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On Wednesday, April 6th, my sister mentioned she’s running the BolderBoulder, a 10K race (6.2 miles) in Boulder, CO every Memorial Day Weekend. Even though I lived in Boulder for 5 years… I had never ran this race before! She invited me to join.
It took me a minute to decide… you see, unlike my sister, lol, I’m not a good runner. I’m more of a “let’s lift weights and do intervals” type of athlete. But I’m always up for a good challenge, and I like putting together fitness training plans with improved performance in mind.
So a few days later, on April 11th… I said yes, and bought my entry to the race. I signed myself up in the “run/walk- mostly running” category. Yes, that’s actually what it was called haha.
Even to run most of the way for 6 miles… I knew I needed to come up with a training plan, ASAP!
Keep reading to see what I constructed for my novice-runner-self. I also included nuggets on what I did for nutrition, recovery, and goal-setting.
From my experience as a competitive cheerleader and crossfit athlete, I’ve completed many performances and competitions. I also have years of experience as a certified personal trainer and crossfit coach.
I knew the general idea would be to start where I was at, build slowly, peak just before competition (or even at competition sometimes) and taper off my training just before the main event in order to have a full tank of gas, prevent injury, and go into the race, competition or performance feeling my best!
As a now eating psychology practitioner and speaker, I coach clients (and myself) to take a balanced approach to all aspects of fitness and nutrition.
So I combined these 2 perspectives and constructed my own personal plan.
*Disclaimer* I am obviously not a running coach lol. I’m also not a dietitian. So before changing your food or fitness plan drastically, I do suggest consulting a medical and/or dietary professional.
My Mile Pace Goal and Why
My goal from the beginning was to run this 10K (6.2 mile) race with a pace of 15 minutes per mile or less.
I know, you might be asking “why so slow, Mrs. Fitness?”
Reason 1: I have a congenital heart condition called Ebstein’s Anomaly. Basically, one of my heart valves is misplaced, making my heart less efficient than normal.
For whatever reason, I feel the effect of this the most when I’m… you guessed it… running! My heart rate can jump up quickly, it feels fluttery and like I’m “hitting a wall” cardiovascularly. Usually when this happens I need to slow down or walk.
Reason 2: I hadn’t been running a lot as part of my regular workout routine. At this point I had about 6 weeks to train before race day. I knew from my first run (paced at 20 minutes per mile lol) that I would need to set a realistic goal of improvement.
The most I’d run before this was when I was on the club crew (rowing) team my freshman year in college. We had to run a lot for cardio. I worked up to being able to run for an hour straight without stopping.
But it took a looonnnggg time to get there. Having this past training reference is also what helped me set my realistic goal.
My Nutrition Goals
My food goals were fairly simple.
- Eat some carbs a few hours before a run: a banana, toast and jelly, oatmeal, dried fruit, etc.
- Don’t skip meals (when I’m in the zone working I sometimes only eat breakfast and a really late lunch and don’t feel hungry for dinner). I knew that consistent nourishment would be important for my energy.
- Drink 100oz of water a day. I was already in the middle of a 75-day challenge during which this was one of my daily habits. It also included eating gluten-free and working out 5 days a week. So I stuck to that!
I’m not physically sensitive to gluten, but I tried it to see how my digestion, energy and joints felt. I don’t necessarily recommend gluten-free for training purposes, as it can be helpful to have normal complex carbs like pasta, whole wheat bread, etc. I probably would have incorporated these normally.
Training Plan and Progress
Overall my plan included 1-2 shorter runs and 1 longer run each week. I used an interval training app most of the time and will share more about that below!
I also incorporated other workouts into my week, with the overall focus of improving my cardio. For the sake of this blog, I’m showing my running plan here as the focus, and will elaborate below on some other workouts I did.
Distance – 1.75mi
Pace – 20:30 per mile
Distance – 2.74mi
Pace – 17:49 per mile
Distance – 2.13mi
Pace – 15:22 per mile
Distance – 2.62mi
Pace – 17:29 per mile
Distance – 4mi
Pace – 16:59 per mile
Distance – 3.01mi
Pace – 14:34 per mile
Distance – 4.52mi
Pace – 15:05 per mile
Distance – 3mi
Pace – 15:50 per mile
Distance – 6.21mi
Pace – 14:52!
(While I’m glad I did a full “dress rehearsal”, I hurt my knee this day, so this was the last run I did before race day 8 days later)
I did do 2 interval workouts to get my heart rate up and minimize knee involvement. From there I tapered off.
