Do you Want to Be a Faster Runner?

After working hard on increasing my endurance for the last six to seven months, I’m ready to push my body and gain some speed back.

The first question I ask myself is…….How am I going to get faster?

Will simply running every other day make me faster?

Sure, running several days a week will make me get better. However, at some point, I will plateau. Since I have been running for so many years, that plateau will appear rather quickly for me.

Then what can I do?

There are 3 main things that I will do:

1. chose a plan that includes both running and cross training. I choose to cycle as my cross training. This type of plan allows for higher intensity workouts since I won’t be running every day. I will run 3 days a week and cycle 2 days a week at first. Then, I will transition to 4 days of running and 1 day of cycling. This way, my body will get a chance to rest before I have another run workout.

2. Every workout will have a purpose ie: hill repeats, tempo, interval, long runs. Each week, I will include these different types of workouts.

Hill repeats are repeated short segments of hard uphill running. They increase aerobic power, high-intensity fatigue resistance, pain tolerance, and run-specific strength. The ideal hill on which to run hill repeats features a steady, moderate gradient of 4 to 6 percent. Hill repetitions are typically done at the end of the base-building period as a relatively safe way to introduce harder high-intensity training into the program.

A tempo run is a sustained effort at lactate threshold intensity, which is the fastest pace that can be sustained for one hour in highly fit runners and the fastest pace that can be sustained for 20 minutes in less fit runners. Tempo or threshold runs serve to increase the speed you can sustain for a prolonged period of time and to increase the time you can sustain that relatively fast pace.

Interval workouts consist of repeated shorter segments of fast running separated by slow jogging or standing recoveries. This format enables a runner to pack more fast running into a single workout than he or she could with a single prolonged fast effort to exhaustion.
Interval workouts are typically subcategorized as short intervals and long intervals, and are often performed on the track.  Long intervals are 600 to 1,200-meter segments run in the range of 5K race pace with easy jogging recoveries between them. They’re an excellent means of progressively developing efficiency and fatigue resistance at fast running speeds

Generally, a long run is a base run that lasts long enough to leave a runner moderately to severely fatigued. The function of a long run is to increase raw endurance. The distance or duration required to achieve this effect depends, of course, on your current level of endurance. As a general rule, your longest run should be long enough to give you confidence that raw endurance will not limit you in races. There are many spins you can put on a long run, such as progressing the pace from start to finish or mixing intervals (described on the last page) into the run.”

You can  learn/read more about these types of runs and other types  here.

3. Use either time or heart rate to help manage. Don’t get stuck in a rut. If I just go out for a run, I tend to run at a pace with a certain comfort level. However, I need to increase my pace or get my heart rate up for parts of the workout in order to make any progress. Basically, if I want to run faster, I have to teach my body how to do it.

Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how it’s going.

Next Up……..

I’m now into week 3 of my rest and recovery phase. I started my reverse taper last week and am continuing it this week. Last week’s mileage was really quite low. However, I’ll log 20 miles this week. From there, I will start my next training cycle.

You may be wondering what is next on my agenda. Well, after spending so many weeks building my endurance for my recent 50k, I realized that I miss a few things. I miss my short runs with high intensity. I miss my tempo runs (I have been doing some tempo runs). I miss my hill repeats. What this all points to is that I want to train for shorter distances and build up my speed again. And, I will still be able to run long (although, after running the 50k, I have a new perspective for the phrase -run long) on the weekend.

Even though I loved all my long training runs, I won’t miss being away from the family for half the day. When I train for shorter races, I can get up early and knock out the workout before the kids even wake up. It just seems more doable for me.

For the next few months, my focus will be on the half marathon distance. I found a few of them that I’d like to run. The first one is Run on the Sly and is in August. This race will be fun to run and try to beat my time from last year. Last year I ran the race with just 6-7 months of trail running experience. This year, I have a whole lot more!

This entry was posted on May 14, 2014. 1 Comment

Phase 4……Rest and Recovery

After each big event (A race), I start the last phase of my training cycle, rest and recovery. This phase is meant to give my body and mind some much deserved rest and recovery.

After running hard for several weeks, my body needs a break and time to repair the muscles. This way in a few weeks, I can start demanding a little more from it. During this phase of reset and recovery, I usually cycle and may go on a few small runs. No workout is demanding and each workout is less than an hour.

