Sunday, January 20, 2013


Weekly recap Jan 14-20
75 miles total
7 runs
19 mile long run
15 Weeks until Marathon

I'm pretty darn proud of myself for fitting all of the 'extra stuff' in this week in addition to the higher mileage. I even did my strength work on my big workout days. That entailed going to the gym late at night (got home tonight at 10:00 pm) and doing the workouts on very tired legs. Ewen asked about the timing of my strength work last week and that reminded me that my strength coach, Tim, wanted me to do the strength routines on the same days either within a few hours before or after my running workouts. The main reason is that recovery days should be just that--about recovery and not trying to build additional strength. 

Since I started a new strength routine this week, I had a nice case of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) to deal with Thursday and Friday. However, it didn't slow me down much. I continue to be stumped by the lethargic feeling I have in my mid-week workouts. I'm not sure what's going on there, but I wonder if I am still adjusting to all of the stuff I'm doing the rest of the week.

Today's long run was a change in that it was a straight easy run. I am used to having some sort of long interval workout in the middle or at the end of my long runs. The purpose of this long run, according to Coach Hadley, was to enhance my body's ability to store glycogen and to get my body used to burning fat. I was to take in only water during the run and to run it at an easy pace to ensure I didn't bonk. Bonking would set me up for a world of hurt this next week as my body would need extra time to recover. I am used to taking at least 1-2 gels during a long run, so this was going to be foreign territory for me. 

It was kind of nice to relax during a long run and just coast. I listened to a few great podcasts of RadiolabThis American Life and Freakonomics Radio. It is amazing how quickly time flies when I listen to something engaging while running. I kept my pace easy and gradually picked it up the whole run so my last mile was the fastest, in the low 7:00 range. I felt great, though I was pretty hungry right after the run. I had eaten a breakfast of about 600 calories at 9:00ish and didn't eat again before running starting at noon. So, I had definitely burned through my fuel early in the run. It was great to push myself in this way and see how my body responded. I have always suspected I'm good at burning fat since I have never bonked in a marathon (I've run 19 of them), but I could just as easily attribute that to having a good race fueling plan. Regardless, I like the idea behind the no-fuel approach. If you're interested, check out Coach Hadley's post on the subject of fueling during long runs. It's very informative.  

Of course, I refueled like a mo after my long run with a big burger, sweet potato fries and a huge hot fudge ice cream sundae (we HAD to use our Groupon to Leatherby's). 

Next week, we talk about racing weight!  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How I cured my migraines

Image from
Let me start by saying that the title of this post is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I get irritated by posts where someone has 'discovered THE cure' to whatever ailment it is that afflicts them or knows the right (and usually only) way to run/strength train/rest/stretch.

As I cast that stone, I also must admit my guilt. In fact, one of my most popular blog posts is entitled 'How to Fix Piriformis Syndrome'. I'll assume others' intent to be similar to mine--to contribute to a wider body of knowledge accessible to those who might be suffering from something similar in order to provide alternate sources of information. In fact, I have found some of my best information about running injuries from the evidence-based medicine chest called Google and feel a responsibility to give back. I leave the responsibility to you, fine readers, to evaluate whether it's crap or not.

With that intro--some of you may recall I started having frequent migraines back in October. To put this in perspective, I have become accustomed to having migraines 1-4 times per year since having my first one in 2004. Between October 5th and Dec 25th, 2012, I had 19 migraines. At one point, I was getting them 4-5 times per week and sometimes twice per day!

I had my last migraine on Christmas morning. Merry Christmas to me! I am now at the point where I don't worry daily about when I'll start to get that hole in my vision that indicates I need to brace myself for a light show and some fetal-position quiet time.

I have always done a brilliant job of tracking my migraines but, after nine years, have yet to find a slam-dunk trigger. I've tried to correlate everything from food, alcohol, stress, meds, sleep, etc., with no luck. Because the increased frequency of my migraines was interfering with my life in a pretty big way (I was even starting to get migraines during runs), I decided to look for 'natural' cures. My doctor suggested this, actually, but also told me that there are drugs that he could prescribe to decrease the frequency if need be.

In my internet research, I found information and scientific studies that suggested each of the following supplements might help decrease migraine frequency:

Magnesium (500 mg)
5-HTP (400 mg taken before bed)
Feverfew (200 mg, combined with the butterbur)
Butterbur (75 mg, combined with the feverfew)
Vitamin B-2 (400 mg)

I am taking all of those in the listed doses. In addition, I started taking the following because they had pretty labels and I was already taking a bunch of pills, so thought it wouldn't hurt to add more.

Oceans 3 Healthy hormones (combo of Omegas and herbs, sold by Garden of Life)
Potassium (99mg)
Super B-Complex (has a bunch of Bs + C)

I also take iron on a daily basis, but have been doing that for many years now. I have been taking this whole combo package of supplements every day since mid-November. I started taking some of them in October but didn't go in whole hog until November. Everything I read on taking supplements for migraines suggested a 1-2 month ramp up time for them to start working and, by the end of December, I was migraine free.

