Sunday, January 24, 2016

iFit Heart Rate Based Workout

This week, due to weather being cold, icy, snowy, generally gross, and being a bit under the weather myself, I spent my miles on the treadmill.

My endurance mare, Sasha, in the snow. Only 4 inches here, but a lot for us.

My 16 mile long run was done using an iFit Heart Rate based workout built into my Nordictrack 1750.

I actually wore 2 heart rate monitors. One was the bluetooth iFit module on a Polar strap. The other is my red Garmin HRM-Run that - along with my Forerunner 630 - gives me lots of data about my running. Some I know how to use; some I don't.

My 2 straps. I wore the blue one on top because it's softer and more flexible. Unfortunately, the Garmin one still rubbed.

I have a few options to set before starting out. I choose workouts, then Heart Rate Workout.

Choose the little running man in the lower left.
Choose the HR based workout.
I put in my max HR. My max is actually around 193, but this only allows me to choose in increments of 5. This is apparently used to decide what my HR should be during various phases of the workout. Then I chose my time. Since this was a long run, I did the longest available - 60 minutes. I just started it as many times as I needed (4, the answer is 4 times). For this long run, I did the Performance option.

Set user's max HR, max speed, length of workout, Performance or Endurance.

The workout starts out easy based on my HR, but ramps up pretty quickly. I only need a minor warm-up, but this is too short for me, so I make sure and warm up prior to starting one of these workouts.

I ran the workout on a 1% incline to make it a bit harder to try to make it more like running outside. Not to simulate the wind or anything. Merely that whenever I run outside, it's never perfectly flat, so I might as well bump the treadmill up a tad.

First hour of my long run.

 If you click on the above picture, you can see the iFit recap of the first hour of my workout. The treadmill automatically adjusted pace (red) to compensate for my HR (green). The first part of the workout ramped up my HR to 150 and tried to keep it there for a bit before raising it to 160 and keeping it there. Then drop back toward 140, back up to 150...well, you get it.

After starting the workout, I didn't have to touch my console at all until it was time to start the next workout. I ended up doing this 4 times. I'll spare you the others, suffice it to say I got slower as time passed.

This is a great feature of my treadmill. I have to give props to my husband, Daniel, for being the one to play around with this feature first.

The only thing is, I wish I could have a bit more control over the workout. I'd like to be able to specify a distance, rather than a time. And I wish I could create custom HR workouts on where I specify how long to keep my HR in a particular zone, but I haven't found anyway to create my own HR workouts like I can map or distance/time based workouts.

But definitely a great way to spend time on the treadmill. I would have preferred to run outside for the long run, but it's great to have this option.

Six weeks to go

Six weeks from today I should be running the Chattanooga Marathon. That's exciting and a bit scary. I'm doing ok on equipment (clothes, shoes, fuel belt) and fueling my long runs (breakfast, during, after).

I'm still way slower on my long runs than I think I should be. My PR half marathon pace is 12:12 and that was from October 2015. I think I should be able to maintain a 13:00 pace, but I certainly can't in my long runs. I'd even be happy (I think) with 14:00 miles, but alas, I have a hard time maintaining that for 20 miles and end up with around a 15:00 average for the entire run. At that rate, I will take 6.5 hours to do the marathon. The time limit is 7 hours.

I'm hoping the novelty of running in my hometown (even coming within a mile of the house I lived in for the first 9 years of my life!) in a first-run marathon will help motivate me and keep me on track as long as possible. I'm pretty scared of those last 6.2 miles.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fueling my long runs

I don't do a lot differently about my food intake while training except I allow myself some additional calories the day before, the day of and the day after my long run. I am a vegetarian and eat lots of vegetables, fruit and whole grains and I get plenty of protein on a daily basis.

Where I struggle is fueling the actual long run. I've been experimenting over the last several long runs and I think I'm getting closer to what works for me.

My current stash. I need to go shopping again. REI, here I come!

