Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Not to Train for a Half Marathon (Again)

Hi. My name is Lea and I make bad decisions. Then I don't learn my lesson and I make the same bad decisions again. It seems I never learn.

Back in 2012 I signed up to run the San Antonio Rock n Roll half marathon. At that point, I had run plenty of half marathons before, so this was just another race. But then I forgot to train for it. Yeah, let's go with "forgot." A month before the race, I panicked about being untrained and wrote a blog post about how NOT to train for a half marathon, a humorous look at my pain.

I ran the race. I apparently didn't die. I was slower than usual and it was painful, but I did it. I swore that I would never again attempt to run a half marathon without training for it. Who did I think I was?

Now here we are again two years later and I am once again panicking about being untrained for an upcoming half marathon. It is not as if I haven't been running, it is just that I haven't been putting in the time and miles into those longer runs. This morning I ran six miles and before I could be proud of myself for a run before sunrise, I felt a sense of dread because I realized that six miles is not even half of my upcoming half marathon. Can I do this?

As a throwback to 2012, here are my best tips for how not to train for a half marathon.

How NOT to Train for a Half Marathon:

1. Talk about signing up for a half marathon for months. Talk about it some more. Don't actually register. Wait until the pricing structure is at the highest cost before finally taking the plunge and registering for the race.

2. Don't run any long runs until four weeks before the race. After all, you have run eight half marathons to date, who needs to train? Get cocky.

3. As a matter of fact, barely even run at all. Once a week should be fine. Forget all about speed work, hill repeats, and tempo runs. 

4. Get off track on your diet and gain a few pounds in the weeks approaching the race.  Being properly fueled is probably not that important.  

5. Wait until four weeks before the race, then panic that you are not properly trained. Beat yourself up over it. Tell yourself that you will probably finish in last place. Convince yourself that you will absolutely finish in last place.

6. Don't have a plan, just wing it.

7. Increase your weekly training mileage more than you should every week to play catch up on those long miles you haven't been running. Risk injury.

8. Let your ego get in the way and run too fast for the distance. After all, you wouldn't dare want to post a run on the internet for all the world to see, with a pace over a nine minute mile (gasp! the horror!). You know people are probably definitely judging you by the pace you run. People care about your pace.

9. Don't overly concern yourself with safety or avoiding injury. All that matters now is that you finish this race without a minute of walking and that you set a new personal record, despite the fact you have not been training to do that. 

10. Write a blog post about it dripping with sarcasm.

Maybe one of these days I'll learn my lesson. I plan to fumble through this Dallas half marathon in a couple of weeks, then I'll make my comeback at the Pittsburgh half marathon in May 2015. I promise to train this time. Starting today.

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Does your running partner have four legs

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Four Paws Pacer: Can running with your dog make you faster?

Can running with your dog improve your pace?

The inspiration for this post came from two places. The first was an entry in the My Running Partner has Four Legs link up party where the Car-Free, meat free runner wrote about his faster running times when running with his dog. The second came after I ran with this brown-eyed guy, for the first time in a long time.

who could say no to this face?
Truth be told, even though this blog is called Running with Ollie, I haven't been running with Ollie much lately. Mostly because the summer temps in Texas are too hot for Ollie. They are too hot for me too, but I can suffer though it. I don't want to force Ollie to suffer, so we go most of the summer without running together. His safety comes first. His dad takes him for a two mile walk every single day, so I know he is still getting his exercise and quality time with his owners parents.

Then it simply became a habit to run without him. He eventually got accustomed to staying home when I ran. Gone were the days when he would hear the first beep of the GPS watch and would go crazy. Gone were the days when the act of putting on my running shoes threw him into a frenzy. He learned over time that it was his dad that would take him out every day for his daily walk (and I would join them on the weekends).

Today I was feeling a little lot unmotivated. The weather wasn't cooperating. There was a very light mist outside. It was cold and dreary. There was no chance the sun would make an appearance. I was feeling a strong pull towards Sunday laziness.  It would have been easy to take another day off, but I knew I wanted to put in a few miles today. I slowly started changing into my running clothes. First my running tights and shoes. I wore those around for awhile. Then later I changed from my regular favorite Pittsburgh Steelers sweatshirt to my wicking running jacket. I figured if I was at least dressed, I was half way there.

