Tagged: yoga

50K Training, Week 10: The Most Gorgeous Week

Some weeks are just made for running.

This past week was an absolutely gorgeous week of spring weather. The week started out in the upper 30’s in the mornings and was in the low 60’s by the end of the week — which is a pretty abrupt change in temperature. The trees are just starting to get their green leaves, the evening sunsets with a thin crescent moon were lovely, and (though I was never able to spot it) there’s a comet somewhere near the Earth. Though spring is inevitably followed by summer, my least favorite running season here in Texas, I can’t help but love running in the early springtime.

Moon

Thursday night’s attempt at finding the comet.

MON: Pace Run 9 mi Since the rain cancelled my trail run yesterday, and the wind kept me nice and warm in my bed, Liz and I met up for a loop around the lake this morning. Though not 35 mph like yesterday, at 36 degrees we definitely felt the wind this morning. We felt good, added in the hilly path, ran negative splits, and wound up with a pretty fast average pace (9:06). Even though it was only 9 miles, I was too worn out for yoga afterwards.

TUE:  Easy Run 6 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – It was an absolutely gorgeous morning for a run on the Katy Trail. We are getting a little bored with running around the lake and it was a nice change. Tried to keep the pace more conservative, but the average was still only three seconds slower than yesterday’s. Enjoyed some power yoga later in the morning.

WED: Easy Run – 4 mi – Liz took a rest day so I did an easy run in the neighborhood. Legs felt tight and my allergies made me feel  fuzzy headed and sluggish. Breezy, but another gorgeous spring morning.

THU: Hill Run – 8 mi – Met Liz and Hari a little later in the morning for a hill run around Lakewood. It was another beautiful day, though the temperatures did climb into the low 60’s by the end of the run. In another month I will be dying for runs in the low 60’s, so I’m not complaining. Liz watched a show Sunday morning that highlighted a study about friendship that says people perceive hills to be less daunting when they are with friends. This certainly seems to be the case when we run hills each week. I can’t imagine trying to run them without my friends (and I would do a lot more walking if I did).

FRI: Yoga – 20:00 – Because of running four straight days, I have been yoga lazy this week. Did some easy forward bends.

St Patrick's Day, Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX

The madness that assaults my neighborhood each St Patrick’s Day weekend.

SAT: Long Run 10 mi – One of the worst runs I’ve had in a long time. It was warm and humid, and I don’t think many of us have acclimated to the warmer temperatures yet. Also, my allergies have been pretty bad all week and, worst of all, my left ITB felt suspiciously tender. It continued during the run and early afternoon, but was never bad enough to call it painful. It was gone after an evening of relaxation on the couch — and it’s not easy to relax on the Saturday before St Patrick’s Day when you live where we do, just off lower Greenville Ave. For those who don’t live here, Greenville Ave. is Mecca to all St. Patrick’s Day revelers in Dallas. The noise of 100,000 drunk people, helicopters, sirens, traffic, loud music, and parties next door and across the alley (including yelling drunk women — why do women yell when they drink too much?) kept us up until 3am. It was a short night.

SUN: Trail Run Grapevine – 8.7 mi, Yoga – 40:00 – Slept on the couch with the TV on until 3am to drown out the music from the party next door, then got up at 6:30am for the trail run with Hari and Susan. It was 64 deg, overcast, and humid, but surprisingly pleasant during the run. The ITB felt okay today, just a slight twinge of tenderness, so I’m not freaking out. It’s merely making its presence known. I will acknowledge and take tomorrow off. This has been the highest mileage week I’ve run since December, so I will back off. We had a fun encounter with a speeding armadillo on our run who ran right across our path, in a straight line uphill, running much faster than we were. I had no idea they could run that fast! And what kooky looking animals!

Looking forward to Grasslands trail marathon this weekend!

Stats for WEEK 10: Run –  46.3 miles, Yoga – 1:20:00

Armadillo photo courtesy of: Rafi B. from Somewhere in Texas 🙂 (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

50K Training, Week 9: Blow Me Away

I was a skinny little girl. My best friend’s mom used to say that one day I would blow away in a strong gust of wind. I think I took those words to heart.

