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.

Adventureland Running

I am an adventurer! I went to another island!

Manhattan is a relatively small island. 13 miles north to south, 3 miles at its widest. There are only so many places to run whilst kickin’ it long run-style. I’ve run to New Jersey, Brooklyn, and Queens on my runs…but never took the plunge into the middle of the Harlem River.

I took the road/bridge less traveled and ran on over to an island other than my own during my long run on Sunday. I had hoped to explore safely with a friend, but Gia kept falling down last week and decided it was best for her not to join me. Good call, G.

I decided to forgo music in favor of a funny podcast (or 4) to listen to while I ran forever my long run.

4 shows = 1 long run.

4 shows = 1 long run.

I love Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! on NPR. Peter Sagal is a long-time runner and sometimes contributor to Runner’s World Magazine. He and the panel’s funny quips kept me laughing right out loud during a very. long. run.

I ran to the most masculine island in the city of New York, Randall’s Island. You might be asking why there’s so much testosterone over there. Well, this little island in the middle of the East River (technically the Harlem River on one side, East River on the other) houses the NYC Firefighter Academy, Icahn Stadium, and countless sports fields.

Over the {Harlem} River and on the {103rd St. foot} bridge to Randall’s Island we go!

There was a serious party happening on the tiny island of Randalls.

There was a serious party happening on the tiny Isle of Randalls.

I was nervous at first going all by myself, having only ever been to the Firefighter portion of the island, but was pleasantly surprised to find a huge BBQ happening just on the other side of the foot bridge. There were also many a baseball and soccer game happening on the various fields.

Big plus? Bathrooms and water fountains everywhere. You go on with your bad self, Randall’s Island!

Not so great? A path that led to nowhere.

This trail abruptly ended at one of these large cement beams holding up a bridge. You know what else doesn't belong? my giant finger.

This trail abruptly ended at one of these large cement beams holding up a bridge. Love my giant thumb in the picture. Excellent mid-run photography skills.

I could have run farther north on the island but turned around when my watch beeped so I could get home and not run an entire marathon in the process.

It was so freeing to run somewhere new but know I was just a short jaunt from my little home island. A serious bonus is that it’s an island…soooooo, surrounded by water = breezy with beautiful views. I could not have asked for a more sunny, mid-70s, low humidity day for my adventurous long run. So fun!

In short? Great place to run. Flat place to run. I will be back. Probably soon. Also, I am hooked on running to podcasts. Best switch ever.

On a side note, JB has taught me it’s easier to open bananas from the bottom. Genius. I’m sure I’m late to the party, but there we are.

This was a revelation to me, a long-time banana fan.

This was a revelation to me, a long-time banana fan.

Where have you run lately that was new and an adventure? Did you do it alone or with a friend? Disaster, success, or somewhere in between? I’m dying to run somewhere all woody and nature-like after my trip to Colorado. But, you know, without mosquitos or bears. 

Now go out and run!

Workout Wednesdays: Over/Under

Long runs can get really, really repetitive. And trying to maintain a steady-state pace for them makes a girl (or guy, let’s not discriminate) crayyyy-zayyyy.

True dat.

True dat.

Doing and Over/Under workout keeps me on my toes and distracts me from the distance of the run. Here’s how it goes:

  • 2 mile easy warm-up
  • 2 miles at 10-15 seconds faster than goal race pace
  • 2 miles somewhere 15-30 seconds over race pace
  • Rinse, repeat as needed

Simple, right? 2 miles under, 2 miles over. When I go under goal race pace, I make a concerted effort to hold back and not blast out for two miles since I’m usually doing more than 12 miles for this type of workout.

When I go over goal race pace, I’m usually somewhere between 15-30 seconds over. 30 seconds when I get into the longer miles but I try not to go more than that because I want to hover as close to race pace as possible and teach my legs to run well with fatigue.

Smiling through the pain...with my ostomy. Can you believe this was a year go? Yeah, me neither.

Smiling through the pain…with my ostomy. Can you believe this was a year go? Yeah, me neither.

It really makes the time go by AND you get a great workout. Before you know it, your run is done and you felt like a million bucks.

In case you were wondering, THIS is what a million bucks looks like.

In case you were wondering, THIS is what a million bucks looks like. Girlfriend is living the dream.

Give it a try this weekend and let me know how it goes. I’ll be rocking my Over/Under on Sunday morning with the rest of NYC. High-five!

