WHW: Mixing It Up.

You know those people who decide to try something new/visit a new place/take up a new hobby and literally spend hours reading about it, researching it and planning it out before they start? Yeah…that’s me. When I first started running, I spent hours reading articles on RunnersWorld.com, stalking running blogs and printing out beginner’s training plans. That’s just how I am. When I say I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it well.

source

During that early “research” period, I read articles/blog posts about the difficulty runners have with cross-training. They know they should do it, but can’t find the time because all they do is run. I just knew that would never be me. I wanted to become a runner, but I just couldn’t see myself running 6 days a week and doing nothing else. Here I am, 13 months later and I run 5 days a week and squeeze in a yoga or Pilates class maybe twice. All I ever want to do is run. I love yoga, Pilates and Zumba, but somehow running always wins out.

But after two weeks of no weight loss (no weight gain either!) and two runs during which random pains started up in my legs, I know it’s time to get serious about cross-training. Running has done amazing things for my cardiovascular fitness and my body has definitely gotten smaller, but I don’t really see any definition besides my calves. I’ve also noticed that my core is still extremely weak and let’s not even talk about my upper body. Nothing has changed since Middle School when I could only do 1 pull-up. Except now I probably couldn’t even do one. If I want to become a well-rounded runner, and athlete, I have to start building strength.

 

I really don’t want to overdo it and run the risk of an injury or tiring my legs out too much during training for RnR USA, but I do want to make sure that I’m working my entire body and not just my legs. So the plan is to do at least 3 strength sessions each week (Pilates or a Tone It Up! workout). I’d like to do some other form of cardio as well, so I’m going to attend a Zumba class twice a week. (I know the elliptical would be good for me, but if I’m going to spend an hour on a machine, it’s gonna be a treadmill.) I’ve decided to save yoga for my rest days since it gives me a really great stretch but not enough strength work.

I’m hoping this plan will give my body the push it needs to get through this plateau and will enhance my half-marathon training. I’m going to start scheduling my cross-training the way I schedule my runs so I won’t be tempted to skip them. I know that once I get into the habit of going, I’ll love it and won’t want to stop. I’m breaking the curse of the running-only runner one Zumba class at a time!

How do you work cross-training into your schedule and how has it improved your running?

Advertisements

Let’s Recap: Week Two.

Week 2 of RnR USA Half training wasn’t as great as week 1. I didn’t run as many days as I had planned to, overslept for TWO group runs and I definitely didn’t do enough cross-training. Thank goodness I’m finally finished with finals tomorrow (!) and I’ll have time to get back on track.

Monday, 12/12/11 – Rest

I had plans to go to my second Power Yoga class at the gym, but I woke up with a terrible sore throat and stuffy nose. I probably could’ve pushed through it, but I figured a complete rest day wouldn’t hurt either.

Tuesday, 12/13/11 – 1.79 miles in 21:01 (11:42 avg. pace)

Tuesday morning I woke up planning to hit the gym right after my 2pm final (law school finals are usually 3 hours long) to do 35 minutes on the treadmill followed by an hour long Pilates class. Turns out we only had 1.5 hours to take the exam and I only needed 40 minutes. I was back at home by 3:30 watching the end of Crazy, Stupid, Love in bed. I took advantage of my free time and didn’t get to the gym until a little before 6 leaving me with 20 minutes of run time before my class. The Cardio Cinema was full so I grabbed my iPad and turned on Sex and the City 2 to entertain me. I started at 4.8mph, but pushed it up to 5.0 for the last 10 minutes so I wouldn’t feel so guilty for skipping 15 minutes of my run. p.s. Watching movies on the treadmill is the greatest idea ever and I want to hug whoever thought of it.

Wednesday, 12/14/11 – Track Workout: 6 x 400 at 9:30 avg. pace (2.24 miles total including rest periods)

I skipped last week’s track workout to attend a Con Law final review (which I ultimately skipped too) and the excessive rainfall. I was really nervous about this workout because I’ve never done a structured speed workout before, but it wasn’t bad at all. We were instructed to do 4-6 quarters (1 lap) at 10k pace. I didn’t know what pace to choose so I picked 10:00/mile. It seemed comfortably hard to me and I knew I could sustain it easily for a lap. I started each lap at a 10:00 pace, but couldn’t stop myself from speeding up. At some points I was running as fast as 8:35/mile and each lap ended up between a 9:19 and a 9:45 pace. Oops. Next week, I’ll focus on running much slower than I feel I should at the beginning of the lap and trying not to speed up too much.

