Commonly Used Running Acronyms and Training Abbreviations

As a follow-up to last week’s “Running Lingo and Training Terms” post, this week I chose to piggy back this week and offer a quick reference tool for some ‘Commonly Used Running Acronyms and Training Abbreviations’.

A Reference Tool For You

I spent a little time making up another quick reference tool for you to hold onto and hopefully it will help you if you’re unsure of a few of the common abbreviations referred to within training plans. Additionally, now you can nod with a confident understanding smile or offer a knuckle bump when someone throws out that they just ran a B.Q. , a PR, or PB.

Of course just a disclaimer, this list is by no means all inclusive. If you have seen or are questioning some other acronyms or abbreviations, and are unsure of what it means, feel free to nominate the addition to me or e-mail me and we’ll see if we can’t figure out together what it means.

I’m also more than happy to send you these print outs directly or may send them out via my newsletter if you choose to sign up.

Spring Has Sprung & It’s Time to K.B.

Do you feel it? Have you seen it? The snow has melted, the birds are chirping and the air is beginning to warm. I don’t know about you, but what a motivator to get out there and run, or run free and run fast. And just in case you didn’t already figure it out K.B. is my own acronym for “Kick Butt”! 😉

GRIT Talks with Bethany Praska

If anyone knows what running grit means, it’s Bethany Praska! Bethany has a unique running history and evolution from being a D1 track athlete who found her running finesse in the 800 meter distance, went on to run post-collegiately as an elite runner who competed at the 2016 Olympic trials, and now runs 50 mile ultras. Aside from such acknowledgements, Bethany maintains a humble perspective on the journey she’s traveled thus far and the direction she aspires to move towards. Bethany and I sat down several times for some “GRIT Talks” and her story has been incredibly intriguing and grounding to hear.

How Bethany Discovered Her Running Passion

Bethany claims that she was a little bit of a later bloomer to running. In fact it was during a season of participating in high school volleyball, when she describes having to run a mile for conditioning and says, “There was a base of something that lit me up a little bit!”.

After high school Bethany made a move from Longmont, Colorado to the University of Iowa to run as a Hawkeye track and field athlete. She and her coach discovered her competitiveness could be stretched from the 400 and 600 meter distance to the 800 meter distance. That’s where Bethany seemed to settle into her track finesse.

She was such an unstoppable speed demon that she continued on after her final years of eligibility at Iowa, to run as an elite within the 800 meter distance. She was even successful enough to reach the bar of making the 2016 Olympic Trials.

Finding Out What It Takes to Run Both Distances

Bethany’s perspective of what running “long” meant, has progressed since her college years. Within her podcast episode interview, she compares the challenges within the training, the lifestyle and racing the varying distances of the 800 meter distance versus the 50 mile ultra distance.

It wasn’t always a cake walk for Bethany and she was forthcoming about the low moments of her college career. She fought thru figuring out how to match her expectations for herself and what she describes as disappointing results of her performances. Running and Bethany’s relationship with it, had gotten to point where she says it was not fulfilling or soulful. Although, her desire to repair and redefine her relationship with the sport, has circled back around to now taking on the opposite extreme of running trail ultras .

The GRIT of the Lifestyle

Bethany details a few of the times when the going got rough and her character was being tested. The days when she says, “it was not glamorous or fun”, but she describes how those were the days where she maintained hope for redemption.

“You’re kicking your heels, and shuffling your feet, and pouting a little bit. But I think the more you do that, you know there’s going to be a weight that goes up after those lower points.”

-Bethany Praska

Even now when she has been in the thick of training for an ultra, she realizes that regardless of how unappealing “going for a solo run in the rain before work” seems, she feels the most herself afterwards. We both agreed that after a run, no matter how uncomfortable it was at the time, you never seem to regret having gone in the first place.

Bethany’s Perspective on Growing Grit

“I think that you can grow that…I absolutely think that it’s something that if you prioritize it, you really can put some calluses on your mind. And create a better relationship with your head and understand yourself more.”

“I think you have to want it! If you go thru the motions but are not present to it, that could be just as useless as wanting it but not doing anything bout it. The accumulation of the two are maybe what can give you that.”

I absolutely loved and may find myself reiterating Bethany’s analogy of what defines grit, next fall with my own athletes. Aside from her saying that to her grit means “digging deep”. She gives a mental image comparison of three tanks of gas containing the physical aspects, mental aspects and heartfelt aspects of running. When one tank becomes depleted, a runner somehow finds a way to get it done by searching for more gas within one of the other tanks.

She also theorizes that it’s life experiences, both good and bad, or challenging and easy, that give you perspective and develop mental callous.

What Does The Future Hold For Bethany?

It’s undeniable that Bethany has a true and unwavering passion for running. In two weekends she’ll take on her third 50 mile ultra in Ottawa, Kansas. She’s prepped and facing the distance head on with her arsenal of experience and confidence from the completion of her first two ultras.

A few family members and friends will go to support her and help pace her thru the latter miles. And for the most part, Bethany feels mentally callused for the distance and has embraced the inner dialog that cycles thru her brain during all the miles. Whether they be random thoughts irrelevant to running and the race, or allowing her brain to just wander, she says she finds comfort in it all.

Beyond her race in two weekends, Bethany’s ambition to set new goals remains fueled. She has already begun dreaming of a fall 100 mile ultra. If that becomes her next chapter after the 50 mile distance, rest assured she’ll do it because she “wants it”. I’ll certainly be a fan of Bethany’s and be staying tuned to her continued evolution.

GRIT Talks with Bethany Praska also available on almost all other podcast platforms. Go to the RMC Podcast & Music Playlists page for links to other podcast platforms to listen!

Training Recap for Weeks 2 and 3

“Be Careful What You Wish For!” This is all I could think of on several of my runs this past week. Even after twenty five years of running, somehow Mother Nature keeps figuring out ways to put me on my knees, kick me in my shins, and spit in my face (sometimes literally). This seemed to be the theme, if I had to choose one, for the last couple weeks of my half marathon training recap.

