“Got a lot farther by working a lot harderBy being a lot smarter”

 I had two really successful week of training. I had mentioned in my training log that I switched from Hansons ‘beginner’ to the ‘just finish’ plan.  I have some trouble with both of the names of their plans, their idea of a beginner plan is quite bad ass.  Obviously they speak to the experience (competitive) runner/racer/athlete who just happens to be a beginner at the marathon.  As someone who has run 79 different races in the past 10 years, I’d put myself past beginner in runner terms.  I may not be competitive (ie fast) but that doesn’t mean I am still a beginner. I attempted to follow the beginner plan for the Philadelphia Marathon, but ultimately began to cut out the speed related workouts and attempted to maintain the high mileage. As someone who trained for their first marathon on 2-3 days of running a week, I knew that simply by running more, I would be a lifetime more prepare for race day. ( I was. I had a 29 minute PR & I am 8 years older and roughly 15 pounds heavier -all of that is a story for another day..)

As 2017 started, I struggled to figure out what running goals I wanted to achieve.  I had thought I wanted to get faster, I’ve always had the logic that if I could get faster overall, starting with 5k & onward, the marathon wouldn’t take so damn long.

I still feel that way, but truly, I like just running. I had started Hansons plan with 5 weeks of base miles and knew that I was going in the direction that would leave me happy.  Once week 6 happened, and I was suppose to start speed & tempo runs, I felt a sudden shift in my opinion. I went from wanting to run to ‘having to’ run. This is a view I do not take likely.  I have friends & family that would give just about anything to be able to be more physically active. I don’t take my able body for granted, so I knew I needed an attitude adjustment. I took a good look at the plan and realized what I was dreading wasn’t the high mileage, but the paces.

Sure, one could argue that I am not stepping up to a position that is uncomfortable or challenging, but in reality, in my non running life, I very much am.  So for now, running is going to be comfortable.  I am still challenging myself in the amount of miles.  I am looking forward to new monthly mileage PRs.

While I am not branching out into speedwork & tempos, there are a lot of things I am doing differently this round of Marathon training.

  1. I started taking a multi-vitamin a few days a week. I used to be a firm non believer in vitamins.  I eat vegetables and occasionally some meat, I love cheese and milk in my coffee.  But when I was set back a bit by my Ulcertative Colitis flare, it was brought to my attention, that my body might not absorb these nutrients that I do consume.  It was a bit fustrating to think that I eat the right things but still struggle to nurish my body.  I did some research and found a basic multi-vitamin to supplement my (mostly) good diet.  Now I have had a few million changes happen since I started taking them, so I cannot contribute anything directly to them, but its something different that I had never done before.
  2. Nutrition – Pre/during/post: I’ve been experimenting with proper fueling.  Prerun – I invested in UCAN after reading about it on several blogs/instagrams.UCAN’s texture is a bit interesting to get used to, but I felt great during my last two double digit run after using it, so I will continue with it.  Run: I bought reusable flask & GU to start, would love to create my own gels, but babysteps here. I am trying to get a head of the game and remember to take GU every hour or so, but since I don’t run with anything, the timing isn’t perfect – as it depends on when I return to my car. (obviously somechanges can be made here.) Postrun: Vega protein.  As a non competitive runner, I know this seems a bit over the top.  But with having a gastro disease, a happy gut makes a happy life.  As for post run,  I try to make a protein shake at school after a morning run,  to avoid going too long without eating anything.  ( I am limited on morning time, more on that in a bit)  I think smoothies will be a lot more exciting when it isn’t subzero temperature and 2 feet of snowfall in one day.
  3. Stretching.As a naturally flexible person,  I’ve often negletcted a solid stretching routine.  I practice yoga once a week(ish) but over the past year found that would be the only time I would really stretch. Lately I have been stretching for about 15 minutes every evening.  I know that there can be strong opinions about the usefulness of stretching, but if nothing else, it recenters me and brings me back to my runing goals every night.  I started off by following a few stretching poses in my Hansons Marathon Method book, but have started to adapt to what I crave.
  4. Morning Runs!  I have always wanted to be a morning runner, but continued to have excuses about making it happen. What started out as once a week has spirled (happily) into mostly AM weekday runs.  While there are some days that I wish I could wait until it was warmer, having it done before I’ve had my coffee, is fantastic.  I am quickly adjusting to the earlier mornings.  Currently I go directly to work from running, so my morning routine is compressed ( ie lots of food prep at night, laying out of clothes, etc)  but I am getting the hang of it.  As we gain sunlight back in the morning, I look forward to possibly starting a bit earlier to ease the rest of the morning routine.

