Marathon Training: Balancing Training, Strength Training and Life

The past four weeks I’ve been training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Not only has it been crazy hot a few weeks with heat indexes above 100°F, I’ve been spending about 6 hours a week out running. While I know this time will only increase with my previous marathon training experiences, it’s still a bit daunting how much time it takes from your week.

And then there’s strength training. I am 100% behind strength training and have definitely found after adding that to my regular running regime, I have been injury-free AND my running pace has increased.

Generally my gym time has been 45-60 minutes twice a week. Now try to add 2 hours to that 6 or more hours a week and you can see where things begin to become a bit more tricky.

Let’s be honest. Most of us have lives outside of keeping physically fit.

So the past few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance everything. Where I’ve been able to get all of my run workouts in (mostly during the early morning, when it’s bearable outside), I’ve been able to fit in maybe one day worth of strength training… And that hasn’t even been at the gym. That was in my basement. On a yoga mat.

After listening to Another Mother Runner’s podcast about Strength Training, I am happy to report this is more than okay. It doesn’t even need to be super long!

I’ve been able to fit the following workouts in around 30 minutes and have been able to go on throughout my day/future workouts without being sore. All of these moves are also basic, so you don’t have to worry about injuring your body with one wrong movement. I do recommend making sure you are doing the exercises correctly however to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

Simple Strength Training Workout
18-20 reps (repetitions), go through cycle 3 three times

  • Lunges
  • Step-Ups (I use stairs or a sturdy chair)
  • Squats
  • Planks (I add in Side Planks to work everything)
  • Push-Ups
  • Side-Lying Clams

Each of these workouts work parts of your body that are used while running. I find that even my arms help pull me through those large hills. My goal is to up my weekly strength workouts to two days a week, but one time a week is a must to keep my body on point. I’m also only currently using my body-weight, but hope to get some weights to use to add resistance.

Peoria & the Steamboat Classic 2017

It’s crazy how time flies. One moment you’re being proposed to, you say yes, the next blink of the eye, you’re married and half way through your first year of being a Mrs.

Our wedding day is one I’ll never forget; the weather was perfect for our outdoor ceremony and the reception was a ton of fun thanks to our family and friends. (Obviously Chris was extra pumped because his Cubs clinched their World Series spot. And we all know how that one ended.)

Now here we are in the middle of June. Life is slowly getting back to normal. Races have been run, travel is coming, and nerd-ing out has happened on a regular basis.


This past weekend we headed over to Peoria to run the Steamboat Classic. We traveled Friday night, because who wants to get up at 4am and drive the same day to and from a race? Our pre-race dinner always consists of pizza and beer.. Carbs and protein. Right??

I searched out several places, and eventually we decided on Old Chicago. Yes, it’s a chain, but a chain we’ve never been to and it had hand tossed pizza.

Hand tossed pizza of awesomeness. And a pretty good selection of craft beer; several of the choices were from around the area. The pizza crust even supposedly had ‘ale’ in it. We were impressed with that along with the delicious toppings.

I tried Cathedral Square Brewery’s Heavenly Honey Razz and it. Was. Heavenly. It’s a great summer beer – light in feel and has a nice sweet taste at the end. Not candy sweet, but more of a raspberry, fruity sweet.

I also tried Bell’s Brewery Oarsman Ale and wasn’t as impressed. Pretty bland, but it wasn’t the worst either.

We stayed at our first AirBnB that evening and had an awesome hostess. We actually never got to meet her, but got to meet her pup. Cassie was a big ol’ teddy bear who loved to hand out kisses. There was also much cuddling.

The next morning we went downtown for the race. It was packed; I knew it was pretty big due to how fast the finishers were from the previous year, but it was still an eye opener when we got there. The weather was great at the start; the clouds hid the sun, there was no humidity and a slight breeze.

I was slightly nervous since I forgot my GPS watch at home. I know people say they run their best races without a watch, but I like to be able to look every once and awhile to make sure I’m not being stupid and running something I feel good now in but hate myself halfway in and half-dead jogging the rest of the way. I knew they were going to have a clock at every mile mark, but still.

We runners have our tendencies we like to keep. I tend to not like to mix it up on race day.

Despite that, we both had a great run. The race course was fun. Not much in the way of uphills… Until you get to the halfway point. We decided to do the 4 miler; the 15K-ers split off in the middle of our run to go do their thing. I looked over to where they were heading and was very happy we made the choice we did. The 15K-ers were sent straight to a pretty steep uphill. Good luck to them, I thought.

However at that point, the weather did start to change. The humidity started to raise it’s ugly head and the sweating commenced. I thanked God for the half-way water stop where I chugged down some water and kept going. At mile three there was a water mister you could run through… And I most definitely made it a point to run through that glorious tunnel of water.