First World Problems in Punta Cana

Last week, my husband and I and some old friends of ours, took a much desired get away vacation to Punta Cana. The past three months of winter have been just plain brutal here in Iowa. To say I had been anticipating the trip, like a kid on Christmas morning waiting for everyone to wake up and open presents, is an understatement.

On Monday and Tuesday just prior to leaving, I decided to knock out my mile repeats workout for the week and then a recovery run. It was still plenty abrasive here in terms of weather, and all I kept dreaming about to get me thru those couple of days workouts, was the warmer weather just ahead of me in less than 24 hours. Good riddance Iowa (for 6 days)…Peace Out!!

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Running Ragged

The first run I did in Punta Cana I did with my husband. I love when we get to run together! I was in heaven away from Iowa, running in 70-80 degree weather with my best bud. We found a safe and secluded place to run on one side of the resort where we were staying at, which would later be the same half mile stretch of road that I would log my week’s long run on.

We only ran 4 easy miles that day and even finished out the last couple in the resort gym with our non-runner friends, who chose to elliptical. The realization of the temperature differences effect on me, must’ve been blind sided that day by the easy pace we were running, the gabbing and chatting we were doing, and the plans we were making for relaxation, sun and sand. Now, here’s where warm weather running bliss turned into warm weather running ragged.

Two days later I would do my long run of 9 miles. I’ll admit that up to that point, I may have allegedly not made the best food or hydration choices. In addition to fueling myself with toxic sludge and pool-side nachos, we had laid around like lizards in the sun for three days already. Safe to assume that, my body was not as prepped and ready for running an hour and some odd minutes in 80 degree heat.

The nine mile long run that day was not exactly how I had envisioned it would be. I did 18 laps of a half mile loop, carried water the entire way, and still found myself having to mentally talk thru the last three to four miles. My point in sharing my first world problems with running in 80 degree heat in the Dominican, is to humbly reiterate how Mother Nature seems to be my best teacher of mental grit.

Shaking My Head

Re-entry after a vacation can always be a little bit of a reality kick in the butt. But for the most part, I was feeling rejuvenated and ready for a return butt kicking and productive return to coming home.

I did several easy daily runs, a hilly five miler, and a six mile tempo run with three miles in the middle at goal half marathon pace. I’m always a little apprehensive on “speed” days when it’s cold or windy. While it was slightly uncomfortable trying to hit 7:10-7:23 pace coming back into the wind, I got her done.

However, today’s long run again had me shaking my head and almost laughing out loud at my naivety. Mocking echoes of “Be careful what you wish for!” still on repeat in my brain when my running partner and I tried to beat the 25 mph wind gusts today.

We intentionally chose a six mile out and back route (that I would repeat) that included approximately a mile and half of tree coverage to give ourselves a break from the blustery conditions.

“Just Keep Swimming’!”

Ever seen the movie Finding Nemo? Can we all agree that Dori’s singing mantra of “Just Keep Swimming!” seems to keep finding itself in runner’s form on posters sidelining races, and under meme pictures of runners grimacing with effort. Well, I guess that was kinda me this morning between fighting wind and snow covered trail. Mother Nature wins again!!

Finding the Silver Lining

Every time that Mother Nature puts me back in my place a little bit, I have to just laugh (at myself). These are the days that I’ll look back on someday and relish. Wallowing usually only lasts for a short period before I’m able to “tsk-tsk!” myself and put my ego back in check.

After I get over my five minutes of entitled and bratty self loathing, I begin thinking about the positives from the run or week. I’m happy to say that I was able to capture an incredible sunrise on my Tempo run day (pic below), run with my hubby and best buddy while enjoying island life, and even have the opportunity to get away and recharge. Life is good and I’m grateful!!

Running Lingo and Training Terms

With spring just around the corner and many new or returning runners taking on new goals and diving into accompanying training plans, perhaps it’s time to just re-iterate some running lingo and commonly used training terms.

Training Terms

Just last week I wrote a blog post “GRIT Building Running Workouts”, and threw out some challenging workouts collected over the years and hoarded in my personal running and coaching files. After I wrote and posted the blog write-up, I realized that maybe not everyone really knows what “Tempo” or “T-pace” is. Or, that maybe there are runner’s out there who aren’t familiar with what a progressive run is. Perhaps, some of the commonly abbreviated acronyms, such as SPM, max HR, or GRP, are even confusing. More expanse on running acronyms in next week’s blog posts.

Let’s begin with some basic terms you may hear or see written on training plans. Of course these descriptions are very basic and some even a few rudimental, but should give you the gist of the idea.

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If you would like a downloadable copy of these “Training Terms” references, or think that they be of help to someone else just shoot me a direct e-mail via the Comment & Contact page located at the top of this website. Also, I will send these downloadable tools to Runnermomcoach Newsletter subscribers. If you haven’t signed up to receive these Newsletters, you can do so by filling out the form below.

Next week, I’ll continue on with writing up some commonly used acronyms within the running world jargon. Stay tuned!

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Pea Protein vs. Soy or Whey

It’s absolutely necessary and quite essential for runners to fuel and eat well in order to sustain their bodies during and thru out training. And it’s no new declaration that we know protein is a critical factor in muscle growth, repair, and recovery. It’s not even all that uncommon for runners to supplement their diets with protein products in varying forms of powders, bars, or pre-made drinks ready to grab and go. But having personal adverse reactions to some of the varying types of proteins out there, forced me to abandon formerly consuming forms of whey protein isolate or even soy isolate.

Whey Protein

When I started training for my first marathon back in 2013 and logging up to 60 miles per week, I started putting more intention towards post run fueling. Within 30 minutes or so after a run, I was either trying to consume some sort of power bar or making a smoothie and throwing in whichever protein powder we had on hand at the time. The protein powders I started off with using were whey based.

