This Runner's Trials

Sugar-less September

Posted by runnerstrials

Apparently it's September already. Wow. Time for a new challenge!

When we race, a lot of factors affect our performance. Some of these factors are beyond our control:

  • Temperature and humidity
  • Wind
  • Precipitation
  • Race course (I guess you could “control” this by choosing which race you do)
  • If the fluid and aid stations are well stocked, and located where the race website says they’ll be.
  • How we feel, to some extent. Sometimes you just have a bad run or race for no clear reason.

Next month (gulp) I am running a marathon. I want to do well. I want to qualify for Boston.

I know I’ll PR (since I didn’t train for my first marathon), but running a sub 3:40:59 (8:23/ mi pace) marathon is a very lofty goal for me.

I’m trying to concentrate on all of the variables that are in my control come race day. My type A-ish self loves that I can take charge of some things. But I wish Mother Nature would listen to some of my requests, too ;)


Back in April, I ran my fastest half marathon to date. I trained for 12 weeks with a goal of running it at an 8:15 pace. I kicked that goal’s booty. I ran it in 1:43:12 (7:52/ mi pace). I still cannot believe I did that.

I am trying to remember everything I did in preparation for that race (someone should have started blogging earlier ;) ). I’d love to take my April 3 self and put her at the starting line- but with more long runs under her belt- on October 30. But, alas, I have no magical powers.

I’ve poured over my training plan leading up to that race, and have tried my best to take a similar approach now. I’ve been doing the speedwork, long runs, taking adequate rest days and I hope to start strength training more regularly.


I’ m not going to lie. I thought following the training plan was enough. Then out of no where another modifiable factor popped into my brain: nutrition.

I’ve admitted that I’m not the best when it comes to watching my diet. In fact, I pretty much eat whatever I want.

But, my speedy half marathon was the day before Easter. I’m Catholic. What do we crazy Catholics do for 40 days each year? Give up something for Lent. I gave up chocolate this year.

This means I was consuming significantly less sugar in the 39 days leading up to my half marathon. Hmm…

This concerns me because I’ve been downing a ton of sugar this summer. Between chugging Gatorade on hot runs and enjoying extra sweets while traveling, my sugar intake is a bit out of control.

The day after I realized this, I woke up to an email from Runner’s World titled “Five (Non-Running) Tips to Improve Your Speed”.

Guess what #5 was?

Limit the Junk Food
Sugar can actually trigger hunger, which can lead to weight gain. Plus, you'll get more out of your mileage with long-lasting staples like whole-grain rice and pasta than with sugary foods that can cause sluggishness—not what you want if you're pushing for speed.”

And that, my friends, is what’s called fate.

So begins sugar-less September. By sugar-less I do not mean "without sugar". Ha, what a ridiculous idea. I simply mean less sugar.

When I gave up chocolate for Lent I still had dessert everyday. Hello reese’s pieces ;) But I had less dessert than what I was used to.

How will I measure it? I have no clue. I’ll just make an effort to eat less of the sweet stuff. (Here I go being a bad health educator again…)

Now will this sugar-less September help me come marathon day? Who knows. I know better than to think one factor can have such a large effect on my performance. It's impossible to control every variable in your life and say which behavior caused some result. Hence why the “experts” can’t prove that smoking cigarettes causes long cancer (it does). They can only say smoking cigarettes is linked with or increases your risk of lung cancer.

Let’s hope that less sugar is linked with or increases my risk of a BQ :) And if it doesn’t, at least my dentist will be happy with me.

Anyone else want to participate in sugar-less September?

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You can have my speed, but not my confidence

Posted by runnerstrials

This “summer” has been miserably hot. I say “summer” because it’s been scorching since April.

I’ve made no secret about how it’s affected my running. I've failed at long runs, ran crappy races and got burnt out.

The worst part was the self-doubt. How could I ever run a marathon- never less qualify for Boston- when I couldn’t hit my goal race pace on a short run and did all of my speedwork on the treadmill? 

A week and a half ago, my confidence returned. I ran a great 14 miles with Becky and Lauren. Then I ran 18 miles by myself and felt like a superstar.

Did I just finally get acclimatized to the heat of summer? (acclimatization or getting used to new weather conditions takes about 7 to 10 days- source).

Ha no. I just ran in much cooler conditions. At the start of both of these long runs the temperature was in the 50’s. Pure bliss.

