LA Marathon – 7th Time’s A Charm

The LA Marathon. The race that started it all. To explain how I PR’d by 21 minutes, on the 7th time running this course, I need to explain how I got here. In 2010, a friend of mine suggested we run the LA Marathon together, I told her I could NEVER run a marathon. Needless to say, she convinced me, and off we went on our training. I fell in love with running long. I ran a 3:28, my first time out the gate, no GPS watch, no goal time, no idea what I was doing. I literally ran with a timex stopwatch I bought at Target the night before.

It’s never been about the races for me, even without a race on the books I’ll log a 20 miler, just because I love to run. My friend and I continued to run the LA Marathon year after year. I never changed my training, I always came in around the same time.

It wasn’t until Summer of 2016 when I met some friends that introduced me to triathlon, and the heavy training they do for Ironman that I stepped up my game. I was training for my first Ironman 70.3 when I broke my foot. Cycling 75+ miles a week, swimming 3 miles a week, running 70 miles a week… Just 9 days out from the race I was confined to the boot, I couldn’t even walk without excruciating pain, I was heartbroken… I couldn’t race the race I had been working towards for months. As horrible as it was – one thing came out of that hardship – I realized I had a whole lot of potential I hadn’t even touched. After years of running 8 min miles, I was now easily running in the low 7:00s. There was something there, and I wanted to tap into it.

It took months to recover from the stress fracture, and then I had to retrain everything I built. I swam every day while my foot was broken, but as well all know – there is nothing quite like running. I bounced back enough to train for Boston, and brought home a 3:26. I was so eager for more, I RAPIDLY ramped up, jumped into winning a half marathon, back on the bike, back running heavy mileage, feeling on top of the world — and boom, broken heel bone. This one took forever to heal. I didn’t even tell anyone it was broken for months because I was so ashamed to be back there again. I promised myself I would take training seriously this time, all factors, and I would comeback my strongest ever.

Fast forward to training for this year’s LA Marathon. With clearance from my doctor, and frequent checkups, I re-evaluated my diet, my mileage, everything. I added back dairy, I revised my daily vitamins, more protein, more rest. The results were immediate.Running sub 7 quickly became my comfortable pace and slowly I built the mileage. My previous training was to just plow through miles, and if I burned out and had crappy paces at the end, I didn’t care, as long as I got the mileage in. This time I had a whole different approach. I wanted every run to feel comfortably hard, not burn out. I wanted to feel strong at 20 miles all the way through, I wanted even or negative splits, not a hard dive for exhaustion. When I saw my watch clocking 20 miles at sub 7 pace, I knew I was a new runner.

I don’t have a coach, I made my own training plan based on what made sense to me being mindful of my injury, what I potential I believed was there, and my work schedule. When my body was tired, I took rest days. When my foot was hurting, I iced it, and took rest days. If my calves were tight, I reworked my training schedule to not injure them. Logging the EXACT training you are scheduled doesn’t necessarily = success, its about listening to your body every single day. What works for me, doesn’t work for every runner, but what works for me comes from a lot of years of experience knowing my body and what has resulted in injury for me.

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The Race

So how did the race go? To be honest, I wish I could do it again tomorrow, I had THAT much fun. I felt strong the whole way through, which is new for me on this course. The hills that usually kill me from miles 18 – 21, I was running with a smile. I felt like I was flying. I’m always terrible about remembering to fuel, or even drink water, but I got ahead of it perfectly this time. I DO have one big regret… My fellow marathon ambassador Haley and I were walking to the start, and we debated peeing ONE more time before the race. I thought I’d be fine and it was just nerves, so she went, I didn’t. Well – big mistake, I stopped at mile 2 for :30 to pee, and jumped back in the race (feeling a thousand times better) – but that :30 seconds cost me a sub 3 marathon! At the end of the day, 3:00:24 is still a three hour marathon, and something I never thought I would accomplish. Being the 6th open field woman to cross the finish line, and first in my division, and running with the boys, cruising mile after mile…  it was an amazing feeling. I’ve said before that most people in my daily life don’t know what I do in the shadows, or see me running, so a lot of them asked me if I “ate differently the night before” or what I thought got me such a better time. Its funny to me, because I know how hard I worked for that 21 minute PR.

The LA Marathon course is tough, but its remarkable. You see the whole city, the crowd support is wonderful, and the finish line is stunning. I’ve run every PR on this course, probably because its the place I call home, and the excitement is palpable for me, but I highly recommend it!

