Wintertime Training

Although we had a good run of mild temperatures and sunny days, winter weather has inevitably settled in over Central Ohio. In fact, the first ice storm of the season made an entrance late last night, leaving the streets and sidewalks covered in a slippery glaze this morning. Weather like this not only makes driving dangerous at times, but also leaves running trails and paths less than safe to walk on. I went to bed very late Friday night (or very early Saturday morning, that is) after hearing the news that MIT was cancelled due to inclement weather – the first time that has occurred since I began running with them. While this is a smart call to keep all runners and walkers safe and injury free – on the roads in transit and on the trails – for newer runners or those that may have not previously trained in the winter, it poses an interesting challenge to getting in the scheduled workout.

Ice on my sidewalk!

I remember when I trained for my first half marathon with MIT over two years ago, in my mind it was imperative that I got my workouts in as scheduled. Any deviation from my training plan, planned or not, was stressful and I was initially convinced my hard work to date would be sabotaged. Since then, of course, I have learned how to adjust or tweak my training plans and mileage to my schedule while still getting in the desired workouts and miles. Re-scheduling or modifying a planned workout is not as big of a stressor as it once was, but I understand how difficult it can be for first-time runners. For example, our Cap City Half Marathon training schedule for Saturday said two miles. At least it was a fallback week, right guys?!

So, what exactly should you do to get in your workout and adjust your schedule accordingly? Below are some of my tips to keep you moving when the weather makes an outdoor workout less than ideal:

(Even though you might really want to stay in bed like these girls!)
  • Treadmill up (unless you’re more like me and view the treadmill more as a dreadmill). While I’m lucky enough to have one in my living room, I don’t use it very often. However, it is more than convenient for shorter runs – like this week! I could crank out two or three miles without (too much) of a problem and without even leaving my house, which is nice when the weather is not-so-nice. If you have a membership or access to a local gym or athletic club, you could use the treadmill or elliptical there (after the roads are cleared, of course). Once in awhile, it serves as a nice change of pace to outdoor running.
Sadie probably uses this more than me!
  • Pop-in an aerobics, Zumba or other workout DVD. Anything that gets your heart rate elevated can be substituted for a cardio workout gained purely by running.
  • Focus on your strength. Develop an at-home strength-training routine. You don’t even need the equipment of a gym to be successful! Your own body weight can serve as the only tool you need to work those muscles. Some good strength training moves for runners in particular include lunges, squats, sit-ups, push-ups, planks and leg lifts. You can also use strength-training DVD’s including Yoga, core-workouts or any other of the multitude of celebrity at-home training programs.
  • Turn your house into your own personal gym. There are many things you can at home to get your blood flowing faster. Jog up and down your stairs, do jump-rope or jumping jacks or even give your space a swift cleaning from top to bottom. You would be surprised how many calories you burn while performing regular household tasks a little quicker than usual.
Run, Mom, Run!
  • Switch it up. Substitute your rest day for a day when you can’t get outside and run. For example, although MIT didn’t meet on Saturday, you could get out and run on Sunday, which is typically slated as a rest day. Spend time doing routine family activities on the day you’re home instead and make it known you plan to get out the next day for an hour or so. Most families and friends are more than understanding when you make your plans known ahead of time. Call up a friend or training partner and see if they would like to meet you to make up the miles together. This, way you stay accountable and stay moving, which is the ultimate goal.
  • Whatever you decide to do, don’t panic!If you miss a workout due to unforeseen circumstances, which happen to all of us at one time or another, you won’t derail your training. Pick up and get back on track the next day if you can’t make up a workout. As long as you aren’t regularly missing your runs and make the most of your outdoor runs, you’ll be just fine!

So, while you may not be able to get outside when the weather doesn’t cooperate, but you can still get a good workout in to boost your heart-rate, improve endurance, build muscular strength and flexibility and burn calories. Above all else, relax, have fun and stay safe when you do venture out this winter season.

Until the next mile marker,

Building Your Mileage Base

Without question, one of the most important things to focus on during marathon and half marathon training is to safely build a mileage base. This is why you training plans gradually increase the weekly and long distances over the duration of the plan. The basic training for all distance running and racing is endurance training. This is because, as a runner, you must acquire the stamina to run for long periods of times or for long distances. Long runs, which most people run on a Saturday or Sunday, are therefore known as your Long Slow Distance (LSD)run.

Follow Me on PinterestBase building means starting from a lower base of infrequent mileage and progressing to more frequent runs including two, three or four shorter runs and one long run per week. For the beginning runner, base building is most commonly defined by building regularity in training at consistent, easy-to-moderate effort levels while high-intensity training and speed work is left to more experienced runners who have already established a base. While base building, mileage should increase by no more than 10 percent each week (for your total weekly mileage, including your LSD) and intensity should be kept at an easy to moderate level. By following the increases in the training plan, you are steadily building a base to help you to run strong and hopefully injury free. As you progress in your running career, the base building phase diversifies to include short and long easy runs, hills runs and interval speed workouts.

