The Three Best Treadmill Workouts Ever.

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Call me crazy, but I like making my own treadmill workouts. Yes, I know you could download an app or use a pre-programmed workout on your treadmill, but I think it’s more fun to have a hand in creating something for yourself. These can easily be adapted to the elliptical or another form of cross training too.

So, here we go. The three best treadmill workouts ever:

1. The Ultimate Fartlek- This is one of my all-time favorite workouts. I like the element of surprise, and the constant change in pace makes the workout go by quickly.

You’ll need: a treadmill, index cards (or a piece of paper cut into squares) and a pen or sharpie.

For a 5 mile workout you need 16 cards: write your regular warm up and cool down pace on two cards and label them warm up and cool down. For the remaining cards, write a variety of paces: for example, 6.5, 7.0, 8.2, 7.3, 8.0. Make sure to include some slower paces in with the faster paces so you have some recovery time. Keep the warm up and cool down cards out and shuffle the remaining cards. No peeking!

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Start with the warm up card for 3 laps. When you’re getting close to the end of your third lap (3/4 mile) get ready to flip over your next card… then whatever that card says, you have to run that speed for one full lap (1/4 mile). Repeat until the deck is finished (your last card should be your cool down card for 3 laps).

Index cards work perfectly and cut down on prep time. You can even use bright colored cards or sharpies to spice things up (hey, it’s the middle of winter and every little thing helps). I’ve been using squares of paper pinned together with a safety pin. There’s something satisfying about ending a workout with a pile of balled up paper scraps.

2. 60 Minutes- You don’t have to watch 60 Minutes while running this workout, any TV show or podcast will do. I’m a total weirdo and sometimes I like doing workouts without any form of entertainment, but there are many workouts that I wouldn’t have gotten through without Netflix.

You’ll need: a treadmill

This one is pretty straightforward.

Warm up 10 minutes
Run 3 minutes fast, then 2 minutes easy. Repeat 7 more times (for a total of 8 times).
Cool down 10 minutes

The exact paces here don’t have to be the same every time. Aim for 15k-half marathon race pace for your fast segments at first, then drop it down to 10k pace or faster as you get further into the workout. The easy segments should be easy, but fight the urge to walk. You could also do this workout as 2:30 fast/ 2:30 easy or some other combination.

3. The Grab Bag- This one of is from my high school cross country coaching days. We frequently had tornado warnings and hurricane warnings where I coached in Virginia, and we would be stuck indoors. Since I had about a million index cards lying around, I would write down whatever came to mind and throw the cards in a bag. Each kid would get to choose a card and then we would do them together.

You’ll need: whatever you have! If you have a treadmill, great. If not, you can use weights, a mat, a pull up bar, exercise ball, bands, the hallway, stairs, etc. You’ll also need index cards (or a piece of paper cut into squares) and a pen or sharpie.

Write an exercise that will take about 1-2 minutes on each card. Don’t forget to include a few fun ones (water break, dance break, etc.). When I was coaching cross country I would make a few cards that said “make a ridiculous face” or “sing your favorite song,” which you can do on your own too (even if you don’t have teammates to make faces at).

This sample workout of 15 cards adds up to 20 minutes- shuffle and repeat if you want a longer workout, or make up your own exercises using what you have:

1 minute sprint, 1 minute jumping jacks, 2 minute easy run,  1 minute push ups, 2 minute easy run, water break, 1 minute stair running, walking lunges up and down hallway (2 minutes), plank for 1 minute, side plank each side for 30 seconds, 1 minute sprint, 1 minute mountain climbers, 1 minute burpees, 2 minute easy run, 2 minute dance break…

Shuffle the cards and place them in a pile or in a small bag. The best part of this workout is that you have no idea what you’ll have to do next… it’s like having your own personal trainer.  You can keep your cards and recycle them for next time, and add new exercises when you think of them (or take out ones that you don’t like). A good playlist makes this workout even better.