It was go time. I hit start on the GPS watch to sync the satellites and Ollie's ears perked up at me. The look in his eyes showed he remembered what that beep meant, even if he knew that it didn't mean much for him. I made a swift decision. "Let's go!" and with all the enthusiasm that you can expect from a dog getting ready to go on a run, we were out the door. How can I channel that same enthusiasm, every single run?

We took off down the road along our usual route. Ollie was fast. I forgot how fast. He isn't the most well-trained dog, we have some work to do (but he makes up for it in cuteness). He pulled me along my first mile and I finished it one minute faster than usual! That is quite an improvement in pace. My breathing was certainly more labored than usual, but I wasn't dying. Maybe I am not pushing myself hard enough? This was a pace I felt I could sustain for a short run. I finished the 2nd mile at a similar pace (save the time lost for stopping to tie my shoe. AURGH!). Then during my final mile, I had a short exercise-induced asthma attack (that is usually brought on by labored breathing) that killed my pace during my third mile, but my overall pace including the stops and asthma attacks still was between 30-45 seconds faster per mile than my last run.

Ollie makes a great pacer for tempo runs! I sure wish I could bring him with me to the Fort Worth Turkey Trot in two weeks, but I learned last year that is a terrible terrible (did I mention terrible) idea.

Now that the weather is cold, My four paws pacer will be joining me for a few runs each week. It's time to rekindle that running relationship with Ollie.
Ollie shows his gratitude with a sweet leg hug. I need a pedicure.
Do you run with your dog? Do you find that you run faster verses running alone? Or is your dog more well-behaved than mine?

Does your running partner have four legs

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Harnessing the Power of Routine: This is the New Normal

If I had the choice, I would prefer to be independently wealthy. Wouldn't we all? What if we didn't have to go to work every day? What if we had all day to do as we pleased? Would our work outs be more consistent because we would have more free time? Or would they be more sporadic because we would have less structure in our schedules?

I've been running in the morning ever since we set our clocks back for the end of daylight saving time. I set the clocks back, but I pretended that I didn't, woke up the same time as always (ignored the "new" time on the clocks) and used the extra hour to run in the morning. Worked like a charm. I'm well into the 2nd week of morning running (and No Empty Boxes November) and it has been great. It has almost become routine. Sometimes when my morning brain tries to convince me to go back to bed, I remind myself that "This is the new normal." It's my personal morning mantra. Even on the days when I don't work out, I've been getting up at the same hour. I am working to harness the power of routine.

My cold morning selfie
When Saturday arrives I still get up early, but there is no need to get up as early as I do on the weekdays. I don't run as soon as I get up like I do during the week. I eat breakfast. I drink coffee. I tell myself I will go later. Sometimes later means after lunch. Sometimes it means late afternoon. Sometimes later becomes never. When I have all the time in the world, getting in my workout isn't an urgent matter because there is always time later (until there isn't any left).

I know when the alarm goes off on a weekday morning, I am in a now-or-never situation. I could exercise after work, but then it's dark outside, I'm tired, something comes up after work, I work late, or (insert a million other reasons here). It made me realize what I already knew, I need structure in my daily schedule. It's the routine that gets me out of bed in the morning to run.

We often think of habits in terms of bad habits, but developing a good habit can start with small changes that lead to a new healthy routine. The goal is to harness the power of routine to make exercise habitual so it's not something that you have to think about, just something you do, like washing your hair.

"This is the new normal." Do you have a morning mantra?

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Does your running partner have four legs

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

No Empty Boxes November

I like technology as much as the next gal. Technology may fuel me almost as much as my energy gels on a long run. I use the Nike + GPS watch, the Polar Loop daily activity tracker and both of their companion websites. I make running playlists on my iPod and my phone (as a back up in case of a music-less emergency). I've been known to track my calories and daily miles on a few different apps. I even love EveryMove, the app of all apps, which pulls all these devices and apps together. But when it comes to tracking my daily workouts I tend to resort to (and be motivated by) the simple monthly calendar printed out and posted on the fridge. Call it old fashion, but I prefer the pen to paper method for keeping track of my daily workouts.