Have you ever tried an Over/Under long run or do you prefer a steady-state long run? Tell me how you distract yourself on those super-long training runs. I’m always looking for a good distraction!

Now go out and run!

5 Reasons To Run On Treadmills

Even before I showed symptoms of ulcerative colitis and began down this crazy road of treating and compensating for the very sexy flare-ups, I ran on treadmills.

That’s right.


During training season.

So fast that the picture is blurry. Vroom! Vroom!

I grew up running on cross country and track teams, so my feet didn’t even touch a treadmill til college. When I started running marathons for time and not just for survival, I began to use my treadmill runs for more than just days that I couldn’t hit the park.

Truth: Treadmill running and running outdoors are different.

Truth: You are not propelling yourself forward on a treadmill, thus it is easier to run faster (it’s like you’re a few dozen pounds lighter).

Truth: I miss running outside tremendously.

Here’s where treadmill running comes in handy:

  1. Consistent pacing
  2. Negative splits
  3. Mile (or any other distance) repeats
  4. Proximity to the restrooms (for my IBD friends!)
  5. Safe place to push your limits

...and I WILL beat you.

Like Cookie Monster says, “C is for cookie and that’s good enough for me. But cookies are a sometimes food.” Treadmills are a sometimes workout. They’re not awesome for working on hills nor would I suggest doing your long training runs on them unless you have to. I mean, if it’s snowing outside or 4am or your stomach is flip-flopping or you’re feeling wonky or the wind is so strong that it’s crushing your will to live while running into it head-first for 15 miles, by all means, run on the treadmill.

Do what you gotta do.

Treadmills can make you faster if you can swallow your purist runner pride and see the benefits. Trust me, the treadmill can make you a better runner. Do you hit the ‘mill?

Now go out and run.

How To Love a Good Run In the Rain

Confession: I have not always loved running in the rain. In junior high and high school cross country, it meant slogging through seemingly endless miles of mud and yuck soaked to the bone in my cotton uniform to a finish line that looked like a brown Slip ‘n Slide only to ride home on a bus with a bunch of sweaty, dirty, smelly, filthy runners. Yuck.

Bless the Obi-wans for coming out to those cross country races and standing in the rain to watch me trudge past them. It could not have been fun for them, either.

Today is SO different. I love the rain. I ran one of my favorite 21 mile training runs in the rain all over Manhattan a couple of years ago. The park is quieter, the runners are nicer and there’s something more peaceful about a run in the rain than in any other weather. The other piece of the puzzle is my beloved gear. Thank heavens for lululemon!! I mean, good clothes really make running in inclimate weather not only possible, but enjoyable.

But it’s not always roses and puppies out there. You have to be in the right mind-set and prepare yourself for a few key situations when heading out for a run in the rain. Here is a sure-fire way to have a great run in the rain, in my experience.

#1. Leave your watch/Garmin/iPod at home. The rain (and likely, the wind) will probably slow you down a little. Plus, it’s better to keep your focus on the road/trail when it’s slick and only made more slippery by fallen leaves. Unplug and enjoy the scenery.

#2. Dress for success. Wear fitted, moisture-wicking clothing and a hat or a visor. Loose stuff will whack against your skin and get heavier with every mile, especially if it’s not a good tech fiber. Here’s what I wore today:


Turbo TankSpeedy Run Hat, Run: For Your Life Crops & the very fabulous (and now unavailable) Run: Essential Jacket. Rain usually means a sweaty, humid run for me so I don’t like to layer it up too much under my jacket. The hat is so key for me because nothing spoils a run like problems with my contact lenses.  Also, braids for the win!

#3. Plan on getting wet. Sounds silly, right? But, if you need to be back at your desk 5 minutes after your run and you have nowhere to shower and towel off, you probably want to save your run for a time when you can. This goes for your shoes, too. Probably not a day for a double-down in the gym after your soggy, beautiful run because they will look like this:


Sopping. Soggy. Wet. Dirty. Basically unwearable. Dry overnight.

#4. Treat it like a fun run. Don’t try and do a massive amount of speed work or some crazy mileage on a rainy day. Go out, do your best, get ‘er done and all that, but keep it light and don’t expect too much. Dodging umbrellas on 5th Avenue always slows me down, but if I plan for it, it’s not nearly as aggravating.

#5. Just do it, already! Commit. Don’t complain. Don’t procrastinate. Get out there and run. Running in the rain is akin to reliving childhood moments so enjoy it!

Now go out and run!