Body Bank

Taper weeks make everyone crazy. You, your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/parents/dog–everyone gets a little nuts during taper time.

I get it. It’s tough. You’ve just put ALL this effort into 12, 14, 16, 52 weeks of training and run ALL these long runs and logged ALL those hours aaaaaaaaand now it’s done.

And you wait.

Slide1But it’s good to start thinking about your body during taper time as a bank. You can make a bunch of deposits to use during your marathon or only a few. What you do NOW will determine how you do on race day.


Your race day piggy bank.

Your race day piggy bank.

  1. Getting a solid night’s sleep EVERY night.
  2. Eating real food.
  3. Staying hydrated.
  4. Avoiding “active rest” activities.
  5. Keeping stress (physical and otherwise) to a minimum.

You could run yourself into the ground with all your newfound spare time. You could finally take your friends up on those happy hour drinks you’ve avoided since training started. You could continue to eat as though you’re running 60+ miles a week.


You could bank that time, stay in on a Friday night for 2 more weeks, and push back away from the table and put those deposits in your body bank for the Big Day.

Yeah! Thumbs up for race day!

Yeah! Thumbs up for race day!

Your choice. And life is full of choices, right Obi-wans?

Now go out and run!

PS. Best drawing of me running ever, right?

photo (16)

Workout Wednesdays: Before the Workout

Workout Wednesdays usually feature a fabulous running workout for you to try on for size. But this week, I’d like to put the spotlight on what happens BEFORE the workout.

Preparation is key.

Preparation is key.
(Image courtesy of Steve Moore &

So what’s the big deal with a warm-up? Well, it’s actually fairly straightforward, even if people want to ignore/argue with me about it.

In the very simplest terms, a warm-up has less to do with 3 things:

  1. Accessing energy
  2. Getting blood to the muscles
  3. Increasing the amount of oxygen in your body

At rest, your body’s main job is to keep your vital organs going. Yeah, blood and stuff goes to your muscles, but not nearly the amount needed to jump up and run a marathon at a moment’s notice.

Your heart, your lungs, your muscles, and your energy systems are basically asleep.

clipart heart 4

So what happens if you don’t warm up? Basically, you run out of gas cuz you opened the tank too wide in the beginning. No gas = muscles fail = THE WALL. Your body goes into high gear way to fast, uses way too much energy to get you going, and you bonk.

–Runner’s Bonk verb \ˈbäŋk, ˈbȯŋk\ To hit a wall; a sudden fatigue or loss of energy.

I love this movie. (Image courtesy of Entertainment Cinema, New Line Films, & Warner Bros.)

I love this movie.
(Image courtesy of Entertainment Cinema, New Line Films, & Warner Bros.)

In order to access all your energy stores, and to keep accessing them throughout the longer miles, you MUST warm up. Go easy for at least 10 minutes, if not 2 full miles. After your warm-up you can do your dynamic drills and strides and what-not, but you NEED to be warm to get the most out of your drills.

A solid warm-up also allows your lungs to catch up and increase the amount of oxygen in your blood and your muscles get enough fuel and oxygen to function at a higher capacity.

Without a warm-up, your body will be playing catch up for your entire workout. That doesn’t put you in a position to do your best work, obviously. For a marathon, the first 2 miles can serve as your warm-up, unless you’re an elite or sub-elite runner. In that case, your warm-up happens before the race.

Kara warms up. She's kind of a big deal. (Image courtesy of Raymond Britt &

Kara warms up. She’s kind of a big deal. (Image courtesy of Raymond Britt &

Don’t believe me? Stand at the start line of a marathon and watch the elites go out for some strides. They’re already sweating by the time they get to the line. They warm up.

Take this pledge with me:

“I (state/write your name) do solemnly swear to warm-up before every run, no matter the distance.”

Now go out and run!

CrossFit and Running

This post has been gestating for a while, ever since I created a training schedule for my friend Tina’s Hat Trick. Tina is a big time CrossFitter but also an experienced runner. My challenge was to keep CrossFit in her life while she trains for a 5K and a 10K on the SAME DAY and then a half-marathon the VERY NEXT DAY.


(Halfway) Dr. Abby is on the case!

(Halfway) Dr. Abby is on the case!

The flood of emails that followed from my popular friend’s blog posting about her new schedule were predominantly about how to train for a marathon while still being able to do CrossFit. Some were CrossFit-like HIIT workouts, but the majority were people going to actual CrossFit boxes (this is what they call their gyms).

Disclaimer: I do not condone nor was I compensated by CrossFit or any CrossFit affiliates. This is NOT an article supporting or encouraging the use CrossFit in any fitness program, but rather a “How To” guide for marathon training for those who don’t want to exclude it from their schedule.

Probably. (Image courtesy of

(Image courtesy of

There are a couple of rules of thumb that you will just have to deal with during training if you want to get the most out of your running program.

