Running Buddies Make You Realize Your Potential.

I feel like people can’t talk enough about the value of running buddies. The past couple weekends, I have had the pleasure of being accompanied by seasoned runners during this training cycle’s long runs. One of them was a D1 college runner and the other has a bajillion races – okay, probably 6 or 7 marathons, a dozen 1/2 marathons and numerous other distances – under her belt. It was so interesting to hear each other’s preferences, from the pre-race food to how and when we stop for the water stations, to the longest run we prefer during marathon training.

My favorite thing about other runners is how competitive we are but how much we want each other to be successful. There are always high-fives going around and lots of smiles after the run is over, even on the coldest day or the slowest run of the year. My past three long runs (10, 10 & 8 miles) were the easiest and quickest I have done thanks to people who believe in me.

IMG_3126

Beau needs to be in allllllllll the pictures. Silly pup.

These are, personally, my top five reasons for running with a pal when it’s anything above 6 miles:

1. I’m competitive. If you’re not going to stop, neither will I. Near the end of my fastest 10-mile training run EVER, my pal kicked it in high gear, and I didn’t even think my legs were going to get my feet off the ground anymore. Her words of encouragement got me through that incredibly hard 60 seconds of running and I couldn’t be more thankful! I had no idea I was that close to my goal. 

2. In addition to being competitive, I never want to hold someone else back if I know I’m just being lazy. If my body truly can’t go, that’s one thing, but if I’m just tired, having a running buddy makes me say, “Push through, because they gave up these two hours of their day to get a good run in WITH YOU.”

3. Pushing other people, when I’m the one having a good day and watching them get faster and more mentally tough is equally, if not more, fulfilling than feeling yourself become a better and faster runner.

4. The IronMan 70.3 does NOT allow headphones on the course. Every time I go out with a friend for a long workout, the headphones stay behind, helping me prepare for that dreadful, music-less 13.1 (plus 56 miles of biking) in August. It’s some of the best conversation, the occasional TMI conversation, but you know your deepest running thoughts are in good hands with them.

5. Don’t you get bored of the route you ALWAYS run in your neighborhood? My running buddies and I like to try new routes and we get that added safety in numbers. The new scenery helps our run go by so much faster. I don’t look at the next street and tell myself, “Oh gosh, there’s still X miles to go before we’re done.”

As I’ve mentioned before, there are some runs that are purely for my peace of mind, stress relief or I just NEED alone time. There are runs where the goal is speed work, and it’s hard to do it with someone who isn’t shooting for the exact same goal time or distance. It’s good to run alone for those reasons. It’s good to even just enjoy being alone sometimes, but nothing beats the feeling you get when you have others pushing you and you’re motivating them right back. On race day, they’re the ones who will know your goal, when you’re mental strength is failing and how to get you through it, and they’ll be there after it’s over, smiles, cheers, hugs & high-fives ready, regardless if it’s a PR or it just wasn’t your day.

10359321_10153692364464896_4345629892955383816_n

This is last weekend’s run! Shelby is da bomb and made me realize that I can do the speeds I have in my mind that seemed so out-of-reach? Isn’t that great? She’s great. So are YOU!

FullSizeRender (1)

See that snow? That’s going to go away soon. I HAVE FAITH IN SPRING 2015’s PUNCTUAL ARRIVAL!!!!

On another super-duper positive note, I am optimistic (and also, my iPhone weather app tells me so!) that we are done with negative temperatures for the season! And, with daylight savings next weekend, I will be running outside more often! THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE!

I hope you have had a stellar weekend.

Did I forget any FANTASTIC reason to run with a pal? 

Creating My 1/2 Marathon Training Plan

Good morning!

I have about 14 weeks until my next race, which is one of my favorite courses: Gazelle Girl 1/2 Marathon

It’s not a secret that my goal for my April ½ marathon is 1:45:00. This will be my 6th half marathon and my current PR is 1:49.17 on a very similar course in the same city. I have never followed a training plan before! My thoughts have always been: get a long run, a fast run and a couple mid-distance ones each week. Therefore, I am SO EXCITED to follow a plan, try to eat a little better, and see what my results are!

I’ve been searching through other blogger’s tips, Runners World, Hal Higdon’s plans and other random sites for some of the best 10 and 12 week programs. I had some luck, even finding a couple geared specifically to my time goal. So, this weekend, I’ve started tweaking what I’ve found, into the first customized training plan I’ve ever developed. The best part is that it has the things I want and need during training. I have some running friends who have paid for running coaches, and I’d love to one day – it’s just not something doable for me right now. So, lots of research, advice from long-time runners and knowing what my body excels at will have to do!

Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve developed so far!

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 9.48.50 AM

I’m registered for an IronMan 70.3 in August so you can see the start of some swim and bike training. In the later months, I’m obviously adding more of each, and brick workouts. It’s odd thinking about swimming outside when it is FREEZING here.

What is different on mine from most that I have seen, is that on one of my rest days, I have it dedicated to a long stretch. I’m thinking a good 45 minutes! I was a trampolinist until about 2012 and with that background, I was flexible and limber. It’s amazing how fast some of that has left me. Now, I suffer from tight hamstrings and other muscles, a back that’s always cracking, etc… I am not a professional, but I know that MY body needs to get back in the habit of good stretching.

Other than that, I feel I’m consistent with some speed, easy runs, etc… Once I hit the 10 week (to race day) mark, the mileage begins to reach 30-35 miles a week. Last year, I had set a resolution to run 1,000 miles throughout the year. I failed. I failed bad. This year, following a plan, I have a lot more confidence going into it with mileage like that up until at least August.

One thing I noticed on most of the training plans I found was that they consisted of 5 run days per week. I know that it works GREAT for some runners, but not this girl! You’ll see me peak at 4 runs a week. I started running for the same reason as a lot of people – to relieve stress, have time to think, etc… Although I love racing, shooting for a new PR or trying a new distance, I have NO desire to get burnt out because I have every intention of being a life-long runner.

Winter has decided to show itself in the last two days. Since a plow hadn’t been anywhere, our 6 mile run yesterday was… interesting. 😉 It was just an easy run, filled with the best conversation. The friend I ran with is running the Walt Disney World Marathon next weekend so it was definitely all about what she needed to feel good and stay loose for her race weekend.

IMG_0356 FullSizeRender (1)

Have any of you customized your own training plan? What is your advice?

– This is my first time! Send me your suggestions! 🙂

Do you prefer running with a friend?

– I love my running buddies, but I still prefer to do speed alone. Any other run, I enjoy the chats and encouragement from someone else.

The BEST Me – From the Inside, Out!

2014 was such a quick year. My mom has told me that they just seem to go by faster as you get it older. I sort of hope that isn’t true!

Every year, we all make lists of things we want to accomplish. I started to write those down again. It had a lot of the same things from prior years that I say I want to do and then fail at by February 1. Those things usually revolve around reducing the amount of sugar I consume, running at least 5 days a week, losing 10 pounds, etc… Here’s the thing: My soul and I really love ice cream, some weeks your body wants NEEDS more rest and my worth is not in those ten pounds. Enjoy those treats in moderation, know when your body deserves to sit on the couch and watch an episode of Friends, and most importantly, know when to push your limits and when to say, enough is enough for today. NOBODY wants an injury that makes another goal unattainable! That definitely doesn’t mean don’t push yourself. It just means, take the time to enjoy the aspects of life that have nothing to do with your physical appearance or fitness level because your heart, soul and your brain matter so much more, as cliché as that sounded. When your heart is happy, you will want to push harder for all of those fitness goals!

That being said,  I do have a shorter list of specific goals for 2015 but it’s definitely going to be about focusing on my soul – being my BEST self.

My running goals consist of:

  1. Get a sub 1:45 ½ marathon time this year! Here’s what is on my race schedule so far: 2015 Races
  2. Complete the Steelhead ½ IronMan in under 6 ½ hours.
  3. Be consistent about supplemental strength training.

My internal goals are:

  1. Take my niece to the beach.
  2. Also, eat some ice cream with her. She’s growing up so quickly.
  3. Read 5 books.

Other than that, my biggest goal is to put positive thoughts and LOVE into every conversation and interaction I have with another person – leave him or her feeling better than when I first encountered them. Life is good and I want to share how good it is with everyone I meet.

FullSizeRender IMG_0321 IMG_0322

Happy, Happy, HAPPY 2015 to you from me. I hope this is the best year you’ve ever had – in life, love and of course, your running! 🙂

IMG_0318

What books should I be looking at reading? 

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

My Gazelle Girl 1/2 Marathon Experience and PR!

Ok, first off… I am SORRY that I stunk at blogging for the last 8 weeks. Seriously, it’s been that long since I last posted!!! I have grad school, work and training to get a PR this past weekend, and I just didn’t have time for a quality post. I pinky promise to do better from here on out! 🙂

I had trained so well for this race, from several Peak-8 sprint workouts (I even ran 5 miles at a 7:49 average pace TWICE) to multiple 10+ mile runs at below a 9:00 pace…. Those things may have been interesting to you to hear about on this little journey to a PR, but like I said, I have been SO BUSY! I was definitely ready for this race!