First day of school, 1966

First day of school, 1966

Everyone has their own personal running nemeses. High heat and humidity come to mind, both of which I struggle with. For me, though, nothing is worse than running against a strong wind, especially when it’s cold.

It’s getting to be that time of year when the wind makes its reappearance. My first two marathons are still my toughest races, mostly because of high winds in each race, with the second even windier than the first. Probably because of those two races, strong wind is my least favorite weather to run in. Winter temperatures make it even worse.

Two of my runs this week were “winded out” because of strong, gusty winds and cool temperatures. No guilt; I just didn’t feel like fighting 35+ mph gusts on those two days. I did get in three quality runs, though, so I’ll call it a step-back week and pick up the mileage this week.

Clouds

MON: Yoga – 40:00 – Woke up with a slightly sore lower back (probably from a small fall on the trail yesterday), so I did some back bends, then hip openers to help stretch out the sore quads. 88 degrees today!

TUE:  Rest Day Heard the wind howling all night long, bringing in a cold front and plunging temperatures. Even Liz didn’t want to run in that wind, so it was easy to convince her to bail on our morning run. We attended a luncheon together and standing in the cold wind afterwards at valet parking got rid of all my guilt at not running. The wind continued into the evening, and I was having dinner with a friend anyway, so an unplanned rest day took place. This only means I will have to try and make up the miles later in the week.

WED: Hill Run – 8 mi, Power Yoga – 20:00 – Liz and I packed in as many hills as we possibly could on our run today. As usual, I dreaded the run and wound up loving it in the end. Liz and I had a great conversation on our run, and it reminds me that I’ve made some truly amazing friends through running. Power yoga in the late afternoon wore me out.

THU: Tempo Run – 6 mi – Yoga – 20:00After yesterday’s hill run, I don’t know how we did it but Liz and I picked up some serious speed today. We ran fartleks in between what we thought was an “easy” pace, and couldn’t believe some of the splits we pulled off. Liz loves sprinting, especially at the end of a run (I don’t), but our fast fartleks felt exhilarating. It was a great workout, and I could barely keep my eyes open later in the evening.

FRI: Rest Day – I thought about doing a few miles in the neighborhood in the afternoon, but after a hill run followed by a tempo run, and two scheduled long runs this weekend, I decided against it. Somehow I got busy later in the day and never got around to yoga either.

SAT: Long Run 12 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – What a warm, humid, windy run. I guess I should be thankful that the wind kept us cool, but it was mostly just plain irritating. After morning runs these past few weeks in the 30’s and 40’s, starting with a  temperature of 61 degrees was a shock to the system. It certainly kept our pace slower than usual, and there were some hills in the end, but I managed to have a great run.

SUN: Rest Day Another trail run rained out. I enjoyed sleeping in on a Sunday morning, but could hear the wind blowing and gusting outside. I had planned on running in the afternoon but felt absolutely zero desire to battle the wind. I took a rest day instead and will make up the miles next week.

Stats for WEEK 9: Run – 26 miles, Yoga – 1:40:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 8: My Cup Runneth Over

My friend Hari had some of his favorite running friends over for dinner a few months ago. As we stood in the kitchen, shooting the breeze while we waited for Hari’s world famous pulled pork to be ready, someone noticed a jumble of running stuff in the small pantry off the kitchen. When I say “jumble,” I really mean an overflowing waterfall of running stuff spilling from the counter. It was everywhere — and it was a MESS. After giving him a hard time for it for the next few weeks — because that’s what I do — I looked around and realized my stash of running stuff looks just as bad as Hari’s.

Hari's running stash.

Hari’s running stash.

This is my confession.

My running stuff is not confined to one area, like Hari’s. It’s all over the place. There’s the bookshelf next to my computer that’s a jumble of office supplies, yoga DVD’s, teaching materials, yoga mats, weights, and running stuff. There’s the dining room table where I put out all the things I will need for the next day’s run. There’s the closet where I keep all my shoes, jackets, shorts, shirts, capris, tights, gloves, caps, etc to ensure I’m warm/cool/dry enough for any type of weather or season. And there’s the dresser drawer where I keep all my socks. Yes, three-fourths of an entire drawer of socks — thin socks, toe socks, trail socks, and thick trail socks. And I won’t go into depth about the TEN pairs of Nike Frees I bought on sale last year that are stacked up along the floor of my closet.

