Spinx Marathon Training 9/14-9/20

Despite being a cutback week, or perhaps because it was a cutback week, I was a mess. I don’t know if I was just beat physically which caused my bad attitude, or if my bad attitude caused my running to suck, but this was a rough week all around. I make no secret that I struggle with anxiety, and this week I was just a ball of nerves for no discernable reason. I had an appointment with my lovely therapist and we’ve discussed some changes to try between now and the marathon to help cut back on my totally unnecessary freak outs (is a post about my therapy experiences and its relation to running of interest?). I guess this was a good reminder that mental health is as important to running (and real life, duh) as physical health…and I’m glad it happened during a relatively low-key week.

Mon 9/14: Off

No running, no classes to teach, just time to recover. This was all well and good until about noon and I was then a twitchy mess of anxiety. Super.

Tue 9/15: 10 miles easy

Felt fine. The first couple of miles after a total rest day always feel weird, but I loosened up okay and my permanently niggling Achilles felt pretty good.

Wed 9/16: 10 miles with 7xmile

I sucked it up at the track tonight but I finished the damn thing at least. The plan was to be at or just under 6:10 and I was…for the first couple. Then it got ugly. Like, running slower than the end of my long run last week kind of ugly. My legs were so tight and flat and I couldn’t seem to do anything to make it better. I know I’m tired, but it’s still a kick to the ego when you average barely faster than 10k pace in a workout that was meant to be much more intense. Just add it to the shit-pile that is this week.

Thu 9/17: Direct from my log- “Only 5 miles. Legs are trash; attitude is trash.”

Fri 9/18: 8 miles

Nearly took today off, too. But, the part of my brain that is still functional reminded me that just because I’m in a funk right now doesn’t mean I get to sabotage my entire marathon training. So, out the door for a sunset run. I felt better.

Sat 9/19: 10 miles with fartlek pickups throughout.

Working through it.

Sun 9/20: 17 miles

Easily the best run of this week. No set pace…just a cruise effort and getting in the time on my feet. It was nice to kind of come back to center with my favorite type of run where I just go for 2+ hours and exist.

Total: 60 miles …recovery weeks are exhausting.


Spinx Marathon Training 9/7-9/13

This was my third mileage building week in a row and at times, the promise of a complete rest day on Monday was my major motivation. All in all, we can call this a successful week and I’m most excited about the long run that featured much cooler fall-like temperatures; it was like free fitness!

Mon   9/7- 10 easy miles. Felt reasonably recovered from the longer run the day before.

Tue   9/8- 10 really easy miles. I retract my statement about feeling recovered.

Wed  9/9- Track! 8x1k with ~3:15 recovery. We’d done this workout several weeks ago (same recovery), but I had only done 6 reps and I hit 3:46 average that day. Today I only improved slightly to a 3:44 average…but with two more reps thrown in. I think that’s called progress? 9 miles total.

My intervals are the top row. The rest of my training group had amazing workouts, too!
My intervals are the top row (with 800m splits). The rest of my training group had amazing workouts, too!

Thu 9/10- 10 more of those easy miles I like so much.

Fri   9/11- Fartlek day…shocker, it was a 10 mile day, but with a whole bunch of 30 second pick ups thrown in just so I don’t get too complacent.

Sat  9/12- A real easy day– only 7 miles! It felt weird to be done with my running for the day in less than an hour.

Sun 9/13- First 20 miler of the training cycle. The plan called for the first ten-twelve at a moderate pace and the last eight-ten at or below marathon pace. It went {almost} perfectly. First ten in 7:36 average, last ten in 6:57 average! Told y’all the weather was nice 😉 I do say it was only {almost} perfect because I let myself lose focus during mile 19 and ran that one too slow. Luckily the other miles were more than fast enough to make up for it:

I hate those little .nothings that tag on to the end of most runs. It was a 7:17 overall pace, btw.
I hate those little .nothings that tag on to the end of most runs. It was a 7:17 overall pace, btw.

