Marathon training begins: building base

Marathon training begins: building base

I was slated to run the Boston Marathon this April, but since I was not "feeling the love," I had decided to skip it and instead concentrate on speed and shorter distances, which I tend to prefer, probably because I'm better at them. (We all prefer to do things that we are better at.) It turned out to be a good move. I enjoyed a sweet spring season, PRing in every distance I raced (5K, 15K, 10-mile) and even winning #1 female in a 5K – something I didn't expect to do at age 52,

As anyone who has done it will attest, marathon training is hard work and requires a huge time commitment, not only because you have to run higher weekly mileage than to train for shorter races, but also because you need to devote many hours to building up muscular strength in the gym and/or yoga studio. You have to be in the right headspace to do all this or you will have a miserable time.

After the spring racing season was over, the marathon bug started playfully nipping at my heels again.

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Consistency and running

Consistency and running

What's the #1 way to become a better cook? Cook every day.

Want to improve your cello-playing ability? Practice early and often.

Aiming to be a better runner? Then (wait for it!): run consistently.

Whether you are an elite or sub-elite runner looking to shave a few seconds off a fast PR or a total running newbie, just trying to break a 10- or 11-minute mile, consistency will afford you more gains than the latest fancy-pants training trend or a pair of sub-2:00 sneakers. Making running a regular habit – and not talking yourself out of doing it – is the easiest way to improve both your running and your mental grit...

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Win a free Stridebox! May and June Stridebox review and giveaway

Win a free Stridebox! May and June Stridebox review and giveaway

Between my trip to Paris and being super-busy with my job, I've fallen a bit behind on reviews. But today I have a double feature for you – plus, the nice folks at Stridebox have offered to give away free Strideboxes to two lucky readers! Contest details after the reviews.

if you're the kind of runner who likes trying the latest running gadgets, gizmos & fuel, you'll live StrideBox. It's a great value & a lot of fun - like getting a surprise each month.

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rest day: gluten-free crêpe recipe (vegan)

rest day: gluten-free crêpe recipe (vegan)

After returning from Paris, I felt a bit of reverse culture shock when resuming the fast pace and daily grind of East Coast American life. Of course, I was thrilled to see my 3 little furballs. Plus, it's always nice to get back to your own familiar space, things – and running routes. But still, I miss the ease and presentness of Paris. Eating French food helps me feel a little more connected to the sense of stillness and gratitide that I experienced during my stay there.

Last week, I posted a photo of some vegan, gluten-free crêpes I made out of longing for Paris. Several of you asked for the recipe, so here it is, along with some filling ideas.

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Race review: Paris Pour Elles (aka, How do you say "face plant" in French?)

Race review: Paris Pour Elles (aka, How do you say "face plant" in French?)

As part of my working vacation in Paris, I thought it would be fun to run a race in in the City of Light. Races are few and far in-between in France, so I had to go with what was available. I registered for a women's only 10K called "Paris Pour Elles" (Paris for Her).

One of the funny things about signing up to race in France is that you need a doctor's note confirming you are fit to run. In the US, you just sign a waiver, basically saying if you die, it's your own damn fault.

This was truly a race scheduled for "fun." My season was finished. I had met and exceeded my goals beyond my wildest expectations in my goal races - PRing in every distance I raced this spring and best of all, coming in 4th in my age group in the wildly competitive Broad Street Run. I even won a 5K!

So I was tired. My body was creaky and my legs felt anything but fresh. All the signs that I should slow down were there. Even my coach directly told me to back off.

But I didn't. *rolls eyes* ...

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Rest day: Random Paris observations

Rest day: Random Paris observations

With respect to running, after about a week in Paris, my body started to scream "oncle!" At the end of the spring season when my body was already beaten up, putting in running mileage plus 3-5 solid hours of walking each day was proving to be too much. Toss in a helping of serious jet lag and it added up to accumulated fatigue. My gastroc started to light up, plus my hamstrings felt like they were housing bowling balls, and I just felt sizzled.

Soon fall marathon training will begin. Keeping my eyes on the future, I need to back off on the running now so my body can heal. It is a bit of a bummer because I love running on vacation, especially in Paris where there are so many beautiful routes and vistas. But at the same time, it's also nice thing because it gives me a hall pass to slack off for a bit. Since I take very good care of myself in terms of exercise and nutrition, many signs have indicated that it's time to spend time in the City of Light nurturing my soul.

Perfect segue for a "rest day" post – a post that really has nothing to do with running....

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Running while traveling - Bonjour from Paris!

Running while traveling - Bonjour from Paris!

Bonjour from Paris! 

Sorry for my absence but it's been a crazy week. I arrived here last Tuesday morning. I'm apartment- and cat-sitting for my friend, who is a translator, while she visits her family in the US. It's fun living in Elisabeth's apartment and exploring her neighborhood – the 17th arrondissement, aka Batignolles. Trying on Elisabeth's expatriate freelance life and living in a different neighborhood is intriguing. I could get used to this, especially since I work from home and via technology. In fact, I already am used to it....