These are the guidelines I use; subject to change as I discover new things:
  • Eat something every 15.5 minutes starting 15.5 minutes into the run. I don't wait for an hour or so before I start eating, this just gets me behind the curve. I use my Garmin Forerunner 630 to show an "Eat" alert to remind me to eat.
  • Drink 2-3 ounces of water 5ish minutes after I eat something. (This will likely go up as the weather warms up.)
  • Every 31 minutes (which is every other time I eat), eat a single caffeinated Clif Shot Blok.
  • Every 31 minutes (when I don't eat a shot blok), eat 30-50 calories of something else.
    • Picky Bars - these are basically dates and nuts and other such things pressed together into a bar. I eat 1/4 bar per time I eat. I have tried 3 flavors so far and liked all three. No issues with chewing while running except my breathing is altered and my HR will rise slightly until I finish the bite.
    • Hammer Gel - (Nocciola) Hazelnut-Chocolate is my favorite so far. I'm about ready to abandon trying other flavors and just stick with it. I take 1/3 of a packet when I eat a gel. I have enough pockets in my running tights or on my fuel/hydration belt to stash the partial pack between bites
    • GU Roctane Gel - this stuff is really good for me electrolyte-wise, at least on paper, but I haven't found one I really like yet, so I keep trying different flavors.
I've found that I like mixing up the textures. I tried Honey Stingers bites and I liked them ok, but they were so similar in texture and taste to the Shot Bloks, that I got sick of eating such after several hours.

I have played around with putting electrolytes in my water bottles. My favorite is Hammer Endurolytes Fizz. I like the mango and the grape. I have added sugar cubes to it and I like that, but I have ended up with an upset stomach. My last run, I just used straight water and I didn't have any issues with my stomach. So I'm going to try the endurolytes again without sugar and see how that goes.

Before a run, I have been just eating a 100 calorie greek yogurt cup about an hour before my run. This works ok on runs up to about 10 miles, but I think I need to eat more before the run. I'm still playing with this aspect.

Before my 20 mile long run this week, an hour before my run, I ate 2 packets of grits (200 calories) and 10 grams of shredded cheese (34 calories). Grits are what I eat before an endurance ride. I usually add a slice of American cheese and 2 links of Morning Star Farms "Sausage" links. I didn't have either of those on hand, so made do. But since I use that before endurance rides (nerves, adrenaline, etc), I felt safe trying it for my long run.

About 20 minutes before my run, I ate 130 calories worth of No Bake Energy Bite.

While my speed was not much different from my last 20 mile run, my overall pace and attitude were better throughout the entire run than it was on My Worst Run To Date from last week.

Some things I still want to try during the run: RJ'S Licorice and fig newtons.

What do you eat during a long run? What do you eat for breakfast before?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Worst Run To Date

The Prelim

I'm trying to do a blog post once a week, so I'm a little late on this blog entry. The usual excuses, work being crazy, etc.

This week's workouts were a little different. I was scheduled for an easy 2 mile run, a 4 mile tempo run and an 18 mile long run. Instead of the easy and tempo runs, I ended up doing a 15.5 mile hike at Fall Creek Falls. More on that in another post.

This post is about the horrible, terrible, slogging long run of 18 miles. Most definitely the worst run I've ever done, especially from a motivational standpoint.

Weather and clothes

It was cold. 28 at the start, maybe 38 at the finish. I went to Stones River Greenway, which is my current de facto run longer than 13 miles place to run.

I wore my lululemon tights over a pair of RaceReady capris, my UA half-zip and my UA hoodie jacket. I started with a face mask, but dropped it back at the car after the first mile warm-up and ended up just using an ear-covering head band and occasionally my hoodie up for the rest of the run. I also used my winter horse riding gloves and kept those on most of the run with my half-zip sleeves over my thumb.

Wearing the capris under the tights worked ok, but wasn't optimal. I think the capris are too big, so didn't stay in place like they should. Warmth-wise, I was quite comfortable for most of the run, although, I will admit to my legs being too warm by the last 2-3 miles. I managed to find a pair of size small in the capris, so hoping those will work better.

