Colleen Travers

A Beautiful Day for a PR

Finish line here I come! (And thanks to my cheerleader sister for snapping this pic!)

And that’s a wrap! As tired and cranky as I often was the past ten weeks with what I like to call my “big girl” training schedule, all the miles logged and workouts six days a week really did pay off. I soared through the finish line this past weekend at 1:50:27 (8:26-minute-mile pace), a full 30 minutes faster than the last time I ran this race and a PR for the course!

This was the first time in my racing career that I have really thought of myself as a more advanced runner. I knew what kind of energy gels I wanted, when to take them, how often to stop for water and how to preserve my energy to last the entire course. I still had some pre-race jitters and night before nerves, but I don’t think those ever really go away and to be honest, I wouldn’t want them to!

Sunday morning I joined the rest of the FITNESS team, including Olivia in Central Park before heading off to our corrals. Even though it was a tad early (7 a.m.!), it was super inspiring to see tons of women pouring into the park to pound out some asphalt together. Over 7,000 women finished and despite a few raindrops just before the start, the weather managed to hold out–whew! Looping around the park twice gave me a great chance to check out everyone’s signs and costumes. My personal favorite was a guy holding a sign for his girlfriend that read, “You run better than the MTA!” A+ for creativity for you, sir.

Next week I’m rewarding my legs with a trip to Mexico!  When I come back I’ll do a short training stint to get ready for the ten mile Blue Cross Broad Street Run in Philadelphia and after that, who knows!

For all the runners that ran this past weekend, I hope you enjoyed the race as much as I did. Time to set some new summer racing goals!


Resting Up for Race Day

Seeing family and friends on the course helps to keep me going. Here, I think I'm reaching for a banana. (Thanks, Mom!)

Well here we are – race week! I’ve put in the miles and now I have to let myself taper, stretch and rest before the big day. Last week’s training started to slowly decrease mileage, and this week will be a big change, running only 4 to 5 miles a few times before the big 13.1.

Saturday morning I laced up my sneakers for my second NYRR run this month – the Scotland Run 10K. Not only was it fun to see everyone sporting their Scottish pride by wearing kilts and flags, they had bagpipers at every mile mark playing for the crowds!

After the race I needed to tack on an extra 4 miles to complete my long run, but instead I cut it short and went home. The past two weeks I have been feeling achier than usual and often exhausted, which is most likely from overtraining (yes, that is a bad thing!). By committing to a more difficult training schedule than you are used to you can risk doing too much, which then leads to injury. Getting injured the week of the half-marathon is something I would be none too pleased about should it happen. Here are some warning signs I’ve noticed that I was starting to overtrain:

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Getting Back Into Racing Mode

Another thing keeping my legs fresh? Lots and lots of stretching! (Photo courtesy of Karen Pearson)

This past weekend I was able to do some serious multitasking. I ran a New York Road Runners 15K to correspond with my long run and checked off one of my qualifying races to enter into the 2014 NYC Marathon. Turns out, it was exactly what I needed to reboot my motivation. By the end of a training plan, I am usually pretty burnt out, and my legs tend to shift into autopilot. Being around hundreds of other runners this weekend kicked me back into high gear, and I was able to PR for this race, finishing the course in 1:19!

Another thing that helped was some new gear I got to test. Last week I met with some of the team behind Celliant, a patented technology that recycles the body’s natural energy through the use of fibers. You might think this sounds high tech (and it is!) but what you don’t know is that you probably already own something made from Celliant. The fibers are found in brands like Reebok, Adidas and Asics, just to name a few. It basically works by absorbing the electromagnetic energy emissions your body throws out while you work out and tosses them back into the body to be reabsorbed into your skin and muscle tissue. And you don’t have to be exercising to get the perks. David Horinek, the chief scientist behind Celliant started researching the effect of blending minerals into fibers to have a positive impact on the body when he wanted to help his grandmother with some knee pain she was having (aww!). Since the start of his research in 1990, Celliant has been clinically proven to increase tissue oxygen by 7 percent, which speeds up up your performance and recovery time. It has made its way into knee braces, athletic clothing, bedding and even products for your pets.

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Allergy Tips for Sneezy Striders

Try these tips to run toward, not away from the springy conditions outside. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com)

Last week’s long run was a 12-miler for me, just a mile shy of the race distance coming up! Having a successful 11-mile run the week before I had pretty high hopes, which were then promptly squashed about 3 miles in. I just wasn’t feeling it – my legs felt heavy (I’ve been slacking on my strength training), I was dehydrated and found myself stopping quite a bit to catch my breath and stretch.