HIIT workout – 5 rounds of 15-calorie row, 15 burpees and 15 wall balls. Bruce (my husband) and I alternated rounds until we each completed 5 rounds!
Elliptical Intervals 21min
7 rounds of:
2min going as fast as I can
1min rest and recovery pace
Race week! Foam rolled, stretched, and trusted I’d done enough to meet my sub-15min per mile goal
In my 75-day challenge, I was also completing 5 workouts a week of at least 45 minutes. I kept it flexible by allowing that to mean anything from high intensity interval training, running, yoga or even walking. This allowed for me to move 5 days a week, while giving myself permission for it to be low intensity if needed.
Here are some other workouts I incorporated along the way:
- Hot Yoga
- Spinning Classes
- Elliptical Intervals like I explained above
- HIIT Workouts like this one OR the one linked to the pic ↓
Ok… drumroll please… On May 30th, race day… I ran 6.2 miles at a pace of…. 14:36 per mile!!!!! 🎉
I beat my goal by a pace almost :30s faster per mile than planned. Now… Picture this…
I also had people running alongside me in full costumes, stopping to slip and slide, chug a beer and take pictures… and then pass me 2 minutes later while I was huffing and puffing and giving my 100% effort the whole time lol.
But at the end of the day, the most important thing was being proud of myself and the effort I gave. And getting to celebrate that my plan paid off!
So let’s circle back to that bum knee, eh? It didn’t hurt while I was running on race day, but it sure hurt that night. It’s overall feeling better now but I’m planning to get it checked out.
Here are some things I did for recovery along the way, and after the race itself.
After Run Recovery During Training
- Protein Shake – I didn’t have one after every run, but I tried to have a shake within 30min after a run
- I like Vega and Orgain, and sometimes I would get Remedy shakes in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods.
Stretching and Mobility
- Doing yoga while ramping up my running at the beginning was helpful
- I also stretched before and after every workout
- We bought a massage gun and I have a foam roller so at least 1x a week (should have been more!) I would foam roll or massage my legs, especially my IT bands!
Bumps in the Road and Lessons Learned
I got new running shoes early on. Not having bought running shoes in years… it was actually quite a process. Once I found the Brooks Glycerins… I needed the right size (and color, lbh). I went to 3 different places and finally found what I thought was my size, 7.5.
After 2 short runs, I knew something was wrong because my feet would fall asleep. Over a week later, my actual size (8.5 who knew!) was able to get to the store and I traded them out. Needless to say, this definitely cut into my training time!
Hurt My Knee
This was not ideal. The most common time for injury is close to competition. While a consistent focus and training plan helps, it’s not always possible to prevent injuries. This set me back a little over a week before go time.
I was mentally anxious about how my knee would feel on race day. And I was anxious that I would lose my cardio I’d built up and not hit my goal! Luckily it all panned out, but I would maybe even incorporate more yoga and foam rolling the next time around.
I’d Start Training Earlier Next Time
Not that I’m rushing to sign up for my next 10K race, lol, but given a chance to do this again, I’d definitely ramp up my running sooner! I’d like to prepare at least 8 weeks in advance, and who knows, maybe I could hit a 12min per mile pace! I’d be ecstatic with that!
As for now, I’m back to CrossFit-Style training and yoga.
5K Runner App – I used this to help me build up how long I could run without resting. It’s helpful in getting started because you do cycles of walking and running for a few minutes each. I even used this app for a bit on race day! I did the interval on the app that included running for 8-10 minutes at a time before resting.
Interval Timer App – I also used this app. It’s an interval timer you can create different routines with and manually set the times. What I did was set a timer for 4 minutes “high intensity” and 1 minute “low intensity”. My last 2 miles of the race, I used this because 4 minutes was a more manageable run length and by measuring my rest time, it paced me so that I didn’t walk for too long.
Brooks Running Shoes – Again, I typically wear size 7 – 7.5 but got an 8.5 which gave my toesies enough room
KT Sports Therapy Tape – I used this just on race day but I do think it helped my knee. Will definitely use again when needed!
Water Bottle – This was also because I’d committed to drinking 100oz of water a day for 75 days. But it came in handy for staying hydrated before and after runs on a hot day. If I get really fancy with longer distance treks, in the future I might invest in a cool running water bottle.
Until Next Time, Bolder Boulder!
I’d be down to do this race again. You in? Let me know what you thought of my journey here, and if you have any questions for me!
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