“Much of the protein found in protein bars, drinks and powders is derived from milk. When milk is processed to form cheese or yogurt, the remaining liquid is called whey (1).
This liquid contains the fast-digesting proteins commonly referred to as whey protein.
Before processing, about 20% of the protein in milk is whey and the other 80% is made up of the slower-digesting casein proteins (2).
Whey and casein are both considered high-quality proteins because they contain all the amino acids needed by your body (3).
However, whey is considered particularly beneficial for increasing the production of new protein in your muscles (3).

What I soon discovered after each time that I consumed a protein shake, was that I got terrible bloating and stomach cramps. Go figure, as a lactose intolerant person that this would happen. This was the first phase of protein product transitioning.

With being intolerant to dairy, I never know how much I can test the limits before my body decides it’s time to revolt. But for those of you who are interested or maybe not as lactose intolerant there are key differences in the percentage of lactose in whey isolate vs. whey concentrate.

Soy Protein

After realizing that whey protein was not going to cooperate with my body, I switched to soy protein products. Many of the convenience protein bars and drinks out there contain forms of soy protein and soy protein isolates.

It became very easy to just throw a few protein bars in my grocery shopping cart. And was even easier to rely on this quick easy, convenient post run snack. Especially easy, when I was traveling straight from an early morning run and munching in the car on my way to work.

Soy protein allegedly has not been as studied or proven to be as efficient as whey protein for building muscle but, still checks a lot of nutritional boxes in terms of including all the essential amino acids. Let me remind you, that our bodies need 21 amino acids to stay alive and only naturally produce 12 of them on it’s own or synthesized on it’s own from other molecules. We as humans have to rely on food sources in order to obtain the other 9 amino acids.

However, there is controversy over some possible soy protein drawbacks.

“As mentioned, soy protein contains phytates, also known as antinutrients. These reduce the availability of iron and zinc in soy protein (28, 29).
However, phytates do not adversely affect your health unless your diet is severely imbalanced and you rely on soy protein as a source of iron and zinc.
There is also some concern that soy intake may affect a person’s thyroid function.
The isoflavones in soy function as goitrogens that can interfere with thyroid function and the production of hormones (30, 31).

Furthermore, many people stay clear of soy protein due to its phytoestrogen content, as they fear that phytoestrogens can disrupt natural hormone levels in the body.
Phytoestrogens are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and have estrogen-like properties that bind to estrogen receptors in your body. Soy is a notable source of these.”

Although extensive studies apparently do not support this claim and have yet to prove that soy protein isolate alters hormone levels in the body. I must say that personally the first visible and lasting sign of cystic type acne on my face and body was enough to make me wonder if this claim may be true.

Additionally, if you’re more of a purist and naturally driven food consumer you should know that many forms of soy are genetically modified. Either way, this is what brings me to my third transition of protein supplementation and why I’m now focusing on pea protein.

Pea Protein

Just as you might expect the pea protein is made similarly like soy protein in that the protein is extracted from drying and grinding the peas into a fine flour and then mixing with water, and then removing the water and starch. And as a bonus, pea protein is allergen free.

I”m also satisfied in knowing that pea protein is considered a “complete” (containing all 21 essential amino acids or EAA’s) protein. Although, considered a “complete” protein it is slightly lower in one amino acid called methionine.

For me personally, this isn’t an issue because I can still provide my body efficient amounts of methionine with other foods like, chicken, oats and eggs, which I eat all of these almost daily.  

The Nutrition Facts

Here are a few quick references to nutrition facts for approximately 100 calorie serving of each of the whey, soy, and pea protein.

Whey Protein Basic Nutrition Facts according to

Soy Protein Isolate Nutrition Facts according to Wikipedia
Pea Protein Nutrition Fact according to

My Verdict on Pea Protein

If you are a plant based runner or vegan, you may choose to supplement your running diet with protein products like soy, pea, or rice protein. I’m not going to try and persuade any of you reading this to make a switch from what currently works for you. I”m simply sharing what hasn’t worked for me and how I came to supplementing with pea protein.

My verdict currently, is that when I mix in organic pea protein into my smoothies, it has only a mild different taste (and no it doesn’t taste like peas) and still digests well. I haven’t seen any other side effects to note like hormonal shifting (i.e. acne or menstrual cycle changes), indigestion, bloat, etc.

My Pea Protein Smoothie includes; 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 banana, 1 handful spinach, 1 handful strawberries, 2 scoops Trader Joe’s Organic Pea Protein Powder, and about 1/2 cup of water.

There are other factors I have chosen not to weigh in on such as, absorption rates of each protein, the quality or construction on any specific protein products, or specific case studies advocating for or against varying protein supplements aside from my own feedback. For many runners, chocolate milk is still a simple and delicious 2 to 1 carb protein ratio post run fuel source. You do you!!

GRIT Building Running Workouts

Over the past eight years of coaching and my own personal running of over 20 plus years, I’ve hoarded probably safe to say hundreds of different workouts for different training goals and from various training plans. Additionally as a coach, I’m forever and relentlessly trying to expand my education and knowledge on how to train my runners and then assess what has worked or what hasn’t for each person. So, with spring race season just around the corner, I specifically wanted to share a few of the ‘GRIT Building Running Workouts‘ that I’ve discovered for varying race distances.

“The Michigan”

Let me preface by saying that runner’s grit is something that is grown and not typically just had from the get go say if you’re a beginner runner. The majority of these workouts would require a base of at least 1-2 years running age, or 6-8 weeks base aerobic and fundamental strength foundation. These workouts should also only be done by runners who are consistently running weekly mileage and do not currently have any concerns of injury or pre onset to injury.

“The Michigan” was devised in the 1970’s by Ron Warhurst the cross country coach for the University of Michigan. The purpose of the workout’s design is to simulate the change of paces that runners experience during a race. It is a combination of a fartlek, and short tempo run. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s going to just be short fast or easy work. This one’s a doozy!

