Tag Archives: ultra training

Back on the (Running) Horse

I’ve become a total slacker, not running, barely going to yoga or weekly (just weekly!!) boot camp. Except for the magical Loon race, I really haven’t been running.

It’s a mix of being unmotivated, lazy, and rather taken over by the apartment hunt (nothing yet). Plus, the heat! I am personally responsible, however, for ending our heat wave in the Northeast, and you’re welcome. How did I do it? I singlehandedly lugged home a borrowed air conditioner, hauled it in, and installed it in the kids’ room, all on my own, without crushing my feet, cutting a finger, or dropping it out the window. I am a total rockstar. And that feat literally broke the heat wave, overnight.

I clearly have superpowers.

But anyway. I can’t run in the heat. Not like I’m a wimp, but I had a heatstrokey experience a few years ago (heat exhaustion, heat-related illness, what have you, I don’t know the proper term — let me just say it was Rather Bad), and since then I tolerate heat/humidity even less well than I did before, and so a recent afternoon running-in-the-heat attempt turned into a mere two-miler that left me beet red, dry-skinned, superhot, and feeling chilled. Yeah. I don’t sweat well. So. I officially give up trying to work out when it’s hot and humid.

While I’d made my peace with becoming one with my chair/sofa, I also know that I need goals. And my planned September 50-miler can’t happen, because I haven’t been running. Time to get off my ass and do something about this before I melt into a sad puddle of endorphin-less squish.

Oh, I love the endorphins.

Plus, with so many things in my life up in the air right now, I need something regular to count on and to do for myself that’s positive. Also, I “met” this woman while training for my ultra last December (we only met online, ran the race near each other [me somewhere behind her], and still haven’t met in person), and she’s very inspiring. She’s been training hard, recently won a 50K, and posts all her training online. I love following it (she’s also a vegan and posts pics of her meals — also inspiring). And it has inspired me to get off my ass and get back out there.

So I finally downloaded a marathon training plan, pinned it to my wall, and am sticking to it. I downloaded some new tunes to my iPod (a healthy mix of Sia and Highly Suspect, if you must know) and knocked out five miles today. Alone. Happily, even. With some box jumps on a big rock near the end of the run.

Race plan:

  • July: Mudderella (5-mile mud/obstacle race, pure fun)
  • September: Trail half marathon, followed two weeks later by a road half marathon
  • December: Trail ultra (yes, will use the marathon plan to get my mileage up and then build up from there)


It's just an intermediate training plan, but i's a good way to get my mileage back up.

It’s just an intermediate training plan, but i’s a good way to get my mileage back up.

Seriously, the new songs helped a lot. I haven’t updated my playlist in four years. Ugh. No wonder I don’t want to run!

And the half marathons on the training plan sync perfectly with a local half on a weekend I don’t have the kids (win-win!). However, I’m not sure how I will manage my weekend runs when they’re here. Make them bike alongside? For 14 or 20 miles?? Remains to be seen. I might have some 4 a.m. weekday runs in my future. We’ll see. I will definitely have to tweak the training based on when I have the kids, but I’ll get it all done and mark it all off as I go.

Plus, right above this training plan on the corkboard is this delightful drawing by Ben, which I love so much:



I think he was four when he drew it, and while it looks as though Max might be about to take a swig, if I recall correctly he’s poised to throw something at Ben, according to the artist — who might be holding a self-defense rock in the drawing, come to think of it. Sweet, sweet children (no, seriously, they are — JUST THIS WEEK they started playing board games together, checkers mostly, and this morning Max was teaching Ben to play chess! You have no idea how much pure joy this brings me).

What are you training for? Who or what inspires you? How do you get off your butt when you’re becoming one with your chair?

24 Miles in the Woods

I did another long trail run this week. I wanted to have a stronger run than I did last time, and I wanted to do three loops of the trail I’ll be racing on in a few weeks, just to know that I could. The race is four loops, so three seemed to be a good training peak — the 20-miler, if you will, if this were a marathon.

A fellow trail runner (and ultrarunner) agreed that three loops would be a good confidence booster.

Three loops, by the way, is 24 miles. That’s hard to think about sometimes, these days, so I simply viewed it as three loops.

Thanks to the excellent local trail running community, I found someone to run with on Wednesday. He would join me for two loops, and I’d do the last alone. We had a similar training pace goal of two hours per loop (don’t scoff: with this trail, that is a healthy pace).

There's a lot of this on the trail.

There’s a lot of this on the trail. As in,THIS IS THE ACTUAL TRAIL. See the blaze on the tree up there?

Unlike my two-looper a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sleepy this time. Nor was I craving eggs and toast. I’ve really been packing in the protein, by which I mean eating ridiculously large amounts of red meat. Yes, I do occasionally consider going vegan, but I love beef. Keep your chicken, pork, and fish, but I need cow. I crave it. Maybe it’s an iron thing. Anyway, I’ve been eating a lot of it, and I’ve been feeling really strong.


