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Hi, I'm Whitney! I am a middle of the pack runner who discovered the fun of triathlons in 2009. Join me in my adventures in life and training. I run with the Rush Running team and enjoy the fun that comes with such a supportive group of friends who understand what running means to me. I'm newly discovering road biking and the fun that it entails.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trying out the Kettle Bells

A friend of mine recently recommended some workout programs that she does through her running coach.  Her coach has an online site called runsmartonline.com where anyone can access his workouts for a low monthly rate of $10.  The videos are about 30 minutes long and are designed by physical therapist and running gait specialist Steve Gonser to help improve form and function for runners.  My friend is an awesome runner and seems to have a very low injury rate so her recommendation carried a lot of weight to me.

There are several programs offered but the newest is called PRIME.  Prime is a kettle bell workout program that takes six weeks to complete and covers 12 workouts during those 6 weeks.  It's two workouts per week and they build during the program.

Last week was my first week on the program.  My first comments to my friend were "That was a lot of squats.  I can see how it will improve running strength through hips and glutes for sure."  She responded with...watch out it gets harder! I did that first workout on a Monday night.  By mid afternoon on Tuesday during a restroom break at work I got the first twinge of muscle soreness in my legs and glutes.  That soreness lasted until Thursday when it was time for day 2 of the program.  Day 2 was a totally different routine and seemed to cause less muscle soreness.

Last night, was Day 3 and whoa...the soreness came on within 12 hours.  The day 3 program involved lunges within three different planes...front, 45 degree, and side angle lunges.  Even though I'm only using a 5lb kettle bell it is enough to get my heart rate up on some of the exercises and definitely leaves me sweaty.

I'm enjoying that this program is form and technique focused.  Tell me in the comments what you are doing to improve your running form?  I'm building towards spring races and in my base phase want to work on getting stronger to prevent injury.

Here's a short bio on Steve Gonser the author of the workouts.  I love that Steve isn't perfect in the videos...he sometimes wobbles just like me when I'm doing the exercises at home.  I haven't seen him drop the kettle bells yet...not that I've done that...wink wink...but if I did or he did it would be totally understandable, right?!?!
Steve Gonser graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Daemen College, instantly applying his knowledge of human movement and functional anatomy to his passion for running. Steve is a 2x Ironman, including a 10:41 finish in Lake Placid and a Sub-3 hour marathoner.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Back to the track - Dos and Don'ts

Tonight I headed back to the track for the Rush Hour Speed Workout.  Here are a couple quick tips for running with your local track workout group.

1) Arrive early to warm up.  Warming up is essential and everyone needs different amounts of warm up.  I prefer around a 1-2 mile warm up but know some who do 2-3 mile warm ups.

2) Follow the flow - watch the flow of your track just like you would when driving your car.  At our track, we warm up running in the outside lanes in a clockwise fashion.  Workouts are done in the inside lanes running counter clockwise.

3) Pay attention - think of the running track like a street.  Just like you need to pay attention to the other cars on the road, you need to be aware of the other runners around you and be courteous.  We have people that start the workout early and so you need to watch for them and try to give them the opportunity for an unimpeded workout.

4) Don't overstay your rest break.  This is one that I sometimes struggle with but the rest interval is set up to deliver specific benefits for each workout.  I wish every workout could have 1:30 - 2:00 min rest between each interval but some days 30 sec is all you get.

5) Know when to shut it down.  You will learn your body and learn what signals for you on when to shut down the workout.  No one wants to be a quitter but the workout will not benefit you if you aren't able to actually hit the goals.  For me, I will cut a workout short if I feel the sign of an injury.  Another thing that I pay attention to is my pacing.  If I start to struggle and can't hit the paces (and am getting slower) then I might adapt the workout to a shorter interval or drop it to a cool down shuffle.

6) Have fun! Find someone running your pace and form a pace group.  Cheer for others running...a good job from a fellow runner can be just the extra something that helps a runner hit their goal pace.  It's okay if you want to start an imaginary race with another runner...let that competition fuel you and thank them for helping you!

Tonight our workout was a classic ladder down with each interval getting slightly faster as the distances got shorter.