Total: 76 miles. The highest mileage of the training cycle yet, and the third week of buildup. Man, that rest day tomorrow is gonna be awesome.

Spinx Marathon Training 8/31-9/6

As I began to type up this week’s training, I was feeling pretty “meh” about it. I think the doldrums of a long training cycle has kicked in and I’m getting into a routine that made it hard for me to see that it was actually a solid week of running…I mean, it included a negative split track workout, an almost 2 minute PR in the 10k, and my highest mileage of the year!

Mon 8/31- 10 easy miles followed by an ART/chiropractic visit with Dr. Jenna to work on my left Achilles and ankle.

Tue  9/1- 10 more easy miles on the Cottonwood trails in Spartanburg. The range of motion in my left ankle was MUCH improved after the work on it yesterday.

Wed 9/2- Today’s track workout was 3x2mile with ~5 min recovery. I managed to negative split the sets, but I didn’t get quite as fast as I wanted on the last one: 13:15, 13:02, 12:54. The average was 6:31 pace which was pretty much dead on the goal (6:30), so I’ll take it.

Thu 9/3- 8 slow miles. It was about 95* so I was happy to back off and just put in the miles.

Fri 9/4- 10 miles with Midnight Flight 10k in a new PR of 41:28 (chip time) –my old PR was 43:15 from 2014’s Reedy River Run! It was good enough for third place woman and $100 payday, but I’m kind of frustrated…I have this newfound fitness/speed, but I still don’t really know how to be a racer, if that makes sense? It’ll come, I hope.

Sat 9/5- 8 miles to shake everything out mid-morning. Night races make everything weird for a couple of days.

Sun 9/6- 18 miles in the afternoon with a negative split second half. I guess it’s a good sign when my long run is the most uninteresting hard workout of the week.

Total: 74 miles

I’ve been stepping back my mileage every third week, which should be next week, but we are switching things up and keeping the miles in the mid-upper 70s again. I seem to be holding together well enough, and I have the first 20 miler of the cycle to run so it makes sense to just roll with it for another week…

Spinx Marathon Training 8/24-8/30

This week started with a bang and ended with a bit of a whimper. Nothing terrible, but I wasn’t quite able to pull off my long run as prescribed. Either way, we are now rounding into just 2 months to go until the marathon, so if you aren’t training yet, you better get a move on!

Mon 8/24: My exact log entry for this goes, “6:44, 6:42, 6:42, 6:44, 6:46, 6:51 for 6:44.83 average. 6mi tempo run. HOLY SHIT. 10 miles total.” As you can tell, I was a bit excited with the way this tempo run went. The best part was during mile 5 when one of the Swamp Rabbit police officers rode up behind me and said, “I’m glad you’re not a bad guy because I’d never catch you.” I couldn’t muster more than a smile that probably looked more like a grimace, but I came up with several witty comebacks once the tempo was over. Several.

Tue 8/25: 10 very easy miles in Spartanburg between classes.

Wed 8/26: Back to the track for 6×1600 with ~3:45 recovery. 6:16, 6:11, 6:11, 6:10, 6:10, 6:07 for an average of 6:10.8. I think I need to forget everything I ever knew about myself as a runner, because I don’t even comprehend these numbers as they relate to the runner I thought I was. In a good way.

Thu 8/27: The thing about running your easy runs VERY easy is that they double as ego checks. I got passed by all manner of people on this 8 mile run, and I couldn’t do anything but laugh because I sure as hell couldn’t go any faster.

Fri 8/28: 10 miles. My legs are a bit beat down, but I’m booked in with my ART/chiro/magician on Monday so I kept it easy.

Sat 8/29: The weather is starting to cool down which was nice for this little 8 miler.

