• Shooting for 2016!

    This Blog will follow me as I try to become a two-time Olympic Trials Qualifier. The 2016 Trials "B" standard is sub 2:43 for women - let's get after it!

  • The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

    The best experience, EVER. Go Team Nichole!

  • Thank you!

    I can't thank Jerry enough for believing in me, and for my generous sponsors Brooks, Generation UCAN, Nutrilite, Anytime Fitness, Feetures!, Seven Sundays Muesli, Massage Geek, and Stunt Puppy!

  • Dare to dream

    ...and dare to fail

  • Stay in Contact!

    If you've seen me speak, we've connected at a race, or you just read this blog, feel free to reach out and stay in contact with me. I value my running connections and the personal stories behind them more than you know! Plus, comments here have really helped with my personal journey - so keep 'em coming!

Birkie Fever

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We had a great weekend at the cabin this weekend. Birkie weekend is always so much fun, between the anticipation of the race, the MOUNTAINS of food we always eat, and the friends and family that crowd the cabin.

This year was Greta's first year cheering which also made the weekend special. Plus, she got a lot of grandma, grandpa, and auntie time!

We woke up early Saturday morning to get ready. I was proud of myself. We were supposed to leave at 8:15. I pumped, fed Greta, fed myself, bundled ourselves up, put my cow costume on, fed myself, put the dog away and put Greta in her car seat. Next was hauling everything we'd need for the race to the car.

The night before. Making sure the cow suit fit over monkey suit. It did, but it was comical to see a "stuffed animal" on the table then!
Did all of that and was in the car waiting for everyone else at exactly 8:15. BAM. :)

We headed to "OO" (Pronounced Double O - it's a highway). It's about 1/2 way into the race and it's where we always cheer.

The 'OO' cow cheer crew
We then hustled Greta out of her car seat, put on her gigantic monkey suit, cow suit over it, and quilt to keep her even warmer. A production!

Me and Grandma Karen working to get Greta to cheer!
I'm Nate's designated gel-giver (thanks, Boom! nutrition!) at this point in the race. I always get so nervous handing feeds for a ski race. There are flying poles, skis that I could trip up, other skiers to not interfere with. Plus you don't want your skier to have to slow down to get it (also think grabbing a gel with two ski poles in your palms). Plus Nate is moving at - oh - 15 miles an hour? Yikes.

But I did it!

[Later I asked how I did. His exact response: "You did okay". Guess I need to work on my skills.]

Then we saw Nate at Mosquito Brook, about 3/4 of the way into the race.

He looked in better spirits at this point and even gave me a high five!

High Five!
Greta was a little fussy at this point - turns out yanking your kid in and out of a car seat, pushing them into a stuffed animal looking outfit and running to the trail FAST - because you don't want to miss the skiers! - isn't super fun for an infant.

Once she could see the skiers, though, she perked up. Ohh, mom! Movement! Colors! That looks fun! I'm sure that's what she was thinking.
Mosquito Brook aid station - Greta loved staring at the fast skiers passing
We then moved to the finish line. Nate was in 48th place! His goal was top 50, which is so impressive since this is basically the NYC Marathon of cross country skiing.

500 meters to go!
Last turn!
Birkie bridge - new this year
Plus, training has been a little more difficult now that Greta is here and we haven't had much snow!

Ski training this year
So, to say I was proud was an understatement :).
Congrats, Nate! 
Craig cracked the top 50 for the first time, placing 33rd. WOW! All of his training this year really paid off!
This is the coolest picture. These are the bags waiting for their finishers. It sort of inspires me to do it next year... I would just need to learn how to ski...
The rest of the weekend was spent telling  fun race day experiences, eating, and hanging out with family. It was so much fun. I can't wait for it again next year!
Hanging out with Tia Jessica!
I distracted Greta with my picture taking, but she LOVES to read now! She found the "buzzzz" sound in this book particularly amusing.
In the meantime, I'm excited for the days to continue to get longer and warmer and for the upcoming running race season! Yikes!

In terms of that racing season, I am calling to get into see a chiropractor tomorrow. I'm hoping he will allow me to bring Greta with me (since I don't have a baby sitter network yet and he is only open when Nate is working). My knee hasn't improved despite two weeks of cutting things back and ellipticalling instead. I think it's because I'm running every other/every three days, which may have been too often for it to heal.

