Three Tips to Improve Your Running

The weather is finally warming up and it’s that time that my legs are starting to itch to do a fast race!  (I’d hoped I’d get that out of my system last weekend, but no dice.  I may be looking for a new 5K to do next rest weekend).  The Ironman training I’m doing is something that is long and slow, so those twitches don’t get flushed out from a fast race, they get pummeled from just the constant effort I’m putting into training.

1. Run Fast
Do some fast running to get faster!  However you spin it, there are a few types of faster running you should do.  Tempo Runs are faster than easy, but done at a relatively steady effort.  Someone explained this to me as a 10K effort that you might do for 4-5 miles after a thorough warm-up.  There’s also interval running, which you may think of as track work. But there’s more to interval runs.  They can be formal and structured, like 8×400 at a certain pace with a specific rest interval, or you can do them less structured in a “fartlek” workout.  Fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”) is the idea of “run fast to the light post up there, then slower. Then fast again.” But your coach is probably not putting it on yoru schedule strict.

PR70.3 Finish

2. Run Slow
But you also have to run slow to get faster.  If you are constantly pushing yourself, then you are going to push yourself into a state of fatigue. And that’s not good for a fast race.  So give yourself enough time to recover from those faster workouts.  That doesn’t (just) mean sitting on your butt watching TV.  You should also be putting in easy miles for your running.  Some people say up to 80%

3. Do things other than Running
One of the biggest keys to my running improvements is doing things other than running. Whether this is strength work or cross-training, it’s important to make sure you are moving more than just running.  I’ve done strength work in the form of personal training that helps, and I accredit my current streak of no training injuries to my balance of swim/bike/run and strength work.

Strength Work at e-FitStrength work at e-Fit, the fitness studio Kim works at!

If you’re looking for a smaller race in the Chicago area to bust out a new PR, you may want to look into the Run for Vets 5K, hosted by Capitol Nutrition on June 6.  That’s about 4 weeks out, so just enough time to put in a decent effort at improving your speed from where you are today.


The race benefits the Pets for Vets charity, an organization dedicated to raise awareness and funds for helping military veterans heal emotional wounds by pairing them up with a shelter dog.  The great thing about this event is that it helps two different groups-shelter dogs and veterans.  You can register for the 5K here! It’s located in Orland Park, on the south suburbs of Chicago.

I’m linking up with Tri Talk Tuesdays (Cynthia from You Signed Up for What?!, Courtney at The TriGirl Chronicles, and Phaedra at Blisters and Black Toenails), and with Erika, Patty and April for Tuesdays on the Run!

Have a great Tuesday! 

Ironman Wisconsin Training Update – 19 Weeks to Go!

Wow… where does time fly?! I feel like just yesterday I was starting my IMOO training with a new group of people. But in reality that was 3 months, one vacation and one job ago!  Here’s what I’ve been up to the past two weeks:

Week 21 (4/20-26) – Step Back Week:

  • Monday: 30 minute swim
  • Tuesday: AM Masters Swim and PM Run Clinic – Coach Liz took us out to the lakefront for a run workout.  We went over running drills, did a quick run analysis, and did a hill workout. Tough! 
  • Wednesday: Run & Computrainer
  • Thursday:  AM Masters Swim.  Bike Trainer then CTC Lacrosse Ball Clinic.  Edge Athlete Lounge hosted a lacrosse ball clinic for the tri club.  I was surprised to learn how I can help improve recovery with such a simple tool!
  • Saturday:  Computrainer ride.  It was only 90 minutes so I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting out of the city.
  • Sunday:  Ravenswood Run 5K and 1 hour bike commuting to/from race.

Week 20 (4/27-5/3):

  • Monday: failed swim.  I got to the pool with all my stuff EXCEPT MY SWIMSUIT.  I had dinner plans with others, so there wasn’t enough time to go home, get suit and go back to pool.
  • Tuesday: Computrainer & Transition Run
  • Wednesday: Computrainer.  I failed to do my EZ Run – too tired in the afternoon. Napped instead. Evening plans derailed a night-time run.
  • Thursday:  Swim & Run.  More t-shirt swimming to build strength! 
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday:  1 hour EZ Ride with CTC Newbies.  1:40 Long Run.  1 hour recovery in boots & ice baths.
  • Sunday:  Long Ride with Live Grit.

