Half marathon training: Injury interruption.

Monday 2/15: 2 mile hike. President’s day hike in the foothills with this girl.


Tuesday 2/16: 3 mile elliptical. I am coping pretty well with my injury-imposed sojurn to the elliptical. This is mostly due to being able to watch Netflix on my phone. This past week I finally got up to date with Scandal.

Wednesday 2/17: 4.35 mile elliptical. 45 min tempo…………on the elliptical. 10 minute warm-up, 25 minute harder and 5 minute cooldown. Does anyone else feel super slow on the elliptical? I feel like I can never move as fast I would like.

Thursday 2/18: Rest!

Friday 2/19: 3 mile elliptical.

Saturday 2/20: 8.5 mile elliptical. My original schedule (which has now totally gone out of the window) called for a 90 minute long slow run – so I turned it into a 90 minute stint on the elliptical. I watched most of August: Osage County – one totally dysfunctional family. Followed by a mile run-walk around the indoor track. I just had to see how my leg felt – and it was all good news.

All workouts this week were supplemented with weight training – either my PT hip and butt exercises or actually lifting of heavy things. At least 15 minutes a day as part of February’s StrongBody Streak.

Sunday 2/21: Skiing! I live an hour from 10 different ski resorts, and this season I’ve been skiing a total of zero times. But spring skiing has finally arrived. Blue skies and temperatures in the low 30s. It was time to find my skis and hit the slopes with some friends.


We hit up Powder Mountain – about an hour north of Salt Lake City and one of the quieter ski resorts. Also, the only ski resort where you have to ski down a run to get on your first lift. The snow was skiing so well – not icy in the morning and not much melting after lunch. We glided down a whole bunch of runs – and my quads only burned towards the end of the day. So much fun!  I guess I’m a fair weather skier. And the views were pretty incredible. You could even see the Great Salt Lake.

A great week overall. And my second rest (at least from running) week. This week was the chance to see how my shin splints have healed. So far, so good. Fingers crossed it’ll stay that way.

I’m finished with Scandal on Netflix. What do I need to watch next?

Friday musings

The Barkley Marathons: Some friends has recommended this movie a while ago and we found it for $7 on Amazon – and it is a must-see. Check out the wikipedia entry on the marathon (really 100+ miler run in the woods of Tennessee with over 50,000 ft of climbing, no course markings, aid stations, which can start at any time within a 12 hour window signaled by the lighting of the race director’s cigarette) here.

Speaking of movies: We headed to the Banff Mountain Film Festival on Wednesday. This is a touring festival of movies related to mountain life – either crazy adrenaline-filled adventures, or learning about the life of mountain cultures. This year we saw an awesome documentary called Unbranded about four young guys who travel from the Mexican to Canadian border on adopted mustangs. Beautifully shot with some entertaining characters and a message about the importance of conserving our wilderness.

Fingers crossed. I learned this week that I might be going to a conference in San Diego in May. As much as I love the desert and mountains, sometimes I just need to get a glimpse of the ocean. Living in Ireland (and Scotland) you really take it for granted! I’m dreaming of oceanside runs already.

Fingers crossed #2: My shins are feeling so much better! After a week and a half off from running they feel totally normal – no more twinges going down stairs. To be completely sensible (a new departure for me), I am taking the two weeks of rest recommended by my doctor. Hopefully, these extra days off will get me back to healthy running more quickly. And because I need to cross train, this week looks like that’s going to involve my first ski day of the year.

A teaser: On Monday, my husband and I went for a short hike with Sophie in the foothills near where we work. I’ve run on the trails here for the last year or so but this time we went on a new trail and it got me excited to explore more of these trails this year – I can literally go there for some morning or lunchtime runs. I just need my left leg to cooperate.


How was your week? Any trail runners out there?

A break in the regular schedule

With my half marathon training schedule interrupted by the unwelcome arrival of shin splints my weekend was wide open. Ideally, I should have gone to the gym and spent some time on the elliptical but surprisingly that didn’t sound very tempting. Plus, our air quality has been terrible – the advice is to limit time spent outside because it is unhealthy to the breathe the air. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to escape to the desert.

