marathon training

Last year, I ran several half marathons and a full marathon with a big, audacious goal to run my first ultra marathon. I was pretty good about training, printing off plans for each race and scratching of each day’s activities.

Enter winter in the Michigan tundra when sleet, ice and wind can put a damper on any day’s plan to run outside. Oh, sure, I’ve been running on a regular basis, but I’ve not kept to any particular plan and I have certainly not made eating well and cross training a priority.

I may have just inhaled some pizza and chocolate, but with my Team Playmakers group runs having started this morning, it’s time for me to make SMART goals and to focus on my training.

Photo of an icy stretch of trail at Hawk Island Park in Lansing, Mich.

Glad to see my Team Playmakers friends this morning despite the icy conditions on the Hawk Island trails.

So here are my 2017 running goals (with the caveat that I am starting a new job next week and have no idea what my schedule will look like):

SPECIFIC: I will eat better, get enough rest and work on my cross training this year so that I can run Grand Rapids’ Gazelle Girl Half on April 23, Munising’s Grand Island (trail) Half on July 22, the Run Woodstock 50K on Sept. 9 and either the Detroit half or full marathon on Oct. 15. I’ll also need to find a full marathon to use as my longest run before the September 50K. Last year, (with YUGE support from my runner friends) I ran all the loops of the Lake Lansing Marathon Relay.

MEASURABLE and MEANINGFUL: I don’t have any new distance goals this year, but I do hope to do a better job of training for the races on my schedule. I am not one to run for PRs, but hope to improve my times on each of the races. Mostly, I want to finish strong and not feel like I’m going to die.


ATTAINABLE and REALISTIC: I will turn to my trusty Hal Higdon half marathon training plan, except that now that I’m not a newbie, I’ll be using the intermediate plan. I’ve done this before, and am confident I can do it again.

I will have to spend a bit more time looking ahead each week to make sure I make the time I need for both my runs and my cross training.


RELEVANT: This is a transition year for me, both in running and professionally. I’ve been running since 2012, so I am definitely not a new runner anymore, so all of my goal races are very do-able.



TIMELY: I am looking more at consistency than big achievements because I want to be realistic about a year when I’m not just starting a new job, but also completely switching careers (from communications/public relations to foundation management/fundraising).

Looking forward to more running, less ice.

How about you: What are your SMART goals for this year?

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The prompt for this week’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up hosted by runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs,My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice has me thinking about, well, the way runners think: If you could go back and run/train for a race differently … what would you redo?

I’m not one to obsess over mistakes I’ve made during a run or race, so I’m not sure that I’m the right person to answer that question. Take the Run Woodstock 50K.

I could dwell on the buckets of rain that kept my four friends and I up the night before, leaving us with just a few minutes at a time of actual sleep. Instead, I choose to focus on the giggling we all did as we kept whispering “are you asleep?” to each other over and over as the wind and rain pelted my RV, ensuring no one could get any sleep.

I could blame my 10-and-a-half-hour finish time on the ridiculous amounts of mud on the trails, which made us slip and slide, and even sucked up one of my friends’ shoes. Instead, I get to remember one of my most-memorable running-related stories: the race volunteer who gave the socks off her own feet to a runner who was getting blisters.

I could complain about a number of minor irritations, including the stinky vault toilets, wet socks and swollen fingers. Instead, I choose to remember the kind and encouraging words from fellow runners, race volunteers and my friends who traveled to the race just to cheer us on.

This may mean that I’m going through life with rose-colored glasses. But it’s a quality I’ve admired in my friends who run. We may be facing health crises, family drama or job-related insanity and still get up at 4:30 on a Tuesday morning to meet up with each other to start our day with four miles.

Several of the always-optimistic runners who let me join them week after week.

Several of the always-optimistic runners who let me join them week after week.

Do the running-induced endorphins make us ridiculously positive or are already-positive (or furiously happy) people drawn to running?

Like the week’s prompt, it’s not a question I can easily answer. But I’ll just leave it here for y’all to answer because I have to go get my running gear together for our morning run.


You’ve spent a season training for your big race. You’ve put in hours and hours on the road or trail, you’ve run your race, gotten your medal and posted your accomplishment on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Now what?

First, it’s normal to have a bit of a letdown after achieving a big-deal-whoopie running goal. So much of your time and energy has been focused on getting to the start line that few of us spend much — if any — time thinking about what comes next.

What’s a runner chico or chica to do? That’s why I’m writing about the most challenging aspect of running right now for the Tuesdays on the Run link-up hosted by runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice.

For me, it’s figuring out what to do after meeting a big audacious running goal, so I turned to my runner friends. Here’s what they said:

Kari: I’m new to running as of last October so I have some hefty goals ahead of me. With that being said, I started small and my race distances just keep growing. Is there really a limit? I truly don’t think so. Only thing that is limiting is our imagination and belief in ourselves. If a new runner sees a 100 miler in their future, I’d say “you got this” and encourage. Setting a new goal (signing up) is what has kept me motivated to succeed.

