Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Practicing What We eat During a Race

A friend did a solo 8-mile walk this past Sunday to get ready for the upcoming Parkersburg Half Marathon this August. I've been telling her how much I love Clif Shot Bloks, and she decided to try them during the walk.

After about 4 miles she popped a Cran Razz blok and immediately felt better. Unfortunately, a few minutes later she ended up with a stomach ache. At first she thought that she just needed to eat more, and eventually popped another blok. A little while later she had a terrible stomach ache! She felt pretty bad by the time she was done walking.

This is a good news/bad news situation. The bad news is the Clif Bloks I love don't work for her. The good news is, she found out now, several weeks BEFORE the race, not at mile 8 of the race.

She still has a couple of weeks to see what will work for her. She likes granola, and we have been talking about ways for her to get electrolytes if that is what she decides to eat during the race. I'm just relieved she discovered this problem with plenty of time to work it out.

Hills Tonight

We've been doing our hill workouts at Griggs Reservoir in Central Ohio for several months. I was curious how far we have actually been walking, since I don't have GPS (yet). I went to MapMyWalk and in the satellite view drew our route, mapped below.

So each rep -- up one hill, down the next and returning to start -- is half a mile! So each time we do 4 reps, we end up walking 2 miles. We go a little farther than half a mile warm up and cool down. Not a bad midweek workout.

From looking at the elevation, the hills are not intense, but repeating the hills has helped our in-race performance.


NOTE: Did not cough more than twice during walk. My lungs felt pretty good. But as soon as I got back into the car, coughing resumed. I'm considering heading to the doctor tomorrow.

667 Posts

I just noticed my last post was number 666. Needless to say, as soon as I saw it, I had to post something new. Whew! I'm at 667!

Next post will be more meaningful.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Walking Through my Cold

Took a short walk yesterday and ended up coughing hard. So today I tried to take it easy, yet I still wanted to get in a little bit of distance. My solution was to walk a slow 3 miles.

I walked the 1 mile to the library leaving the option open whether I would do a lap at the park or not. I felt fine, not tired at all, so I walked around the park then head on home.

About a quarter mile from home I decided to pick up the pace and see what would happen. Once I started breathing hard, the coughing fits started. The weird thing is, it actually felt good -- like it was good for my lungs to be clearing. (I'm sorry, that was gross.)

The good news is, I didn't feel tired. But like I said, it did cause coughing.

My plan is to gradually get back into my regular training program this week and be able to do distance on Saturday. So tomorrow let's see how I do on hills!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Importance of Hydration and Nutrition

Many Central Ohio walkers were at Fleet Feet last week for a nutrition and hydration clinic presented by Steven Devor of OSU. Dr. Devor is with the Health and Exercise Science Program, and Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and Department of Human Nutrition. I know that is a mouthful, but his credentials are important.

I was surprised to learn how much of an impact good hydration can have on performance. Not consuming enough water, carbs and electrolytes can negatively affect your performance by as much as 25%! Not being hydrated can also cause heat exhaustion.

He also said that it is important to consume an electrolyte replacement and carbs during a race. If you choose to drink Gatorade, diluting it will slow its absorption. If you don't like drinks, gels and other products are just as good.

Dr. Devor gave a lot more great information. Check out his PowerPoint presentation here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sidelined by Summer Cold

Who catches a cold in July? My husband -- who then proceeded to give it to me!

Yesterday, it was still a mild cold so I had planned to do my hill workout (not fast or hard). Since it was raining, I opted to skip it. Why add rain when I was already feeling iffy.

Normally, I continue to train through a cold. Most of the time a cold is a little stuffiness, a headache, etc., nothing serious.

Today this cold seems to have settled in my lungs causing a pretty nasty cough.

The rule of thumb is -- if all of your symptoms are above the neck, it can be OK to continue training. If symptoms are below the neck, rest is recommended. (For more detailed information, check out this article from Runner's World).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Thought I Was Fast Before...

I coerced Elaine and Deb into doing a speed workout with me today.

