Tag Archive | trail running

How to Get Up that Hill!!!!

I guess I was naive when I first started trail running a year ago.  Sure I knew that there would be a roller or two on the trails that I’d be running.  And, yes, there are trails that have a roller or two.  But, mostly there are trails that have hills.  And I mean lots of hills!  Perhaps the challenge of the hills is one reason I love trail running.

Hills aren’t a bad thing.  They make you stronger, they challenge you and they can even give you the sense of accomplishment.  However, they can also defeat you at times.  By doing hill repeats, I hope to eliminate being defeated.

It’s time for me to start adding some hill repeat workouts into my schedule.  I plan on doing them every Monday.  However, I will still follow the intent of my training plan.  On an easy week, I will complete an easy hill repeat workout and on a hard week, the workout will be hard!

When I’m doing hill repeats, I think of a few things to help me get up the hill:

1.  Keep my body upright

2.  Look straight ahead or a bit up the hill, not down at the ground

3.  Pump my arms

4.  Shorten my stride

5.  Hills are my friends!

I also have to remind myself that it’s ok to walk up a long or steep hill.  Sometimes it’s better to conserve the energy for other parts of the run.  In fact, there are times when you may be able to power walk up a steep hill faster than running up it.  If this is the case, I use the time on the hill to my advantage.  I drink or I eat as I climb.

Do you do hill repeats?

What tips help you?


Update week 5…..

I just finished week 5 of the 50k training plan.  This week was considered a hard week and I definitely worked hard.  But, at the same time, I took 3 rest days this week, which is unusual for me.

The workouts were supposed to be:

Mon – 8 miles

Tues – ride 40 mins.

Wed – 6 miles

Thurs – 4 miles

Fri – rest

Sat – 20 miles

Sun – rest

2014 week 5 mileage

I completed the planned mileage, but ended up accidentally running 10 miles on Wed.  How do you accidentally run?  Well, I had planned to run 6 miles.  But, somewhere along the way I dropped my phone. I knew I had it with me on the way back home at the 4 mile mark.  I completed the 6 miles and got home before I noticed that it had dropped.

Of course, I had to go back searching for it which added on another 4 miles (2 miles out and 2 miles back).  This meant that I ran a total of 10 miles on Wed.

I never found my phone, but another trail user did and he/she turned it in at a nearby visitor’s center……..lucky me!

Since my mileage is already increasing each week and I had a long run planned for Saturday, I decided not to run again on Thursday and to rest both Thursday and Friday.  Taking a rest day doesn’t mean I do nothing.  I made sure to take the time to complete my core and upper body workouts on Thursday.  Then, I got a bunch of errands done.  Although I was on my feet, I didn’t do anything with high impact.  I wanted to be well rested for Saturday.

Saturday’s run was both fun and a success.  At this time, 20 miles on the trail is still challenging for me.  I started off with my running club (Folsom’s Trail Runners).  There were about 30 of us running different distances, but along the same trail.

2014 20 miler

It was an out and back run along Folsom Lake.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much water right now which takes away from the view.  But the sections of the trail with a lake view are breathtaking.

2014 20 mile run pic 1

Photo by Edd

There’s something peacefully about running through the oak tree covered sections of the trail. This run covered 2/3’s of the actual race day trail.  I feel lucky being able to practice on it.

2014 20 mile run pic 2

Photo by Edd

I consider the run a success.  I feel like I fueled well.  I ate about 200 calories per hour.  I ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches cut into pieces as well as 1 bag of Stinger chews.  My hydration plan went well, too.  I had plenty of water since I was able to refill at the half way point.  I still feel like there could have been a better plan for my electrolyte intake.  I’m still doing some research on this.

I also noticed that my legs are getting stronger.  This is only the 3rd time that I have run 20 miles on the trail.  At mile 18 my legs still felt strong.  It wasn’t really until the last mile that my legs felt tired.  Each long run from now on will help build that strength.  There is still plenty of time to increase my strength and mileage before race day.

I’m definitely ready for an easy week!  Plus an easy week gives me the opportunity to break in my new shoes.

20140113_094727I went with a pair of Asics GT 2000.  They are the 2013 model which means I got a screaming deal.  It’s hard to pay the big bucks when I’m replacing my shoes so frequently.

I’m still debating about which pair of trail shoes to get……….

What was your first pair of trail running shoes?

Shoe Alert!

When did you last replace your running shoes?