 There are still “a million other things I haven’t done” in terms of marathon training, but here are 4 that I am currently working on.  I am eager to see how these benefit my overall running fitness/ quality of life/ marathon training.  I would love to hear changes you’ve made as a runner & did it work?

 

499 Miles to go*

My participation in the Vermont City Marathon was questionable for the past few weeks.  I enjoyed my time in Colorado and ran 3 more times during the week (14 miles), which was easy to coordinate since Joe was working and I had a lot of free time. Then the weather turned from 70s to 30s. The quick switch squashed my motivation. I have no trouble with 30 degree temperatures, but a 40 degree change in 48 hours, is hard for the soul. My last weekend in Denver was even harder to find the motivation since Joe wasn’t working. We did quite a bit of cool things; Coors Brewery Tour, NBA -Nuggets vs Nets game, Brunch with some friends, a microbrewery pub crawl, a mini binge of Stranger Things and a few episodes of art with Bob Ross.

On Sunday, I was scheduled to fly home and be back by 7pm. Although traveling always makes for a long day, it was my hope to take Marcy out for a few miles to shake out the legs, but my flights were delayed, instead I worked on progress reports and dominated the pokemon gyms in the terminal at Dulles airport.

The following week was rough. I had progress reports to complete, laundry to be done, and basic life after vacation blues.  I started the week fairly strong with a 5 mile morning run with Lindsey and an attempt at Hansons speedworkout Wednesday night.

For a number of reasons, the workout was a mess.  1) I am not in the same shape I was before the last marathon.  My leg turnover is slower, although I feel my endurance has improved. 2) I was recovering from a brief Ulcerative Colitis flare, which meant my nutrients were off for a few weeks and likely lower Iron levels due to my symptoms.3)Mildly related to the UC Flare, I decided (rather abruptly) to stop taking Oral Contraceptives, I have been UC symptom free for the past 4 years – with 4 years ago being the last time I had tried to take BC pills. My body was angry. 4) By the next afternoon, it was very apparent that I had a sinus infection.

While I hit my target paces, I felt absolutely miserable. Because of all the above mentioned contributions, it took me days to recover, physically and mentally.  The weather was lousy and I wasn’t feeling well, so I ended up skipping all of my other runs.  (14 miles total for the week)

By Monday (3/6) I was determined to turn it around.  I had planned to run after work, but by the time I got home – felt completely dead and skipped another run.  I knew that if really wanted to make it to the starting line of Vermont City Marathon, something had to change. I first decided to switch from Hansons Beginner Plan to Hansons Just Finish Plan.  It maintains some of the key parts of their method, but takes out the speed/strength and tempo runs.  If I am being completely honest, I had dropped a lot of those workouts after the speed section ended during Philly Marathon training.

I believe that can improve my marathon time by simply training better (miles, miles, miles).  I know at some point, in order to continue to improve, I’ll have to introduce other types of training, but I haven’t reached that plateau yet. I immediately felt more inspired and with my new habit of running in the morning, I kicked ass during the week.