Thursday, 12/15/11 – 2.45 miles in 30 minutes (12:15 avg. pace)

An off day. Didn’t want to run at all, but I forced myself into the basement and onto the treadmill. Had really tight calves for the first half of the run, but otherwise my body felt great. I just couldn’t get my mind into it. I started at 4.8 for mile 1 then pushed it up to 5.0 for mile 2 and then accelerated my speed by .1 every minute for the last 5 minutes. I was so frustrated after all that when I looked down and my garmin said I was only at 2.45 miles. I still don’t trust that foot pod. My Nike+ app said I did 2.53, but I always go with whichever one is lower just in case.

Friday, 12/16/11 – Rest

Saturday, 12/17/11- 6.01 miles in 1:12:16 (12:02 avg. pace)

I overslept for my =PR= group run on Saturday. I went to bed Friday night with a terrible toothache (who even gets those anymore?) and woke up 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. I thought about rushing to get there, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to run well, so I decided to put it off until later in the day. It would be a welcome study break.

It was so gloomy and cold outside that I put the run off until 3pm when the sun came out for a split second. I was about 10 seconds from driving to the gym and doing it on the treadmill, but I told myself that my lungs needed the fresh air and my legs needed the extra work on the roads. Miles 1-3 were great. I felt great and my breathing was relaxed. And then I got to the turnaround point. I blame the geese who had pooped all over the sidewalk and made me hop around for the first 2 minutes of mile 4 because after this point, my legs decided to die on me. The sides of my feet started throbbing (does anyone know why this happens?), my ankles started hurting, I felt a little shin splint coming on in one of my legs (can’t even remember which one it was now) and BOTH knees started hurting. I guess I’ve been loving the treadmill a little too much lately. I finished without any walking (besides the pauses at stoplights) and I even sped up to 11:48/mile for the last mile when I was so tired I could barely see straight. I’m happy I finished, but I’m really hoping that next week’s 7-miler is much better. I definitely won’t be missing any more group runs! Lesson learned.

Sunday, 12/18/11 – Unplanned Rest

I stayed up late studying on Saturday and when I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I went to bed. 2 hours later, I was still tossing and turning trying to will myself to sleep. Needless to say, I overslept for run club this morning. I was so mad and thought about going late, but an extra hour of sleep won that battle. It ended up being a Sunday Bumday and I was ok with that.

Totals –

miles this week :: 12.49

miles this month :: 46.74

miles this year :: 315.04

What’s Happening Wednesday: Resolutions.

We’re a little under 3 weeks away from 2012 which means most people are already planning their New Year’s Resolutions. For some, those resolutions might have to do with goals they have for their lives: get into grad school, become more organized, etc. For others, many others, those resolutions are health and fitness related. (In the Pilates class at my gym, we all keep joking about how we should enjoy the space now because come January, our mats will be on top of each other.)

I’m really hoping that some of my readers are planning to become runners in 2012 and today I want to encourage you to start now! I’ve never had any luck with resolutions. I always start them and give up by February 1st. But running was different. I started running in November 2011, and I’m still running 13 months later with no plans to stop. Ever. I think that starting early gives you the momentum you need to keep it going after the New Year has come and gone. Here are a few simple tips to get you going…

1. Purchase a good pair of running shoes.

Please please please. If you never listen to anything else I say, hear this: go to a running store and get fitted for the right running shoes for your foot. At a good running store (try Potomac River Running if you live in NoVa), they’ll put you in a neutral pair of shoes and have you run on a treadmill while they analyze your gait. I had lots of IT band pain before I did this, but ever since I purchased the right shoe for my foot (Asics GT-2160), I haven’t had any injuries or pain. And here’s a tip: once you find the right shoe for you, stock up. I found 2 pairs of the 2160 on sale for $60 right after I bought my first pair and scooped them right up. When it was time to switch out my old shoes (which you should do every 2 months or so when you’re training), I didn’t have to worry about buying any.