Some people like to take a vacation from running and exercise while they vacation, which is certainly understandable, but it's not for me. I'm not doing my strength work, core or yoga here, but I skipped only one scheduled run yesterday, because my gastroc was lit up. Otherwise, I have been happily running in Paris, exploring new vistas and routes. (Watch for my upcoming Paris running route post.)...

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Broad Street Run: Race Recap

Broad Street Run: Race Recap

Last Sunday, May 7, 2017,  I joined nearly 40,000 other runners and completed my 7th Broad Street Run, the country's largest 10-miler. It is truly an amazing event: a fast, flat course positioned north to south, past some of Philadelphia's colorful neighborhoods, screaming spectators, several universities, silly signs and architectural gems. If you're running for fun, it's a great way to experience a real slice of the City of Brotherly Love. 

Besides competing for personal reasons, the Broad Street Run is part of the Midatlantic USATF Grand Prix, so many local track teams, including my team, the Philadelphia Runner Track Club, were competing .

We have little to zero control over how life unfolds, and the week leading up to the race was far from ideal....

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Mizuno Wave Rider 19 review

Mizuno Wave Rider 19 review

Now that I've run 100+ miles in my Mizuno Wave Rider 19s, I feel i've had enough experience to review them. A small matter that the Wave Rider 20 is now out: I'm not an early running shoe adopter. When I find a running shoe I like, I tend to remain loyal to it until it's discontinued – which also happens to save money and time. When you find a good thing, stick to it. This applies to most things in life.

First things first, Mizuno has an almost cult-like following. Personally, I never would have tried the brand; nothing about the Mizuno remotely interested me, except for the fact it's a Japanese company. But a few years back, someone from Mizuno contacted me through Instagram and offered me a free, no-strings-attached pair of Wave Rider 18s to try. Free is my favorite price so, of course, I said yes and gave these neutral shoes a go. 

I didn't expect to like the Mizuno Wave Rider 18s but I did, in spite of myself....

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10 tips for aspiring runners

10 tips for aspiring runners

...When a person says "I would like to be a runner BUT...", to me, it's a telltale sign there's a passionate runner lurking inside, just waiting to burst out and run joyfully. All wannabe runners need is a little nurturing and good information to get started.

I say this with certainty this because I was once that person. I used to say, "I would like to be a runner BUT." I thought of myself as a jogger, not a runner. And so that's what I was. And that's what I did.

...Want to start running but not sure of where to start? Consider these 10 tips for wannabe runners from a girl who's been there:

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21-day badass adventure cleanse recap

21-day badass adventure cleanse recap

I believe the 80/20 rule applies to most things in life. Eg, if you eat healthily 80% of the time, then it's okay to "sin" 20% of the time. Although I eat pretty cleanly, my hedonistic love of acidic foodstuffs – sugar, coffee, wine and white sugar – had my daily diet teetering uncomfortably past 79%. Plus I was feeling stressed – like there wasn't enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needed to be done. It was time to cleanse.

About once a year, I do a 21-day cleanse, loosely based on the cleanse in Kris Carr's Crazy, Sexy, Diet. The cleanse does not involve deprivation: you eat all you want. Your daily diet consists of vegan (aka plant-based), gluten-free, mainly alkaline foods (60-80%) and some healthy acidic foods (20-40%). The cleanse is not just about nutrition; it also involves self care, like daily mediation, dry brushing, news fasting, exercising, etc.

This cleanse is a ritualistic return to clean eating and radical self care. It counters the manner in which we are socialized to attend to everything and everyone but ourselves. Fact is, taking care of yourself is not selfish. It's necessary.

Luckily, 70 of you decided to join me in our closed group on Facebook. Cleansing is more fun – and much easier – when done in the company of like-minded people. We shared recipes, tips, successes, funny stories – and even transgressions. (Yes, we are human. Perfection is a dangerous myth.) On April 22, I officially finished my 21-Day Badass Adventure Cleanse. Hello, morning soy latte! Here's the recap.

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Spectating the 2017 Boston Marathon

Spectating the 2017 Boston Marathon

If you follow my blog, you'll know that even though I registered for Boston this year, I decided not to run it. In terms of specificity, you can't train to properly race both a marathon and 5-10Ks. That would be like studying French to pass a Spanish exam. My heart beats faster for the shorter, faster races (pun sorta intended), and so far, my season is showing that I made the right decision.

Since Sloan, some of my friends, and several teammates were running, I decided to go to Boston to support them. I wondered how I would feel when I got to Boston. I expected to feel some minor pangs of regret about making the wrong decision? But happily once I arrived, I felt absolutely no desire to have run the race this year. I had already run it last year and had a great time. I was stoked to be on the other side of the running fence for a change – the spectator side!

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Cherry Blossom 5K: Race Recap (I won!)

Cherry Blossom 5K: Race Recap (I won!)