Sun 8/30: I was meant to run this as a progression, but I knew from the outset that I would be on the struggle bus for this run. And it was entirely my own fault; I was clearly operating on a calorie deficit that was immediately noticeable. So, I tried. I was able to progress somewhat through about 9 miles (I took my one GU at 6.5), but then the light-headed unpleasantness started. I did my best to just get myself home, but any thought of actually doing the last 5 miles at faster than marathon goal pace was done. I managed 16 miles at 7:48 pace overall, but once I scarfed down some food, I was frustrated with myself for not hitting the prescribed workout due to my own negligence.

Total : 72 miles

Clearly I have to be even more diligent about fueling my body for this running-a-kind-of-fast-marathon stuff. I guess I’ve just never had this sort of sustained level of training going on, so my haphazard approach to eating (and most other things I do, really) is going to have to be more mindful. Overall, I am happy with this week. I crushed it on Monday and Wednesday, and if I’m considering that kind of long run a failure with more than 8 weeks to go I think we’re in a good place.

Spinx Marathon Training 8/17-8/23

Ahhh, the blessed cutback week!  It was also the first week of the semester, so even though I ran a little less I was still quite tired. To be fair, my semester schedule is awesome (I teach four English classes, on Tuesday/Thursdays only), but it’s still rough getting used to the new routine. I definitely perked up by the end of the week, but I am heading into the next two week build up feeling refreshed and ready to roll.

Mon 8/17: 7 miles easy on Fripp Island before heading back to the Upstate.

Tue 8/18: 10 terrible miles. I knew the last big weeks plus having a bit too much fun at the beach would catch up to me, and today it did! It was my first day of classes as well, so I was just kind of a wreck. Also, I wore the New Balance Vazee Pace and as much as I want to love this shoe because it feels fast, I have just had nothing but trouble with them. I think they are meant for more forefoot strikers because even with a little heel lift I added, I get Achilles pain every time I wear them. It’s not you, NB, it’s me.

Wed 8/19: Track! Still tired from the first week of school and definitely feeling the sluggishness that a cutback week can bring, but I managed to get through with a little help from my friends. Seriously, our Wednesday night track group is growing and it is awesome! I did 7×800 with ~2min recovery- 2:58, 2:58, 3:02, 3:02, 3:05, 3:06, 3:04. The average was 3:02high, and I give this workout a solid “meh”. I know that I should have been under 3 for the whole thing, but I just could not get there today. On the other hand, this time last year I couldn’t break 3 for an open 800, so there’s some progress for sure. I’m so used to always just putting in slow miles and being kind of an okay runner, so this thing where I’m actually getting a lot faster (for me) is new territory and my mental confidence hasn’t quite caught up with my legs.

Thu 8/20: A DAY OFF! The last full rest day I took was on 7/20, so it was well past due! I taught, and I am already so happy with my classes this semester, and I took one of those coma-like naps where you wake up unsure of where you are and what day it is. It was glorious!

Fri 8/21: 10 miles easy. Felt just okay, but that was expected as I’m usually sluggish after a day off. Felt better as the day went on though, like the easy week is finally starting to refresh my legs.

Sat 8/22: 9 miles with a 5k race in 20:04. Almost tying my PR from earlier this summer on a MUCH tougher course with much higher temps and humidity, not to mention the whole shifting to marathon training thing! I’m still frustrated bemused by the lack of going sub 20, but I will take the consistency I’ve maintained even at the shorter stuff given my overall goal.

Sun 8/23: 14 miles at Lake Summit. It’s always nice and cool up there, but it still got muggy by then end of my run. The schedule said to “just cruise” on my long run this week, and I did exactly that, keeping it very relaxed and easy!

Total: 58 miles. No complaints here. The typical cutback week is 15-20% down with less hard efforts. I was right about 16% down, with just a little bit of intensity to keep the legs springy so I feel like it was a pretty successful week!

*Things To Work On*

-I need to trust in all this hard work I’m doing and stop doubting myself.

-I need to stay on top of my food intake. I tend towards the small side anyway, and this much running means I can’t just eat when I’m hungry; I need to eat because I NEED to.