I think it's classic runner's knee now, but I'm not sure.

I also connected with a PT student at the Birkie who had emailed me with a suggestion and a test based on my previous blog. SO NICE! I'm going to email her back with pictures and more info after the chiropractor visit and hopefully she can help more! I need to get over this asap. I can tell I'm losing running fitness by the day.

Anyone else had Runner's Knee and beaten it? What worked? Didn't?

Because I couldn't run, I took this entire weekend off. It was actually kind of nice, but I ate WAAYY to much for not exercising at all :) Oops!

I also have a little nerve pain around my lower tailbone. I am guessing this is just due to hip placement (since post-partum I can tell I move around a whole lot more - yay loose ligaments and lack of strength the last 9 months). *sigh*

Let's hope tomorrow or Tuesday I'll have a little more information!

I'll leave you with two more Greta pictures. Because I can. :)

So serious! Are her legs really this skinny?
When I was trying to organize all of our tax information. She thought it was hilarious and wouldn't stop smiling for an hour and a half. Needless to say, I didn't get much done :)

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Mark your calendars! TNC Endurance Camp!

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What are you doing May 15-17th? I have 10 available spots!



I am very hands on during the camp. I look over current plans, make suggestions, look at heart rate data, and provide advice on "the little things". You will also leave the camp with just a *few* miles/hard workouts on your legs!

Pre-registration required. Cancellations = $100 refund.

We will fill up fast, so register now (Just 10 spots)! nichole.porath@gmail.com

*Special rate for current TNC members - contact me!

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Knee Trouble & a Baptism!

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It's been a challenging week and a half! My knee has been really bothering me :(.

I decided to try to nip it in the butt early and resort to training mainly on the elliptical. It's now in the middle of our family room so I can watch Netflix and library movies.

I threw out a lot of my old shoes. Some were 2+ years old, not sure how many miles were on them, which used to be fine (I was so efficient and durable!) but I think now I've changed bio-mechanically so need some some new shoes. Good thing I had a couple new ones stockpiled!

Today I ran 6 miles for the first time in a while and although it didn't hurt DURING the run, it's sore now. *Sigh*

Hard elliptical for me tomorrow. Good thing I am a master at pummeling myself on that!

In other, more positive news, Greta was baptized!

She did great!
We were lucky to have 40 people that love her here to help celebrate. We are honored to be so loved!

We're also prepping for the Birkie this weekend. It's a huge weekend for Nate, and it's always fun to celebrate the weekend with friends and family!

Short post, but figured that was better than nothing!

My mom holding Greta the night before the baptism!

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55 mile week!

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I survived last week's 50 mile week. So it's just natural that my coach would increase things to 55 this week, right?

It's hard to believe that I was running 100/week consistently not too long ago!

So, here's a training recap from where I left off:

My 50 mile week:

10 miles with 1 minute hill repeats. NAILED IT! I didn't even struggle with my hip flexors or control of my legs!! Thanks to Craig for pushing Greta and thanks to Jeff for making the workout that much more fun! (Jeff was in shorts and without a shirt... YAY awesome runner-temps for the middle of January!)

10 miles with 7 moderate miles. Another NAILED IT! workout! I held my HR right around 180 where it's supposed to be and we clipped along at about 8:20-8:30. It's nice to see my paces slowly come down!

13 mile long run. Luckily I had a lot of distractions to help the miles pass. I started before my parents came to the house (for the baptism). We picked up Craig after about 2 miles, then ran back to the house. They weren't there yet, so we made a big loop before coming back to the house. We passed Greta off to them and then ran for the remaining miles. BAM. 13!

I have to say that the thought of 26.2 miles, much less racing 26.2 is a little frightening...

This week's 55 mile week:

Monday: 6 miles easy, to and from "Mom Club". Greta was her normal, smiley, "I like attention and will talk/smile if you like it!" personality, self. She disrupts conversation every so often because the person talking can't help but talk/smile back at her. Where did she get this personality from??