Even though I wasn’t having the best run of my life, I was far better off than the other runners in the park who were having sneezing and wheezing fits due to springtime allergies. My legs may occasionally feel like lead, but I am thankful I don’t suffer from allergies, because quite frankly they look like a buzz kill!

Even though my nose is intact, yours might not be so lucky. So I got some tips from Dr. William Berger, M.D. and author of the book Allergies and Asthma for Dummies for runners who suffering from allergies. Below, his suggestions:

  1. Pollen counts are higher in the early morning. Run later in the day if you can for easier breathing. (Note: Because of the mild winter, Dr. Berger says pollen has appeared earlier this year, meaning this could potentially be the worst allergy season in a decade. Eeks!) Read more

Over the Halfway Hump

A snapshot from of the reservoir. Pretty, yes? (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com)

It’s crazy to think there are only three weeks left till race day! I’m happy to report that my runs last week went much smoother thanks to the absolutely gorgeous weather we got here in NYC. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you wake up to 65-degree temperatures, no matter how sleepy you may be.

My long run last week was 11 miles. Instead of doing my usual loop around the outside of Central Park I tried something different–running on the reservoir and bridle paths on the inside of the park. These paths are great for runners recovering from an injury because it’s a softer tread, making the impact with the ground less severe. Though the thought of running in circles made me cringe, once I set out and hit a groove it turned out to be a really nice change of scenery! Instead of wondering how far along I was on my route, checking to make sure I wasn’t lost or constantly glancing at my watch, I was able to completely zone out and enjoy myself. Before I knew it, I was eight miles in and ready to start my trot back home.

It was also unusual that I didn’t think about anything on this particular run, since typically this is where I do my best brainstorming! Any time I have a difficult decision to make or hectic day, I use running to sort through my thoughts and regroup. So while I didn’t have my outfits for the week planned out (like I said, I make very serious decisions while running) or any idea what to make for dinner after my run, I did come back feeling relaxed and refreshed, two things that don’t necessarily go hand in hand with 11 miles! On top of that, my pace was a full 30 seconds faster than usual. Lesson learned for future long runs–less thinking, more zoning!

Now tell me: What do you think about when you run? Is it your next race, your day or something else? Tell me in the comments below, I’m curious!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

 


Stuck in a Running Rut

Our cover model for our April issue (on newsstands March 13!) is my abs-piration to get me through long runs.

I’ve been pretty diligent in my training so far, but last week it finally happened. I skipped a run. I realize there are far more serious and concerning things in the world that could happen, but when I decide to sign up for a race I tend to beat myself up if I don’t stick to my training plan. But between a busy week at work, fickle weather and just the overall desire to hit the snooze button, I found myself lacking serious energy to power through almost all of my runs last week.

Instead of dwelling over the fact that I missed a run, I decided to be proactive and get to the bottom of my recent sluggishness. I realized that I had zero energy only when running, and the rest of the day I was fine. This is a clear symptom of a running rut, or as Danny and Katherine Dreyer call it in the book CHI Marathon, an energy leak. In fact, they say missing a training run is an energy leak that happens to almost every runner (whew!). Here’s how they suggest getting back on track:

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Flying Through a Taper Week

My cross-training for the week was an intense spin class at FlyWheel Sports with some of the FITNESS editors. I almost sweated off the bike!

I’m feeling pretty great after last week because it was my taper week!  This is basically a week in your training plan where you decrease your mileage, giving your legs a chance to rest. I only had to run 6 miles on Saturday, and after clocking 9 the week before it was a nice change of pace.

Due to weather and perhaps some laziness, I choose to do my shorter runs on the treadmill. I’m sure I am not the first person to feel this way, but I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. I think they are great to fit in a run when you only have a certain amount of time, the weather outside is crappy or if the only way you will motivate yourself to run is if a machine is physically making you do it (been there!). But for training purposes it is better to run outside, even when the elements are not in your favor. What if it rains on race day, are you going to stay home? No, of course not. So I try to train outside as much as possible, with the exception of last week.

Since I use the gym in my apartment building and the people watching is at a minimum, I use treadmill time to do some speed work to make the time go by faster. Here’s how I broke my runs down for my 4-milers:

  • .50 mile warm up at 6.0, increasing to 6.5 slowly
  • .50 mile run at 6.7
  • .50 mile sprint at 7.5
  • .50 mile run at 6.7
  • .50 mile hill at a 6.0 incline
  • .50 mile sprint at 7.5
  • .50 mile run at 6.7
  • .50 mile cool down at 6.0

If I am lucky enough to snag a treadmill with a TV, I’ll alternate between this routine and watching a show, sprinting during the commercials. Coming up this week I’m heading back outside to do my first double digit run, 10 miles.  Wish me luck!

