City Slickers Gone Campin’

Last weekend, I….

  • Stayed up until 5 am talking and drinking around a campfire
  • Didn’t shower for 48 hours – and sweat profusely in that time
  • Ate a lot of s’mores and hot dogs
  • Drank more Bud Light & Coors than I care to admit
  • Slept in a tent on a sloped hill
  • Took a nap in a hammock (it was glorious)
  • Hung out with Jedi the Pug (Barklee Ann is jealous, I know…)

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Let’s just say camping was a huge success. It’s been years since I last went camping with my family. I honestly don’t even remember when the last camping trip was but it was likely in Michigan and I was probably in high school. Since then, my brother has been trying to get a camping trip planned. Finally, this year, I committed a weekend on my calendar to making the trip to Bloomington, IN. My brother is one of those people that has ALL of the gear that you could ever need for a weekend camping trip. He fogged the camping site for bugs before Manny and I arrived, brought us a tent to use (cuz hello, we don’t own one), bought the majority of our food along with the utensils needed to cook it, and let us use his air mattress pads so we didn’t have to sleep on rocks for two nights. It’s true camping but with all the things that I would forget if I planned it on my own (related: we didn’t even bring pillows or towels. That’s how unprepared I was and how prepared everyone else was.)

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When we planned the trip we didn’t realize that it was over the summer solstice. It must have been fate that we’d celebrate the beginning of the summer by doing something we did throughout my childhood. It’s always refreshing to get out of the city for a weekend but especially when it’s to get a big dose of fresh air (well except for our B.O.) and time with my family. I think I’ll be camping again sooner rather than later – I’m just going to make sure it’s not YEARS before we do it again.

Running has felt so much more enjoyable lately. I ran 30+ miles last week (baby steps!) and even managed my first real workout since before Boston. I surprised myself in that workout – just 4 x 3 min surges but I managed a faster pace than I thought I would. I had way more motivation to get out and run than I did a month ago. I am still having a hard time switching back to AM workouts and the humidity in Chicago has certainly been something to struggle with. But I still have a few more weeks of easy base mileage before I jump into any kind of real training schedule. Slowly, but surely I think I’m getting my legs (and my fire) back. I’m still working through the details of this fall, but I will definitely jump into a 5k and a 10k this summer to see where my fitness is at. I’m sure it will be slightly humbling but at least I’ll know what I need to work on. I’m starting to get more excited about training, especially now that I’ve taken 4 weeks to just run when I feel like it.

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More smiles lately! (and hey, I can touch my toes!)

Besides, the camping trip was more relaxing when I didn’t feel the need to squeeze a run in. 🙂

– J


True Recovery & A Focus on Strength-Training

A few weeks ago, I made a conscious decision to cut back on miles and focus on true recovery + a decent amount of strength training. And guess what? Since then, I’ve felt much, much better.

My legs felt dead, heavy, and sluggish. My form felt ‘wonky’ and it took a lot of self-talk to get through even the easiest of runs. I had little niggles that just didn’t seem to want to give up. I felt a twinge in my left quad (helloooo old injury) and my right calf wasn’t having much fun. (Note: I’ve experienced burnout. This didn’t feel like that. It just felt ‘blah’– and when running feels ‘blah’, you must learn to cool it. It’s possible that I recognized the symptoms of burnout before burnout actually happened. Hey, I’m learning!)

Week of May 19th: 4 runs, 30 miles (Soldier Field 10) including: 1 spin class + 1 ART session

Week of May 26: 4 runs, 15 miles including: 2 hours spin, core + leg + hip strength routines x 2, 1 Bodypump class

Week of June 2: 4 runs, 21 miles including: 2 hours spin, 1 hour vinyasa yoga, core + leg + hip strength routines x 1

I keep a paper training log (I know. Weird, right?). Four short weeks ago, I wrote this at the bottom of my weekly log: “I just want to enjoy running right now. Cutting back!”. It took me a few weeks to let go of a redemption dream after Boston. After busting my a** all winter and enduring some seriously horrible training conditions, I was more than eager to get to a 26.2 finish line in my goal time. But my body (and likely, my mind) was not ready for another 26.2 mile beating and it finally dawned on me that the rest of this year will be a success if I take it easy now. I am setting my sights on a fall marathon – and recovery and having fun right now is all part of that plan.

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My favorite place lately.

So, the week of May 26th, I got seriously about doing some strength training. And lemme tell ya, when you haven’t used your upper body in any other way than to pump during speed intervals, said upper body can go into complete shock after a single Bodypump class. I’m not kidding. I was pretty much sore from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning and I only loosened up after a Vinayasa class. Clearly, focusing on strength is a good idea before I really begin to commit to a training cycle again. I did two full strength workouts and 1 Bodypump class that week, which is approximately 2 more strength workouts than I do during a good (i.e. normal) week. Each run was 3-4 miles and I felt like I finished each one feeling like it was just right. I didn’t feel like running any longer. Motivation to run was lowwwww. (I can only imagine what this week had been like if I decided to get back to some serious mileage. Crash and burn comes to mind.)

2014-06-05 19.13.23No workouts = more exploring.

The next week was full of some more cross-training – 2 hours spin, 1 hour yoga, + another strength routine. Note: upper body fully recovered from Bodypump. I am LOVING spin class lately. I’ve officially found my favorite instructor yet. She’s “no nonsense”, tough, and plays great music. Another bonus is that she teaches a noon class on Friday which is relatively easy for me to get to. It’s my Friday treat. Plus, it’s the closest I’ve been able to come to a runner’s high – sunshine and rainbows after 1 hour on the bike lately! All of the running miles this week felt easier than the previous week (i.e. I didn’t feel like I was running through sand) and I was even able to “run long” on Sunday. I went for a 8.75 mile trot on Sunday. It felt so good to feel good again. And I couldn’t pass up a recovery run with Kristy who was in town for Marron’s wedding. I’m not sure if it was just the distraction of chatting with her, but I felt better than I have in weeks on that run. Plus, no run can go poorly when it’s followed by brunch with the gals.

2014-06-08 12.52.02-2CT, Liz, Leticia, me, Kristy, and Corey (they waited many cold months to wear those white pants!)

So, two weeks after making a conscious decision to cut the miles and add in some fun strength & cross-training, I’m feeling MUCH better. I haven’t taken note of a single mile split in the past two weeks – it’s refreshing to just run. I haven’t felt any painful twinges and my form feels stronger than it’s felt since before Boston. I doubt I’ll ever be the type of runner than can jump into one training cycle immediately after another. Taking the time to rest and recharge between cycles works for me. Besides, I’m beginning to become aware of my biceps and triceps! Who knew those muscles existed?!

Fall marathon plans to come!

– J