Last week I started doing 1/4 mile sprints at Griggs Reservoir. That first day I did 6 reps. This week was a little harder -- the asphalt was hot, my shins were really tight and there was a little too much car traffic. We ended up doing only 4 reps.

We started with a slow 15:08 warm-up mile, then did our sprints: 2:57, 3:08, 3:11, 3:07. Does it make sense that our first 1/4 mile would have been 11:48 if we kept it up for a whole mile?! The second rep would be 12:32?!! Geez! Is it really possible that I could have been moving that fast? That is quite a bit faster than what I was last week. No wonder my shins were sore!

Afterward, we started out doing a one-mile cool down. After walking half a mile, we decided to go a little farther to make our total cool down closer to almost 1.5-miles.

I'm pretty excited I was able to walk so fast! I felt stiff and my shins were sore for most of the sprinting. During the last rep, I tried to relax a little and worked on being more "smooth." I felt a whole lot better, but still had a little shin pain.

Total mileage was a little over 3 miles and we finished our workout in exactly one hour.

Note to me: Temps in the mid-70s, but it was hotter on the asphalt. I wore the Chinese racewalking shoes I use for speed, shorts and a technical shirt. Wish I had worn a tank. For the first 3 laps, I had intense shin pain, and just could not make my legs go faster. Felt stiff and uncomfortable trying to go faster. We took 3-min breaks between reps mostly because of my shins. Tried stretching in between, but it didn't seem to work.

Hills tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Preparing to Walk in the Rain

Today my training schedule called for an easy 4 miles.

On my way home from work, I was positive it would rain while I was out walking. So, what should I wear in the rain? It was about 70 degrees and overcast, so getting wet would be cold. I opted for a short-sleeved technical shirt, shorts and a denim hat to keep off as much rain as possible.

Prepared for the weather, I head off to Antrim Park -- there are a lot of trees around the lake, giving me the best opportunity to avoid getting totally soaked.

The first lap's time means nothing -- I got distracted and didn't start it on time. The second 1.2-mile lap was 17:50 with the third 17:34. I did the last lap at a 14:38 pace. I was not pushing hard, just walking at a comfortable pace! On top of that, no rain!

The thunderstorm didn't hit until after I was home safe and sound. Maybe I should dress for the potential weather more often.

Note: Though the schedule said 4 miles, I walked 3.6 timed, and about 0.4 to and from the car. I use the distance to the car as my warm up and cool down. And I always use these slow days to practice racewalking form. It felt pretty smooth!

Tomorrow: Speed workout.

Great Salad Idea

When eating dinner at a friend's house the other night, I was introduced to a simple and somewhat low-calorie way to put dressing on a salad. After chopping up the veggies, she sprinkled on blue cheese crumbles and splashed everything with garlic-flavored rice vinegar. It was delicious!

Basically the blue cheese "melted" into the vinegar and was similar to a blue cheese dressing without all of the fat and calories.

I enjoyed the salad so much, I bought blue cheese and rice vinegar on my way home from walking this evening and made a salad at home. It was a great way to finish up a great walk.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

8 miles and We Were Flying -- For Us

14:36 per mile is what I figured we did today. And that was for the entire 7.8 miles we timed. (We used 0.2 for cool down.)

This is not fast for many of you, but I have been hovering around a 15-min mile on and off for years. When I start to get faster, there always seems to be a roadblock that interferes or sets me back.

The temps were in the 60s this morning and the skies were overcast. If we had not been walking hard, it would have been chilly! (Chilly in July!) Though it is great for walking and racing, these cool temps are not going to help us get ready for an August half marathon. I'm worried about being acclimated.

Elaine, Deb and I walked together until the last 0.2 mile where I tried to pick up the pace. Though I was getting pretty far ahead of them, Elaine decided to sprint and hit the 4-mile mark a step before me. I knew Elaine was fast, but she really impressed me this morning!

