60-Day Plank Challenge

Still coming off of the high of shaving almost 3 minutes off of my 10K time (down from 55:25 to 52:55), I’m inspired to really focus on my core and hip strength. This morning, I started a 60-Day Planking Streak, which will require me to hold a straight, down-the-middle plank each morning before starting my day. Of course, streaks don’t always go the way we plan, so if I need to plank before bed, that’s fine – as long as it gets done.

Today was Day 1/60, and I held my plank for 1 minute and 11 seconds. I’ll try to add 5 seconds each day, but if I need to repeat a particular time, I will. Eventually, I’ll work on my side planks as well. Those are *much* harder for me, but I’ll get there.

One of my favorite Instagram runners (I need to stay off of that app…) has been on a planking streak for almost 3 months and she’s up to 4 minutes! The improvement in her times has been significant, and core strength has a lot to do with it, I’m sure.

Do you incorporate planks into your strength routine? If so, how often and how long do you hold your planks?


Capital Striders Annual Dinner + This Week in Running

What a week it has been! A lot of fun, and a little bit of unpredictability.

I’ve only gotten core work done this week as far as strength-training goes, but I’ve done lunges and squats before every run this week, so I think that counts? This hasn’t been the best week for IronStrength, so I’m going to prioritize that workout next week.

On Friday, I attended the Des Moines Capital Striders annual dinner, and had so much fun!

Most dinners I attend are philanthropic in nature and require a nice dress and heels, but for this dinner, Capital Striders running club members had to don their favorite running gear/race shirt, and a medal from their favorite race 🙂 It was a really cute idea. I wore my Chicago Rock n’ Roll race shirt because that’s the first race I’ve ever done in 90 degrees and still managed to PR. I also wore my medal from my second half-marathon, which was last October, because it’s the first half in which I finished in less than 2 hours. I also tried to channel one of my favorite athletes, Sanya Richards-Ross. How did I do?


Talking about my newbie spoils from the past year with other runners in my region during the social hour and dinner was a ton of fun! I also met the hosts of the Run Iowa podcast, and did a segment of their podcast show with them, which was really cool.  We talked trail running, our favorite races, and some of our hard-earned personal records. Very nerdy usie, but I digress…


I also won a Nathan hydration pack as a door prize, which is a lightweight backpack that you can use to carry water, keys, your phone, etc. It’s an absolute must for longer runs without water stops. I remember when I attempted my first 8-miler in the summer heat without water…my husband (then fiancé) had to drive to me and bring me a water bottle. Needless to say, I’ve gotten smarter. I can’t wait to test it out and post a review.


I just finished today’s 6-miler to close out this week of running, and it was a fairly solid week.

This week’s running:

Tuesday: 4-mile treadmill run + core exercises (Russian twists, bicycle crunches, planks, mountain climbers)

Thursday: 3.1-mile speed workout. Hit some paces I haven’t seen since I did track workouts last summer. During this run, I ran the downtown loop near my office and used traffic lights to signal the end of an interval.

Sunday: 6.2 miles total. Ran a 5-mile out and back loop with Nala, dropped her off at home, and finished the last 1.2 miles solo.

This week, I really need to tighten up my nutrition. I did fine during the week, but the Chinese we had last night for dinner has been sticking to my stomach. I felt so heavy during those 6 miles this morning! Looking forward to a new week and another chance to get it right.


Training Log – Week of February 22-28, 2016

The last full week of February was not as busy as the week before, so I got some solid workouts in! Even though I ended up working a little late Friday and bringing work home with me over the weekend, everything on my to-do list has been completed 🙂

Monday, February 22 – Rest Day

Tuesday, February 23 – Kettlebell Strength Workout and IronStrength Drills (40 minutes total)

Wednesday, February 24 – 5 mile treadmill run

Thursday, February 25 – Rest Day

Friday, February 26 – 3.2 mile run with a stair workout

Saturday, February 27- Core drills

Sunday, February 28 – 5 mile run with this little cutie below and Ironstrength 20-minute workout.


Training Log, February 8-21

Welcome to my training log for the past two weeks! I like to read other bloggers’ training logs to get a sense of how they structure their workouts and posting my own keeps me accountable. I’ll also try to post at least one workout or run each week on Instagram as well.

That said, getting sick, working 10 hour-plus days, and traveling has led to a less-than-stellar workout schedule, but I managed to fit some activity in. I didn’t run or lift weights while I was sick because the last time I tried to bang out five miles while feeling sick, I ended up feeling worse, and I needed to get better as soon as possible to adequately manage a very busy and tense couple of weeks at work.

February 8-12: complete week off from running and weight-lifting

February 13 – yoga at home (Jillian Michaels – Cardio Yoga)

February 14- Valentine’s Day!

February 15 – 4 mile run

February 16 – Full Ironstrength workout

February 17 – Kettlebell strength workout

February 18 – 4.5 mile run with coworkers

February 19-21 – out of town for a bachelorette party! I didn’t get to fit my usual weekend run in but did lots of airport walking and an “exotic dance” class with the bride and fellow bridesmaids ….that has to count, right? 🙂

How did your training go last week?