But that small taste of Fall was such a tease...

I’m now home in the HOT south. I fully expected that I’d need to get re-acclimatized to the heat again.

Thankfully, Caitlin and Emily welcomed me to join them for the last few miles of their 15 miler the day after I returned home.


(Picture from Caitlin)

I knew this run was going to be tough as soon as I talked to Emily. She said it was “only” 75 degrees when they started. It’s amazing how much your perception changes. A few weeks ago, I’d do anything to run in cool 75 degree weather, but now I was dreading the heat of 75 degrees.

The company on the run was wonderful. But I felt hot and sluggish, and complained more about my 5 miles than these awesome chicks did during their 15 miles. I needed extra liquids for the rest of the day and a long nap.

I thought one run was all I needed to get used to the heat again since I’d been running in it all summer. So I set out for an untimed, "easy" 6 miles today at noon. I wanted to push myself to run well and finish without walk breaks. Silly girl…


Suffering around mile 4.

But then it hit me: It's ok to have a bad 6 miler. It certainly won’t impact my marathon training. I ran the most amazing 18 miles a few days ago. And a strong 18 miler > a good 6 miler in my opinion.

In fact, I’ve had horrible runs like this all summer. Walk breaks have become the norm. But obviously it doesn’t matter.

The summer can temporarily take my speed, but it can no longer have my confidence.

I proved to myself that as soon as I ran in more comfortable conditions, I ran well. My speed returned and the walk breaks didn’t. Summer running has not been fun, but it’s not hurting my training.

This goes for you too :) I promise you will see a vast improvement in your runs once the weather gets cooler. Don’t lose confidence; there is hope!

This week will be a step-back week in marathon training. No speedwork, no long run, no timed runs. I need to get used to the heat again without putting pressure on myself. I also want to reconnect with the pool, bike and yoga studio.

I’m also crossing my fingers that we have an early Fall :)

Are you sad to see Summer go? I'm torn. I'll miss the long daylight hours.  But I'm pumped for cooler temps, football and baked goods made with pumpkin :)

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18 on foot, 612 on wheels

Posted by runnerstrials

After 22 days spent gallivanting around the northeast with a stop in the midwest, I'm finally home :)

18 on foot

I got in my long run in NJ before I left. I had to take advantage of the cool weather (55 degrees!) and my favorite running spot one last time.

I set out for 18 miles. This is the longest distance I've ever run solo. In fact, the only times I've run longer than this was my marathon #fail in January 2009 and my 20 mile trail race earlier this month.

I was nervous. Could I handle the distance without running buddies? Did I eat enough the night before (I didn't have my usual pre-long run pizza)? Could I handle hills- which I have been avoiding the past 3 weeks?

Ummmm... YES! This was my best long run ever!

According to the running experts, my long runs should be between a 9- 9:30 pace. I considered aiming for that pace, but instead I tried to ignore my Garmin and see where my pace fell naturally.

That would be 18 miles at an 8:45 pace! Or 25 seconds slower than my goal marathon pace. Score! And the best part? I felt like I could run longer and contemplated turning the run into a 20 miler. But I held back, which I'm sure was better for my training.

This is the first time all training that I felt confident and thought just maybe I have a tiny chance of actually meeting my marathon goal and qualifying for Boston. Go me :)

612 on wheels

Since I spent the previous day being so active, I decided to sit on my booty for 12 hours on my rest day and drive back to Charlotte.

The trip should take just shy of 10 hours; it took 12. Thank you awesome traffic in Virgnia.

During the drive I thought about how long 18 miles is. I'd look at one exit on I-95 and pay attention to how long it would take to get to one 18 miles later. It was a long time. I was quite impressed with my ability to run that just the day before. We distance runners are quite crazy ;)

Then in my boredom, I thought about how long the 612 miles was, and wondered if people ran that distance. Anyone?  I soon realized I've run that distance this year. I've actually run 988.5 miles since January 1, but who's counting? Oh yeah, this anal girl is ;) Insanity folks.

I finally made it home and was greeted by my happy husband.

Don't get up, dear. Doesn't he look thrilled to see me? I promise he was. He's just a little camera shy ;)

Unfortunately, my furball doesn't get home from camp until Tuesday. The house is so lonely without him!

Tell me, am I the only one who keeps track of yearly mileage? I know someone else out there must have an excel sheet or training log ;)

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