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A short ode to hill repeats

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Hill repeats are speedwork in disguise
Driving knees and long strides
Make for quick feet and strong thighs
Over pavement the runner glides
Taking on harder climbs

I have always felt like summer and hill repeats pair perfectly together. I am sure this stems from training for cross country for eight summers and hill repeats are the perfect way to slowly edge into speedwork. Running hills will develop the leg muscles – particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles – which ultimately get your body ready for the intensity of speedwork. My fondest memory of this work-out was my high school coach having to load us up on a bus and drive 15-2o minutes out to find a hill. One of our favorites was Cowman’s which is a hill in a middle of cow pasture on the outskirts of my hometown. It was a sharp climb that made your calf muscles burn but we knew that we would never see a climb like that in a race.

Even in the flattest areas, you can find a hill. Another favorite hill repeat place of my high school coach was an underside of an overpass. Into college, I would do hill repeats in the summer on that overpass blaring Red Hot Chili Peppers the whole way.

Most recently, I had an urge to find a hill and climb. I relied on an old favorite 10x 30 seconds hill repeats with a jog down. I was able to go a bit further each time and afterwards, I knew I deserved my beer.

Where is your favorite hill? Do you incorporate hill work into your training plan?

Cara
@carabyrd

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RUN FASTER!!!!!

Thanks to everyone who watched my Women Empower Active Interview last week!! I had so much fun chatting about goals and answering questions. Thank you for letting me be part of your community! If you thought of other questions you wanted to ask, you can leave them in the comment section of this post, and I will answer them.

In the interview, I talked about goals. It was mostly a positive discussion, so I thought I would give you an example of pursuing goals in a way that is counterproductive

I am racing the Indianapolis Mini Marathon on Saturday, so I had a last little tune up workout yesterday. I had some 1k repeats at a certain pace to help me get the feel for race rhythm. I knew what I was supposed to do, but I ran faster than the prescribed paces. I got caught up in the joy of running on a track on a perfect, mild spring day and next thing I knew, I was rolling along. I was fully aware that I should not be running under the pace my coach intended, but I chose to carry on. Running faster meant I was fitter, at least in my head, so I carried on and walked away from the workout feeling pretty good about myself. Success!!

Not so fast, lady. (Terrible pun intended. Sorry!)

Running faster than what you are told to do doesn’t really seem that serious, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a big enough error to turn a seemingly successful workout into a failure. But it did. The whole point of the workout was to feel out that particular pace, settle into rhythm and click them off, not to gain any more fitness by crushing each 1k.

As runners, we tend to get focused on the big goal, which for most of us boils down to two words…run faster. That is the mantra running through our brain on a daily basis…run faster, run faster, RUN FAAAAAAAAAAASTER!! If we aren’t careful, the big picture goal overtakes our focus in the day to day grind. Not every day needs to be faster. Not every day SHOULD be faster.

Each day, you have to consider the goal for that day alone. Before you step on the track, before you even step out the door, take a minute to consider what the objective for that day is. If it is to put the foot to the floor and fly, then get out there and hammer! But if it is to run a prescribed pace and that pace only, don’t push it. That isn’t earning you any extra credit, and in fact, it could be doing your training harm.

Pursuing your goals is important. However, it is just as important to be intentional about the way you go about striving for the those goals. I was reminded of that yesterday. Going forward, I am going to stop before even starting each run, acknowledge the goal for that run alone, and pursue that objective only.

Happy running!!

 

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Goals, Goals, Goals!

I have thought a lot in the past few weeks about my goals for 2015. I wrote about how to set goals and the benefits of setting goals, but had not yet been able to put mine into words. Which I certainly need to do as I am racing in a little over a month and need to define what it is I want to do in that race, the LA Marathon, and after during the rest of the year. After some thought, I came up with ???? goals.

1. Have fun while being competitive.

It can be easy for me to be too much of one or the other, all fun or all competitive, and I generally lean towards competitive. But I have been out of racing for a little while and want to be sure that I light that competitive fire in myself again and not let myself off the hook anywhere along the way, not in workouts or in races.

2. Get the Olympic A Standard at LA.

My big goal is to race the Olympic Trials in 2016, and race it well. First things first though…I have to qualify!

3. CORE!

This is random, but I cracked my rib in December and have been scared to do core or lift as the doctor had said to limit those activities while it heals. It certainly still hurts, but I also know the importance of core for runners, so I am setting a goal of core 4 x a week to get my stabilizing muscles back in shape.

4. Run track.

This one is a bit harder to define right now, as a lot depends on how I recover after the marathon. If I can come back, I would like to race on the track and get some leg speed back after marathoning.

That is all I have for now. Goals change and re-shape as the year goes on, but it is a start. I hope that you guys have written your own. Share them if you want to. I would love to know what everyone else is up to!

