Day 227: Goodbye old, and the longest run so far

Goodbye, old friends

Last Sunday, I retired my first pair of running shoes.

Last Sunday, I ran the longest distance to date, 14km, and with no walking breaks.

It is hard to describe my feelings on this run.

On the one hand, I felt strangely emotional, even a bit sad. After all, these shoes took me places I never thought I would reach. My first running steps. My first race. Three different countries. Cold runs which left my toes numb and runs which made me almost faint from the heat.

On the other hand, I felt exited for the new distance and a slightly new route.
After I finished, I felt totally badass. That’s like 2/3rds of a half marathon, and, to be honest, I could keep going. Even though I was tired, for the first time I believed, deep down, that I can really do this.

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I can run a half marathon in October. Sure, there’s much needed training still ahead, but now I feel like I am up to the challenge.

Lastly, I did this run in the evening. After all this talk about morning running, I still struggle to get up and fit my runs in early. Well, tomorrow is another try. One day, I’ll get there.

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Distance: 14km
Time:       about 1h28mins (my app crashed, so I don’t know the exact time)

P.S. The next run will be on my new shoes! Stay tuned!

How to wake up in the morning to avoid the heat

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As I mentioned last time, it is extremely hot right now and us runners, we have to be very careful to stay safe and hydrated in such weather.
Therefore, if you want to keep running the great outdoors, the recommended running times are early morning and late evening, when the temperatures are manageable. Both times have their advantages and disadvantages, but there are several benefits of running in the morning:

  • you strengthen your discipline
  • by the time you arrive at work, you’ll be fully awake and your brain will be well oxygenated, what may improve your work performance
  • if you drive a car to work, being well awake makes you drive safer
  • your afternoons and evenings are free, so you can do whatever you like… even run again!
  • running improves your mood, making the whole day more pleasant and can help you cope with stressful situations
  • you get to enjoy the sunrises
  • you feel like a badass!

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However, waking up early to get your run can be a struggle, especially when you’re a night owl. I know I am, and, so far, I find it very difficult to wake up in the morning for my runs. I used to run in the morning around January/February, and I enjoyed it a lot. I hope I can do that again, in my opinion – it is worth it!

Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks one can use to join the Early Morning Crew. Here’s what I’m going to do to help myself wake up early enough.

  1. Make sure you prepare your run before, so you don’t need much effort in the morning. Lay out your running gear. If you follow a training plan, check your schedule in the evening so you know what run type and distance you need to do. Prepare your route beforehand, if you need that. Watch an inspirational video. Rise and Shine is a great one!
  2. Start small and do only your short runs in the mornings, so you do not need that much time.
  3. Take small steps. By moving your alarm clock backwards 20-30 minutes each week, you help a gradual transition.
  4. Move your phone/alarm clock out of your reach so you have to actually stand up to turn it off, and set up the most annoying sound for the alarm.
  5. Remember: There was a reason you set that alarm clock in the first place.
  6. Keep waking up earlier even on rest days, or if you run in the evening. You can use the extra time do some cross-training or maybe you can show up early for work and leave early, too.
  7. Don’t forget to warm up before running!
  8. If you need to, eat something small. Bananas and peanut butter toasts are great.
  9. Drink a glass of water with few drops of lemon juice after you wake up.
  10. Go to sleep early.

There is one more thing you can do, which is out of my reach, but it might help you. It is to find a running buddy or group to keep you determined to show up for training.

I hope this weekend I can write here a summary of my beautiful morning runs!

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Do you struggle with early mornings?
What are your tips and tricks for early morning runs?

June summary and the 500km milestone!

July

Look around, it’s July already! Time flies…

With the break of the month, I have broken the 500km milestone since I started running in November last year. That sounds quite impressive, doesn’t it?

June marked the start of my 20-weeks-long half-marathon training, and here is a short summary of the month:

  • a total of 14 runs, in 2 countries!
  • one race (5km in Fribourg, Switzerland)
  • a total of 86.5 km
  • Pinkpop!
  • Progressive runs are FUN and generally great, but running in the heat isn’t…

Through July I will increase my mileage and work a bit on the speed in the balanced training phase of the plan. The heat will make it a challenge, but I determined to get the work done.