Running stuff

At least it’s not too messy . . .

Don’t get that snooty look on your face. I know I’m not alone. I bet your place looks just as overrun with running items as mine.

MON: Recovery – OUCH. My quads are very sore from yesterday’s half marathon.

TUE:  Recovery – Still sore. Too sore for yoga even.

WED: Recovery – Just a little residual soreness in the quads, but I have a headache, so I’m taking another rest day and not feeling an ounce of guilt for doing so.

THU: Easy Run – 5 mi – Yoga – 20:00I thought I was just being lazy for not running yesterday, but my quads were still pretty sore on my run this morning, especially the left one. It was cold (37 deg) and Liz and I had to keep slowing ourselves down. We ran negative splits and finished off much faster than either of us really wanted to. I have to admit that it feels kind of awesome to be running so fast again. Enjoyed some forward bends afterwards and hoping it will help with the quads.

Running socks

Obviously I have a sock addiction.

FRI: Yoga – 35:00 Since my quads were still sore yesterday, and I have two long runs this weekend, I decided to do some easy yoga and take a running rest day.

SAT: Long Run 13 mi – It was SO COLD on our run this morning. 32 degrees at the start with an icy cold wind to boot. My fingertips were frozen the entire run. Nevertheless, it was still a good run — despite the trauma of having our start time pushed back to 6:30am, UGH — and we kept a good pace. I am going to appreciate every single cold run from now on because I know these days are numbered. (I really could have done without that cold wind, though!)

SUN: Trail Run Rowlett Creek Preserve – 11 mi – A gorgeous morning for both a trail run and a birthday. The weather was perfect, and we had a nice group running with us. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done an extended trail run with my friend Hari, so it was nice to spend the morning on the trails with him. Afterwards, breakfast at Hubbards with some of the group, and a quiet birthday at home.  It was nice to take some time off this week from running to recover and to run a semi-long trail run to cap off the week.

Stats for WEEK 8: Run – 29 miles, Yoga – 55:00

Running clothes

The horror that is my closet.

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 7: Cowtown Half Marathon

After last week’s running boredom, I looked forward to taking three full days off before running the Cowtown Half Marathon on Sunday. Taking three days off before a race has always worked well for me, and I arrive feeling rested and excited to race at the start line. I was also looking forward to a short weekend away from home and running on a new course. Part of my running boredom is nothing more than always running the same routes, over and over, or the same few trails, and I was really looking forward to running in a different location. I was hoping that running a half marathon would also reset all my buttons and break up some of the tedium of training — and that’s exactly what happened. There’s nothing better than running a good race.

Cowtown Marathon 2013

At the start of the Cowtown Marathon/Half Marathon with the Will Rogers Coliseum and Ft Worth skyline in the background.

MON: Yoga – 40:00 –  I was feeling pretty sore from our short trail run yesterday, especially in the calf muscles and left groin area (which has been flaring up off and on recently, probably because of the hill work). Concentrated on forward bends and opening the hips, and felt great afterwards.

TUE:  Hill Run – 6 mi – Since we’re officially tapering before Saturday’s half marathon, Liz and I ran the hilly path rather than the more challenging hill route we run on Wednesdays. It was another gorgeous, early spring morning, with blue skies and temps in the mid 40’s. Though I am sad to see our Texas winter slowly fade away, I can’t complain about these perfect mornings for running. I loved that the hilly path seemed easy, and I especially loved feeling so strong on the hills.

WED: Easy Run – 4.2 mi – It was thundering and hailing when I got up to run with Liz, so we pushed the run back to this afternoon. It was a true winter day, with cloudy skies and a blustery wind from the north. I think we would have run 6 miles if the wind hadn’t been so bitterly cold, so we cut it short and kept a relatively easy pace. I’m really looking forward to three days off from running, some longer yoga sets, and then the Cowtown Half Marathon on Sunday.