Do you have any ideas for treadmill workouts or indoor workouts? I’d love to hear them!

 

Aramco Houston Half recap (1:22:54)

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I could write a book about this past weekend, but I won’t (you’re welcome). Many fun things happened because, let’s be honest, I haven’t been out much in the last few years. I mean, I just finally used my Uber app for the first time (Courtney will be proud of me).

So, instead of going through every single event this past weekend, let’s talk about some other firsts that happened in Houston:

First time perfect packing. I packed just enough of everything (only had extra socks left) and the only things I forgot were an extra hair tie (thanks Karen for for the hair tie loan) and bananas (thanks Ashley and Julie for the banana loan).

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At the expo on Saturday with Karen and Kelli… Skechers graffiti wall makes a good backdrop!

First time away from my kids overnight since they were born. This was scary for me, but it had to happen eventually. And guess what? They were totally fine and so was I.

First time pumping on the plane. I don’t even know if you’re allowed to do that, but I didn’t ask. I hate pumping, but the flight to Texas was long so that’s what went down.

First sinus infection!! Yay!!! No. Decided enough was enough and went to the doctor when I got home from Houston. So happy to be on antibiotics and not be sick anymore.

First time wearing new Willow Street AC team top. This Skechers Performance swift bra top was badass and perfect for the weather in Houston. I wore my Oiselle mini stride shorts on the bottom (not affiliate links, just sharing the links out of the goodness of my heart).

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New Willow Street top and new Brooks visor I picked up at the expo (attempt to keep the sweat out of my eyes).

First time seeing the finish of an elite marathon in person. After my race, we found a good spot to watch the elite men and women finish. I also got to see Ashley finishing strong in the half as well as a few other Oiselle ladies I met this weekend! And huge congrats to Megan (one of my Oiselle teammates) for running 2:47 in the marathon in those muggy conditions. We met in the ADP corral before the race. 

Okay, so about the race itself. I had missed a few key workouts in the last two weeks because I was afraid that my chest cold might turn into bronchitis or pneumonia if I pushed myself too hard. So on race morning I was a little more nervous than usual. The weather was another factor that kept things interesting (63 degrees with 97% humidity at the start according to this article from Runner’s World). I adjusted my goal pace to anything between 6:00 and 6:15, but planned to just run on feel and not be too concerned about my splits. I really had no idea how my breathing would be at race pace, so I was prepared to run even slower than that if I had to.

I warmed up to the race start and got to my corral in plenty of time, so I finished my warm up just jogging and doing some strides inside the ADP corral. We had plenty of space to run around and there were porto-potties there as well, so it was perfect. We got to see the “real” elites warming up as well in a separate area (kind of like they were first class and we were business class if you know what I mean). After the National Anthem we lined up behind the elites and the remaining corrals lined up behind us. Then the gun went off and we were on our way.

My first mile was exactly 6:00, but I felt relaxed and my breathing was fine. My next two miles were both 6:06 and then after that I stopped looking at my splits. Good thing, because each mile got slower and slower from there (race splits on Strava). I never felt bad, but I didn’t feel like I was on my A game.

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This was right around 10k. I smiled for a few seconds, then back to business.

I practiced positive self-talk to get through the middle miles around 7-9. Miles 12-13 felt like they went on forever and were my slowest miles by far, a long 2 mile straightaway into a headwind.

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Pain face.

But as soon as I saw the finish line with .1 to go I was fine and finished strong, so I feel like I didn’t necessarily give it everything I had. So much of running and racing is mental and I’m still working on that.

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Finally seeing that finish line.

I loved the course, and there were a LOT of people out cheering which was awesome. At some longer races there’s usually a few lonely spots, but I can’t remember any point in the race where there weren’t any spectators cheering for the runners.

Here’s a video of my finish from my Instagram (taken by Pete). And if you want to watch the rest of the runners finish, including the elites, here’s the official finish video from the Houston Marathon on YouTube (you can watch all the half and full marathoners finish). Shout out to Shawanna and Kelli for their strong finishes and solid races in those muggy conditions!