On Saturday, I met up with my friend and we rode down together. We met at the perfect time, because just as we had gotten to Grand Rapids, our area up north got hammered with a freak storm! I’m not kidding, nobody told us this storm was coming! I still didn’t have electricity or internet, obviously, (OH MY WORD) when I got home from the race on Sunday around 4 PM.

 

Some CRAZY damage…

ImageImage

 

I’m just thankful I didn’t hear about any injuries! However, if you get some time, send our little towns your thoughts, prayers and good vibes that the river levels go down because there is some major flooding possiblities as a result of this weekend that the area really doesn’t need!

Back to Gazelle Girl, we got our packets and drove to my friend’s apartment. Got our carbo-loading on and relaxed on the couch watching movies the rest of the night and deciding exactly what we were going to wear! Michigan weather is the best… NOT. You just never know what you’re going to get in the next couple minutes, let alone a whole morning later!! I decided on capris and short-sleeves and hit the hay, although I maybe got 5 hours of sleep from the nerves! I kept having dreams I was buried alive! NO, NOT KIDDING! But that means I was stressed out / nervous right?? That’s what Mr. Google said anyway.

 

All of the gear for the morning!

Image

 

In the morning, everything went smoothly. My wonderful friend took us to the race and stayed the entire time to watch! The weather was a perfect temperature with no sun beating down on us, but more humidity than I was used to. Oh well – like I said, it’s Michigan. You couldn’t really have asked for better in mid-April!! I was going to do this thing. My goal time was a 1:50.00 (8:23 pace), which was kind of a reach and I knew that, but I did the first 10 miles at an 8:15 or faster pace, with three miles at sub – 8:00 miles! That would be why the last 3 miles were SO HARD! I ended up finishing with a 1:51.55 and I am INCREDIBLY HAPPY WITH THAT! That was an 8:32 pace and a 4:46 personal best time after nearly three years of not being able to beat my 1:56.41 from 2011!

The best part of the day was seeing everyone else finish and getting their personal bests, too! My friends Sarah, Caryn and Alyson all finished with happy faces and a new “time to beat” for our next races! Megan was so smart and listened to her body – I know it was hard for her, but there’s always another race! Then I got to meet up with my friend…. AND MAN FRIEND CAME! This is the first time he’s ever come to watch me! I can’t really blame him because if you don’t like running, it’s not fun until the end to be spectating!

My amazing friend, Trisha, who let us sleep in her bed and shower at her apartment, and then came and stayed the full 2+ hours to be our support system! Thanks, dude! You are the BOMB!

Image

 

MAN FRIEND!

Image

 

I was so excited about the PR, and because he really came, that I tried to hug him right away. I don’t think he appreciated how sweaty I was… I know, rude! 😉

Image

All of the girls from our neck of the woods (minus Caryn)!!!!!! 

Image

 

 

I’m so proud of all of us and can’t wait to do more races with the wonderful ladies in my life!

Oh, let me show you the BEST “medal” ever! Gazelle Girl switched it up and gave us an amazing charm that we can truly wear on a daily basis if we want to! 🙂

#PureMichigan of course!

Image

You all want to run this race now right?! 🙂 Have a great Easter-week! I am in bed with some sort of crud, probably from Megan!! 😉 However, it gave me time to get this jotted down and shared! Maybe I’ll even get my homework done while I lay here!

 

Did anyone else run Gazelle Girl this weekend?? TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT!!!! 

What’s your favorite part about the running community? 

– I love, love, love the random support from strangers in the crowd – especially when they read your name on your bib, look right at you and tell you that you’re awesome and you can finish the race. I had an older man call out to me individually twice. He has no idea how much he helped, so thank you to him!!!!

8 weeks until Gazelle Girl 1/2 Marathon!

Yup, that’s right. 8 weeks from today. That scares me a little, especially since I have BIG goals. I want to improve my time by nearly 7 minutes from my previous PR, which was over 2 years ago! I feel like I’ve been training so well, but…. what if? How is the training going for your guys’ spring 1/2 marathons? What kind of speed work are you putting in?