Our times:
First lap

Mile 1 - 14:41
Mile 2 - 14:40 (hills)
Mile 3 - 14:32
Almost Mile 4 - 12:13 (0.8 mi)
Second lap
Mile 1 - 14:33
Mile 2 - 14:42 (hills)
Mile 3 - 14:42
Mile 4 - 14:19 (Sprinted at end)
Last 0.2 was cool down.
Total for 7.8 was 1:54.

I'm pretty excited! This has been my typical race pace for a couple of years. To be able to maintain it for 8 miles in a training walk is a big milestone for me.

I've explained before that Sharon Woods is a 3.8-mile loop with mile markers along the way. If you do one loop, you can go beyond the finish 0.2 miles where there is a mark to indicate that last complete mile.

When I do more than one loop, the fourth "mile" is actually 0.8. The last loop is where we pick up the extra tenths by going past the end. When I did my marathon training here, after five laps I would sweat over whether to make up that mileage shortage. (Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't.)

I went to Map My Walk and mapped out this route so you can see how great of a park it is. It looks as if the satellite photo was taken in late fall or early spring. There are not many leaves on the trees, making it easier to see the trail. (Note: When mapping the trail, I got a little disoriented from zooming in so close and put a water stop where there isn't one and I can't delete it. The water stop is actually after 2 miles.)


Note to self: Temps in mid-60s. Wore Nike "half marathon" shoes, short-sleeved tech shirt and shorts. Felt fine for temps. Shoes need to be replaced -- started to get a blister on left heel. Otherwise my heels are feeling fine from wearing too light of shoes for long distance a couple weeks ago.

Felt really strong toward the end and was glad I tried to sprint.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hills Again

This is starting to be old hat -- Wednesday is hills. But as long as my friends and I continue to sign up for half marathons that are hilly, we'll have to keep it up.

Though today was humid, it wasn't hot. I wore shoes that were halfway between the lightest shoes I have and the cushiest stiffest pair. I wore the cushy stiff pair last week as a way to recover from walking too far in the light pair, and it made my shins ache. To help with the normal shin pain I get trying to warm up, I walked for a while before Deb arrived and tried some new shin stretches. The pain wasn't bad.

Today's workout was pretty good! We did 4 reps on the hills with a half-mile warm up and half-mile cool down. We walked for about an hour total, but because it was hills I'm not quite sure of the distance.

I went to Map My Walk to check the mileage and I inadvertently created a new profile. Not sure how I screwed that up!

I'm hoping to get into a regular training schedule of speed, hills, LSD and tempo days.

Speedo Man Sighting!

Saw Speedo Man while walking yesterday evening about 5:30! He must be taking advantage of the cooler evening temps. I also noticed that he often stops to pick up trash when running.

Tonight when doing hills I think we saw him again wearing street clothes. It's hard to tell if it's him when he is fully dressed. Because I've never talked to him, if he isn't running or in a Speedo, I'm never sure if it is him.

I'm always happy to see him and know he is still hanging in there!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Need for Speed

I've known for a while that the only way to be a faster walker is to practice walking faster. (Paraphrasing Dave McGovern.) I also know that if you do the exact same workouts every day, you will never get stronger. Knowing and doing are two different things.

Today I started doing speed workouts and plan to continue doing them once a week as part of my regular workouts.

Getting my shin muscles properly warmed up has been a problem lately, so I did a mile at a SLOW 15:45 pace with good racewalking form to try to warm up. The sprints were 1/4 mile and I did 6 reps with 2 or 3 min rests in between, depending on how my shins felt, with a half-mile cool down. My sprint times were: 3:18, 3:26, 3:22, 3:13, 3:15, 3:29 with 7:26 for the last half mile.

Despite the warm up, my shins were still tight during every sprint. During my slower times, I even felt pretty stiff as if it was an effort to get my legs to go that fast. I stretched pretty good when I finished and will stretch a few more times over the next day or so. (My shins really need it!)