Tell me: How do you beat treadmill boredom?

 


Fueling Up for Faster Runs and Recovery

Grapefruit can have a reaction to some prescription drugs, so check with a doc before digging in! (Photo courtesy of Blaine Moats)

SPONSORED by FLORIDA GRAPEFRUIT

One thing I forgot about as I started training was how hungry I would constantly be. This might not sound like a problem, but when you live with a boy who can swallow an entire cheese pizza as if it was the last source of carbs on the planet, it’s easy to cuddle up on the couch and go overboard on the junk.

Rather than wait until my stomach started growling after a long run, I decided to stock up ahead of time at the grocery store so that when a hunger strike did hit, I was ready with foods that would help me recover from runs, rather than make me feel sluggish and just plain gross.

I always knew the basic foods runners should eat, things like peanut butter (no problem there!), bananas, and protein, like fish and beef, but I had yet to discover another superfood–grapefruit. It’s National Grapefruit Month, so my curiosity was peaked. But confession time: Until I did some research on grapefruit I had never eaten one. Weird, I know. But after some reading I found that not only does the citrus fruit help your skin, it actually curbs hunger,  meaning when that pizza binge session is happening on my couch, I can look the other way without wanting to duke it out for the last slice.

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A Survival Kit and Sunny Skies

Another perk with these packs? They are designed to stay cold for 20 minutes, so you don't have to time your ice sessions! (Photo courtesy of TheraPearl)

I have to say (and I’m sure Olivia feels the same way), so far we’ve been extremely lucky with the weather here in NYC. There wasn’t a single morning last week where the temperature was below 40 degrees, which made getting out of bed a touch easier for me. I’ve always been a morning runner, but when you can run without snot dripping down your face and frozen fingers, it’s just a better way to start your day.

My runs last week were pretty long. The weekday runs varied between 5 and 6 miles and my weekend long run was 8 miles. Needless to say, I welcomed a 4-mile recovery run on Sunday with open arms! I noticed my pace was a bit slower (about 30 seconds), which I think is due to my legs adjusting to the mileage increase. They are tired, and who can blame them? I’m hoping to get back up to speed, literally, this week.

I also unintentionally assembled a bit of a half-marathon survival kit of little things that make my training easier. Here’s what I’ve been using so far:

  • TheraPearl hot/cold packs: These are great because you can microwave or freeze them depending on what kind of relief you need. I’ve been using heated ones for my back and iced packs for my shins and knees when I start to feel achy.
  • GU Energy Gel: For long runs, anything over 6 miles. I usually eat the tri-berry flavor, but am itching to get my hands on the peanut butter ones!
  • A foam roller: To keep up with my IT band stretches from my visit with Dr. Shure.
  • Lululemon Featherweight Socks: Not only are they comfy, they are so light you feel like you’re running barefoot. Minus the blistering and sweaty feet part, of course. The right one says “run” and the left one says “fast,” so clearly I’m also a sucker for motivational socks.
  • Nike Daybreak Running Hat: It might have been warm last week, but it was also a little drizzly! This cap keeps me dry in rain and shielded from the sun during the summer.

Here’s hoping that stretching, icing and foam rolling will have my legs feeling fresh and ready to go this week. We’ve got a lot of miles to cover!

Tell me: What’s your go-to gear for running or recovering?


Week 1: Starting Off Strong with New Tunes

Kelly Clarkson kept me company on my runs last week (thanks girl!). (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

The first week of training is always my favorite. Why? Because it is the easiest! No, I’m kidding of course (OK fine, half kidding). I enjoy it because it gives me a chance to check out my pace and see how my long runs will go in the upcoming weeks. Also, I find if you get in all your runs during that first week, it makes it that much easier to keep it up in the weeks to follow. Skipping even one run right off the bat can lead to a slippery slope for me, so I was happy to start off on the right foot.

Being extremely Type A, I love running with a training schedule not just for the appreciation of a plan, but also because it lets me plan what runs I want to do on which day. I rarely follow schedules as they are written; I prefer to pair my runs with my work and social schedule that week. Big birthday party Friday night? Then clearly Saturday will not be the best day for a long run.

Here’s how my schedule looked last week:

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