Sunday, June 30, 2013

Half Marathon Training - Week 4

This was a 'recovery' week. Monday through Thursday were 5 mile easy runs and Saturday was a 6 mile easy run. I was hoping the easy runs would let my achilles feel better, but alas it's still tender. In addition to Sunday, I am taking Monday off from running to give it a breather. I watched this video from and will be trying to incorporate this stretch into my daily routine to see if it assists in Achilles mobility. Monday Minute - Wall Ankle Mobilization

I also got my Road ID gear this week, a Road ID sport and a nice Road ID visor at an inexpensive price.

I also picked up a couple tubes of Endurolyte Fizz from Hammer Nutrition. I tried the Grape flavor on my 6 mile run on Saturday. It was a nice light grape flavor added to 22oz of water. I'll do a post on it later.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Road ID

While I was visiting my Mom and Stepdad, last month, they showed me a great product that they both use. It is not one the improves performance, makes you look good, keeps you hydrated or anything like that. Instead, it is a little bit of insurance that you put on your wrist. I give you, the Road ID.

Simply put, the Road ID is a way for you to carry important ID on you while you are out running / biking / hiking / skiing / whatever. It is fully customizable with your information. Key information about who you are and who to contact in an emergency to "speak for you when you can't speak for yourself."  So for $20 if I were to be injured during a run, either in pain or unconscious, a first responder would have not only my name, but a couple of contact numbers and also be informed of any other important info I would want them to have.

I usually run very early in the morning 5:00am to 5:30am on shorter runs, as early as 4:30 on long run days. I'm a couple miles in be fore the sun is up. So even though I have on some reflective gear and a flashing arm band, there are still bleary eyed drivers out there and I do share the road with them. You never know what could happen.

 I got the Road ID sport in black (just like the sample image above) It is very comfortable and seems like it will be very durable.

So, check them out, they have brackets, dog tags, shoelace tags, ankle tags and even ones for your dog. They have a good deal of testimonials other site as well of people who were wearing their RoadID when it mattered most.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Half Marathon Training - Week 3

The first half of the week went really well, but I peaked on my wednesday tempo run. I pushed pretty hard and really knocked it out. I was worried about keeping the prescribed 9:47 pace for the middle 5 miles, but instead ended up with a 9 minute pace average for those miles.

But I paid for it. Saturday's long run hurt. By the end of it, my knees were aching, my hip flexors were shot and my right achilles was tender. I'm glad that next week is a recovery week: 5 easy runs. I just need to force myself to keep the pace down even if I'm feeling strong. I'm gonna start the week on the treadmill to do just that.

Week 3 of 21 overview:

Sunday: Rest
Monday: 5 Miles - Easy Run
Tuesday: 4 Miles - Easy Run
Wednesday: 7 Miles -  Tempo Run - 1 mile warm; 5 miles (9 minute pace); 1 mile cool
Thursday: 4 Miles - Easy Run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 13.1 miles - 11:18  pace (long run)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Getting Runstastic to Track your GPS better

I was having a really hard time getting Runtastic to track my GPS in a nice smooth way, sometimes it was decent, but more and more it was becoming unusable. Runtastic recently updated their support site and in their GPS tips section, recommended shutting off WiFi to improve GPS tracking. I guess that way it doesn't try to do any WiFi based positioning. Here are 2 side by side tracks, one with Wifi on and one with it off.
WiFi On
WiFi Off

So yeah, I would say if you are having trouble with getting a good GPS track with Runtastic on your cell phone, try shutting off WiFi and see it that helps

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Half Marathon Training - Week 2

This week started out a little rough. On Sunday, I came down with some sort of stomach bug and it knocked me down for a good 24 hours. So my Monday workout was nuked. But that's ok. I had a 5 mile easy on Monday and a 4 mile easy scheduled for Tuesday. So I just did the 5 on Tuesday and moved on.