Did the supplements cure me? Maybe. I can come up with a whole host of other explanations for why my migraines have become less frequent including having less stress in my life (e.g. leaving old and adjusting to new job) and stopping hormone supplements (started in August/stopped in October). In the past month, I also started wearing cheater glasses when at my computer, recognizing that I am becoming very slightly farsighted and wondering if eyestrain might play a role.

I have thought about systematically removing some of the supplements I'm taking from my daily regimen in order to see whether the migraines return. My science brain thinks this might be a cool way to narrow the supplement playing field. But, my intuition tells me to keep on keeping on. I must admit that I hate taking pills (and it's expensive!), but my energy levels have been through the roof too. Why change a good thing?

The answer to what has cured my crazy migraines is likely a combination of all of the above. That's the thing about being your own test subject, you don't have the luxury of having a control. Despite not having answers, I will absolutely take this new supplement-laden reality over the migraines any day of the week!

There you have it, interwebs. Do with this information what you will and may we all enjoy a migraine-free night!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pulling it out

Training Summary
Jan 7-13
7 runs
69 miles
17 mile long run
This week was a solid week of training. I started the week feeling slightly off, and wondered if I was coming down with some nasty bug. Luckily that passed, but I still wasn't right, even through Wednesday.

My main workout was scheduled for Wednesday: 10 x 800m with 2 min jog recovery. I have no idea what happened that day with my schedule. I intended to get out in the late afternoon and get after it. Late afternoon turned into a 5:20 pm start. I got to my starting point for my repeats after a 3 mile warm up. I looked down at my watch and realized there was no way I would finish the workout by the time I needed in order to get to band practice. Crap. How did that happen? I had no choice but to postpone the workout and run back home.

This scheduling mistake was actually a blessing in disguise. I really struggled on my run home that night. I mean, I could barely move my feet to keep running. I really have no idea what was going on that night, and I will admit I was worried about my prospects for trying to get the workout done in the morning.

Nonetheless, I woke early and went out into the cold dark morning to try out some half mile repeats. I actually felt really good and was able to knock them out smoothly. I was to keep them between 3:00 and 3:05 and I averaged 3:01.

The next day, my schedule got all jacked up trying to troubleshoot and fix my internet connection at home. I have a home office now and am my own IT person. This frustrated me to no end, but I finally got it all working. This didn't happen until 8:00 pm, and I still needed to run. Believe me, the last thing I wanted to do was lace up my shoes and get in an 8-miler.  I thought about how much I wanted to be consistent with my training. I also thought about having to explain to you and Coach Hadley why I had decided to miss a day. If I want to achieve big things with my running, I have to be willing to run at 8:00 pm some days and 5:00 am others. It's unacceptable to miss a day (unless I have a legit reason, of course).

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of running with a group of folks that I hadn't run with in a long, long time. We had all gone to a memorial service for our dear friend Phil Barnett. Phil was an amazing person and athlete. He had lost his leg in a car accident later in life (got hit by a drunk driver), but never let that keep him from chasing his dreams. One of my favorite memories of Phil was going to watch him compete in his first triathlon. I had the great honor of running him in to his finish in that race and my heart was so full at that moment watching him achieve what most people would have never considered, even with two healthy legs. Did I mention he was in his 60s when he did this?

Our group ran together that evening and then decided we would make this an annual event. So, Sunday, January 12th 2014 will be the second annual Phil Barnett memorial run from Old Fair Oaks, CA. I hope we can expand the group next year!

Finally, I wrapped up the week with another fantastic long run. This was meant to be a 16 miler with 4 x 1 mile @ marathon pace in the middle with 1 minute jog recovery between repeats. Coach Hadley prescribed 6:30 as my marathon pace for this run. I thought I'd focus on marathon effort rather than try to lock in a pace and this worked out rather well for me. I ended up with 17 miles total for the run and my mile splits were 6:23, 6:18, 6:13, 6:16 for the workout portion.

You may notice that I backed off the strength training this week. I actually read an article this week, thanks to Runners Feed for posting, about Kara Goucher's (old) strength training as prescribed by Salazar. In this article, he suggested taking every 5th week off from strength training. Coach Hadley agreed with this principle, so I'll plan to make it a new training rule.

Next week, I start ramping the strength training up by adding some weight to some of the exercises, and I hold my mileage steady in the 70s.        

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Downs and Ups

Training recap for Dec 31 - 6 Jan
62 miles
7 runs
15 mile long run

Strength routines consist of 9 exercises and change throughout training program. HME = hip mobility exercises as prescribed by Dr. J-Ball.
I've decided that I want to try out the weekly recap format for my blog for a bit.  I thought it would be easiest for me just to take a screen capture of my training log each week since it's pretty and has all of the relevant stats. I think it's important to see that I do a lot more than run during the week. I'm typically doing something in addition to a regular run every day of the week whether it's a 30-45 minute strength routine, a shorter core circuit or 1-2 miles of hill drills.  All of these little things help make me stronger and faster.

