Tuesday, February 28, 2012

For other codependent runners in DC...

For some, running is valuable time alone.  For others running requires a little more motivation to get out there.  I wanted to offer a few additional opportunities for group runs that you can participate in if you fall into that latter category.  This is by no means a complete list. There are dozens of running groups in the area and if these don't work for you, I encourage you to look online and find a group that meets at a time/location that works better for you.  Also, if you have recommendations of your own, please feel free to share. Runners are generally a friendly group, but it's always nice to see a familiar face.

Monday - 6:30pm Lululemon Logan Circle  
This is my favorite group run of the week.  It's a large group and goes out for a 3 or 6 mile run rain or shine.  Runners of all abilities participate, so you should be able to find someone at your pace, and there are definitely enough fast runners to make this a tempo run if you want to push it. Weather permitting we do abs for 10 minutes after the run and then head to Churchkey for drinks.  It's a very social group.  Most if not all of the lululemon stores offer a weekly run club if you live closer to one of the other locations.

Tuesday/Thursday - 7pm Pacer's Logan Circle  
Another evening run group (though if you look at their website they also offer early morning runs if you are more of a morning person).  Similar format to the lululemon Monday runs since it's led by the person who started the lulu run club.  3 and 6 mile run groups, abs, and usually drinks after the run.  One of my favorite features is they regularly bring in shoe reps so you can learn about and try running in some new shoes (6 miles can tell you a lot more about a pair of shoes than jogging across the store).

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Bike House

I wanted to give you all a heads up about a bicycle co-op here in DC called The Bike House.They run free (donations encouraged!) weekend clinics where they invite visitors to come fix their own bikes, ask for advice and get help from the volunteer mechanics, and meet other bikers in the DC area. Most necessary tools are available at their clinics, and they encourage visitors to show up with any necessary replacement parts since they don't have parts for sale.

The main clinic is run by volunteers every Saturday from 12-3pm, and will be opening on March 10 for the season at their new location: Annie's Ace Hardware, 1240 Upshur St. NW in Petworth. When the Bloomingdale Farmers' Market opens up for the season (May-Nov) they'll have a smaller clinic there as well, Sundays 11-1pm at 1st & R St NW (right by Big Bear Cafe).

The Bike House also offers beginner mechanics classes that they encourage visitors and potential volunteer mechanics to sign up for. The class is a 4-week month long series meeting Saturday mornings at Annie's Hardware, right before clinic starts up at noon.

Visit the website for more info!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Being a Non-Runner who Runs!

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the term "Oh I can't... I'm not a runner." People are always telling me how impressive it is that I do triathlons and half marathons and the second they do my immediate response is "So can you!" Lets be honest here. If I can do it, anyone can. I started this challenge two years ago, 20 lbs heavier and as a declared couch potato. To be fair, I've struggled with these labels myself, but it's time to get over it!

This week one of my running coaches sent us an email of the same old story. Her boss, who has signed up for a tri sprint, is claiming that he is no longer sure he can do it. His excuse being that he is just not a runner. To which she said, "I am sorry, but that is just not an option and everyone can be a runner". She then proceeded to send him this article, which she (and I) though was so funny and possibly helpful, which I now share with you and hope you enjoy!

The Non-Runner's Guide to Running

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Triing to Keep Up

So due to scheduling conflicts I will not be doing my swim training with YTri. Instead I am going to be joining a Master Swim program in my neighborhood. There has been a bit of a delay in the start so until next week I will be swimming alone. Luckily swim workouts are not hard to come by. 

Since I had no group to swim with and a flexible schedule I figured I'd just add on a swim workout after this mornings run group. The Thursday morning (vets/faster) run group did the same route as Tuesday's except instead of two or three catching up with me on the hill, the whole pack swept past me... but that's fine. The whole reason I am running with both groups is because I'm officially in pace limbo. I'm pretty fast for the Tuesday group but definitely slow for the Thursday group. And, most importantly, I was not the last! I was definitely one of the slowest... but NOT last. 

Here is what I ended up doing for the swim... 
400 swim easy
300 alternate 50 kick drill, 50 swim
200 catch up drill
100 finger tip drag
5 x 200 swim at 75 - 80% on 4:00 (adjust interval if needed, you should get around :20 rest)
100 warm down
Total: 2100m

Here are some great videos describing the two drills in this workout:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Running for Speed

Sometimes I get so obsessed with measuring my running success by mileage that I forget that, though I'm a metronome, another form of running is speed training: less mileage and focusing on pushing my speed. I blame the memory of soccer sprints ("suicides" anyone?) as my mental block against this whole section of training.