My mind also needs a rest from following a training plan (even though I love my training plans). It’s a nice feeling to know that I don’t have to get a certain workout completed. I don’t have to pay attention to a specific type of running, time nor mileage. I can just run.

Normally, I have a project planned to help me stay busy since I’m not running as much. Unfortunately, I don’t have a project nor am I able to run at all. Needless to say, I’m a little on edge.

After my 50k run, I noticed that I was physically exhausted for a few days. I basically did nothing for a few days and let my body rest. This isn’t easy for me to do as I love to workout. However, I knew that I needed to listen to my body.

In addition, I am dealing with a bad case of poison oak and a cranky ankle. Both of these issues have caused me to rest for a few extra days which really isn’t the end of the world. And, I did get a few workouts in on the bike. So, I really shouldn’t complain.

I’m happy to say, that after my trial run yesterday morning, I am feeling well enough to start my reverse taper. I will use the last 2 weeks of my previous training plan to help me keep my mileage low in order to rest and recover. While the mileage is low, this phase will help me gently get ready for my next training plan.

Do you follow the periodiaztion phases?
Do you love/dislike the Rest and Recovery phase?
How do you get through Rest and Recovery?

This entry was posted on May 8, 2014. 1 Comment

“Freak Out” Moments

Does your training go perfectly all the time?

I can’t say that mine does. I think that most of us hit a few bumps along the way. Even though we all deal with these inconveniences, some of us are more vocal about them than others.  These bumps are what I call, “Freak Out,” moments.

Looking back at all the training I did for my recent 50k run, I’m surprised at how smoothly it went. Well, at least up until the last few weeks. I’d say the first 16 out of 20 weeks went very smoothly.

Then, about a month before my event I started having a few “issues.” Of course, I react to these issues, seeing that I have put so much effort into training for this event. I do realize that there usually is another event that could be a substitute. However, I am usually fixated on the chosen event.

Although I may have mentioned some of these issues in person, on my blog, or on my Facebook page, I didn’t mention them in my recap post. I thought it’s only fair that I tell the whole story. Plus, it makes me appreciate how well race day went, considering what could have gone wrong.


  • Freak out moment #1: Due to worn out shoes, my feet felt bruised and as if all the bones had shattered. (ok, a little dramatic, but they hurt!)


  • Freak out moment #2: Again, due to worn out shoes and orthotics, my ankle started hurting and was slightly strained with every subsequential run.


  • Freak out moment#3: After my last long run, my hip became unaligned. I have been dealing with SI Joint issues for around 3.5 years. Thankfully, with a little help from a great physical therapist, Mike at Beretta Physical Therapy, I was able to get back to my running (It’s not as simple as it sounds to keep my hip in place).


  • Freak out moment #4: The Wednesday before the event, I came down with a flu. Are you kidding me?! I can’t have any GI issues now. I kept thinking, “Well, I guess it’s better now than on the trail.”

You never know what issues are going to arise during training. But, I figure nothing is ever going to go perfectly. Even though I freak out, I eventually have to deal with it and move on. And, sometimes, I even look back and laugh.

This entry was posted on May 6, 2014. 2 Comments

The Plan

It’s no secret that I like plans.  I like to dream about my adventures, find the right plan and then watch it become a reality.  Checking off the workouts or the weeks is just as satisfying.  I follow my plan so that when the event comes around, I am well prepared. At times I will deviate from the plan, but rarely.  I am working on becoming more flexible as I know that there are times when I shouldn’t run and I do anyways.

I have been thinking about the day for a few weeks now.  Actually writing it down will help me fine-tune my plan.  I find that having a plan keeps me calm and helps me have a good race.  Just remember, no matter how much you plan things, you most likely will deal with something that wasn’t in the “plan.”

Here is my race plan for Saturday’s 50k run:

Breakfast – 1 egg, oatmeal with walnuts and honey

Pace – I will start at a 10:30 – 10:45 min/mile pace.  It should be an easy effort.  I can slow down if I find it to be too fast.

Hydration and Fuel

Hydration –  I will carry about 30 oz of water in my pack.  I plan on stopping (at the turn around point to refill my pack and again at the second to last aid station.

Fuel/Nutrition –   After working on my nutrition for several months, experimenting with the number of calories as well as with the type of calories, training my body to tap into my fat reserve to decrease the number of calories I need to eat out on the trail, and visiting Sheila Leard at My Nutrition Zone, I now know that I need 125-130 calories per hour. By knowing how many calories I need, I won’t over eat and I reduce the risk of having any gut issues.