My mind is swirling with what’s next, and I can’t wait to chase it!

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CHASING NEW PACES

I am often asked how I keep a sub-7 so often on my runs. Truth is, I never thought I’d run this pace, and for a lonnnng time I didn’t. Sub-7 is where I live comfortably now, and this was my goal last year. For those of you that have been following me a while, you’ll know that Spring of last year, I said I wanted to make sub 7 comfy, and well, now I have (sort of). Anything below 15 miles, I can comfortably run my normal 6:50 pace, but for me the challenge is:

(1) Making that comfy pace EVEN lower
(2) Making sub 7 comfy for 26.2, which is HARD (for me at least.)

So, a little background… I’ve always loved to run, truly. I was a sprinter in high school, and just generally an athlete in some form my whole life. Transitioning to distance running for me was truly for personal pleasure, never for racing or PRs or anything of the sort. I comfortable lived at an 8-8:30 min/mile and never tried to run faster. FOR YEARS. So what changed?

Basically – my mindset. After starting my instagram @myrunbum I really became connected with a community of runners that was so motivating, exciting, and uplifting. I made a conscious decision to get my head in the game, and a lot changed. Up until 2014 I didn’t even run with a watch most of the time, and if I did it definitely didn’t have GPS. Getting my Garmin Forerunner 220 changed my pace dramatically. Suddenly I could chase myself, and that was fun.

In 2016 I met some friends that challenged me to get sub 7, because they believed I could, and somehow that motivated me to try. I never thought I would run a marathon, so why not try a new goal, and get faster.

So the big question – How did I go from 8 min/mile to sub 7 in less than 2 years?

  1. ) Cross Training – I added Swimming and Cycling to my training in a big way. Building strength in my quads through biking hills, and power in my core and shoulders through swimming. This knocked me down to the 7:15 range right away. Why? Because I was stronger. I’m definitely not saying taking up extra sports will make you faster, but what I AM saying is think about your overall strength, where are you weakest? What can you improve – then tackle it.
  2. ) Diet – I’ve always been thin, and in college I was SKINNY. Skinny can sometimes mean being fast, but only if there is power behind it. I’ve probably gained 20 pounds since then (seriously) but its muscle.

    I’ve always stayed away from overly unhealthy foods, but I’ve been a lot more in tune with what helps my body perform. Adding protein, proper carbs like sweet potatoes and whole grains, and adding back dairy. Dairy was the hardest to bring back in my life, I have to time it appropriately for stomach issues, but its a life saver on the bones. (PS check out my post on diet for more about what I eat)

  3. Drills – These suck, and they are hard. A lot of people like doing them on the track, which is fab, and feels old school. If you don’t have a track, the treadmill is great for controlling your speed. Getting faster short distances at a time will impact your speed over all. Another big one for me was running after cycling, it is brutal, but builds insane power in the lungs and legs.
  4. Gear – Invest in a garmin or gps tracking device, it’s worth it. Technology is remarkable, and should be used to your advantage. Make yourself your biggest competition and go for it. Make sure you’re running in the RIGHT shoes for your body, not just the most popular or best looking ones, and change them out when they are worn.
  5. CONFIDENCE – This one is huge. I hear so many people tell me they could never run, or run faster, or place in a race. Well I use to think that to, and 13 Marathons, 2 Bostons, several race placings, and PRs later, here I am. YOU CAN. Getting your head in the game is a big player in this. Remember you are in control of you, and your mind will try to convince you a thousand times “you can’t” before you’ve even finished a race. Block it out – come up with mantras to repeat in your mind, visualize the win, the PR, the place you want to be, and apply constant pressure until the negative thoughts break and you’re crushing new paces.

    I honestly do not compete with other runners. My run friends on Insta motivate me SO MUCH, and I love sharing what I love with that community. I hold myself accountable to what I am capable of, what I want to achieve, and concentrate on my own goals. Comparing yourself to others can be a dark hole, and a fast track to letting the negative thoughts creep back in!

To be clear, there are no secret sauces to suddenly getting faster, it takes work and it takes commitment. Surround yourself with positive people that support you, and motivate you to be your best self. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail, learn from it, keep going, and never give up.

Have specific questions? What else do you want to read about? Send me an email or leave a comment below!

Eat To Run, Run to Eat?

