A little motivation for marathon training, staying focused, and just getting through Monday in general. (We are just FOUR days away from spring break!)
A couple times a month, I like to take a break from writing my own original post to share amazing finds from around the interwebs that I found especially entertaining/inspirational.
1.) Motivation to push yourself in workouts:
Probably the only reason I was able to power through my 13-mile long run on Saturday was with Kelly Clarkson’s brand new album Piece by Piece (Deluxe Edition). She is the true MVP here. The beats and the lyrics made the miles fly by (except when I ran so far out that my phone lost internet connection and I ran two miles in complete silence. Awkward.) Can’t pick a favorite but Second Wind and Invincible are probably the best workout tracks.
2.) Motivation for Self-Improvement:
The Thought Catalog Article ‘25 Things Every Woman Should Have by the Time She Turns 25′
This article popped up on Pinterest and piqued my interest. As a 22 year old millenial, a lot of the things on this list are considered more traditional than modern. Especially #3, which says we should only have the phone numbers, Facebook contacts and friends that we actually want in our life. So many of the items on this list resonated with me and I think it is a personal goal to accomplish each one in the next three years. (Should probably print it out then, to remind myself!)
3.) Motivation for running:
*Obviously since I am 3 weeks in and 12 weeks out from my next marathon, I had to add something running-related. Blogs from other marathoners are my main source of running inspiration lately (Carrots n’ Cake and The Hungry Runner Girl motivated me to do my first Yasso 800 workout! Both are training for Boston.) I’m not going to lie, food is a huge motivator for running. As ridiculous as it sounds, I’m running to become faster for a marathon, not to lose weight. So I look forward to replacing the calories I burn off… I joked on Instagram about my intense margarita craving during this weekends long run. I’ll blame it on all the salt I lost from sweat! ;)
On the complete flip side of that beautiful diagram above, not every meal can be cupcakes and cosmos unfortunately. Nutrition is still extremely important for our everyday energy, brain activity, self-confidence and overall health. I’m definitely guilty of getting in a rut and giving into hormones and cravings. Sometimes we need a little motivation to remind ourselves why its so much better to choose healthy whole ingredients, and this video and post from The Skinny Confidential was pretty helpful –> TSC Grocery Store Haul.
5.) Motivation for blogging:
On Friday night, I was stopped at a cross walk with a friend just chatting. A girl came up behind me and said, “Excuse me? I read your blog…” I’d never met her before. She was a student at my school who Google searched ‘healthy college girl blog’ or something. Her boyfriend recognized our school in the pictures after she clicked on Strong Like My Coffee and so she began following. The very first time someone who randomly found me on the internet found me in person! (If you’re reading, hi!)
Turns out my digital marketing course and work with search engine optimization has made Strong Like My Coffee the #1 search result on Google for “Healthy College Blog”!
6.) Motivation for senioritis:
On Thursday morning, my marketing professor so kindly reminded us that we should start actively seeking out jobs for after graduation. Thanks dude, I’ve been working on that since January! Do you know how many rejection e-mails I’ve now received? I don’t even know. I delete them immediately, so I’m not keeping track. The majority state that they are seeking candidates with 5+ years experience.
I’m motivated to keep looking because of my intense passion for starting a brand new life of my own in the Carolina’s.
I’m motivated because I know my marketing skills and my experience are right for some position out there. I’m motivated to keep applying because every day, a few thousand people visit this site to see what I have to say.
I’m motivated because all of my peers are going through the exact same thing. I’m motivated because I’ve had my heart set on moving to the south and anything less than what I set out to do is not an option.
May your Monday be short and your coffee be strong!
Mountain tops, pine trees, wild flowers, puffy clouds, dirt trails, thin air. Runners dig this stuff ;)
Altitude training is a staple for Olympic and professional-level endurance athletes. (Some even go so far as installing specific chambers for sleeping that simulate altitude conditions…)
I have over three years experience with living and training in high altitude. Actually, the 7,000 ft. elevation and forest trails were one of the main attractions of the collegiate cross country program I selected. For a runner, pine-lined dirt trails are the ultimate training landscape.
Altitude training is an incredible tool for cross country training. The effects of a decreased oxygen supply are immediately noticeable….you will find yourself breathing deeper and your heart beating faster after climbing a flight of stairs. (Now try moving into a top-floor dorm room with no elevator!) Every summer I spend at sea-level, and every August I have to re-adjust all over again.
When I moved back to school on Saturday, I was unsure of how my ‘Sunday Long Run’ would fair….I had 13 miles on the menu. I decided that I would not be concerned with pace. I just hoped I could breathe!
But I did have some snazzy new shoes to motivate me even more ;)
To be honest, it was one of the BEST long runs of the summer. I didn’t feel the effects of the air until after my run, most likely due to the fact that I was so happy to be running along such a beautiful route in the perfect weather. My happiness converted to adrenaline and I was done with 13 miles in no time! My 7:27 average pace which had me PUMPED! (I will admit that severe fatigue set in a couple hours later…)
Endurance sports are as much mental as they are physical. Something about being outside on a trail, surrounded by massive trees and rows and rows of yellow flowers has a calming power. Of course there are days when I struggle to get through a few miles. But there are also others where the miles fly by with such ease. I full-heartedly believe that having a positive mental state is the most influential aspect to long-distance running. :)
The Science Behind the Strategy:
As elevation increases, the atmosphere has a lower supply of oxygen. When we exercise (particularly cardio exercises) we begin to breathe heavier (duh.) because our body needs to convert oxygen to CO2 at a faster rate to keep up with our activity.
Exercising at altitude decreases the amount of oxygen available in each breath, and over time the body acclimates to these conditions. Your respiratory system becomes more efficient at the O –> CO2 conversion. Therefore, returning to sea-level (more oxygenated air) allows an athlete to perform with more ease or with more speed.