Sunday – Rest Day

Monday – 4 easy miles with Megan in 41:00 (10:15 Pace)

Tuesday – 2.01 in 16:11 (8:03 pace), Leg Strength Training

Wednesday – Abs/Arms Strength Training

Thursday – 3.14 in 30:00 (9:33 Pace) Abs/Arms

Friday – Rest Day

Saturday – 10 Miles with Megan in 1:44:50 (10:22 Pace)

IMG_2336 IMG_2380

On Saturday, for the long run, we did the walk/run method that Megan has consistently been using for over a year now. She swears by it and we actually included those walks breaks in the overall time it took, so I definitely believe in it as well. We did 1 mile run / 1 minute walk intervals. It has allowed me to do more miles than I could have without the breaks, and the pace during the run section is faster because I’ve had a small recovery. I didn’t want to do it at first, but I definitely have learned to love and appreciate my one minute walk breaks. I don’t have any intention of walking during the actual half marathon, but many people have done the run/walk and even qualified for Boston doing it. Try it if you’re struggling to up your mileage. A 12 minute miles is just as far as an 8 minute mile! 🙂

Oh yea! Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Hope you guys had a good one. I won the best dressed contest at work! I pretty much killed it. I’m not competitive at all 😉

IMG_2373  IMG_2368

My boyfriend happens to think VDay is a pretty stupid holiday, and therefore doesn’t want to celebrate it. So, instead of a Valentine’s Day card, I got a “Thank You” card. I’ll take what I can get.

IMG_2390

Oh, my gosh! And the bestest part of my week was the photo shoot I got to do (I did mention I dabble in Photography) with my good friend and her little 3 month old.

Layne 3mo 1 Layne 3mo 2

Have a good week. Get your speed on! 🙂

A Week’s Worth of Happiness and Exercise. Oh, AND a trip to SPAIN!

I had a great week. I am fortunate enough to have an amazing job and they have even okay-ed a  Study Abroad trip that I have to complete for my Master’s program. I will be spending 6 weeks in Spain this Summer, taking classes and even doing a little traveling! I wonder what kind of running trails they will have in the city I’m in! I will still have races to run in the Fall when I get back, so I’ll have to stay in shape!

If you didn’t know, it’s REALLY cold here. I finally have mastered the right amount of clothing for runs as I actually was sweating yesterday and did not have frozen fingers. As I was on my way to church this morning, I couldn’t help but notice how absolutely beautiful it was, as FREEZING as it is. So, I’ll be thankful for that, but at the same time, I will note that we only have 41 days until Spring. Hallelujah.

IMG_2377

Random, but important: I got my man-friend to shave off his beard this week. I’ve had to “deal with”it for over 3 months. He looked like a lumberjack, still handsome, but it was time for it to go. Again, thank you Jesus!

I also hit 22 miles this week, so I am actually on par to get my 84 miles per month, leading to 1,000 miles for 2014! Yay! I just have to do a few extra to make up for last month’s slacking…

Sunday: 6 miles easy, in 1:10:00 with Megan  (11:40 Pace)

Monday: 2 miles (easy) in 19:00 (9:30 Pace), Gymnastics Conditioning

Tuesday: 5 Miles of Speedwork with Megan (4 miles at 9:00 pace, 2 min rest between miles and ½ mile warm up, cool down)

Wednesday: Rest Day! 🙂

Thursday: 3.12 miles in 26:40 (8:33 Pace), Gymnastics Conditioning

Friday: Arms/ Abs Conditioning

Saturday: 6 miles in 57:40 with a new running buddy / old friend Sarah! (9:37 Pace)

 

Have a GREAT week! – From the furry friends in my life. And yes, the second one is also a dog. 😉

photo 3 photo 5

Sock Buns and Creepy Man Pants and Faster Times.

Sorry that I totally failed with the idea of a regular posting schedule. I have no idea if you know this but I speak Spanish so I got a side gig translating some documents. It’s consuming my life! But, it’s fun and nice to know that I am capable of doing large-scale tasks like this one.

For running this week, I didn’t get huge mileage numbers, but boy did I have some interesting workouts!

Sunday: 8.5 miles with a friend. I got us lost, in the arctic tundra that is Michigan lately. She wasn’t pleased. My Garmin died halfway through, because it was too cold, so I don’t even know our pace. It was NOT the best long run I’ve had.

Monday – Peak 8 (2.16 miles) and gymnastics-based conditioning. This week I held my “jog” at 7.0 MPH and my sprint at 10.0 MPH. I’m amazed at how fast I’m already getting (SEE FRIDAY’S RUN), and I have 11 weeks before my half marathon still. I am SO excited. I did, reluctantly, complete 10 chin-ups again. 😉

Tuesday – I did a super easy 2 miles and then stretched really well… Did I mention people point out my tight hamstrings a lot at the gym? It’s sort of embarrassing…

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – 3.02 easy miles with Megan in the bitter, bitter cold. I love Michigan but c’mon… it’s cold. Please lighten up on us!

