Pros and Cons of Downhill Marathons.

There are so many different types of marathon courses these days. As some runners get more serious about their training, whether you are going for a PR (personal record) or want to run Boston (the super bowl of marathons) the option to run a downhill marathon comes into play. There are different types of races nowadays that actually specialize in the concept of running DOWNHILL, but will that actually provide you with a faster race time? Here are some pros and cons to signing up for such a race in hopes of achieving PR success.

Pro- the concept of running a downhill race, in theory, does seem like a sure shot. I mean, you are bombing down a hill (or a mountain) and you WILL be moving faster. For a significant amount of time. Hold onto that for miles and miles at a time and you just may get the time you desire. Definitely work on your downhill running in training, and this concept just may work for you.

Con- Running downhill for an entire marathon distance (26.2 miles) will do a number on your body. Although it does seem fun, running down a mountain for a significant amount of time IS hard on your body. And you WILL pay for it later. But…it will be fun while it lasts! Just be sure to take care of your body and get rest and recovery soon afterwards.

Pro- It is definitely something different than your humdrum flat course. I don’t know about you but I actually love and look forward to running hills. To me there is nothing more boring than a pancake flat course, and actually I’ve done better in years past running courses that included more of a decent elevation profile. Take RnR San Diego for instance. Not an easy course by any means and a killer climb on a highway at the very end but something about that course made me want to work harder.

Con- The downhill marathon does not equal instant success. Don’t expect to roll up on one of these bad boys if you aren’t fully prepared. So many other factors go into these type of races, such as getting acclimated to the atiltiude changes (if you’re a Texan like me- we are not used to the mountainous terrain at all) and what have you. Take it from me, someone who has gotten altitude sickness, that is something you DO NOT want during a race. Here are some good tips to being prepared to face those type of crazy changes.

What are some more pros and cons to downhill marathons? What is your favorite type of race course?
I actually do like looped courses, definitely some hills in there. Point to point ain’t bad either.

Chronicles of a High Mileage Runner.

Hello, friends! Well it is RACE WEEK around these parts. I’m counting down the days til my next marathon (and currently scaling back the miles- yes the taper has been glorious) so as I get the legs ready for the challenge ahead…I thought I’d share a few tidbits on my thoughts while training for this race as well as for my upcoming 100 miler at the end of the year. Without further ado let’s get to it.

-Ahh…Monday morning…just another 10 miler on the schedule. Let’s knock it out. Ain’t no thang but a chicken wang.
-Chicken wings…those sound really good right now. All about that RUN-ger.
-Chicken wings for breakfast. I could totally make that a thing. Hashtag protein.
-My legs are still tired though from back to back long runs this past weekend.
-Oh well, today is double run day. Man up.
-Shooting for 70-80 miles this week. Just a normal running week in the world of Chelsea.
-What am I eating for lunch today? Spinach with a pile of feta cheese, and some eggs and other veggies? Sounds legit.
-I’m hungry. What else is new.
-Too bad I’m a poor television writer. I would eat ALL OF THE FOOD all of the time. I need a raise so I can buy more food for this training.
-Friend is texting me about running tomorrow morning. Hill repeats. My legs. Ouch.
-It is 3 PM in the office and I’m literally about to fall asleep at my desk due to said morning workout. Coffee time again. Fill ‘er up.
-I simply do not know how people who workout everyday early morning are not coffee drinkers. I like to refer to them as psychos.
-Or maybe I am the psycho.
-Okay, work day over. Caffeinated and ready for run number two.
-It will be short and sweet because it is 100 degrees outside still at 6 PM. WHY, TEXAS SUMMER. Just why.
-At least I have another group of buddies to do this run with.
-I have at least 3 running groups I run with right now. It is awesome. I have a runner friend for every one of my moods.
-Evening run done. Now it is time for a beer. I only like beer in the summer time. Then when fall rolls around I will switch to red wine.
-Cooler weather…a fire…and a glass of red. HEAVEN.
-I will definitely be oh so very glad when this training cycle is over and it gets cooler. Give me cooler weather and all of the FALL THINGS.
-*Friday rolls around – okay, it’s rest day. Let’s run a quick 5 miles…it’s active recovery.
-It is funny how 5 miles seems like not even running at all after all of this mileage.
-20 mile Saturday. Knock it out. Just another weekend.
-Mimosa because you’ve earned it.
-Okay…Sunday, 10-15 miles to hit some numbers. Legs…tired…again.
-Done and done. Love hitting those numbers.
-Time to foam roll…and scheduling that massage. Treat.YO.Self.