THU: Yoga – 40:00Enjoyed my first day of taper before the half marathon on Sunday. Did twists and back bends, then took the dogs for a long walk in the evening. After a brief rain storm this morning, it turned out to be a gorgeous, warm day. I’m really looking forward to getting away for the weekend and running a half. My last half was in Eugene almost a year ago and I loved the course. For me, half marathons are truly a fun distance to run. I can push the pace, enjoy the course, and not feel as beat up afterwards as I always do after a marathon. Liz and I are going to try and run a sub 2:00 hour. We’ve both been running really well lately, so I think it’s possible. It’s predicted to be “breezy,” and wind is not my friend during a race, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t materialize. If it does, though, we’ll still have a fun race.

FRI: REST DAY A total rest day (except for packing for the race)!

SAT: Rest Day Liz and I took the train over to Ft Worth and met up with Heather at the hotel, which was a very short walk from the train station. I was glad I decided to stay with them overnight in Ft Worth rather than drive over from Dallas before the race. We took the free trolley to Uno’s pizzeria for dinner and met Hari, his family, Amy, and Aaron. The restaurant was packed, but it was worth the wait because the pizza was amazing. Liz, Heather, and I went back to the room and got everything ready for the race, then it was lights out at 9pm. As always, I tossed and turned all night, nervous about the race. Some things never change, no matter the distance.

Cowtown Marathon 2013

Me and Liz somewhere around mile 6

SUN: COWTOWN HALF MARATHON, Ft Worth Sometimes everything comes together on race day and you have an amazing run. Today was one of those days for me. The weather was perfect (cold and wind-free), the course was hilly enough to add some variety, and overall I just felt very, very good. I decided not to wear my Garmin — a first for me — and tried to run according to how I felt. When I got to the top of the long hill around mile 9 (where I silently thanked all those hills I’ve been running lately) I felt great, and pushed the pace with a smile on my face. I went from a 9:10 average at mile 3 to an 8:50 finish in my second fastest half marathon ever (1:55:48), and the fastest finish I’ve had since 2010. It feels good to pull that off but, like I said, sometimes it all just comes together. The most important thing is that I truly enjoyed every minute!

Stats for WEEK 7: Run – 23.4 miles, Yoga – 1:20:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 6: Do I Have To?

There comes a time in each training season when I start to feel a little bored with running. This week was one of those weeks. Running felt more like something I had to do rather than something I got to do. I’ve always disliked having to do certain things, when schedules and routines become more of a grudge than something to keep me on track, and this feeling tends to surface once I reach the mid-portion of a training plan.  I knew the feeling would eventually pass, however, as it always does, so I put my head down and just kept going. That’s what we runners do, after all.

And as I used to tell my fifth grade students when they asked if they had to do their homework: No, the only thing you have to do is die. Everything else is optional. After puzzled silence and my pointed teacher look, they almost always understood exactly what I meant.

This week I kept the mileage about the same as last week because of this coming weekend’s half marathon. Best of all I finally got to run on trails again, though we didn’t run as far as I would have liked. Those long trail runs are in my very near future, though, so I will certainly appreciate being able to put in just enough miles to finish in time for a late breakfast and still have the rest of the day to enjoy.

White Rock Lake at sunset with Dallas skyline

Thursday’s beautiful sunset with the Dallas skyline in the background.

MON: Rest Day –  Pure day of rest. Loveliness!

TUE: Tempo Run – 6 mi, Yoga – 40:00 – Damn that Liz! Today’s tempo run felt like a race, and we kept either an 8:41 or an 8:48 average, depending on whose watch you went by. Since our morning attempt at running was rained out, we met at the lake for a late afternoon run instead, which was a nice change. It was cloudy, chilly, and perfect for a tempo run. I felt guilty for doing absolutely nothing athletic yesterday, so I did a double yoga program of standing poses and twists. I also signed up for the Grasslands trail marathon in Decatur, about 1.5 hrs drive from here, on March 23. I figure it will be good training for Jemez.

WED: Easy Run – 5.3 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Had an upset stomach in the morning, so Liz and I changed our plans and met Bill in the late afternoon for an easy run at the lake. The weather could not have been more perfect for an afternoon run. Liz and I could definitely feel the aftereffects of yesterday’s fast tempo run. Talk about some fatigued legs!

THU: Hill Run – 6 miLiz was having some hip flexor pain, and I was having some stomach issues again this morning, so I wound up running solo in the afternoon. I stuck to the hilly path and kept a pretty good pace, and was rewarded with a gorgeous sunset at the finish. My boredom with running continues, so it was tough to run on my own. It was 70 degrees when I started the run, and hard to believe it is still winter.