-Core/weights/drills. I get slack on these when the miles go up, but I know that the overall strength is helpful when I make the time to do it.


Spinx Marathon Training 8/10-8/16

Maybe some day I’ll post my weekly training in a more timely manner…this is not that week.

Monday 8/10:        8 easy miles

Tuesday 8/11:       10 easy miles

Wednesday 8/12:  Track! MUCH better than last week. I did 16×400 with ~90sec recovery. The other ladies I train with did 10, but they stuck around for my last few to encourage me…it’s SO NICE having people out there suffering with you! This was the most 400s I’ve ever done, by twice! Splits went: 1:31, 1:30, 1:30, 1:27, 1:28, 1:29, 1:27, 1:27, 1:26, 1:27, 1:26, 1:27, 1:25, 1:25, 1:24, 1:23 for an average of 1:27. I’m very pleased with that since it’s only a couple of seconds slower than my average was when I was just doing 8. 7 miles on the day.

Everyone had an awesome workout!
Everyone had an awesome workout!

Thursday 8/13:     10 miles easy in the morning before driving to the beach:

My big sister got to come down to the island, too! It was an awesome weekend.
My big sister got to come down to the island, too! It was an awesome weekend.

Friday 8/14:          Marathon training waits for no vacation, so I had to get in my long run despite being on Fripp Island. I do not recommend running 18 miles on an island that’s only three miles long. I felt quite strong though, if not more than a little bored of running around and around and around the flat island. Splits: 8:39, 8:05, 8:17, 7:13 (sprinting back to the house for a bathroom, ha!), 7:38, 7:46, 7:52, 7:51, 7:42, 7:49, 7:43, 7:35, 7:46, 7:39, 7:45, 7:28, 7:17, 7:01 (so ready to be done!).

Around, and around, and around the little island I go...
Around, and around, and around the little island I go…

Saturday 8/15:      7 easy miles on the island in these new and hideously awesome Brooks Launch 2:

These make me feel like Rainbow Brite, but faster.
These make me feel like Rainbow Brite, but faster.

Sunday 8/16:        10 miles with 8×60 second pickups at sub 6 pace. This was a nice fartlek type run to end another solid week. Also, no surprise, but it is rather sauna-like on small coastal islands in the summer!

Total: 70 miles. Whew! Once I finished my run on Sunday, I almost immediately said to my husband, “I’m so ready for a down week.” In looking back over my admittedly spotty training logs, this was almost certainly the most complete week of training I’ve ever done. It had a variety of paces, a variety of locations, and plenty of miles to fill it out. That said, having a bit of a cut back in miles and intensity next week is going to be most welcome!

Spinx Marathon Training 8/3-8/9

Why yes, I AM writing my training from last week despite being halfway through this week already! Last week marked 12 weeks to go until the Spinx Marathon here in Greenville, SC and I belatedly decided to chronicle my training for it. Sure, in part this is so I can shamelessly plug my blog on the Greenville Track Club’s Facebook page (hey, y’all!), but I also thought it might be fun to have something more than just my training log to look back on for future marathons so I can see all the things I did wrong. So, last week went something like this:

Monday: 14 miles with 8 miles progression. I didn’t progress perfectly, but the effort was there with splits going from 8:30 down to holding under 6:45 for the final three miles.

Tuesday: 8 miles easy

Wednesday: Let me tell you how embarrassing it is to start my marathon training series with a big fat FAIL. The track workout was to be 2×3200 and then an all-out mile at the end. I made it through the first 3200 in 12:56 (6:28 pace), did a mile in a complete jog of 6:50 and then…I quit. I quit! Who even am I? Well, in the moment, I was a VERY exhausted person who’d been building up mileage without having stepped back on the quality work. I am still frustrated with myself for not finishing the workout (and my coach was none-too-pleased either), but the reality is that I needed to fail so I would remember that trying to maintain 5k training intensity during marathon training is a recipe for disaster. It still stings the ego, though. 5 miles

Thursday: 10 miles easy

Friday: 8 miles fartlek. Kept it loosely formatted, because I take the “play” part of “speed-play” very seriously.