We got to run flat until the last half mile, where there was a nice downhill to the finish.

My favorite kind of finish.

I finished Steamboat Classic’s 4 mile race in 32:46, finished in the top 10 of my age group, and impressed myself by keeping around a 8:12 minute pace without my trusty GPS watch. Am I impressed with my mental status to keep myself in check throughout the race? Yes.

Am I still going to race with a GPS watch? Without a doubt, hell yes.

Achievement(s) Unlocked!

If I had to describe 2015 in one word it would be this: Change. For me, a lot has happened and it’s caused the entire year to go by in what feels like a blink of an eye. It’s all been positive change too, so I suppose I should count my blessings for that. I’m definitely happier than I was a year ago, and honestly can’t remember the last time things were going this well. I probably just jinxed it though. *knocks on wood*

(After I wrote this my basement flooded…WAY TO JINX IT PAST CHRIS!)

I wanted to do a quick run down of all the major events of this year, so that I can put into perspective how great this year was. Plus my memory is terrible and I’m sure I’ll need a reminder eventually.

Got a new job!

As most of my friends already knew, I was miserable in my old job. I couldn’t stand the people I worked with, and I had gotten stuck into doing the same things all the time. I understand why they wanted me to do those things – I was good at it – but it makes for a real boring day after a while. I wasn’t being given the opportunity to advance either, so when the new job offer came along, it made the decision fairly easy. The work I’m doing now is both enjoyable and challenging, and the people I work with are fairly great. They also know what they are doing, which is a nice change of pace. Not dreading going to work, and coming home in a good mood most days has made a huge difference for me.

Bought a new house!

After years of talking about doing it, I finally sold my house and moved into Springfield. A large part of the credit for this one goes to Emily and my parents because without them, I can guarantee you I would still be living in my old house. Emily kept me motivated and moving forward, and my parents helped me fix it up so I got a decent price. I’m really glad this one got done, as it was the house I had bought with my now ex-wife many years ago, and getting out of there has allowed me to finally put that chapter of my life in the past. Yet another reason why things are so great right now!

Got Engaged!

In what will end up being the biggest change, I asked Emily to marry me and she said “Yes”! This last year and a half with her has been absolutely fantastic, and I want to continue to have great adventures with her forever. It wasn’t as nerve wrecking as I thought, which probably had to do with the fact I knew I wasn’t going to get shot down, and it was actually a little fun. Emily is already in wedding planning mode, and next October should be a lot of fun!

Went to Disneyland!

In November, Emily, Alyssa, and I went on vacation to Disneyland for a few days. We decided to go over a year ago, when we heard about the Avengers Half Marathon they put on every year. We went out a few days early and enjoyed the main park, as well as the California Adventure one while we were there. Our favorite rides: Indiana Jones, Radiator Springs Racers, and Tower of Terror. We did all of those twice, and did all the other main ones one time each through out our stay. We got to meet some of the Avengers which was fun, and I’m pretty sure Emily was contemplating running away with Hawkeye. Alyssa took a selfie with Captain America and Thor that turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the trip. I really enjoyed hanging out with Emily and Alyssa, and it was total blast for all of us. Emily and I even got some sweet looking medals for our run! The only downside? My legs were DESTROYED after spending three days walking around the parks and running a half marathon.

So overall 2015 was pretty great. It had some down times here and there, but I came out ahead in the end, and that’s all you can really hope for. There will definitely be some more changes coming this year and I’m looking forward to what 2016 brings!

What’s Your Element?

You know those quizzes you can take on Facebook? The “What Is Your Element” quiz where you either get something like Light, Fire, Electricity, Heart, etc?

Well, I know all of those quiz results lie to me. I know my element.

Autumn Trees

It’s Autumn.

Don’t know what it is. The pumpkin spice everything, the changing of colors, the cooling temperatures or the fact that fall clothing looks 100 times better than all of the other apparel out there.

Pumpkin Patch: Trip 1

From the spoken words of my friends, I am the queen of Fall. If you need to get into the autumn spirit, talk to me. I have already been to two pumpkin patches this year. Two. And I know that will not be the end of it.

Pumpkin Patch Trip: 2

Corn mazes, apple cider slushies, picking pumpkins for harvesting later… Honestly what could be a better way to spend your afternoon?

Not only is there pumpkin everything, the weather becomes cooler.

Cool weather = better running.

The humid, early morning runs are gone, and the cool, racing fall days are here. This Sunday I am running my fourth marathon and the forecasted high is 71° F with sunny skies.