  1. Begin with a fast mile on the track. Coach Warhurst recommended the best runners attempt to run about 15-20 second slower than their best mile time. Imagine the beginning or start of a race and hammering out fast when the gun goes off.
  2. After the mile, jog about 3 minutes before running a slower mile on a road or trail. This mile should be about a minute slower than the track mile.
  3. After the road/trail mile, jog 3 minutes and then run a fast 1200 meters on the track at about the pace you ran your first mile.
  4. Jog 3 minutes and run another road/trail mile at the pace you ran the first road/trail mile.
  5. Jog 3 minutes and run a fast 800 meters on the track.
  6. (optional) Jog 3 minutes, and run another road/trail mile
  7. Jog 3 minutes and finish with an all-out 400 meter run on the track. This should fee like a finishing kick effort or as fast as you can muster.
  8. Collapse and die! 😉

“The Michigan” would be ideal for a 10k runner looking to work on race speed, or a half marathoner who wants to switch it up and foster neuromuscular fast twitch muscle fibers when fatigued.

5K Grit Growers

The following 5k workouts were featured by Andy Palmer, Ph.D. in an issue of Running Times Magazine.

Workouts for 5k Speed

  • 10 x 400 meters @ 90-95% maximum heart rate (Max Heart Rate is 220 minus your age. Click on this max heart rate calculator link. )
  • 5 x 800 meters @ 85-95% with 400 m jog recovery.
  • 12 x 200 meters @ 85-90% with 200 m jog recovery.
  • 4 x 1200 meters @ 85-95% with 400 jog recovery.
  • 15 x 300 meters @ 85 – 90% with 100 jog recovery.
  • Ladder; 400, 800, 1200, 1200, 800, 400 meters @ 85 – 95% with 400 jog recovery. These reps should be faster coming down than they were were going up.

Workouts for 5k Anaerobic Threshold

  • 3 or 4 x 1 mile @ 77-88% with 3 minutes easy running for recovery.
  • 2 or 3 x 1.5 miles @ 77-88% with 3 minutes easy running recovery.
  • 5 x 800 meters @ 77-88% with 3 minutes easy running recovery.

Jack Daniels’ Marathon Tempo Miles

I’m a huge believer in Jack Daniels’ Running Formula and his theories on scientific based training. Not only have I tested and implemented his theories out with the cross country team I coach, but I’ve also structured all of my own training via his principles.

In his book, Dr. Daniels lays out some periodized training plans for the 5k to full marathon distance and correlates the “quality” workouts to the fraction of peak mileage you would be at within your training cycle. According to an 24-week marathon training cycle he gives several tempo or T-pace workouts at 90% of peak mileage. Need to figure out what your T-pace is? Use this online calculator to plug in a recent race effort for you own personalized training equivalents. Jack Daniels’ VDot Running Calculator

“Program A is for runners who like a typical marathon approach. I’ve designed this program to work for any amount of mileage – you simply pick the highest (peak) mileage that you can plan to hit over the course of the program and determine each week’s mileage from there.”

-Daniels’ Running Formula, Jack Daniels, PhD

Daniels’ T-Pace Grit Workouts

  • Done at 90% peak mileage: 2 miles easy pace + 4 x (5-6 min @ T-pace with 1 min. rest) + 1 hour easy pace + 15-20 min T-pace + 2 miles easy pace.
  • Done at 90% peak mileage: 2 miles easy pace + 4 x (1 mile T-pace with 1 min. rest) + 5 min easy pace + 3 x (1 mile T-pace with 1 min rest) + 2 miles easy pace.
  • Done at 90% peak mileage: 2 miles easy pace + 2 x (10 to 12 minutes @ T-pace with 2 min rest) + 10 miles or 80 minutes (whichever is less) easy pace + 15-20 minutes T-pace + 2 miles easy pace.

Trust me! These T-pace workouts will build your toughness. If you don’t already know this, then you’ll certainly discovery that T-pace feels moderately uncomfortable. So the test is how long you can endure feeling discomfort.  

Finish Strong Workouts

If you’re already beyond your first marathon and the mindset of just completing the distance, and onto wanting to run stronger or finish feeling competitive, then consider adding these aspects to your training.

Progressive Mile Repeats

Mile repeats done at approximately 10k race pace or within a window of 10k race pace to 1 mile threshold pace (refer back to the Jack Daniels VDOT running calculator above) can help you nail down running a bit faster during your marathon by pushing your lactate threshold and ability to run faster for longer.

With that said, let’s say your 10k race pace to 1 mile threshold window is approximately :10 seconds. You can aim to run your mile repeats progressively faster (for example :02 -:04 second faster per repeat depending on how many repeats you have that day). This always bolsters confidence in the ability to dig deep and finish strong.

Fast Finish Long Runs

Another test for recruiting energy stores and fast twitch fibers under fatigue is to run easy for the first three quarters of your long run mileage and then run either by a faster pace per mile or harder perceived effort for the remaining quarter of your long run. Takes extreme grit to execute but will leave you with definite post-run endorphins.

Having a Growth Mindset Will Make You A Better Runner

I’ll reiterate in saying that these workouts aren’t easy. They will most likely make you feel uncomfortable and possibly questioning why you even tried them to begin with. But, if you want to grow your “Runner’s Grit” you’ll have to accept doing things that may be slightly out of your realm or current difficulty level. Whether it be one of the workouts above or from another coach or training plan, having the attitude to just try will help you in bettering yourself in some way either mentally or physically. So, get after it!! Go grow some GRIT!!!