Sunset at White Rock Lake

The valentine I was treated to on Thursday evening.

FRI: Yoga – 40:00 – Left quad a little sore, so I did an extended set of yoga: forward bends and hip openers. I had the thought today that no matter what happens with my running as I get older, I will do yoga for the rest of my life.

SAT: Long Run – 15 mi – It doesn’t get much better than this. 32 degrees, no wind, and a perfect blue sky overhead. Hills at the beginning and end, 15 miles to keep it real, and good friends for laughs and companionship. We are so lucky to get to do this. 

SUN: Trail Run – Oak Cliff Nature Preserve – 5.6 mi – It was another stunningly beautiful morning, perfect for a trail run. It warmed up quickly, we had the trails entirely to ourselves, and things just could have not been more perfect. I took an easy fall right after I made fun of Hari’s non-glamorous way of breaking his rib. It was one of those falls where one minute you’re talking and the next you’re staring at the ground, wondering what happened. I chalk it up to instant karma for making fun of Hari. Actually, those stupid little stumps that jut out from the sides of the trail seem to take me down more than anything else. We had some brand new trail runners in our group today and it was fun to see their excitement. Breakfast afterwards at Norma’s more than compensated for any calorie loss and the indignity of falling down, yet again.

Stats for WEEK 6: Run – 38 miles, Yoga – 1:40:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 5: Fair Weather Friends

This week was a good reminder of how running has become such a social event for me through the years. The first few years I ran, I thought I preferred running alone, that it gave me time to work through the stress of teaching full-time. I could listen to music, be alone with my thoughts, and spend time outdoors. These days it’s rare for me to run alone. Running is a social event now, a time to talk with like-minded friends and train for an upcoming race. Running alone has slowly become second only to treadmill running — and that’s the worst type of punishment I can imagine. This week I got to run with all my favorite running friends and share a few beers and meals with them afterwards. And while the rest of the country dug out from a few feet of snow, we continued to enjoy unseasonably fair, spring-like weather.

Clouds

MON: Yoga  –  20:00 – Quads are a little sore from the back to back runs this weekend, so I did some easy yoga. 

TUE: Easy Run – 6 mi, Yoga 20:00 – Met Bill and Liz at 6:00am for my earliest run this year. It was foggy and warm (57 deg and 97% humidity) and the lake looked beautiful in the dark. It is surprising how many people run at the lake that early in the morning, each of us passing one another like phantoms, some with flashlights, most gliding silently past. I had forgotten how much I love these early morning runs in the dark. (I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in the middle of July when I’m forced to run this early every day to beat the heat.)

WED: Tempo Run – 4 mi, Yoga – 20:00, Walk – 3 mi – Met Liz for a tempo run at the lake. We decided to postpone our usual Wednesday hill run until Thursday to give our legs a chance to recover. But of course, we couldn’t help ourselves on today’s “easy” run and still managed to push the pace into the tempo range. It was very warm and humid again and I was glad it was only 4 miles. Came home and did some power yoga, and in the evening met up with the Wednesday night running group and walked 3 miles with Hari, including a half mile run back to Fuzzy’s. I’m so glad Hari is slowly coming back to running. Susan is also running again, though she still has a cast on her hand. We had a huge crowd at Fuzzy’s to not only run, but also to drink local Lakewood beer (and get a free beer glass).

Lakewood Brewing

THU: Hill Run – 6 miI found myself dreading the hill run when I woke up this morning. It felt kind of like going through childbirth for the second time, where you know what’s coming and you just really don’t feel like going through that again! As always, once I got warmed up and put a few hills under my belt I started to enjoy the run. I am still, however, always happy when that run is over! It was warm and humid yet again, but I was thankful for the cloud cover.

FRI: Yoga – 45:00 – Tried a new kundalini yoga sequence this afternoon. It was different from my usual yoga practice, with lots of deep breathing and slow, extended poses to awaken the energy centers in the spine (chakras). Loved the abs poses to strengthen the core, my weakest area.