What are some of your thoughts while training for a marathon or race?

Personal Running Pet Peeves.

So it is probably something not a lot of people talk about in the realm of running since the sport is really mostly a positive and encouraging one. But I am here to talk about it. Why? Because we can! Runner pet peeves…I am here for it. Allow me to give you a few of mine in no particular order. Of course, with gifs very much included. 

Oh, how I miss me some RHOA a la Phaedra.

Non-runners thinking a 5k is a marathon. Actually to me this is more funny than anything else. Come on people. Marathons are so common now. Really…26.2 miles is quite the feat but let’s be honest. A lot of people do it. So, you should know by now. Stop asking how many miles it is. Thanks.

Just people at random honking at you in their cars while you run. Same goes for cat calling. It’s just not cute. I just want to get through this last mile without you annoying the crap out of me with these noises. Peaceful. That is how I like it.

People that join run groups and leave their headphones in the entire social run. I wanna get to know ya, okay?! At least keep an earbud out so you can be safe. Don’t come to the social run and be anti-social. You won’t be invited to the cookout next time. 

Another FAQ by the non-runner- Doesn’t running BOTHER YOUR KNEES?! Actually, no it doesn’t. Sometimes other things but damn I’ve got some pretty strong knees. I must say. Thank you baby Jesus for that. 

People that stare you down as you pass them while running. I know, you wish you were running with me or something like that. Okay. Join me next time? I don’t bite. Usually. 

Runners that run a little too close to you when you are running together. Okay, bud. We are both super sweaty and your arm keeps rubbing up against mine and I kind of need some personal space?

Maybe you just like affection!? This is not the time for that. Let me have my runner bubble. 

What are some of your personal running pet peeves? 

The ABCs of Summer Marathon Training.

The title explains it all…

A- Acclimate to the summer temps. I know, this is much easier said than done. It does take time and consistency in order to really feel comfortable with the heat and humidity. Sooner or later you will be rocking those runs and pushing the pace a bit. Not to worry. Just stay at it it and try not to get too discouraged with how “slow you feel”

B- Bring a spibelt/flipbelt/pockets with zippers on them for the long run. You will definitely need this when it is time to refuel with your energy gels, salt tablets etc. I love to carry my Camelbak hydration pack in the summer because it has a ton of compartments where I stash my keys, fuel etc. Certainly comes in handy.

C- Carry water/electrolytes on super hot days. This should go without saying. Or…carry your credit card with you so you can stop at a convenience store and grab ice or cold beverage to fill ‘er up.

D- Don’t neglect summer skin care. My skin burns super easily so I’m obsessive about my sport sunscreen especially on my face. My skin is doing so much better with training than last year, simply because I’ve been more religious this year about it.

E- Ease up on the pace if you have to. Know that your body is getting used to running in the heat and it is going to feel harder because your body is having to work harder in these rough conditions. Every mile still counts and time on your feet definitely matters.

F- Forget comparing your training to other runners…Y’all…if I gave a flip about what so n so was doing on Strava or Garmin Connect I definitely would not be the ultrarunner that I am today. Drops the mic.

G- Get yourself some killer runner swag. I love my lightweight tank tops, shorts, moisture wicking socks in the summer. Oh yeah, and a good sports bra. Crucial to prevent boob chafe. It is so real, ladies.

H- Heat training can totally make you stronger! Those fall temps are going to feel oh so amazing, oh so soon.

I- Ice baths are not super essential in my opinion. If you have a good massage therapist, you know how to stretch after running, and you cross train and do all of the right things ice baths are not a priority. I think it is a fun thing to try though if you haven’t I’ll just say that. And by fun I mean torture.