My Mental Training Carousel

Yesterday was the first day since, probably last fall, that I did any type of specific training. By specific I mean running a targeted pace and set distance according to the training progression I’m doing to build-up for my next running goal. Getting back into any specificity in training is always kinda like ripping off a bandaid. Especially, when it comes to what I consider any quality type training runs such as tempo runs or any other speed work for that matter. There’s a certain element of discomfort that goes along with this type of training as, I”m sure many of you runners can relate, and hundreds of thoughts that spin thru my mind when I’m in the midst of these types of runs. Maybe you can relate to the vulnerability I feel with the psychology of what tries to edge it’s way into my brain when I’m running. And the constant internal and mental coaching I’m doing with myself while the struggle between physical and mental try to strong arm each other during my runs. My Mental Training Carousel is in all honesty not always graceful, poetic, or even very explainable. It just is what it is!

Raw Candidacy

Monday was the first day back at a 12 week training cycle for me. I wrote a blog post, “My Spring Half Marathon Training Plan”, that lays out a little bit of what the training I do looks like. Assuming it’s not all that different than what many of you have or are currently doing for yourself.

The reality of being back in training hit me yesterday though and it was like deja vu. I write my own training plans and have always just trained myself. Certainly, this has pros and cons but part of what this looks like in reality is that I am educated enough to understand the science behind training specific energy systems. However, understanding why I need to do something and wanting to execute it or even be capable of executing it are two different things.

I have a complete understanding and support the reasonings behind doing tempo runs for example. I know that by doing them, I’m pushing my lactate threshold and hopefully enabling myself to ultimately sustain a faster pace during my goal race for a longer period of time. It is a seriously useful workout for me to be able to go after my specific time goals this spring. Point blank, it means learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable both physically and mentally!

Candid Thoughts Carousel

Since I am choosing to use this blog as an open forum for catharsis as well as relatability for others runners to commune by, here are some of the candid thoughts that swirled thru my brain during yesterday’s tempo run. They’re honest and candid. Judge or not judge, that’s up to you.

Brain during warm-up mile

Brain during warm-up mile – “Get in tune with your breathing and don’t get ahead of yourself! The real bread and butter of the workout is yet to come. Stay relaxed and in control thru the run just like you are now during this easy pace.”

Brain during the 1st mile of a 3 mile tempo run

Brain during the 1st mile of a 3 mile tempo run at 7:23 target pace – “How far in am I already? Shoot ok only .6 tenths of a mile. Is my turn over already slowing down? Is my form getting muddy already? Ok,…relax! Focus on my breathing…in two steps (inhale), out three steps (exhale). Loosen up my arm swing and shoulders. Segment the tempo miles. Let’s do one mile at a time. NO! That’s too even and round and easy. Do 1.5 mile mental segments and then check back in and reground myself.

Brain entering the 2nd mile

Brain during the 2nd mile – “Okay, don’t be teased by the mental segment of backing off on focusing a mile at a time. Gotta get to 1.5! I need to be present and tune out my brain trying to be anxious for what’s yet to come. I’ll start counting my steps. Didn’t Simon Marshall call this internal narrow mindset? I’ll just count my left foot plants,…1, 2, 3, 4, 5,…How high should I count? I’ll count to 60 this first time. Then I’ll count to 70, then 80, 90 and 100. Get to 100!”

Brain at 1.5 miles in

Brain at 1.5 mile – “Okay halfway! That wasnt’ so bad and actually went faster than I felt like it started out as. My inner right knee is feeling a little something. What muscles attach there? Oh yeah, sartorious, gracilis, semimembranosus…I must have a gait weakness on that side or those muscles are weaker. Lunge matrix should help. Ugh, what if this ends up turning into an injury. I’ve never had an injury bad enough during training to derail me. STOP! Just focus on right now!! Halfway there! Breathe…count!!!”

Brain during the 3rd tempo mile

Brain during the 3rd mile – “Okay, acknowledge something positive. Give yourself confidence. Two miles down and still feeling decently strong and capable of nailing this last one. I gotta prove to myself I can finish on a high note. Can I increase the pace? Let me try 7:13/mi…ok yeah, that doesn’t feel that bad actually. This pace will put me at 1:34 and some change for the half I think. Can I hold this for the rest of this mile. I have to!! I want to prove to myself I can!!! Keep counting. Stay relaxed and in control. That’ll be my mantra for the next .8 tenths of this mile. I can do this! I do hard things!! Right?…Yes,…1,2,3,4,5,6,….”

Brain at the end of the 3 tempo miles

Brain after completing 3 mile tempo run and entering one more mile to cool down – “I did it! That wasn’t so bad!! This is just the beginning and I’m gonna have to embrace the many more tempo miles yet to come. I can’t back down or be intimidated by it. I have to just try! What am I gonna continue to remind myself to get thru the upcoming weeks and miles? This is my last hard attempt at trying to qualify with a 1/2 time for NYC. This has been my goal for the last three years. I”m 40 now, I’m not going to get any faster than this…STOP! Not healthy!! I can do whatever I put my mind to! I’ve got to put my mind in a positive state for this training and not a results repercussive state. Focus and acknowledge the effort and the small conquers. Today I conquered! Don’t forget this arsenal! I’ve done this before, I can do it again!!!”

Documenting the Journey

Last time I blogged about my training journey, I wrote about the type of runs I did, how many miles I logged, or periodically posted something on social media like a picture of the run location that day. That was superficial and surface level at best. I want to be more transparent this time.

It has been somewhat intimidating for me to declare my goals out loud to the world, and be open about not achieving them the first two times. But as I age, I’m realizing I am so, so fortunate to be able to even travel the journey. To be able to have goals and the ability to go after them is something I want to always remember to be grateful for. I want to stay humble so that I don’t forget to keep working hard.

What I realized after the second attempt last spring, was that what I love most about putting a goal out there, is that I ultimately just love the pursuit. I love the structure of training and feeling like I”m striving for something with purpose. I love feeling the pain and discomfort during mile repeats, because it makes me feel alive. I love having the choice to do things in life that let me get the most out of my passion and of my time.

