Archive | February 2013

Running to the beat

It’s time to reorganize my running music.  I enjoy incorporating new songs into my workout music and it’s a good thing since I get tired of hearing the same songs over and over.

While reorganizing, I’ve decided to have 2 different playlists for running.  One will be for my easy, recovery, zone 2 runs and the other will be for my track workouts, hills repeats, and races (when allowed).

It’s easy to find music for the first playlist.  In fact, most of my music falls into this category.  Did you know that most of the pop songs only have 130 beats per minute?  It’s a little more difficult to find the music with a fast beat that is needed for race day.

The reason I’m looking for such fast music is because my cadence usually matches the beat of the music.  One time in physical therapy it was pointed out to me that I was doing my exercises to the beat of the music.  I guess it’s natural to follow the beat of the music.  Well, I’ll put the music to work and hope to get my legs to turn over as quickly as they can.  Since an ideal cadence is 180 (90 per foot) footstrikes per minute, that’s what I’m aiming for.  By the way, I’m nowhere close to 180, but it’s a goal for my track workouts.  I’m not sure it’s realistic on the trails.

Here’s a little blurb I found on cadence.

“Cadence and Stride Length

Your running speed is determined by your cadence also referred to as stride frequency (how often your feet hit the ground) and your stride length (the distance between one footstrike and the next).

You can run faster by increasing one or both of these characteristics. In the Core Running method, you keep your cadence fairly constant across all speeds. You increase your stride length to increase your speed.

There’s evidence that ideal running cadence at moderate or fast is about 180 footstrikes per minute or 90 footstrikes with each foot. With Core Running, we use a range to set our cadence from 160 to 190 footstrikes per minute (or 80 to 95 footstrikes with each foot).

You would use a lower cadence during slower running speeds such as your recovery runs and easy runs while the faster cadence is for speedwork and racing shorter distances. Use the following guidelines to set your cadence:

  • 80 – 85 footstrikes/minute – recovery and easy pace runs
  • 90 footstrikes/minute – moderate running pace, races of 5km or longer
  • 95+ footstrikes/minute – speedwork, races under 5km

(Note: the number indicates total number of footstrikes for one foot.)”

Borrowed from


Some songs that I’ve found with a high bpm are:

Paper Planes

Dancing with Myself


Everlasting Light

Rock Lobster

There are several songs that are good for getting pumped up, but don’t actually have a high bpm (Check the actual bpm if you want to work on your cadence.).  One example is AC/DC’s You Shook me all Night Long (for those of you who know me, does this surprise you?).  And, U2 has a few songs that are great, too!

What’s your favorite workout song?  Do you know the beats per minute?

Wanna read more about music and your cadence?

This is a great link……there are song lists categorized by different bpm.

TGIF! 2/22/2013

TGIF!!!  Even though this was a short week, I couldn’t  wait for Friday afternoon.  Friday afternoons are when I can finally sit down and relax.  After a tough week, I look forward to getting out this weekend for a run and letting my mind drift.

This week I was introduced to a new loop through a neighborhood and on a familiar trail.  The trail is a scenic one, but also technical with lots of rocks and a few hills (ok, several hills).  This loop is definitely my Favorite Find of the week.

2013-02-21 Garmin map run

For those who are in town, here is a map of the course.

Although I like to run in zone 2 most of the time, this was not a zone 2 run!  I looked down at my Garmin and noticed that we were booking along at a 7:45 pace for a stretch on the road.  Once we hit the trail, the pace slowed a bit and the fun began.  Looking at the summary, you can see that we kept a good pace despite the fact that it was on dirt (which slows me down) and all the rocks and climbs.

2013-02-21 Garmin data run

This loop is known as the “Spanish House Loop.”  Now I know why.  What a gorgeous house!  And, what a view they have.  I don’t think I’d do anything but sit in front of the windows and stare out to the lake if I lived there.



This 5.5 loop was a fast and fun loop!  Here are my running buddies for the day.



Girl Power!

I hope you have a great weekend!   Let me know if you’ve been out on any trails lately.

“I’m in the ZONE,”………

“I’m in the zone,”………..Wait, which zone are you in?

My friend and I used to say that we were going to create shirts that said, “I’m running in zone 2 today.”  Or, “I’m really not slow, I’m just in zone 2.”  Why you ask?  Well, if you go from running at a good pace to running in zone 2, you may understand.  Let’s just say that your pace will be noticeably different.