The Run

I have trouble running strong for the first 5-8 miles of a long run and then losing steam, momentum and speed in the later miles, so this time, I started out very slow (14:00/mi), hoping to at least be able to maintain the slow speed through the later miles. The only thing I learned is that when I start slow, I just get ever slower and slower and slower. By mile 14, I was shuffling along and doing about 17:00/mile and that was the rest of the run. I was walking a good bit during those last miles.

My HR was good though. I averaged around 153 for most of my mile splits. That was the other thing. I was determined to keep my HR down for the entire run instead of letting it creep up to the high end of the spectrum.

My motivation and enthusiasm for running was non-existent by the time I reached my truck. At this rate, I won't be fast enough to even finish the marathon in the generous 7 hour time limit. I'm still determined to try, but sticking with half marathons looks pretty tempting right now.

During the later miles of the run, my hip flexors were very tight and painful, which likely contributed to the slower speed and raised HR. I need to find some exercises to fix that. Any suggestions?

The Aftermath

The good news is that after I got home and showered, I really wasn't that sore the rest of the day or the following days. After such a horrible run, I expected recovery to be at least as painful, but strangely, this was one of my easiest recoveries.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Iron Horse New Year's Eve Half Marathon

Last week, I ran in sunny 74 degrees with 80% humidity. This week, I ran in 35 degree weather with a breeze and overcast skies. Gotta love Tennessee weather!

For my long run this week, I went up to Fort Campbell to run the 3rd Iron Horse New Year's Eve Half Marathon. I stopped at the visitor's center to get my visitor's pass and made my way to the Shaw PFC (Physical Fitness Center) to pick up my packet. Some 60-odd people registered for the event. I'm not sure how many showed up.

I went out to my truck to drop off my packet and finish getting my gear together. Then back into the warm gym to warm up. It was 32 degrees. It would only warm up to 37. Overcast with a breeze.

The clothes I ended up wearing:
Tank top: ExOfficio Women's Give-N-Go Tank Top
*Shirt: Women’s UA Charged Wool ½ Zip
*Tights: lululemon Toasty Tech Tight II
*Skirt: Skirt Sports Race Magnet Skirt
Socks: Darn Tough Women's Fast Back 1/4 Sock Light Cushion
Shoes: Altra Torin (original)
Pony-tail headband that comes down over my ears
Lightweight REI skull cap
1 size fits midgets knit gloves

So, the starred items, I've never worn running before. The socks had only been through a 5 mile training run. Yes, I know the rule about not using something in a race you haven't used in training. We have that rule in endurance riding, too. But seeing as how this was a training run with loot, I figured, why not.

So a quick little review of the new clothes.

I bought the lululemons from their website after running in my endurance riding winter tights. I went looking for a nice winter running tight with pockets. These tights have lovely pockets. 2 zippered pockets; one on each thigh. The zippered pockets are big enough to carry 2 packages of Shot Bloks (each!) and maybe 3 in a pinch. The tights also have 2 open pockets; one on each hip at the waistband. The tights were too long for me, so I took them to my local lululemon shop and they hemmed them for me for free. These are lovely tights and feel buttery soft inside and out. I was a little worried about all the seams on these tights, but after my half today, I have no worries about that any more. No rubbing, no irritation and they felt great. I put my pack of Shot Bloks in one zippered pocket, my pack of Honey Stingers in the other.

I bought the Skirt Sport skirt to go over the lululemons to give a little more modesty. The skirt has these magnets in the front to hold a race bib, but my UA shirt would have covered it, so I pinned the bib to my shirt instead. This race was a chipless race, but I'll have to be careful about the magnets and bibs with timing chips on them. Some chips can be rendered inactive by magnets. The skirt was cute and did its job nicely. I was also happy to have an extra layer on!

The UA shirt was comfortable and I love the little zipper pocket on the back. It was perfect to stow my gloves before the start and the single glove that I removed after many miles. I really like the zip to control core temp, although, I must admit, most of this run, the zipper was fully closed!

The socks don't fit as well as they should. I got size small which claims to fit size 4.5-7. I wear a 5.5 in street shoes and a 6.5 in Altra running shoes. But these socks were too loose. I don't think I'll wear them for long runs again. I don't recall my feet being cold, but that might just be because I was cold pretty much all over. These socks might just be good for endurance riding, so I will likely move them to that sport. One nice thing about riding and running long distance is that equipment that doesn't work so well for running often works great for riding.