600m at 10K pace (600m is 1 1/2 laps on a 400m track)
30 sec rest
400m at 5K pace
30 sec rest
300m at faster than 5K pace
30 sec rest
200m at mile pace
1:30 rest

The goal was to do 3 sets of this ladder down.  Since I'm building back my mileage and fitness I did a modification of the workout with one ladder down and then ended with a 300m and 2x200m to finish.  My warm up was 1.6 miles and my workout was around 1.4 miles of speedwork.  During the rest break, I stood still to the side of the track.  I did a shuffle jog to cool down.  Next week I'll aim for a little more speed workout within the total mileage for the night.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Funday - Solo Style

This week was supposed to be the launch of my triathlon club's new Sunday Funday weekly swim session.  Unfortunately, our local community center had other plans for us.  The lap swimming pool was closed due to chlorine levels.  The center has a leisure pool with 2-3 lanes in it but it was overwhelmed with families and playing kiddos.

Lucky for me, I have a corporate gym facility with pool options.  I headed over to my gym to get my swim on but it wasn't the same without the rest of my training buddies.

Here's the workout that I did...keep it simple and fun!

Warm up - 1000 m
400 - free
300 - drills as 4 x 75 swimming in IM order, drill, free, drill
200 - pull
100 - kick

Main set - 1000 m
400 as 4 x 100 with 10 sec rest interval
300 as surging 75's - swim continuous and every 3rd length of short course pool swim as a surge
200 as 4 x 50 sprint/cruise swimming back stroke on the cruise length
100 as 4 x 25 swim from the middle of pool as a sprint into the wall and coming off the wall back into sprint with breath control

Cool down - 200 m incorporating stroke work

This incorporated my favorite warm up ladder and then utilized the same ladder concept to build a set with some variety.  It was good to get back into the pool after taking a little time off to rest after my TriFest for MS race weekend.  Going into that race, my hip was feeling tight and it just felt like I needed to take a little rest break.  I took two weeks off and my body and mind are ready to get back into training now.

Up next...laying out my Fall and Winter race plans.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I Tri to Encourage!

I've shared before on the blog how I am involved with the Rampy MS Research Foundation through the TriFest for MS training group as a volunteer coach.  This year I decided to get more involved and joined the Endurance Team to train for Legends 70.3 half iron distance triathlon in Lawrence, KS.

This week kicks off the National MS Week to raise awareness for multiple sclerosis.  Won't you join me in helping to raise funds to fight this disease.  See below for how to make a donation! Thank you for your contribution!!! I'll share more in the coming weeks as my training progresses...14 weeks to go!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Run with the Wind 2015 Race Recap

On Valentine's Day I participated in the Run with the Wind 25K in Carthage, MO.  This was my second year to run this race and first year to run from Carthage.  This race is unique in that they select the race starting point a few days before the race in order to provide the most tailwind!

The race runs on country roads between two towns outside of Joplin, MO...Carthage and Sarcoxie.  The high school in each town serves as the host for the race with open doors meaning real bathrooms!  A pre-race luxury compared to the typical pre-race porta potties.

We arrived in Sarcoxie for packet pickup around 7:45 which left plenty of time to catch a shuttle before the 9am start in Carthage.  The race offered free shuttle to the start so that you could leave your car at the finish.  We were on the last shuttle to the start and when we arrived I was surprised to see such a full house at the Carthage High School.  It was packed with over 200 runners.

Just a short while later we were heading out to the start line.  We set off just after 9am under bright and sunny skies.  I quickly realized I was overdressed for the weather.  The sun really warmed me up and I had to roll my sleeves up.  My friends and I wished each other well on our races and split up.

My goal for the race was to finish.  I had been fighting a chest cold all week and wanted to avoid any coughing fits.  I knew I needed to go slow and keep my heart rate down.  I quickly rediscovered that this race was hilly.  Somehow I had blocked the hills from my memory from the year before.  It was seriously hilly! None of the hills was too insane there were just frequent hills.

The race is measured for the mileage for the route from Sarcoxie to Carthage.  The mileage flags were placed in that order which meant that we were counting down the miles left to run instead of counting up the miles completed.

I made it through mile 10 before I starting feeling fatigued.  The temps were warming up and I realized that I was too thirsty.  I had a small water bottle with me and I broke it out between the final water stops and started to take multiple cups at those water stops too.  I really should have stopped to take off my long sleeve tee but I pushed along.  Around mile 11.5 I began to lose my strength against the fatigue and started to take walk breaks.  I was listening to my iPod and trying to coordinate my runs and walks to the songs.