Wednesday was killer! It was my first time to hit the track for intervals. It was hot and muggy, so breathing well was tough. After the warmup mile, I kicked it up into the first 1600 fast interval. 9:04 pace was really fast for me. I realized though that this was my target pace for the race in October, so I better get used to it. Interval 2 and 3 got hard, but I managed to keep it going and made pace for the run. I used the updates to Runtastic Pro app to help with the intervals. You can custom program an interval plan and it will tell you when to speed up or slow down. Very handy. 

Thursday was a nice easy 4 mile run, I kept really close to the plan pace and didn't push hard at all. I've read some articles lately that suggest this for easy runs. 

Friday was another day off, I decided not to cross train, just to get some extra rest for the long run.

Today was a long run. it went very well. I tried some Cytomax in my water bottle and had tropical Hammer Gel in my nutrition flask. Overall it was a very good run. I got to also sport a new Under Armour running outfit from my mom and stepdad. Thanks guys!

I've  been having trouble with GPS tracking and got the suggestion from Runtastic's website to turn off wifi on my phone for better gps tracking. I tried this today and got a near perfect GPS track for thie run.

Week 2 of 21 overview:

Sunday: Rest - Came down with Stomach Bug
Monday: Rest / Sick
Tuesday: 5 Miles - 10:25 pace (easy run)
Wednesday: 6 Miles -  warm; 3x1600m (9:04pace) w/800m jogs; cool (speed work)
Thursday: 4 Miles - 11:07 (easy run)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 13.1 miles - 10:43  pace (long run)

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Carb Gel - GU and Hammer Gel

My stepfather, who is an avid cyclist, introduced me to Carb Gel recently. I had heard about them before, but didn't really bother to learn what they were for. During a visit to Phoenix, he sent me home with a bag full of GU and Hammer Gel also some Honey Stingers. Of the 3, the GU and Hammer Gel sat best with my stomach, the Honey Stinger on an empty stomach was not great. The other 2 seemed to be fine in that regard. It may be because the primary ingredient in the Honey stinger is honey which is different than the other 2. For this reason, I'm gonna talk about these 2:

These little pouches contain around 100 calories of carbs. Most of the carbs in both products come the complex carb maltodexterin which is supposed to not give you a sugar rush and crash. Some flavors of GU contain caffeine and some don't the ones that do contain 20mg and the Jet Blackberry GU has 40mg caffeine, the Espresso and Tropical flavors or Hammer Gel contain 25mg.

So far this has been my experience with them: I've put in several 9+ mile runs using these and have been very happy with my energy level. Both products recommend that you take 1 serving 15 minutes before your workout and one every 45 minutes during. At $1 to $1.50 a pouch, that could get expensive. You can mix it with some water and put it in a nutrition flask and spread it out more, that is what I've been doing and it works great. The Hammer gel also comes in 26 serving bottles for a lot less per serving, but then you have to mix it in another container.

Overall, if you are doing endurance sports like running, biking, etc. and find that you run out of juice, you might want to take a look at these gels as a quick source of energy that isn't going to sit bulky in the pit of your stomach for the next 5 miles.

Half Marathon Training - Week 1

I think for the next section of my blog, I'm not going to bore you with daily updates, instead moving to a weekly review of my progress. I've got till October 27th to get in the best shape of my life and hopefully post a great time in my first major race.

Week 1 went like this:

Sunday: Rest
Monday: 10.5 miles - 10:14 pace (this was before I started following my training plan)
Tuesday: 4 Miles - 10:43 pace (easy run)
Wednesday: 7.25 Miles - 10:49 pace (tempo run)
Thursday: 3.3 Miles - 10:50 pace (easy run)
Friday: Cross Train - Insanity Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs
Saturday: 13.1 miles - 11:07 pace (long run)

I was happy with my long run at 2h 26m, obviously I have almost 2 minutes a mile to shave off in the next 20 weeks, but hey. I done crazier things.

I need to speed up my tempo run a little next time. I've gone back to the training calculator and changed the times a little to reflect what my times were this week as a starting point.

Next week I have speedwork (intervals) instead of a tempo run.

