Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kicking It Off With A 5K

            My husband and I ran in a small 5K over Easter weekend.  While we had a ton of snow dumped on us up in the Northwoods, back in the area where we grew up in western Wisconsin wasn’t so bad.  In fact, it actually looked like spring there.  Weird.  The race was at 9am, and it was in the low 40’s, so it didn’t feel bad at all.  It was super windy out though.  Fortunately, since it was run in a residential area, a lot of the power of the wind was blocked, making it less of an issue.
            I was pretty excited for this race, since I have put in so much work on my run speed.   My goal was to get under 20 minutes.  I set a huge PR at last year’s spring 5K with a 20:14 (30 second PR), so I knew it would be tough to drop that much more time, but, as I said, I have never worked so hard on my running before either.  I was also nervous.  Would all that work pay off?  Doubt has a nasty habit of creeping in.  Andy had not been able to prepare very much for this race, but we hoped that he had done enough to at least be able to pace me for it.
            We started off at a comfortably fast pace.  The beginning is the only time at which you can describe a 5K race in this fashion, as there is nothing comfortable about racing a 5K.  A 5K is a bit of a treacherous and painful race, and I reminded myself of this before we started, as I remembered how tough it is to push yourself so hard for so far.  I may even consider a 10K and half marathon easier than a 5K.
            I told Andy to put us at a 6:27 pace in order to get under 20 minutes.  We stayed side-by-side the entire race and he wore the GPS watch to pace us by.  The first mile felt like it took forever to hit.  When the race started really hurting, I told myself that if I wanted to break 20, then I would have to suffer and push through it.  We picked up our pace as we neared the finish line and we heard our time be called out – “18:42.”  Immediately I knew that the course was short.  The race director thought it must have been close though since he measured it out twice.  Andy said our watch put it as only 2.9 miles though, with our pace averaging 6:26/mile.  Ugh.  While our pace would put us around 19:56 for a 5K, which we believe we could have pushed that pace to finish the distance, we didn’t actually do it yet to be able to say that. 
We also cannot accept 18:42 as our new 5K PR, as it is inaccurate and unrealistic, setting us up for only disappointment in future 5K’s!  This 5K was, however, the finale of a 7-race series, and I did have the fastest female time of the entire series (the next being over 21 minutes).  Andy was also the third fastest male.  I guess I’ll have to run another 5K yet this year to make sure I break 20 minutes on a more accurate course.  The plus side is that even though the course was short, I still made the desired fitness gains from running it.  The race season has begun!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Like TRImester Training on Facebook or follow on Twitter for access to a giveaway! (Sorry, you are unable to comment on my blog posts with a photo).
Here's the details:
"Cheers to all of you active parents out there! To celebrate your dedication to your children and your active lifestyle, I am giving away a "Refuel with Chocolate Milk" sweat towel in a random drawing. To enter, comment on my Facebook post or reply to my tweet with a pregnancy workout photo, or a picture of you working out with your kid(s) - running with them in a jogging stroller, or biking next to you, or whatever it is that you do! You have through Friday to enter!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Big Importance of the Little Things

            When we have crazy, busy lives (when is that not the case?!), the tendency is to focus on just getting in the swim, bike, and run training.  Unfortunately, that means we often sideline some really important things.  I am just as guilty as the rest of this shortcoming.  I am always running on a tight schedule in order to fit everything into mine and Baya’s schedule.  Working at the YMCA has the awesome perk of free drop-in childcare for those with family memberships.  They are only open certain hours, however, and there is a time limit of 2 hours when just working out as well.  We go in every weekday morning and take advantage of it as much as we can.  They are only open 8-11:30am.  If I have a lifeguard shift, it is typically from 9-11am, which means I have from 8-9, and 11-11:30 to squeeze in as much as I can for my training (usually a swim beforehand and a short run after).  If I am working in the Wellness Center though, I work 8-11am, and then have only a half hour to run.  It’s definitely all about time management.
            There are some occasions when I have a little “spare” time here and there, where I take the time for some of the big, little things.  They have foam rollers, and my goodness, do I LOVE foam rollers.  We also have one at home, which I’ll sometimes use right away after getting home if there’s time, but definitely at least after a weekend run or ride.  I think the foam roller really does wonders for me.  Though if I have to choose between running another half mile or rolling, running still typically wins, especially when I’m already really cramped on time.  Another one of those things would be stretching, and doing core work. 
            I am also a very strong believer in weight training.  Early on in my pregnancy I had stuck with it, but after the bike accident I wasn’t able to do as much because of my sprained shoulder, and then I never fully got back into it again until this last fall.  I’ve only been lifting twice per week, but even with that, I still feel that it makes me a much better athlete, and hopefully it will also help with injury prevention as well.  As I’ve been increasing my training load though, it’s become tougher to fit it in every week.  We recently got our own weight set out of storage, and I’m looking forward to having the option of lifting more at home again.  The more flexibility I have with getting stuff done, the better.
            Other important things?  Let’s talk about recovery.  In order to keep hammering out workout after workout (and multiple times a day), it’s important to recover as much as possible between sessions. There are things we can do to aid in recovery.  I already mentioned foam rolling and stretching, which aid in recovery.  Sleep is critical as well.  Our body is able to do marvelous repair work while we sleep, and it prepares us for the next day as well.  The more that the training load increases, the more sleep our body requires.  Nutrition also plays a vital role in recovery.  It is important to eat within 30 minutes of completing each workout.  It should be a combination of carbs and protein (a ratio of 3-4 parts carbs to 1 part protein).  You also need to replace the fluids that you lost.  What’s the easiest way to do all this?  Chocolate milk.  It does all of the above, and then some, giving you electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and magnesium), which were lost through sweat.  It also gives you calcium, Vitamin D, and B Vitamins, which simply makes it a healthy choice as well.
            Finally, it’s also extremely beneficial to hydrate with water throughout the day, not just during or after a workout.  So here’s to keeping up with the oh-so-important little things, which will make you a healthier, stronger, and better athlete.  Sometimes, it’s all in the details.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Treadmill Run Block