A few years ago, I ran at a pretty high effort level all the time.  I thought that I needed to exert a certain amount of energy in order for it to be a good, quality run.  Boy, was I wrong!  Over the last 2 years, I learned that I don’t have to work so hard to get the results I want.  In fact, most of my runs are at a very enjoyable pace.  Now, if I were just running a 2-3 times a week, it may be different.  But, since I’m running 4-5 times a week, I can run in zone 2 most of the time.

What is zone 2 you ask?  Well, Sally Edwards describes zone 2 below:

Zone 2

60% to 70% of your individual Max HR.

It’s easily reached by jogging slowly. While still a relatively low level of effort, this zone starts training your body to increase the rate of fat release from the cells to the muscles for fuel.Some people call this the “fat burning zone” because up to 85 % of the total calories burned in this zone are fat calories which is equally as important.Fit and unfit people burn fat differently. The more fit you are, the more effectively you use fat to maintain a healthy weight. On the other hand, perhaps you’ve been exercising vigorously, but not losing the weight you expected to. Could be you’ve been working too hard and need to drop back to this zone and exercise longer. To burn more total calories you’ll need to exercise for more time in this zone.

Do you want to read about the other zones?  This article has a lot of great information.

While I’m trying to train smarter and stay in zone 2, I do find myself working a little too hard on some of these hills while running the trails.  I think that it’s time to wear my HR monitor again and really pay attention to what I’m doing.

My favorite part of zone 2 training is that my recovery is so much quicker than when I go out and run at a higher zone.  Here are some other tid bits about zone 2 training……..

What can we expect from Zone 2 training?

The athlete training in Zone 2 is likely to experience the following:

  • Requires a little concentration to maintain in the upper part of the zone
  • Breathing more regular than at low effort (zone 1) but conversation can be continued whilst riding.
  • A low sensation of leg effort whilst exercising, but awareness of ‘having done something’ immediately post ride
  • Quick recovery, and can soon repeat the same effort (as long as nutrition is taken care of).

Taken from this site:

In order to figure out which zone you are in, you can use either chart.  They vary a bit and you’ll have to decide which one fits your body best.  The first is from Sally Edwards and the second is from a different source.  I tend to fit into the second chart better than the first one.


% of Heart Range

Enter Your  heart Rate
Range for Each Zone


50%-60%   – bpm

(example 90 to 108 BPM)


60%-70%   – bpm


70%-80%   – bpm


80%-90%   – bpm


90%-100% – bpm

Here are the zones and the percentage of max HR from a different source:

Zone 1  recovery  60-65%

Zone 2  extensive endurance  66-70%

Zone 3  intensive endurance  71-75%

Zone 4  threshold zone   76-80%

Zone 5a  threshold zone  81-85%

Zone 5b  anaerobic  86-95%

Zone 5c  power  96-100%

I wouldn’t say that I am completely training by the different zones.  However, I was able to learn what the different zones were and how I feel in each zone and then use that information to my advantage.  After all, why work harder than I need to?  There is a time and place to exert a high level of energy.  The rest of the time, I’ll work less, enjoy my run and let my body recover so it is ready to give it’s all on race day.

Do you pay attention to your Heart Rate and the different Zones?  Are you running too hard?  Can you have a full conversation during your run?

TGIF! 2/15/2013

TGIF!…..Another Friday and another great weekend to get outside and play.  This weekend happens to be a 4 day weekend for the kiddos and me.  Unfortunately, Mark (hubby) is locked up at work cranking out numerous tax returns.  Fortunately, he’ll get to take off 1 day to play.

Each week, I’d like to share an outdoor activity with everyone.   I’m going to be sharing pictures of the trails in this area for the first few weeks (maybe months).  I’m having so much fun running and learning the trails around here that I just need to share my experiences with you!!!    I decided to rename it Friday’s Favorite Find since I’ve been exploring new (to me) areas.

By the way, I’d love it if you shared some outdoor activities with me, too!  Tell me about your favorite trail.

This week I went out with some of my running friends to a trail that I had run on once before.  But this time, I approached it from a different start point and we ran a longer distance.  There are so many trails around here that it’s going to take me awhile to explore them all.

The trails surrounding the lake or along the river are beautiful.  Getting out for a run, hike, or ride  is a great way to spend part of your day.