I’ve been training with these foods, so I’ll be using them, nothing new at this point.

I’ll be carrying 750 calories – 6 hours

PB & honey sandwich (cut into quarters)

Each piece is ~110 calories.

Stinger chews – 2 packs

Each pack has 10 chews is 160 calories.  8 chews per hour for me.


  • Hour 1:  ¼ sandwich and 2 chews
  • Hour 2: ¼ sandwich and 2 chews
  • Hour 3: chews
  • Hour 4: ¼ sandwich and 2 chews
  • Hour 5: chews

I also practiced with potato chips.  So, if there are any on the course, I know that I can eat them.

I will put a Larabar in my pack for back up.

I will start to eat 1/2 hour into the race to make sure I don’t fall behind.

I will take 1 salt tablet every hour until the halfway point.  Then, depending on the temperature (if over 70 degrees), I will take 1 every 1/2 hour.

2014 50k aid station chart


To help me stay mentally strong, I’m going to write down the distance between each aid station on my arm so that I can focus on running from aid station to aid station rather than the whole 50 kilometers.  This tactic was suggested by a fellow blogger.


My Goals:

I recently read in Runner’s World that it’s a good idea to set up different a few different goals.  That way you can still feel good about the event, even if it doesn’t go exactly how you’d like it to go.

I know that when I finish, I will feel proud no matter how long it takes me.

On a good day, I will go out slowly and I will cross that finish line.  These are my main goals since this is my first 50k.

On a great day, I will finish in less than 6 hours

On an awesome day, I will finish in 5 hours  35 mins (11 min/mi pace)


Words I will tell myself when it gets tough:

I’m well trained.

I can do this!

I’m going to do this!

I trained hard, so I won’t give up!


Thanks to and Runner’s World for some of their ideas.  If you’d like to see Active’s race plan you can click on the link:

This entry was posted on April 24, 2014. 5 Comments

When I Can’t Run on the Trails……….

Where is your favorite place to run?  I have grown to love the trails around El Dorado Hills and Folsom.  And, I know that there are many other trails to explore in the Auburn area.  However, when I can’t run on the trails, my second choice is to run near the coast.



This past week we spent a few days in Monterey, CA.  Even though  I am familiar with the main trail in Monterey, I don’t know any actual dirt trails in the area.  Plus, I didn’t have the time to drive to a different location to run.  So, I opted to enjoy a scenic run right from where we were staying.  I started from San Carlos Beach and ran 5 miles out to Asilomar before turning around.  The trail was paved with some crushed granite along the side.  I even had the chance to run on the sand in a few spots.  Since I was running in such a beautiful place, I had to stop and take a few pictures along the way.


There was a lot to see.  Now that it’s spring, there were lots of blooming  flowers.


There were plenty of baby Harbor Seals to watch.


This mama and pup pair caught my eye.  They were so cute!!!  I later took my family to see them.


Having this as a backdrop while I ran was amazing!

2014 Monterey map strava

The 10 miler (5 miles out and back)!

Where is your favorite place to run?

Do you know any dirt trails in the Monterey area?

The Mental Game

Now that I am officially tapering for my first 50k, and the physical work has been done, I have to start mentally preparing. I’ve been thinking about how to tackle this new distance.

Several weeks ago, I started gathering information from those who have ultra marathon experience.  I reached out and asked the Folsom Trail Runners, the awesome running group that I belong to, the following questions:

  • I have a few questions for all of you ultra marathoners out there…….1. What did you learn while running your ultra? 2. Would you have done anything differently during training or on race day? 3. What was the longest you ran while training for a 50k? Thanks!