10 pounds, 9 ounces this Monday. A chunk!
Tues: 10.5 miles w/ 6x3 minutes at 5k effort. I dry heaved after this and felt sick for a few hours afterwards. So - it was probably above 5k effort, but I was just trying to get everything out of me. I was chasing down Mike, another training partner, but couldn't maintain contact. I tried. So hard!

I was worried we might not get through the run with some protests, since she was so talkative and smiley before the run.



But, being the awesome baby she is, Greta fell right asleep in the stroller and didn't start squaking until we ended the run & were walking back up the driveway.

Wed: 4 miles easy with Teresa and then a 60 minute strength class at the YMCA. It kicked my butt. Hopefully this will be my normal Wednesday routine.

We joined the Y as a family that night. They have free Child Watch for 2 hours/day (you can actually go in the morning for 2 hours and the evening for 2 hours). It's nice to do something without the distraction of your kid (or having to push her!), although I did just think about her for a lot of the class. Mom syndrome, right? :)

Thurs: I am planning to run to the Y (3.75 miles), drop Greta off at Child Watch, and then do my 4x1 mile at LT on a treadmill. Then we'll run back home. I am dreading this workout so I'm writing this here so you all will hold me accountable!

My knee has been bothering me for the last 2 days. I'm a little concerned... I now have ice cups in the freezer and have been working on glute firing and loosening up the Vastus Medius muscle since that might be pulling the knee cap out of its normal place.



The pain is to the left of the patellar ligament (as you're looking at it in the above picture). Anyone have any advice on how to nip this early? I'm willing to do anything!

This weekend: A 14 mile long run. Yikes!!!

Life updates:

Greta was baptized this Sunday! I was so nervous... so much that the morning of the baptism I was scrambling to find the lid to the blender...

Only to find that I had put the blender lid on the Generation UCAN tub which I had put back into the pantry. What? When I get nervous I swear... my brain goes down the drain. 

Not sure why I was so nervous, since that seems silly, but once we got to the church and the service started I was much more relaxed.

She did great during the service and the baptism!

I didn't drop her! YAY!
We were so lucky to be surrounded by 40 guests that love her and were happy to welcome her into Christ's world! Many of my athletes came, my college coach, family friends... we are SO blessed. I cried because of the overwhelming support. Guess crying isn't surprising coming from me :)

In other news... hmmm.. guess the week was spent scrubbing the house in prep for the baptism. Only to walk down Monday morning to find it a disaster again. *Sigh*

Embarrassing moment of the week: I'm scrubbing a pot of wild rice soup that was burned on to the bottom of the pan. I pour the contents down the garbage disposal and turn it on. Turns out, there was a spoon in that pot, and spoons and garbage disposals don't mix.

Hence my 2nd clogged drain since Greta's been born. This time there's a spoon handle sticking out of the disposal and a gross wild rice slime on the bottom of the sink. Jeff is over for a run and sees it, but makes no comment. I ask him for help with the spoon later and he says, "Oh, I was wondering about that!". Guess I need to step up my house cleaning skills if my athletes don't bat an eye at food slime covering the entire sink bottom!!! HAHAHAHA!

Best quote of the week: I am pouring myself the 7th glass of water for the day. I explain to my mom how much I love water now.

She looks at me very concerned. "Do you have diabetes? Because when you have diabetes you love water"

(Awkward pause)

No, mom, just breastfeeding. But thanks for the concern!

All for now, folks. Need to get after this 10 mile workout...


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And the Winner is...

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You've been anxiously waiting, I know! We had a baptism this weekend so were a little busy.



video

The winner can contact me via email to give me their contact info! Thanks everyone for commenting - hope 2015 is full of goal accomplishments!!




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Training update and a GIVEAWAY!

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Mileage is getting up there!

Running at the cabin, putting some good miles on my YakTrax.
Training update:

This has been a great week. I was able to get all of my workouts in, which is the first week I've been able to do that - mostly due to motivational issues.

I asked Craig to hold me accountable this week. I would have asked Nate, but it's all too easy to make up a lame excuse to him (I cannot be coached by my husband!).

So, this week involved:

Monday: Easy 5.5 miles to and from mom club

9 miles with 30 minutes of 1 min on/off. I was feeling terrible from the start of this run. My heart rate was super high even running at 9:30+ minute miles. I knew this would be rough. But, I powered through. It hurt. A LOT. On my last repeat I looked down to see that I had hit a new workout max HR: 202. Wow. That's hard to do on a fartlek workout that has a lot of rest! 