At the moment it is very, very hot (36°C or 97°F), and, so far, I have failed my morning get-up-and-run-before-it-gets-too-warm two out of two times. It is so hot races get cancelled, so please remember: drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, and wear a hat.
This weather looks beautiful, but it can be dangerous!

Infused water

Make infused water to stay hydrated!

Days 214 & 217: Back to progressive runs! YAY!

I admit it, I had a couple of days of a breakdown where I couldn’t make my time or my mind for running. Or yoga. Or anything, really. But yesterday was a breakthrough, I went for yoga and I had a great run, and my mood got lifted a lot. So glad I am back to my old running joy.

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It took a change of the mindset.

Day 214: Monday Planning Fail

On Monday, I had very little time, but I was determined to get my run nevertheless.
I planned that, if I come home and cook directly afterwards, I would have about 1.5 hours before going to run, showering and heading out. This plan got shifted because I had to do some overtime and arrived home 45 minutes later than expected. I set off to cook nevertheless, ate my dinner, changed to running clothes, and started to buzz around in the flat while waiting for my stomach to settle.

Of course, 45 minutes later – at my pre-planned running time – I still felt pretty full and not running-ready. I gave myself another 15 minutes, but things didn’t go any better. Faced with a difficult decision: wait longer, run, and be late for the appointment in the evening, or skip the run completely, or go regardless of anything, I went with the last option.
It wasn’t the smartest.

The run was horrid and difficult, and my stomach was bugging me all the time. It was supposed to be a progressive run, but speeding up was not an option, and I had to walk sometimes. Seeing how slow and generally meh-ish it was going, I decided to stop after a 5k and went home kind of disheartened. At least I took it back by some dancing later that evening.

Day 217: Thursday’s 7k

Now, this run was a completely other story! If I am to be honest, I didn’t feel like going for a run, and I already took an extra day break. Things were looking generally bleak. Fortunately, I went for a yoga class with the goal of running afterwards. It meant that I didn’t have to go for a run, but go for a yoga; and that was the first change of my mindset required to get me back on my track.

Yoga went great. There weren’t many people at the studio, and the poses went smoothly for me that day. After that, I put on my Fribourg running cap, which was completely unnecessary by this point in the evening, and set off to attempt another progressive run.

I don’t know if I had negative splits and how progressive it really was. But it didn’t matter.
I started off very slow, and I was thinking of how to time the pace throughout the run. And then, the second mindset change happened. I decided it doesn’t matter, really. Or maybe it does, probably it does from the training perspective, but… I have no Garmin. I use the simple asics app for android, which provides no information on splits. I decided to just go with my gut feeling, and it felt really good. The last km I was huffing and puffing like a steam engine, but I was able to uphold a very fast pace.

I am back in my groove now and I can’t wait for today’s progressive run! 

Day 213: Summer is here! & general recap

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We are officially past the summer solstice!

That means the days are going to get shorter, and my runs are going to get longer. The last two weeks I was on holiday (yay!) and then completely out of time, and my run schedule suffered a bit, but there are still some highlights I want to share.

First of all, the weather was great during my short stay in Switzerland, it was warm and sunny most of the time. Here back in the Netherlands, it is cold and rainy… what is not particularly surprising, but still kind of a bummer. It is supposed to get a bit better the coming weeks, so hopefully we will get some more summer-ish weather, after all.

Anyway, it was great to have some runs together with MRB again. We visited the beautiful city of Maastricht:

And we went to Pinkpop to see Muse again and some other bands, and it was awesome:

After these events, we ran together through the park here where I live, and that was really, really fun.
The my asics plan we are following told us to do something called a build-up run, which is a progressive run where you increase the pace twice during the distance and maintain it. We had a wonderful 7k with negative splits that day, and I think it was one of the best runs recently. I really like the idea of the build-up runs, and I am glad I will get them more often in my training schedule, even though they are much more difficult to do on my own as I don’t have a handy sportswatch on my wrist to monitor my pace.

