Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Mile at a Time

Over the next few months I plan to increase my weekly mileage to 50+ miles per week. This extra15 miles each week will provide a stronger base to work from when training for spring and summer races. Ultimately, I hope it will help me run faster at every distance.

Slow and steady
Increasing mileage can help nearly any runner improve performance. The key is to increase it slowly to avoid burnout and injury. Most experts suggest increasing no more than 10 percent each week and every fourth week decreasing mileage by 20 percent to allow for recovery.

In my own training, I prefer to doing three weeks at a new mileage, followed by one recovery week, and then increasing the mileage for another three weeks.

For example:
  • Week one: 35 miles
  • Week two: 35 miles
  • Week three: 35 miles
  • Week four: 28 miles
  • Week five: 38 miles
  • Week six: 38 miles
  • Week seven: 38 miles
  • Week eight: 30 miles

How a 50 mile week looks

Wondering what a week of training looks like at 50+ miles? Here's what I anticipate:

Morning: 4 mile easy run
Afternoon: 6 mile easy run

Morning: Off
Afternoon: 6 miles speedwork; strength training

Morning: 6 mile easy run
Afternoon: Shock Treatment (boot camp style class)

Morning: 4 mile easy run
Afternoon: 8 mile tempo run

Morning: 6 mile easy run
Afternoon: Off

Morning: 10 mile easy run
Afternoon: Off


What's your weekly mileage and how do you find time to fit it in?

- ST

Monday, September 26, 2011

Training Schedule 9/26-10/2

Another week, another training schedule. Am I the only one who thinks of the week as running Monday-Sunday instead of Sunday-Saturday?

Anyhow, this week's load is pretty light - to help avoid injury, I like to do a mini recovery period every fourth week. That being said, here's this week's plan:

Morning: Off
Afternoon: 5 mile easy run (including 4-6 stride-outs); 45 minutes strength training

Morning: Off
Afternoon: 6 mile tempo run
(1 mile warm up, 4 miles @7:45, 1 mile cool down); 45 minutes strength training

Morning: 5 mile easy run
Afternoon: Shock Treatment Class (boot camp style class)

Morning: 5 mile easy run (including 4-6 stride-outs)


Morning: 8 mile easy run


What's your training approach this week?

- ST

Roasted Blue Potatoes

Fall is my favorite season - I love the cooler temps, vibrant leaf colors, wearing sweaters and eating fall produce - butternut squash, apples, brussels sprouts and most of all, blue potatoes.

My father loves gardening and grows these gems every year. When I stopped by my parents' house over the weekend, I was thrilled to see he had just harvested a bunch of these and promptly gathered up a few to take home.

There are several things you can do with these potatoes - mash them, fry them, boil them, etc. But my favorite method is roasting them.

It might be my imagination, but I really think blue potatoes taste better!

Roasted Blue Potatoes

12-14 small blue potatoes, washed, scrubbed and quartered
2 tsp olive oil
Dried rosemary (I prefer Penzey's)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place potatoes on the baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Mix to coat the potatoes. Sprinkle liberally with rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, turning potatoes halfway through.

Although great by themselves as a side dish, my favorite way to eat these potatoes is on top of a salad. Note: spinach, asparagus, roasted blue potatoes and tomatoes is a great combo!

Have you tried blue potatoes? If so, how do you like to prepare them?

- ST

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why Form Matters

How often do you think about running form and mechanics? If you're like many of runners, probably not often enough. However, focusing on these nuts and bolts can help you run with fewer injuries, more efficiently and maybe even a bit faster.

Last night I attended a Natural Running Clinic at Performance Running Outfitters. I was super interested in everything discussed from footwear to arm swing to cadence. Yes, I'm a bit of a run nerd these days, but really, anyone can benefit from this information!

