Archive | December 2013

It’s time to reflect on 2013

It’s time to reflect on 2013.  Usually I look at the races and my times and my age group winnings.  This time, as I’m reflecting on the year, I’m not focusing on those details.  I’m more interested in what I learned about myself as a runner.

In 2013, I made a big changeI switched from road running to trail running.  I have learned so many trails, yet I have so many more to learn.  I have enjoyed every single trail mile that I have run.  I may have been challenged more on the trails than I ever imagined.  Ok, I may have sworn at a hill or two, and definitely when I fell.   But, I am so glad I made the switch!

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One of my favorite pics from trail running.  Yes, I’ve shared it before.

I started off the year thinking that I would run and train for shorter events, not exceeding the half marathon distance.  But, once I hit that distance, something urged me to continue on.  With only 2 marathons, ever, under my belt, I found the desire to be an ultramarathoner.  I learned that even though it doesn’t come easy, I enjoy endurance events.

This year, I learned that I don’t need to always chase a PR.  At the end of 2012, I wanted a break from trying to run a PR at every race.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very competitive and I do enjoy working on my speed.  But, I needed a break, both physically and mentally.  I thought that switching things up in 2013 would help me refocus and lose some of my competitiveness.

What I learned is that I’m going to be competitive in any type of racing.  However, with trail running, I’m not so concerned about my time.  This sounds trivial, but for me, that’s a huge relief.

I was also reminded of how much fun it is to train with a group of runners.  Joining the Folsom Trail Runners group was one of the best decisions I made in 2013.  There are so many nice people and great runners in this group.  For me, running and socializing is a perfect mix!

2013 also reinforced that running helps me through all types of emotions.  Running gives me the time to sort things out in my head.  It allows me to work out my frustrations; it helps me feel better in difficult times.  Running has been a big part of my life for many years and I always feel better after a run.

The last thing I learned about myself is that I am the happiest when I have a personal challenge.  Even though life provides several challenges in general, I need something to call my own.  Running gives me the opportunity to set my own goals and work on something that I’m passionate about.  Running makes me a better person!

Even though I’m not fixated on my times as much as I used to be, there’s no denying that I’m still a numbers gal.  So, here’s to 2013.  It was a good year!  My total running mileage was 1072.13 and my total biking mileage (with tomorrow’s ride) was 833.20.

2013 total mileage

Even though I ran about 30 miles less than in 2012, I don’t feel anywhere as tired.  My cycling mileage was about half of the previous year.  This allowed more time to run those miles.  So, was it a restful year?  Well, mentally it was.  Physically, I’m not sure.

What did you learn about yourself and running in 2013?

Do you keep track of your mileage from year to year?

Amendment…….

I ended up running on 12/31/13 changing my total mileage for 2013 to the following:

Bike – 821.20

Run – 1076.81

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Update week 2……

I just completed week 2 of the 20 week plan.  The plan alternates between hard and easy weeks.  This made week 2 an easy week and boy was I thankful!

The week looked like this:

Mon – 4 miles

Tues – cycle 40 mins.

Wed – 4 miles

Thur – 4 miles

Fri – REST

Sat – 6 miles

Sun – REST

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Pretty easy week, huh?  Well, like I said, I was really thankful because there was a ton of fun going on in my family life and I needed the extra time.

Although the mileage was low for each run, I had heavy legs on Thursday which meant one thing.  I ran too fast on Wed.  Should I be using some of these shorter runs for speed workouts?  I’m not sure yet.  I think the purpose of the easy week is to let your body fully recover and get ready for the next week’s build.

Next week is going to be challenging with longer runs and more holiday fun.

Happy Holidays!!!  I hope you are able to find time to get out and run!

Another Routine to Add to my Workout

During rest and recovery each year I spend time strengthening different parts of my body.  The last few years, I’ve focused on my core.  Unfortunately, 3 years ago I had a sacroiliac joint injury that forced me to change a lot about my training.  You can read more about that injury and rehabilitation here.  In the end, the changes were good and there is no doubt that strengthening my core has kept me running and injury free.

I didn’t make these changes on my own.  I sought help from physical therapist, Mike Beretta at Beretta Physical Therapy here in El Dorado Hills.  He helped me learn how to strengthen my core, and has continued to help me stay healthy when I have little issues with my SI joint so that I can continue running.  During this time, I became a fan of physical therapy.  A few sessions make a huge difference for me.

This year when my lower back went out and caused an incredible amount of pain, I had no doubt that I would spend some of my rest and recovery in physical therapy strengthening my upper body.  Although my back issue isn’t a running injury, I learned that there are a few things relate to my running that could have contributed to it.

