marathon training

I don’t like biking much at all. And yet, el husbando and I recently got a new Peloton bike that is getting quite a bit of use despite my initial misgivings.

As a runner, I’m relatively fit. I still do a bit of yoga and walk as cross training. But with the Detroit Free Press Marathon as my goal race this fall just a few weeks after we run a 50K, I wanted to make sure that my cross training is on point this year. Hence, the torture device. I mean, the bike.

How did I make the switch from non-cyclist to someone who rides an indoor bike several times a week? As with most things, through trial and error.

I was less than thrilled when I first started using our new Peloton bike.

If you’re considering getting a new Peloton bike, I’ll give you the deets you need to decide whether to order your very own or to love it a little more if you find yourself less than enthusiastic with your new equipment.

El husbando made all of the research and ordering, but I can tell you that he found the process to be pretty easy. After he placed our order, a delivery company in a town about an hour away called almost a week later to arrange a date and time. The day-of, we got notification before arrival. Set-up was fast, but because it was so cold outside, we had to wait a while to actually turn the bike on, let alone use it.

Once we did, we found it intuitive and easy to use. For the uninitiated, Peloton has a large monitor/screen that shows your progress and statistics, and features the ability to stream spinning classes. Much like a typical bike, it can be adjusted for each person’s height.

We opted for the whole package, which included a mat for the floor to protect our carpet, small weights that sit on a frame behind the bike, a year’s worth of access to Peloton’s streaming content, and a pair of cycling shoes for el husbando. (More about that later).

A longtime cyclist, he easily got himself set up and was riding the bike right away. Me, on the other hand, took a couple of weeks to really warm up to the bike. Here’s what I learned:

  • Peloton resources. When you first log in, the system shows you a set-up video, which includes tips on how to adjust every one of the bike’s features. There’s a very active Peloton group on Facebook where you can find an eclectic community of riders who share stories and encouragement. Lesson learned: Watch the darn video and actually implement what you learn. Especially the part where they teach you how to clip in and out of the bike (ie, how to get your cycling shoes in and out of the bike pedals).
  • Comfort. Bike seats suck. I adjusted the thing up and down, front and back and nothin’. My nether regions were sore after even the shortest rides. A friend who does triathlons and trains indoor said that you do get used to the seat after a while. Others suggested padded bottoms, which I immediately ordered. Ahhhh. Relief. Lesson learned: It may be happening indoors, but this is still a biking experience. Much of the same gear needs apply here.
  • Difficulty. I started out with a pre-recorded beginner workout featuring an instructor with music so loud, I could barely hear her instructions. What I did catch, however, were her moans and facial expressions that led me to believe she has a very close relationship with her bike. After a couple of tries, I found Nicole Meline who is very newbie friendly, giving lots of encouragement and tips like how to sit, inherently making the ride more comfortable. Lesson learned: give several instructors a try until you find someone who fits your needs.

My favorite 115 lb. Leonberger is not impressed by my new cycling shoes.

  • Shoes. Other than the aforementioned padded bottoms, you’ll need cycling shoes. And if you’re new like me, you need to know that there are two general categories: road and off road/mountain biking. Within those, there are a gazillion features, but you’ll want to get shoes that accommodate a “3-hole arrangement.” Look for descriptions that say they fit a Delta or Look Delta cleat. You can ride the bike with regular shoes, but wearing proper footwear with cleats makes the ride a whole lot smoother. Newbies: you’ll need to order the cleats in addition to the shoes, then install the cleats by screwing them to the bottom of your new shoes (an easy proposition). Lesson learned: just get the shoes (and cleats) in the first place. Because I waited a week to get mine, I had to adjust to riding the bike twice: once with my running shoes and later with the cycling shoes.
  • It’s still biking. Despite watching multiple videos, I assumed riding the indoor cycle would be easier than riding outside. It really isn’t. The Peloton classes call for turning resistance up (by turning a knob) to simulate going up a hill, for example. Some instructors ask you to stand up or to really increase your intensity by riding at a certain (read: hard) level. I certainly sweat a ton and feel my core engaging on each ride. Lesson learned: there is a water bottle holder. Use it. I drink about a full water bottle during each ride.
  • Consistency. I’ve found that I can fit at least two 20-30 minute ride at least twice a week. I’m building up to a third ride in the coming week now that I’m hitting my groove. And because the system tracks your progress, you can see how much you have — or haven’t — done in the past week. Lesson learned: Create a separate account for each person riding the bike so you can see your own statistics.

About a month into our Peloton bike purchase, I’m starting to see myself really adjusting. I automatically reach for my ice water, bike shorts and cycling shoes, which have all made the experience significantly less miserable. And I know that I’m getting stronger and healthier each time I clip on.

Have you done any indoor cycling/spinning? What did you think? Is there anything else I should do to make this more pleasant? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

26.2, here I come

by lachicaruns on

[Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon on October 20-21, 2018 as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!]

Despite running the distance in training for 50K races in 2016 and 2017, I’ve only done one official 26.2 mile race, the Capital City River Run in 2015. This year, I hope to go back to the distance to get another marathon medal at the Detroit Free Press Marathon on Oct. 21.

I remember Capital City fondly, but know that the road race really took a lot of both mental and physical fortitude that I never knew I had. It was my first real physical test, especially because I ran a large portion without the kind of running buddy support we experience at the Run Woodstock 50Ks where you know you’ll have a pit-crew-style aid station every four miles and friends beside you for the full 33 miles.

But this is DETROIT where the course takes runners from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, and back, crossing at both the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The route covers Belle Isle, the RiverWalk and lots of historic neighborhoods. 

With a generous six-and-a-half-hour time clock, it’s a race I should be able to finish, even six weeks after this year’s 50K at Run Woodstock, a feat I considered last year, but chickened out of, then suffered some serious regrets about later. Thanks to my friend Vicki, I will use the Hal Higdon marathon training plan for back-to-back races.

This year, I’m building up my mileage more slowly and steadily to give my body time to heal from some shoulder and knee problems I’ve been having. I’m also genuinely being smarter about my training and eating, already having made progress on both ends. The whole familia has had a great attitude about eating better and being more active, things we’ve dabbled in before but never really made significant progress on.

My first race isn’t until late April when I plan to run the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in Grand Rapids, followed by the Bayshore Half Marathon in May and Old Farts in August. I’ll probably run a 5-mile leg of the Lake Lansing Team Marathon relay and am considering running the Capital City River Run Half Marathon again. I may even get to squeeze in a trail race in the Upper Peninsula sometime this summer, depending on when I can take vacation.

For now, I’m working on my core, returning to yoga and spending quality time on our new Peloton bike for cross training. I did just get a cycling Cruiser Bike Girl Skirt from Skirt Sports to make that last one a little less uncomfortable and will report back on whether the padding made a difference.

I do hope you want to join in the Detroit race weekend fun. There are multiple events — from a kids race to a competitive one miler to the full. No matter what you decide, use code 2018DETROCKS for 10% off your race entry!

Have you run a full marathon? Have you run Detroit? Want to run it with us?

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?

(You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

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.

tuesdays-on-the-run-1

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.)