Four Tips to Improve Your Running
Here are some easy tips to start improving your running:
  • Land midfoot or forefoot, not on your heel. Also, try to land roughly under your body's center of mass. Both of these will help reduce the impact on your knees and shins.
  • Run with a slight forward lean (not bent at the torso) and keep your head up and eyes looking forward, not at the ground.
  • Keep your arms by your side and bent at a 90 degree angle. Avoid swinging your arms across or in front of your body. Instead, move them from your hips.
  • Maintain a high cadence. Also known as stride rate, having a faster turnover helps reduce impact and improve efficiency and speed.
Do you have any tips for running more efficiently? Also, what shoes do you run in? I run in either a Brooks Defyance 4 or an Asics Gel DS Speed Trainer, but am thinking of buying the Newton Distance U after trying it out last night!

- ST

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Making the Switch: 400m to 800m

With my next half marathon less than six weeks away, it's time to adjust my workouts a bit to be best prepared for the big day. One transition is switching from 400m repeats to 800m repeats. While both are great for increasing speed, 800m are better at building endurance for maintaining a faster pace.

Run fast, recover, repeat
Here's my workout for the next few speed sessions:

- 1 mile warm up at an easy pace
- 4x800m in 3:30-3:40 minutes (this translates to a 1/2 mile run at 7:03 mile pace)
- 4x400m recoveries @9:31 mile pace
- 1 mile cool down at an easy pace

I'm confident this workout will help me get the time I want at the upcoming race. It should also provide a great base for when I begin training for the Great Lakes Running Series and Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay immediately following the half marathon. Both the series and the relay will be fast and furious - there's no doubt in my mind that extra speed is a necessity for a successful winter racing season.

Which repeats do you prefer: 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m or a mixture of all four in a ladder progression?

- ST

Monday, September 19, 2011

Training Schedule 9/19 - 9/25

Ah, week three of running 30+ miles. For those of you following along, here's this week's training schedule:

Morning: 5 mile easy run
Afternoon: Off

Morning: Off
Afternoon: Speed workout (1 mile warm up, 4 x 800m with 400m recoveries, 1 mile cool down); 45 minutes strength training

Morning: 5 mile easy run
Afternoon: Natural Running Clinic

Morning: 6 mile hill run
Afternoon: 25 miles cycling; 45 minutes strength training


Morning: 14 mile run


I'm already looking forward to next week's recovery week!

- ST

Simple, Scrumptious Scones

Sunday afternoon, I found myself with a bit of free time so I decided to try my hand at making scones. White cheddar rosemary scones to be exact. Although I was a tad worried these would be difficult to make, it turns out creating scones is as easy as mixing a few simple ingredients.

I got the recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Eat Live Run. Although I read Jenna's posts almost daily, this is the first time I tried one of her recipes. The scones are so delicious, I'm excited to try others.

Note: Try serving these with piping hot tomato soup.

White Cheddar Rosemary Scones

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup freshly grated white cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small slices
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp milk, cream or half & half (I used half & half)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, salt, rosemary, baking powder and pepper. Add the cheese and butter and work mixture together with your fingers until it feels almost like sand. Add the cream and mix until just combined.

Pat dough into an 8-inch circle and slice into 8 triangles. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 18 minutes until golden brown.


- ST

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Training Schedule 9/12-9/18

A question I'm often asked is how I train on a weekly basis. Based on that, I'm going to start including my weekly schedules on In addition to holding me accountable with my workouts, it may provide some new ideas for you to use in your own training.

This week's plan:

Morning: Off
Afternoon: 6 mile tempo run (1 mile warm up, 4 miles @7:45, 1 mile cool down); 30 minutes core exercises

Morning: Off
Afternoon: 5 mile easy run (including 4-6 sets of strides); 1 hour strength training

Morning: 6 mile hill run (2 repeats each of Ravine, Water Tower and Lafayette)
Afternoon: Shock Treatment (boot camp style class) (60 minutes)

Morning: 5 mile easy run (including 4-6 sets of strides)
Afternoon: Boot Camp (60 minutes)


Morning: Briggs and Al's Run/Walk
- I'm walk/jogging this one with my mother. She's transitioning from walking to running so I'm going to help pace her during this event.