Then all of a sudden I needed to throw up. I dry heaved a few times, while Craig and Greta looked on. I have never done that before in a workout! Guess that means I pushed it hard? :)

Wed: 4 miles easy. I ran to and from a meeting with the Red Wing Girls on the Run program director. More on that later...

Thursday: 10 mile progression run. I nailed this workout! I started at a HR of 165 and worked up to 202 (again!) by the very end of the run. I was a little sad to see I had only run a 7:40 mile the last mile -- I was working SO hard for that! Oh well. The only way to get faster is to put in the work every day. I made myself faster that day.

Friday: off. Slept. 

Saturday: 12 MILES! I am so pumped I did this!! This seems so freakishly long now that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around running for that long when I'm 2 miles in...

Sunday: 4 easy peasy miles with the pup!

= 45 miles!

This week is a 50 mile week. I've already nailed a 10.5 mile run with 1 minute hill repeats and a 6 mile recovery run. For the first time in a long time, I didn't struggle with my hip flexors or control of my legs. DOUBLE AWESOME.

--

Goals:

I cheered on an athlete at Zoom! Yah! Yah! indoor marathon last week. It reminded me how great of an event it is! Perhaps it's a good thing memories fade after a bit... I vaguely remember saying I'd never do it again... but there's a world record out there that would be really, really fun to reset. So, I tentatively have that as my "A" race goal for the year. Chris, my coach, said he'd tentatively agree to pace me.

Chris is in red with the white hat.

But, before then my intermediate goal is to break 3 hours at Grandma's this year. Brenden, the GAC assistant coach that ran my OTQ with me in 2011 at Grandma's is also going to try to break 3 with me as a training run for an ultra. Picturing 2:59 definitely helped me push a little harder on those hills today. Show Greta 2:59, Nichole! (She will be 8 months old by then)

--

Life updates:

Greta is becoming so much FUN! My heart is so in love - both with her and also with our small little family. I apologize for being a sap but I really, really do love being a stay at home mom. As in, you couldn't pay me enough to go back to corporate finance. That's saying something coming from me.

Greta is ridiculously smiley and happy now. I love it! 


Little G and I reading. Pretty sure she has no clue what we're doing, but she happily stares at them and bats at the book every so often. If nothing else, I just want to teach her that reading books together is fun snuggle time together.
Printed off some newborn pictures. This is my absolute favorite!
Greta is getting baptized this Sunday. I give myself a 0% chance of getting through the service dry-eyed.

Craig's mom was able to alter my old baptism dress since it was just a little big :). I don't think I was that big of a baby, but I was able to wear this when I was 2 months old. She'll be 3+ months old. Ha! 

It's so beautiful and can't wait to hold her at the front of the church in it!

HAHAHAHAHA
One of my athletes made this for us! How awesome is that?! I can't believe one of my athletes would do something like this for us (I know how much time is involved) - we are so unbelievably lucky! BTW, Greta's given name is Gretchen in case you were confused :) We use both names interchangeably, but mostly use Greta.
--

Giveaway!

Let's be honest, you've just scrolled down the post because the giveaway is the real reason you're reading this!

Stunt Puppy is offering one lucky blog reader a STUNT RUNNER! 

Fast and the Furry with our Stunt Runner! I'm signed up for it again this year and can't wait!!

To enter, comment below with your 2015 goals and what color Stunt Runner you'd like (they'll have all colors in stock next week).

Mesa will pick one lucky commenter on Friday 1/23, so get your commenting on!

All for now, folks!

AHHH, I can't get enough of this smile! 

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Training in the cold with a newborn = adventures abound!

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This probably goes down as one of my more adventurous weeks of motherhood.

First, bundling up Greta for a stroller ride when air temps are -2 is a big deal (and windchills in the -30s). How do we do it?

First: three outfits, the last last of which is a HUGE monkey suit. It's funny because it's twice her size and usually you can't even see her in it since the hood covers her eyes. Don't forget socks on the feet AND hands.