2. Purchase key winter running items.

source

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on these items and you only need a few things. It’s quality over quantity when it comes to Winter running. I’d suggest purchasing a winter running jacket (wind and water resistant is a must), running tights (love my Nike tights!), running gloves (mine are from The North Face), one or two long-sleeve technical shirts (Nike and Lululemon make the best ones), and a hat or headband that covers your ears. I bought all of these items and have found that I’ve never been cold during a run and I actually enjoy running in the cold now. So weird.

3. Find a plan. 

source

You’ve heard the saying a thousand times: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I’m not saying that if you don’t follow a plan you’ll fail as a runner, but I do think that having one will make the process a lot easier to stick with. Often, new runners lace up their shoes, head outside and try to run as fast and as far as they can. Unless they’re already in shape, and sometimes even if they are, they’ll find that after a few minutes they’re gasping for air and stopping to walk. A program like C25k (which has an iPhone app now!) will ease your body into running and will help you gain endurance. If you don’t like C25k, try the Nike+ Coach’s Walk to Run program or try Hal Higdon’s 30/30 method. You can also try searching the Runner’s World website for articles/training plans geared toward beginners (which is what I did).

4. Take it easy.

source

As a beginner, you shouldn’t be running all out. I’m not a running coach or a fitness expert so I don’t know how to explain this scientifically or even eloquently, but I’m going to try. When I first started running, I would run hard during my run intervals and then walk superrrr slow during my walk intervals while I tried to catch my breath. I finally got to where I could run an entire mile, but I would have a cramp immediately after and would have to go back to my run/walk intervals for the remainder of the run. I was so frustrated because I wasn’t seeing enough progress. It wasn’t until I started running at an easy, conversational pace that I was able to run for longer periods of time. My body learned how to perform at that speed for more than just a few minutes and now I’m ready to teach it how to perform at higher speeds. If you want to grow as a runner, you have to start slowly. Focus on steadying your breath without walking, even if it means slowing way down. Trust me, it works. Try running with a friend. If you can’t finish a sentence without sounding like you’re running up stairs, you’re running too fast.

5. Enjoy the run.

So many people have told me that they want to run like me, but they just hate running. I used to hate running too. That was when I thought of it as a means to an end. Running was just a way to lose weight and get in shape. Now, running is a way to clear my mind. It’s a way to explore a new city. It’s a moment in life that belongs to only me. It gives new meaning and beauty to places and things I’ve seen a hundred times before. It makes room in my head for an epiphany. It has brought me a sense of pride and accomplishment I’ve never felt before. Burning 300 calories in 30 minutes…that’s just a bonus.

Don’t wait for January 1st. Start today. Start right now. Make yourself a runner.

Let’s Recap: Week One.

I made it through my first full week of half marathon training and I am so so so happy with the way it turned out!

Monday, 12/5/11 – Power Yoga (Vinyasa) for 1 hour

Went to my first flow yoga class. My legs were feeling really tired after the Hot Chocolate 15k and I needed a good stretch. This class gave me that plus a good sweat. I loved the challenge and can’t wait to go again. I also learned some great new stretches for my legs and hips.

Tuesday, 12/6/11 – 2.52 miles in 30:06 (11:56 avg. pace) + 1 hr Pilates class

One thing I love about my training schedule is that my weekly runs focus on time instead of distance. Over the last two weeks, I had some bad runs and races where I walked a little bit. I understand that this is a process and that will happen from time to time, but it was a definite confidence boost to hop on that treadmill and run for 30 minutes without stopping. I was tired, but I definitely could’ve kept going which is exactly how you’re supposed to feel after an easy run. I set the speed to 4.8mph which equals out to 12:30/mile, but my nike+ app says I ran 30 seconds faster than that. I felt pretty good and didn’t feel like my breathing was labored, but I’m going to wear my heart rate monitor next time to be sure that I’m keeping it easy.

