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A Few Questions Answered

A Few Questions Answered
A Few Questions Answered

Hello there! In the last few weeks I’ve had several emails and Facebook messages with running related questions so I thought I would answer some of these here.  Most of them have been asked on more than one occasion and in the almost 5 years I’ve kept this running blog I’ve never had a post dedicated to answering questions so I figured it was time.  I do not claim to be an expert so please take it for what it’s worth- which might not be much… I will warn you that these are in no particular order and may be random!

1.  How do you financially afford to run so many races a year? (without putting economic strain on family…)

It’s no secret that I love to race often (20+ races in 2013?) but I definitely look for ways to save money when I can.  Most of my races are local (within and hour or so from my house) so they do not involve a lot of travel fees (gas/ hotels).  I almost always register early (before the price increase) and when possible I join with a team so I can get the group/ family rate.  When travel is involved I sometimes carpool (with other friends running in the same race) and stay with a family or friend (instead of hotel) if that is an option.  I really try to limit the number of big expenditure races I do a year.  Last year my “big” race was Boston.  The airfare, hotel and race registration alone was… a lot.  While it was an amazing experience I know this is not something I will be doing every year.  This year I only have one race that involves plane travel but I am staying with family so at least hotel isn’t an issue.  * I will also mention that some races offer comped elite entries and sometimes on rare occasions my times make the cut.  In 2012 when I first heard about making one of these “slower” elite qualifying standards I used it as my goal to help motivate me.  I wanted to earn an elite entry.  For example, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon has a sub 3:10 marathon elite qualifying standard.  Others have sub 3:05 or sub 3 hour marathon comped entry.  Some are more strict and I’m not even close.  The marathon I’m doing in May has an elite qualifying standard for women of 2:45 or faster.  Obviously I’m not getting a comped entry into that one any time soon! 

2. How you do fuel before, during and after a run?
I will tell you what works for me but I know everyone has different issues so it’s important to find what works for you.  Before: Typically I run first thing in the morning and I just drink a little water before I start.  I don’t eat anything or fuel during a run if it’s less than 12 miles.  I used to eat a banana before every run no matter how far I was going but I guess in the last year or so I only eat them before a race or before a long run.  During: I like to have access to water for any run more than 8 miles- especially in the summer weather.  I don’t like to carry water but sometimes I’ll carry it to set it down and hide it at a certain mile location, etc.  Or I make sure there is water along my route.  (I know where the water fountain is at Walgreen’s, Harp’s grocery store, the Dollar General, etc.) For long runs I use gu or shot bloks.  I never carry my own water in a marathon.  I just rotate between water/ Gatorade that is provided.  After: Right after a run I have water.  As soon as I get home about 90% of the time I make a protein smoothie.  The exception is if I am in a hurry and in that case I just grab a banana.

My most common post workout meal is this smoothie: one scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder, 1 banana, 5-6 partially thawed strawberries, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/3 cup milk, 1 T. chia seeds

3. How do you work on your core strength?
This is an area I know I have a lot of room for improvement.  I do have a core routine streak going that is simple and works for me.  Basically I start with 101 push-ups.  (I do a combination of boy and girl push-ups depending on how challenging I want to make it.) Once I get to 101 I start some ab work.  I do 15 leg drops, 15 reverse crunches, 15 regular crunches and I do this ab routine (these 3 exercises) 3 times each.  Then I finish up with a plank ranging from 1-3 minutes.  Again, this is very simple but it’s doable for me so I like it.

Planking is a big part of my core routine

4.  What has helped your race times improve over the last year?
I actually wrote a whole post on this a few months ago entitled, “Running to Improve vs. Just Running.”  But here’s the gist of it:  I run more (but not overboard- it’s important to find the mileage that works for your body), added in speed work, run my easy days easy, I race more, I run my pace, and I keep trying.


 5.  What kind of watch do you wear?
I wear a Garmin Forerunner 405. (Without a heart rate monitor.)  I’m actually on my second.  I bought my first for around $185 new and it lasted 2.5 years which I thought was pretty good considering how often I wore it.  In December the handle completely broke off and I didn’t want to mess with duct taping it.  I looked into other watches but I didn’t want to spend a ton.  I really liked this watch because I already knew the features and how to use it.  I ended up buying the same model- just refurbished on online for $135.  It has a one year warranty through Garmin which made me feel better about it.  It arrived looking brand new and works great.  I haven’t had any issues with it.