J- Just make sure you get up early! I am a fan of beating the heat especially if you are running 18 plus miles. I know, you may have to forgo a happy hour or two but trust me it is worth getting it done and out of the way.

K- Kiss sleeping in goodbye on Saturdays! Or Sundays, whenever you like to do your big run.

L- Learn to love the track. This has been a long time coming for me but I’m slowly getting back into it and now really feel like my body is benefitting from some speed work.

M- Make the most of your recovery runs. They are on your schedule for a reason. So do them.

N- Nuun can be a great electrolyte replacement. There are so many great flavors too! And less sugar than Gatorade.

O- Optimize your routes. I try not to do the same routes over and over because I do get bored especially because I run so dang much. I always try to switch it up, even if it means starting from a different corner of the street. Ha.

P- Pickle juice can be a good tool when you need a little salt in your system. Definitely helps with cramps.

Q- Quit making excuses for your lack of commitment with your training schedule. Do the work. Reap the benefits when you have kick ass marathon times later.

R- Rest and recovery. I love me some active recovery. Fo sho.

S- Say YES to running at different times of the day! Lately I’ve been loving me some sunset runs. It’s nice to wind down from the work day.

T- Text your running friends and tell them you love them. Because they are amazing.

U- Understand that not every training schedule is perfect. Some days you may need to take a rest day and skip a workout. That does not mean overdosing on running the next day. You miss a beat, you pick back up on it the next day. Be patient with yourself and with your progress.

V- Vote YES for running groups! I cannot tell you how much (actually I think I can especially if you have been reading here a while you already know) I love my tribe. They’ve definitely kept me motivated when I just was not feeling it and they make the miles fly by so much faster.

W- Win over your running buds by bringing watermelon post run. Bonus points if it is super cold watermelon!! You will be the MVP for life.

X- X-tra guac in your Chipotle bowl after running 20 miles. Just kidding. I was trying to find something for X.

Y- You know your body well. Listen to it.

Z- Get your zzz’s! Man sleep is oh so crucial for all of this training. I would be a raging b*tch without it.

Add something to the summer marathon training ABCs if ya want!!

7 Ways to Slash an Hour (Or More) Off of Your Marathon Time.

So today I thought we would discuss marathon times and for those of you that are trying to hit some serious time goals, this post is for you! I don’t pretend to be an expert but I wanted to share my experiences with the marathon distance and how I’ve vastly improved in the last few years.

A few short years ago, I was running marathons and finishing them in 4 hours and 50 minutes. I was slowly but surely creeping into finishing all of my races in 5 hours and it was so mentally frustrating. But I altered some things and making those changes has literally slashed 1 hour and some change off of my current time. My PR is now 3:45 and that is due to a lot of hard work and dedication. So I wanted to share how I’ve gotten there. And hopefully I may be able to help some of you.

1. Figure out what style of training works for you. I was just talking with my running buds about training methods this morning. I have a friend that I train with in the mornings (he does his easy runs/recovery days with our group) that is pushing 60 years old and you guys he is just remarkable in every sense of the word when it comes to badass runners. He has broken 3 hours in the marathon more than once and is returning to Boston this year to really crush it. He consistently runs strong times and actually told me that one of the things that has helped him improve over the years is upping his weekly mileage. It is all about balance and all about patience. Increasing your mileage slowly over time is definitely going to build your aerobic capacity and make you a stronger runner in the long run. Pun intended.

2. Stay on top of problem areas when it comes to injury prevention. Do you have issues with your hips, knees, whatever etc!? Do not run yourself into the ground until you fall apart. Find out what is going on with your body and do what it takes to immediately nip it in the bud. The moment you stay on top of things before they become serious issues is when you will start to see improvements in your running. I run a lot…but guess what? I stretch a lot too. I see the same massage therapist 1-2 times a month who works on my issues when they come up. You do what you’ve gotta do to stay healthy and stay rocking out the mileage.

