Update: June 2015

Yeah, it’s been awhile!

June was my lowest mileage month in a long time; I didn’t even manage to hit 40 miles! However, it’s not because I wasn’t running. Just most of my runs were a lot shorter. Why? I’ve been coaching East Nasty’s Couch to 5k group, Potato 2 Tomato!

As I mentioned in my goals for the year, coaching a Couch to 5k group was something that I thought I would enjoy. And I really do! There are 200+ participants in the program, so we are broken down into pace groups with 3-4 coaches assigned to each group. I was assigned to the 13 min/mi group.

Right now we are on week three of our training, which consists of a 90 sec run, 90 sec walk, 3 min run, and 3 min walk repeated a number of times (Monday we did it twice, Wednesday three times, and Saturday we will go four times). Everyone has been great so far! We started them on hills yesterday because the goal race is the Tomato 5k in East Nashville, which is, uh, a little hilly.

Since these runs are at a slower pace with walk breaks, I’ve been trying to fit in 2-3 runs at my own pace each week as well. Motivation has been tough when the heat index is over 100 degrees for two weeks straight!

I also traveled a bit during June. Earlier in the month, I flew to Chicago to second shoot a wedding. It was a great respite from the heat in Nashville! My longest run of the month was while I was there, a four miler down part of Magnificent Mile and the lakefront trail.\

Chicago lakefront trail

View of the city from the trail

Last weekend, Jonathan and I got away for the weekend at a bed and breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina. We had a great time exploring the Biltmore, going hiking, and enjoying Asheville’s cool vibe. We ate lots of great food too, including the B&B’s fantastic breakfast, tapas at Zambra, and delicious sandwiches at Tupelo Honey Cafe.

biltmore estate

So far summer is going great! Going to have to start building up the running a bit more soon though.

13 Tips for Your First 5k

My friend Chris, who I’ve known for about eleven years now, will be joining me at the start line on Saturday for his first 5k race. He started Couch to 5k earlier this year and finished it a few weeks ago. I’m so proud of him! Considering how long it took me to get through Couch to 5k, he has done such a better job starting out than I did. 🙂

He messaged me and said he was nervous, so I told him I’d write up some tips for him. Here ya go!

nashville predators fangtastic 5k

Photo from 2013 Fangtastic 5k
Source: Nashville Predators

  1. Pay attention to what you are doing a couple days out from the race.
    Eat well in the days before the race. Drink lots of water! And don’t stay up too late; get plenty of sleep.
  2. It’s okay if you don’t sleep well the night before, though.
    Nerves, anxiety, and excitement can keep you up the night before a race. Early start times don’t help (though, thankfully, that’s not an issue for this race). Studies have shown that the sleep the night before a race is not really important. Just try to get some sleep the night before that!
  3. Lay out all the stuff you’ll need on race day the night before.
    You’ll be less likely to forget something, and you won’t have to figure out what to wear while rushing around early in the morning. If you go to packet pickup before the race, go ahead and pin the bib on your shirt and attach the timing device to your shoe (not all races use these, some timing devices are attached to your bib). Not sure what to wear? A good rule of thumb is to add 15-20 degrees to the temperature it will be for the race and dress like you’re going for a walk in that weather.
  4. Study the course map before the race.
    Most race websites will post the course map, along with the location of any water stops. Check it over before the race so you know what to expect. If you think you’ll need to hydrate more than what they provide on the course, bring your own water. Make sure you check the elevation map too; if there’s a large hill right before the finish, you’ll need to conserve some energy for it!
  5. Don’t do anything new on race day.
    Race day is not the day to wear new shoes, new clothes, or eat anything new for breakfast. That is what training is for. The only thing new you should be doing is pinning a bib to your shirt.
  6. Get there early, especially if you are doing packet pickup the day of the race.
    I’ve seen packet pickups with no wait and some that I’ve had to wait 20 minutes in line for. It all depends. So if you are doing packet pickup the morning of the race, I’d aim to get there an hour early. That will give you plenty of time to park, pick up your things, attach your race bib, use the restroom, and get in some warm up time without feeling rushed.
  7. Don’t start in the front.
    Unless you are in a larger race with corrals, it’s going to be up to you to pick where in the crowd to start. The people in the front are the fast ones. The people in the very back are the walkers. Middle of the crowd is your 8-10 min/mi group. Pick where you think you would fall in. If in doubt, choose further back.
  8. Don’t start too fast.
    You will start too fast if you aren’t consciously thinking about it. Adrenaline will naturally make you run faster than you do in training. This, coupled with the fact that you are running with a bunch of people who are passing you, will make you want to take off faster than you have ever run. And you will get worn out quickly. Be conservative when starting out. You can pass all those people later when they realize that they’ve started too fast.
  9. Run the tangents.
    Race courses are measured by using the shortest distance possible to finish them. This means on curvy roads, the shortest path is straight down the middle and not following the curves. When you run a race, usually a watch or any other run tracking software will probably say you ran further than the race distance. This is because it’s nearly impossible to run all the tangents, due to other runners. But try to save yourself from adding too much extra distance to your race by running all the tangents you can.
  10. It’s okay to walk.
    Plenty of people run/walk or just walk races. That doesn’t just apply to 5ks either, as I know plenty of people planning to walk the Country Music Half next month. People aren’t judging you, and you aren’t a failure if you feel the need to walk. Sometimes it’s the little boost you need to get to the finish line. However, make sure you follow race etiquette: if you decide to walk, make sure there’s no one directly behind you and move over all the way to the right!
  11. Don’t worry about your time; it’s an automatic PR!
    This goes for every race of a new distance that you do. If you’ve never raced it, you don’t have a time to beat! Enjoy your first race and don’t be concerned about numbers.
  12. Don’t stop after you cross the finish line.
    Keep walking around for a bit to cool down. I know you are tired and probably want to sit, but get in at least 5 minutes of walking so it’s not a shock to your body when you stop.
  13. Eat something right after you finish.
    They offer you free food for a reason. Your body needs protein and carbs after you run (the sooner after you finish, the better), so grab a banana, a doughnut, or whatever else they are offering.