The last several miles had a fun feature in that you could see the next mile marker flags off in the distance.  It made it tough to see the next mile...so close yet so far away at the same time.  I dug deep for the final mile and ran in towards the finish line.  The finish line announcer cheered me on after hearing my friends cheering for me.  I didn't finish as happy as I wanted...my legs and feet were sore and I was fighting to not break into a coughing fit.  I was disappointed in my fitness compared to the race the year before but in the end I finished the distance under difficult circumstances so I have to give myself credit for that.

Run with the Wind is a great small town race.  There is a great finisher medal and awesome long sleeve t-shirts this year.  The shuttle system that is provided is helpful for those of us from out of town.  I also really appreciate the 9am start time for a winter race.  It means getting up doesn't have to be quite so early in order to make the hour long drive to the start.  Registration was offered initially for a price of around $25.  Not bad at all!

Winter Finally Arrived for a Snowy Run

Friday afternoon I came out of a meeting and looked to the windows at the front of my building.  Things looked a little different but I wasn't sure what was going on until my coworkers started talking about how much snow was accumulating.  Somehow I had totally missed that snow was possible in the forecast!

The afternoon flew by as coworkers started to hustle home and by the time I was finally ready to head out, the road outside my building was a parking lot.  I hung out for a little while later and luckily my commute home wasn't too bad.  Unfortunately the city had decided that the weather did not look favorable for Saturday morning and they announced fairly early in the afternoon that the activity center would be closed on Saturday and thus our training group cancelled.

Our coach Mike posted that he would meet any who wanted for a run at 7AM from the square and so it was easy to motivate myself to head out on Saturday morning.  I got out my Yak Trax and began the trek up to the square.  It was pretty awesome to be the first one on the trail and be the one setting the tracks into the snow. I love snow runs...there is something just so peaceful and beautiful about running in snow.

I made it to the square at 7AM and lucked out in that the route was back towards home meaning I wouldn't have to rerun Crystal Bridges Hill again! We spread out and there were a few ladies behind me chatting away.  It took about a mile to get some separation between us so that I could be back in that quiet snowy solitude.  Normally I'm social on a group run but a snowy run seems to turn me into a big introvert.

I had some math challenges on this run...my Garmin was slow to sync up at the start so I started it a little way into my run.  My watch was behind my actual mileage which I just couldn't figure out.  I guessed at where my turn around should be and stopped to take a few pictures of some of the other runners to share on FB.  I also had to take a comparison shot of the trail showing what it looked like when it was just me on the trail versus after the Rush Running crew had passed through! We almost plowed the snow down there were so many footprints in the trail!

As I ran up the final hill to my neighborhood I noticed that my hair had frozen solid where it was outside of the beanie.  It cracked me up! I also noticed a perfect little snow ball attached to my shoe.  I'm not sure where it came from but it accompanied me for quite a bit of the 6.5 miles!

If you are nervous about running in the snow, here are some things to consider...
1) Yak Trax or True North will help you with traction.
2) Dress in layers and consider a shell jacket if it's still snowing.
3) Wool socks - I recommend Balega Trail Buster Quarter with wool
4) Leave your music at home and enjoy the sound of the snow...have FUN!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Training Runs with Run Bentonville

It's amazing how fast the time flies by...we are already half way through the training program for the Bentonville Half Marathon group.  Last week we tackled 8 miles for the weekly long run.  Waking up the temps were in that range of not too cold but not too warm.  The forecast high for the day was going be around 70 but around 7 am for our run it was still just 40 degrees.

Less than a mile into the run and I was warm and stripping off my fleece headband to try and get more comfortable.  Our route for the week was an out and back route that used the North Bentonville trails.  The paved trail is easy to follow and works great for a large group...not too many turns to get lost on!

The best part of the route ended up being our turn around.  It was marked by the world's smallest cone!

The second half of the run had gorgeous sunshine to keep us company and fun trail-side artwork to enjoy.  I couldn't resist stopping for a photo of the stained glass art piece.  It is one of my favorites especially when the sun hits it just right.

It's fun to train with the group and meet and talk with the participants.  It's really great to see them developing confidence to not only cover the distance but also tackle the Crystal Bridges hill.  That hill can be such a mental block and it's fun to see people take ownership of it.

After finishing up the run I headed home to a full to do list.  Before I could tackle that list though I had to snack on some olives. 
 I guess the extra sun and warmer temps had me sweating more than I realized since I was craving the salty marinated olives post run.  I got my snack in and then got to work getting my house cleaned and ready for the cookie party I hosted on Sunday.