OK, it is only wishful thinking, but if I were to walk an entire mile as fast as my fastest 1/4 mile sprint, we're talking a 13-min mile! I know the speed workouts will work, and I'm sure I'll be there someday soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

7.6 Miles Saturday Morning

We started our 7.6-mile training walk at 6:45 Saturday morning in Sharon Woods. Why 7.6? Well, one training schedule said 7 miles, one said 8 miles and Sharon Woods is a 3.8-mile loop.

I like to know how fast I'm going and how far I've walked. (I tend to be a little bit of a statistics freak at times.) Because it was supposed to be a long slow day for us, our goal was to walk between 14:30 and 15 min per mile. I have a very hard time starting out at a good pace -- it takes me a while to warm up, but I can finish strong. Some of my walking buddies tend to start out too fast, and then slow down as we go. Somehow we try to compromise.

This week (again) we ran into other members of our walking club during our second lap, which caused us to slow, stop, make plans for breakfast and move on. Unfortunately, I don't know how to pause my chrono, so the third mile of our last lap is inaccurate.

About half-way through the last 0.8-mile section, Elaine and I tried to sprint. It felt great to push toward the end!
First lap
Mile 1 14:58
Mile 2 14:56
Mile 3 15:03
0.8 Mile 12:14 (too slow -- 15:17 for a full mile)
Second Lap
Mile 1 14:23
Mile 2 14:46
Mile 3 16:15*
0.8 Mile 11:30** (14:22 for a full mile)
Total 1:54***

*Came across two other members of the Buckeye Striders, and we slowed to say hi.
**Elaine and I tried to sprint for the last half mile or so.
***Not quite right because we stopped to drink water at the water fountain.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hills Again

It was a little toasty when we started our hill workout yesterday evening. In fact, it was hot enough that a couple of us felt queasy, so we cut it short. Though we are trying to get acclimated for the August half marathon, a friend had a bad heat experience a couple years ago, so we try to be careful and listen to our bodies.

Besides the heat, I'm a little worried about my heels. They are feeling much better, but I need to walk 8 miles Saturday. (We are starting at 6:45 in the morning!) I'd love to wear my cushiest pair of shoes, but it is really tough to walk fast in that pair. They are a little stiff and the last time I walked in them, my shins were tired very quickly. I'll probably go with my favorite half-marathon shoes -- cushy, but not too stiff.

In the meantime, I took a low-stress walk this evening and my heels feel pretty good. I'll try to rest my feet tomorrow and hope for best Saturday.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Walking Division -- But No Prizes?

What is it with races that have walking divisions, yet no prizes? I don't need a prize, in fact I'm not fast enough to ever win a prize. However, if a race advertises that there is a walking division, and it states all walkers must walk, wouldn't you assume that there would be prizes for walkers?

From that race's web site:
Individuals are placed in the following categories: 11-14, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70+, Walkers (MUST walk the entire course), Cruisers.

There were prizes awarded for every single category -- EXCEPT walkers. Otherwise, it was a great race!

Doesn't seem quite right, does it.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

This is Dedication

I entered a 5K race this morning and afterward went to Sharon Woods park to walk an additional 4 miles. Yes, I'm training for a half marathon.

The race was a Westerville Rotary event that was nice. It was well organized and there was plenty of food and water at the end for us walkers.

Deb and I walked strong! We did the first mile in about 14:38 (a watch issue caused me to be a few seconds late starting the chrono), then 14:35, 14:10 and 44.40 for the last tenth. After the first mile we both agreed that we did not feel we were pushing hard for how fast we were. I tried to pick up the pace in the last half mile. I'm pretty happy with our time!

Two members of the Buckeye Striders won age-group awards against runners! Congratulations to Nancy and Elaine!

After the awards presentation, there were also "door" prizes, which was nice. My only complaint about this fun event is, if we registered as walkers and the rules said all walkers must walk, then shouldn't there at least be prizes for the top three male and female finishers? Everything else was great!