Most of all, have fun!

Week of 6/10/13 – 6/16/13

Nike+ isn’t showing my Sunday run on the graph, once again, but the totals are right.

week of 6/10/13 to 6/16/13

After taking Monday as a rest day, I knew I needed to head out on Tuesday. However, driving home from work, my car told me it was 96 degrees outside. Ninety. Six. Not counting the 50% humidity. I didn’t want to die, so I opted for the treadmill, which I suspect I will be living on through July and August. It’s been a couple months since I had ran on the treadmill, so I had forgotten how much easier it is. Pacing is no problem since it controls your speed. I don’t have to worry about hills. No wind. I also forgot that it’s boring. Especially when Roomba ate your headphones and you haven’t gotten a chance to fix them. It didn’t matter. I blew through my 28 minutes I was supposed to run for Couch to 10k and did 33 instead. Still only 2.5 miles since I paced myself slow on purpose. On a 1% incline, I started at 4 mph and increased 0.1 every 2.5 minutes, ending up at 5.1 after 30 minutes. Then I ran 2.5 minutes at 6 mph, using the last 30 seconds as a jogging cool down. That workout would have destroyed me three months ago, but it was a piece of cake now. Although the workout room didn’t feel a whole lot cooler than outdoors, and I had sweat literally flinging off of me as I ran.

Wednesday was even hotter than Tuesday with the heat index topping out around 100 degrees, so I took a rest day and went out on a date with myself to see “Spirit of the Marathon II” for inspiration. The documentary follows seven people running the 2012 Rome Marathon and leading up to it. Inspirational, it was! I don’t know if I’ll ever run a full marathon, but I’m convinced I need to do it in Rome. (Paris would be cool, too, but I’ve never been to Rome.) I got a bit of a laugh when one of the runners went to buy some “runner torture devices”, aka the foam roller and the stick. It also managed to make me tear up in parts. Just see it if you get the chance.

I wanted to get up early Thursday morning to fit in a mile, but my soleus was still kind of hurting. Will it ever heal? I went to see She & Him at the Ryman Thursday evening, so it turned into another rest day. Probably for the better, since I really need my calf to get better.

Friday I drove up to Clarksville to visit my parents and got up early on Saturday to put in 6 miles of intervals. Strava had a challenge to run a 10k that day, so that is what I did. For the first mile, I did 2 minutes running, then 2 minutes walking. For the second and third miles, I increased to 3 minutes running. Then went up to 4 minutes running for the fourth mile. I wanted to increase again for the last full mile, but I was on a section of road where I was running into the sun and was low on water, so I ended up doing more of a 1:1 ratio again.