Have you checked your shoes’ mileage lately?

I feel like I am continuously buying running shoes!  I purchased my current pair of running shoes and wrote about them in early Oct.  But, here we are again.  It’s time to start thinking about a new pair.

I knew it was getting close to the time I would need new shoes.  I decided to check the mileage, as numbers don’t lie.  I log my runs into Training Peaks and it quickly adds up my total for any given time period.

2014 shoe mileage

As of this morning, I have run 326.85 miles on these shoes.  By the weekend, I will have over 350.  By next week, I’ll have closer to 380 miles.  You can see that the miles will add up pretty quickly.  This means, I need to go shopping!

Not everyone needs to replace their shoes so quickly.  But, most people need to replace them around 400 miles.  I tend to replace them between 350-400 miles.  Since I’m not running in the high end shoes anymore, I don’t get as many miles out of them.

One of the ways I can tell that I need new shoes is a little ache in my knee.  When my shoes are new and provide the needed support and cushion, I don’t get this pain.  When my shoes have many miles on them, the pain resurfaces.

If you are unsure when to replace your shoes, this Competitor’s article may help you out.

You may wonder why I keep bringing up this idea of replacing your shoes?  Well, during one year, I didn’t pay any attention and ended up with an injury.  It was an injury that could have been prevented.  When I did calculate the miles, I had close to 600 miles on that pair of shoes.

How often do you replace your shoes?

Does your body tell you when it’s time for new shoes or do you check your mileage?

Do you run until your shoes fall apart before replacing them?

Happy New Year!

A new year means new goals, of course.  What’s on your list?

I usually have a long list of races I want to run.  However, this year, I found I need to work on a few things to become a stronger runner.

These are my goals for 2014:

Run at least 1 if not 2 50k (31 miles)

Continue to learn new trails……There are still so many to explore!

Become stronger:

*Be consistent with my core routine

*Be consistent with my upper body routine

*Start doing squats and come up with a plan

Eat more protein:

I’m aiming for 60-80g a day

20g of protein 4 times a day


Create a bucket list of races

That’s it for now!  I’m sure I will add to the list as I still have ½ a year unplanned.

Have you made your list yet?

Do you plan out the year or decide along the way?

What’s your favorite goal for the year?

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!

2013-04-18 spring pic 2

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?


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

Bike – 821.20

Run – 1076.81

Folsom Lake 35k Trail Run Recap

I arrived at the race site a little before 7am.  It was a crisp, 42 degree outside.  As the sun rose, the view of the lake was beautiful!  I could tell, it was going to be a great day.

2013 35k morning

After I checked in and pinned my race bib on, I started to debate whether I would wear a second layer on the top.  I talked to a few runners and made a final decision.  I decided that I didn’t need the second layer.   I’d probably be cold for the first few minutes of the run, but I wouldn’t have to carry anything later on.


My homemade disposable arm warmers……..My daughter’s old tights.

I found some of my friends from the awesome running group, Folsom Trail Runners.  We gathered together to listen to the race details.  Before long, we were off.  I was glad we were towards the back so that I would be forced to go out slowly.  After all, I’m a sprinter on my way to becoming an endurance runner.

The first mile went by quickly.  I glanced at my watch and noticed that I was going faster than I wanted to, but I was having a hard time letting the competition go.  This is where I need to work hard.  I need to focus on the event being my own race and not trying to keep up with the front women.   However, coming off of a taper it’s difficult to do.  It’s definitely a work in progress.

Having run these trails several times, I was familiar with the course.  I knew exactly where the rollers and hills would be as well as the aid stations.  As we approached the first aid station, I saw another Folsom Trail Runner cheering us on.  What a nice surprise to see a friend out on the course!

After the first aid station, we had a few gentle climbs.  Looking back, I probably ran them too hard.  Again, having tapered and feeling well rested, it’s hard to control the pace.  I was trying to keep my effort level low and just putt along listening to my music.

I approached the second aid station.  Inside Trail Racing does such a good job with the aid stations.  The volunteers were very friendly and helpful.  Each of the stations had wonderful snacks and plenty of liquids.  I drank at each aid station, but had packed my own food (mainly because I’m picky) and my own water.

As I approached the turnaround point, the leaders passed by me since this was an out and back course.  I arrived at the third aid station, which was also the turnaround point, feeling strong.

Here are my splits for the first 11 miles.  You can see that I kept a pretty consistent pace.