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With Pete after the race. Sorry I ate both of the ice cream sandwiches.

So, my body feels good this week but my head and chest are a mess from this cold and sinus infection so I’m probably going to take the rest of the week off and get healthy. Then, on to the next: Shamrock Half Marathon!

Houston half training (weeks 7-9)

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A peek into my training for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. In case you’re looking for more detail, I also post all of my training on Strava.

If you missed weeks 1-4  you can find those here and if you missed weeks 4-7 you can find those here

Week of 12/26… I had two workouts planned this week and those went fine. My long run was supposed to be 18 miles at a relaxed pace, but I ended up doing a long tempo at the Hangover Half Marathon at UAlbany with my teammate Hannah because that sounded more appealing than running 18 miles by myself.

Key workouts: 3 sets of 4 x 400 at 5k race pace with 10 min tempo at 5:56 between sets, 10 x 20 second strides at 5:00 pace on the treadmill, 18 mile long run with 13.1 in 1:27:50 with Hannah

Planned miles: 72 miles

Actual: 71.5 miles

Week of 1/2… Shit got bad this week. I had a planned rest day on Monday, which was kinda nice after a high mileage week. Tuesday’s easy miles went fine but Wednesday I started to feel sick so I pushed my tempo run to later in the week. Then the girls got sick (again) and the combo of ot sleeping and being sick myself just spiraled into a bad training week. With Houston only a week away I decided to take it easy rather than try to push through. Major bummer but I think I made a good choice.

Key workouts: 10 x 20 sec strides at mile race pace (5:00), 10 mile treadmill long run at a relaxed pace

Planned miles: 54 miles

Actual: 34.6 miles

Week of 1/9… Race week! We had some unseasonably warm days here so I took advantage and ran outside a few time this week. I still had some chest and sinus congestion so there were definitely some snot rockets happening. I didn’t do any of my planned workouts this week and had to take an extra rest day when Emma was feeling especially bad (she had a double infection, poor girl). We left for Houston on Friday and Sunday was race day.

Key workouts: 10 x 20 sec strides at mile race pace (4:45), short progression run (4 miles with last mile close to HMGP), Houston half marathon 1:22:54

Planned miles: 51 miles

Actual: 41.9 miles

I’ve taken the last two days completely off from running, although my body feels fine. My quads are a little sore but otherwise I feel good. I may try an easy run this afternoon. Found out yesterday that I have my first ever sinus infection, so that explains why I’ve been sick for an eternity. I’ll have more about that in my race recap later today. Hooray for antibiotics!

Houston half training (weeks 4-7)

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A peek into my training for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. In case you’re looking for more detail, I also post all of my training on Strava.

If you missed weeks 1-4  you can find those here

Week of 12/5… As I wrote last time, the lack of sleep and sickness had finally caught up to me this week and I had some pretty bad workouts. Luckily I had a scheduled day of rest on Saturday and got a good night of sleep so my long run went really well (and I had good company to help push me).

Key workouts: 8 x 1k cruise intervals with 1 minute recovery, long run 14 miles in 1:32:39 (6:37 average) plus a cool down mile

Planned miles: 61 miles

Actual: 61.2 miles

Week of 12/12… Kids started sleeping better this week and workouts went well. Hit 70 miles for the first time in forever

Key workouts: 3 mile tempo in 17:47 plus 6 x 1 min on/ 1 min off (I think I alternated 10 mph and 8 mph but can’t remember), 2 x 3 miles in 18:26 and 17:58 with 5 min rest between, relaxed 16 mile long run with some of my WSAC teammates

Planned miles: 72 miles

Actual: 70 miles

Week of 12/19… I had a scheduled day off on Monday which was perfect because I had some Christmas shopping to finish up. Workouts went really well, and props to my husband Pete for biking with me on my Christmas Eve long run so I wouldn’t be bored to death. The conditions for that run weren’t fun at all- I ran back and forth on a 2 mile section of the bike path that had thankfully been cleared, although there were still some icy spots and we got hit with freezing rain for a good part of the run.