This is called the 10 Percent Rule.  For example, If you’re running 10 miles a week now, and you want to increase your training, run 11 miles next week. And 12 the week after that. And 13 the week after that. This may look like agonizingly slow progress, but in just 8 to 10 weeks, you could be running 20 miles a week. Your mileage will only increase from there. For many runners, this is seemingly slow progress and the biggest challenge is often their own enthusiasm – you feel great, you want to run more and more! And at first, while sticking to the 10 percent rule may seem painstakingly slow, it will lead to astronomical amounts of running compared to where you started.

Another important factor of base building for the beginning runner is cross-training because it serves as active rest for the running muscles. By alternating running days with cross-training days, your body can train at a higher frequency without the risk of injury from running back-to-back days. Cycling, swimming or any other types of aerobic activity are good cross-training activities for runners. Total body strength training one or two days a week to begin with can also contribute to your running success by building strong muscles, tendons and joints to withstand the impact of running. Complete rest days – with no strenuous activity at all – are also important in allowing your body time to recover from your workout and be ready for the next one.

The base building progression is different for everyone depending on your fitness level, exercise, sleep and eating habits. The important part is that you are increasing your mileage gradually and conditioning your body to run for longer distances and longer amounts of time. Following an easy progression of miles builds not only your cardiovascular endurance, but helps strengthen the muscular and connective tissues that enable your body to tolerate long training runs. As a beginning runner, building a sound mileage base is more important than getting faster. Take it from me as a 13 minute mile Coach, slow is perfectly fine! There will be plenty of time to develop speed and agility as you progress through your running career. For starters, you must create the building blocks to keep you running healthy, fit and strong so you can get to the starting line of your first distance race.

Until the next mile marker,

2011: A Year to Remember

I’ve been reading everyone’s posts recapping 2011. It seems like the thing to do with the New Year only two days away.  It’s inspiring to read back over your victories, races, accomplishments, challenges, struggles and goals – especially the joyful times. Last year on this day, I wrote my own recap and it was happy. My mother started running in 2010 and I said then that she [Mom] has once again reminded me that no matter what you think stands in your way – it doesn’t – you can still accomplish your dreams if you put your heart into it.

Mom and I finishing her first 5K in August 2010.
 I closed with this:
As I lace up my shoes, zip up my jacket and head out the door this afternoon for my last run of 2010, I have a lot to be thankful for. A lot to be grateful for. And a lot to look forward to. I hope you do too. My sincere wish for each of you is that you have a happy and safe New Year, and I can’t wait to see where the new year takes us. I’m already looking forward to reading your blogs. Happy New Year from us.

It’s funny how everything changed on April 21, a short four months later. 2011 was horrible. There’s not really much I wish to remember. In all honesty, I wish I could just forget. My life changed forever a little after 2:00 p.m. on that day when the local police called to tell me there had been an accident and my mother was being taken to the hospital. What I didn’t know until I got there was that she had passed away. I can’t ever change that. 2011 ripped my one of the people who loved me the most right out of my life without even a chance to say goodbye. The last time I saw her? After a six and a half mile run the Saturday before and we went to breakfast with our friend Wendy. The details of that morning? They’re fading faster. The last thing she texted to me I’m going out for a four mile run! Love you, angel!The last thing I said to her? I don’t remember.

Sure, there were some memorable times in 2011. Even some happier times, but everything is overshadowed by how much I miss her and how lonely I am sometimes without her by my side. So many questions, so many things left undone. Not unsaid, my mother knew how much I loved her, just undone.
We ran Cap City, the race she had been training for, in her honor:
Cap City Memory Bib we wore.


The Lucky 13’s getting ready for the race.


Mollie & Me after the race.


Julie finishing the Cap City 1/4 wearing Mom’s Bib #.

I ran Pittsburgh, my first full marathon, with the unexpected help of my dear friends:

After the Pittsburgh Marathon.


My friends drove all the way to PA to surprise me on the course – AND RUN WITH ME!

I kept running even though I wanted to quit:

Westerville Rotary Fourth of July 5K.


Me & Mollie on the Fourth of July.


Running in the rain.


2011 Race Club. I’m in there somewhere.


Me & Mollie after the Columbus Half.


Mollie & Me at the Veterans 5K.

I continued coaching the Lucky 13’s with MIT.

I was honored to receive the Spirit Award from the Columbus Marathon in October:

My friend who nominated me Dave, Me, Michael & Dad.

We carried on the family Thanksgiving Day Tradition:

I know there are good things on the horizon for 2012.

Continued reporting for Pace Per Mile Radio:


Representing FitFluential as an Ambassador to inspire others to achieve their health and fitness dreams:

Pace Coaching, of course:

And my biggest challenge, happening soon, The Goofy:

Spending time with the ones I love. I’m not taking them for granted.

And more blogging, you blogland friends, have been with me through the darkest time in my life. Your support, love, encouragement, sympathy, understanding and friendship has not gone unnoticed.

But, I also know 2012 won’t even be the same. Every joy is laced with sadness too at all that is left undone. Opportunities lost. Death is so final. You can’t demand a redo. I never knew what that felt like before this year.

