Rest Day With Hornworms and Planks

It’s Monday so of course I mowed the lawn! Granted last week I used it as my cross training event, this week I decided to just do it on my rest day. It was a bit cooler than yesterday, when I had initially planned to do it but was too tired.

IMG_2858I had initially planned to do leg day on Monday since it is a rest IMG_2859day and my Tuesday mileage is pretty low, but by the time I mowed and took care of my tomato plants that were violated by a hornworm it was too late to key myself up with an intense strength session.

To compromise or at least feel better about not working on strength training, I began a 14 day plank challenge. The plan had appeared on the splash screen of My Fitness Pal app so I decided to give it a go. It seems pretty straight forward and takes just a few minutes each day. I was also trying to find something that Jesi and I could start together, I know that she is anxious to restart her fitness journey. I thought it would be a great little quick at home routine that we could do together.

Today’s routine took less than two minutes to do planks and side planks. My ultimate goal with planks isn’t to start a great 6-pack (though that would be nice) but instead to build up my core strength.

I have noticed that when I get tired I sag/lean. I feel like if I had a stronger core I might be less apt to hunch forward when I get tired. Also it will help me practice “activating” my glute muscles.

I will anxious to see how this two week challenge helps improve my posture and the impact it will bring to my running. Anything that will increase core strength will be a positive step forward.

Happy Running!


Eleven Miles And A Tumble

Eleven miles in a little over two hours. It felt amazing. I felt fast and smooth. It was as if I was gliding. The Hoka’s have been a true gift on long runs helping my joints and my legs remain fresh for longer. 

I took a bit of a different route to get to the cemetery. A route I often took last year and would often times struggle with, I noticed a huge difference this year as I was able to run longer patches for speed and only slowing my speed when I got tired. It was yet another indication of the progress that I have made in the last year. 

On my last half mile my toe caught on a raised sidewalk panel and I took a spill. Normally I am not the most agile person but I managed to get myself angled so that I landed in the grass. Though in the process I managed to land on my back on my water bottle which resulted in the water shooting up my back. Thankfully it was the end of my run so that the wasted water wouldn’t impact my run too much. 
It was a bit jarring especially given the positive runs I have had thus far. However other than hurt pride I sustained no injuries and continued the last half mile at the same smooth pace I had maintained during the previous miles.

With each completed long run I feel more confident and comfortable with my pace and form. Although with all the positive inroads I have made, I feel that improving my strength training routine would be beneficial. Though I have concerns of shaking my current training too much at this point. 

I will have to think about what minor tweaks I can make in the next few weeks that will improve my progress without having the unexpected side affect of slowing me down or injuring me.

Have you considered making tweaks before a race? How major were the tweaks and what kinds of changes did you make? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Happy Running! 

Are You Strong Enough To Be A Marathoner?

Think Sheryl Crow, accordion in hand, standing on a VH1 stage. Or at least that is what came to mind when I titled this blog.

Yesterday was a rest day, actually I switched my Monday rest day with Tuesday’s miles in order to juggle class and training. I had my Tax Law course last night and knew that being in class until 8 PM wouldn’t allow for enough time to run afterward, so I made the decision to adjust my days a little bit. In years past I would just take an extra rest day or shorten the miles in order to at least get miles in. But either option would short change my training, and with a limited window to meet my goal I decided to just switch things around a bit.

Despite not running, the marathon was still in the forefront of my brain. At a few less than interesting moments during the lecture, I couldn’t help but daydream about running. I was thinking about how smoothly training is going. I was wondering why all of a sudden I seem to have hit my stride (no pun intended) when it comes to my pace and overall comfort with running.

My questions, or pondering, were answered when I came across a The Run Experience YouTube video. The short video helped me realize that the interconnectedness [push-up/fitness test training and my marathon training had resulted in my improvement. While the video is directed predominately towards the first time marathon runner, the lesson is relevant to any runner.

Nate and Carl discussed the correlation between basic movement patterns and their indicators of strength and ability. It is true that you really can’t put an objective number on determining your readiness for a marathon, especially in training. However, utilizing a “test” of sorts based on a couple different basic body movements gives you a litmus test of your readiness. One of the basic movements they discussed was the push up. While the discussed the push-up I realized that I had discovered one of the keys to my recent success.

In September 2015 my push-ups just started to come together. I had been struggling for almost five years to get the mechanics right only to struggle getting down low enough in the push-up to meet the requirements of the law enforcement fitness test. I was told, and used as an excuse, that woman weren’t meant to do an unmodified push up. That it was an unfair test. However I wanted to pass that test…I wanted to successfully complete a minimum of 18 push-ups to demonstrate my equality with other (i.e. male) candidates.

This one particular day, I got down in the push up position and it just clicked. All the muscles seemed to work together and suddenly I was completing 5 unmodified push-ups to required depth. I have been improving every single day ever since.

The video mentions that ten is a solid and attainable number, in other words if you can complete ten push ups you are ready. I don’t feel, and I don’t think their premise, that if you can’t do ten push ups you can’t run a marathon. But from personal experience, I would say that there is a direct correlation about your ability and ease of completing a marathon compared to the total number of unmodified push-ups you can complete.

I can comfortably do 22 unmodified push-ups, 25 if I pause and catch my breath at the top. I think this ability has had a direct impact on my ability to run longer distances and at quicker average paces.

Successful push-ups have meant that it is easier to keep my body in an upright posture, allowing me to breath easier. Also I can maintain proper form through my hips and back. Lastly, it has helped with my breathing in making sure that I don’t hold my breath through the hard stuff or hyperventilate trying to get through it, two things that I often do in times of physical exertion.

There is also a mental boost as a result of the success, I worked hard for five years. Trying everything new process, asking for helping and researching strength techniques-everything I could think of to successfully complete push-ups. And I did it. I pushed through the self doubt and doubt from others.

I personally feel that Nate and Carl provide some great techniques and information about the correlation between the basic body strength exercises and your ability and success as a marathoner. I have linked the video below so you can watch it.

(As an aside, I’m personally not a huge fan of Nate’s see-saw forward motion on his push up but the overall form is good)

Happy Running! (And video watching)