  1. Put your running first.
  2. Scale back your heavy lifting to 2 days per week in order to get the most out of your run workouts.
  3. During peak running season, don’t increase the weight on your strength workouts.
  4. Get more rest. No really, get MUCH more rest.
  5. Schedule your lifting days appropriately in your running schedule.

With each of my CrossFit runners, they learned #1 the hard way. They didn’t want to switch up the WODs (Workout Of the Day) for their runs and thought they could do it all and see results in running.

Thing is, it’s no my opinion that they need to prioritize running in order to see running results. It’s science.

One specific type of muscle fiber develops during maximum lift training. Another completely different type of fiber develops during endurance training. They don’t exactly play nice together. There are a few other in-betweenys but those two are the biggies who rule the schoolyard.

Only one can win.

Only one can win.

So, when you think about mixing marathon training with CrossFit, get your priorities lined up. What’s important? Running a great race? Continuing to rock your CrossFit WODs? Setting a personal best in the 26.2? Putting up more weight on your deadlifts?

It’s all about what your personal goals are. You can do both, but in the end, one really has to be the focus. Set the other one on the back burner and put it on low heat during high training.

Now go out and run.

Workout Wednesday: Tempo Down

So, we all know I’m a full-time grad student, part time coach/personal trainer, and all-the time nut job, right? Ok then. No one is worried when I don’t write for a few days weeks that I’ve fallen off a cliff somewhere *gasp* UPSTATE.

In case you were wondering, YES, this is accurate. (Image courtesy of Funny or Die)

In case you were wondering, YES, this is accurate.
(Image courtesy of Funny or Die)

No, no, no, I’ve fallen off a completely different cliff called 2nd Year of Doctorate of Physical Therapy School. MUCH bigger, MORE deadly cliff.

Anyway, long runs are happening all over the country for Philly, Marie Corps, NYC, Chicago, and all the marathons in between. Long runs are a dress rehearsal for the big day in a lot of ways.

  1. Testing your race day clothes, fuel, and routine.
  2. Checking in with your conditioning.
  3. Working out the mental kinks of running for 3, 4, 5+ hours.
(Image courtesy of

I do math when I run. Mostly, the math includes thoughts of how many cupcakes I can eat without ruining my race weight and how many more minutes I have to run before I can go home and put my pajamas back on.
(Image courtesy of

It’s important not to mentally check out during a long run. One of the ways I like to stay sharp (if you can call it that) is to tempo down the end of my run.

“But Abby,” you say, “long runs are HARD. Why would I want to make it HARDER?”

Because the marathon is harder than your long run.

At mile 23, you will be begging to be 2/3 the way through a 5K and hating it the way I am here. Begging.

At mile 23, you will be begging to be 2/3 the way through a 5K and hating it the way I am here. Begging. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m about to vomit in this picture.

Not every single long run needs a tempo time, but if you are a seasoned runner, they kinda do.

Take the last 3-5 miles of your run and bring your pace as close to goal race pace as possible. Not 5K race pace, marathon race pace. Get it there and hold it. If you peter out, slow it back down and get the miles in. But then you know you have some work to do.

What does this do? You have to train your body to work hard when it’s tired and to mentally be ready to fight hard for your pace late in the race. Simple as that.

Work hard in practice = best chance for good results at the race.

By "good results", I mean finishing. Well, that's what it means for me, anyway.

By “good results”, I mean finishing. Well, that’s what it means for me, anyway.

Now, you don’t have to kill yourself to get down there. You can also just put forth more effort in those later miles and forget about your pace. If you’re cruising along at a 6-7/10 effort, ramp it up to 8/10 and see how long you can hold it for.

Push yourself. Test your limits.

Now go out and run.

10 Commandments for Runners

Obi-wan has rules for the gym in his house. Among them are, “The gym must be clean and tidy after your workout.” Common sense, you’d think. Noooooooooo. I have been to many a gym where the employees are the worst offenders where leaving a mess is concerned.

HUGE pet peeve.

Nobody likes Pig-Pen.

Nobody likes Pig-Pen.

Anyway, I was thinking as marathon season is upon us that maybe some unwritten runner commandments need to be written. Here are mine.

  1. Thou shalt not put down other runners’ race times.
  2. Thou shalt keep holy the Rest Day.
  3. Thou shalt not take Bart Yasso’s name in vain, except during Yasso 800s.
  4. Thou shalt not spit, snot rocket, or otherwise dispel of bodily fluids in the direction of another runner.
  5. Thou shalt not wear cotton. Like, ever.
  6. Thou shalt not falsely attempt to start in a faster corral.
  7. Thou shalt not wear clothes that smell prior to a run.
  8. Thou shalt not offer free advice to other runners unless explicitly asked.
  9. Thou shalt reciprocate the greeting of a fellow runner.
  10. Thou shalt not brag about one’s performance among those who are less fortunate.

These are the 10 Commandments for Runners according to Abby. What would you add to the list?


Now go out and run!