So, for as much as I wish I could forget, I will remember. For my mother. Because she would never want me to forget that I love running – and so did she.

My wish for you all? A joyful New Year filled with love, happiness, friendship and good health.

Until the next mile marker,

Pace Points: You’re ready to run, now what should you wear?

I’m getting really excited because this Saturday is the kick-off of the Marathoner In Training (MIT) 2012 Winter/Spring Session! If you’re new to my blog and don’t know, MIT is my passion! It was created here in Columbus in 2000 by a group of individuals who wanted to pursue their passion for running. Since then, MIT has grown to become one of America’s foremost leaders in endurance training. Today, MIT utilizes 45 dedicated coaches and trains runners and walkers from all levels of experience towards the successful completion of their goal race. MIT is not just for marathon training, whether your goal is a 5K, half or full marathon or even a multi-sport event, MIT will provide comprehensive training in a supportive atmosphere that will enable you to meet your goals and make plenty of friends along the way.

I trained with MIT in the summer of 2009 and went from being inactive to completing my first half marathon with my friend and training buddy Chrissy. Since then, I have made countless friends and companions through MIT, some of who have helped carry me though one of the darkest times in my life. Now, running has become my lifestyle and the people I train with have become my family.

I can’t wait to welcome all of the new faces (and welcome back the old) at our first workout on Saturday! This year, I am once again coaching the 13 minute per mile group with co-coaches Duane and Judi. We have a lot of great things in store for our runners, and I know I will have awesome stories to share with you.

Part of my job as a Pace Coach is to help newer runners find and navigate the wealth of information that exists about running and answer questions. I also hope to blog about some of this information in hopes that it can offer advice to my readers and followers.

So, without further ado, let’s get this thing going!

One of the most common questions asked by cold-weather runners is what to wear for your workout. Below are some tips that I have found helpful to dressing smart for wintery workouts.

One of the most important things to remember is not to overdress. Even though it is going to get cold outside and snowy, you should keep in mind to dress as of it is 15 – 20 degrees warmer outside than it actually is. You should be a little chilly outside when you first start running. If you are hot before you even leave the house or take a step, you are overdressed. A lot of mornings, I will get dressed to run and then take my dogs out. If I am warm just walking to the yard, I have on too much!

To stay warm and dry in winter weather conditions, be sure to dress in layers of breathable fabrics. Do not wear cotton – it is not breathable and holds in moisture. When you sweat, the moisture stays against skin, potentially making you uncomfortable and cold. Instead, you want to wear what are referred to as technical fabrics. These are breathable fabrics that wick perspiration and moisture away from the skin. You should look for fabrics that are 100% Polyester or otherwise described as “wicking” or “technical.”

It is also important to dress in thin layers. This allows moisture to be removed from the bottom layers and away from the skin, keeping you warm and dry. Dressing in layers also allows for freedom of movement when you are running and you can remove the outer layers if you do get too warm. In terms of the top half of your body, the minimalist approach is the way to go, especially with milder temperatures like we have been experiencing. For example, you may wear a long sleeve technical shirt and then a windbreaker or similar running jacket. You can find technical fabrics at specialty running shops or regular department stores like Target, Old Navy and Kohls. Champion makes a good, inexpensive technical line with a variety of styles that you can experiment with if you are just starting out. In terms of the bottom half, leggings or tights can be beneficial because they are not too suffocating and allow for increased freedom of movement. I have a pair of Brooks thermal running pants if it is going to be extremely cold outside. You do not generally need to layer up on pants because it can be cumbersome. Keep in mind to look for technical bottoms as well.

Also, don’t neglect your feet! I highly recommend getting fitted at a specialty running shop for footwear. I shop at Fleet Feet Columbus. Generally, a running store staff is experienced at assessing your gait, pronation and running form to fit you in a pair of shoes that will keep you not only running comfortable, but help to keep you running injury-free. In addition, you should wear technical (non-cotton!) socks to keep your feet warm and dry when running through snow and water. You should not double up on wearing socks, which can cause chaffing and blistering. Ladies, I have also found it beneficial to get fitted for a sports bra, which most running shops can also do.

You may also want to wear a light pair of gloves; many runners prefer the fingerless type so they can still use their hands without too much hassle.  I found fingerless gloves at Target in the dollar bin and bought a bunch of pairs. It’s great because I tend to lose them or ruin them and for $1, I don’t have to worry about it.

A hat, ball cap or headband that covers your ears is also beneficial in winter weather to keep you warm and keep moisture out of your face and eyes. In the case of extreme cold (less than 40 degrees) be sure to cover your head with a breathable hat and wear gloves because you lose most of your body heat through your extremities. If it is windy, you may want to invest in a neck gator to keep the wind off your face. You can also put Vaseline on your skin (around your mouth, nose and cheeks) to keep from wind chafing.

As with many topics in running, it’s all about what works for you! Try different things during your various runs to find the combination of clothing and footwear that you prefer.

Happy winter running, friends!

Until the next mile marker,