Mike & Emma at WindowStory behind this photo:  Every time I come home, Emma the cat is at the bedroom window, meowing and greeting us.  Apparently on Saturday afternoon Mike decided to greet me as well as I pulled into the driveway!  

Week 21 Total Training Time = 7.5 hours

  • Swim = 2 hours & 6000 yards
  • Bike = 4 hours (no outdoor long ride)
  • Run = 1.5 hours & 9 miles
  • Strength Training/Cross Training/Active Recovery = 1 hour

Week 20 Total Training Time = 10.3 hours

  • Swim = 40 minutes & 1950 yards —> need to increase time in pool! 
  • Bike = 6.75 hours & 45 mile long ride
  • Run = 3 hours & 13.4 miles
  • Strength Training/Cross Training/Active Recovery = 1 hour
  • Next Race:  Leon’s Triathlon – June 7

How’s your training coming along? What’s your next race? 

21 Weeks to Ironman Wisconsin!

Who else had fun watching the Boston Marathon online today?  I had a lot of fun… usually I forget it’s going on or have a crazy work day planned, but today was nice and chill – no meetings at all!

I had the most glorious ride outside on Saturday. It was pretty much perfect (apart from when I decided to “just ride” – exactly what coach told us NOT to do!).  Beautiful weather – not to hot or cold, sunny, and great company with my friends Carolyn & Katie!
Coeur Riding Selfie

post ride selfie!


Here were the workouts that I did do this week:

  • Monday: easy swim (coming off the allergies/cold)
  • Tuesday: run & computrainer – I started feeling the itchy/congestion again when running outside. My computrainer ride was great for about 30 minutes, then I just fizzled.  So much for power intervals! 
  • Wednesday: Easy run – 35 minutes
  • Thursday:  Swim!  We swam with our t-shirts on to build strength. It was challenging and fun! 
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday:  2:50 outdoor ride in Barrington Hills & 20 minute transition run.  So much fun!  

Barrington Ride with Lauren Runs

  • Sunday: Masters Swim & Long Run.  My swim was awesome. I loved the leisureness of a Sunday morning swim, no rush to get out of the pool to get ready for work or cuz it’s closing time.  I did struggle in how to then get going running. I’d meant to run right afterward, but chose the leisurely Sunday route instead.  Run was OK; it was raining most of the time so I got cold quickly and cut the run shorter than planned. 

Soggy Post-Run Selfie

Total Training Time = 9.67 hours

  • Swim = 2.25 hours & 6900 yards
  • Bike = 4.25 hours & 42 miles (outdoors)
  • Run = 3 hours & 15 miles
  • Strength Training/Cross Training = 0 hour
  • Next Race:  Ravenswood Run 5K

Overall it’s been a good week.  Today starts a rest week, so I’m going to rock it, and then gear up for the next round of training!

I’m linking up with Katie for Marvelous in my Monday, and Tara for the Weekend Update.  Happy Monday!

weekend update MiMM

Metabolic Efficiency Training

One philosophy on nutrition and weight management that I’ve been exploring recently is Metabolic Efficiency. What is it? The idea in a very catchy way is to train your body to be as metabolically efficient as possible. That means that you are burning mostly fat, and that you can do a lot of your athletic training and racing using your own “fat for fuel” instead of burning carbs.  Here is a helpful presentation on the theories behind metabolic efficiency. As someone with a history of GI issues when racing, this is an attractive idea to me. In athletics, the concept is that the fewer calories you need to consume in order to get through your race, the less likelihood of GI distress.



I reached out to Robyn Lalonde of Edge Athlete Lounge who is a certified metabolic efficiency training specialist to get a sense of what it would take for me to become metabolically efficient. I kept a food log for her (both photos and written logging) and also shared what my race nutrition strategy currently is for a half ironman race. (Quick background: in 2013 I used primarily Hammer perpetuem for my half ironman, and last year focused on using the products out on the Ironman course. I didn’t have the greatest time digestively, so I am using Hammer products again).

Spinach & Artichoke Muffins HTPThese are some really good, metabolically efficient muffins. I should make them again.