Saturday: 8 miles easy

Sunday: 17 miles at about 8:30 pace. Getting in that time on my feet, ya know.

Total: 70 miles.

In the 12 weeks since the Cleveland Marathon, I’ve averaged just over 50 miles a week with easily the fastest, most consistently strong workouts I’ve ever done which netted me a bunch of new short-distance PRs. But, it’s time to shift gears and get ready to roll come October 31st. Stay tuned!

Can You Handle the Heat?*

Here is some of my best advice for running and being active in the summer:

1) Keep drinking! Or start, if you don’t. I suggest a low gravity beer so that you can keep it up for most of the day. If you time it just right, you won’t care about the heat. Bonus: dehydration from the alcohol will help give you that sick and gaunt look of someone putting in 100 mile weeks.

I'm a big fan of this Gose style beer from Westbrook out of Mt. Pleasant, SC. At only 4% abv, it's a summer dream come true!
I’m a big fan of this Gose style beer from Westbrook out of Mt. Pleasant, SC. At only 4% abv, it’s a summer dream come true!

2) Get creative. If you need to run intervals, there is no need to go to the scorching hot track. You already need to prepare for tip #1, so head to the grocery store! The aisles are just long enough to get into full flight, it’s air-conditioned, AND who hasn’t dreamed about being on Supermarket Sweep? GET THE TURKEY! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this: http://youtu.be/ZSwmFurzkpQ?t=1m44s)

3) Wear sunscreen. I’m actually serious about this one; wear your dang sunscreen kids. Everywhere, everyday– and don’t forget the tops of your ears!

My favorite sunscreen of all time.
My favorite sunscreen of all time.

4) Avoid your watch. First of all, you’re going to blind yourself from the sun glare on the way-too-big watch face of your fancy Garmin. However, since your eyes will already be watering from nearly blinding yourself, no one will notice that you’ve started crying once you realize how slow you are going. Not that you’ll have the moisture to spare, if you’ve been following tip #1 correctly.

5) Outsource! When you’ve dragged your carcass back home and are collapsed on the floor in a puddle of your own body fluids, it can seem impossible to drag yourself further to the shower. That’s okay! You can get a head start on your shower by getting your dog to lick the salt from your legs.

6) Finally, make sure you’re recovering well. Nothing says summer running quite like shocking your body at the other end of the temperature spectrum with an ice bath. The higher pitched your shrieks are as you lower yourself into the tub the better!

"Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice." Robert Frost must have trained in the summer.
“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”
Robert Frost must have trained in the summer.

*It’s August, folks, and I’m getting a little loopy. But seriously, wear your sunscreen.

Summer PRs and Reaffirmed Goals

Running fast in the summer is hard. There. That’s my only rant/complaint about the heat. I hate hate hate winter so much that I try not to whine about the summer because I still much prefer it over being cold.

That said, I ran a new 5k PR (finally) on July 4th. 20:03. It’s 24 seconds faster than I’ve done before, but I am so frustrated that I didn’t get under 20.

I've been working on my arm carry, I promise!
I’ve been working on my arm carry, I promise!

It’s my own fault because I had told myself that I was NOT going to look at my watch during the race. I just wanted to focus on running hard and strong the whole time. In hindsight, perhaps looking at my watch to see how close I was in the last half mile or so might have propelled me under the 20 minute mark.

The weather was on our side that morning with much cooler temps than is usual for July in South Carolina. I’m racing again this coming Friday night and it’s likely to be in the 90s at the race start, so even though I’m confident in my fitness, I’m less confident in how the weather pretty much ruins everything (okay, I complained again).

One little running tool I have been loving and slightly obsessing over is the Daniels VDOT calculator. Given my 5k performance, my VDOT is right about a 50. The equivalent marathon performance is about a 3:10…soooo, yeah. There’s my fall marathon goal. My hope is to improve my VDOT by a couple of points in the upcoming months (and improved weather) so that come race day in October, the 3:10 will be very reasonable.