There is something motivating about seeing the empty boxes of the calendar days and being responsible for making sure they get filled in. My November challenge for myself is "No Empty Boxes November." 

What does that mean, exactly? It is the simple task of filling in the box every day with my workouts. Does it mean I work out like a feign the entire month of November? I say no. I just means that I do something active (and purposeful) each day. That could mean a run or a home gym session. It may mean I pop in a Yoga DVD and it may just mean that I take Ollie for a 30 minute walk.

It's not about killing myself with workouts every day, it's simply taking 30 minutes each day to do something active. Some days will naturally be more intense than others, but every day in November will be an active day, even if it is an active recovery.

I find that when the boxes start to string together with all my activities, I become motivated to make sure there are no empty boxes, even if it just means taking Ollie for a walk at the end of a long day.

No Empty Boxes November.

It's simple.

This is about as non-technical as you can get.

Do you have any November challenges? What are your November goals? More importantly, does anyone print out calendars anymore? 

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Keep Running,


Does your running partner have four legs? 

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Winner of the "My Running Partner has Four Legs" tank top + a #Giveaway

Welcome to November! I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!

Not to freak you out or anything, but we have 26 days until Thanksgiving, 54 days until Christmas, and only 61 days until New Year's day! I think I am going to blink and it will be 2015! Yikes!

I have a winner of the Running with Ollie "My Running Partner has Four Legs" tank top Giveaway!

I used to choose a winner from current subscribers of Running with Ollie Blog.

The winner is Linden M. 

Congratulations Linden! I'll email you for your shipping information.

Thank you to everyone who entered to win! If you weren't as lucky as Linden this time, you can enter again in November's Rafflecopter giveaway.  The tank top is also available to purchase for only $15.99 in the store.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Same rules apply. All your have to do is sign up to receive Running with Ollie Blog updates by email (and then make sure you fill out the Rafflecopter form above). If you already are subscribed, then all your have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form with the same email address you use to subscribe.

No purchase necessary
Contest open to US and Canada, ages 18 years and older.
Contest runs until end of day November 30, 2014
1 winner will be randomly from blog subscribers who register on the rafflecopter form.
You must be currently subscribed the blog to win.
Winner will notified via email and will have 48 business hours to claim prize.
If original winner does not claim prize within 48 business hours an alternate winner will be selected.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Running Partner has Four Legs Link Up Party + a Furry Friday Feature! Join Us

Happy Halloween, but more importantly...happy furday friday feature, friends! Welcome to the latest edition of Furry Friday Feature. This is a very special feature, because not only am I going to introduce you to some adorable furry faces, I am going to invite you to link up below and tell us the stories of your own four legged running partner. 

Here is how the "My Running Parter has Four Legs" Link Party works:

1. Write a post called "My Running Partner has Four Legs Link Party" on your own blog about your favorite four legged running partner. Don't have a blog? It's OK. Link up using an Instagram post about your furry friend instead!

2. link up your post at the bottom of this Furry Feature post. You can link up anytime between 10/31 and 11/7.

4. If you leave a link, take a few minutes and click through to at least three other links to learn more about other dog loving runners. 

5. Please don't leave unrelated links. Link up posts related to running and your dog. You can, of course, interpret this topic in anyway that fits for your blog, but completely unrelated links will be deleted.

6. I'd be grateful if you would link back to in your post, so your readers know where to find the link party!

Now let's get down to business! Let's meet Debbie from Live from La Quinta and some of her favorite furry friends.

Hi, Debbie. Tell us a little bit about your favorite running partners.
This is a little complicated. My favorite running partner is my Dalmatian Penny. She is now about 13.5 years old though, and "running" is not always what we do. She still gets very excited about getting out there though, but the actual running may last a half mile or so, then we're walking and sniffing (and peeing).