We loaded our car and headed south early on Saturday morning. Driving 4.5 hours south landed us across the border in Nevada with blue skies and temperatures around 70F. We found a dirt road that headed into BLM land and started scouting for a camp site. Interestingly, we passed the Bundy ranch. These are the guys involved in the standoff with the FBI in the wildlife refuge in Oregon and who owe about 1 million dollars in grazing fees.

We ended up in prime ATV land but things quietened down by sunset leaving us to our fire in peace. We spent our Valentine’s weekend drinking beer and chatting by an open fire.

And it was this girl’s first camping trip.


We were treated to a beautiful sunset (and sunrise) and perfect camping temperatures. It’s hard to explain the restorative effect of spending some time in this scenery but it was exactly the recharge I needed and made me long for some more desert adventures this year.

And even better, once we got back to Salt Lake the air had cleared out and we swapped our beautiful desert scenery for some hiking in the snowy (for now) foothills.

A perfect weekend and now I’m ready to cross train like there’s no tomorrow!

Half marathon training week 2

Monday 2/1: Speedwork 7 x 400 m. I did this on the treadmill – it was snowing in the morning so not conducive to running fast outside.

1.5 mile warm-up at 9:13 pace

7 x 400 m at 6:58 pace with 400 m recoveries at 9:13 pace

0.5 mile cooldown at 9:13 pace

This was my first ever formal speedwork session (and in hindsight maybe the training session that put my shins over the edge) and I loved it. I guess I learned that I love to run fast. Now I just have to wait until my legs will let me do it again.

Tuesday 2/2: 3 miles at 10:28 pace. I started this on the trail by my work until I realized that the snow had not been packed down but was a couple of inches deep and not made for running – snowshoeing maybe, but definitely not running. I bailed onto the sidewalk and had a pretty crappy run.

Wednesday 2/3: 30 minutes tempo. 10 minutes at 9:13 pace, 15 minutes at 7:19 pace and 5 minutes at 9:13. This was my best tempo run maybe ever. The pace felt uncomfortable but not impossible. I was pretty psyched leaving the gym (another treadmill run unfortunately) and ready to get that 5 K PR.

Thursday 2/4: Rest

Friday 2/5: Rest

Saturday 2/6: RUN SLC 5k and brand new PR.

Sunday 2/7: 4.5 mile easy at 9:27 pace. My heart rate was right where I wanted it, but my shin was not happy which put a dampener on the weeked.

Monday 2/8: Rest and trying to book a doctor’s appointment.

Tuesday 2/9: 3 miles on the elliptical. And a diagnosis: Shin splints. Treatment: take 2 weeks off from running and if symptom free try reintroducing running on soft surfaces.

Wednesday 2/10: 45 min tempo on elliptical. 10 minutes warm-up, 30 minutes at faster pace and 5 minutes cool-down.

Thursday 2/11: Rest day.

One other thing that I’m doing is taking part in Allison’s Strongbody Streak – where you commit to at least 15 minutes of strength work every day in February. So far so good. For me this is mostly doing my PT exercises to strengthen my glutes and a modified version of  MYRTL exercises. I also picked up some dumbbells for the first time in about six months – and was suffering from some serious DOMS the next day. I’m hoping that I can gain some strength during my little break from running. One thing I’ve noticed over the last 3-4 months is that even though I haven’t lost any weight I feel more “toned” – I hate that word – in my lower body and I feel as if my legs are leaner which is pretty nice.

No long run for me this weekend – which coincides with our worst air of the winter so we are contemplating an escape to the desert and we are lucky to have Monday off from work. 70F and sunshine sounds pretty nice right now……..


The best of times and the worst of times



Saturday was my first race of the year: the RUNSLC 5K. It was my first road 5 K ever and I was excited/nervous to see what I could do (my previous PR from a trail 5 K was 23:33). Packet pickup was at the Salt Lake Running Company on Friday and was super quick and easy. I registered for this series back in December and because I was one of the first 50 entrants I got a $20 gift certificate for the running store. We also got a stainless steel pint glass which was pretty sweet.