SAT: Long Run – 14 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Such a great run this morning. It was overcast, around 50 degrees, and there were just enough hills to keep it interesting. I had a nice breakfast afterwards talking to my friends, and am reminded of how much I enjoy my Saturday long runs with my group of friends. I’ve been keeping a good pace lately, seeing averages I haven’t hit in quite awhile. Left quad and groin felt a little tight towards the end of the run, so I did some hip opener yoga poses to stretch out the area. If it doesn’t rain tonight like it’s supposed to, looking forward to some McKinney trails tomorrow.

SUN: Easy Run9 mi – It stormed in the night so we cancelled our trail run. I was disappointed because I didn’t run trails last weekend either, but it was made up for by the fact that I got to run an entire lake loop with my best running bud, Hari, who is well on his way to recovering from his broken rib incident from Christmas. Even though the yoga cured the tightness in my left groin, my legs felt a little stiff from yesterday’s hills and the somewhat faster pace, and I was glad we only ran 9 miles. I am a little shorter than I wanted to be this week in mileage (5 miles) because of the missed trail run, but I can tell my legs need some rest. I’d rather be short on mileage and have fresh legs next week than get the miles in and not feel rested enough — and cause some type of stupid injury.

Stats for WEEK 5: Run – 39 miles, Yoga – 1:45:00, Walk – 3 miles

 

It’s Only Week 2, But This Training Feels Different

So I’m training for my first 50K and I’m excited. The adrenaline is overflowing and I actually look forward to getting up at 5AM these days and putting in ridiculously high mileage.

What’s up with that?

I also know it’s only the beginning of summer. The thermometer hasn’t even hit 100 yet. And every run so far has been like running in a steam bath. Every time I open the door I hit The Wall of Humidity.

But, somehow, it still feels different.

Maybe it was time for a change, a new goal.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made in this training cycle is to run five days a week, as opposed to only four (or even three) like I’ve done in the past. Consistency has been a problem, and led to some minor injuries.

The only other time I ran five days a week was when I trained for Boston two years ago. I was in the best shape of my life because of it, and because I ran consistently.

My weekly mileage for this training cycle will be higher than I’m used to, which means I’ll have to listen carefully to my body, eat well, and get enough sleep. My number one goal is to not get injured.

I’m incorporating yoga and strength training, neither of which I’ve done in the six and a half years that I’ve been running. I’ve been doing yoga almost daily since last November and I can tell the difference in my running. I have a lot less soreness in my legs, and I generally feel more supple and relaxed.

I also decided I have to get up early to run to beat the heat. This is major for me. I’ve never been a morning person, and for me to get up at 5am multiple times during the week can only be accomplished if I know I have someone waiting on me.

Therefore, I make sure I don’t run alone. The group core/speed workout on Tuesdays has been a great incentive, and Bill has been joining me for my Thursday morning hill runs when he can. This week I ran the hilly path alone, and still managed to get up early (albeit 30 min later than usual).

The thing that helps me the most, other than running with someone, is having a training plan. I’ve always made one in the past, but never followed it as consistently as I’m planning on following this one. I usually find one online or in one of my running books, tweak it, and make an excel chart. I color code it, too, to hold myself accountable. Green if I ran the miles, yellow if I ran less, red if I missed the run altogether.

I want to see all green on my chart.

Even though summer heat is my arch nemesis, I’m determined to keep a positive attitude about it. Nothing I do is going to change the fact that it’s hot, so it’s stupid to fight it. Last summer wore me down, and hopefully it won’t be as rough this summer.

I’m hoping my training continues going so well over the next 18 weeks. It’s a lot more fun than being mopey.

50K Training, Week 1

Our first official week of  ultra training is behind us. We’re off to a great start. I managed to run every single mile on the training plan, running 32 miles for the week, added two core/strength workouts to the plan, a little speedwork and some hills, and did five yoga sessions totaling two hours and twenty minutes.

I haven’t run 32 miles since last September 2011, so I’m pretty proud of myself. Most satisfying is that my legs feel great despite the mileage. I attribute this to yoga. After a hard run, or a lot of miles, 20-40 minutes of easy yoga does wonders.

My current favorite yoga DVD is A.M. Yoga for Your Week with Rodney Yee. It has five 20 minute sessions, each targeting a different area.