Even if I don’t attain this goal, although I 100% believe it’s a realistic goal for myself, I don’t for a second believe it’s the end game. I can continue to redefine, re-challenge myself, re-invent what running means to me and my relationship with it. But I’m sure as hell gonna try and give everything I’ve got for right here and now. And for tomorrow’s right here and now. And for the next eleven and a half weeks here and nows!! I have to!!!

Maybe that should be my 2019 mantra?

“Forever here and now!”

– Corrie Enyart

Runner’s GRIT Campaign Interview with Briana Steffens

Yahoo! Yippee Ki-Yay!! Alright party people, I’ve got a fun little nugget for today’s ‘Motivational Mondays’ blog post. Over the weekend, I sat down with a longtime friend from high school , Briana Steffens, to interview her for my RMC Podcast and Runner’s GRIT Campaign. Briana is a runner who has been growing her running GRIT since high school but recently reproved to herself how much running GRIT she was capable of by jumping straight from the 5k distance to the Marathon.  She now trains her 12 year old son and teaches him how to grow and develop his own life’s GRIT by training with him for his first 1/2 marathon. 

Taking On New Challenges

Briana ran both cross country and track and field in high school but had taken a long break from running until just a little over a year ago. She describes her return to running after having five children and realizing she needed to prioritize more time for herself.

It turns out that not only did she re-acquaint herself with her running legs but also had to re-embrace the mentality that it takes to do the hard things involved with living the runner’s lifestyle. Getting up to log miles before the sun rise and a full day of homeschooling her children, was one of only a few of the challenges she’d take onto achieve her goal.

After accomplishing her initial goal of training thru a couch to 5k program, she dove straight into the deep end of training for her first marathon. Coincidentally, her 40th birthday was on the same day as the inaugural CRANDIC Marathon. It just so happened to be the right day and right year for her to check a pretty big bucket list item.

Hurdles Along the Way

Thru out much of Bri’s training for her first marathon, she was confronted not only with Iowa’s winter weather debaucling any ideal long run scenarios, but then also ended up with an IT Band that decided not to cooperate.

There were many tests thru out her marathon training journey when she had to ask herself how badly she wanted to get to her goal and what she was willing to do or not do.

With the natural challenges of the hilly marathon course, and the already unhappy IT Band, Bri found herself navigating thru her toolbox of tenacity. Within the 16th Episode of the 2nd Season of the RMC Podcast, Bri describes the strategies she used to get thru the entire 26.2 distance.

Some of her strategies internal and some of them external but all of them miraculously effective in getting her to the finish line at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Briana Parents Grit

Her supportive family, who saw her thru out her training and met her at the finish, were beaming with pride. I was in fact there to witness this and even see each of her children’s eye light up when they took to the podium. The seeds had been planted and especially with her then 11 year old son Noah.

“Running develops character and I see it affecting Noah”

– Briana Steffens

Bri is now hitting the pavement and rising in the pre-dawn hours with her son Noah. He was so inspired by his mom’s marathon feat, that he declared with conviction that he was going to run a half marathon too. And so it has become an opportunity to capitalize on parenting character building for Bri and her son.

Limitless Potential

As with so many runner’s, Briana asks herself what her next challenge will be. The accomplishment of the marathon and realizing she’s capable of things she thought weren’t even realistically considerable, have sparked a fire within her. It seems to have sparked a fire within her son too and who knows how many of the other kiddos in the future.

The two of us have been friends for over 20 years and have been able to attest to each other’s accomplishments and life stories. I’m guessing that even another 10 years from now, she and I will be reminiscing again about running but the dialog will include stories of her children’s accomplishments as well. I can’t wait!!

My Spring Half Marathon Training Plan

On Monday I sat down and wrote out my spring half marathon training plan. This will be my third attempt at trying to qualify for the NYC Marathon with a spring half. I needed some sort of hope for spring and directive to keep me plugging thru this relentless winter. In today’s blog post I’ll talk about how I mapped out how many weeks build-up I’ll do, the type of training I’ll include and which half marathons I’ll run.

Where to Begin

In reiteration of previous year’s attempts, I’ll again be training for a half marathon qualifying time of 1:37:00. This is the women’s qualification benchmark for 40-44.

2019 Time-Qualifying Standards – TCS New York City Marathon
2019 Time-Qualifying Standards – TCS New York City Marathon

I’ll use a similar 10 week training plan that I’ve used in the past. I try to always keep a winter base of 35-20 miles per week and will start my progression from this base. I always include 2 extra weeks in my training for the unexpected ‘just in case’ scenarios. I’ve never been injured thru out a training build -up but, just when I say never who knows when it may become an unfortunate realism. I have however been temporarily de-railed due to a cold or sickness, so it’s nice to know that there are buffer weeks in place.

I also like a slightly longer 12 week build-up just because I personally feel more capable mentally and physically when I train past the 13.1 mile distance. With two extra weeks built in, that allows me to progress up to a 15-16 mile long run peak.

As always, I’ll implement a two week taper. My taper has previously been around 15-20% deduction off of each weekly mileage total for each of the two weeks. I think this has worked well and am too nervous to mess with trying something new at this point.

Specific Training Elements

I always take time to calculate where I need to be at for each training zone and energy system. I figure my calculations with an easy on-line Jack Daniel’s VDOT Running calculator which you can use for yourself as well and find at Here are pictures of several of the calculator tools that are super helpful for training any distance.

Again, because I like to try and guarantee a buffer for myself, I’ll train at just slightly faster than the 1:37:00 benchmark. This means that the paces will be more geared towards 1:34:00 – 1:35:00 half marathon pace.

Weekly Long Runs

Of course the bread and butter for half marathons and marathons, are the weekly long runs. In the beginning half of my training build, I’ll just focus on logging the mile and increasing my aerobic base.

In the second half of my 12 week training, I’ll focus more on running the second half of the long run progressively or with a fast finish the last 1-3 miles. This definitely tests my mental grit and focus when I’m tired.

