The Tempo Run

In all Run Less, Run Faster plans, you do three run workouts per week…a track workout (intervals), a tempo run, and a long run. Each workout comes with a specific set of paces based on your 5K PR.

I greatly enjoy the long run. I seem to be built for slow endurance, so I relish the hours spent meandering my way through 10+ miles of bike path in the city I call my running mecca. Track workouts make me feel like a total badass. I’ve never had the treadmill set above 7.0, so it’s a huge accomplishment for me to do 800, 1000, and 1200 intervals at 7.0+ MPH on a treadmill. I set the treadmill and try not to fall off. I also REALLY enjoy the active recoveries. My legs feel like jello and I just shuffle along, feeling my heartrate come down and my breathing get more under control.

Tempo runs are the bane of my existence. I can certainly hold a 9:20 pace for 5 miles, but do I really want to when I’m not in the middle of a race? NO! So for your enjoyment, here’s my thought processes (processi?) on my tempo run this morning. (Note: I watch Parks and Rec on Netflix during my treadmill runs. I am not allowed to watch Parks and Rec outside of the treadmill. It keeps me going, folks.)

Mile 0. Warm up. 5.5mph. 10:54 pace. Wake up, legs. Wake up, head. Wake up, wake up, wake up. 5.5mph feels good. I could just leave it at this pace for the entire 7 miles. I don’t need to bump it up to 6.4. No…then it would take too long and I wouldn’t have time to stretch and drink my coffee without feeling rushed. Awww…Andy finally figured out that April likes him and that he likes April. Yay!

BEEP! 6.4 MPH.

Mile 1. Ugh. This is too fast. No way can I hold this pace for 5 WHOLE miles. Time to turn on the fan. .2 miles?! How has it only been .2 miles?! Ok…no more looking at the screen. Focus on Parks and Rec. .5 miles?! Maybe I’ll cover the screen up with my towel. No, last time I tried that it kept falling off, which only made me mad, which made the run suck that much more. Next time I need to tape a notecard over it. At least the blister between my toes has gone numb now.

Mile 2. Ok…one mile down….4 miles to go. FOUR?! Ugh. (This is the point where I start to do math in my head.) If I make it halfway…that’s 3.5 miles…I’ll hop off and go get a towel. My glasses are slipping off my face. This is annoying. I just want to be done. I want breakfast.

Mile 3. Almost halfway there. Almost?! Come on, legs. Keep going. It would hurt really bad to smack into the wall behind me. Plus, it would wake up the boys. Wait…is that the bedroom light? Did I wake up, Mr. Neon?

Mile 3.5. Halfway! Woohoo! Only 3.5 more miles to go and the sun isn’t even up yet. I’m going to have plenty of time to enjoy my coffee. Wait…do I smell coffee?! Is Mr. Neon making coffee now?! Why is he awake?! Oh! I was going to get a towel. Nah…I don’t need a towel. I can do this without a break.

Mile 4.0. Three miles down, only two fast ones to go. I wish I remembered what I set the cool down at. Was it 6.0? I don’t want to run that one at 6.0. I’ll bump it down. That’s only one more minute. Oh look, April kissed Andy. Andy, don’t tell her that Ann just kissed you! IDIOT.

Mile 5.0. ONE MORE MILE left. I can do this. It doesn’t even really feel hard anymore. I don’t even care about the screen anymore. I wonder if Ben and Leslie are going to start dating.

BEEP! 5.5 MPH

Mile 6.0. Tempo done. Thank goodness. Oh screw it! I’m walking for 1/10th of a mile. (I bumped it down to 4.0.) And how smart am I that I set the cool down to 5.5? Less than 10 minutes and I’ll have finished 7 miles on a Thursday BEFORE work. Oh yeah…I’m awesome.

Tempo runs…they suck, but man, I can feel them making me stronger with each uncomfortable mile!

Oh and for a funny story… Mr. Neon was doing his pre-run business when I got off the treadmill. I walked past the door and he says, “I heard you pushing buttons in there. You slowed down some, didn’t you?” I looked at him in disgust, “No! I was turning the fan up. I turned it up one notch at every mile. It gave me something to look forward to!” HA!

Update…I’M DOING IT!

Sometimes I feel like my life is in a constant state of flux. Something is always changing. And I have to wonder…am I the cause of the change or are there external forces that are forcing my hand? I don’t know. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. It just seems to be the way I function…always looking for a better way to do things. Housework, library work, money management, running, eating.