Today, however, I was out on a simple, comfortable 7k in the afternoon and it felt so good! My feet were carrying me forward and everything was just right: the sun, the slight rain, the wind (yes, I even enjoyed the wind!), the pace, the environment… simply a great run in itself. Not to mention this cutie I spotted on the way back home:

Next week the balanced training phase of the plan is starting, so the runs will become overall quicker and longer. I am especially looking forward to those build-up runs. They make me feel that if I learn how to pace myself slower at the beginning of the run, I could go much farther and feel so much better!

What is your experience with progressive runs?
Did you do anything fun while I was away?

Lepeltje Lepeltje – food festival

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This weekend, Lepeltje Lepeltje is paying us a visit. The name of the festival literally means little spoon little spoon, and indeed, spoons of all kinds and sizes were everywhere.

What would you do if you heard a food festival is going to visit your little town? Well, visit it and stuff your belly with all kinds of goodness, of course!

That was my plan, but it didn’t work out quite the way I expected, because it turned out to be pretty expensive. I managed to get myself some delicious stuff to count as dinner, but by far I wasn’t able to try all of the yummy things I’d like to. And there was plenty.

As you can see, I treated my belly like a typical Dutch foodie: a puntje (cone paper bag) of “biological” fries (whatever that means) with obligatory mayonnaise, a surf’n’turf beef burger with shrimp (which had my name on it!), and a Grolsch Puur Weizen beer. Not particularly runner’s food, but I allow myself some pleasures from time to time.

Other things offered, which I wanted to try, but ran out of money, included: artisan wine, edible insects, home-made cake, products from an old-style, “natural” chicken farm, pancakes, food from Suriname, and plenty more… maybe it’s better for my stomach that I couldn’t really afford more, after all.

There was also cool live music and a market with handmade and vintage things, which I forgot to visit.

There will be a running update soon as well, I promise! Just out of time recently. 

Days 198 & 199: Running is HOT (+ the 5k in Fribourg)

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HOLIDAY!

I am taking a week off from work and visiting MRB in Switzerland. We have a lot of exiting adventures planned, we started with a big bang the last weekend: Sonisphere music festival in Biel on Saturday, and a local 5.3k race in Fribourg on Sunday morning.

The weather is splendid, holiday-wise: warm and sunny. The environment is picturesque: fields, mountains, cows, flowers.
However, that means running hills in the heat (up to 32°C or 90F) and full sun. Sounds like fun!

Saturday: 5k easy run and MUSE concert

This was a very, very difficult run. I was completely unprepared for such weather conditions, as I have never ran in more than 20°C. After slathering myself with sunscreen and putting on a cap, I set off to check out MRB’s running route. He was mostly concerned about the hill, but it was the heat that defeated me. I was close to a getting a heat stroke, getting dizzy and nauseous, found some relief in a fountain, and barely made it. We had to walk a couple of times because I did not feel like I could run any more, it was that bad. We arrived covered in sweat.

In the afternoon we headed out to the festival, where MUSE played as the big star. The concert was amazing! Extremely crowded, but I could dance and jump and enjoyed the music. MUSE is out with a new album, so they played the new songs like Psycho and Dead Inside along the old, well-known hits, as Resistance, Knights of Cydonia, MadnessUprising or Supermassive Black Hole. It felt great when everybody was singing along. And I really liked the confetti!

Sunday: 5.3k race in Fribourg

What do you think about going for a race in the morning after a festival night full of dancing and jumping? Because we thought that would be a great idea, and we signed up! Fortunately we had enough common sense left to go for the shortest distance, which was 5.3k (there were also a 10k race and a half marathon). The weather was, once again, very hot and unforgiving, but luckily I felt better than on Saturday.

Our finish time was 31:40 what makes our average pace of just under 6:00 min/km, and that means it’s a PR and a first sub-30 5k for MRB!