Training for Your First Long-Distance Race

Now that I have three half-marathons under my belt (each with a distinctly different training cycle from the last, but I’ll discuss that later), I thought it might be helpful to other novice runners to share what I’ve learned about training thus far. This post is for my fellow beginner runners who once couldn’t run a mile without stopping, and are now finding that as their aerobic and muscular capacities increase, so does their love for the sport 🙂

As I mentioned before, I started running consistently with an immediate goal of getting into 5-K shape. I had no time goals – I just wanted to finish without feeling weak or winded! I had the exact same mindset when I trained for my first half-marathon, so I used Hal Higdon’s beginner plans for my first few races. Hal has plans for nearly every distance, from the intermediate distances to even racing back-to-back marathons, but these are the two I used and even refer back to from time to time. These plans are fairly flexible, and I think Hal does a great job of ramping up your mileage slowly, so as to avoid injury and unnecessary fatigue.

Hal Higdon’s 8-week  5k Training Plan


Hal Higdon’s 12-week Half-Marathon Training Plan


Of course, a solid plan is only a starting point. Here are some tips to keep in mind while training:

  1. Focus on actual time spent running instead of miles logged.
  2. Give your body time to adapt. This may mean starting off with two to three 30-minute runs a week for about 4 weeks, and then increasing the duration of your run or the frequency of your runs (not simultaneously!) over the next four weeks.
  3. Understand that sickness, injury, travel plans, and busy schedules will interrupt your training at some point. As soon as you’re able to fit in the next run, get it done! A delay does not mean your training cycle is ruined and you’ve completely fallen off of the wagon. Barring a doctor’s orders to discontinue activity, you can start again.
  4. Each training cycle will present its own unique challenges (ahem, opportunities for growth). I firmly believe that you’re a different runner every season, for better or worse. Consistency, structure, and a positive mental attitude will go a long way.
  5. Your diet and recovery practices will heavily influence how difficult training feels. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night,  drink lots of water, and focus on eating whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. Foods that are high-fiber and contain slow-digesting carbohydrates like oatmeal and apples, and healthy fats, such as almonds and avocados, are some of my favorites for long-lasting satiety and energy.

Happy Training!


Training Log, February 1 -7, 2016

I really enjoy reading other bloggers’ training logs, so I decided to add this segment to my site as well. I’m not currently training for a race, but this is what this past week looked like for me:

Monday, 2/1: 5-mile treadmill run + core work

Tuesday, 2/2: Rest day

Wednesday, 2/3: IronStrength (full workout)

Thursday, 2/4: 3.5 mile easy run with coworkers

Friday, 2/5: Rest day

Saturday, 2/6: 3.55 mile run +planks and 1-hour yoga class

Sunday, 2/7: IronStrength Glute and Core Blaster (combined workouts for a total of 40 minutes)

Pretty easy week, but it got the job done!

Review: Dr. Jordan Metzl’s IronStrength for Runners

In 2015, Runner’s World released a new DVD that includes workouts developed by Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician, marathoner, triathlete, and fitness instructor based in New York City. I’ve long been a fan of Dr. Metzl’s “Inside the Doctor’s Office” series for Runner’s World magazine – these videos are short, informative segments focusing on the various parts of the body that are most affected by the repetitive stress of running long distances.

After purchasing and reading his book, Running Strong, I decided it would be a good idea to incorporate his recommendations into my weekly exercise routines, and the fact that he is a runner who works with runners everyday in his office made me trust his experience and perspective even more. Many of the exercises he outlines in his book are fairly straightforward and appear in many strength-training routines, such as squats, burpees, planks and mountain climbers. However, I felt I would benefit more from a full, start-to-finish workout DVD that I could follow along with instead of remembering to fit in all of the requisite functional exercises for injury prevention, plus weights, at my gym, so I purchased IronStrength. The product is actually a DVD set of the full IronStrength workout, plus three shorter, 20-minute workouts: The Core Blaster, Glute Blaster, and Abbreviated IronStrength routine.

My enthusiasm was quickly outpaced by the difficulty of the full IronStrength workout. It is hard! Dr. Metzl leads you through several rounds of plyometric squats and lunges (plyometric exercises are high-impact, jumping exercises that are designed to raise your heart rate and recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are useful for improving your running speed and supporting muscle growth), plank rows with weights, one-legged bicep curls, core exercises, and burpees. It’s a 50-minute workout that feels like two hours, at least the first time around. It is recommended that you do the full Ironstrength workout and a shorter workout each week, for a total of two running-specific strength workouts a week. I modified this a bit a few months ago, during my first crack at IronStrength- I worked with a personal trainer once a week, and did IronStrength or a weights routine at my gym for my second strength-training workout of the week. This time, I want to see how my body responds to two IronStrength workouts for at least 8-10 weeks consistently. I don’t envision this workout becoming a cakewalk anytime soon, but I can confidently say running feels a lot easier after burning out your glutes, quads, and core! It’s also telling that this workout is difficult for me – it’s clearly targeting some weak areas that could benefit from the extra attention.


Have you tried IronStrength or any of the Runner’s World workout DVDs? Comment below.