For one, I started carrying a hydration pack that probably didn’t fit me well.  I also started carrying it when the temps were high and I was running several miles (18+ trail miles).  This meant I threw on a pack that didn’t fit me well with 50 ounces of water. Instead, I should have trained my body to carry a pack gradually. Some people may be able to do that without any problems.  But for me, I didn’t have the strength to do it and it contributed to the problem.

The other thing that I learned was that although my lower back was in pain, the main problem was coming from my mid to upper back.  Muscles that I needed to use weren’t strong enough and so they tightened up and other muscles had to compensate.

What I’m doing about it:

*I changed my pack.

*I am running with a small amount of water in it and for shorter runs to train my body.

*I went to physical therapy to work on loosing up the muscles in my upper back and strengthening the ones that I need to use.

As a goal for 2014, I will be strengthening my upper body.  After completing a few sessions of physical therapy to help heal my back, I was taught how to strengthen my upper body.  And, now, I have a good solid home routine.

I’m reminded that if I want my body to perform well in endurance events, I need to spend the time strengthening it.  

These are some of my workout buddies:

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2012 foam roller

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I use this equipment to help build upper body strength.  I do stretching, push ups, bicep curls, rowing, tricep exercises, and more.  Don’t worry, even after all these exercises, you won’t confuse me with the Incredible Hulk.

How much time do you spend on strengthening exercises?

Back to Training…….

After taking a few weeks to rest and recover, I just completed the first week of a 20 week training plan.  I love following a plan.  It gives me structure for the week, but more importantly, it helps me achieve a goal.  I’m a very goal oriented person, in case you hadn’t figured that out.  As soon as I check off one goal, I’m working on the next one.  This time around, I’m working on a 50k run (31 miles).  I’ll be running mileage that I’ve never logged before.  I’m really excited to take on this challenge.

Last week was one of my higher mileage weeks for 2013.  32 miles isn’t a huge number, but this year I was keeping my mileage around 30 miles per week.  I was giving my body some much needed rest.

2013 week 1 50k

I finished the week with a nice 16 miler along the trails that skirt Folsom Lake.  Most the time this trail is very scenic, but this time of the year there isn’t much water in the lake.

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These 16 miles are part of the race course.  I feel fortunate that I’m able to train on the actual course.  I’ll be running different sections of the course throughout my training.

This week is considered an easy week.  I’m looking forward to  letting my body recover from some hard work and getting ready for next week’s build.

At home, I’m working hard on strengthening both my core and upper body.  I already have a core routine built into my week.  I do the routine 3x/week. I’m still working on making my upper body routine a habit.  And, of course, I make time for lots of stretching.

Thank you Larabar!

I look back and am puzzled as to why I was reluctant to try my first LARABAR. I guess I never was a fan of dates. Once I tried a Peanut Butter Cookie bar, I was hooked.

One of the reasons I tried a LARABAR was because I knew that the bars were a healthy, clean, nutritious snack.  The bars are made with very few ingredients (like 3 or 4) and all the ingredients are real food ingredients.  Seriously, you have to try one.  Scroll through the different flavors; there has to be one that you’d like.  When you click on the different flavors, you can also see the natural ingredients.

I usually buy the peanut butter flavored LARABAR, but wanted to try a few other flavors.  I was thrilled when LARABAR sent me 5 flavors to try.

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I received these flavors:  Cashew Cookie, Pumpkin Pie, Snickerdoodle, Pecan Pie and Carrot Cake.  I added in my own Peanut Butter Cookie.

I decided over the next 6 days I would try each one and decide which ones are my favorites so I could add some variety to my diet.

The results……….By far, my favorite is the Pecan Pie flavored bar.  My second favorite was the Pumpkin Pie.  I still would choose the Peanut butter over the other flavors.  However, a strong contender for third place is the Snickerdoodle flavor.  I’d say the Cashew Cookie was pretty good, too.  And, I didn’t care much for the carrot cake flavored bar.

Not only do I eat the bars for a snack on a non run day, but I pack one in my bag for after my run.  The bars have a good carbohydrate to protein ratio (ie 23 carbs 6 protein) and have about 220 calories.

Since I’m using “real” food for fuel out on my long trail runs, I’m hoping to use these bars as part of my fuel.

If you haven’t tried a Larabar, please do.  They are super yummy!

My only complaint is that I can’t find the most the flavors that I like in my area.  I’ll be placing an online order soon!

This entry was posted on December 11, 2013. 3 Comments

My Next Challenge……….

After having a great first year on the trails, I decided I’m hooked and want to continue trail running for a long time.  I actually knew this about 6 months into the year.  I love the scenery and I love the challenge of the trails.  In addition, I don’t have as many aches and pains like I did when I was road running.  Although for the record, I’m not done road racing.  I’m just taking a break.

