September 7, 2016: HR Training Check-in

Reporting in on day 10 of the AMR Heart Rate Training Excellent Half Marathon Plan.
Today I covered more ground in 60 minutes at 140bpm (actually 136 bmp) than ever before on this plan. I’m pretty stoked. And I did this in spite of feeling a little under the weather – I actually went home sick yesterday and was in bed by 5pm. Hmm; perhaps tons of rest does help.

Some Strava stats – and a sweet alliteration!

I’m sure the 73 degree tempurature helped tremendously. On the run this morning I felt a tiny bit feverish but still, my HR stayed low, my effort stayed easy. I was a chatterbox with my husband who forgot his earphone and was thus trapped into conversing with me. Every mile I picked up the pace for 20 seconds. And can I say, thanks to this particular workout, I’ve come to discover that 20 seconds is a magical length of time? I feel like I’m barely getting out of 1st gear when the 20 seconds is already done, and it’s time to bring the HR back down. In fact, I feel like I could endure anything for 20 seconds.
The only downside I’m experiencing lately is a noticeable lack of energy, not just during my workouts, but for much of the day. I am still following a LeanGains-type fasting window (I only eat between 11am and 7pm) so I’m thinking that once I get to a weight that I’m happy with (I’m trying to get down to around 125lb – fasting is working but the weight loss is very, very, very slow), and I start fueling more evenly throughout the day, my legs won’t feel like lead weights during my workouts. I still think its a good habit for me NOT to eat past 7pm. But before I started fasting, I’d wake up and sip on a sports drink just before and during my early morning runs, and that little bit of sugar really made a difference. But I haven’t been doing that lately.

Hope you are making progress with your training!

September 6, 2016: My HR training journey begins (well, it began about a week ago)

I have followed quite a few training plans: Higdon, Galloway, Hansons, and McMillan, just to name a few. I try to stay very faithful to the (running aspect of the) plans, so when I reach an outcome, I don’t spend too much time wondering if the outcome was a result of the plan or my deviations from the plan. No, instead I totally blame the plan!! Kidding!

After trying ALL of the plans over several years in an effort to qualify for the Boston Marathon (an effort which was simultaneously successful – I BQ’d – and unsuccessful – I still wasn’t fast enough to make the cut), I was facing some serious burnout, both physically and mentally/emotionally. This past May after my hamstring decided to sabotage my latest BQ attempt, I picked myself up after the race and put together a mashup the plans I’d successfully followed, with the intent to try (again) at the Ventura Marathon (the one that is happening next weekend, in fact).

I joined a gym so I could get out of the searing desert heat for my long runs. I didn’t want to take any chances that I wouldn’t be able to train at a hard pace. My PT was very encouraging of my recovery and my goals. I embraced strength training. I aggressively shed my marathon training weight. I was all in.

Or so I thought. Because as it turns out, I wasn’t all in. I wasn’t in at all.

Peg and Al Bundy – because why not? Oddly, running in that wig wasn’t that terribly difficult.

I was heartbroken. It felt, well…it felt like shit to have qualified for Boston and not make the cut. There’s no other way to put it. Boston qualifying times are basically invisible moving targets. As a runner who is not a “gifted athlete” in any way, in order to qualify for Boston I trained myself into the ground in order to run at the cusp of my speed potential. Three times. And in the end it wasn’t fast enough. Maybe I’ll never be fast enough?

If I’m being totally honest, I went into Mountains2Beach with a fearful attitude. Because I was totally afraid. Not of not qualifying. But of just barely qualifying. I mean, what would I do then? Wear myself out trying yet again? Wait to get cut again?  If you haven’t gone through that, I promise you this: you cannot imagine how demoralizing it is to wait out that registration week, to get that rejection, and to read the joyful responses from those who did survive the cut. It sucks. Trust me. No amount of rationalizing makes that experience suck any less.

In any event, I went into M2B fearful; I had a plan B race and I told my husband if I felt like I wasn’t having a good race at M2B I’d just drop out (yes, DNF) so I could try again in a few weeks (why get hurt right)? But then my hamstring… It blew up I guess. And that was at mile 15-16. I should have just stopped right there, but I knew in my gut that even if I had, I wasn’t going to be able to run hard in a few weeks. I was done. So I crawled to the finish line.