Key workouts: 8 x 800 in 2:45 with 400 jog recovery, long run 16 miles with 12 at 6:30 pace

Planned miles: 62 miles

Actual: 62.7 miles

Week of 12/26… I had two somewhat easy workouts planned this week and those went fine. Tomorrow I’ll run some easy recovery miles, and then Sunday I have an 18 mile long run. Planning to run 5 miles before the Hangover Half Marathon at UAlbany (part of our local Winter Series races).

Key workouts: 3 sets of 4 x 400 at 5k race pace with 10 min tempo at 5:56 between sets, 10 x 20 second strides at 5:00 pace on the treadmill (that was interesting… and loud), 18 mile long run at a relaxed pace

Planned miles: 72 miles

Actual: 44.9 miles (as of Friday)

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Long running with Karen at Lions Park. Two weeks later (on Christmas Eve) this path was covered with ice and snow…

I can’t believe in 2 weeks I’ll be headed to Houston. I think 8 week training cycles are perfect. Just enough time to build fitness and not so much that you’re over it by the time you have to race.

Hope y’all have some fun plans for New Years Eve/ New Years Day… whether you’re going out, staying in, running a race, or headed to the gym to start off 2017 I hope this year brings you health and lots of happiness.

So this is the new year…

Houston Half training (weeks 1-4)

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A peek into my training for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. In case you’re looking for more detail, I also post all of my training on Strava.

Week of 11/14… I took Monday off after Stockade-athon and had a week of easy running planned. I also took off Friday and Saturday because it was my husband’s birthday and I didn’t plan well to get in my workouts around dinner and everything else going on both days. I decided to join some of my teammates for a faster-paced long run on Sunday, which I ended up having to miss because of a freak snow storm on Sunday morning.

Key workouts: Long run 13.1 miles in 1:27:53

Planned miles: 54-56 miles

Actual: 39.1 miles

Week of 11/21… Realized that I probably ran my solo long run too hard because my legs felt terrible for the next few days. I had a 3 mile tempo planned for Thursday which was perfect since I wanted to run the Troy Turkey Trot 5k that I do every year. I was disappointed with my race- my legs felt flat and I didn’t run as fast as I wanted to, but I felt great for the rest of the week, including my long run.

Key workouts: 3 mile tempo @ 6:00 (actual 5k race 17:42), long run 14.1 miles in 1:34:56

Planned miles: 57-58 miles

Actual: 57.5 miles

Week of 11/28… Solid week, no complaints running-wise. Had to get a little creative fitting in workouts because both of my kids were sick with a terrible virus and we basically couldn’t leave the house. Lots of running on the treadmill in my basement, and my one hard workout for the week was done at 7 pm on Wednesday night on the treadmill. Looking back I’m not sure how I got through this week because I never got more than 2 hours of sleep at once. I’m tired just thinking about it.

Key workouts: 8 mile tempo in 51:15, long run 15 miles in 1:49:21 (including the HMRRC winter series 15k)

Planned miles: 65-66 miles

Actual: 65 miles

Week of 12/5… The lack of sleep and sickness finally caught up to me. Monday and Tuesday were awful- I kept having to stop in the middle of my runs to catch my breath and a few times I had to take a break for a few minutes because I felt light-headed. I was costantly thirsty and just felt tired and shitty. I finally got a full night of sleep one of those nights (I can’t remember which) and on Wednesday I felt slightly better but decided to scrap my planned workout and just run easy again. Then today after another full night of sleep I finally had a good run. So, I’ll do some 1k repeats Friday, take Saturday off, and then I have a 16 mile long run planned with a fast finish.