On to the run!! We left the warm gym about 3 minutes before the 10 AM start time. I pulled my gloves on, put my skull cap on and kept moving outside.

I started near the back. No point in being passed by lots of people. Before the first mile marker, I was pretty much shaken into the position I would hold for most of the rest of the race.

I was freezing! Normally I do a run/walk strategy with my Garmin GPS alerts, but I was very cold and kept running. The first mile I ran straight through. The second mile, I walked up a hill and was so cold at the top it took me another mile to get slightly less cold. So I ran as much as I could, walking only when my HR alarm rang at 175 or on hills when I knew my HR would go too high and I'd have to breath too hard. This was a training run, after all. I wasn't planning on a PR.

I drank straight water at the first water stop. Since this was a small race, I just stopped and drank and left my cup at the aid station so they wouldn't have to pick up my trash further on. Some of the other races I've been to will have a trash can a couple hundred feet up the course. This one didn't, but I didn't mind. The cold water and the outer cold air didn't do me any favors and I ran a bit harder away from the aid stations to warm back up.

The other aid stations, I began to drink straight gatorade. I've been avoiding that, but since I've also been having trouble with my calorie intake, I figured I might as well try it.

Around mile 3, I put in my ear bud and turned on my music. It was nice to keep some of the wind from rushing through my brain.

Just after mile 4, I passed a lady I'd been following at a distance. We were headed down hill and she was doing the same pace. I sped up to take advantage of the easier going and passed her. I'd done that before, but she'd passed me up the next hill, so I expected that again, but she never caught up with me again. At the turn-around, I noted she was about 1/4 mile behind me. I still expected her to catch me at some point, but she never did.

Now I was chasing another girl about 1/4 mile ahead of me. I never was able to catch her, but I kept her in sight until the finish. It was good motivation for me to keep moving to keep her in sight.

The course was an out and back, so around mile 4, I kept expecting to see the front-runners coming back at me. I was right at mile 5, when I saw the front runners. 2 ladies running close together. Hard to tell if they were running together or just competing. They were about 3 miles ahead of me. I felt kinda good about that. Better than 5 miles ahead of me! ;)

For the next 2 miles I got to watch people come back at me. I like out and backs for that reason. When I turned around at the aid station, I watched the runners behind me as they headed toward the aid station and me away. 2 runners that I knew were there, but then I was surprised to see 4 more runners. Well, walkers, they were walking when I saw them. That's kinda depressing, too. Here I am running for most of it and walkers can keep up with me. Oh, well, slow poke I am.

Around mile 8, I caught sight of a walker in front of me. He was hard to miss as he was a lot taller than me and wearing a bright yellow shirt. It took me 2 miles to finally catch and pass him. That was a bit depressing for me as well. Oh, well, training run, right?

At the last water stop, I paused and exchanged pleasant banter with the girls manning the station. They were quite friendly and I enjoyed my brief exchange with them. Then on for the last 2 miles into the finish. The finish was where we began, of course, and unfortunately for me, it was up a slight hill which looks a lot steeper and longer at the end of a race!

2:44:42. Not a PR, but not too bad. About a 12:33/mi average. My GPS read 13.12 miles. :-D

I got a t-shirt, a knit hat and a dog tag finisher's medal. Not a bad haul for a training run! I love the logo.

Another reason I wanted to run this ride, 10 years ago, Rendezvous with Destiny was run on Fort Campbell. This was a one-time 2-day horse endurance ride event. I rode Tanna (my main endurance horse who is still competing) on the 50 mile ride on Sunday. I rode with Joe who was riding Kit (who is also still competing). We had never ridden together before, but we became fast friends during that ride.

I thought it was rather poetic to run on the same base (not the same trails) I had once ridden my horse. And to have that race be called Iron Horse. It was great and I'm happy to now have my army coin completion award from the endurance ride and my dog tag completion medal from the half.