Getting High

I’ve been away and loving life for a little bit. Being off from school and free from many of they day-to-day stresses of “normal” life has offered me the opportunity to take really good care of myself and spend time with people I love.

JB and I were lucky enough to spend some time at the Obi-wans’ house in Colorado with some of my siblings. It was a ball and included waking up to a little angel every morning.

Nope. It sure doesn’t get any better.

Fortunately/Unfortunately, being in beautiful Colorado also means running at a mile above sea level. The air is thinner and every run felt like a death march.

Breathtaking. Literally.

Breathtaking. Literally.

I love running back home where there are trails and paths and great, safe places to run all over Colorado. Everyone–I mean EVERYONE, says “good morning” or head nods and traffic actually stops for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Which is good because I’m pretty sure if anything at all had made me stop I would have sat down and given up on every run.

Because there is less oxygen in the air, my blood became more viscous (thicker) and was operating on less “fuel” per breath = I got tired a whole lot faster than I normally do at sea level.

So, what’s a girl (or guy!) to do when getting all “Rocky Mountain hiiiiiiiigh, Coloradooooo” while training?

  1. Bring fluids everywhere. You can get severely dehydrated at altitude in a flash. Even my 6-milers required water. Do it.
  2. Don’t look at your watch.
  3. Try cross-training in addition to your run if you’re really itching for more of a workout.
  4. Run slower. Run shorter. Your body will not function the same at 5280ft. so don’t expect it to. It’s maybe not the time to do your longest run of the season.
  5. Plan runs when the sun is low. You are 5280ft. closer to that burning ball of fire and will get burned/dehydrated much faster. Also, sunscreen.
This is one of those times to just enjoy the run.

This is one of those times to just enjoy the run.

The longest I ended up running in a single stretch was 9 miles. And I was totally spent by the end of it. Good thing I had someone to give me a hug when I got back.

Peanut hugs are the best kind.

Peanut hugs are the best kind.

You can totally keep your training up while traveling above sea level, but be mindful that your body is working much harder up there than it does down here. And if you feel any of the symptoms of altitude sickness, seek medical attention immediately. It’s no joke.

Enjoy the run when you’re up in the mountains. And don’t miss out on those little person hugs. They’re worth more than any finisher’s medal at any marathon in the world.

Now go out and run.

Training Cycles & The Streak Recap

Happy 2012, everyone! I’m going to pretend that today is Monday and do yet another BTAT post on a Wednesday. My days are all screwed up. I just landed in NYC after flying the red eye to Boston and connecting to JFK. Needless to say, I am a little wonky. So, it’s Monday. Can we all agree on that just for a few minutes? Thanks.

How was your New Years? Did you live it up out on the town or did you do a midnight run/New Year’s day run? Me, I spent my New Year’s Eve with my sweet baby niece and Blondie.

Happy New Year!

So much fun. We were in bed by 10pm MST. Party animals. At least we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning for the last day of The Streak!

Angel baby is pumped for the last day of The Streak! One day, we'll be Streaking together.

I loved The Streak. It was fun and motivating and just what I needed post-marathon. Some of my favorite Streaker moments:

  • Running across town in my flip-flops to get my Streak in and get to CPR class and then go to a birthday party. Phew!
  • Mid-afternoon runs on the East River.

I love a speedy run along the East River!

  • Running to and from all of my subway stops because I didn’t have time to do a proper mile.
  • Cool runs home through Midtown at 7pm, dodging pedestrians.
  • Pre-dawn Central Park 7-miler that made me feel speedy again.

Sunrise over the Great Lawn

  • Streaking over Christmas in Colorado at my parents’ house and hearing them say, “OK, go Streak, Abby!” Hilarious.

Streaker in action on vacation

All in all, Streaking was fun. It was cool to hear about other people jumping on the Streak and how they managed to get their miles in. Did you Streak? What was your experience?

As much fun as I had, I’m glad that The Streak is over. It’s time to cycle down, cut back on mileage and cross train. This is what the pros do, too. I mean, I’m no pro, but this is still what they do. And if you’re racing/running marathons (especially if it’s more than one a year), you should be doing this, too!