The start of a looooooooong run!
The start of a looooooooong run!
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Baby, its cold outside

Happy 2015! If you are like me, you are likely still asleep (you have to love a good scheduling tool). Typically, blog posts around this time do one of two things; talk about goals or reflect about the previous year but I’m not going to either of those. I have already written a blog about goals and this past year was a bit of a mix bagged.
Instead, let us talk a little bit of subject that has been hitting me hard this week that is running in the cold. By hitting hard, I mean the high was 14 degrees yesterday. I know many of you would scoff and consider this warm but I was born and raised below the Mason Dixon line. Let me put it this way, I own only four pairs of tights. I had no idea fleece lined tights existed until this year.

ColdoutsideWith that being said, cold weather has a negative effect on my running. Mainly, I don’t hydrate enough and I don’t want to run in the cold. I’ve been able to tackle the hydration issue pretty easily but drinking lots of tea. There is nothing quite like a warm cup of tea after a cold run or even during the day. I have also discovered the NUUN makes a pretty warm drink. I stick to the caffeine free teas. I have found that I drink more tea than I did water.

The issue of going out to run in the cold hasn’t exactly been resolved. For Christmas, I asked for lots of layers and warm athletic gear which helps. I also purchased a cheap (like $3.00) drawstring toboggan that allows me to wear it around my nose (see pic). I also received a white reflective vest and a head lamp that helps me navigate night run (will also make Beer Chasers Wednesday night group run heck of a lot nicer). If I’m really not motivated, I stick a few dollars in my pocket to purchase a hot drink on the way home. I will admit I do wimp out sometimes and use the indoor track at the gym. Miles are miles.

What do you do to help your running in the cold months?
I hope everyone is having a great new year! I’m looking forward to getting married and running my first half with a new last name in May.
Cara

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Praise the Progress

Praise the progress has never proven more true during my recent challenge. I knew when I started this 30 day challenge it was going to be tough. Each day I pushed myself as far as I could push it and each day I went farther then I did the day before. It amazed me how on one day I struggled to complete the number for that day but then the very next day I went farther. And then the next day I went even farther. Then after a week I was well ahead of where I started. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to a 5 minute plank, but I was able to get to 160 crunches and 64 leg raises. Not completing the plank portion of my challenge is where praising the progress comes into play. Everyone and every body is at different fitness levels. I’m not going to give up. I know that I will get to that 5 minute plank and I will continue to be proud of the steps and milestones along the way.

On a side note I ran my first 5k after running the half marathon and my first in the cold weather.

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I was nervous. Period. I don’t know why, it’s not like I hadn’t run what feels like gazillions 5k’s before. Maybe because I didn’t know how my lungs would like the cold air. Or maybe because this was my first time attending a race by myself. Regardless, I was very happy and surprised by my results. I realized two things that morning.

1. Running in cold weather isn’t that bad

2. Even though my time isn’t where I would like it to be, I know I will get there. Not because I will keep training but because I won’t give up.

So remember, when you feel like you had a bad work out day or when you feel discouraged, you are farther then you were the day before. Feel proud of how far you’ve come and how far you will go.

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Fitness goals

Well I have finally decided my next fitness goal. After months of training for the half marathon I took a much needed week break. After that week was over I was itching to get back at it. With the warmer weather (sadly) over I headed back to the gym. But I needed to make sure I had a plan. When I was training for the half everyday I knew how many miles I needed to get in. I didn’t want to walk into the gym and wander from machine to machine without concentrating on an area. After thinking about it on my week break I finally came to an decision….drum roll…

I am challenging myself to 2 of many 30 day fitness challenges.

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I figured it was a short yet rewarding goal to work on. While doing this challenge I will still continue to run and occasionally switch it up with some arm and leg workouts. After this is complete I may consider doing another one or maybe during this month I’ll think of something else. Having any goal is very important. It helps you focus and you get to see the hard work you’ve put in a result. Plus having this blog (and telling people in general) helps you accomplish those goals you set for yourself. By telling others, it encourages me to not let hem, or myself down. Following through on something you set out to do is one of the most rewarding things. And when you can share that with others, it is that much better.

I am most excited about the fact that this challenge will help my running game. (Besides the wash board abs I hope to gain) Increasing your core strength is a huge benefit for posture and speed. With only a few days into the challenge I can already feel an improvement. And I will also say I have missed the gym (but not the treadmill).

What fitness goals have you challenged yourself to?

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Fall Goal Setting

I ran my first and only marathon in Chicago on Oct. 10 2014 (10/10/10). I was 23. I told myself, I would run one again at 25 but life got busy. I graduated with my M.A. in advertising that year, moved to Colorado Springs and started a new job. I was just trying to get a handle on life.

Four years later, here I am again thinking and plotting about running a marathon. I’ve moved to Washington, took a new job and getting married next year. I am contemplating another go at the marathon. The goal is to do another and PR by the time I’m 30.

It is really weird to see the number 30 and I know I am referring to myself. So much can happen between now and 30 and I’m nervous I will get side tracked. I know that even my upcoming nuptials will be a large roadblock. So I know I need to be deliberate in setting my goals.
Goal Setting
I’m not a motivational speaker or accredited in any way with setting goals. But, I have a nice way of thinking of them:
• Define
• Plan
• Do

So I have defined my goal pretty well-marathon before 30 under 3:59. The next steps are harder. I have read up on training cycles and consulted my online coaches (I do use an online training program). I am going to focus on short races building up to a half marathon next August or September. I am going to add in core work and cross training. Finally, I need to follow-up and stick to the plan. I know the next few months are going to be hard with the holidays, wedding and just adapting to a new place. I am going to continue to make sure to interact with my online group of runners and luckily, I’m joining up with a running group or two here. It is time to set myself up for success.