The race itself was nicely organised, with a very generous goodie bag for the finishers. There were plenty of water stations along the course, what was a godsend in these weather conditions. After the 3rd kilometer, there was also a sprinkler and running through the water there felt simply amazing. As the theme was related to the environment, the medals we received are very unique, because they are made of wood.
I also bought that cool white running cap!

Yes, I move faster than light, so it’s hard to capture me in the picture when I run! Big thank you to MRB’s dad who cheered on us and who is the author of most of the photos we have from the race.

And thus, the first week of the half-marathon training is complete. I am a bit concerned of how will I survive longer runs in the summer heat, but I guess that’s also a part of the training.

Did you run any races this past weekend?
How do you deal with running in very hot conditions?

Day 195: Happy National Running Day!

Isn’t it a bit funny that the American National Running Day is spreading all over the world in the running community, uniting all runners everywhere?

I went to a long (2+hours) session of yoga and got my run afterwards. It was slow, but steady, and I took the time to make some pictures and enjoy the surroundings while I ran.

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Because it’s the National Running Day, most of the sport-related companies are organising something on social media to honour it. Brooks is having an action where they ask people what are they thankful for in running, using the hashtag #thankyourunning on twitter and instagram. So, I have been thinking, what can I thank my running for?

  • Meeting some of the best people in the world. Running has brought me into the most positive, supportive and friendly community I could imagine. The fellow bloggers, the running groups on fb, friends, colleagues and co-workers who are running, they are all a fantastic bunch of motivation and inspiration.
  • Witnessing the nature, and how it changes – day by day, week by week, season by season, fall into winter into spring into summer. Of course I was aware of these changes, but seeing how the flowers bloom and wilt and how trees cover in green and then in blossom on my running paths made me conscious of the passing time like never before.
  • Taking me out of my comfort zone, giving me courage to dare to try. Making me stronger. If not for running, I would never find out what I am capable of, I would be that weak girl with too much time on her hands who needs help getting her groceries up the stairs. No more.
  • Giving me an escape from my daily worries. Keeping me sane and giving me a safety valve for when I build up too much emotion or inner stress.
  • Making me the best me I could ever hope to be.

Distance: 8km
Time:       51:16

What can you thank your running for? 

Day 194: Half marathon training has started

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Sometimes I don’t feel like running at all.
Sometimes I don’t feel like nothing at all.
But then I remember why I do it, my goals and my dreams. And I lace up and go anyway.
Sometimes it feels good afterwards, and I am glad I went for a run.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like anything at all. But I still do it.

Today I went for a run I didn’t want. During the run I tried to count my blessings: my two healthy legs, my still working eyes and my healthy lungs that allow me to run. And then I got stuck.
It was extremely windy and the alleys in the park were covered in fallen chestnut bloom.

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Thus my road to the Amsterdam Half marathon has begun. Not every run will be great and not every day will be good.
But I go anyway. As long as I lace up and go, it’s fine.

Distance: 5.4km
Time:       32:09

May Summary and a New Training Plan!

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May was a very exiting month! A couple of highlights:

I also wrote an important blog post about food: my take on nutrition and making sure your body has what it needs.

Overall, I am very proud of this month, even though it might not be very impressive number-wise, it was still a very eventful month of constantly taking myself out of my comfort zone.

So, what is June holding for me? There’s only one thing which I do not like: my dance classes take a summer break and won’t come back until September or maybe even October. That makes me a bit sad, as I love dancing; maybe I should practice more at home. I still have my yoga, running and swimming, but dancing is very special in my life.

Other than that, there’s a lot of positive things: MRB and I registered for the Amsterdam Half-Marathon and we are starting a long, 21 week training plan for that as of today.
In meantime, we also registered for a smaller race which will be already this weekend!

I am super exited for the new training plan, and the new goals. At the end of June I will be volunteering at a local mud/obstacle race. And I decided to take on the Spartan 30 day push-up challenge – so far I can’t even do one, so let’s see how far can I go!

How was your May? What are your short- and long-term running plans?