Monday: “rest”

I’ll call it a rest day, since I didn’t do anything.  I had parent conferences all day, came home and fell into the couch for some Bachelor.  I was relieved to discover that the 3 hour episode they were advertising, was really only 1 hour with the other 2 being the women tell all. Since I wasn’t interested in that part, I went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Tuesday: AM: 4 Miles ( 10’18 pace)  PM: 75 Minutes Yoga

I had reached out to my friend Karen about running together since I still haven’t mastered the skill of running in the morning on my own yet. Karen is faster than me, but not to the unmanageable amount.  It pushed me a long and reminded me that I can move faster than I have been.  My legs have been in lazy mode for a while.  I went to my favorite yoga teacher’s class for a guided practice.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get out of my own head.  I struggled to be mentally in the class the entire time, but Yoga is a practice, next time will hopefully be better.

Wednesday: AM 5 miles (10’53) PM 2 mile walk

One would think after hundreds of miles at SUNY Albany, I would be tired of it, but I’m not.  I am a creature of habit. Because of my new plan, I have some flexibility with each days mileage.  My options for the week were 5,4, or 6.  Lindsey had 5 on her plan, so it was easy to decide to run the same.  Legs felt a bit tired but our splits were quite even, so I’ll take it as a win. The day had started off grey and bleh, but by the time I left work ( and I left a bit early since they ended up using my classroom as a yoga room) it was sunny and beautiful out.  I opted to take Marcy dog to the golf course so she could run. Because I can’t quite swing, driving to SUNY, running, and returning Marcy back home and getting to work on time, she’s been missing out on the fun.  The walk was hilly and lovely.

Thursday: AM 5 miles (10’28)

Lindsey and I met again at my beloved SUNY Albany. Lindsey had 3 on her schedule and I hadn’t yet decided if Thursday would be 4 or 5.  I haven’t yet tried 6 miles before work and was a bit unsure of how much time that would leave me. Along the way, I came to the conclusion that I should get the 5 miles done.  I was already out and running and it would mean less miles on a Friday.

Friday: AM 4 miles (10’31)

Lindsey was taking a rest day and I had thought that Karen had a scheduling conflict, so I was trying to amp myself up to continue the morning streak by myself.  I was afraid I’d hit snooze too many times and burrow in my bed too long. Although I truly love running in the morning, I really love my bed. Early Thursday evening, Karen sent me a message asking if I was running in the morning, I’m not sure I’ve sent a more excited YES! text before.  She agreed to meet me and all was right with the world. As I was doing dismissal at my school, I was so relieved to know that I wouldn’t have to face the wind or cold temperatures that evening. The temperature had dropped quite dramatically later in the day.

Saturday:  11.11 miles ( 10’32)

I can’t emphasis enough the appreciation I have for Lindsey.  She had plans for Sunday, so her long run needed to be completed on Saturday. The weather for this weekend was far less than ideal. The temperatures would be low with the windchill keeping temperatures steady in the negatives. I had some flexibility with my plan, but really had no reason to not complete my long run on Saturday vs Sunday, so I agreed to meet. I woke up and ate a reasonable breakfast and googled to figure out what exactly is appropriate running gear for negative temperatures. By 9 am I drank UCAN, put on a lot of clothing, and packed my water & gel for the car to head over to tried and true SUNY.  Sure we could have found anywhere else to run – but if it’s not broke, why fit it? The run was fantastic. It was cold and I was awkwardly layered.  I ditched my sweatpants and heavy ski gloves before mile 2 but ended up keeping a parka on the whole time.  There were some really strong winds, but we kept moving forward.  After the first loop, I took in some water and GU before heading out for the second round.  I’m not sure if it was the GU or UCAN ( only the second time I’ve used UCAN) but I felt great.  I didn’t notice my sugar drop ( which usually means I’m ready to knock someone out of the way)  Most impressively, my will to keep my bare ass from having to come out for a pee, kept me from having to pee for the entire run.  ( I almost always have to run by mile 5 ) We finished our run very high on endorphins!

After those 2 dodgy weeks, this run was a huge confidence booster for me.

Sunday: 5.65 Miles (10’20)


I had thought that Sunday was going to be warmer than Saturday, but it was more of thr same. Still barely single digit “feels like” temps and a whole lot of wind.  Karen and I had vague plans to run together, which really ended up working in both our favor. I caught up on laundry I had been avoiding and did a solid clean up around the house. Eventually, I was ready to run. Karen and Dave were working at a similar pace as myself and we met at Suny after 2pm. I was shocked at how good my legs felt. Moral wise, its a lot easier to get outtl there when I knew I only had to do one loop! 

