#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?

#Sub60: 6 of 61

Sub 60 10k, Zaimu Challenge

Today I ran 4 miles at conversation pace. This was workout number 6 of 61 in my sub 60 10k training program.

Officially, my first training run was workout number 4 – also a 4 mile run.

For the past couple of years, I’ve run 3 days most weeks. Sometimes more and rarely less. Prior to that, with a different life schedule and on flatter land, I ran 4 days. I’d been planning to modify my workout schedule to add a fourth day, so this was an upside to the program.

I gave myself credit for workouts 1 and 2, as my standard running schedule mirrored those pretty well. I “skipped” workout 3 as that was the day I discovered the plan and it was too late at night by then. So Sunday was my first opportunity to run, and it was the mileage I would’ve run anyway.

Tuesday I ran 3 miles plus strides. That’s 3 miles at conversation pace, ending with cycles of 20 second sprits and 2 minutes of recovery (repeated 3 times).

Queen Harrison

That brings us to today’s 4-miler.

This program requires quite a few runs at conversation pace, which is what it sounds like – the speed at which you can hold a conversation with another person.

The actual pace varies by your level of fitness, but the program defines it as 11:15-11:30/mile. When I’m really talking throughout my run, my conversation pace is a little slower. When I’m running solo and pretending to talk to someone, this range is pretty much my pace. But on a typical day, my 4 mile runs are faster overall. That’s what made today’s run somewhat difficult.

At the beginning, it took me a few minutes to speed up to that pace, but once I was warm, I wanted to go faster. It took some concentration Tuesday and today to maintain a slow enough pace. It’s an interesting challenge.

Blue ran elsewhere this morning, but he surprised me by showing up on my last half mile. He took a few pictures, and I noticed a few things about my form. Food for thought as I get faster.

Next run: Saturday, 2 miles slow.

Running Buddha

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

A funny thing happened yesterday. While searching for the image to accompany my blog, I suddenly felt “some kind of way.” I’m not sure what that phrase really means (ha), but I felt excitement and a sort of recognition, seeking and finding yet another runner. Not just runners… I’ve been seeking and finding elite track athletes. Women who spend hours a week training their bodies to be efficient and fast. Side note: they’re all fine, too.  Yassss!

Mikele Barber

The feeling surprised me because although I was sprinter in high school, I didn’t really enjoy the work that went into it.

As a kid, I loved racing classmates and neighbors. Sprinting felt like flying, and I could count on being first or really close. But running varsity track wasn’t exactly fun. It was okay to run hills and stairs, jump boxes, pull tires and the like. Yet when it came to the conditioning runs, either long distance or endless sprint repeaters, I hated them.

I avoided running for years after high school because I had such unpleasant memories of conditioning. Occasional school yard races with my elementary students or fellow teachers? Sure. Distance running or any type of training? Hell no.

So I’ve found it surprising to come to running on my own terms and enjoy it. There’s much to love about it including the sights, smells and fresh air outdoors, and the overall feeling of accomplishment and fitness after a strong run. I can set personal goals and work toward them sans stress.

Me, finishing Tuesday's "3 miles and strides."
Me, finishing Tuesday’s “3 miles and strides.”

But this feeling yesterday, this connection or bond with women who work at running was certainly new.  And it fits with my current feelings and approaches to things, so I’m going with it.

During many of my runs, I learn lessons, and sometimes I share them here. Whether I blog about it or not, I’m always growing while running. When I’m absorbing lessons while running, I always think Running Buddha.

With all of this in mind, I plan to document my journey to a sub 60 10k. From the mental and physical discipline, to the workout specifics and rationale, and everything in between. I’m about one week in to a 16-week program, so join me!

Blogs about running lessons will be categorized Running Buddha. Blogs about the program, Sub 60 10k.