The good news is that lately it seems like the changes I have made in 2015 are working. My hashtag for marathon training is #dohardthings and lately it seems like my hashtag for life is #imdoingit! I say this to my husband at least twice a week. He just rolls his eyes and kisses me with a smile. He gets me and my weirdo-ness.

So here’s the update:

I’m back down in the 130s. I have to tell you that being in the 140s for almost two whole weeks was frightening. I’ve never had a slide back last that long. I felt like I was ruining my big accomplishment. My eating was seriously out of control. I was rewarding myself for the most ridiculous things. I’ve been counting calories with MyFitnessPal for 5 days now. I’ve gone over a couple of times, but never by very much. I’ve been “completing my entries” after dinner, which prevents me from eating anything else. I even logged my glass of wine last night.

One thing that has really helped me is that we are actually meal planning. We are in week two of it. We ate at home all seven nights last week and only ate out twice for lunch. This week we are on a similar path. Our grocery lists are smaller, and we stick to them. No throwing extra stuff in the cart. Even snacks and lunches are planned out a bit more. This week we bought a pack of lavash bread from Costco, a big thing of lunch meat, and a big thing of spinach. Mr. Neon and I have been plowing through wraps. By the way, have you tried lavash bread yet?! It’s amazing. The big squares of it that we get at Costco have only 160 calories and an amazing 14g of protein.

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Here’s a wrap from last week. I ate the same thing today, only no chips. I subbed vegan “cheese” crackers instead. I HEART apples…big time.

I’m still not using a fitness tracker. I entertained the idea last night and got out my “new” Garmin vivosmart and set it up. I went to put it on this morning and decided against it. I spent so much time updating it, checking my status, and messing with it, and I’m not sure it would serve a purpose right now. I know I’m active enough. Being active isn’t the problem.

So I’m doing it! The scale says so!!

And since all I’ve talked about lately is running and food, here’s a picture of my bubs. Runner Boy and Tiny Boy…they still hold hands just because they want to. I love these brothers.

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Tomorrow is a new day…

I just did something very gross and very awesome. I got out all the open containers of my current “cheat foods,” “treats,” and “foods that I can eat because I run X miles a week.” And I ate them. I ate at least two servings of chex mix, a serving of coconut milk cookie dough ice cream, and 6 Oreo Thins. Ok, so I did throw most of the bag of chex mix away, but not without picking all the good stuff out. No rye chips left.

Tomorrow I am starting my new eating plan. I have felt like crud for two weeks now. I’ve been splurging. Justifying eating like a pig because I run hard three days a week. What about those other four days…yeah, I don’t reel in myself on those days either. I’ve also been stress eating. I thought I was over that.

This has resulted in those 5lbs I allow myself to fluctuate to remain on the scale.

So I’m done after today. Here’s the new plan:

1. I’m giving up french fries and chips.

2. An apple every single day.

3. I can have a treat on my run days, but it can be either a serving of coconut ice cream, half a blueberry bagel, or a small bowl of cereal.

4. I will cut my Chinese food splurge down to once a month, instead of once a week.

5. I will share no more than one bottle of wine per week with Mr. Neon.

6. I will track my meals on My Fitness Pal and not fib one tiny bit.

7. I will track my water again.

8. I will try to find an out for my moments when I want to eat something.

9. I will share my struggles with Mr. Neon. We have agreed to be each other’s accountability buddy.

10. Meditate. Enjoy the quiet moments.

We all have slip backs. In the last 8 years of my get fit journey, I have yet to have a major one. I think I’m there. I’m not comfortable in my skin right now. My running is strong, but I don’t feel strong. I can do better.

And I will. Tomorrow it begins.

Lightning, Toes, and Sticking to the Plan

Our treadmill is tucked into the tiny little room in our house that we call “the office.” The treadmill takes up 90% of the real estate in this room, leaving just enough room for a set of shelves, my desk, and built in bookshelves on one wall. The treadmill faces the windows in this tiny room. When I drag myself out of bed at 5am, I look forward to several things. Earning my breakfast with sweat, binge watching Parks and Rec, and watching the sunrise. As luck would have it, the “office” windows face east.