It makes those, humid early mornings worth it. (You have no idea how hard it was to type that.)

And after that, it will be a perfect time to binge watch fall TV. Flash, The Walking Dead, Agents of Shield, Arrow, iZombie, Star Wars: Rebels…

Fall TV Series

And we haven’t even gotten to Halloween yet.

What are you most excited for with Fall?

Marathon Training Essentials

So you’ve decided you’re up for running a half or full marathon. Congratulations, welcome to the insane asylum. Hopefully before this point you’ve done one or two 10Ks so you have a general idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

Once you have picked out your half/full marathon, it can get to be confusing. Where do you go from here? The following items listed below will help get you on your way to conquering your race!

Note: It doesn’t matter if you’re running a half or full, all of the essential items remain the same. The only difference is you’ll be needing more of certain items that I will explain in a bit more detail.

Marathon Training Essentials-1

  1. Shoes
  2. Training Plan
  3. GPS Watch
  4. Hydration Belt
  5. Energy Chews/Gels
  1. Shoes – These babies will be your biggest tool what gets you from point A to point B. While yes, you can go to Target or another convenience store and buy a pair of tennis shoes, I do NOT recommend this. Go to your local running store and talk to one of their professionals. A good running store will have someone who will sit down with you, go over your foot features (width and length), watch you run and have you try on a few different shoes. While yes, it is not $30, it is money that will keep your feet happy while beating the pavement and help prevent injuries.
  1. Training Plan – If you expect to go out and randomly run a few miles each week before your big race, you’re going to be in trouble on race day. There are several options out there; make sure they have easy run days, speedwork (sometimes called tempo or fartlek) days and long run days. Hal Higdon has several plans for you to choose from, from beginning runners to more advanced. He knows his stuff and has gotten me through several marathons.
  1. GPS Watch – Now that you have your shoes and your training program, you now need to make sure you’re actually getting the right amount of miles in while you run. Garmin is my trusted brand (love my 200). Not only does it tell you your mileage, pace and time, you can also hook it up to your computer and have it store your history. I have also heard good things about Soleus (that is a bit less costly.)
  1. Hydration Belt – Repeat with me: “I am not a camel.” Shorter runs you can hydrate before and after, but during your longer than 6 mile runs, you should really have water on your person so you can drink during. Water bottles are nice, but hydration belts give you more water access as well as room for your phone, keys, pepper spray, and…
  1. Energy Chews/Gels – So you’re not a camel. Your body, after a certain point, also needs to refuel on energy. For me, it’s about an hour. If I don’t get something after this point, by the time I get home I feel sluggish. Honey Stingers are a great energy source. They taste like gummy bears and are made with natural ingredients. ½ package per hour out running. GU and Huma are gels that also work for energy.

Days of Future & Past

Things have been a bit hectic in my life, but let me help bring you up to speed…

Days of Past

This winter I had been training for an event I completed two weekends ago. I completed my second half-marathon with a personal record of 2:01.

Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon

The course was slightly hillier then I expected, but the weather was perfect for racing conditions. At 7:30am when the race began, it was 37°F and at the end it was closer to the upper 40s. The Sonic in me was strong.

After that race, I began to plan for the next full marathon I’d do… However it couldn’t be too far into the year because on November 15th, 2015 Chris and I will be….

& Future

2014 Avengers Half Marathon

…in Anaheim, California running the Avengers Half Marathon. Being a midwesterner, I have only been to Disney World, so it will also be the first time I’ve been to Disney Land. We are taking suggestions on where to visit and what to do while we’re in the area.

Speaking of, Avengers: Age of Ultron is starting to show on Thursday. Already have our tickets to see the movie.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

So far from everything I’ve seen previews wise, I’m feeling like this will meet Avengers standards, entertainment wise. Looking forwards to Hawkeye having more show time being himself and kicking butt then brainwashed this time around.

Also, might I say, Black Widow is looking quite badass in her new gear.

This is quite the geek weekend, as Saturday, for those who do not know is Free Comic Book Day. Looks like there are several good choices out there for grabs. I’ve got my eyes on Boom Comics’ issue. You?

Bad Habits

When I started running a few years ago, I didn’t read up on it or look into proper techniques. I mean, it’s just running, right? How much could really be involved? Turns out I was super wrong. While running short distances is no problem, when you get into longer runs, bad habits will really come back to bite you. I’m currently recovering from an IT Band strain and can’t run more than a few miles, as an example. I thought I’d share a few of the good habits I’ve started, so hopefully you can avoid the same mistakes I made.