Believe it or not, most of the people in my life don’t run. People often assume I come from a family of fitness fanatics and runners, or that I hang in a pack of mile chasers, but that is NOT the case. Running for me has always been a solo venture. I have some friends who run, and I will occasionally join them on a jog, but with everyone at different paces with different goals, my running community I’ve built on Instagram has truly become my virtual friend group of runners. Which I LOVE. You guys are the best!

With the people around me not being runners, I often hear “you can eat whatever you want” “oh you’ll just burn it off anyway” — or just a misconception that I run as part of a diet. Not true.

For me food is fuel. I LOVE to eat, it’s probably my favorite hobby after being active and running. I have been deemed the snack queen. However, the food I eat is always clean, healthy,and serves my body to perform. With two broken bones in less than two years, I took an even closer look at my diet, and added some essential nutrients I was missing. I added back dairy (post run) – I drink milk daily! and I upped my calcium vitamins. I take Biotin, Multi Vitamin, Magnesium, and Calcium every day.

I’m not a doctor, and diet is different for everyone, but here are the foods that work best for me, pre, during, and post running. I will also spill a few of my indulgences.

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PRE-RUN
This really depends on the distance. For shorter normal runs, I might grab a handful of dried cereal, or just some water and go. For anything above 9 miles, I like to fuel. I eat 30 minutes before running if possible.

10-15 Miles

  • 3/4 Cup Dried Cereal (I like Barbara’s Oat Crunch!)
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1 Cup Water

15-20 Miles

  • 1 Cup Dried Cereal or 1 Piece of Wheat Toast
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Cup Water
  • Things I avoid Pre-Run
    • Dairy! Guaranteed stomach cramps for me. Save it for post run recovery food!
    • Eggs,
      meat, or any dense protein
    • Sugary Sports Drinks (Doesn’t work for me, but everyone is different!)

DURING 
I personally hate carrying anything with me on my runs, it weighs me down and can just be bothersome. I also have a sensitive stomach, so a lot of products don’t sit well with me while I’m running. However I have found some ways around my sensitive stomach that have worked for me so far!

1-15 Miles

  • These runs, I tend not to fuel. If it is a hot day I will definitely drink water
  • Always manage your fuel for the temperatures and climate you are running in

15-20 Miles

  • Water at miles 15 and 18 (Anything earlier and I will have to pee!)
  • Gatorade endurance chews (Chews in general work the best for me)
  • Nuun (lemon lime is my jam!)
  • Swedish Fish (I know its weird!) I keep them in a plastic bag in my belt

Things I (personally) avoid During Long Runs

  • I have found out (through testing) that I am not a gel person. It causes a lot of upset in my stomach, and I spend the rest of the run super uncomfortable.
  • They work really well for a lot of people, so DEFINITELY give them a try to find out what works for you

POST-RUN
Post Run meals are probably the most important. I always try to eat protein and drink a lot of water as soon as possible.

1-8 Miles

  • (1) Hard Boiled Egg
  • 3/4 Cup of 1% Milk
  • Water with Lemon (This is my go-to for every run! I love tart anything)
  • 1/2 Banana (The second half from before my run sometimes)

9-15 MilesMilkshake! I LOVE milk shakes

    • Milkshake ingredients: 1/2 Cup 1% Milk, 1/2 Banana, 1/2 tsp Vanilla

15- 20+ Miles

  • Eggs or Milkshake
  • Replacing the salt in your bod post long runs is important, I like to munch on:
    • Pretzels (Trader Joe’s makes so make delish whole grain kinds)
    • Sports Drink with added sodium and electrolytes
    • You need a good balance/combination of carbohydrates and protein, find what works for you!

DAILY ROUTINE
I eat a very clean diet. Most of my diet is fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and protein. I definitely like to indulge here and there, but I’ve never been one to eat fast food, fried food, or overly processed foods. I try to think about the foods I’m putting in my body at every meal and ask myself, is this natural? Will this fuel my body? Am I going to feel good after eating this? I keep my alcohol intake to 1-2 Glasses of wine, and only on Friday and Saturday nights. Of course there are those celebratory occasions to indulge which is OK! Live life to the fullest, just make sure it is your best life, that serves you being happy and performing your best in energy and health.

GO-TO Snacks

  • Green Grapes (Literally my favorite food!)
  • Sliced Zucchini or Mushrooms and Hummus
  • Popcorn
  • Mixed fruit – People are afraid of fruit, because of sugar. I eat BOAT LOADS of fruit.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs or Sliced Turkey/Chicken
  • Tuna with Celery (no mayo, sub for greek yogurt or dijon mustard)
  • Baked Sweet Potato dusted with spices
  • Pea Soup – I’m so weird
  • Non-Fat Greek Yogurt with Apples and Cinnamon

Indulgences!!