This morning I got an extra treat because as I was running, I kept noticing these odd flashes. At first I thought maybe something electric on the back of the house was sparking. It was unnerving because the sun was still coming up. Once I hopped off the treadmill and went into our bedroom, I noticed the south end of the house was enveloped in dark clouds. I was seeing lightning, as well as watching the sun come up in a nearly cloudless eastern part of the sky. Oh Kansas…you and your wacky weather entertain me.

I did the tempo run key run #2 this morning. It felt easier than last week’s tempo. 2 miles easy. I did one at 5.5 (10:54 pace) and one at 6.0 (10:00 pace). Then I did 3 miles at my short tempo pace of 9:05 (6.6 on the TM). Then I did a cool down with the first 400 @ 5.0 (12:00 pace) and the last of the mile back up to a 6.0. I tried to give myself an out during the tempo and allow myself to grab a towel, but then I made it to the halfway point and told my body to just push through to the end. The mental part of running is amazing. You can accomplish so much if you talk yourself into it.

I really had to talk myself into putting my shoes on this morning. My toes HURT. Well, one toe hurts.

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This one. Notice it has a funky little callous on the end. I don’t know what that’s about. It’s not a blister…trust me…I tried popping it. It just hurts. Stupid toe. The nail has fallen off before. We’ll see if it does it again soon. It sure would feel better if it does!

I forgot to do a summary of last week’s workouts. Let’s just say I got them all done. My long run was done Sunday morning at 6am with a new running friend, Crystal. We forgot to take a selfie. Fail. Crystal is quite a bit faster than me, but she said she could handle my slow 10:54 pace for 11 miles. I suck at reeling myself in, especially when the 4 mile loop we were running also happened to be the bike course of the triathlon Mr. Neon was doing that morning. That was fun! We ran the course opposite the bikes, so we had plenty of opportunities to yell at our triathlon friends. We did the 11 miles at 10:18. OOPS! This pace was completely doable for me…chatty even. But I sure felt it the next couple of times. Quads were sore. I guess that goes to show that the science behind Run Less, Run Faster is sound. I have had minimal soreness this entire training plan…very different from previous cycles. The moral of the story…stick to the plan!

The other moral to the story is a runner’s bag of gear should also contain bug spray. We started our run Sunday at 6am, and we both neglected to bring bug spray. The mosquitoes are extra bad this time of year. So not only did I have sore quads for 48 hours, but I also had close to 70 itchy mosquito bites. But don’t worry, Grandma, I didn’t get lyme disease. Yeah…my grandma warned me about that. Ticks, Grandma, ticks give you lyme disease.

I’m off to hydrate with my big ole bottle of smart water and then hit up some Vega One. I’ve got a post planned soon about all the supplements I take. I used to be anti-supplement and oh how the times have changed!

Survive

Multiple times a day people ask me, “How are you?” I work with very friendly people. Too often my response is simply: “Ok.” or “Good.” or “I’m hanging in there.” I’m surviving.

I’m surviving? Really? When did I develop this humdrum attitude toward my daily life? Why do humans do that? Why do we focus on the negative? We are always looking ahead and waiting for when life is better, easier, less busy. I was contemplating all of this in the shower yesterday as I rinsed the sweat from my pre-dawn 5×1000 speedwork on the treadmill. Do I really feel like I’m clinging to life from the edge of a cliff?

No! I don’t! I’m kicking life’s butt! Life is good. Really good!

Married life is good. Mr. Neon and I will celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss tomorrow. It’s tough at times, but every single rough moment is worth it for all the good, fantastic, wonderful moments. I’m so thankful I have Mr. Neon to walk these days with, and I’m so grateful that together we made the step into the running, healthy path.

The kids are good. Sure, they are noisy, and obnoxious, and moody, and talk back A LOT. But they are beautiful. They are strong. They are healthy. They are boys…and I love both so much.

Work is good. One of the teen volunteers asked me yesterday if this is what I wanted to be when I grew up. Nope, not in the least. Being a librarian never entered 18-year-old-me’s mind. But I’m so glad that this professional found me. Kids + Books = My Happy Place.

Running is good. So good. I look forward to my workouts. They make me feel strong. I’m less scared of the marathon today than I have been the entire last seven months since I signed up. I feel like once I do this I can do anything.

Are there negative things about all of the main parts of my life? Sure, but I don’t need to number them here. All of the little annoyances of the day are nothing compared to the good.

So am I surviving? No…I am crushing it. When people ask me “How are you?” I’m going to to be honest. “Life is GOOD!”