These are the responses I received:

  •  1. shoes, nutrition and electrolytes matter. Use the aid stations MORE  2. I would have done away with big back to backs and kept my tapers at higher mileage at lower intensity.  3.Over 30 miles.
  • 1. 31.5 miles is a long way (serious answer: eat and drink lots along the way). 2. Amazingly nothing. 3. 26 miles twice: 4 and 3 weeks out.
  • 1) I learned that I really like being out there. The challenge is a lot different than doing a “road” marathon. You have to think different and keep your eyes and your mind open. Go with the flow more because nature is in charge, not me. It made me a stronger runner and enjoy racing more.  2) The one thing I learned to do different is (because I carry a lot of food and hydration already) to spend way less time at aid stations. I even skip some now. I also learned, I CAN carry less stuff… but the time I end up at aid stations can add up fast.  3) Longest run: Marathon distance (ish). It’s more about hours on your feet. So if you are a faster runner (which you are), you may only end up doing more miles than someone like me that runs slower. The average time I think people aim for is 5 hours for the longest run. I think the longest time I spent on my feet was 5.5 hours. It took me 6.26 hours to complete my first 50K.
  • My last ultra was Fort Ord, and on second thought I don’t think I would have eaten the second half of that torta sandwich the night before.
  • 1) maintain nutrition & hydration  2). chilled mangos  3) 20+ miles and/or 4 hours
  • All the ultras I’ve done were 50 milers. I recommend holding your pace back for the first 30-35 miles (20-25 miles for a 50k). Maintain your nutrition. If you can help it, don’t let yourself walk. It just makes it easier for your body to convince your mind that you need to walk again later.
  • Some people like to be surprised, but I need to run all parts of the course to know how to prepare. For example, just yesterday I ran the first half of AR50 in trail shoes not knowing it’s almost all hard surface. My feet and hips were done 3 miles from the finish. Now I know to wear my cushy Kayanos to start.
  • Nutrition is huge!! I wish I would have eaten more during my 50 mile instead of doing gels, they messed up my tummy.  And Hokas!!!! My new favorite shoe for long runs!  Oh! And relax… Enjoy the experience of it.

There is some great advice in those responses. I love belonging to a family of runners who are always willing to help someone.

I also asked a fellow blogger for some advice. Friends over at Activeharmony suggested, “Think of the race as running from “aid station to aid station”, rather than an all out 50K.”

Sounds simple, but I needed to hear this. I think it’s a great approach to running a 50k. Since the course that I’m running has plenty of aid stations, there’s one every 4 -6 miles, this will work well.

Another thing I do to feel mentally prepared, is break down the course and know how it’s going to feel. This also helps me create a plan for my pace. Of course this is just a prediction.  But, based on how I felt during my long runs, this is how I think the 50k will feel:

  • The first 15 miles easy, miles 15-20 still easy, miles 20-25 I’ll be working, miles 25-31 I’ll be digging deep and I’ll feel some discomfort (maybe a lot of discomfort).

It amazes me how quickly the effort level can change.  I can go from a nice and easy feeling to having to work rather quickly. It’s like someone flips a switch. Mile 20 will feel easy and then all of a sudden, mile 21 requires focus. Perhaps one day the transition won’t come so early.

In mentally preparing for an event, I also look for articles that help me feel stronger, prepared, confident, etc. I came across this quote and it rang a bell.

Each event is different and it helps build my confidence to be as mentally prepared as I can be. I’ve been tested during a race before; for example, I hit the wall during a marathon in 2010. I felt that I stayed mentally strong and I was able to finish even though it didn’t go as planned. Therefore, I like to come up with some encouraging words or phrases so that when it gets tough I have something positive to say. Otherwise, there are several negative words that pop into my head.  Here are some positive phrases I’ve come up with:

  • I’m well trained.
  • I can do this!
  • I’m going to do this!
  • Pain is temporary!

(Yep, I can sound like a broken record at times. Hopefully I will feel strong and have a great race that I won’t need to use any encouraging words.)

I’ll be putting together a race plan soon.  I’ll share it as soon as I have it completed.

How do you mentally prepare for a race?

Do you have any advice on running a 50k?


This entry was posted on April 15, 2014. 3 Comments

A Deep Sigh of Relief

At this point, I have just over 2 weeks until race day.  I feel like all the hard work/training has been done and I can let out a deep sigh of relief!  And let me tell you, training for this first 50k has been an eye opener.  Remember, I’m more of a short distance runner training for my first ultra.

First of all, I have a new respect for all the ultra marathoners out there.  I knew the ultra distances were challenging, but I didn’t know exactly how challenging until I got out there and trained for one.  And, mind you, I’m running the shortest ultra, a 50k.

Secondly, the training cycle in itself is tough.  I’ve run 2 -22 milers, 2-24 milers and 2-26 milers in the last 12 weeks.  By just completing the training, I feel like I’ve accomplished tons.  Not only did I run the most I’ve ever run, but I didn’t get injured!  The last two times I’ve trained for a marathon, I ended up with injuries.  So, when I took on this challenge, I wasn’t sure how what would happen.