3. Be consistent! You can’t expect to improve if you are not willing to put in the work. Run when you don’t want to. Get up early before you have time to think about it and get the time in on your feet. Keep track of your miles from week to week. Include recovery weeks in your training. The more consistent you are as a runner the better you will get at it and the better you will get at what does and does not work for you.

4. Stay mobile and active even when you are not running. I have a varidesk at work. I am telling you, having an adjustable desk where you can stand up and move around and you are not sitting all day will help you immensely! Before when I was sitting all day I had to see my chiropractor on a consistent basis for hip adjustments. Now I only see him a couple of times a year. So thank you, varidesk…you are the real MVP.

5. Okay, keep it real time. Racing weight does matter somewhat. I don’t necessarily think it is the end all be all to running faster times. You still have to put in work because you could be stick thin and unhealthy and still be struggling with running. BUT… dropping excess weight does make you lighter which in turn could make you a tad faster. In the last few years I’ve dropped about 25 additional pounds really due to the higher mileage and getting adjusted to that. But I do think that helped give me a bit of a boost and helped running a sub 4 hour marathon not feel so difficult. Y’all that sub 4 used to feel HARD to me. It really doesn’t anymore. So, make some adjustments in your nutrition if you have to. Add more fresh foods into your diet. Cut the unnecessary post long run “treats”. I know some of us run because we are foodies or like to drink margaritas. But doing all of that stuff is NOT going to make you faster. Eat to fuel your running and to fuel your goals. *drops mic*

6. Hills. Speedwork. Long runs. Do them. When I started adding more hill training especially is when I started to see lots of improvement in my training. I really feel like hills strengthen my legs and make me more powerful when it is time to race. Hills definitely are speedwork in disguise. Also even if you do things like strides (quick pickups while you are running) or hit the track 1-2 times a week, tempo runs etc. All of these things will make moving faster not as difficult.

7. Run with faster people. This one is major. If you want to run faster marathon times you have to put yourself in a scenario and envision yourself being that “fast” runner. Run with people who have more experience with this than you. Run with those Boston marathoners that wear the flashy jackets. Find out what makes them tick. Sooner or later you will be rocking and rolling and pushing the pace and feeling like that confident fast runner that is crushing those marathon times.

What are some things that have helped your running improve over time?

How to Maintain Your Running Fitness During the Off-Season, as told by Oprah.

So I don’t know about you, but during the off season of not racing so much, I like to maintain my overall fitness. Whether that be in the form of doing other workouts or easy runs, I make sure that I keep moving my body so that when it is time to ramp the miles/speed back up, I am ready to plunge into some hardcore training. Here are a few ways you can still maintain your fitness during the down time when you are NOT racing, as told by our favorite advice giver of all time, yes that would be none other than your girl Oprah…

Get into a good rehab routine. Yoga, massages, foam rolling are all my besties, and especially during the off season period. When I am not training so much I obviously have more time for things like yoga classes so I take advantage of yoga studios in the area that are donation based. If you are local to Dallas/Ft. Worth I highly recommend this place, it is amazing to just drop into a class and try out a gentle flow or heart pumping power class. Plus your hips and hamstrings will thank you.

Run watch-less. Or naked, however you want to call it. This is something I have not done in a while actually (with all of the new apps and such we have like Strava it is easy to get caught up in the numbers/pace game) but it is so good sometimes to just go out for a run for the sake of just running and moving your body. Trail running is another way you can just go out into nature, and not worry about how fast you are going. Just going out there and enjoying nature can be a beautiful thing.

Work on your nutrition/diet. I know, I know when you are training, counting carbs or whatever you do typically goes way out the window. I love me some carbs as much as the next runner.

And really, carbs are not the enemy. But when you aren’t training so much you can focus more on balanced nutrition. So I personally eat complex carbs (sweet potatoes/brown rice/quinoa etc) and lean protein with veggies. It really has become so easy to eat clean so you really do not have an excuse here. Meal prepping can make things easier too during a busy work week so you are not so tempted to eat out.