Friday, June 07, 2013

A Trip to Phoenix and a run up a Mountain

At the start of the trail just after 5:00am
Last week I took a trip to Phoenix, AZ to visit family. It was a great time of enjoying each other's company, playing games and doing a little bit of working out. I did several runs while I was there. A seven mile on Thursday with my mom for the first mile. Got some new Saucony running shoes at Sole Sports in Tempe later that day. Friday, I did a three mile run with my stepdad Rob (followed by a 10 mile road bike ride, since he is a cyclist and beginning runner). But Saturday was the real kicker. Rob was going to ride the 7 mile road up South Mountain in Phoenix (check out this video to get an idea of this 'city park') with his riding partner. After some debate,  I decided to try and run it. I picked up a Nathan Elite One Plus water/nutrition pack the night before and hit the trail the next day with no real idea of what I was in for.

pushing hard
Originally I was going to run up, then have Rob ride back down and bring the truck up to get me at the peak.  What a scenic, beautiful, peaceful and awesome run. After the 1:30 minute climb (which included some 11% and 12% grade climbs), I still felt pretty good, so I decided to run back down. I didn't quite go all seven miles back to the start, but when it was all over I clocked 13.2 just a little over 2h 30m.

A beautiful morning to run up a mountain

That was a PR for distance. and with a total of 1700ft climb/fall it was certainly the most intense run I've ever done. But it was beautiful! That is for sure. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Completing a run of this intensity is really what gave me the encouragement to go ahead and sign up for the half marathon in the fall.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Nathan Elite 1 Plus Waist Pack

I've been running for about 8 months. I am still very new to the sport and am still learning a lot. A week ago I was at Sole Sports in Tempe, (which if you are in the Phoenix, AZ area, I highly recommend for great service) getting a new pair of running shoes, the saleslady asked me if I carry water or nutrition on my runs. I kind of gave her a blank stare and said 'no'. Why would I do that? Well, while I was visiting AZ, I planned on a 13 mile run up and down South Mountain. So it was time to take a better look at this area of running. I ended up getting an Elite 1 Plus Waist Pack by Nathan Sports. This item has been discontinued, so I got it on clearance, but I love it already. It's main feature is a back holster for a 22oz water bottle. I was worried about it bouncing around, but have had 0 trouble. It even has a nice finger ring at the top that makes getting it out really easy. the 'Plus' is a 5oz nutrition flask. This was another new concept to me. My stepfather, who is an avid cyclist, introduced me to Carb Gel (I'll post more about these later) which are great for maintaining energy during a long workout. The flask lets you mix them with a little water and have a quick source to power through. The pack has some straps and a little zipper pouch.

I may never do a training run without something like this again. Staying hydrated on runs of all lengths and getting extra energy in runs that are longer than say 5 or 6 miles makes a huge difference. One I didn't really expect. Nathan Sports makes all kinds of different styles of packs, backpacks, handhelds and such. I would HIGHLY recommend checking them out.

New Goal - Half Marathon

I've been quiet for a few weeks. I stopped Insanity for a while and have been running again. The crazy thing is, that I've been running a lot. Longer distances and more endurance. Insanity really paid off (even if I only did 6 out of 9 weeks). This culminated last weekend while I was visiting family in Phoenix and I ran 13.2 up and down South Mountain. It is the first time I managed half-marathon distance and it got me thinking. So I signed up for the St Louis half marathon event of the Rock & Roll Marathon in October.

That being decided, I needed to take my running to a different level of intelligence. I knew I couldn't just go out and run as far and as fast as I can every day and expect to be ready. So I asked a seasoned running friend for advice and he pointed me to the SmartCoach at This handy app lets you set up a training program very easily. Lets just say I'll be putting in a lot of miles in the next 21 weeks. 

Race Goal

Now I know I can finish the half marathon, so that really isn't the goal. Right now, since I'm still fuzzy about what I can do in the next few months training wise, I'm setting my goal at finishing at 2 hours (or less) I've got a lot of work to get there.

I'll be adding some more posts about some of the gear, apps and training I am doing as we move forward.