Some Factors to Consider:
- The air is also typically more dry at altitude. It is easier to become dehydrated. Fuel and water are muy importanto!
- The sun also seems to be a little harsher. If you’re not a sunscreen queen already, lather up and protect your skin! There are plenty of “Sport” sunscreens on the market that are reportedly sweat-proof.
- Mountains and trails mean nature, and nature usually includes creatures… snakes, bugs, foxes, skunks, bears, elk (oh my!). Running on trails is also secluded. If I can’t coordinate with a running buddy, I like to stick to a route that is around a residential area or main road. I carry pepper spray and stay alert!
The hype about altitude training is really all it’s cracked up to be. It definitely requires more effort and includes more fatigue in the initial weeks. But after your body begins to acclimate and your breathing is less dramatic, you can see significant improvement in endurance performance from training in elevation.
Plus, it’s just pretty!
*My new apartment isn’t quite ready yet but I can’t wait to share all of my decorative touches with you when it is :) I think this year is going to be the best one yet.*
I know I promised a race recap yesterday but I was just too busy & tired to put my experience into words and pictures. Now that I’ve had a full 10 hours of sleep and a family celebration let’s get to it…
- Marathon: Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix
- Shoes: Saucony
- Hair: French braids
- Fuel of Choice: Gu packs (Espresso Love and Peanut Butter flavors)
- Goal Time: sub-4 hours
- Finish Time: 3 hours 27 minutes 14 seconds
- Pace: 7 minutes 54 seconds per mile
- Place: 251st out of 2878 (40th female out of 1238)
- Pre-race breakfast: plain oatmeal, banana & coffee
- Post-race meal: Cold Stone Love It create-your-own ice cream –> cheesecake ice cream with graham cracker, Crunch bar & hot fudge. Guilty? Not one bit.
The start line was broken up into waves so that 3000 people weren’t jammed across the 20-ft. start line at the same time. I was put in Corral #1 based on my estimated finish time, so I got to start immediately at 7:50am. Obviously the most important strategy in a 26.2 mile race is pace yourself. And based on my goal time of sub-4 hours, I knew I should be in the ballpark of 8 minutes per mile.
However….. adrenaline + excitement + competitiveness = 6:47 first mile. Oooops.
By the 10k mark I was at 45 minutes, still 5 minutes faster than my goal pace. I felt so stinkin’ good though that I just went with it. The first half, the first 13.1 miles, were nearly effortless because of the amount of runners I had around me, the crowds, the mile-marker bands and music and just my sheer excitement to be there!
Did I hit an infamous “wall”?
Absolutely, and a lot earlier than I anticipated. I took my first Gu pack at mile 6, and right away my stomach didn’t like the sudden intake of sugar. I took another around mile 12, and my stomach was really not happy. After mile 16 I struggled mentally, I think realizing that I had 10 miles to go was a bit overwhelming. That was a mental wall. The PHYSICAL wall came around mile 20 when my legs felt sore and heavy. Like I had done 400 squats. My quads and calves were on fire!
Things that got me through:
Slowing down was an option. Stopping at the water station for a sip and a splash was an option. Not finishing the marathon was NOT AN OPTION. Finishing in over 4 hours was NOT AN OPTION. I had a deadline and people at the finish line waiting for me! Mile 24 was a continuous gradual uphill and my legs hurt so bad that I literally just started counting my footsteps to distract myself and force my legs to keep moving. Luckily after the uphill, there was the reward of downhill and some water.
Once I passed mile 25 I knew that I was going to finish in under 3 hours 30 minutes. Thinking about that helped me push through all of the pain and make it to the finish line. There were crowds of people on both sides leading to the grand finish but I had my eyes peeled for my parents and Kerri. I spotted them a few meters from the mat and we all waved at each other :) Ooooh I just got chills.
I also happen to have the coolest parents who made a whole vacation out of the weekend. We stayed a couple nights in Phoenix, went out to some fun restaurants with my friends Chelsea and Kerri and definitely celebrated afterwards. The best moment was seeing them in the crowd at the finish line waving & cheering. That is the BEST way to finish a race! I owe them the biggest THANK YOU xoxoxo
After the marathon was over, the sponsors bombarded us with water bottles, chocolate milk, Gatorade, protein bars, pretzels, fruit. I met up with my parents and friends to bask in my runner’s high (and sweat-soaked clothes haha). I am so grateful to have amazing friends and family that were able to be there with me as I completed one of my biggest personal challenges of my life! It was an unforgettable feeling :)
There is only one post-race meal that I am interested in. You earn a MEDAL, you earn an ICE CREAM:
Three spoons because I share! ;)
Overall Race Impression: I couldn’t have asked for better weather. We started in 48 degrees, it was sunny but never hot. The course was relatively flat, all asphalt city streets so it was fast! I had no injuries, aches or pains aside from the inevitable soreness that comes with continual cardio activity for over 3 hours. The event was super organized with timers at every mile, plenty of water/Gatorade/Gu stations and nice sets for all 26 bands along the way. Best marathon experience I could have asked for!
The best part came from knowing that I exceeded my own expectations. Running a marathon has been a huge goal of mine for a very long time. As I began training, I didn’t want to just finish…. I wanted to finish in under 4 hours. So cutting over half an hour off of my goal time is a pretty successful race outcome for me :) It made all of the training, all of the time committment and sacrifices, quitting my collegiate cross country team and training by myself, totally worth it. I don’t regret anything! I wouldn’t have changed any of my training or pre-race prep. I’m every bit as satisfied and accomplished as I thought I would be and there is no better feeling!