After my run, I went to a Pilates Fundamentals class at my gym. I’ve been once before and loved it. The class was just what I needed. We did strength moves for our hips, legs, shoulders/arms and core. I felt challenged and sore but not to the point where my runs will suffer. I think Pilates and yoga will be the perfect cross-training for my training schedule (plus a Zumba class when I can fit it in). After the run and the class, my body felt amazing. If that’s not incentive to keep going, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, 12/7/11 – 3.77 miles in 45:04 (11:56 avg. pace)

Thanks to the rain this was another easy day. I headed to the gym and decided to try out the Cardio Cinema for the first time. Best decision of the day! They were playing Crazy, Stupid, Love which I’ve never seen so it was the perfect distraction from the dreadmill. I did 30 minutes easy followed by 6 thirty-second strides (2 at 6.0mph and 4 at 6.5mph) with 90 seconds rest in between (at 4.5mph). The strides were comfortably hard and I probably could’ve gone faster but I wanted to test things out, focus on keeping good form at a higher speed and finish feeling like I could’ve done more. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, 12/8/11 – 2.5 miles in 30:00 (12:00 avg. pace)

First outdoor run of the week. I wanted to do the track workout I missed on Wednesday (due to rain and a finals review), but it was better for my schedule to do a 30 minute easy run. My goal was to run for 30 minutes straight and to keep my pace as close to 12:00/mile as possible. Miles one and two were 12:12 and 12:11 respectively and when I saw that I was behind, I pushed it to 11:20/mile for the last half mile. I’m really happy with that time because not only was I able to stay close to what I can do on a flat treadmill, but I was also able to push it at the end when I was getting tired. I definitely felt this run more in my legs with the little rolling hills which was good. I needed to wake them up a little after an easy first half of the week.

Friday, 12/9/11 – Rest

Finals started on Friday and I thought about taking a yoga class before or after my first one, but I figured a day of complete rest would be fine too. My body is loving this recovery/base building week in my training schedule. It was exactly what I needed after a few heavy weeks training for the 10k and 15k.

Saturday, 12/10/11 – 5 miles in 1:02:08 (12:25 avg. pace)

This was possibly my best long run to date. It was my second group run with =PR= Distance Training Program, but since last week was a recovery run for most people (after running various races last weekend) it was really the first official long run. I brought headphones with me so that I wouldn’t get caught up running with other people and fail to keep an easy pace like I did last week. As much as I love having running partners, I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s enough to know that I’m a part of the group.

My goal was to stay as close to 12:30/mile as I could the entire time…

Mission accomplished! I started dragging a little bit during mile 4 from a combination of little hills and hunger, but I pushed through it and even sped up at the end. It’s amazing what scaling back can do for your running. I ran consistently this week, but I lowered my mileage/speed and my legs really appreciated it. I’m crossing my fingers that I feel this great throughout this entire training cycle!

Sunday, 12/11/11 – 3.55 miles in 43:35 (12:16 avg. pace)

Today was my first run ever with a run club. I joined Jessica from Pace of Me at her new Lululemon/Reston Pilates run club. I can’t say enough good things about it. We started with a short beginner’s Pilates class taught by Jessica’s sister, Jodi (and assisted by Jess!), before heading out to the W&OD trail for a 40 minute out and back run. We split into groups of runners, run/walkers and walkers. I decided to go with the run/walkers since I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with the runners. I ran the first 2 miles with a girl about my age and then ran/walked the last 1.5 with the sweetest lady who just started running and was having trouble running nonstop. I did a 3:1 run/walk interval with her and it reminded me so much of myself last year. When I told her we had hit 3 miles she got so excited and said “My husband will be so surprised!” Running with her couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed a reminder of how far I’ve come and a moment to be proud of that, before I really begin pushing myself in this training cycle. No matter what happens, I have finally become a runner and that’s all I wanted in the first place. I seriously cannot wait to go back next week!

Totals –

miles this week :: 17.34

miles this month :: 34.25

miles this year :: 302.55

Another Month, Another Training Cycle.

Sunday marked day 1 of my RnR USA half marathon training cycle. For the next 15 weeks, I’m dedicating myself to training like an athlete. Minimal late nights, eliminating junk food and alcohol (except special occasions like New Year’s…duh), supplementing my running with strength training and yoga, icing like it’s my second job and basically marrying my foam roller.

As this training cycle gets underway, I’ve been thinking about my goals for this race and I’ve been nervous about sharing them. I’ve seen other bloggers announce their goals and then feel horrible when they fail to accomplish them, but I’ve also seen it go the other way. I’ve chosen to share them because the support I receive through this blog is so important to me and I know I’ll need it throughout the next 4 months. Having people comment/tweet/text me saying I inspire them or telling me they’re proud of me far outweighs the embarrassment I may feel if things don’t go the way I want them to go. So here goes…

Original Goal:

Run the entire way (except water stations) and finish under 3 hours (22 minute PR).