The long run fueling will also be practiced at this point. Since I’ve done plenty of half and full marathons now, I tend to just stick with what has worked for me in the past. Nothing new at this point. I’ll plan to fuel mid run around 5-6 miles and again at 10-12 with a gel. During training sometimes though to switch it up, I’ll nibble on licorice bites or energy beans with caffeine.

Thankfully I have a supportive husband who will ride his bike along beside me on the half marathon goal race pace runs that are longer than 10-12 miles. I am so grateful for this because he’ll stick my water bottle on his bike and then I don’t have to carry or weigh myself down with the hydration belt. I also don’t race with a hydration belt and just plan out my drink stations ahead of time.

Threshold and Half Marathon Pace Training

It’s always important to get in the longer aerobic threshold training. Each week I’ll do one half marathon goal pace run. I would say in terms of a rate of perceived exertion, these are around a 7-ish for me on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being an all out sprint. Yes, these are moderately uncomfortable and I don’t love these runs but realize they’re necessary to simulate the aerobic capacity of what I”ll need in terms of the race. It’s also critical to practice running at goal race pace in training so that the body isn’t shocked or asked to do something it hasn’t done before on the actual day of the race.

Speed Work

I also typically do several 1 mile time trials thru out my training. These one mile time benchmarks not only help me reinforce where I should be training within certain energy systems, but also help me to see any fitness gains thru out my training. I’m lucky that I have access to our school’s track and will typically do these there.

Along with the one mile time trials, I’ll throw in some Yasso 800 meter repeats. If you aren’t already familiar with Bart Yasso, he came up with the Yasso 800 workout as a marathon time predictor. These also help me maintain some faster neuromuscular pacing as well as helps push the lactate threshold in my body. In between sets, I use a 400 meter easy jog active recovery.

Lastly, I always include strides within my training. It seems like these have become more and more of an important staple for me as I’m aging and needing to spend more intentional effort at trying to hold onto as much fast twitch muscle fiber and form efficiency as possible.

What I Do for Strength

Hills are a weekly staple within the first 6-8 weeks of my training. I run year around but am not as deliberate about including a hilly route (300-400 ft. elevation gain sometimes more) each week in the off-season weeks. The first few weeks I’ll just run a hilly route that incorporate hills thru out the route. Later, I’ll progress to doing 90sec – 2min. hill repeats of a concentrated incline. Woof!

Before and after each run, I’ll work on hip strength and mobility, core work and some light upper body work. I’m a huge fan of the Coach Jay Johnson Lunge Matrix and Leg Swings routine as well as his SAM (strength and mobility) work post-run.

Additionally, I do some of my own AIF (active isolated flexibility) work like the Phil Wharton AIS rope stretching routine, as well as TRX low resistance work.

Light Plyometric Work

Part of the Jay Johnson post-run SAM work includes some light plyometric style elements. I try and do this 15-20 minute routine immediately after my run to capitalize on some additional aerobic elements.

On days when I’m not doing the Jay Johnson routine, I’ll do my own sets of dynamic flexibility exercises (A-skips, B-skips, knee highs, butt kicks, etc.) combined with things like single legged bounds, alternating leg bounds, double leg bounds, quick feet drills. The focus on these vary between height and distance depending on the exercise.

Goal Races

I’ve currently got two half marathons registered for and put on the calendar. The first is the CRANDIC half, which I’ll use as part of a 15 mile long run and try to practice a fast finish. The second race will be the Chicago Spring Half Marathon, and this will be my target race.

Last year, I had registered for the Chicago Spring Half really early on, and then found to my daughter’s dance recital was scheduled for the same weekend. So, I deferred my registration and signed up for the Sturgis Falls Half instead.

I was on pace for a 1:37:00 qualifying time at the Sturgis Falls Half, but the race directors had to make a last minute change of race course due to some river flooding. Thus the course not being a USATF certified course. This was a real bummer to find out after crossing the finish line in an hour and thirty two minutes and some change.

This year’s third attempt will be my last and final attempt at trying to qualify for New York with a half marathon time. The New York City Marathon will always be on my bucket list even if I don’t qualify, but I’ll shift my focus and just try getting in thru the open lottery or maybe even running for charity again.

The next chapter of running for me may be some trail races, an ultra or maybe even jumping back down to the 5k-10k race distances. Who knows! Time will tell but I’m always going to keep running and searching for new challenges.

3 Ways On How to Make the Most of Your Winter Running On A Treadmill

Yep, this is the post today – 3 Ways On How to Make the Most of Your Winter Running on a Treadmill. In an effort to face this winter’s weather challenges head on, I decided to write about a few typical treadmill topics. Included is some informative reasons on how you can still get the most out of your winter running, the relational differences between running on the treadmill vs. outside, and ways to vary your workouts so that they aren’t so mundane.

Debunking the Bad Rap of the “Dreadmill”

We’ve all joked at times and maybe with too truthfully a sarcasm, with referring to the treadmill as the “dreadmill”. Of course, we’d all probably rather be outside in the sunshine and fresh air but, that’s not always reality. When Mother Nature throws you a wrench like this winter’s entire toolbox full of wrenches (insert eye roll), sometimes the treadmill is your only option.

Go ahead and mourn your lost run outside, but then realize that there are still in fact ways you can guarantee achieving the most from your lost run even on the treadmill.

Since the treadmill regulates the desired pace you enter via the churning motor and belt, you can actually use this to your advantage if you’re someone who has the tendency to slow down thru out your run. This is especially helpful if you’re training to run even splits in an upcoming race and need to force your leg turnover in the latter miles. The pre-determined motor controlled pace can train your bodies cadence and muscle memory at that pace.

Additionally, the regulated pacing with a simple push of a button can help force you to even run faster paces, if so desired, then outside and without any external factors such as wind, or elevation. Just be sure not to tackle too much speed before you’re ready. Especially if say you’re are a beginner runner just starting out.