For post-run stretching, my favorite is the Forward Bends. It’s great for stretching the hamstrings, calves, and hips. The  Hip Openers segment is also great for runners.

I can’t say enough great things about doing yoga, especially for runners.

The toughest run by far this week was Sunday’s 12 miler. Our plan calls for back-to-back runs on Saturday/Sunday, something I’m not used to doing.

Saturday’s 6 miler at 6:30am was very humid and warm, and everyone in the group struggled. My six miles felt like 20.

On Sunday we started at 6am, and the temperature was already 74 degrees with 88% humidity. It was 81 degrees when we finished.

The heat is one thing, but high humidity is the worst.

We took walk breaks, and at the halfway point stopped off at a grocery store to fill up our water bottles with ice-cold water. Even though we weren’t running on a dirt trail, we worked on slowing down and taking breaks when needed.

Nothing beats seeing the sun come up on a long run.

We sweated buckets. And because Hari was in charge of the route, there was a hill at the end.

It was all worth it, though, because I got to run with two amazing runners. And best of all, Hari’s wife, Nirisha, had breakfast waiting for us when we were done.

I’m excited to hit the trails soon!

Here are the stats for the week:

MON: Yoga – 20:00
TUE: Run – 4 mi/incl speedwork + core/strength workout
WED: Run – 6 mi easy, Yoga – 40:00
THU: Run – 4 mi/hills, Yoga – 20:00
FRI: Core/strength workout, Yoga – 20:00
SAT: Run – 6 mi (9:22), Yoga – 20:00
SUN: Run – 12 mi, Yoga – 40:00

My Week in Running, Simplified

MON: Ran 6 miles @ 9:12 pace. Purposely kept it somewhat out of my comfort zone, and added some long, gradual hills (up and down Glencoe, up and down the Katy Trail). Felt inspired by seeing the elite runners in the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. Yoga: 20:00 of Standing Poses. Why are they so hard even though I run so much?

TUE: Running rest day. Did 20:00 of yoga–Twists. Very relaxing.

WED: Ran 6 miles with the group @ a 9:08 pace. Legs felt great. Very proud of the pace since we ran up Meadowlake and Sperry and kept up the great tempo. Scored a free pair of  Nike Frees from Shannon!

THU: Did yoga in the morning (20:00 of Back Bends), then ran 6 miles in the late afternoon. Twenty degrees warmer than last night’s run. Kept an easy pace (9:39), which felt good. Could definitely feel last night’s fast run in the legs. Ran the first three with Nevada (the dog) then dropped her off at the house. It was tough getting back out to finish up the final three miles.

FRI: Yoga–20:00 of Forward Bends, then took Shasta (the other dog) to Flagpole Hill to walk some hills. It was a good workout, and the day was spring-like and windy. It was great to let Shasta off leash and let her be a dog, chasing squirrels and romping around on the hill.

SAT: Tough 12 miler with the group. Kept a 9:20 pace, which is the fastest I’ve run that distance in a long time. Forgot to use my inhaler and paid the price the second half of the run. Made my legs feel heavy. Great breakfast afterwards at Crossroads Diner with the group.

SUN: Walked 3.35 miles with Nevada and did 40:00 of yoga afterwards (Hip Openers and Forward Bends). Walked for about an hour, and reminded myself how much I love to slow down and “just” walk. Legs felt a little tight from yesterday’s long run. Felt much better after the yoga. Read in Runner’s World that 73% of readers run alone and only 5% with a group. I’m amazed at these figures. I can’t imagine doing my long runs without the support of my running friends.

A Step Back Kind of Year

Looking back on this past year of running, I realize it was  a step back kind of year for me, sort of like how Stella lost her groove. While other people and blogs are celebrating running 1,000+ miles, I barely cracked 886. In retrospect, this was the year I ran less, got slower, had a few minor injuries, and overall didn’t enjoy running as much as before.

Kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees, I couldn’t see the joy because of the pain.

The year started with a marathon in Death Valley in February. Even though I was excited to be running in the desert, I barely slogged through the training. Mostly I remember my friend, Hari, dragging me on 9 mile tempo loops around the lake after work, cursing him under my breath for making me run faster than I wanted. The race in Death Valley was one of the highlights of the year, as tough as it was, and it made me realize how much more I enjoy running smaller races in scenic locations than huge marathons in big cities.