10k splits

Overall, I finished 10k in 1:17, which isn’t too bad considering it’s only the second time I’ve gone that distance. Hopefully I will be a little faster at the actual race in a couple weeks.

strava any way 10k finisher

My legs weren’t feeling too bad, so I went out on a recovery run on Sunday evening. I didn’t have an exact distance/time in mind, other than I wanted to do at least a mile and if I did a full 5k that would be pretty cool. But I didn’t want to push myself. It was supposed to be recovery, after all. I paced well on the first mile, but sped up after that and wore myself out after 2.8 miles. So just short of the 5k, I walked for about 3 minutes before finishing it out with a light jog. Still, I ran for over 32 minutes straight. Does that make me a Couch to 5k graduate since the last day is to run for 30 minutes straight? Even though I didn’t really run a full 5k? I’m counting it. On to the 10k!

App Review: 10k Trainer for Pink

10k for Pink is the app I use for my Couch to 10k training. It is a fourteen week program, with the first eight weeks being the normal Couch to 5k program, so if you’ve already graduated from the Couch to 5k program, you would start with week nine.

It is a pretty simple app. You select the day you want to complete, press start, and the app will audibly tell you when to warm up, walk, run, and cool down. You can control your music from it, as with most running apps. I usually start it and run it in the background, so it’s just click a button and forget it.

If I’ve already warmed up before I start the app (so I can take longer than five minutes), you can easily skip ahead to the start.

Sometimes I do workouts that complete one of the days without the app running. In that case, you can just double click any day to check it off.

Also, I have the free version, but if you upgrade to the paid version of any of Zen Labs’ apps, they donate 5% to the Breast Cancer Foundation (hence the “for Pink”).

Negative things? I’ve had one workout that had a typo and said I would be running 20 minutes, when I actually had to run 22. Also, make sure your phone isn’t on vibrate or the voice prompts won’t work. Otherwise, I’ve never had any problems with the app; it does exactly what it says it will do! I was mildly disappointed when I got it that the first eight weeks were Couch to 5k instead of a slightly more 10k friendly workout, but I am happy to have that base now, so we’ll see how weeks nine and on go!

App Grade: A

Week of 6/3/13 – 6/9/13

week of 6/3/13 to 6/9/13

I took Monday off, still feeling the strain in my soleus. However, on Tuesday it felt a bit better, so I went out on a slow one mile run to see how that felt. I could definitely still feel it, but I could tell it was getting better. I still decided to take Wednesday off, so I wouldn’t push it.

Thursday morning I headed out to the greenway. I decided to do untimed intervals, running when I felt like it and then walking till I recovered, just to make sure I was going easy and not pushing too hard, especially on hills. I managed to squeak out just over four miles, which made me pretty happy.

Later that day, I headed down to Atlanta to see The Postal Service (which was awesome) and went to Six Flags the next day. Obviously, I didn’t get any running in, but I think all the walking really stretched my legs out nicely.

Since I’m running a 10k in less than a month (!!), I was a little worried that my week off had set me back on Couch to 10k. I decided on Saturday to do the first day of week 9. Normally, this consists of four intervals of 10 minutes running with a minute of walking recovery in between. I could still mildly feel my strain, so I lengthened the walking bits to 2-3 minutes each. However, I did complete all four repetitions of running without issue (besides being completely sore and exhausted afterwards), so yay!

Sunday morning I awoke to a thunderstorm. I waited for a break in the rain, then decided to head out. My warm up mainly consisted of looking for my water bottle that my cat Oscar had run off with and hid behind my nightstand the night before. I had decided to do day one of week 8, so 28 minutes of nonstop running. About half a mile in, it started sprinkling, and turned into a full blown rain after a mile. But I pushed through the rain and wind and completed the 28 minutes, running 2.5 miles. It felt great! Oscar promptly ran off with my earbuds when I returned, so I suppose my next warmup will consist of looking for those.

My calf seems to be doing a lot better. It’s still a little sore, so I’m being diligent in foam rolling, using the Stick, and wearing my leg compression sleeves to keep it loose. Hopefully I won’t have any more trouble before next month’s 10k!