Key workouts planned: 8 x 1k cruise intervals, long run 16 miles (12-15 at HMGP)

Planned miles: 61 miles

Actual: 36 miles (as of Thursday)

Stockade-athon 15k recap (56:51)

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You couldn’t have picked a better day for running in my opinion. A chilly 39 degrees at the start, mid-40’s and partly sunny for the race. One of the perks of an elite bib number is the heated tent near the start, so I felt pretty comfortable in my Willow St. Athletic Club racing attire.

The race went off exactly at 8:30 am. The first mile of this classic 15k race is downhill, which leads to fast splits. My legs felt dead but my breathing was fine, so I just tried to relax and not think about it as we rolled past the mile in 5:45. I had my watch on but hadn’t planned to look at any splits until after the race. There were volunteers reading splits at intervals along the course as well as clocks at the mile markers. The timing team did a fantastic job with this. I glanced over at the Mohawk River as we ran along the path and then we turned onto the streets again, past the new (somewhat controversial) casino still under construction.

Mile 2 was more controlled (6:05), partly because two miles marks the beginning of the first climb as we run up towards Union college. Miles 3 and 4 include several steady climbs so those splits were the slowest of the race (6:22 and 6:24). Up to this point I had been running with my Willow St. teammate Karen, but we separated after 4 miles. I was in no-woman’s land for awhile, half-heartedly trying to catch up to the woman in 3rd ahead of me, although I had a lot of ground to make up. The terrain is mostly flat from miles 4 to 6 so I was able to quicken my stride and focus on a few guys ahead to chase down for the next two miles. Miles 5 and 6 were 6:02 and 5:56 respectively.

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Photo credit to Erin Wrightson, our Oiselle Volee regional leader (and also a fantastic race cheerleader)

 

I came though the 10k in 38:15 and then we entered Central Park. Volunteers helped to direct us through the park and around several turns. I had run a preview of the course the previous weekend so I knew the last big hill was ahead. My sister Stephanie had volunteered to be a course marshall and she was posted at the top of that hill, around mile 7.5, which was a nice boost. The hill wasn’t especially steep or long, but with only 3k to go we were all running on tired legs. Splits for those miles, mile 7 (6:10) and mile 8 (6:16).

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Love those new racing flats (I picked them up at Fleet Feet the day before the race). Thanks for the photo Brandon Viloria!

The last 3k is either flat or downhill. After exiting Central Park we turned into Vale Cemetery and then onto a beautiful path in Vale Park, my favorite part of the course. Lots of cheers from spectators in this section. Before I knew it we hit the 9 mile marker (5:55), and as I glanced at the clock I knew I would be close my all time 15k PR, set in 2003 fresh out of college. With that goal in mind I passed the woman ahead of me and used the downhill finish to close the last 0.3 miles in 1:38 and cross the finish line with a new PB of 56:51. 

Coming off the Hannaford Half I felt a little defeated and ended up taking a full week off from running. My hip was bothering me, and I need to take some time to rest and rehab. I was worried I’d be setting myself back, but it ended up being a good decision. I felt so much better for this race, and my overall pace was a huge improvement. 

One last thing, I wanted to mention… I totally missed my alarm the morning of this race. I had it set for 5:30 am and when it went off I just turned off my phone and went right back to sleep. I didn’t wake up until 6:30 and we were supposed to leave at 6:45! Somehow we managed to get all four of us dressed and out the door by 7, and get to the start by 7:45 so I could warm up with my teammates. But, holy crap that was close. I guess it ended up being a good thing because I didn’t even have time to be nervous.

Awkward ending here… ever *almost* miss a race start? I’ve come close a few times, and missed the start of Troy Turkey Trot like 10 years ago!

 

 

Hannaford Half Marathon (1:24:19)

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I’m going to try to not sound like a brat… because for any of the runners I coach or have coached, I always say that if you set a PB you really can’t complain. It’s easy to take that kind of thing for granted when you’re used to improving and setting personal records often. I’ve been on the other side many times (the side where you run through 2 miles of a 5k and think hmm I’m used to seeing that time on the clock at the finish line). I did a little bitching and moaning and feeling sorry for myself after the race, but then I remembered my mantra, that Teddy Roosevelt quote “comparison is the thief of joy”. I have it written on the chalkboard by the front door as a reminder to be grateful for where I am and not compare myself to other people or to myself at age 25 (or whatever).