I'm fairly disciplined and can usually will myself into doing speed work or a tempo run solo. But doing it as part of a 5K keeps me honest about my speed and makes it mentally easier to push myself. Plus, it's more fun! What can be more life-affirming than getting up early on the weekend and soaking in all healthy, active energy with like-minded people? So, this Saturday, I decided to jump into the Cherry Blossom 5K at the last-minute as a more inspiring way to get in a tempo run.

I had run the race before a few times (I actually won it once) and knew the new course included a steep, long hill at the finish. But I figured this would make for a great workout. As a special added bonus, this was the first year I remember when the cherry blossoms were actually blooming on race day.

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The life-changing magic of tidying up your running gear

The life-changing magic of tidying up your running gear

About 2 years ago, I read Marie Kondo's Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and no hyperbole: it really was a life-changing book and it really was a one-time reorganization. After reading it, I donated, sold or discarded roughly 50% of my possessions. I tossed items that were worn, donated items that were still good but that I had no use for, and sold or consigned items, like clothing that I no longer wore....

Although I had Kondo-ed my running gear, racing and blogging means you are constantly accruing new, some useful, some not. ... I decided to embark on an expedition to clean out my 3 drawers of running gear. 

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Hot Chocolate 15K: Race Recap

Hot Chocolate 15K: Race Recap

Last Saturday, I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K. Race day happened to dovetail with the start of my 21-Day Badass Adventure Cleanse, so I was curious to see what affect, if any, the regimen would have on my performance...

I lined up in the first corral. Runners are usually packed in, but this one was strangely loose. The gun went off more or less right on time. The 5:57 on my Garmin told me I was going way too fast – normal for a race start – so I concentrated hard on holding back. It can be difficult when runners are flying past you, but in a race of this distance, I knew I would catch many of them down the road.... 

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Why you should train with runners who are faster than you: my story

Why you should train with runners who are faster than you: my story

Most age group winners I now compete against have run track and/or cross country in high school and/or college, so they literally have decades of experience and running base under their feet. I only started seriously running when I was 45. I ran one meh year of high school track – 800 meters and 400 meter hurdles, mostly to keep in shape after gymnastics season – my real passion at the time. Our high school track practices were a joke. Come to think of it, I don't remember practicing much. I just recall showing up for a few track meets, winging it and doing okay (which, in retrospect, makes me think I should probably have stuck with it).

To work my way out from the middle of the middle-aged pack, I had much to learn and a lot of catching up to do – literally and figuratively.

Zigging instead of zagging

Last year, I decided I was going to do 3 things to help me push my running to the next level: hire a coach, get my USATF coaching certification so I could help others, and run with a local competitive team.

Philly is home to so many running clubs. There is literally something for everyone: social running teams, charity running teams, theme running teams, beer running teams, running store teams, etc. Philly also has a talented masters running club. You would think it would have been the obvious choice for me.

But as someone who tends to zig while the rest of the world is zagging, I decided to try something truly unorthodox: run with a bunch of crazy-fast young guns. This is because my main goal is not to become a better masters runner, although that's certainly a given. My goal is to defy categorization and become a better runner. Period. 

Plus, I like to occasionally try things that scare the crap out of me...

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This week's workouts : not too much, not too little, just right

This week's workouts : not too much, not too little, just right

Running is a balancing act, and figuring out how much your body will tolerate before it cries "Uncle!" can be tricky. This is especially important for masters runners.  Magazines, blogs and training plans all offer prescriptions for improvement, but in the end, you need to listen to your body and learn what works for you. You also need to be brutally honest about the difference between feeling a bit tired after workouts – normal and necessary as your body adapts to the increased stimulus – and true fatigue, which can lead to overtraining and sideline you.

Most runners use what's called a "3 on/1 off" approach to training, meaning they spend 3 weeks increasing mileage and or intensity (eg, speed work, hills, intervals) and then spend 1 week "off," cutting back on mileage and doing less intense runs to allow their bodies to catch up and recover. I discovered years ago that my body responds better to a "2 on/1 off" approach. Here's what I did this week...

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How to save money on running

How to save money on running

"Running is cheap; all you need is a good pair of sneakers."

Ummm ... no. 

"Need" is the operative word, here. Forbes reported that road racing is a $1.4 billion+ industry, and running shoes are a $3 billion industry. You can drop a lot of money on something that theoretically only requires shoes and clothing. Once you catch the running bug, you'll want more than just sneakers.

Want to enjoy running without running out of money? Try these tips...

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March Stride Box Review

March Stride Box Review

Time for another exciting monthly edition of StrideBox review. I hope you think it's exciting, because I sure do. Coming home and seeing my the smiling, cartoon faces adorning my StrideBox, and knowing I'm about to get a heaping helping of cool runner swag can make a sad day glad, not to mention make bills and junk mail a teensy bit more tolerable. This month's box was decorated with a St. Patrick's Day theme. 

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