Sharon Woods
Deb was the instigator for going to Sharon Woods after the race to get in an additional 4 miles. We went with Elaine and it was a lot of fun. We planned to walk about a 15-min mile since this was supposed to be a long-slow day. The first two miles were 15:24 and 15:10. Then we saw a friend and stopped for a couple minutes to chat and I stopped my watch at the wrong marker. (Oops.)

The temps are much milder than for a typical 4th of July, making it a perfect day for walking!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Pedestrian Pulled Over by Cop

On my way to Antrim Park today, I was following a police car on the narrow hilly road. Suddenly the car turned on its flashing lights, stopped in the road, and rolled down the window to talk to a pedestrian.

I've never seen this before and could not figure out why the cop had stopped the athletic looking woman in running gear wearing headphones. After a short conversation, the woman crossed the road to walk facing traffic and took off one side of the headphones to have one ear free.

Though annoyed at first to be stopped and not be able to pass, once she crossed the road and I realized what had happened, I was happy the cop talked to her. I'm sure having a cop stop you with his lights flashing to discuss walking facing traffic would have to have an impact.

To this cop I just want to say thanks for caring enough to stop!

Walking Farther than Planned

Though not scheduled to walk today, I just felt like it. So after catching up on much-needed sleep, I went to Antrim Park with the intention of doing two laps around the lake. I'm entered in a 5K race tomorrow and didn't want to overdo it.

The temperature was 68 degrees according to my car, there was a great breeze and the sky was overcast. I hate to admit it, but it was almost chilly when the wind blew. (No Larry, I did NOT take a jacket.)

There was a nice crowd today! I assume that many others had the day off, just like me.

I did the first two laps at a moderate pace, just enjoying being there and moving. It felt so great that at the end, I just had to do another lap. Because I had not worked hard enough for the first two, I picked up the pace and really sprinted for the last 1/4 lap. Though I didn't want to overdo it the day before a race, I really felt the need to work harder.

Not positive how fast I was (my sport watches all need batteries). At first I thought I was about 48 min for the entire 3 laps, but that would put me at about a 14-min mile. That seems unlikely for the level of stress I felt.

I feel great! I stretched well after the walk and even did crunches on a bench before heading home. I think I'll be ready for tomorrow's race. I'm going to kick butt!

Walking Calorie Calculator

This is cool. If you want to determine the number of calories you burn walking, here is a calculator just for walking! It doesn't include speeds faster than a 12-min mile. (Sorry, Laura.) Still, I really like it!

By the way, it is from Wendy Bumgardner of

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Registering for Wrong Race

I almost registered for the wrong July 4th race today!

The members of my walking club all agreed to do a race this Saturday instead of our regular weekly walk. I didn't pay much attention to the details except which running store to go to to register.

I entered the store, head to the registration table and filled out the form. The sales person said the shirts had not arrived, and I could pick it up at the race. Hmmm, Deb told me that she received her shirt at registration.

"Oh," he said, "which race are you registering for?" I had no idea! "Well, it's a 5K and the shirt is cute," I replied. Luckily, he didn't look down at me. He asked if the race was in Hilliard or Westerville, and at this point I was so embarrassed that I didn't know more about the race, I just could not remember where it was being held!

The key was the shirt -- because there were shirts for the Westerville race, I finally figured out that was the right race.

So, Saturday, July 4 at 8 a.m., I'll be entered in the Westerville Rotary 5K, and with any luck, the other members of the Buckeye Striders will be there, too.

Hills Today

We couldn't decide whether to start hill or speed workouts today. Though we haven't done speed in a while, we are training for the News and Sentinel Half Marathon, which will be hills in August in West Virginia. We opted for hills.

Since the Flying Pig, we have not trained as hard as we should have. Our plan was to maintain a level of fitness and just add distance when needed. Unfortunately, life got in the way and for a couple weeks I was barely walking at all.

Today's hills felt really good. Though we had no number of reps in mind, we ended up doing five -- which is where we left off in May. I'm pretty happy we were able to do so many reps! I'm not sore at all, but I think I'll be feeling it in the morning. I usually do after hills.

I'm excited!