I learned that in general, I’m doing OK. A few pointers that I was given were:

1. Always have a snack before an early workout. I had been just having coffee prior to a 5:45 AM workout, and need to have a small snack before hand.
2. Reduce Grains. Robyn recommended I start by eliminating grains at breakfast, and then eliminating/cutting down at dinner too.
3. Focus on Fiber at breakfast. I’ve easily added in berries (uh, where did the monster container go? in the trash? ). I need to work more at adding in spinach or veggies as well!

Since I’m focused on getting to a leaner body composition/lower weight, I am working more in-depth with Robyn to keep me on track and to guide me toward eating to fuel my training and achieve my key goals: weight loss & training/racing without digestive issues. I’ll keep you updated as I continue on this journey!

I’m linking up with Jenn for What I Ate Wednesday!

How to Pick a Training Program that Works for You

Its springtime, and that means many of us runners are off working toward our big running goals of the year!  My big run goal is to actually RUN my marathon during Ironman Wisconsin, not just walk most of it! Thanks to ErikaPatty and April and others for hosting Tuesdays on the Run!
One thing that’s evolved for me as I grow as an athlete is how I select a training program that helps me meet my goal.
My goals have changed over the years, from running a half marathon, to running a marathon, to doing a triathlon, and now onto my second Ironman!
When I think about how to pick a training program, here are the three key questions I would ask myself:
  1. What’s your schedule like?  How does this mesh with the schedule for the group?
  2. Group involvement? How much group involvement do you want?
  3. What’s your weakness?  Knowledge, bike skill, swim, etc…
The first time around, I just needed to find a running group.  I was looking to do a half marathon in the late fall/early winter, and wanted to meet people.  I found Chicago Endurance Sports (CES) and CARA.
 When I looked into them in more detail, I saw that while the groups were similar (train for a winter half marathon), CES had a more convenient location for me. And was a little less expensive. So with CES I went – and was pretty happy with them for the running groups I participated in!
I did my first training group for triathlon with CES, mostly because I knew them and liked them.  Unfortunately the training group for triathlon didn’t have quite the same impression on me as i didn’t get to know many other people also doing training. It felt a little more cliquey to me. Not so cool.
I did my next year training on my own, with basic guidance from the Chicago Tri Club. I loved that the CTC brings athletes together for group workouts, but you’re on your own for the training outside of their Newbie sprint training plan. So I’d meet up with other people doing group rides or open water swims, but follow my own training plan I’d found off the internet to train for my olympic triathlon that year. Many of my friends today are from the Chicago Tri Club!
When I decided to embark upon a half ironman, I knew I wanted a coach to guide my training. I considered a few training facilities in the area, made a spreadsheet based on costs, what was included, and more. I went with FFC’s Trimonsters as I really liked the idea of a very flexible training. I could go to any swim or bike session I wanted, but only one per week.  (They have now set up an unlimited option where you pay a monthly fee to have unlimited access to computrainer, swim classes & HIIT classes).  While it was a good program, I missed out on having a cohort focused on my particular race, as the “tuesday night” group was a mix of people training for all sorts of things.
Training Peaks
A number of training groups use Training Peaks to push their workouts to athletes.  The goal is to make all the boxes turn green!
When I decided to train for Ironman, I decided to look at other training groups.  I took the approach of looking at people who were at my fitness level who had been successful at completing IMWI.  (Sadly I had been a little freaked out by one person who had not finished IMWI in the seventeen hours from the FFC group the year prior to my Ironman. I know it’s an anomaly, but I felt like she and I had been similar enough in speed and fitness that year, and I wanted a guarantee that I’d finish. I also wanted a specific coach to answer my questions).  I focused my decision making primarily on Wellfit & Vision Quest.  I’d actually been pretty close to signing up for Vision Quest, with unlimited computrainer and personal coaching, when I won a group training plan from Well-fit for my volunteer efforts with the Chicago Tri Club.  (Yay – free training!)  So I went with Well-fit and joined as a member to ensure I had full access to their training facilities.
I’ve been incredibly impressed with Wellfit and the coaching there.  All of the coaches, whether they are my Ironman coaches or not, are incredibly supportive and helpful.  I love being a part of a community that is dedicated to working hard and pursuing our goals.
Dates Steps Actions
What other considerations should you have when picking out a training program? Newbies, what questions do you have?