The reason this has come up is that running with the slower/newbie Tuesday group, I realized that since its only week two, the group is barely making it to 4 miles. Well what motivation do I have to get out of bed before dawn if I'm barely hitting my minimum mileage? This is what I was contemplating while I was running up Meridian Hill Tuesday morning when a couple of the faster runners caught up with me (yea I might have started fast out of the gate due to my frustration with the route) and then sped right past. A little taken aback, I shook off my surprise and then took on the challenge. I stuck with these three for the rest of the run, including an extension we all decided needed to be added on to round us up to a full 4 mile route.

For the first time in a while I remembered what it felt like to really push my limits... and it felt good! Ok, yes it didn't feel fabulous during parts of the run where it felt like my side was being compressed by a tourniquet, but overall my breath felt big and full, my legs were really getting stretched out, and kicking a little butt didn't hurt either :) .

Older Speed Training Posts:
Indian Sprints , Fartleks Part I , Fartleks Part II

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Getting out in the sun...

Considering the fact that during my first year of training we didn't get to do an outdoor bike until late March, and even then we were battling below freezing temperatures, I consider myself extremely lucky to have gotten to not only have an amazing ride this weekend, but a warm one at that! My girlfriend who is doing both the Philly Tri and the Columbia Iron Girl with me, along with another spin savvy friend, joined me Saturday morning for our first outdoor bike of the season. The weather could not have been better: sunny skies and high 40's.

We took off from Mount Pleasant and headed down into Rock Creek to Beach Drive. Following it north into Maryland, crossed over East West Highway, past the Mormon temple until Beach Drive dead ends into Garrett Park. There and back clocked us in at just over 26 miles.

One thing that was made apparent on this ride is that my bike could use a little spring sprucing. This is an area I could definitely use some guidance since, outside of changing my tire, I know little about bike maintenance. Considering how expensive a new bike would cost, it is in my best interest to treat the one I have with all the TLC possible. So we decided we are going to attend one of the zillion free bike maintenance classes held at bike shops across the metro area... soon. Adding to the to-do list...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Timed Run

This morning we did our timed run. It was just over half a mile to the loop, followed by 2.5 miles timed and then the half mile back. Surprise of surprises (dripping with sarcasm) when I found my time to be a 9.5 minute mile. I swear I am a darn metronome!

At my natural pace I'm a 10 min miler... consistently. Seriously, if I leave to go for a run, look at the clock and come back and I've been gone for 40 minutes, I can guarantee I ran almost exactly 4 miles. I map it out to check, but really it's a waste of time. If I am pushing it, and dealing with shorter distances, I'm usually somewhere around 9:15 - 9:30. When I did the Cherry Blossom 10 miler last spring, not only did I finish at a perfect 1 hour 40 minutes, but when they displayed my split times in the formal results I had consistently done 10 min miles throughout. The same thing happened at my half marathon: 2 hours and 11 minutes (on the dot!). So now that I've spent the last two years learning to run and pushing the distance, now hopefully I can pick up the speed!


What are split times?

"When training for a race such as a half marathon, timing different sections of the race, or splits, are used to help improve performance and training. The segments, or splits, can vary but one mile intervals are typically used. Split times are also used for pacing during a race and can improve race performance when used properly."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Stubborn Run...

So Tuesday's training didn't go exactly as planned. First off, I stayed up much later then I was supposed to Monday night trying to trudge through hundreds of pages of reading for the worst masters course ever (3rd Party Governance... yea). Plus my internal clock hasn't adjusted to tri training times yet (up at 5-something and barely making it to 10pm without crashing). Finally, the Tuesday run group is mainly newbies, it was their first day, and it was a timed run. By "timed run" I mean they run down to the Eclipse and then lap around for about a mile timed so they can have a benchmark of where they started so they can accurately measure their progress.  It's actually a great tool and really motivating because you KNOW you will improve from your first week's time, but now you can be shocked at just how much! But for me, considering the other variables, it would mean me waking up very early for a meet and great, not get that many miles in, and I will be also running with the Thurs morning vets group who will also be doing a timed run, but with more mileage. Plus I'm going to the happy hour Thurs which will probably be slightly more fun to meet the newbies with a cocktail in hand than sleep in my eyes.

Long story short I didn't run with the group Tuesday morning. When I got up I realized it was going to be one of those days... a sloth day. There is this evil me, a sloth me, and every once in a while she rears her ugly head and makes doing anything such a chore. She wants waffles for breakfast, marathon movie watching in bed, and if I need to get up and get moving she motivates me to bake. Procrastination via baking! Bad bad bad for the good me.