  • White Wine (Sauv Blanc is my FAV)
  • Dark Chocolate (The darker the better!!)
  • I also love white chocolate
  • Banana Nice-Cream (Frozen Bananas thrown in the blender) Top with shaved coconut!
  • Dried Coconut (SO GOOD)
  • I love a good hearty burger, but I have to earn it 🙂

Eat Happy
In general, what fuels my body is different than what fuels yours. What’s important is to not skimp on the calories you need to fuel your body. Eating the right foods will keep you lean and performing at your best while also staying full. Some great recipe books are Eat Fast Run Slow, and The Feed Zone. Don’t stress the calories so much, think about how the food makes you feel, and don’t forget to live a little!

Injuries – How to Deal, How to Live.

I’m a runner. I run to feel happy, confident, strong, ALIVE. Being a
runner comes with ups and downs, and undoubtably — injuries. I know
this all too well, especially in the last year.

Growing up, I have always been an athlete. From soccer to track, to
downhill ski racing, being active was always on my agenda. It was not
until college however, that I fell in love with running. Looking for a
way to feel connected, to feel human, and to just find a way to
navigate becoming an “adult” — I took up distance running.

Always a sprinter, I never thought distance was my game. Turns out,
distance should have always been my game. A good friend of mine, that
even ran cross country for the college I attended, suggested I run the
LA marathon with her. Through training I quickly became addicted to
the feeling of going long, and honestly I’ve never looked back.

That was 7 years ago now. With 12 Marathons under my belt, 9 BQ and
and even a first female half marathon win, one might say I love to
run.

Over the last year I decided to kick up my training to a new level,
and threw triathlon into the mix. When taking on new sports (swimming
and cycling) I made one big mistake — nutrition.

As athletes we get so “in the zone” we forget the little (big) things
at times. One of those being what goes out, must be replaced with what
goes IN. I upped my mileage, speed, endurance, and cross training, but
didn’t up my calorie and nutrition intake. So what happened? Stress
fractures. Two of them.

We train on the razor edge of too much and too hard, but it feels so
good – so why stop? Well, don’t stop, but balance with the right
nutrition, strength training and rest days.

When you come down with an injury, whether it be a stress fracture or
pulled muscle, the first piece of advice – don’t give up. Second piece
of advice? Take the time to recover.

Recovery is key. See a doctor (Seriously) get the MRI (I know its
pricey) but knowing what you’re dealing with, means you know how long
you have until you can bounce back. Each stress fracture I’ve had took
a full 8 weeks. No running. Don’t cheat, listen to the doc, take the
time your body needs. We want to do this support as long as possible,
rushing it now will only hurt you later. (I know that sucks to hear)

Ways to get through the pain, stress, and quite honestly — depression.

  • Find something else you love (ALMOST) as much as running. For me
    this was swimming, but I get it, nothing feels like running, and it
    feels like no one understands.
  • Find someone that DOES understand, join a running community, find
    others that are injured, don’t suffer in silence.
  • Take some time for you, identify your goals, what do you want to
    achieve when you DO come back? Because you WILL. I came back from a
    stress fracture, ran the Boston Marathon, and won a half marathon. You
    are only as strong as you let yourself be!!
  • Make a schedule. Put a big star 8 weeks out on your calendar (or
    whenever the doc clears you to get back in action) and count
    backwards. Plan cool stuff to do between now and then, help the time
    pass by making plans. Try swimming! (seriously its great!)

Lastly, don’t feel like a failure. Injuries are par for the course. If
you love this sport, give it all you have. In injury and in health,
you got this. Check out my next post on nutrition for tips on how to
get healthy and STAY healthy, bones, body and all!

Introducing runbum

Welcome to RunBum, your go-to source for all things running. MyRunBum originally started as an outlet for my running obsession. Over the last two years I have been immensely inspired by the unparalleled perseverance of my fellow runners. MyRunBum has allowed me to discover so many incredible athletes and provide inspiration for anyone needing a little boost of motivation. We strive to hit our personal goals each day, we face countless obstacles and challenges, we keep going, mile after mile – because we love it.

There is lots to come for MyRunBum, and it will roll out in phases. Phase one will begin with training tips and tricks, nutritional hacks, and of course injury prevention/recovery. I will be creating custom training plans, coaching tiers, and race plans to help guide both new and veteran runners on your journey.

xx j