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Plan Revision

Being a busy runner sometimes means adjusting the training plan on the fly. This is happening in a big way this week. The nice thing about only having three run workouts to space out over seven days in a week is that it’s harder to completely miss a workout.

Work is a little crazy right now. The front desk has been short staffed for a while and now we are short staffed back in children’s. We’ve all had to step up and take on more responsibilities. That included running storytime by myself this morning. I knew that getting up at 4:45am to squeeze in my 7 mile tempo run was going to be a recipe for disaster.

I sat up at 4:45 am and said my body and my mind said no. And then I had a dream…or maybe it was just a sleep-induced moment of brilliance…that I could just turn my 10K race on Saturday into my tempo run. I was already planning on getting my 10 mile slow long run in on Friday morning because I don’t work until later.

See…it’ll all work out. And I won’t run…literally…myself raged.

In other news, look what landed on my doorstep this afternoon.

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These are soooo good! I tried them for the first time on my long run this past Saturday. I usually eat the cherry cola flavor, but the last couple of times I’ve eaten them, they’ve turned my stomach a little bit. I think I just needed a change in flavor. They are sweet like all the other Honey Stinger chews, but they have a delightful tart, citrus kick. I don’t like grapefruit, but I like these. I also dig that they are dairy free and organic. Perfect fuel for all my tummy issues!

I’m a Honey Stinger Hive athlete and proud of it. Their waffles and their energy chews are my number one nutrition choices!

No Rest for the Weary

For the first time in three weeks, that treading water feeling is gone. You know the feeling…the laundry is a week behind, the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes, the trash needs to be taken out (twice!), the fridge and pantry are bare, and you haven’t been able to take a spare moment for yourself in days…er…weeks.

I conquered all the things this weekend. The house is in order. The laundry is caught up, the sink is empty, and the groceries were bought. I read a book for pleasure…and no, it wasn’t a running-related book! I got all my runs in, including a very enjoyable 9 miler with Mr. Neon late Saturday morning. I have a detailed to-do list waiting for me at work tomorrow that should keep me on task and get my week started off right.

Of course, this feeling could be very temporary. It could unravel tomorrow.

But for now I will revel in the orderliness and cleanness of everything. And I will go to bed early tonight, ready to conquer tomorrow. I’ve got a progressive track workout of torture waiting for my on our iFit account.

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Looks fun, right? I’m not sure I’ve ever set a treadmill to 7.5. I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending those 2 minutes trying not to fall off the back of the treadmill and smacking the wall.

So here’s the rundown from this past week:

Tuesday – Week 15 Key Run #1 – Track – 4×800 (8:16) (400RI)
5.0 miles – 48:34 – 9:48 pace
Another treadmill programmed workout. I can tell these workouts are making me stronger.

Wednesday – Swim XT

Thursday – Week 15 Key Run #2 – Tempo – 1mi Easy, 5mi MP (10:09), 1mi Easy
7.0 miles – 1:11:20 – 10:11 pace
Since my easy pace isn’t far off of my marathon pace, I just pushed buttons between 5.8, 5.9, and 6.0. This marks my longest run BEFORE work. I really didn’t want to get up at 5am, but I’m glad I did.

Saturday – Week 15 Key Run #3 – Long Run – 9mi @ MP+45
9.0 miles – 1:35:56 – 10:39 pace
I LOVE SLOWING DOWN! For the past 6 months, I’ve been pushing the pace, working on my half PR. For the marathon, I knew it would be a lesson in slowing down. I imagined that would be slow and annoying. I told Mr. Neon while we were running that these slower miles actually went by faster because nothing hurt and I was able to just zone out and run for the love of it. We actually ran the whole thing…no walk breaks other than two very brief nutrition breaks and two quick stops to refill water bottles. No slowing to jog, just steady state running. And we ended with a +30 pace instead of +45. Oops.

Workouts this week:

Week 15 Key Run #1 – Track – 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 (all with 200RI)
Week 15 Key Run #2 – Tempo – 1mi Easy, 5mi LT, 1mi Easy
Week 15 Key Run #3 – Long Run – 10mi @ MP+45

I’ve got a 10K race on Saturday, so we’ll see how that affects my long run. I plan on pushing it, maybe hoping for a PR depending on the weather. So I might just substitute a hard 10K for the 10miler.