11 Weeks Later: Reflections on my 2016 NYC Half Marathon Training Plan

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Ten weeks ago I shared my 2016 NYC Half Marathon Training plan with you guys. This training plan is the first one I’ve created solo, without the support of a formal coach. Instead, I spent hours reading prior recaps and training plans before developing one that worked for me. As you may recall, my weekly workout schedule/training plan included 6 workouts:

  • 3 runs (1 speed/1 long/1 mid-distance)
  • 2 strength training workouts
  • 1-2 yoga/pilates/barre classes

When creating this plan, I had a few goals:

  • Avoid injury.
  • Avoid running burnout.
  • Be able to continue cross training via ClassPass (<– Get $25 off your first month)

Now that I’m enjoying a few days of rest and relaxation during my week long taper before Sunday’s race, I thought it’d be a good idea to reflect on the past eleven weeks to see how the training plan worked out. Since I didn’t have the financial obligation to a running coach, was I able to hold up my end of the bargain? Heck yes! I’ve wanted this sub-2 hour half marathon for years and this time around I put 100% into training!

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  • 3 runs?
    • Each week, I ran three times, without fail. Even during the crazy snow, I bundled up and head to Prospect Park or to the treadmill at Blink. I took eight classes at Mile High Run Club which most weeks served as my speed training. As part of the NYRR coached running group, I ran in Prospect Park six nights completing 4 – 6 miles as part of our weekly tempo workout. The only area where I could have improved is the long run. Two of my runs were cut short due to wind or extreme cold, which means that instead of 8 miles I ran 6 and instead of 10 miles I ran 8. The strength that I felt during my last two 10 mile long runs, gave me the confidence I needed to realize that these two shorter runs didn’t ruin my training plan. I do think that I will build in a 12-13 mile run before Brooklyn and Flying Pig Half Marathon just to give myself an added boost of confidence.
  • 2 strength training workouts?
    • I took 11 strength training classes during this training cycle which surprised me as I felt like I was taking them more often. As there are only so many days in the week, I definitely reduced the number of strength workouts I was taking during my Brooklyn Body Burn challenge in February.  I want to really focus on getting these strength workouts in as I know that increasing my lean muscle mass will only help me get faster. The best way to ensure this is by reviewing my training plan each Sunday as I plan my ClassPass schedule. This extra rigor will help hold me accountable.
  • 1-2 yoga/pilates/barre classes?
    • I took 10 yoga classes, one barre class and five Brooklyn Body Burn (aka megaformer) classes during this training schedule. I believe that the consistent yoga practice really helped my body stay injury free and improve my mental state during the tough first six weeks of the year. I would like to add a few more barre/pilates classes to the schedule during the next round of training as my body definitely leans out when I’m taking barre or reformer classes on a consistent basis.
  • Sleep? 
    • Over the past ten weeks I’ve averaged 7 hours of sleep which seems to be the perfect amount for my body. As part of the taper this week, I’m trying to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Food/nutrition?
    • This one is a bit of a question mark right now. For the past few weeks I’ve felt a bit off (nope, I’m not pregnant, trust me friends) and I can’t pinpoint the reason. I’ve started eliminating things this week to try and pinpoint the culprit. I think the biggest culprit is evening dessert (dang you Thin Mints) and my afternoon snack. I’m focusing on smaller, more frequent meals which will allow me to better stabilize my blood sugar and hunger. During the week,  I’m going to do my best to go back to enjoying a cup of tea after dinner versus actual dessert.

So there you have it. My training plan wasn’t perfect but I feel pretty dang strong and ready to run my heart out on Sunday!

*As I mentioned, I am not a personal trainer nor a certified run coach. Therefore, I am providing this information to you based on my experience and suggest that you consult and expert before starting any new training plan. 

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Running into Spring

running into Spring

I’m not sure what it is about the winter months. The cold, chilly air motivates me to run outside as I’d rather run in cold weather than hot weather any day of the week. I mean come on guys, how much easier is it to add crazy amounts of layers and stay warm than strip down during those sticky months of Summer. While my dear friend Meghan once ran a 5k race naked, there are only so many layers that I can take off when running.

My mantra these past few weeks has been “these winter miles will make me stronger.” Each time I lace up my shoes and head towards Prospect Park for a few hilly miles, I focus my thoughts on what I’m training for and my personal goals for the upcoming season.

As I look towards to the Spring and Fall racing season, I have a different goal for each race on my list.

NYRR NYC Half Marathon – March 20th: PR CITY. This is the race in which I want to finally overcome the mental wall and break 2 hours. The multiple Mile High Run Club, Barry’s Bootcamp and NYRR coached run sessions are all in hopes of helping me get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once we return from Tahoe, I have four weeks to focus all my efforts on this goal.

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run – April 3rd: Have fun! This race has been on my race list for years and thanks to my friend Anne, it’s finally going to happen. The goal is to enjoy the miles with Anne, Theodora and others while taking in the sights of Washington, DC in the Spring.