20130214 falcon crest 2

I knew I wanted to run a total of 1 hour 15 minutes this day.  I had a cold so I decided to run it at a very casual pace.  I didn’t mind stopping to take a few pictures along the way since it was a casual run.  Plus, these sights are what make my runs so interesting!

20130214 falcon crest 5

This is one of my favorite pics!  I love old barns.  I couldn’t really see the image as I was taking it because of the sun.  So, unfortunately, it’s a little crooked.

20130214 falcon crest 1

I love the green grass along side the trails.

20130214 falcon crest 3

Another favorite thing to see during a run is a bridge.  This bridge crosses the New York Creek.  I didn’t realize this creek ran out so far.  Uh, I guess I never really thought about where it ended.

20130214 falcon crest 4

We came upon a very over grown area.  I’m really hoping all the bushes were wild berry bushes instead of dreaded poison oak bushes.  I guess I’ll have my answer in the next day or two.  Anyway, I should have known that the trail was closed.  When we reached the street, there was a sign posted………. another sign coming off of the main trail would have been helpful.

All in all, it was a great run with good conversation.   Seeing my long run time increasing is an added benefit!

Have a great weekend!

The BUILD phase has begun!


Last week I started the BUILD PHASE……yahoo! In this phase, my weekly mileage will increase, adding a little to each long run, and I will also add a weekly speed workout or a hill repeat workout (Remember, hills are our friends!).  I love these tough workouts!

track image

My first race (a 10k) is in 6 weeks.   At the moment, I can easily run the 6.2 miles, but I am lacking the speed.  So, the next few weeks will help me prepare for the race by increasing my speed.  In addition, being out on the trails gives me the added experience I need.  Learning to watch my footing and how to run down hill is going to be just as important as running fast.

I enjoy the build phase and look forward to the longer runs.  After spending several months training for December’s marathon, I became accustomed to a weekly long (14-20 mile) run. I really miss those long runs!  Although it will take some time to safely build up to a 15 miler, at least I know that I’m on my way.

During the build phase, I will continue to run most of my workouts at an easy effort (zone 2).  It took me a few years to accept this way of training, but I now prefer it for several reasons.  (I’m working on a post all about zone 2 training).  As I continue to build my fitness, I will remember to decrease my long run every 3rd week to allow for adequate recovery (us older folks have to make sure we get the rest our bodies need).  In addition, I will take into consideration a taper week before the race and a recover week after the race.

The next few weeks will look like this:

BUILD (last week)

BUILD (this week)







Do you plan out your workouts or do you just go out and run?  I’d love to hear what other people are doing to help prepare themselves for their races.

Happy Running!

TGIF! 2/8/2013

TGIF……..It’s Friday again.  And, I’m looking forward to running and then either hiking or treasure hunting with the family this weekend!  What activity do you have planned?

Each week, I’d like to share an outdoor activity with everyone.   I’m going to be sharing pictures of the trails in this area for the first few weeks (maybe months).  I’m having so much fun running and learning the trails around here that I just need to share my experiences with you!!!    I decided to rename it Friday’s Favorite Find since I’ve been exploring new (to me) areas.

By the way, I’d love it if you shared some outdoor activities with me, too!  Tell me about your favorite trail.

This week I went out to the Salmon Falls Trail with about 10 runners from the running group I belong to.  It was an easier trail (a little rocky), the views were gorgeous, and it was fun talking and getting to know the other runners.

20130207 salmon falls 6There’s the Salmon Falls Bridge that crosses the American River

The trail started along the river and then it ventured into the trees with a few rollers.

20130207 salmon falls 1A few runners from our group.

We crossed a few streams and climbed a few hills.  And then I heard a familiar, “moo.”  It wasn’t long until we approached a group of cows hanging out in the meadow.  The first time we passed the cows, they didn’t seem to mind.  But, on the way back, they weren’t happy and they were ready to charge! I was a little nervous since they weren’t fenced in and those cows are really big!

20130207 salmon falls 2Our new friends.

We decided to run a quick 6 miles, 3 out and 3 back.  The views and conversation made it pass quickly.  Not only am I enjoying running the trails, but I’m also having a good time taking a few pictures.

20130207 salmon falls 5On the way back, I couldn’t help but pose for a quick picture.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

BASE phase is almost over……yipee!