Erinn: Set another goal. A smaller goal — but still a challenge goal. Like best 5k (work on speedwork) or another fitness goal like pull ups, more paddle boarding for core strength, and all the while looking at other options. Word of mouth is the best way to ultra. If another runner tells you that “you’ll like this race,” heed their advice.

Shannon: I’ve both taken time off and just ran for health. I’ve also gone bigger and longer. Currently, I’m racing a lot, and I look forward to late November when I don’t have any more planned races. But the reality is that in November I’ll feel like I have no direction and I’ll feel lost, just like the last time I didn’t have any goal race scheduled.

Emily: I kind of just keep training for the next thing, even if it’s smaller than the big goal race, it helps keep me moving. Though, in autumn I don’t really need to extra motivation. The perfect weather is usually enough to get me moving because it’s just so beautiful.

Barb: I make a new goal after a big race. I already know what my next goal is, speed. I now know I can do the distance but now I want to get faster.

Janet: After the big goal, relax, enjoy the time and then get back to running. I run because I’ve experienced life when I couldn’t run and that sucks! So run because you can.

Corey: I’m typically depressed and irritable and eat non-stop until I sign up for the next big race. Running Grand Rapids marathon Oct. 23 which will qualify me for marathon maniacs, a goal I set for 2016. I’m looking now for my next big goal after that though, otherwise I’ll fall into winter holiday hibernation and gain 10 lbs.

Samantha: Bringing down the miles and giving our bodies a break is healthy. But … I’m scouring the Internet for upcoming races because I’m feeling crazy.

As for me, I haven’t yet decided what I’ll do next, whether I’ll be focusing on distance or speed, for example. But what I do know is that I’ll take a cue from my mentors Brandess, Janet and Shannon: I’ll be focusing on helping my friends reach their goals. Because that’s what I love the best about running: other runners.

What’s the most difficult aspect of running for you right now? Feel free to share your own blog posts below. (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Running advice roundup

by lachicaruns on


I’ve been very fortunate that running has brought many gifts, including a plethora of runner friends. In particular, I’ve been blessed with very experienced runner friends who’ve mentored and encouraged me.

Thanks to them, I’ve learned a bunch of lessons, often without going through the pain of making too many mistakes. As part of today’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up hosted by runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice, I am sharing some of the best running advice I’ve gathered. Be sure to click on the hyperlink to read more:

I can no longer say I’m a newbie, but I continue to need my runner tribe as I continue on this journey. Hopefully, you can learn a thing or two as I do.

What’s been some of the best running advice you’ve gotten? Feel free to share your post here if you’ve written about this topic before. (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Yup, it happened today. I used a popsicle stick to smear Vaseline on a guy’s nipple.

You see, I volunteered at the Capital City River Run with my running group, Team Playmakers. It was at mile 9 for the half marathoners; mile 22 for the full marathon. The weather was perfect for standing around, handing out oranges, M&Ms, pretzels, Gatorade and water. Too warm for running, really, so a lot of the runners coming through were on the struggle bus.


Great set up to volunteer for today’s race.

But we thoroughly enjoyed helping runners — or at least giving them a few words of encouragement — as they came through.

A welcome sight for most runners: paper towels dipped in ice water.

A welcome sight for most runners: paper towels dipped in ice water.

Everyone helped out, including some friends who ran their races then came back for the fun. I was inspired by so many who kept running or walking, even when they were obviously suffering.

My friend Vicki came back to help after she finished her half marathon.

My friend Vicki came back to help after she finished her half marathon.

I even got to run for the last four miles with my friend Angela who was running her first full marathon. She was hurting. She was miserable. And she probably wished she were anywhere but on that race course.

Yet, she just kept going. All the way to the finish line.

Angela killed that race course.

Angela killed that race course.

In the end, she and our friend Dena celebrated their accomplishment: they joined the marathoners club.

Dena and Angela join the marathoner tribe.

Dena and Angela join the marathoner tribe.

As for the guy and his Vaseline-needing nipple. He was on mile 22 of his marathon when his chaffing got so bad that he stopped by our table to see if we had Vaseline. I went to hand him the stuff on a popsicle stick when he lifted his shirt, pointed to the spot and I, well, swabbed it.

He thanked me and ran off. It’s not what I had in mind when I signed up to volunteer, but I did say that I wanted to pay it back for all of the people who have helped me during all of my races. Can I consider that debt paid now?

Have you ever needed Vaseline for race-day chaffing? Have you volunteered at a cheer tent? What’s the weirdest thing you have seen on a run or race? (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)