Improve your strength. This is also a good time to get back into adding more strength movements, both with and without weights. I love incorporating kettle bells into my workouts and there are lots of strength moves you can find on Pinterest to include in your routine. Strengthen the areas like hips/glutes or wherever your imbalances are so you can get back on those roads stronger than ever.

It’s as simple as that. I need an “easy” button.

What are some ways you stay fit during a racing off season?

12 of My Favorite Running Quotes.

1. Either you run the day or the day runs you. -Jim Rohn

2. It is impossible to win the race unless you venture to run, impossible to win the victory unless you dare to battle. -Richard M. DeVos

3. A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. -Steve Prefontaine

4. Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. -Robert Collier

5. To be a good runner, you must first be a good athlete. -Jay Johnson

6. We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. -Jesse Owens

7. Running allows me to set my mind free. Nothing seems impossible. Nothing unattainable. -Kara Goucher

8. I think I get addicted to the feelings associated with the end of a long run. I love feeling empty, clean, worn out, and sweat-purged. I love that good ache of the muscles that have done me proud. -Kristin Armstrong

9. It’s very hard at the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually, you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit. -George Sheehan

10. Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running. -Julie Isphording

11. There is magic in misery. Just ask any runner. -Dean Karnazes

12. People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life.- Haruki Murakami

What are some of your favorite running quotes?

I Love Me Some Morning Runners and The Beauty of the Easy Run.

10.11 miles this morning with my Irving Running Club crew. I love running with this girl especially because she is always so bubbly at 5:30 a.m. How she does it, I do not know. I clearly need to buy the coffee that she is drinking.

So today I thought I’d chat real quick about a few reasons why you shouldn’t overlook the beauty of the ‘easy’ run. Sure, we all need our speed work, track, tempo days where we bump up the intensity but scaling it back is important as well.

Time on your feet. Yes, it is true that the more time you are able to get in on your feet, the more efficient you become as a runner. That is why we do our long runs. They are the bread and butter of any training program.

Less stress on the body. You need those days that challenge you and days that help you recover. Rest days and easy days are both important and you should definitely do both. Motion is lotion, so if you are able to get back out there after a hard workout and do some easy running it will be less impact on your body so you can get back out there to do the hard stuff.

It’s good for you mentally. Easy running helps you to really know your body and what it needs. It is nice some days to just get out there and not have to worry about being a slave to numbers.

Injury prevention. We all know those runners that seem to GO HARD all the time and then all of a sudden they are sidelined on injury boulevard. Don’t be that runner. You are welcome.

It helps to gauge and get an idea of what your easy pace is…you can find out here.

How is your training going? Do you run with a club, solo, or both?
Both. I equally love my solo and running friend time.

Quirky Things Runners Do, Continued.

Runners, we are a quirky bunch…aren’t we? Let’s do a bit of a continuation of some of the quirky things runners do…in no particular order…

Hem and haw about waking up early to run. But hey, someone’s gotta do it. Getting up and out the door is half the battle.

Go out for ‘just 4 miles’ and end up doing 7 or 8. Guilty.

Get up to run on a Sunday morning after going out with your buddies on a Saturday night. Because ‘sleeping in’ is overrated.

Post motivational ‘run quotes’ on Instagram. Preferably with a sunrise or sunset in the background.

Bitch and moan about things we cannot control, like the weather. Just because we can.

Go run long and come home and basically do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. Well hey, you’ve earned it.

Runners, what are some more quirky things that you do?

4 Reasons to Get Excited About a Long Run, as Told by SATC.

So I don’t know about you but for me the best part of my weekends is always starting it with a long run. It’s a great way to get the training miles in all while having fun with your friends at the same time. Here are 5 reasons to get excited about a long run as told by my SATC ladies. Let’s get to it!

1. To test out your brand spanking new running gear. Long runs are the ultimate dress rehearsal. I just love it.

2. Because mimosas at the end of a 20 mile run are always the best. Yes indeedy.

3. Because sometimes you just want to treat yourself, retail style. New shoes after running some serious mileage? Even better. Treat yoself.

4. The post long run nap. It’s like the holy grail at the end of all of your hard work. Nuff said.

What are your reasons to get excited about a long run?