My running workouts this week were designed to get me used to what will be a normal training structure. I will do a speed/stamina workout on Wednesday, a longish run with a fast finish on Friday and either an easy long run or long run with a long interval workout added in on Sunday. My Wednesday workouts will alternate speed/stamina each week.

Last week I did my first track workout of 12 x 400m on Wednesday. This week was a stamina workout of a 5 mile tempo progression from ~6:50 pace down to under 6:15. As you can see from my log, I struggled mightily with that workout. I always struggle with tempos, but I was having an off day that day. I have learned not to react to these bad days. They happen sometimes. Instead of stopping the workout, I decided to finish it and take a few short "water breaks" to catch my breath. I know that this isn't ideal, but it was what I could do. Had I started slower, I probably could have completed the workout as written. However, I really thought 6:45 to 6:55 pace was going to feel a lot easier than it did. I became overwhelmed once I got down into the 6:30s and it fell apart from there.

My Friday runs are meant to be a longer distance (up to 12 miles later in the training plan) and have a pick up in the last few miles. Last week, I did the workout incorrectly and ran those last two miles too fast (under 6:30 pace). Coach Hadley explained that the idea is to just pick it up the last few miles and finish feeling refreshed. I kept the thought of feeling refreshed in my head and it worked great this week.

Thank goodness for my long run today! It was written as 15 miles with the first 12 easy then the last 3 miles at a faster pace (6:30-6:45). By the time I reached the 5 mile mark, I was already in sub-7:00 territory, and it felt effortless. I decided to run the rest of the long run based on effort rather than slow down to maintain a certain pace. I was a bit worried that I was going to regret that decision those last 3 miles, but it all worked out. In fact, I averaged 6:48 pace for the last 9 miles, and it felt really smooth. I also didn't feel wrecked the rest of the day like I do when I push a long run too hard. This was a great workout to finish up the week.

Next week, my mileage takes a jump and my workouts get tougher! Tallyho!    

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And it begins

Happy New Year!

Rather than spend any time at all reflecting on 2012, I thought I'd devote this space to what's ahead for me in 2013. I have a  lot to look forward to. I have an awesome new coach, an injury-free body and a belly full of fire: a good combo for fast running.

I have my training plan in hand and have been following it for two weeks now. I really appreciate Coach Hadley's approach to training and his positive, flexible style of coaching. It is very clear that he loves running, coaching and has spent a great deal of time researching training principles. While I have a program including daily workouts, strength training, drills, etc. laid out for the next several months, each week he gives me a detailed account of what my workouts should look like including effort level and paces. He explains the intent of the workouts and what the overall goal is for the week. I really like having that knowledge. It helps keep me from stressing over workouts and helps me to keep everything in perspective.

What is my next goal race? I waited to reveal this because it was meant to be a surprise for my Mom when I went up to Tacoma for Christmas. I'm running the Tacoma City Marathon on May 5th! **crickets** Yeah, that was my Mom's reaction too. Little did I know that she wanted to travel to my next marathon. I thought it would be fun for her to see me run in her city for a change. I'm sure it will be, but I have to promise her that we'll travel to another marathon soon.

When I was in Tacoma, we drove the marathon course to get a sense for how it will run. It's a "net downhill" course that starts in Gig Harbor, runs over the Narrows Bridge and through north Tacoma, Point Defiance Park and finishes on the waterfront. Net downhill does not necessarily equal fast. There are a lot of turns and the downhills are screaming downhills, making it difficult to really run them fast. There are a few good uphill sections too. However, It will be fun to run through familiar territory and go for a W.

Between now and then, I have a few races on my schedule including a 4-mile Valentine's Day run, a 12k in San Francisco, and a 10-miler here in Sactown. I'm looking forward to getting back into competitive racing once again.

My plan for the year is to get back into marathon shape with this marathon training cycle, while getting to know Coach Hadley and his training program. I will be trying to get into the best shape I can, but don't have a specific time goal for the race. I would like to win, but that's mostly a matter of who shows up to race. After a short recovery, I'll start training for a fall marathon to attempt a sub-2:43. I'm eyeing Chicago right now. I've had good luck there, my Mom likes to go there and there will likely be a strong contingent of ladies to run with trying to achieve the same goal time.

I'm also experimenting with a new nutritional supplementation program that I learned from a coach I worked with for a short while back in 2008. It is pretty involved and takes a lot of dedication. If the coach I got it from is any indication (superstar masters runner), the program should have me breaking records soon enough! I'll write about it in an upcoming post once I have a chance to evaluate how it's working for me.

I recognize that running a qualifier this time around is going to be tough, but I do believe I have been in sub-2:43 shape before. I believe I was there in 2010 when I ran Chicago given the time I ran and the hot conditions that day. Coach Hadley put it well when he told me that it's easier to get back to a fitness level you've seen before than to try to attain a higher one. Of course, I'll need all of the other ingredients for a good marathon to fall into place too, and that's a matter of luck. I'll do what I can to maximize my fitness so I don't need quite as much luck on race day. The good news is that I have a few years to get this goal.

2013 is going to be a good year.