Current Goal:

Finish in 2:45 (12:35 avg pace) which is a comfortable pace for me now, but I haven’t tried to maintain it for longer than 6 miles. (37 minute PR)

Ambitious Goal:

To finish in 2:30 (11:27 avg pace) which is a pace I can currently maintain for 1-2 miles (haven’t tried to maintain it for longer than that yet). (52 minute PR)

I’m comfortable with these goals and believe that with prayer, dedication and hard work, I can accomplish even the most ambitious of the three. I’m looking forward to March 18, 2012 when I can post pictures of my shiny new medal and details of my shiny new PR!

 

Let’s Recap.

Monday, 11/28/11 – Rest

I didn’t get back from New Orleans last weekend until 1am and didn’t get to bed that night until 4. The lack of sleep plus a 10 page paper deadline meant no running for me. Which was probably best anyway since the cold I brought back with me started to get ugly.

Tuesday, 11/29/11 – 4.48 miles in 58:01 (12:57 avg. pace)

As I was typing this I rediscovered that Garmin gives you your actual time and your actual moving time, which accounts for stop lights and other breaks like that. That makes me feel a tiny bit better about this run, but not much. I was literally exhausted and walked more than I have in months. The weird thing is, my body actually felt pretty good. It was just an off day and that’s totally fine. This is a great lesson though: the amount of sleep you get 2 nights before a run or race is much more important than the sleep you get the night before. If you have a race on Saturday, make sure Wednesday and Thursday you get a full night’s rest.

Wednesday, 11/30/11 – Rest

Thursday, 12/1/11 – 3.62 miles in 52:06 (14:25 avg. pace)

Note to self: I am not a good empty stomach runner. I felt great until mile 2 and then my body literally ran out of gas. I wanted to run but I couldn’t. I was starving and all I could think about was getting back to my car and buying the biggest bagel I could find for breakfast. I called Coach during the walk back to my car so someone would know if I passed out. It was that bad.

Friday, 12/2/11 – Rest

Saturday, 12/3/11 – Hot Chocolate 15k official results: 9.3 miles in 1:54:02 (12:15 avg. pace)

Disorganized race. 1.5 hour late start time. But it ended up being one of my strongest races to date so it was a great experience for me. Read the full recap here.

Sunday, 12/4/11 – 4.01 miles in 48:56 (12:13 avg. pace)

First run of my RnR USA half marathon training cycle! I’m training with Potomac River Running’s Winter Distance Training Program and I’m so excited about it. I have big goals for this race and I know having a group to train with and coaches to supervise me will put me in the best position to achieve them. Today was our first group run and I chose to start with 4 miles because my legs (especially quads) were really tired and sore after the race. I ended up starting a little too fast and struggled a bit on the way back. My main focus for next week is pacing. I have to learn when to push and when to take it easy. I’ve got 15 weeks to get it right!

Totals –

miles this week :: 21.41

miles this month :: 74.74

miles this year :: 285.21

Let’s Recap.

Monday, 11/21/11 – 2.01 miles in 25:09 (12:27 avg. pace)

I finally added strength back into my workouts! Here’s how I eased my way back in: 5 minute warm-up, 1 mile on treadmill, 30 minute Nike Training Club workout (body flexor) and followed by another mile on the treadmill. I finished with lots of stretching since I knew I had finally used some new muscles.

Tuesday, 11/22/11 – Rest

Monday’s strength workout left my legs feeling dead. My hamstrings and inner thighs were SO sore. Re-starting strength workouts 4 days before my first 10k was probably not the best idea I’ve ever had. So Tuesday was filled with lots of foam rolling and stretching.

Wednesday, 11/23/11 – 4.76 miles in 1:00:13 (12:40/mile)

Tried to make this an easy recovery run, but it was difficult. It was so windy that I found myself either running too fast so I could finish sooner or walking because I felt like I couldn’t physically move forward. The run did ease my leg soreness though.

Thursday, 11/24/11 (Thanksgiving) – 6.2 miles in 1:16:33 (12:20 avg. pace) {official results}

My garmin says I did 6.27 miles in the same amount of time making my average pace 12:13/mile. Regardless, I kept my average pace under my typical long run pace. It was a successful first 10k and I’m excited to see how much I can improve before next year’s race. Full recap coming soon.