My first race with my new 405 was the 3 Bridges Marathon

6.  Did you breastfeed?  If so, did running affect your milk supply?
Yes, I nursed all of my babies. With my first two I went to 13 months and my last two I went to 18 months. It was such a special time and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I honestly can’t say that it ever affected my milk supply.  I know some women question whether it changes their milk quality or taste. My babies never seemed to mind. I would nurse them right before I left for a run and immediately when I got home (after a shower if possible).  I was running a lot with Ashton (my last one) but I was pretty good about staying hydrated. I drank water throughout the day and I made sure I was getting plenty of calories.   I had a really good milk supply- and it got better with each child. My babies were all fast eaters which meant they ate more often so that might have kept my supply going strong. If you think your milk supply is going down a little the best thing to do is add in a feeding. Staying well hydrated will also help.  I wrote about some of my challenges with marathon training and a newborn in this post.  The half marathon I did when Ashton was 7 weeks old will always be one of my favorite races but I almost missed the start because I was feeding Ashton.  He wasn’t taking a bottle and I was worried about being away from him for 2 hours.  It is definitely more challenging the younger they are (and more often they nurse.)

We had a little post race meal at IHOP. 

I remember running in the Houston Marathon after Ashton had just turned one and my milk let down around mile 10. I just held my hands to my chest for a few seconds to stop the let down and kept going.  I just thought to myself, “I guess I’m hydrated enough…”

Houston Marathon in Jan. 2012
sweaty kisses!

Having a nursing baby while training definitely adds a challenge to the mix but it can be done. Timing is everything.  Seriously- it is!  Often I left early to run which meant waking up an additional 20-30 minutes early to nurse a sleeping baby.  Usually they would sleep through so I could lay them back down to sleep and then I would run.   As they got older it got much easier. Especially once they started solids.  I wrote about weaning in this post.   Michele (NYC Running Mama) has written a few great posts about endurance training and nursing so if you are in this situation I would definitely check them out!

7.  What kind of treadmill do you use?
We actually don’t have a treadmill at our house.  I have a membership to our local Anytime Fitness (less than $20 a month) and use the treadmill there.

8.  How do you train with four kids?
I get this question a lot.  The bottom line is that I make time because it is important to me.  It is not easy and I have to be flexible.  My husband is also extremely helpful.  My schedule varies often because of my family (and they come first) but typically I run in the morning.  My long runs are usually on Saturdays.

9.  What marathon training guide do you use?
I am currently using a coach but for years I followed various plans in Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger.  I would make adjustments as needed based on my own schedule and how I was feeling.

10. What shoes do you wear?
For the last two years or so I have been wearing Brooks.  I do most of my training runs with Brooks Ravenna and race and do speed work in Brooks Cadence.  For years before I wore Brooks I wore the Asics Gel Nimbus.  Those are great too. 

I hope I’ve answered most of the questions but if there is still something you want to know feel free to leave a question in the comment or email me at: arkansasrunnermom@gmail.com.

In other news… 12 days until the Little Rock Half Marathon! It feels a little strange not to be gearing up for the full but I know it’s for the best.  Training is going well.  I had one really off day last week doing my 1k’s (those things are HARD!) but I think I was just tired and had a cold.  Other than that I am feeling good and trying to stay positive.  I want this race to be a good experience.  I don’t want to feel like I’m just running through the motions like my last race

Anyone else running Little Rock?

Let me know!! 🙂

22 Comments

    1. Hi Denae! Yes, an 8 month-old will be much more doable. Training will have its challenges but you should definitely be able to manage a long stretch. I know there is a lot of waiting before the race so maybe you could bring a hand pump (and dump) and check it before the race starts so you are not full?? I guess it depends on how often you are nursing but you could definitely do it. 🙂 Good luck!

  1. This was super informative! I love how you always share all your info so I can pick your brain for training secrets. My Garmin 305 is questionable lately and I’m wondering if I should get another 305, which I’m used to, or move up to the 405? A benefit of the 305 is that it has big numbers and I’m blind as a bat 🙂

    1. I have mine rotate between the smaller screen with more fields and another screen with large font and only one field. That screen shows my overall average which is handy in a race.

  2. I never had any problem nursing while exercising either. I figure that if you keep drinking enough and the baby is feeding regularly your supply will continue without issue.

    1. I think it’s just another name for leg raises. Basically just lifting them up while you’re lying on the ground and putting them down. I’m sure you’ve done those. 🙂

  3. Love this, definitely some great info. I’m thinking again about the running while breast feeding thing this time around. With L, it did seem to affect my supply but I’m going to be armed with all the tricks and tips this time!

    1. I am not aventuresome when it comes to smoothies. I started making this one at least 2 years ago and love it so I just keep doing it. Never get sick of it.

    1. Thanks Becky. I actually did this routine (minus the planks) everyday for about 1.5 years. Then for a year it was 3-5 days a week and slowly fizzled out at the end of 2013 while I got really wrapped up in marathon training. I started again on Jan. 1 doing it everyday. This time I added in planks too. I know there are benefits to switching up routines and sometimes I do go to the gym and change up the exercises but usually I do this one since I can do it at home.

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