            This has been a record-breaking cold winter up here in the Northwoods, with the temperature averaging 4.7 degrees over a three-month period.  Yikes!  Whenever there was a “warm” day, it also seemed to snow.  And it has snowed a lot, without getting hardly a chance to melt, resulting in a lot of cold and a lot of snow piled up.  Needless to say, outdoor running this winter has had its challenges.  I was getting one run a week outdoors, otherwise being confined to the treadmill for my weekday runs (no way was I able to take Baya out in a stroller with me in all that snow and cold!).  Every weekend (when I was able to run outside) it was either around 0 degrees or if it warmed up to positive double digits, there was fresh snow to have to run through.  This has indeed been a long winter.
            I used to loathe the dread-mill.  I could hardly stand to stay on it.  Since it has been my only option though, I have learned how to suffer through it, and have even come to embrace it.  There are things that I have learned about using the treadmill.  First of all, everyone seems to have a favorite.  We are also creatures of habit, so of course we always like to go to the same one (or same brand).  There are three of mine that I like (the kind with the best fans on them), so while I occasionally have to use a different one (ugh), it isn’t too frequent.
            Second, I have discovered that treadmills are really great for interval training.  I thought that I wouldn’t be able to mentally handle doing this type of speed work on a treadmill.  To prepare for this type of work, I had been adding strides into a few of my weekly runs.  Then I added in repeats once per week, which are fast, but short, lasting less than two minutes each time, and returning to an easy pace for 2-3 times the length of the repeat.  For me, my repeat pace is about 6 minutes/mile (based off of Daniel’s Running Formula paces).  I did my repeats of 200-400 meters during my bike block.  I just finished my run training block and was doing interval training one day per week (3-5 minute in duration at a slightly slower pace than the repeats, with a shorter recovery between each).  I’m also doing threshold work one day a week.  The first days of these types of workouts, I didn’t know how I would hold the faster paces for such durations, but once I got into the groove it wasn’t so bad.  The nice thing about doing speed work on a treadmill is that you know exactly what your pace is.  You set your pace and just go, without having to worry about it for the rest of the time.  In a sense, it is the simplest way to do intervals.  Don’t listen to when your mind tells you you’re tired and should slow down.  I hope that doing all this treadmill training will help me to also become mentally tough to push through the challenging run portions of the triathlon and to push myself to discovering new limits.
Third, I learned that my treadmill automatically goes into a two-minute cool-down once it hits the hour mark.  On a cold, windy, near-zero degree day, I actually wimped out and went and ran indoors for my long run.  My previous longest run on a treadmill was only 5.5 miles (which is still too long on a blasted treadmill in my mind!), but I have now run 7 miles on it.  And you know what?  It wasn’t all that bad.  I know others who have run much farther than that on a treadmill, but for me it felt like a milestone!
            There are things that I have learned to do to help pass the time.  Listening to music just wasn’t cutting it.  Sometimes there would be something interesting on tv and closed captioning was on, but that only did so much.  I have a slew of magazines though that I hardly get a chance to sit down and read (big surprise as a mom of a one-year-old), so I have been able to use my time on the treadmill as an opportunity to catch up on some of that reading!  My husband says it makes him nauseous to try and read while running, but it works for me, even when I am doing something faster like threshold pace.  Now my only concern is running out of my magazines!
            Originally I was hoping that winter would wrap up before my run training block would, and I would get outside to do some of this speed work.  No such luck up here in the Northwoods!  I had cut down my hard bike rides to only two per week, same with my swimming, though I still try to get four days of each in.  The other two days are just aerobic.  I have made one of the aerobic bike rides longer as well, getting up to two hours in length to start preparing for my build period that starts next!  We are finally beginning to see some signs of spring (although we just got dumped on recently with more snow), and I’m excited to hit the roads for some long bike rides again.  This is definitely the hardest I have ever worked on my running (or biking), and I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes together this season.  I’ll be testing out my run in an upcoming 5K and 10K before the triathlon season starts, and I’m hoping all of this intensity and focus shows up in the results!
Keep on running!