Friday – 4.02 mile in 33:00! This is my best run this week and I am so excited about the 8:13 (FAST TIME) pace I averaged.

Considering my goal pace for the ½ marathon (in 11 weeks) is an 8:23 pace, this makes me VERY happy and even more motivated (yes, I know it’s 9.1 more miles, but still).

Although I’ve definitely had my fair share of chocolate and ice cream this week, I’ve also seen a lot more of these types of things in my diet, and I think it’s truly helped with my energy:

image-7            image-5

Okay, now for the reason my post is titled the way that it is… THIS is what I have to look at every time I go down to my boyfriend’s basement.

IMG_1501

And EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I think someone is in those pants and is going to kill me. Why do they have to hang there, right behind the treadmill? Why? Why? Why?

I’m going to enjoy the rest of my night, playing with the new sock bun I got and drinking yummy hot cocoa… away from those creepy man pants.

image-9  image-8

When you Feel Like Poo, But you Have Miles to Do!

Today I feel sick. I’ve already considered using a sick day tomorrow because I could just really use the rest.

Go figure, because I set a goal to run 1000 miles this year, which comes to like 84 per month… I’ve run 18 this month… Yea. I didn’t run because I felt cruddy today, and if I’m smart, I won’t try to run tomorrow. Sometimes, I think I’m invincible, though….

People yell at me when I run when I feel sick, because I end up feeling ill for way longer than I probably would have. My friends and family are always trying to poop at the party (party poopers.) Hahaha!! Please watch this video if you didn’t understand my little joke that I just made:

Jennifer poops at parties?

I really hope you laughed as much as I do at that!

Anyway, let’s take for example, Megan. She always gives me the proper words of stern advice when I would like to do things that I shouldn’t do:

image-2

She does it out of love!

Sometimes it’s a little threatening. She has to be, though, or it typically doesn’t work. 😉

Yesterday, I did take a totally-toned class, though, at my local gym. It wasn’t terribly difficult but it WORKED a ton of different muscle groups. I also was informed (I already knew, but was in denial) that I desperately needed to do more hamstring stretches and that, “you’re too young to not be able to do a full extension!” Here are some great ones that I’ve done the last couple days and were recommended to me by more than one person. They’re super simple and effective!

Unknown str_ham_prn_prtner hamstringstretch0708

Stretch, strength-train AND Run! So important to do all three to get the most out of your body!

I will do chin-ups. I will do chin-ups.. I WILL do chin-ups!

Strength training is crucial, I get it.. I was a gymnast until 2012 so I am strong, just not near as strong as I once was. And.. I have NEVER been able to do pull-ups or chin-ups. It baffles everyone.

Last night, I went to the gym with some of my lovely workout buddies. I’m pumped because I brought the AB workout and we were going to get a good run in.

Well, we did those things first.

Started out with this workout called a Peak-8. Do you know what that is? I didn’t – today was my first rodeo:

3:00 Warm up run (6.0 MPH)

1:30 Jog (6.5 MPH)

0:30 HARD (9.5 MPH)

Repeat the 1:30 Jog and 0:30 HARD sections 8 times. Peak-8, get it?

3 minute cooldown (6.0 Pace) = approximately 2 miles / 20 minutes

 

Next, was an awesome abdominal activity that I came up with and it was just perfect!

 

25 Crunchers

1:00 Plank

25 R. Oblique V-Ups

0:45 Plank

25 L. Oblique V-ups

0:30 Plank

50 Toe Touches (25 each side)

0:45 Plank

25 Sit Ups

1:00 Plank

25 Crunchers

 

Then my friend came up with this great idea to make us do 10 chin-ups every time we work out, starting today, because… it’s good for Tough Mudder training? No, I’m certain it’s because she just wants to laugh at my attempts.  But guess what, everyone??! I did TWO! Haha, actually I did ten, but with assistance on all except two. By September, I will master the chin-up!!

picstitch(2)

Those muscles will be rockin’ by September. Just you wait! 🙂

 

I finally finished my workout with 3.01 more treadmill miles in 26:30 (8:48 Pace).

If I can keep up with these kinds of workouts, I’m going to reach all my goal times for sure! 😉picstitch

Off for another 6 miles today. Have a good weekend!