Friday, 11/25/11 – Rest

My entire family flew to New Orleans on Friday to attend the Bayou Classic for my brother’s last football game. I felt pretty good but decided to rest after the 10k and a day of traveling.

Saturday, 11/26/11 – 3.1 miles in 38 minutes (12:15 avg. pace)

First run in Nola since May! It felt good to be running in the place where it all began. I had planned to do a longer run down St. Charles Ave. past my old apartment but it started drizzling so I decided to stay close to the hotel. Even though I kept a good pace, I struggled through this one. I couldn’t slow my legs down and my lungs just weren’t having it so I walked a little bit.

Sunday, 11/27/11 – Rest

The traveling and weather change did a number on me and I have now developed a lovely cold. I really wanted to run, but I need to stay as healthy as possible for the Hot Chocolate 15k next weekend so I skipped it and spent time with my family instead.

Totals –

miles this week :: 16.07

miles this month :: 53.33

miles this year :: 210.47

let’s recap.

Monday, 11/14/11 – Rest

I really wanted to go to Zumba, but since my long run last weekend was on Sunday I felt that I should keep it as a rest day.

Tuesday, 11/15/11 – 3.61 miles in 46:01 (12:45 avg. pace)

This was a tough run. I started out a little too fast (trying not to be embarrassed in front of my classmates since I started in front of my school. dumb.) Because of that, I didn’t give myself enough of a warm-up and I really struggled during the first half. That’s kind of a pattern with my running right now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Connecticut Ave is SO hilly! My legs were burning the entire way so I took advantage of every single light. I even stopped for water at a Subway at the halfway point. I knew I was running slower than I like to so I upped my mileage just a little so I wouldn’t feel so bad.

Wednesday, 11/16/11 – Unplanned Rest

I had plans to either run or go to Zumba. I packed my gym bag and everything. I don’t know if it was the rain or the monster traffic I had to fight through to get back to the gym, but once I got there, I just kept driving. I just couldn’t get myself to go. It probably ended up being a good thing though because my hamstrings were feeling really tight and I’m trying to be super safe. NO injuries for this girl!

Thursday, 11/17/11 – 4.55 miles in 56:49 (12:29 avg. pace)

Great run! Fastest mile to date (11:06) and a best pace of 9:35. Read all about it here.

Friday, 11/18/11 – Rest

Hair Appointment! That means 2 full days of whipping my hair. I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

Saturday, 11/19/11 – Rest

Spent the day hosting a baby shower for my sorority sister! Missing my long run and probably gaining 5 pounds after stuffing my face with Qdoba and candy all day was worth every moment with my sisters.

Sunday, 11/20/11 – 4.96 miles in 1:01:02 (12:18 avg. pace)

Sunday was a sad day for my family. I celebrated a new life on Saturday and the very next day we mourned the loss of another. I wasn’t going to run, but then I thought about the fact that my cousin, who battled lupus for over 10 years, didn’t have the option of running. God chose to give me health and I refuse to take it for granted any longer. So I ran for her. Every time I got tired, I told myself I had the God-given ability to keep going. And I did.

Totals –

miles this week :: 13.12

miles this month :: 37.26

miles this year :: 194.4

Long Run ‘List: 11:06

Yesterday morning I ran 4.55 miles in 56:49. The first half of the run was awful. I’m talking 13 minute miles, rolling hills, a suffocating headwind literally blocking my body from going forward, a random pain in my shoulder that felt like I was being stabbed and even a few minutes of walking. It was not pretty.

At mile 2.28, I got to my turnaround point and decided to literally turn things around. It had been 30 minutes and I knew I wanted to beat that in the 2nd half. As soon as I crossed the street to head back to the start, my body woke up. I sped up, my breathing steadied, and my legs felt amazing. I powered my way up every single hill and kept my pace under 12:00/mile the entire way back. And then something amazing happened. I ran my fastest mile ever. According to Nike+ my fastest mile before today was 11:30. I think my Garmin had it at 11:45. Today, mile 4 was 11:06 (Garmin). (Nike+ clocked it at 11:01) I shaved 29 seconds off of my fastest mile time and I’m only a minute away from my current goal pace. I tried to keep it as close to 11:00 as possible for the remainder of the run, but there was a monster hill at the end of mile 4 that literally tried to kill me so I settled for keeping it under 12:00. This time next year I’ll be dropping 8 minute miles like it’s nothing. That’s a promise. But for now, I’m proud of my 11:06.