2013 35k pace miles 1-11

Soon after, I passed by some friends.  Beth was nice enough to stop and take a picture of me running.

2013 35k Jen running 2

This next section of the trail was hard.  There were some good climbs and we were already 12 miles into the race.  I arrived at the next aid station still feeling good, but ready for more water.  I had my hydration open and ready to be filled.  I probably should have refilled at the half way point like I had originally planned to.

Again, I’d like to compliment the volunteers for being so friendly and helpful.  The man took my hydration pack and refilled it for me, put it back together and put the pack back on me.  It felt like a full service station!

Once I realized I only had a little over 6 more miles to go, I couldn’t help but smile.  I was still feeling strong and I knew that the terrain of the last 3.5 miles wasn’t very difficult.

Another mile into the run I started to feel a little tired.  I was surprised at how quickly the fatigue set in.  My confidence was a bit shaken, but I was still running and moving at a good pace.

It was great to see the last aid station.  I decided to eat a shot block to see if a little boost could help me finish strong.  I also drank a few cups of water and made sure I had enough in my pack.  After the quick stop, I was on my way again.

Now, I had already said that I was going out for a 16 mile jog before a 10k race.  I had expected that the race wouldn’t really start until close to the end.   Somehow I knew that those first miles would feel great and then I would either pay for going out too fast, or feel the muscle fatigue or perhaps I would feel ok towards the end.  I had even planned to negative split the run.  Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work out.

When I hit mile 18, I had to start working hard.  I wasn’t smiling anymore.  I have to say that the last 3.5 miles weren’t completely disastrous since I was able to run.  Perhaps I was paying for going out a bit too fast or maybe my legs are still getting used to this distance on the trails.  Either way, my legs were tired.  At one point I stopped and rubbed my quads for a bit.

As soon as I reached the flat part of the trail, I tried to pick up my pace.  That only lasted for about 30 seconds when I realized I was exhausted and a slower pace would be just fine.  I cheered myself on; I could do this!  I was so close to the finish.

I came around the last turn and saw the finish.  Although I wasn’t moving very fast, I couldn’t have been happier to cross the finish line.  I consider my first 35k to be a huge success!  I finished in 3 hours and 32 minutes.


Another great race put on by Inside Trail Racing

Based on the goals I set in my race plan, I had an awesome day!  I recently read an article about setting goals.  The article suggested setting 3 different goals.  One for a good day (something you can almost be guaranteed to accomplish), one for a great day (something that you have trained for, but you have to work harder for), and one for an awesome day (again, something you’ve trained for, but you have to work hard and pretty much everything has to go well).  Preparing different leveled goals will help keep you positive even if it isn’t your best performance.  After all, many times getting to the start line is a success in itself and one that we should celebrate.

Since this was my first 35k and longest trail run ever, I decided my goals would be as follows:

On a good day, I will go out slower than I am used to and I will finish my first 35k.  These are my main goals.

On a great day, I will finish in 3 hours 47 mins.(10.5 min/mi pace)

On an awesome day, I will finish in 3 hours 36 mins (10 min/mi pace)

I’d like to clarify that an awesome day doesn’t mean it was easy!  I had to work very hard towards the end.  In fact, I worked harder than I thought I would.  I’m happy to say that while I was working hard, I didn’t once let any negative talk enter my head.  I stayed calm when I felt the pain (and believe me, my quads were yelling at me) and used my positive talk that I had prepared.

Gotta love small races……..I was the 3rd women finisher and 2nd in my age group.  The first place woman beat me by 25 minutes.  Then, Amy, also from Folsom Trail Runners was the second women.  She beat me by 14 minutes.  These women were fast!

2013 35k awards

Here I am with 3 other Folsom Trail Runners who also had a good race

Things I felt went well:

*My nutrition was planned and tested on my long runs.  I ate 1/4 of a peanut butter sandwich every ½ hour.  And, I’m still glad I carried my own sandwiches even though there were plenty out on the course.


Six 1/4 sandwiches fit in this tiny SPIBELT

*My hydration plan was good.  The only thing I should have done differently is stick to my original plan of refilling at the half way point.

*I also used 1 salt tablet every hour.

Lessons I learned:

*I really need to start slower.  Finding that magical pace will be what I’m looking for.

*I need to pack Kleenex.  Allergies and/or a mild cold AND cold mornings make eating/drinking AND breathing difficult.

2013 35k top 20 finishersTop 20 finishers