Following a marathon, rest is key for recovery. But you don’t want to jump back into high mileage right away. You want to cycle through your training seasons in order to benefit as much from your strength training as you do from your distance training.

Yeah, lifting the serious weight! 15 pounds, baby! (What? You thought the 85s were mine? Ummm, no...)

Here’s what I suggest:

  • Two marathons a year, three max.
  • Two weeks low mileage immediately following marathon.
  • Two weeks building back up to 8-10 mile long runs, slowly adding some tempo runs during the week.

From then on out, it’s all about short, speedy runs and cross-training. Keep the mileage relatively low and taper down to three runs a week with one to two other cardio days that are “off” your legs (cycling, swimming, etc.). This is the time to drop some weight via weight training!!! Want to lose 5-10 pounds before your next marathon? Here’s your chance!

Why?

Well, with the low mileage, you can cut back on your calories without worrying about having enough fuel to get through a 3-hour run. Also, you can throw your focus into strength training and do some serious anaerobic workouts that will blast the calories AND make you a stronger runner for your next race.

Regardless of what sort of athlete you think of yourself as, you cannot live on running alone. Get into something new NOW before the spring marathons are upon us. Enter some shorter distance races and work on being a speed demon for a few months. It’s an especially good time since many of us will find ourselves on the treadmill during cold/wintry days and speed workouts are perfect for the treadmill.

Be a pro. Cycle like the best of them. Get speedier. Get stronger.

Now go out and run!

 

 

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: R & R

I am loving every single minute of our vacation. It has been stress-free, laid-back and full of fun times with the family. That is why I am not going to get all crazy about not having time to blog yesterday.

First off, JB and I had an adventure in Estes Park. We drove the long way up into the mountains, where JB has never been, to show him how beautiful my Rocky Mountains are.

Hello, gorgeous!

Estes Park is about an hour West of Denver and we love a drive. Since we took the long way, we went past lots of ranches and open fields.

MOOOOO!!! COW!!! MOOOOOO!!!

Estes Park is just beautiful, but it has a scary little secret…

The Stanley Hotel (aka the hotel from "The Shining")

Ok, so it’s not scary at all, but The Stanley Hotel is totally cool and has old-world charm in every nook and cranny of its buildings.

Warm and cozy. No scary twin girls here.

I am quite partial to the view just outside the main doors.

Breathtaking mountains.

And this time, we had some friends join us–very close to the hotel!

ELK! You know, just hanging out. Grazing.

We had lunch and walked along the creek. It was our first real date in a while and we had just the loveliest day for it. We had such a great day. “But what the heck, Abby?” you might be saying, “You had all evening to write and post your blog.”

Well, my hands were a little full.

Drool monster.

I think you're just the right size for my carry-on bag.

Blog or cuddle with my sweet baby niece? Priorities, people.

I mean, you get it now, right? I was like, “Blog? What blog? Look at my niece!”

And this is actually what this week’s BTAT is all about: R & R.

Sometimes life just gets to be too much and you need a little (or a lot) R & R. For me, I don’t often realize how badly I need the R & R until I settle down and start to relax and I feel an enormous weight lifted off of me.

Holidays aren’t always the best time to expect R & R. In fact, between traveling and staying in unfamiliar places, holidays can often add to your already stressful life. Fortunately for us, visiting Colorado has been just the respite from life that we needed. No worries, no running around, no work to rush off to. Just us and family and the beautiful state of Colorado.

R & R is important. Physically, it allows your body to repair itself. Sleepless nights, 18-hour days (often sitting in front of a computer), schlepping to and fro all day long. These things beat you down. Emotionally and mentally, R & R allows you to gather yourself and take a step back from that ledge you constantly feel you’re teetering on. You get your footing and take a breath.

That breath for me was the cool, clean mountain air of Estes Park and the giggles of my sweet baby niece.

City girl or mountain girl? Ahhh, a little of both!

But it could just mean a stay-cation or a lunch date with a friend or a quiet drive on a beautiful day. R & R reminds us that there is life outside our apartments/houses/office buildings. There are beautiful things happening in the world, but we have to stop in order to see them.

When you do, wow, it is totally what makes today and every day that we are here way Better Than the Alternative.

Take a day. Take a breath. Let the world go on turning without you. I promise it will be there when you come back.

Now go out and run!