Gorgeous, right? I love this trail. It’s so much fun to run, and so beautiful.

The first two loops went great. I stayed at two hours per loop, bidding farewell to my running partner halfway through our second loop (he wanted to slow down a little and take it at his own pace). I made a very quick stop at my car to refill my water bag (the bag itself didn’t leak this time but the mouthpiece did, so I had a wet leg instead of a wet lower back. I’m still not sure what I’ll do on race day — use it, or carry a handheld, which might annoy me).

Oh, also this time I brought new fuel with me (and was in new shoes — apparently my thing this year is to break out brand-new shoes for my prerace long run!) What’s that about nothing new on race day? Right! That’s why I headed out for a 24-mile trail run in fresh-out-of-the-box Cascadias and some Honey Stinger Waffles, which I’ve never tried before (YUM). I also had a peanut butter chocolatey granola bar from Costco. Probably on race day I’ll need a little more fuel but hopefully not much — I don’t want to lose a lot of time in the marvelous aid station.

I was definitely going to keep to a two-hour goal for the third loop. I kept track of my pace this time instead of just meandering along. I mean, I noted how long each mile was taking me. I hit the fire tower (about halfway) a little early, wooo-hoooo! Right after that, I ran into a parent of one of my son’s friends, and he asked how long I was running, and I said I was at mile 19 (!!!) and then had to revise it to say “halfway through my third loop.” I mean, come on, isn’t that so much easier to think about?

On I ran. And ran. I didn’t quite push it, but I wasn’t easing off.

And I finished that third loop in 1:55, five minutes ahead of my goal.

Talk about a confidence booster! I now feel a lot more ready for the race. I know anything can happen on race day — GI issues, ice, blinding sleet, a turned ankle. But I’m excited. I’m a lot more excited than I’ve been about a race in a long time. I’m glad my first ultra will be on my home turf, even though this is one of the tougher trails around.

And now it’s time to eat, run, rest, repeat. And head to Philly to visit and old friend and do the Philadelphia Half Marathon with her. And eat some more. Did I mention my appetite has been insane?

This race is a big head game for me. It feels like the perfect goal for me right now, running-wise. Can’t wait ’til race day!

“Don’t Give Up”: Back into Ultra Marathon Training

I’m back! Back to running! I got my mojo back, or my groove on, or whatever. A lot can happen in a week, and after practically giving up my ultramarathon goal last week (and almost giving up on running altogether), this week I decided to buck up, fight harder, and stop whining.

OK, well, part of why I decided to get it together was that someone commented, on Facebook, on my “I give up” post:

Pish Posh Julia! Get out there and do something. You got me running. I’m running my very first half marathon mid September. I’m starting to burn out. But if I can turn it around so can you! Let’s do this!

Pish Posh, I think, is what nice people say instead of Bullshit or Are you fucking kidding me? Pish Posh. I should try using that expression for a while. The commenter in question is someone I have known since kindergarten. That is a million decades ago. She had really cool blue eyeglass frames, which apparently I talked about a lot, and I clearly recall when my mom first met her: “I’ve heard so much about you and your blue glasses!”

Anyway, we didn’t stay close through high school, but we spent much of our childhoods together, and we’ve reconnected on Facebook. And when she pish-poshed me, I recalled when she started running, not too long ago, with a couch-to-5k program. I encouraged her, reminding her she could do it and totally had it in her.

And here she is running her first half marathon and throwing my words right back at me. That, friends, is what got me off my ass. It’s what made me think, Wow, yeah. How often have I said, “You can do it! Baby steps! Mind over matter! Believe!” to a new runner? How did I manage to forget that mantra?

So pish posh, I decided to believe in myself again.

Saturday, I ran 7.25 miles on trail. I could have run farther, but I’d gotten a ride to the trail head with some other runners and had to head home when they did. The next day I went and ran another 7.5 miles on trails. Yes, my legs felt a little tired.

Tuesday, I missed my run, but Wednesday morning I got out there and ran 10 road miles. Ten miles! Before breakfast! A weekend long run, midday! It helped a lot that one of my running friends joined me for the middle five miles.

Thursday, five trail miles.

Today, another rest day. Tomorrow, I run 10 or 15 miles with a local trail-running group and then Sunday, 15 or 10 (depending on what I run tomorrow) with some of my usual trail-running friends.

I’m trying to get to bed earlier, eat more protein, and take better care of myself so I’m motivated. I’m starting to think like a runner again, in terms of nutrition and such, which feels nice and normal. One change I’ve made is to add protein powder to my day. I used to scoff at the stuff, arguing that you should just eat real food. Yes, yes, you should. But mornings here are harried, and I often found myself not eating breakfast. So I bought protein powder and now make a point of downing a glass after a run. It helps.

Speaking of going to bed earlier, I’m going to bed now. I have a lot of miles to run this weekend (but oh! Not as many as next weekend, which calls for 26 miles one day and 10 the next! Are you kidding me??).

I can do it. Thanks, Mary, for the kick in the pish-posh. 🙂