I’ve never been happier to reach the taper phase of a training cycle.  I have enjoyed all the workouts until the first 26 miler.  It was at this point that my feet started to hurt.  Now that I know it was just my worn out shoes that caused the problem, I’m anxious to give my feet some extra rest.

Lastly, my legs are ready for a little break, too.  They were tired during my last long run making the last few miles difficult.

I have definitely challenged myself with this goal.  I’m gonna relax and enjoy the few runs that I have left.  I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there to run the 50k!

This entry was posted on April 10, 2014. 4 Comments

Rookie Move

Over the weekend, I had what I call a “freak out” moment.  I thought that I was dealing with an injury.  I spent time researching it, coming up with a plan and writing a blog post about it.  This is how the post began:

2 Words a Runner Fears……..

Do I dare say, “Plantar Fasciitis?!!”

On Facebook, I recently posted that my feet felt bruised.  I also wrote in a recent blog post that I was having a little issue with my foot.  Well, I do think that my feet were bruised as well as having an unhappy ankle.

This pain led me to believe that I may have plantar fasciitis.  However, something just wasn’t right.  It seemed that when I stretched and then iced, the pain would go away.  I hadn’t heard of this nor read about this happening with plantar fasciitis.  Another factor that didn’t add up was when I woke up yesterday, my feet felt great!  I was under the impression that morning was when plantar fasciitis was the most painful.

Over the weekend, I bought a new pair of shoes and decided to take them on a trial run yesterday since my feet were feeling so good.  When I started off, my feet were a little sore, but the pain was soon unnoticeable.  The new shoes provided just what my feet needed, support and cushion.

I had a great run and felt relieved!  After the run, I did a few of the exercises, stretched and iced.  By the afternoon, I could feel a little soreness, but nothing like I had in the past few weeks. I don’t want to say that all the pain is gone.  But, I think I found the source of the problem.

After letting out a deep sign of relief, I now think that I did bruise the bottom of my feet a few weeks ago and that they have been sore since.  They may be sore until they have enough time to heal.  Hopefully during my taper phase, which is coming up really soon, they will heal.

I have to take full responsibility for this issue/discomfort.  I have always been one to keep an eye on my shoes’ mileage.  Somehow, I racked up the mileage really fast and without being aware.  I had over 400 miles on them which is a lot for those particular shoes and my body.  I guess I’ll consider myself lucky if sore feet is all I have to deal with.  It was definitely a rookie move on my part!

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be taking a 3 day running break which will give my feet a chance to rest.  In addition, I’ll continue to do these stretches to help reduce the chance of getting plantar fasciitis.

  • Calf Raises

Strengthens the tendons in your heels and calf muscles, which support your arch.
To Do: Raise up on the balls of your feet as high as possible. Slowly lower down. Do three sets of 10 reps. Progress to doing the raises on stairs (with heels hanging off), and then to single-leg raises.

  • Step Stretch

Improves flexibility in your Achilles tendon and calf—when these areas become tight, the arch gets painfully overloaded.
To Do: Stand at the edge of a step, toes on step, heels hanging off. Lower your heels down, past the step, then raise back up to the start position. Do three sets of 10 reps.

  • Doming

Works the arch muscles and the tibialis posterior (in the calf and foot) to control excess pronation.
To Do: While standing, press your toes downward into the ground while keeping the heel planted, so that your foot forms an arch (or dome). Release, and do three sets of 10 reps on each foot.

  • Toe Spread and Squeeze

Targets the interossei muscles of the foot, which support the arch.
To Do: While sitting, loop a small resistance band around your toes. Spread toes; release. Then place a toe separator (used at nail salons) in between toes. Squeeze toes in; release. Do three sets of 10 reps of each exercise on both feet.

  • Towel Curls

Works the toe-flexor muscles that run along your arch to increase overall foot strength.
To Do: Lay a small hand towel on the floor, and place one foot on the towel. Using just your toes, scrunch the towel toward you, hold, then slowly push the towel away from you back to start position. Do three sets of 10 reps on each foot.

In case you’d like to read more about plantar fasciitis, here are some good links:


This entry was posted on April 1, 2014. 1 Comment