As my body recovers from UC, hormone shifts, and sinus infections, I will try to incorporate some tempo work.  As for speed work, I’ve been enjoying the morning company of my ladies, and don’t see that working with my current situation.  Someday I will be badass enough to complete Hansons plan at its finest, but for now, this is enough.

Miles this week: 35 (!!)

Total Miles to Date: 125

 

* there is a shift in mileage goals from Hansons Beginner & Hansons Just finish!

 

 

 

 

February Spending & Monthly Costs

I haven’t quite gotten to the point in budgeting yet, where I am actually sticking to a budget.  But similar to my success with food tracking & losing weight, it seems that simply by tracking where my money is going, I am spending less in the ’empty’ type of categories (ie takeout) and feeling a lot less guilt about where I have spent my money.

February was a super confusing month to record.  I was away for almost half of the month (10 days) and received my Federal Tax return, which was extra paycheck.  So while my pie chart looks super impressive, since I saved 40% of my income, its only because for the first time in 5 years, I didn’t have a car repair or property tax bill to pay.

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My goal for February Financial goals were:

  • Decrease Clothing Spending to 10%
  • Reduce my margin of error
  • Increase savings by 5%

It is a bit difficult to see on the chart, but I did reduce my error this month, although I still had $20 I couldn’t figure out where it went. The other two goals are a bit harder to measure since my income was higher than usual.  I spent $222 less on clothing this month ( January was a bit crazy!).

We are a few days into march and off to a bit of a rocky start. I’m hoping that by publishing this post, it’ll help me get my head back into the game.

 

I am nowhere near an expert in any areas of budgeting, but I thought I’d share my current fixed items. I’ve worked hard at cutting these down to the bare essentials, which included a lot of evaluation of essential and luxury items.

  • Housing / home insurance 
    • Having somewhere to live is clearly essential.  I could potentially save even more here if I took in a lodger, but I fail to see how it would positively impact my life in any other way. I do own my house & live very much within my means in terms of cost
  • Gas/ Electric (technically a variable cost, but I have to pay it each month so….)
    • There isn’t a lot of control over this as I am on the grid but I keep my home at 65 most days in the winter (cooler when I am away) A possible investment would be a programmable thermostat so the temperature could drop more overnight, but really 65 seems to be my happy place.  My National Grid bill ranges from 55 – 120 each month.
  • Cell Phone 
    •  I left at&t after almost 9 years and joined T-Mobile. It cut my cell phone bill from $100 to $77 by switching to Tmobile.  With T-mobile I have unlimited data. With the unlimited data, I was able to cancel my home internet & cable and simply use my cell phone as a hotspot. (and an antenna on the window for local channels)  That 20 dollars plus the 80 from canceling Verizon Fios left me with over $100 bucks! Last week my boyfriend and I combined our Tmobile accounts for a $ 100 a month for 2 unlimited lines, so my future cell phone/internet bill should be $50 +taxes
  • Car / Insurance
    • I am driving a lovely 2007 toyota corolla.  I still remember the day I brought it home, 10 years ago.  Its possible Little C -2  ( its my second corolla) will see her final days sooner than later, but she is cheap to fill up and to insure.
  • Loan Payment / Personal Debt
    • A major reason I’ve decided to buckle down on my finances, aside from it being the cool thing to do in your early 30s, is that I am able to see the other side of the debt tunnel I had created in my 20s. I spent the past few years building myself to a place where I could move forward.  I started by eliminating credit cards for a year.  The following year I tried to pay them off, but the interest rates were just so high that finally I consolidated and created a personal loan.  At current writing I am 10 (hopefully less) payments away from being debt free.

Although I am still in the early stage of creating a budget and finding the best way to organize my money, I am quite proud of my sleek fixed costs.

What are some of your fixed costs?