Saturday morning I got up at 6:50 am and was out the door by 7:15 am with a 5 minute drive to the store – there was plenty of free parking in the neighborhood nearby. I did a two mile warm-up at 9:47 pace – getting to the start line just in time to hand in my bag at the check-in (also super easy). Then it was time to race. I lined up near the start and just decided to go by feel.

I settled in to a comfortably-hard pace and fell in with another female runner (we actually ran the race together until she out-kicked me at the end). This course crosses one of our Tram lines and as we were coming up to the tracks, one of the race stewards starting waving his flag as a train approaching so we had to stop and let it pass. Oh well! Hazards of the race course. The first two miles were pretty even 7:08 (including our stop for the train) and 7:09, then a turn around and back to the finish. I like these out and back races – you can figure out who’s ahead of you! I was fifth woman at this point and finished that way (mile 3 was 7:14) with no train stop on the way back. Official time 22:10 (7:09 pace) and a new 5 K PR. 5th woman overall and 2nd in my age group. I won a $15 gift certificate for my finish and a cool hat in the raffle.

I finished with a 2 mile cool-down at 9:56 pace and was pretty happy for the rest of the day.

Then Sunday happened. I was out for my 4.5 mile recovery run and I just felt off. I had been having a couple of little aches and pains over the previous weeks but they had mostly resolved themselves – tights calves and glute medius. This was different. Shin pain that made me feel pretty awkward. Oh sh*t.

I rested on Monday and booked a doctors appointment for Tuesday morning. I am a totally paranoid hypochondriac (although is there another kind?). And the official diagnosis: medial tibial stress syndrome AKA shin splints or the precursor to a stress fracture. I got an x-ray taken which does not show a fracture but does show signs of a stress response.

I am a bit bummed out by this as you’d expect. A spring PR is looking pretty unlikely but on the bright side:

  • I can do almost everything (all my strength exercises, elliptical and biking)
  • My pain is pretty mild
  • I caught it pretty early so the recovery time should be short
  • It is not a stress fracture!

So the plan is to take some time off running (but switch over my training plan to the elliptical) and see how it feels in a couple of weeks. And there are plenty of other half marathons to get that new PR!

Race calendar for Spring 2016

It’s been over 4 months since my last race and now that my running mojo has returned I’m ready to toe the starting line again. 2015 was a year of PWs so I’m ready to (hopefully) get some shiny new PRs or at least feel strong during my races.

Last winter I signed up for the inaugural RUNSLC winter race series. This is designed to get people ready for the Salt Lake half marathon in mid-April. And it fits in almost perfectly with the tune-up races in my half marathon training plan. Plus, the races start about 2 miles from my house and they have donuts at the finish. Donuts!

Feb 6th: RUNSLC 5K.

I wasn’t able to run the 5K last year due to an injured calf muscle, so this will be my first ever road 5K. Yes – you read that right. My first ever road 5K. My first ever race was a half marathon so I kind of skipped all of the shorter race distances. Also, 5Ks hurt. My 5K PR is from a trail 5K that I did about 18 months ago (23:33) when I was in pretty great shape. The main thing that I remember from this race was feeling like I was going to puke at the finish line. I didn’t but oh my God I did not enjoy the feeling. I’m quietly confident that I will get a PR at the race – unless we get a winter storm the night before – and my plan is to go all out and hold on. That’s how you run 5Ks, right?

March 5th: RUNSLC 10K

I do have a road PR for this -> 46:39! My one and only road 10K. I think I’ll wait until after the 5K to figure out my goal pace for this. One interesting thing about this race series is that you have to cross tram lines twice (out and back), and if there is a tram coming then you just have to wait. Last year I managed to avoid this happening but what can you do? Except curse to yourself a lot if you have to watch a PR slip away?

April 2nd: RUNSLC 15K

This race is two weeks before my goal half marathon and will be my trial run and will hopefully give me the best indicator of how I should plan my half marathon. Last year I ran a little under 8 min/mile pace and I’m hoping to beat that this year -> and make 2016 the year of the PRs!