Gigantic monkey suit!
Then, nurse so that she's full and happy during the ride.

Next, get myself ready. Brooks down jacket = my jacket of choice now! It's so cozy!

Not me. Photo from brooksrunning.com
While dressing, heat up both a corn bag (homemade) and a heat pack. Throw in the stroller to warm up the inside of it before she gets in.

Take heaters out, reheat in the microwave for the ride.

Then put the kiddo in the stroller, and let's go! This entire process takes no short of 45-60 minutes. Usually we're running a little behind so breakfast is hit or miss for me. Yay fasted runs? It's probably a good thing, I still have some baby weight to shed.

Some of our adventures this week:

1. I caused a mailman to fall

Yep. We were running on one of these -30 degree windchill days and the mailman from across the street tries to figure out what's in the stroller. He/She looked over at us, then bent over to look into the stroller, kept staring, bent down further to get a better look, and must have stepped on something because then he/she took a digger.

Greta and I stopped while they got up. He/she waved and we were then both on our merry ways.

Our mailman is not a polar bear. Sadly. That'd be pretty cool.
2. I completely messed up a "community baby shower" event

I was excited because the air temp was above 10! 

We get suited up, but are running late (darn Greta, she decided she was STILL hungry after getting into her stroller... commence mom racing to find a bottle and frantically feed...). Plus, it's super windy which has caused the sidewalks to be blown over with snow. There were literally more than 5+ times that the snow was just too deep and I had to walk/push the stroller through deep snowbanks. I look crazy. Turns out that slows your pace.

A good strength workout?

We get to the community center 12 minutes late. I consider this a success based on the morning and our commute.

Where we go for our ECFE classes. Can't wait until it looks like this instead of it being covered in snow and ice!
Except... there's really no one here? Weird... 

My first thought: Is it Thursday? (good question when you have a newborn!)

Then I saw that the event actually started at 10, not 10:30. What? How did I miss that? Now we're about 45 minutes late! Crap. (my exact thoughts)

I then saw the parent educator in the hallway. Apparently the shower had been rescheduled because they didn't want people out in the cold. They had emailed everyone that registered (oops, guess I missed that memo about registering... along with the start time detail... ahh...).

Leave it to me to RUN with my kid to an event that they cancelled due to the extreme cold!

In case you're wondering, I registered for the rescheduled baby shower when we arrived back home.

On the plus side, we got in 6 miles with drills and strides to and from the cancelled event!

3. Craig told me to get my lazy ass out the door on Monday

Ok, so that's not exactly how he put it.

I had a run planned Monday but after "mom club", Greta and I decided it was more fun to hang out inside our heated home than to go for a run in the negative temps.

An expertly timed text at about 3:00 asked me how my run had gone. Our conversation:

Me: I haven't gone out :(. 1. Think it's too cold for munchkin and 2. Sooooo unmotivated :(

Craig: You should go run. Even just 20 min. It's either that or the treadmill if you're worried about lil' G, but doesn't outdoors sound way more fun?

Me: Ahhhh, yes. But no at the same time. I'm dressed for outside, just stalling. maybe when Nate gets home so I can just run without the stroller/getting her all bundled. I don't know why I've had such motivation issues lately... I used to be so dedicated! I think part of it is that running is just downright hard now. I know there's only one way to make it easier...

Craig: That's understandable, which is why I'm telling you to suck it up and run anyway. Go while it is light out so Nate and I can ski in the dark.

Me: Ahh shit. I know you are right. I'll get out.
... 
I got out. I raised his 20 minutes and did 21 MINUTES. Proud of myself. And also so thankful for a good friend that knows when to yell at me.

I do think I have been more lax in my coaching relationship with Chris than with Jerry. Perhaps I need to ask Chris to be firm with me when I'm struggling with motivation...

4. Jeff pulled out one of the best responses as of late

We meet at Fit to Be Tri'd for a lot of our runs. On Tuesday quite a few schools decided to close because of the cold. That takes a lot for us hearty Minnesotans! 

So, it's freakishly cold. And I'm running with a newborn in a stroller.

Tom's appropriate greeting when we arrived with the stroller: "You're not taking your kid out in weather like this, are you?"

Jeff, without any hesitation, says, "Oh no. Of course not! We brought Mesa in the Chariot instead today!"