Do you ever feel like a crated puppy or a penned up race horse?  This is how I’ve been feeling lately.  The weather has been sunny and warm, I joined a new running group, I’m learning tons of new trails……..I just want to run!

Although, I crave to go out and run for hours each day, year round, I know that this type of training is not healthy and will most likely lead to an injury.  Instead, I am using a cycle of different phases (Base, Build, Race, and Recover) to help me train for my “A” race (main race).

This first phase is known as the BASE phase.  During this phase, I am running at a very easy (zone 2) pace, the mileage is very low (this is driving me crazy!!!!), and I am working on strengthening my body during this time with core exercises and yoga.  This is also the time that I’m teaching my body to use fat as an energy source.  It’s really a time to just sit back and enjoy the sport without working hard (the pro….. workouts are short and easy.  I don’t tend to restrict myself from treats.  The con……I feel like a sloth).  Don’t get me wrong, I am very dedicated to this phase and won’t miss a workout unless I absolutely have to.  This phase will last for 7 weeks.  And next week is my last week in this phase…….yahoo!  I say that, because I really love running and I would like to run more than this phase calls for.

As I was reading more about the base phase, I came across an article that describes the base phase…….“The base phase develops endurance, the foundation of any distance-running plan.” (Training Phases, an Article in Runner’s World)

And, I also came across a great description and explanation of the base phase in a blog entitled, “daily mile, a community blog.”  Someone by the name of Caleb M. wrote an article about the base phase.  This is the image he used and what he wrote about it.

blog Training-Pyramid

“See the bottom there?  (There’s)  A nice big base of aerobic fitness.  It’s kind of a big deal for a whole host of reasons:

  1. Improving your running economy
  2. Improving your cardiovascular endurance
  3. Building general strength
  4. Preparing your body for speedier workouts closer to race day”

By Caleb M. (daily mile blog)

So, the wider the base, the bigger peak you will have (faster times).  It’s definitely worth creating a plan for a base phase, even if it takes a lot of discipline to go short and easy during this time.  Plus, if it prevents injury by giving me time to strengthen my body, I’m not complaining.  No one wants to get injured!

If you look back at my 2010 year, it’s a good example of someone not having a base phase and what can happen when you don’t take time off from racing to let your body rest and then resume with a conservative plan( base phase).  I guess I missed the lesson on all these different phases.  For some reason, I thought I could race and race and race and race.

This is what this year’s base phase looked like.  Not a lot of mileage and most of the runs were at a very easy pace. Each week also included about 20 miles of cycling.

2013 base phase wk 1-5 snip it

Now that I’ve almost completed the base phase, I can say………Let the BUILD begin!

Do you want to read more about the BASE phase?  Here is a great article:

TGIF! 2/1/2013

TGIF……..It’s Friday again.  And, I’m looking forward to a long run this weekend!  What activity do you have planned?

Each week, I’d like to share an outdoor activity with everyone.  It’s my Friday Favorite Photo Post(how’s that for some alliteration?).  I’m going to be sharing pictures of the trails in this area for the first few weeks.  I’m having so much fun running the trails that I just need to share my experiences with you!!!  I’m thinking that maybe I should rename this to Friday’s Favorite Find.  What do you think?

By the way, I’d love it if you shared some with me, too!

20130131 Falcon Crest Trail 3This is a great way to start the day!

Thanks to the running club that I joined (Thank you Bryan for organizing the runs!), I have been able to explore some new trails.  These pictures are from my run yesterday.  Although I ran in the area 2 times this week on different parts of the trail.  It’s absolutely gorgeous out here and I feel so fortunate to live close to these trails.  Not only are the trails 5 mins from my house, but I am lucky to be able to get out and enjoy them!

20130131 Falcon Crest Trail 2

The turkey vultures meet up here, too!

20130131 Falcon Crest Trail

Can you see the vulture spreading his wings?

We actually did some running while we were out there (I hope I didn’t hold us up too long taking a few pics).   This is one of the views we came upon about a mile or so into the run.  Pretty amazing!

20130201_090257Folsom Lake so calm and peaceful.

Not more than a few minutes from seeing this view, we were at the edge of the shallow river that feeds into the lake.  In order to continue the run, we needed to cross over.  Trail running is so much fun with all of the obstacles.

20130201_090858 (1)

We rock hopped across…… wet shoes!

TGIF………..I hope you are able to get out this weekend and play!!!