Morning: 10 mile run

What's on your workout agenda this week?

- ST

Monday, September 12, 2011

Easy Homemade Granola

Whether it's a birthday, Father's Day, etc., finding a gift for my dad is tough. This year, however, I was prepared with something I knew he would love - a batch of homemade granola.

This simple, yet delicious recipe was given to me by a former coworker. Although it's pretty fantastic as is, you can also substitute your favorite nut in place of the almonds or another type of dried fruit in place of the cranberries. When
making this recipe, I usually add extra vanilla and cinnamon.

Try the granola sprinkled atop plain Greek yogurt.

Down to Earth Granola

4 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cooking oil (vegetable, canola, etc.)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl, mix oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.

Meanwhile, warm the oil and honey in a saucepan. Whisk or stir in vanilla. Carefully pour liquid over the oat mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon, finishing mix by hand.

Spread granola in a 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Bake 40 minutes, stirring carefully every 10 minutes. Transfer granola filled pan to a rack. After granola is cooled completely, stir in cranberries.

Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for one week, or in the freezer for three months.

What's your go-to gift for dad?

- ST

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My New Obsession

Ever wonder how your 5k time translates into one mile, 10k, half marathon and even marathon times? A handy little calculator from McMillan Running is my fun afternoon discovery. Although I wonder about a few of the time estimates (1:45:47 for my next half marathon??), it's interesting information.

Along with equivalent race time estimations, there's a section that provides optimal training pace times for speed, tempo, long run and easy run workouts. Useful stuff when creating any type of training plan!

Enjoy a little afternoon number crunching!

- ST

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's Only a Matter of Time

Before every race, I like to plan how I'm going to run the course. Last Saturday's Lake Country 5k was no different. I knew I wanted to be aggressive - I just wasn't quite sure how fast I would would take each portion of the race. I'd heard it was a hilly route and didn't want to go out too fast, only to blow up at the midway point.

But as I was warming up, I decided I was going to go all out. The entire 3.1 miles. Since it was my last race in my current age group, I wanted it to be memorable with no regrets on things I should and could have done.

Nice tan line, right?

Race results include new PR
Turns out, it was the right strategy. Here are my results:

Time: 22:53 (new PR)
Average Mile Time: 7:22
Age Group: 4/30

Division: 16/158
Overall: 47/281

Chasing down new goals
Although it kills me a bit that I missed my age group podium by one place, it gives me something to work toward in future races. As I was trying to chase down the girl who finished right in front of me (I had her in my line of sight the entire race - just couldn't catch her in the end) I couldn't help but think it's just
a matter of time - and some extra speed training sessions!

Since this was likely my last 5k this year, any new goals I set are for 2012. Think I can reduce my 5k time by another full minute - or maybe more? Is a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place age group win within reach? I look forward to finding out the answers to these questions!

What are your current race goals? What are your PRs and how do you plan on beating them?

- ST

Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting Ready for the Next Chapter

Less than 24 hours away from my next 5k race - and for some reason, this one is weighing on me a bit more than others I've done this year. The pressure is on because it's my last time racing in my current age group division so I want to finish out knowing I gave it my best effort.

Ups, downs and finishing kicks
This means I'm keeping my head in the race from the start. I'm going to focus on my own run and not get distracted by other runners. I'm not going to slack on any hills and I'm going to take full advantage of any downhill slopes. I'm going to start my finishing kick at the right time and not back down once it begins. And I'm going to remember the training miles I've done in the past few weeks and months have prepared me to do all this - and more.

Of course I'm hoping it all adds up to meeting - or beating - my time goal for this race of 23:58. But even if it doesn't, hitting the other goals will be enough for this race. I'll be ready to leave my current division behind and see what things I can accomplish in the next.

How did you feel when you completed your last race in an age group division?

- ST