I have a couple potential partners waiting in the wings though. Lily, my Toy Fox Terrier, loves to run and she runs with me up to about two miles a couple days a week. And Johnny, our newest addition, also loves to run but he needs a little training so that he doesn't pull my arm off. I do see him as the eventual go-to running partner though.

Where is your favorite place to run with your pooch?
We run on the trails around our house.

Have you ever raced with your dog? 
Not with any of my current dogs, though Penny was adopted at a 5k. She was only nine months old, very skinny, and wearing one of those "adopt me" vests. We had just lost our Dalmatian, so my husband and I just had to look at each other and we knew she was ours.

Tell us about a running moment that made you proud.
Well, I just ran my 36th marathon a few months ago.

What important running (or life) lesson can we learn from our dogs?
I wrote a whole post on this: (from Lea: this is a really cute post! click and read it)

Do you want to tell us anything else about you or running with your dog?
I have had a canine running partner for the last 15 years. I don't always run with my dogs (especially now that Penny is getting older), but I try to do it at least three days a week. I know you understand because you run with your dog too, but it is such an important part of their life. The look they get when you put on your running shoes is like to other. It makes you feel guilty to walk out the door without them? Plus, as Penny proves, it keeps them healthy and strong, just like it does their human running partners.

Thank you Debbie for sharing all your furry faces with us! They are all so adorable! You can follow Debbie on her blog or on Twitter Instagram or Facebook

Have you missed any furry faces? You can get caught up on past Furry Features here.

Are you a runner who would like to be featured with your favorite furry four-legged running partner?  Just fill out this form to be considered for a future furry Friday feature. (Bonus points if you can say that five times fast.)

What are you waiting for? Link up! I can't wait to read about all your furry running partners!

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Keep Running,


Does your running partner have four legs? If so, then check this out

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Back into Morning Running: How to Use the End of Daylight Saving to Your Advantage

Wait. What? It's almost November? While you will be cleaning up after your Halloween parties, planning your Thanksgiving dinners, and starting your Christmas shopping (gasp!) I will be thinking about another upcoming event.

Daylight Saving Time ends in the US on November 2nd. While most people are collectively rejoicing for the extra hour of sleep, I am looking forward to the opportunity to begin a new habit (or I should say, return to an old habit). The habit of early morning workouts.

Just as the trees shed their leaves, autumn feels like the perfect opportunity to shed our bad habits, our negative thinking, and succumb to the early morning pull of the pavement.

When my alarm goes off at 5am on Monday November 3rd, my body will still think it is my regularly scheduled wake-up time of 6am. Even though they can force most of us living in the US to "spring" our clocks forward and "fall" backwards every year, our bodies are working on their own internal clock. We will eventually get used to the new time, as always, but this year I am planning to use the time change to my advantage.

You see, even though I have written many blog posts about running (or working out) in the morning, it just has been one of those healthy habits that fell to the wayside. When I was doing it regurarly, I was loving every second of it. OK, maybe not every second during it (let's be realistic), but I loved the time to myself in the morning. I loved the "me time" before work. I loved the chance to unwind before I got wound up. I especially loved the feeling of having my workout done before I did anything else in my day. I had this euphoric feeling before I ever even got in the shower and it was an amazing way to start each day. Tough some days? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

After I told my sister that I just couldn't drag my butt out of bed in the morning anymore, her words would ring in my head, slightly louder than my alarm clock on most days, "It's not that you can't. It is that you won't."

Routine is a beautiful thing and I am going to use the end of Daylight Saving to kickstart this healthy habit.

You can check out my other posts on tips for early morning workouts:
25 tips to wake up early to workout
Dummies Guide to waking up early to workout
Conquering your inner night owl: How to wake up early to workout...and love it.

So maybe the end of Daylight Saving is the perfect time to fall back into morning running and to spring forward in my running shoes for morning runs. Who's with me? Seriously, I need you to text me at 5am and remind me of this post.

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Keep Running,


Does your running partner have four legs

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