance.

Fruit infused water
Fruit combos. Which do you like?

In addition to everything else I’m doing, I’m actively working to increase my fruit and vegetable in-take. I like goddess foods, so it’s not a chore to eat them. But I do need some more recipes and meal-planning ideas. My medium term goal is to follow a pescatarian diet, with my long term goal to follow a mostly plant-based diet.

Right now I’m sipping a mason jar of infused water… orange slices and a cinnamon stick. I drink plenty of water daily, but it’ll be nice to play with the infusions this summer.

Monday, rest day

Sub 60 10k, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

Today is Monday, an exercise rest day according to my running plan. It’s a good thing because I need it.

Before the plan, I alternated running, PiYo (“Pilates based yoga”), Pump (weights) and rest. I generally ran two-three days a week, did weights two days a week, one day of PiYo and one day of rest.

Last week I experimented with new things, including basic classical Pilates and a short kettle bell routine. The activities themselves may work with my running program, but I’ll have to be more intentional about planning which activities on which days (and to what degree).  This week proved to be a little much.

I found this guidance on Runner’s World:

Day Before: Cross-train or total rest
Day After: Cross-train or total rest

Day Before: Cross-train or easy run
Day After: Cross-train, easy run, or total rest

Day Before: Strength train or easy run
Day After: Strength train or easy run

I have Monday, Wednesday and Friday as non-running days, and thus far my body is pretty firmly committed to Monday (today!) as a total rest day. I’m playing with strength training on Wednesdays, and PiYo on Fridays. For now at least. I’ll see how my body recovers this week.

Later on, I plan to incorporate swimming, and that will be an adventure all its own.

#Sub60: 8 of 61

Sub 60 10k, Zaimu Challenge

Five more miles in the books!

My plan calls for consecutive runs every weekend, with lighter mileage on Saturdays and long runs on Sundays. Yesterday we ran a 2-miler. Today’s long run was 5 miles slow.

Mother Nature provided another great morning for a run, and Blue provided great company. Blue trains for marathons when his schedule permits, but these days he’s kept it short and sweet. It’s been a treat to have him along for a couple of runs while he’s had a little down time.

Today's RunKeeper trophy.
Today’s RunKeeper trophy.

Today I reached/exceeded my initial goal of 50  miles a month. And there’s still one more run on tap for May!

During my running season, I usually start light with 20-30 miles a month and increase the mileage to the 40-50 range. I haven’t calculated this plan’s monthly mileage yet, but this week, I’ve logged 14.

In another week or two, the volume climbs. I think I spotted a 20-mile week sometime in July…

It’s exciting to follow a plan, worrying only about weather interruptions. For years I ran with fibroids, which sidelined me a few days each month.

In 2015 in particular, I’d pretty much have to rest 6-7 days in a row, in addition to my standard rest days each week. Last November, after a lengthy decision-making process, I had a hysterectomy.

It’s freeing to run unencumbered now.

I’m curious to see how my body responds to the increased cardio, and I’ll be doing what I can to minimize injuries and stay strong, yet flexible in the coming weeks.

#Sub60: 7 of 61

Sub 60 10k, Zaimu Challenge

Today was an easy 2. Except it wasn’t exactly easy for me.

I invited Blue to run with me this morning, and because we live farther than 2 miles from the running trailhead, it made more sense to just run from home. In three years of running in this area, I’ve only “run from home” twice. Sidewalks are scattered here and there, while traffic and hills run rampant. Since I run for fun, and dodging cars while trekking uphill isn’t, I tend to avoid “running from home.”

That said, I knew it was only two miles, and Mother Nature provided a perfect spring morning for the occasion. We had a shaky start because I wanted to try Blue’s hydration belt/waist pack. I’ve worn it twice before, and both times slipped out of place. Irritating! But looking ahead to much longer runs this summer, I know I have to get a real water plan in place. I wanted to try the belt once more (on a short run) to rule out user error.

After a quick trial, I found it lacking, and Blue tried again, securing it lower and tighter. Then off we went.


6:47 a.m.
6:47 a.m.

Truth is, I felt nervous! I knew I’d have my usual trouble getting to the right pace initially, and now I’d have to contend with hills, too. We walked a few feet to clear my jitters, and *then* off we went.

The first quarter mile or so was about as tough as I thought it would be. And the uphill, sidewalk-deficient next half mile was, too. Soon, however, I locked into the comfortable 11:15-11:30 pace.

After a mile, we turned around and made the quick trip back home in plenty of time to catch the sunrise.

Conversation, concentration

Sub 60 10k, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

I’m supposed to complete quite a few of my training workouts at conversation pace – slow enough to talk to a friend. I wondered about the importance of running slowly so much of the time, especially when your overall goal is to train your body for speed and endurance.

