My Favorite Part of Training: the Taper

We’re just 16 days out from the NYC Marathon! I just got my official race handbook in the mail yesterday. While I’m super excited for race day, I think I’m equally as excited to taper. When I started training for my first marathon last fall, I read every blog and website there was about training schedules and preparing for your race. I came across a lot of articles about tapering, but every one seemed to suggest something different. The basic idea is to start tapering your runs as you get closer to race day, to give your muscles a break and start the marathon with fresh legs. On the one hand, it makes sense. On the other hand, I was quite concerned about how much stamina I’d lose without doing any super long runs for the last few weeks of training. Despite my trepidations, I followed my plan last year and discovered tapering is the best thing ever.

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Results are in: Summer Bootcamp

It’s been a long 10 weeks of waking up early for workouts, but I’m kind of sad that my summer bootcamp at Fusion Cross-Training is over. For the summer boot camp series, participants received 10 weeks of unlimited sessions at the studio, one weekly outdoor bootcamp workout, a weekly nutrition tip and food challenge, and a pre/post fitness assessment. For the first 6 weeks, I was going to classes religiously, almost every morning. I could feel myself getting stronger and faster. I noticed the classes are much easier for me now as opposed to when I started and felt like I was going to pass out. For the latter half of the bootcamp, my marathon training schedule started and it was harder for me to squeeze in the classes. I still went at least two times a week, and I was running enough on other days that I was getting plenty of exercise.

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Midnight Madness Run Recap

ImageLike most runs I sign up for these days, I was both looking forward to and dreading the 20in24 Midnight Madness Run as the race date approached.

The 20in24 is a series of race events run along the Kelly Drive/River Drive loop in Philly every summer, benefitting Back on My Feet. The events include the Lone Ranger (50 and 100 mile ultra marathons), a Relay event, Pajama Loop, and the Midnight Madness Run.

The midnight run consisted of one loop around the 8.4 mile course, starting at midnight as the name suggests. Runners are required to wear reflective gear and encouraged to wear glowing items, with a prize for Most Illuminated at stake. I bought a string of battery-powered lights from Walgreens and threw on a few glow sticks for the occasion.

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Here We Go Again

Monday marks the start of my official training for the NYC Marathon. This time around, I’m going with the Runner’s World 16-week plan, found in the June issue. It’s pretty similar to what I planned out for myself last year for Philly. But it integrates more hills and more intervals, both things I’ll need to work on for New York. My goal is sub 4:30. Ideally I’d like to run under 10 minute miles, which comes in at 4:22. It’s totally doable if I stick to the plan and don’t burn myself out before race day.

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Philly Color Run Recap

Jen_Jackie color run1I can’t tell you exactly why having paint thrown on you while running a 5k is amazingly fun, but I assure you, it is. Without question, Sunday’s Color Run in Philly was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had doing a race.

I read about the Color Run last year, and thought it sounded awesome and was jealous there wasn’t one closer. So when I read that the running tour was expanding for a nation-wide tour, I waited anxiously for the Philly date to be announced. Alas, only a New York date was listed. But I convinced Jen to sign up with me. Then to our delight, a Philly date was added! We registered and then I didn’t give the race much thought again until the week of the event.

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Boot Camp

May was a month of fitness highs/lows. Broad Street went well enough. I had a major junk-food binge and gained a few pounds. Then I did a juice cleanse and lost a few pounds, most of which I’ve kept off. Then I moved, and the process of packing/unpacking and all the stress that comes with it screwed up my workout schedule majorly. I squeezed in a 5k at the end of the month, which I managed to run just a bit faster than I did the races in March, so at least I’m slowly getting back into shape post-injury.

But now it’s time to get serious. The New York Marathon is 5 months away… just 151 days. And I have a lot of work to do. With that in mind, I signed up for Fusion‘s summer boot camp. The program is 10 weeks, and cost $299, which included a discount for registering early. It’s actually a really good deal. The biggest part of the program is unlimited membership for classes for the 10-week duration. I love the classes at Fusion, and look forward to being able to go to more of them. There is also one weekly bootcamp session outdoors on Tuesday mornings. This one is mandatory, and it’s recommended you go to at least 3 regular classes throughout the week. You also get a pre/post fitness and body analysis, and a bit of nutrition counseling. 

This morning was our fitness assessment. A total of 11 boot camp members came together to get our starting points measured. Measurements taken included weight, waist, and body fat. I was definitely not happy with how high my body fat percentage was. I’ll be looking to lower that number considerably in the 10 weeks. After we were all measured, we did a series of strength and flexibility measurements. We did as many sit-ups and push-ups as we could do in a minute. Then we grabbed a spot along the wall and held a wall sit for as long as possible. I was surprised that I actually seemed to be one of the most athletic people in the class. Definitely not something I’m used to, but it was a nice change of pace. We did a sit and reach to measure flexibility, then it was on to cardio. After a quick warm-up, we were instructed to run for 12 minutes as fast as we could sustain on the treadmill, and recorded the distance. I mustered 1.37 miles in the 12 minutes, which was a 6.9/7 on the treadmill. 

Next week is our first outdoor bootcamp session. In the meantime, we’re supposed to be keeping a food journal and writing out our goals for the class and beyond. I am very curious to see how all of my numbers change over the course of 10 weeks. And I think it will be a great way to get motivated to start my marathon training. I am, however, a little worried about getting burnt out in the course of all this training. After NYC in November, I have half marathons in December and January, and then it will just about be time for spring race season. That pretty much means I won’t be taking a break for the next year. But on the bright side, I’ll probably be in great shape next summer! 

And the Verdict Is…

If you read this blog or follow my twitter, you know I’ve been having some foot pain since completing the Napa Valley Marathon a few weeks ago. After an inconclusive x-ray, my doctor ordered an MRI. I went back this morning to get the results. He suspected a stress fracture or a damaged tendon. Turns out I have a torn muscle.

The good news is it’s not bad enough to require surgery, yet. The bad news is I’ve been ordered to wear an ugly ankle brace for the next month, and I am not allowed to run or do any movement that puts weight on my foot. After four weeks, I’ll get another round of MRIs to see if it’s healing. If it gets any worse, I might need to go under the knife. If it gets better, I’ll probably just need some physical therapy and/or orthotics after my brace time is up.

Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t really have any insight into why this happened. He basically said sometimes we put too much stress on our muscles and this kind of thing happens. I would venture to guess 26.2 miles of strain on a muscle that had no foundation of training probably did the trick.

I guess this is better than having a stress fracture. It’s easier to walk in a brace than it would be in a boot. But I’m still quite disheartened by the news. The weather is gorgeous out, and all I want to do is go for a run. And I can feel all the negative impacts this hiatus is having on my health. Just being restricted from running for two weeks has caused me to gain weight. I am definitely feeling a lack of energy. And I have so many races coming up! I am on doctor’s orders not to run the three I have next week (Security 5, Phillies 5k, and AC Half Marathon). And there’s a solid chance I’m going to be told not to run Broad Street either.

I know it could be much worse, so I’m really trying to look on the bright side and be positive. But really, this just plain sucks.