So I’ll talk about the positives. First, I was able to actually run and finish the race after a few days off (some weird glute/hip injury). Second, I ran my fastest half marathon time ever, always a good thing to be able to say. And third, I was able to practice some key mental strategies that I know I’ll be able to draw on in the future. So, now let’s get to the dirty details.

The race started at 8:00- as usual I was running late and barely got to the start line before the gun went off, but that’s nothing new. I settled in with a good group of speedy women and just told myself to relax and zone out, expend as little energy as possible, and run the tangents. About a half mile into the race one of the women in our group made an abrupt stop and turned off to the left. A few seconds later we heard shouting from behind us, which I couldn’t decipher, but one of the other women in our group realized that we had been following the lead men who had turned the wrong way (following arrows for another race that ran through the same park) and alerted us. Shit.

The group of the three of us turned around and started to weave our way back through the main pack. Logically I knew there was no reason to panic, but I was pissed (I think we all were) and the pack of us probably ran faster than we should have. My thoughts were all negative at this point: well, there goes the race… also why didn’t the other woman say something when she turned around? Did she say something and we didn’t hear it? (and if not, that’s bad race karma). We hit the “mile” in 6:35 (s0meone was calling out splits). There were some F bombs. In reality my first mile was 6:13, but the manner in which that was run (running downhill, an abrupt stop, turning around and getting back on track, then traversing the only real uphill in the race) was not ideal.

During the second mile the pack completely split up and I was running alone. This was the only mile that I checked my split (6:09 on my Garmin) and realized I needed to relax. I was still aggravated about running that extra distance, something I was reminded of each mile when my stupid watch beeped well before the mile marker. I managed to zone out a little and just run- this section of the course is on the Mohawk River bike path with only a few random spectators. Splits for miles 3 and 4 (6:15 and 6:08).

Mile 5 is where we emerge from the path and run a steep downhill mile (5:56 and that was holding back). I saw my family and got an instant boost from their cheers, which is needed along this part of the course. Miles 6, 7, and 8 were pretty tough. I had a few thoughts of dropping out. I had to remind myself to run one mile at a time, especially when I realized I was hurting a lot sooner than I had expected. I intentionally backed off the pace a little in these miles because I knew I was going to run into trouble if I started “racing” before 8 miles (6:22, 6:22, 6:31).

Right around mile 9 we start running along the Hudson River bike path, and this is where things got ugly for a few minutes. Mile 9 was my slowest split of the race (6:43). I was feeling sorry for myself. I even started thinking, well if I run 7 minute miles from now until the finish I’ll still probably PR… but somehow I snapped out of that negative thought pattern and just sucked it up. I did the only thing I could think of, which was to start counting. I instantly felt better and got into a rhythm. So for the entire length of the Hudson bike path I counted from 1 to 100, then started over again. Miles 10- 12 (6:24, 6:38, 6:34).

The last mile was tough, but knowing I was close to the finish I tried my best to pick it up. My legs were dead. That last mile was a 6:38 and I ran my last 0.24 in 1:22. Official time was 1:24:19, my fastest half by over a minute.

I had told my family beforehand that I would run 1:22- 1:23 (although secretly I hoped I could pull off something faster) and I know without the extra distance I would have run 1:23. But there will be many opportunities ahead to run faster, and I think ultimately it was a good learning experience. I ran as fast as I could on that day given the circumstances, and I’d rather learn these lessons at a smaller local race. The situation could have been much worse.

Okay… no racing for a few weeks. I promise. Next one will most likely be a cross country race with my Willow Street AC teammates at the end of this month. I don’t really ever know how to end blog posts, so… what are you watching on Netflix these days? I keep falling asleep in the middle of watching a show, so I need something that will hold my attention 😉