1. Drink Water. I know this sounds simple, but up until a year ago, I used very little water on my runs. I didn’t even own a hand carried water bottle when I trained for my first half marathon. Granted I still don’t use one on short runs, but anything 8 miles or more? You bet I’m grabbing my water bottle (or belt!).

2. Use energy gel. Whether it’s in goo or chew form, use them. I thought it sounded ridiculous at first, but it made a huge difference. I don’t feel like I want to die when I finish a long run anymore, which is pretty great. Plus they give you that nice boost at the end to keep pushing for those last few miles.

3. Stretch! This is what led to my current injury. I never stretched or foam rolled my legs after a run, and apparently when you’re training for a marathon and running 15 miles or more every other weekend, this is really a bad idea. I’ve started foam rolling ever since, and it makes my legs feel a thousand times better. It literally takes 5 minutes, and should be done after any long run.

4. Find a training program. When I ran my first half marathon, I just winged it and ran whatever I felt like on my training runs. It wasn’t the end of the world and I did finish it, but once again, it could have been a whole lot easier. I discovered this during my second half marathon in which I used one. There are a whole bunch of training programs out there, so take your pick! I use (and enjoy!) the ones by Hal Higdon.

There you have it. Four simple things that will make your running life a lot better. If I could go back in time, I’d start doing these things from the beginning so I could avoid the current injury I’m dealing with.

injured-runner

Thanks to Emily for encouraging me to make these changes!

The miles only go up

For the last 7 weeks I’ve been training for my first marathon using Hal Higdon’s Marathon Novice 2 guide, and last Saturday was set as a 14 mile run. I have never run farther than a half marathon (13.1 miles) so it was a little worrisome when I first thought about it. I say ‘a little’ because after running thirteen, I couldn’t imagine one more mile being that big of a deal. The distance bothered me a lot less when I thought about in that way. I really lucked out with the weather as it was an unseasonably warm 43° and the sun was out, which made for excellent running conditions.

I’m now going to share with you the bane of my running existence: keeping a slower pace during long runs. My legs always instinctively want to run as fast as I can, and I’m terrible at remembering to slow myself down. The one thing that has truly helped in this department is the GPS watch Emily got me last year. It’s pretty sweet. It beeps every mile and displays my current pace, which I can then adjust accordingly. Granted I still end up running faster than I should at times, but at least it’s getting better.

Noteworthy items from the run:

  • I used my water belt for the first time! It was rough going at first as it kept slipping down on me, but once I got it adjusted properly, it was great!
  • People need to clean up after their dogs better. There was dog poop all over the trail. It was like running through a mine field. A really disgusting mine field.
  • My legs and knees didn’t bother me until after mile 10 which is better than normal. This is extra great as I actually got to enjoy the majority of run.
  • I used two packets of Hüma for the first time. It was odd not to be eating it at the turn around point and using them a little earlier. (Strawberry & Chocolate for the win!)
  • I entertained myself by quoting movie lines along the way. Star Trek and Star Wars were the most used by far.
  • I had to stop because of traffic about a tenth of a mile from the finish and I immediately realized I couldn’t stop for long or my legs were not going to start again. It was amusing and made me laugh.
  • I SURVIVED!

Feb7Run

 (Picture courtesy of previously mentioned sweet GPS watch)

Overall, I’m really pleased with with my pace and performance during the run. Add in the fact I had never run that far before, and I’m going to put in the ‘Win’ column with a gold star.

My legs have been aching a lot the last two days, but it was totally worth it. Plus the distance only increases, so I suppose I better get used to it. Either that or Emily will smother me with a pillow from all the complaining. (Haha!)

Here’s to the 15 mile run next Saturday! Cheers!

 

Running in a Winter-Spring Wonderland

Woke up this morning and had an early breakfast with my mom at Emilio’s, a very delicious restaurant with friendly owners I have blogged about before. Had my carbo load of pancakes and caught up on things before heading home for my run.

Emily Run - 02-07-2015

This April I will be running a half marathon and am gearing up to run my speediest half. Today was a slow, long distance run and it was a great day to do it. Weather was perfect–40°Fs and sunny. It was interesting to run when it felt like spring yet still looked like winter from our previous snow shower a few days ago. Either way, it was great to be back out running in shorts.

Chuck

The boyfriend and I are watching Chuck on Netflix, a series I loved watching and one he’s never seen before. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Chuck is about a 20-something guy who is a ‘drop-out’ of Stanford college and ends up having all of the government secrets locked in his brain. When the government finds out, they have their top spies bodyguard him while dealing with their own missions. And Chuck can’t help but get involved.

This evening we’re going to continue enjoying the weather by grilling out with my dad. Bratwurst and beer… We are obviously wishing for summer to be here.Only 133 days to go.

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