Flying Pig Half Marathon – May 1st: Feel powerful on the hills. As an employee of Procter & Gamble, a Cincinnati based company, this list has been on my radar for years as we are one of the top sponsors. My friend Amy, who you may remember from the RNR Brooklyn Half, and I are running this together and our goals are to have fun and feel strong on the hills. This course is known for great crowd support and tough hills miles 5.25 until mile 10.5.

NYRR AirBnB Brooklyn Half Marathon – May 21st: Enjoy a run party with some of my favorite runnersThis race has always been a tough one mentally as the final seven miles are flat and boring once you leave Prospect Park.  Instead of focusing on the downsides of this race, such as the course, I’m focusing on the fact that I know more than 25 other people running through the streets of Brooklyn and this race will be a party!

Once I’ve finished these Spring races, I will spend the Summer months focusing on short distances again, similar to last summer. As part of my Rock’n’Blog partnership (Lots more news to come about this partnership as well as awesome DISCOUNT CODES!!) with Rock’n’Roll I will also add a few of their races to my Summer and Fall schedule. Right now I have my eye on Chicago, Philadelphia, Montreal, Brooklyn and Savannah.

So there you have it! When I’m not running, I’ll be focused on staying healthy and strong through cross training.

Your turn: Have you run any of these races before or any of the Rock’n’Roll races I’m considering? What’s your favorite? 

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Five Tips to Improve Your Next Treadmill Run

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I don’t know about you guys, but this winter weather wreaks havoc on my love of outdoor running.  Suddenly my regular path can barely be found beneath the snow and slush and those other spots of sidewalk and street are often a danger zone due to black ice. Even though I love the winter weather, it has forced me to spend more time than usual on the treadmill.

Luckily, after ten classes at Mile High Run Club, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to improve my time on the treadmill. These teachers, many of whom are elite runners and run or coach a multitude of run clubs and workouts throughout New York City, do a great job dishing out tips on form, posture and workout structure during class. Even though they spend the entire class walking around the room, supporting and motivating us to run stronger and push harder, they never miss an opportunity to provide coaching that goes far beyond our pace and often applies to runs both on and off the treadmill.

Five Tips to Improve Your Next Treadmill Run

Based on the ten classes I’ve taken at Mile High Run Club this year, these five tips will help any runner get more out of their next treadmill workout.

  1. Never start your workout without a dynamic warm-up. Similar to what I’ve learned during my NYRR workouts, I feel a significant difference in my workout when I invest even just 3 to 5 minutes doing a few key moves before I start running. These moves help get your heart pumping, loosen your joints, stretch your muscles and tell your body it’s time to work. The most common warm-up moves are body weight squats, lunges, lateral lunges, butt kicks, and high knees. 
  2. Always set your treadmill to a 1.0 incline unless you are doing specific hill work. Researchers have found that a 1% grade on the treadmill best matches the intensity of outdoor running. If you are training for a race, the last thing you want to do is train in conditions that are easier than what you’ll encounter on race day. While you of course can’t replicate all of the variables such as weather, by setting the treadmill at 1.0 you make up for the lack of wind resistance and better simulate outdoor running.
  3. Use the entire treadmill. Like many other runners, I found myself running towards the front of the treadmill, hunching over the screen. During my first and second classes at Mile High, the teachers constantly reminded me to move back towards the middle or back of the treadmill so I could reach my full stride potential versus running like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. But, what I noticed more then improved posture or gait was actually the opportunity to pump my arms. Once I was running further back I was able to move my arms, providing extra momentum during the speed and hill intervals.   Give it a try during your next treadmill session and I promise you’ll notice the difference immediately!
  4. Switch things up to beat boredom. During each of the Mile High classes, whether we are running for 28, 45 or 60 minutes, the goal changes every few minutes. This method of breaking the class into individual workouts such as hills, recovery and speed helps students compartmentalize each workout so they can push through walls as well as make the class fly by.  I don’t know why but 90% of the classes I’ve taken at Mile High focus on hills first and end the class with speed. If it works for them, it’ll work for me next time I find myself on the treadmill.
  5. Grab a friend. Surrounding yourself with 30 other runners, each pushing through the same workout as you, it’s hard not to push yourself to your full potential each class. There is always someone in the class you can use as your motivator whether it’s their form, speed or endurance. More often than not, Theodora is my motivator during Mile High classes, helping me reach deep and push harder since it’s my goal to keep her pace. But, whether you want to race a friend or just have someone to keep you company, running on a treadmill is far more enjoyable with a friend on the treadmill next to you. Over the years, my friends and I have scheduled many group running sessions at a nearby gym when snow or inclement weather has kept us from running outside.

Want to learn more about Mile High Run Club? Check out my full review or send me an email! If you’re local, let me know as I’d love to grab a class with you! My favorite instructors are Andia, Jes W and Laura C!

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