So many numbers!

All in all, the summer has been treating my running pretty well. I’m trying to learn to love ice baths and spending quality time with my foam roller. Drinking my weight (in ounces) of water each day is a fun challenge, and creating new ways to use up our excess of cucumbers from the garden has me SO over anything cucumber flavored for the rest of my life I think. Hopefully I’ll be updating with news of my first ever sub 20 by next week! Until then!

Running Lessons

I never really thought I’d be a teacher. But, this is my second semester as an adjunct English instructor for a local technical college. Last semester felt a little like drowning, and I was determined to have a better go of it this time around. Today I realized that part of my growth as a teacher has come directly from the things I’ve learned as a runner:


1. Experience Matters. Walking into class for the very first time was easily as nerve wracking as when I toed the start line of my first marathon. I had no idea what to expect, if I had hydrated properly (yes, for class, too!), if I was going to blow up after the halfway point, and generally if I would survive it all. Nowadays, even though there is no way to predict exactly how class or a race is going to go, I am not nearly as terrified because I’ve done it before. I can rely on having been in the scary last 10k of a marathon or in front of an unresponsive class before and making it through. Not without a few battle scars to show for it, though!

2. Be Prepared. Just like it’s a terrible idea to show up for a race without having trained, I definitely can’t roll into class without a lesson plan. My planning hours are just as precious to me as my hours spent logging miles. And just like I tweak my training over the course of a racing cycle in order to get faster and better, I have changed up the way I prepare for class over time. It’s not always the most fun thing to do, but I don’t really like track workouts either. It’s worth it though, to have a smooth running class period and a faster running race.

3. Dress the Part. I’m no fashionista, but the performance aspect of running and teaching have created something of an evolution in my clothes choices. I still aim for comfort above all else, but comfort with a purpose. I need to feel fast during a race, so I dress to inspire that feeling. I need to feel like a seasoned educator during class, so there too, I dress to evoke a capable persona. Of course, I’m usually still nervous before a races and class, but by wearing my running or teaching “costume” I can at least sort of fake it!

4. Participation is Key. I struggle with this one. I train mostly alone, and I’m wont to spiral into monologues during class. However, I see a real difference in my own running when I’m more involved with the Greenville Track Club or get to run with others. And of course, class is a lot more energetic and successful when I’ve got the students moving about and talking with each other. I have to really work on this, but I’m trying.

5. Roll With the Punches. If you’ve ever tried to follow a training schedule to the letter, then you know that is pretty much impossible. The same goes for following lesson plans– which is why I make sure to note that the schedule is tentative right on the syllabus! With running, there is always the possibility of injury, unexpected travel, feeling burned out, or prohibitive weather issues. In class, the students might be burned out, or just super uninterested in the material, or a seemingly great lesson plan fizzles out in practice. During all of these times, it’s important to be able to reassess the situation, change tactics if necessary, and most importantly, don’t give up! Things rarely go perfectly, but just keeping at it as best you can is often enough to get through both a rough training patch and a rough class day.

6. Setting Goals. I know what I expect from myself when it comes to running, and I extend that same level of expectation to my students. Having clear goals laid out at the beginning of a training cycle or new semester is so helpful when the inevitable rough patches hit (see #5). Then, even if you don’t exactly go straight from Point A to Point B, you at least know where Point B is, and know that you should end up there eventually. Goals are also built-in accountability managers. My students want to achieve their high grade, and I want to achieve a new PR. Goals are important, duh.


I still have a LOT of growing to do as a teacher– and as a runner! I do love that being a teacher means also being a student. I have learned so much from my students and other instructors/professors and I’ve gained a sense of accomplishment that is not unlike running. It takes hard work to do it right, but it’s so, so worth it when I cross a finish line with a new best time or know that I’ve made a positive impact on a student’s life.