Maybe it was the tailwind. Maybe it was my mental determination to achieve a negative split. Maybe it was my completely random running playlist. I’m gonna believe that it was just me and my newly discovered athletic ability, but I’m keeping the playlist just in case.

1. Jamiroquai. Canned Heat :: This song came on right as I hit a short downhill. I started thinking about the movie Center Stage and how Jody killed this song the same way I was about to kill this mile. Cheesy? definitely. But it worked.

2. Superchick. One More :: “If I can overcome step one, I can face the 99.” Enough said.

3. Kanye West and Jay-Z. Who Gon Stop Me :: This song pumps me up every time. Except the end. The end makes me feel like I’m in a scene from Limitless. (If you didn’t get that you obviously haven’t seen this movie. Please find your local redbox and rent it tonight!)

4. Glee Cast. Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do :: My name is Jerrell and I love Glee, musicals and Glee songs from musicals. And this is my jam.

5. Fireflight. Unbreakable :: “God I want to dream again. Take me where I’ve never been. I want to go there, this time I’m not scared. Now I am unbreakable. It’s unmistakeable. No one can touch me. Nothing can stop me.” Just download this song now.

6. Coldplay feat. Rihanna. Princess of China :: I could probably run to the new Coldplay album from beginning to end. But this song is my current favorite. Sometimes I need a mellow song to calm my breathing and even my pace. This one is mellow without being too slow.

7. Ace Hood feat. Jazmine Sullivan. Champion :: When this song comes on I pretend that I’m not running through the suburbs. It goes too hard for the ‘burbs. (I just made myself laugh so hard with that one.)

8. Britney Spears. Toxic :: This song is a guaranteed speed enhancer. Guaranteed. Here’s hoping all of this running is guaranteed to give me Britney’s (old) body too.

9. Danity Kane. Sucka For Love :: Does anyone else miss Making the Band? Just me? That show was the ultimate guilty pleasure and this song was my jam. Still is apparently.

10. Day26. Exclusive (No Excuses) :: You can’t include Danity Kane without including these guys too. My best friend Amber and I used to listen to this song so much that my boyfriend (at the time) ended up singing it nonstop. Every time I think about it I die laughing all over again.

How many miles are YOU running this weekend and what songs are you using to push your pace?

What’s Happening Wednesday: Goals

After this week, there are 6 weeks left in 2011. That is absolutely insane. I guess time flies when your head is stuck in multiple 10 pound books.

I don’t remember the exact day that I started running, but I know that it was around the middle of November 2010 and that December is when I really caught the running bug. Thank God I lived in New Orleans at the time and it was sunny and beautiful. If I had been in VA I definitely would’ve put it off until the Spring.

I’ve accomplished some great things this year: I ran my first mile without stopping and my first 5k (with my Dad!) in March, started this blog in April, finished my first half marathon in June, and as of last weekend, I can run 6-7 miles comfortably without walking.

I’m proud of my first year, but I have BIG plans for 2012. This will be the year of the athlete. I have tons of races I plan to run and ambitious goals I want to accomplish. But before I get ahead of myself, I want to make sure that I finish this year strong with a solid base to start from in 2012.

Here are my end of the year goals:

1. Finish 2011 having run at least 250 miles for the year. I’m currently at 184 miles. (I’m hoping to quadruple this number in 2012)

2. Run the Ashburn Farm Thanksgiving 10k and Hot Chocolate 15k with no walking (except for water stations if I have to).

3. Stick as closely as possible to my running schedule. 4 runs per week (1 tempo, 1 easy, 1 long, 1 recovery).

4. Run on ThanksgivingChristmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. (Then I don’t have to feel as bad when I eat 3 pieces of Sweet Potato Pie!)

5. Believe in myself. 2012 is going to require some serious confidence. Right now, every time I finish a long run, or fight to get my breath back instead of walking when I feel like my lungs might collapse, I’m shocked. The reality that I can run still hasn’t sunk in yet and I need it to. In the words of Kara Goucher (and Nike), these last 6 weeks are going to be about working hard, believing in myself and believing in the run.