I’ve decided to train for my first ultramarathon.  The 50k (31 mile) run will be on Saturday, April 26th.   I chose another Folsom Lake Trail Run.  I know the course well and Inside Trail Racing always puts on a great job with their races.

After decided on my next challenge, I needed to figure out a plan.  I looked through a few and decided that this is the training plan that I’ll be using.  You can check out the 20 week plan here.

Although I’ve never trained with alternating hard/easy weeks, I think that my body will appreciate this, especially since there are a lot of long runs and the weekly mileage is high, for me.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous about the weekly mileage.  In 2012 when I was training for a marathon, I ran my highest weekly mileage (45 and 46 miles per week).  I felt like that was a lot, but yet I will be running many more miles per week in this training plan.  Bring on the challenge!

I did make a few modifications to this plan.  Everyone is different, and I’ve learned what my body can handle.  Running 3 consecutive days will do more damage than good for me.  So, I will substitute cycling for one of the short run days.

Running the day after my long run probably isn’t needed for a 50k and again, I feel like it would do more damage than good.  So, I will take a rest day the day after my long run.

My week will consist of 4 days of running, 1 day of cycling and 2 rest days.  In addition, I will be stretching like crazy, working on my core 3 days a week and strengthening my upper body 3 days a week.

Training starts today!  I hope you’ll follow me on my journey.

Wanna join in? Let me know and we can support each other!

This entry was posted on December 9, 2013. 4 Comments

Road Trip (part 3, the finale, with another run!)

We were on the road again to our final destination, Zion National Park.  We intended on getting to the park earlier, but we were having fun stopping and exploring interesting sights along the way.  After all, we didn’t have to stick to a strict schedule; we were on vacation.

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Once again, we arrived in the pitch dark.  Going to bed we knew that we would awake to a great view.  We just didn’t know how amazing it was going to be.

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We were fortunate enough to stay in the Zion Lodge right smack in the middle of the park the first night.  When I awoke, I went straight for the window.  We were surrounded by enormous rock walls.  The sun was shining on the rocks making them even more impressive.  I was anxious to get out and explore Zion.

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After breakfast, we headed out for our first hike.  We walked along the Virgin River to the farthest point we could.  The cool weather and cold water prohibited us from hiking into the narrow canyon.  We’d like to return during the summer to hike farther back into the canyon.

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We also hiked to the Weeping rock where we saw a rock alcove with dripping springs.

Our last stop for the day was to Checkerboard Mesa.  It looked like a checkerboard on a huge rock.

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The rocks walls in Zion show different layers just as the Grand Canyon did.  However, the rocks in Zion are made of sandstone.  Erosion from wind and water make unique patterns on the rocks.

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Although I didn’t run, I enjoyed hiking (we hiked a few miles) and spending the day outside with my family in a beautiful National Park.  I had many things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving.

I awoke on Friday ready to run and explore some of the trails in Zion.  I headed out and found a trail along the river.  It was a paved trail and at first I wasn’t thrilled to be running on pavement, but then I reminded myself that I can actually look around when I’m running on cement.  When I trail run, I focus on the trail instead of what is around me.

Zion run

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This was my view while running!

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A run along the river, not a bad way to start the day!

I ran out and back and decided I wanted to run a little longer.  I noticed a dirt trail and went to explore it.  I hadn’t run very far on the trail when I decided it was getting pretty remote and I didn’t feel comfortable out on the trail by myself.  I had already run over 5 miles so I decided I would call it a day and head back to the hotel.

We ate breakfast, got packed up and made plans for our final day in Zion.  The four of us hiked to the Emerald Pools.  The water is tinted green from the algae that grows in the water.

20131129_130017Along the way to the Emerald Pools

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We then decided to split up.  The boys went off to hike a more technical trail, while we girls went to watch a film about Zion.

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While watching the film, we learned that there are some petroglyphs easily accessible to see.  Once the boys returned from their hike, we took them on a walk with a surprise at the end.  I haven’t seen many petroglyphs in my life, but I find them interesting!

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We enjoyed seeing the wild life in Zion.  We saw mule deer, big horned sheep, and a ringtail during this trip.

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We take our time when walking around and look for tracks.  Here we saw a mom and young deer’s tracks.  Jordan pointed out the different sizes and the fact that they were probably running since the tracks are angled.

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Although none of us wanted to leave, we knew that we had to start our 2 day journey home.

Arizona and Utah offer so much to see. I feel like we saw a lot in such a small amount of time.  Perhaps this was more of a sampler plate.  We had a memorable trip and we hope to go back soon.

I am thrilled that we were able to explore some of the most beautiful national parks together as a family.  Both my husband and I love the outdoors.  We are doing as much as we can to teach our children to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors.

This trip also concluded my phase of rest and recovery.  Stay tuned for my next running goal.

This entry was posted on December 6, 2013. 4 Comments