How do you set yourself up for success?

-Cara
@carabyrd

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2013 so far…

I’m Kim and I’m psyched to be a part of the URTribe!

2013 has been an awesome year so far for running!  I started seriously running last year.  I’m slow, but working at it.

So far I have run the Color Me Rad 5k, The Kona Run 10k, and the Clawson Freedom Run.  Color Me Rad is a fun run and I forgot my watch, so it was truly just a fun run.  The Kona Run was a different story for me.  I was able to knock a minute per mile off of my average pace for my 2012 races.  I felt amazing when I finished.  Even more good news came after the Freedom Run when I finished over 5 minutes faster than my previous PR for a 5k race.  I’m feeling great this year.  My breathing is improving – I have asthma and require an inhaler to run.  I only have 81-92% of my lung capacity I should have, and that is after using my inhaler.  My muscles have changed tremendously.  Climbing has also helped improve my strength, particularly in my core.

I am continuing my training schedule that I kept last year, only this year I am wayyyy ahead of where I was last year.  I run 2-4 times a week at least 3 miles, if not more, and do a long run on the weekends.  Right now I’m adding a mile a week to my long runs.  I did 7 this past weekend, so I’m shooting for 8 this weekend.  I also climb 2 times a week.

URTribe is a great source of motivation and I love sharing accomplishments!  It also helps keep me accountable for my workouts.  I’m loving it and representing the company.  It’s great to be asked about it when out and getting to start a conversation about a product line I’m happy with and just fitness in general!  I can’t wait to hear about everyone’s races for the rest of the summer.  Good luck all on your training and runs.  I’m thoroughly enjoying hearing about it all from so many different levels of experience.

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Purpose Sticks

 

While going around to the various road races this summer, I found something very interesting to me. That was the stories of how people begin. Many of us know that sometimes starting new things can be hard not only physically, but mentally. Making something a habit is not easy. The best way that I have found to do this is to hold myself accountable for my goal. This is usually by sticking some sort of reminder right out in front of my face. That is how we came up with Purpose Sticks collection.

Basically you take which ever Purpose Sticks that meets your goal, say 13.1 you put it on your calendar, insert it in the edge of your mirror or any other crazy place that you sit and stare at. Then when you feel very unmotivated you’ll be forced notice your goal, and you’ll remember why it is you started. This will hold you accountable for your goal. Then when you meet this goal of yours, you take the sticker and slap it on your car, your water bottle or whatever else and you proudly show off your accomplishment.

Ideas of where to post it for motivation maximization:

  • Fridge
  • Mirror
  • Bathroom wall
  • Bedroom wall
  • On your office calendar
  • Prop it up on your lap top
  • Outside a cupboard door
  • Anywhere you look every day

Ideas of where to sport it once you’ve met your goal:

  • Car
  • Laptop
  • Water bottle
  • Your shirt for the day (they don’t go through the wash well) J
  • Your motorcycle
  • Your kayak
  • Golf cart
  • Lunch box
  • Trapper keeper
  • Anywhere! Just let it be known, you’re awesome!
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Race Reflection

It’s about a week away from my 25k, and the upcoming race has me looking back of the weeks of training that has brough me here. The last time I raced I was in Knysna, South Africa competing in my first off road marathon. After all of the massive mountain miles I had put on my legs, my tendendons were beginning to feel the strain (but how could I say no to such beautiful runs?!). It was a bit of a struggle to keep it together for the race, but the beauty that surrounded me in the Knysna forest and the wonderful friends with me made it much more bearable. It was one of my last weeks in Africa and I was so excited for the opportunity to see yet another part of the country and spend some more quality time with my running family there. After returning back to the States, and taking a much longer break than I’m used to, I started the long process back to peak fitness while working and living in Florida. In between crazy work hours collecting data on beaches (picture waking up at 4am and possibly staying on the clock for 12+ hrs) I began to build my fitness back using everything in my arsenal; soft trails, pool, weights, and my sister as a willing workout partner. It was a time to figure out goals for the year, and to plot out the work that needed to be done to get there.  After finding my way back up North, I was even forutnate enough to have a “mild” Michigan winter (I realize that freezing temps and over a foot of snow to slog through might not be everyone’s definition of mild) to kick off my more intense progression of training. 25 weeks later its crazy to see what I have been able to accomplish. I have put in more miles and with a greater purpose than ever before, learning to overcome daunting workouts and not let doubts in my head determine what I was capable of. Now I’m excited to see what the result of this work will be.  Although it’s easy to slip into “doubt mode” when you are faced with a pre-races taper, I’m focusing on the excitement to see what the result of all this training will be. I know that it might not fall into place with this race, but my sights are on a year full of great races and opportunities to better myself.  This is just the first of many challenges for me, so bring it on 🙂