I tend to take longer runs (5+ miles) slower, but, in general I run a moderate pace. For me that’s too fast to tell a story mid-stride, but slow enough to notice my surroundings and make an occasional quick joke.

Here’s what I found about conversation pace:

Running at conversational pace (also called base running), has lots of benefits, including: helps create a more efficient running style; helps your muscles to learn to burn fat more efficiently, receive and process oxygen better, and deal better with lactic acid; trains your heart and lungs to become more efficient at absorbing, delivering, and utilizing oxygen.

All of those things sound important to me! Another writer emphasized the fat burning efficiency, and the fact that building a strong base is the key to faster, longer running.  She even shared some interesting research about avoiding the moderate pace I usually run.

Laughing during conversation pace.
Laughing during conversation pace.

I love the way I feel on the longer, slower runs. The energy builds throughout the run, and by the end I feel so vibrant. But my uninformed approach was to run a moderate pace, especially on my shorter runs – nearly every run.

I’m curious to see how more conversation pace running will impact my overall ability to burn fat and run strong.

How about you? Do you run slow enough to hold a conversation, or do you go a bit faster?

7, 8, 9…

Running Buddha, Sub 60 10k, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

In 2014, I began a running plan via my RunKeeper app. It’s a fat burning plan, and alternates intervals with steady runs to increase your fitness level. The app features several such plans for goals like run a 5k (3.1 miles), run a 5k in less than 30 minutes, and so on. Although I don’t enter races, I run 5ks and a rare 10k (6.2 miles), as part of a regular exercise regimen.

While perusing the plans back then, I noticed a 7-mile training run included to build endurance for a 5k. At that point I was a consistent 4-mile runner and 7 miles seemed daunting. It was a little too far outside my comfort zone, and after all, I was just a casual runner. The goal and the fear intrigued me, though. I filed it in the back of my mind to target later and stuck to the simpler fat burning plan.

Fast forward to 2016. One day, more or less due to happenstance than planning, I ran 7 miles! And then I did it again on purpose which was actually harder to do! After 7, the new uncomfortable, too-far-out-there goal I secretly filed away was 10. One day, I’ll run 10 miles. (I have zero or less than zero interest in training for a half or whole marathon, by the way, so don’t get any ideas). Anywho, 10 gives me the same jitters 7 did a couple of years ago, and I had no plans to hit it soon.

Sanya Richards-Ross

This weekend, I signed up for a new training plan via RunKeeper. Based on my current fitness and mental readiness for challenge, I selected a sub 60min 10k. This means running just over 6.2 miles in under an hour. It’s definitely doable, but unlike past running ventures, it will take actual training, rather than casual effort.

Before signing up, I skimmed the plan and noticed an 8-mile run in the mix. I felt the familiar tension, but brushed it off because of the two 7s under my belt. I locked in the plan and completed my first run (4 miles) on Sunday.

But today, while looking at the run calendar to confirm date of said 8-mile run, I blinked, observing there was much more in the offing. This 16-week plan starts off comfortably, but quickly ramps up to regular long runs – something I’ve never done with any consistency. There are two 7-milers on tap, and after a few weeks, not one but two 8-milers, two 9-milers, and shock of all shocks, yes a 10-miler.

I said it was time for a challenge. Wow. Here it is.

One step. 10k.

Running Buddha, Sub 60 10k, Temple Building, Zaimu Challenge

Today I began a 10k training program.

I started on Day 3, as I’d already completed the equivalent of the first two days on my regular regimen. I ran my standard distance – 4 miles – so it was an easy entry.

IMG_8426My distance running has been primarily self-taught/self-guided until now. I’ve been comfortable, and now that I’m fully settled into my new life, I’m ready to break boundaries.

I want to prove to myself that I can set and accomplish goals with consistency and commitment. These ingredients are sometimes lacking in my creative endeavors, and the combination of structure, challenge and discipline will reap benefits in the weeks and months to come.

Today’s run was to be conversation pace, defined on this plan as 11:15-11:30 minutes per mile. I nailed it at 11:20 average pace, but it was interesting to note that my conversation pace was more like concentration pace. Because I usually go much slower at the beginning and much faster at the end, I constantly checked my pace to make sure I was on target. I made mid-course adjustments the whole run to make sure I remained on track. I had to remain focused to keep pace.

The plan is a sub 60 10k. That means my goal is to run just over six miles in just under an hour. This is a doable stretch for me. Although I’m confident I can be successful, I know it will take more effort than I’ve given in the past. Normally I run just for fun. Now I’m running for excellence. I don’t plan to enter an actual race, but I do plan to run faster, and longer and increase my overall fitness.

Today I took a step, and won. My next run is set for Tuesday…