April 16th: Salt Lake half marathon

Goal race!!!! Hope the weather gods are looking out for me!

After April my calendar is wide open. I’m hoping to hit the trails a lot in the summer and have decided after making some pretty dumb running decisions last year that I will sign up for things closer to the race date. That way I won’t feel bad if I can’t make a race and won’t push it when I need to rest. I want my summer free for backpacking trips and any other adventures that might pop up.

Salt Lake Half Marathon Training Week 1

Monday: 5.5 miles. Hill repeats! Training for the Salt Lake half marathon has officially begun and today I did my first ever formal hill workout. Previously, I’ve fitted hills in my runs – they are pretty much impossible to avoid here in SLC, but I’m trying to stick to Hal Higdon’s advanced plan and want to push myself a little out of my comfort zone (and intervals start next week! eeekk!). Luckily, we had a beautiful sunny (and clean air) day so I headed out at lunchtime to a hill that runs parallel to one of the few hills on the Salt Lake half marathon course. The sidewalks had been mostly cleared of snow and I was ready to start.

The hill was almost a quarter mile long (0.24 miles to be exact) and about 70 ft in elevation gain, so using my math skills I figured that this is a 5.5% incline and it seemed good enough for me. So I ran up (2.28/2.27/2.26/2.30/2.20/2.20) and jogged down 6 times. The effort felt comfortably hard with my heart rate peaking in the mid-160s so I’m going to call it a success. Bonus: my calf cooperated.

Tuesday: 3 miles. Hit the gym to do an easy treadmill run (9:13 pace) and then some strength work. This plan specifically states to do some strength work twice a week and as someone who is prone to injury it’s something that I need to do in order to be able to continue to run. It’s mostly focused on single leg work, glutes, hips with just a little core work.

Wednesday: 40 minute tempo. 5 miles total. In this plan, both the midweek tempos and weekly long runs are designated by time and not by distance which is new to me.

10 minute warm-up at 9:13 pace

25 minutes at 7:19 pace

5 minutes at 9:13 pace

This was another comfortably hard workout. And I had a little bit of a mental workout to stick with it for the full 25 minutes.

Thursday: Rest.

Friday: 3 miles easy at 9:31 pace and a little strength.

Saturday: 10.45 miles. Long run day! And also snow storm day. We got 5 inches overnight and it was still snowing by midday so I made the call to do this on the treadmill at my gym.


The plan called for a 90 minute (3/1) run, which means you run the first 3/4 at an easy pace and then speed it up for the last quarter so that’s what I did.

67.30 minutes at 8:49 pace followed by

3 minutes at 8:34 pace

3 minutes at 8:20 pace

3 minutes at 8:06 pace

3  minutes at 7:54 pace

3 minutes at 7:42 pace

3 minutes at 7:30 pace

3 minutes at 7:19 pace

1.30 minutes at 7.09 pace

This run felt great. The easy part felt easy, and it was nice to speed it up at the end – hitting my threshold pace for just a little while. And FYI the movie Clueless is exactly the right length of movie for this workout. Plus, if you are my age you get to relive some serious 90s fashion disasters.

Sunday: 3.05 miles easy. 10:23 pace – keeping it as easy as I can and my heart rate agrees!

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 17.13.10

Bonus: I didn’t fall on my butt!

Weekly total: 30 miles.

January total: 120 miles. My highest mileage month since last April.

Final thoughts: The first week of any training plan is always fun, right? New workouts and lots of optmism. I would have liked to run more outside – and hopefully the air and weather will cooperate this week.

I hit a double digit run for the first time since September! And my body is reacting. The calf issues seem to have resolved themselves, but I am tight in the usual spots – hip flexors and my glute medius. I’ve been stretching and massaging as best I can. But someone ate (yes – ate) my foam roller so I need to get a new one ASAP.


Lucky for me, I will be visiting Salt Lake Running Co. on Friday to pick up my bib for my first race of the year – so I’ll probably pick up some kind of torture device while I’m there. This will be my second ever 5K, and my first ever on the road so I’m a little excited about it and will talk about race goals/plans later this week.

Anyone else running a half marathon this spring?