I swear Tom came running out from behind the counter to see the dog in the chariot. HAHAHA. Nope, just Greta.

I give kudos to Jeff for being so quick witted.

I give myself kudos for getting after my 20x15 second hill repeats later in the run! GET AFTER IT!

5. Greta's stroller goes rogue

I'm so proud of myself that we're out the door on time. We're meeting Craig at the shop at 11:30, so we started getting ready at 9:45. We breast feed, get her dressed, and then mix a bottle because she still seems hungry. She decides it's more fun to be silly and have a smiling fest while trying to eat. Ug. I get myself ready in between failed attempts to feed her - until she'd fuss because she was actually hungry. Then, more smiley eatings... then mom gets stuff ready... then some fussiness... you get the picture.

We get into the stroller and she starts to wail. "I'm HUNGRY, mom!", Greta shrieks. No! We have to go! I bring bottle out to the stroller, propping it up so that she can eat but that I can still start running. Wonder how long it'll stay in this position...

Then, try to close garage door. Big gloved hands = multiple attempts at the code. After the 2nd failed try, I turn to see the stroller rolling down the driveway! AHHHHHHH!!!!!

I sprint to catch her as the stroller crashes into the snow bank.

Actually, it was more of a gentle stop into the snow, but it reminded me: Wear the safety strap when closing the garage door :)

I only hope the neighbors were watching. It would have been fun to have watched, I'm sure.

---

So far this week I'm on track for 45+ miles! Woot, woot! After Monday's motivational issues I've decided that my goal is to get out every day and do the workouts that Chris writes. Running won't get easier until I'm stronger/more fit.

Let's get after it!

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Ask the Coach - Answers

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Here are some answers!



Q: I want to break the 3:45 mark for the marathon... what is your best tip to get longer with faster miles? I have a good sub 8 pace for 5 miles but couldn't hold that for 10....

A: The first thing I'd look at is your easy mile pace. How fast are you running your recovery runs?

Next, marathon pace is worked up to. I usually have my athletes starting with either a speed block or a tempo work block depending on previous history and where they're at in a cycle. We'll do marathon pace work occasionally, but usually not until the last 4 weeks before a marathon when we're trying to "learn" the pace.

For the first couple of marathon pace workouts athletes will often say, "there's no way!". But, once the taper kicks in and their body adjusts to the pace they find the pace sustainable for 10-13 miles in a workout... and that's when we know it's sustainable for a marathon :)

Q: I've been running everyday for like 30 minutes or so but I struggle to get any longer.

A: What are your paces for your easy runs? My first suggestion is to try to slow your pace down (I may know your tendencies!). Also, remember that you should be focusing on something different every day: easy/long, moderate, speed, drills, etc.

If it's a mental block, sometimes it helps to think of a run in terms of a WU/workout/CD... i.e. 1.5 mile WU, 1.5 mile "workout", and 1.5 mile CD. Then the miles seem to go by quicker :)

Q: What would be the best workout to do to gain speed? Also, what other workouts could I do for like lifting weights and etc.?

A: If you're just starting speed workouts my favorites are either:

"Telephone Poles" - running as hard as you can between one set of poles, then easy between the next. Repeat 10x.

"The Nichole Special" - as termed by my athletes. It's actually the Jack Daniels special, but I've adopted it and write it often. 2 minutes HARD, 1 min easy, 1 min HARD, 30 sec easy, 30 sec HARD, 30 sec easy. Repeat for 3-5 miles (depending on your weekly mileage and where you're at in your training cycle)

Hills are another great way to build leg strength and speed.

If you're well into a training block and looking to increase overall strength and speed, progression runs are key. Start at about 70-75% of max HR and increase to 90-95% slowly. They're fun :)

Q: What do you eat after workouts?

I usually mix up a Generation UCAN chocolate shake. I usually just mix it with ice and water in a blender. Then in an hour or two I'll have a full meal.

If I don't have UCAN on me then I'll try to get about 20-25 grams of protein with about 60-80 grams of carbohydrates in. It takes some planning but once you have a few go-to meals/snacks, it's easy. And -- it makes a huge difference in recovery time!! Don't skip the post-run meal!

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