After Death Valley, however, I truly lost my running mojo. Without a new goal race in sight, with no training plan, I became untethered. I ran sporadically, making excuses for my lack of enthusiasm for all things running, and just kind of checked out for awhile. This coincided with the decision to quit teaching, and I’m sure a general lack of direction was the culprit. It was all mental, but the body didn’t have any trouble following the lead.

Then there was the summer. The summer of unrelenting heat. The summer that almost swallowed up the rest of the year. The summer that nearly killed all desire to ever run again.The hottest summer on record in Texas history.

I decided to run the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa and rounded up a few friends to go with me. We started training in June and trained right through the hottest temperatures any of us have ever run in. I avoid summer races like the plague, but a bunch of us let Steph talk us into running a 15K in July, the Too Hot to Hold. We knew it was crazy, but we ran it anyway, just for fun (and the hat and the tech shirt). We made friends with the heat for that one morning, and were surprised that it really wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. Little did we know how much worse it would get.

At first it was a game: let’s see how hot it gets before it kills us! Eventually it became nothing more than depressing. Day after day after record breaking day of temperatures too crazy high to run in, we kept on running anyway. There were days I simply couldn’t talk myself into running after dark when it was still in the 100’s, and I think I reached my temperature limit at 105 degrees. Speed work and hills were out of the question for me. It was hard enough just to raise my foot off the ground for an easy run. Long runs at 6am when the temperature was already in the 90’s made me want to cry. The summer became an ultramarathon of heat, and the finish line kept getting pushed farther and farther out of reach. There was never a break, month after month of heat, and no one complained louder than I did.

Letting the heat get to me led to wildly inconsistent training, which probably caused two minor injuries that plagued me until the end of the year: ankle tendonitis and piriformis syndrome. One week I would pull it together and run 35 miles, the next I could barely rouse myself to run 10. The ankle tendonitis is an old friend, greeting me whenever I ramp up the miles too fast, kind of like shin splints. The piriformis was a completely new ailment, and reminded me a lot of plantar fasciitis because of its tenacity in holding on.

Water Stop in July: Hari, Bill, Don, me, and Genevieve

In the end, I decided to run only the half in Tulsa, which was a good decision for me. The weather was cold, the race somewhat small, and I ran the entire 13 miles with Heather, and with Bill, Hari, and Liz always close by. Afterwards, I felt as if I had been kissed by the running prince, waking me up from a long slumber of running malaise. I don’t know if it was running in the cold, running only a half marathon, or running with my friends, but suddenly I looked forward to running again.

The piriformis pain was still an issue, though, and I decided to start doing yoga again to see if that helped. I had done yoga almost daily years ago before I started running, and it was my favorite part of the day. It was the same this time as well. I do yoga almost every morning now, and sometimes after a run. It’s made a huge difference in alleviating sore muscles, I don’t feel as stiff in the mornings, and I feel more relaxed–and stronger–in general. I also realized this week, for the first time in months, that I hadn’t thought about my piriformis once during or after my last 10 mile run, and that it no longer hurt.

Yesterday I ran the Bold in the Cold half marathon in Grapevine with around 13 of my running friends. Heather, Hari, and I had already decided that it would be a training run for us, so we kept it at training pace for most of the race. At mile 7, though, at the top of a hill, I suddenly felt great, and Hari and I stepped up the pace for a few miles. It was good to know I still had some speed in my legs, and I loved that feeling of flow that only comes when you run fast.

Next up: the Eugene Marathon at the end of April. It looks like there will be a Dallas invasion for the marathon, and I am so excited. For the first time in a very long time, I’m actually looking forward to training for and running another marathon. I’m determined not to let the heat get to me this spring.

Looking back, it wasn’t that bad of a year after all. There were challenges, but nothing I couldn’t handle. This summer may have turned me into a madwoman, but we all suffered through it together, and it made us that much tougher. I got to run a marathon in my favorite setting, the desert, and I rediscovered the benefits of yoga.

Even though it was a step back kind of year overall, it eventually  led me to a renewed excitement about running and reminded me why I run in the first place: because I love it, and because it’s what I do. Nothing more, nothing less than that.

Scott Jurek on taking time off