I had a pretty tough time saying no. Though I had spurts of good intentioned productivity, they never lasted long and I always ended up caving to evil me's whims. By the end of the day I felt gross, defeated and depressed. I needed to go for my run. As I have mentioned many times before, I consider myself a codependent runner. I have a really really hard time motivating myself to go out and run alone when, instead, I could meet up with a friend and chat my way through the miles without even noticing them pass. Unfortunately (continuing the theme of the day) all running buddies were MIA last night. Of course... I really thought I was going to, yet again, cave to evil me, but then... I didn't. I put on my stubborn face, threw on my running gear quickly so as to not tempt a change of mind and stomped out the door. I might have had a horrible sloth day, I might have not gotten half the things done that I needed to, and I might have eaten waffles for breakfast, but I was GOING to go for a run damn it!

Not only did I go for a run, but I ran up to the National Cathedral, one of the highest points in DC. With my ipod blasting I pounded my way up and up and up with nothing but pure stubborn attitude pushing me along. It was spite... spite for the evil me, spite for the codependent runner me, spite for the procrastinator me... it was my stubborn run.

After it was all over I, of course, felt wonderful. I was awake, motivated and moving. Later during a discussion with my Mom, she gave me an assignment: to run alone for a minimum of 4 miles once a week. It's not that I need to become a lone runner, but I do need to be ok with running alone. The lack of a running partner does not justify a lack of a run. Another challenge...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Day of School: Spin

Yesterday was the first day of YTri 2012! I started off the season with a 6am Tri Spin class. Since the newbies are assigned to specific classes based on their swim/run times, this class was basically all veterans of the program which meant it was the first time many of us had seen each other in a while... hence "first day of school". Though it was crazy early and we were all still adjusting to our new alarm clock settings, the beginning of class was filled with overly enthusiastic hey's and how are you's. An unexpected perk of joining the tri team is becoming part of this great community!

Our coach Elisa is just perky enough and loves to blast her great play list, which to me is much needed for motivation in a dark spin room pre-dawn. We are currently focused on base building so most of the class was focused on aerobic exercises: keeping up the speed and some slow climbing low hills... building consistency. While we were peddling away, Elisa took the time to come around and readjust our bikes and tweak our positioning. One of the easiest ways to get injured or overwork yourself is to be on a poorly fitted bike. This means you need to know what a good fit feels like. Best tips I can give you:
  • When your pedal is all the way down you should have a slight bend at the knee (adjust the height of your seat)
  • When your pedal is at 3 o'clock your knee should be directly over your ankle (adjust your seat forward and backward)
  • Your arms should be extended but be aware not to lock your elbows and keep your shoulders relaxed (adjust the height of your handle bars)
Another tip that is easy to forget is that in a spin room things heat up much faster then when you are out on the open road. You sweat a good amount and without the wind to whisk it away, it sits right on your pores causing your body to continue to produce a high amount of sweat. My point: don't forget to hydrate! Both before and during the class. Every down second between sets grab a sip of water.

This is a 45 min (turned 50 min cause Elisa is stubborn like that ;) ) spin class that will be my main spin for the week.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dealing with Ideals...

We all know life rarely goes as planned. Keeping that in mind, below is my ideal training schedule for this tri season. It follows the theory of 2-2-2: 2 Run, 2 Spin and 2 Swim. On the weeks where I need an extra rest day (and I know they will come) I can drop my Friday mornings and still be on track.

      AM: Spin & Core
      PM: Master Swim
      AM: Group Run (slow)
      PM: Master Swim
      AM: Group Run (fast)
      AM: Spin & Core
Weekend: Run and/or Outdoor Bike

Tri Season 2012!

It's that time of year again! Today is the first day of Tri training. It's exactly how I remembered it: the mornings are freezing and dark, when my alarm went off at 5:15am I had no idea what crazy person was calling me so early, and I tried to put my running shoes on backwards as I was stumbling out the door. All joking aside though, I'm totally revved up and ready to go! I am even signed up for a couple races to prevent procrastination.

According to this blog I dropped off the face of the earth last year, so here's a quick update. I did join in on YTri training last season, but I was much more focused on training for the Rome Marathon. Unfortunately I got injured and instead had to swallow my pride and cheer on my friends. Though the marathon didn't happen, I did do my first ever running race: the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in DC. This  snowballed into the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg, VA (with Drew Carey... umm yea...), the Baltimore 10 miler, the Dogfish Head Dash 10K and the Jingle All the Way 8K.

So after testing out the waters in the running world, I'm back for Tri Season 2012! The program has grown and we have a good number of new coaches so things will probably be a bit different. I'm already signed up for three races to keep me motivated: Cherry Blossom 10 mi in April, Philly Tri (Olympic) in June and the Iron Girl (Sprint) in August.

The program is 18 weeks long... Get Ready, Get Set, Go!