My desire to stay in the fight is strong, though. So initially I did. Until one day in July. July 17th to be exact. I completed an 18 mile training run nowhere near where I needed to be. I could see the writing on the wall. During that 18 miles I cried. I walked. I beat myself up mentally. And by mile 18 I knew I needed to let this goal go.

I’m an avid follower of all things Another Mother Runner: the books, the authors, the podcasts. It’s a great running group. And I knew they had a heart rate training plan. I thought perhaps that heart rate training would completely shift my focus from speed to effort. It sounded like exactly what I needed. So I signed up!

This is my exciting shuffle-walk-shuffle “recovery run” (trying to keep it under 120bpm). Every peak represents me apologizing to my husband for having to walk to get my HR back down. Folks, this is the stuff!

I am now a little over one full week into the AMR “Excellent Half Marathon” Heart Rate training plan. I find myself feeling ambivalant about this plan.

On the one hand, my ego takes a solid beating everytime I look at my statistics on Garmin, Strava, and now Training Peaks (where the plan is posted) as well.

On the other hand, something inside me is overjoyed that I don’t have to worry about running fast (at least, for now). Anxiety has been noticeably lifted; for me, that is a BIG deal.

The plan suggests a PR is possible at the end of this journey. I’ve (tentatively) selected the Phoenix Rock and Roll Half Marathon as my goal race. My current PR (from a downhill race) is 1:50. I feel like my faith in my ability to improve as a runner would be restored if I could beat that time next January.

So I guess I’m all in again.


August 1: HR training fail…

So today was supposed to be my first day officially on an HR plan (although the “real” plan doesn’t start for 4 weeks). So I went out for 45 minutes at 14bpm and, of course, my Garmin wouldn’t display my heart rate. I kept restarting the run but no luck. I could only see my HR when my Garmin was in regular watch mode. And this just pissed me off every time I looked at my watch, so much that my HR would jump into the 150s with the slowest jog. So I mostly shuffled and walked. My husband said I landed on a strange feedback loop where looking at my high HR made my HR stay high. Well wtf…

January 2, 2016: Trippin’

January 2, 2016 Training Log:

  • Type: Fast Finish Long Run (fast finish didn’t happen)
  • Miles: 10ish
  • Time: 1:41ish

What’s with the “ish?” Just past mile 9 of this morning’s run, we were crossing a street and I tripped and fell.

Okay, let me flesh out some details there; we did not cross the street at the intersection that I ALWAYS cross the street at. Why? My hubby, who I was running with, didn’t want to wait for the light. Since it was early and there were few cars on the road, he wanted to cross further up (like, as in jaywalking). So when the street was clear, we dashed across the street. And I tripped and fell.

I am a notorious tripper. I just am. It happens when I’m tired, or when I’m zoned out on music or a podcast, or when I’m otherwise distracted and not paying attention to the path below my feet. I’ve tripped on the tiniest pebbles. In fact, I have tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. Today, I think the very idea that we were jaywalking (my rule-following brain was short-circuiting from the idea) was such a distraction than when it was time to cross, seeing that there was no traffic anywhere, I decided that I needed to dash across the street as if my very life depended on it. And in my sloppy, tired (mile 9 of 10), partially-blinded-by-glaring-sunlight attempt to cross, I failed to consider the various lane markers and bumps that sat between me and the other side of the road. And just like that – SPLAT!

And then I totally freaked out. Splayed out face down on the ground, I rolled over and cried for help. I think it sounded like HELP ME UP – HELP ME UP – GET ME OUT OF THE STREET – WAH WAH WAH!! Something like that. Because that split second fall happened in slow motion for me, and it seemed like many minutes had already passed from the time I’d left the side of the road to the time I hit the ground; as a result, I was certain there must be a car approaching, ready to barrel over me!

Once at the side of the road, I sobbed like a baby for a minute – I was FREAKED out. My hand was throbbing; my knees were throbbing; my chest was throbbing. As I assessed the damage, I figured that the places on my body that were throbbing had actually landed on the lane markers when I fell. I figure I must have hit those lane markers – and the asphalt – at about 6-7mph. DAMN those hurt!

It was a shitty way to end an otherwise beautiful run. I posted a run selfie on Instagram from about mile 3 of the run. The sky was clear, the weather gorgeous, and I was feeling great and loving my run. I prefer to remember it that way, even as my body stings with pain hours later!

Are you a tripper?