However, the question of differences between running on a treadmill vs. running outside is what leads me to my next comparison.

The Relational Differences Between Running Outdoors vs. Inside on the Treadmill

There are many theories and declarations put out there on how to best simulate indoor running on the treadmill to accurately mimic running outdoors.

For example, when running outdoors you have a couple simple factors such as wind resistance and elevation. Obviously, indoors treadmill running denies you of these elemental factors. So, how do we simulate running on a treadmill as best as possible so that these running workouts don’t essentially become cheat days or easy days that are way too easy?

One clear metric you can manipulate on the treadmill to mimic running outdoors is the incline. One of the best comparisons I’ve read about came from a Runner’s World article which stated along with some forewarning;

“Between 8 mph (7:30/mile pace) and 11.2 mph (5:21/mile pace), a 1 percent treadmill grade provides the right adjustment. At paces slower than 8 mph, no adjustment is necessary because the difference is so small, but you can still choose to set the incline at 1 percent.

You may also hear recommendations to run at a 2 percent incline if you run faster and thus experience greater wind resistance. While it is important to train to specificity, I believe running at a constant 1 to 2 percent incline on the treadmill isn’t the best way to go. For one, it’s a mental nightmare. Thinking you’re charging even slightly uphill when you could be training on a flat is rough. Two, hills on any race course will vary in length and incline, so while you will need to expend the energy to get up a hill, you’ll also get a relief on the descent. And finally, it can really mess with your biomechanics if you aren’t used to running at a constant incline.”

What Incline Should I Use on the Treadmill?
NOV 15, 2018

Key Ways to Vary Your Workouts to Prevent Boredom

First Boredom Fighting Tactic

First tactic to not only prevent boredom but to also more accurately simulate a run outdoors which may naturally have slight or even drastically rolling elevations, is to play the simple game of pressing the incline button up or down at set intervals. For example; I like to tell myself that at every 1/2 mile or .5 thru out my run, I get to either challenge myself by increasing the incline percent or if I”m already climbing steadily, then giving myself a break by decreasing the incline percent. This of course can also be applied to the speed button.

If you’re lucky enough to have a treadmill that will also offer a decline option, you could even simulate training for something like the Boston Marathon with its net “quad shredding” downhill elevation loss.

I got curious as to the comparison of the treadmill percent grades to actual outdoor elevations. According to John Woloch’s Livestrong article, “How to Calculate an Elevation Gain for a Treadmill”, there are 5 mathematical steps.

  • Step 1 – Write the percent grade, or incline, setting of your treadmill. For example, write “7 percent.”
  • Step 2 – Divide the percent grade you have written by 100 using a calculator. For example, 7/100 = 0.07.
  • Step 3 – Multiply your answer by the number of miles you have run on your treadmill. For example, you have run three miles: 0.07 x 3 = 0.21. You have completed an elevation gain of 0.21 miles.
  • Step 4 –Multiply your answer by 5,280. For example, 0.21 x 5280 = 1108.8. You have completed an elevation gain of approximately 1,108 feet.
  • Step 5 –Divide your answer by 3.281. For example, 1108.8/3.281 = 337.945. You have completed an elevation gain of approximately 338 meters.

If that’s too much math or you just don’t care, than here’s another comforting fact. Allegedly, running at an incline recruits approximately three times as many muscle fibers as running on a flat surface, helping you develop more power and full-body coordination. (according to Steven Kelliher, Not to mention also, a higher caloric burn per mile.

Second Boredom Fighting Tactic

Double tasking on the treadmill by watching some good ole Netflix or YouTube videos can be a great way to not only prevent boredom on the treadmill but also give you some much needed mid-winter motivation.

Here is a short list of my current top YouTube channels for motivation.

  • National Geographic Breaking2 Documentary – After six months of scientifically advanced training, three of the world’s most elite distance runners set out to break the two-hour marathon barrier.
  • FloTrack – Powered by FloSports, FloTrack is the source for live event coverage, breaking news, and original content of club, collegiate, and professional running.
  • Tom Bilyeu on Impact Theory – Channel Description; I’m Tom Bilyeu and you’re here because you believe that human potential is nearly limitless, but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with it. So, our goal with this YouTube channel is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you actually execute on your dreams. “How to Cultivate Toughness – Amelia Boone”
  • Billy Yang Films – “The Why-Running 100 Miles”
  • Rich Roll Podcast – Keep Showing Up: Des Linden on Winning Boston

Third Boredom Fighting Tactic

If you run on a treadmill at a gym or have mirrors on the walls at home, you can use the opportunity to correct and work on your form. Often times, especially when we get tired during a run, our form begins to slack.

A few postural form corrections you can check yourself for are;

  • Is your head and chin level. You don’t want to be chin tucked or eyes staring down at your feet.
  • Is your chest lifted and shoulders relaxed and back. You’ll take air more efficiently into your lungs if your shoulders aren’t rolled inward and your upper thoracic cage hunched.
  • Are your arms swinging across the front of your body? The arms swing should be only slightly crossing your center midline. Think hands in loose fists crossing nipple to nipple.
  • If you’re looking straight on into a mirror, can you see if your knees knock in or your lower leg and feet flick outward when you run? If so, you may need to consider implementing a hip strengthening routine into your workouts.
  • Lastly, when you look at your foot plant straight on, do your feet roll inward? This is a sign of pronation. If you’re looking at the profile of yourself in a mirror, is your foot landing out in front of you on it’s heel or does it land more directly underneath you on the center or slightly towards the ball of your foot? If you’re the heel striker, then running some of your treadmill workout at an incline can help repair some of this bio-mechanic discrepancy and ultimately prevent injury down the road.

Jinxing Mother Nature?

Between this blog post and ordering myself some new YakTrax, I’m hopeful that maybe I’ll some how get lucky and jinx Mother Nature. If not, cheers to the treadmill and the convenience of running indoors when Mother Nature won’t cooperate!