What Now?

Over the past couple of weeks, the following three things happened-

  1. I ran the virtual 10k I’ve been “training” for.
  2. I took my 5th Actuarial Exam
  3. I finished the Netflix show I was watching (Switched at Birth)

And now, I’m sitting here like, “What now???”

Soooo…last things first I guess. I decided NOT to find another Netflix show. Jeff and I still have a show we watch together, but I’m not going to start another show just for me. I’m hoping this will prompt me to do more things at night after Mr. Baby goes to bed.  So far, I can’t say this has changed anything except to make treadmill running less appealing, but I’m still hopeful.  I’m thinking I should find movies to watch while running. At least with movies there’s no “just one more episode.”


I totally know the signs for “okay”, “thank you” and “dating”.  The essentials.

Moving backwards up the list, I’ve had some difficulty deciding what to study next on the actuarial front. There are some changes in the works in regards to the credentialing path, which has resulted in several deadlines I must meet in order to avoid new requirements. The timing of this stinks and is the main reason why choosing what’s next has become such a dilemma.  I think I’ve settled on focusing the next few months on an online course about corporate finance. I haven’t pulled the trigger on buying the course yet because I still feel unsure about what order to do things. Ultimately though, I need to stop waffling about this and just DO SOMETHING.  Something is better than nothing.

Now, on to the running.


10k and S.P.E.W medal!

I’ve signed up for another virtual race through the Hogwarts Running Club. Technically, the suggested run date was yesterday, but that’s the beauty of a virtual race…you can do it whenever you please. This one is the Unmasked 10 Miler. Which means I need to progress from 10k to 10 miles. While I’m fairly certain I could build up to 10 miles in the same pathetic manner I built up to 10k, I’d really like to finally get my act together and run more than once or twice a week. I’ve settled on using the 80/20 running plan, but need to pick a distance – the plans in the book are for 10k or ½ marathon. Technically, I could craft my own plan, but I’m not up for that right now. Whichever I pick, I’ll tweak the long run distances, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go with that.

I know it sounds like I’m pretty settled on my running plans, so let’s throw a tweak in there. I got an email this week about a 5k near my house that would be work sponsored. I have a hankering to do this race, so then what plan do I use? Would I use the 5k plan and do the 10 miler later? Do I just run the 5k with no distance specific training (in other words, the same way I’ve run every 5k I’ve ever done)?  It’s a tough choice! I’m not sure there’s even enough time to complete the 5k training plan before the race…maybe that’ll be the deciding factor. 🙂

So, tell me…did you finish anything recently? How do you decide what’s next?



80/20 5k Training – Week Two

Or Why We Don’t Run in Winter Boots

I’m trying desperately not to fall off the wagon again by posting two weeks in a row. (I know it’s been something like 10 days since my last post but I haven’t hit the two week mark yet, so it counts.) Really though, I don’t want to fall off the blog wagon. I want to post every day. Or at least every time I run. Unfortunately, there’s about a million other things I want to do, too and also some things I have to do, and there’s only so much time in the day.

2015-03-02 18.14.41Yes, I don’t have enough to do, so I started a new knitting project! I’m calling these my Hermione legwarmers. Because they are legwarmers, and I’m using some left over yarn in Gryffindor colors from a scarf I knit a few years back.

This is how week two went running wise:

80-20 Week2Well, week 1 and week 2, but let’s focus on week 2.

The red ones are what I’m going to call the “unauthorized rest days”. I’ll start with those. On Wednesday, I didn’t feel like going back out after driving home from work. I felt like being lazy. I baked banana bread instead of going to the gym. It was fun and delicious, and you should check out the recipe.

Then on Thursday I went out for drinks with some of my engineer friends to celebrate national engineering week. Who better to hang out with on engineering week, right? I did not go running before, but I did sort of go running after. 😉 As usual, I waited until the last possible second to leave the bar for the train. And then instead of leaving at the last possible second, I said goodbye to all my friends…and THEN I left. So, I had to run to the train station. This was not the first time I’ve had to do this (and I’m sure it won’t be the last).  It was less than a mile from the bar to the train station, but it really was a fun little sprint. I stopped to laugh at myself whenever I needed to wait to cross a street (yes, I’m sure I looked like a total crazy person, but there weren’t really any people out to witness it.)

Unfortunately, the next day I found out that my shins do not like when I run in winter boots. They actually kind of hate it, and were quite painful Friday through Sunday. It took until Tuesday for them to be completely better. Lesson Learned!

2015-03-07 08.30.45Fancy running boots: good at being boots, bad at being running shoes.

Anyways, I should probably mention the actual running I did this week. I did a Foundation Run on Monday and Saturday, Speed Play on Tuesday, and a Fast Finish run on Sunday. They were all fun, and I love running and can’t seem to get enough. I think this has something to do with the fact that with this particular training cycle I am running for MUCH shorter periods of time, so I’m always left wanting more. This sounds like it could be frustrating (and sometimes, it is a little), but I think it’s really helping to keep my excitement levels high.

Now, I know you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about with my different types of runs (although some are easy to guess), so as I write up these recap posts, I’ll try and give a little bit of detail about each type. This week, I’ll talk about Foundation Runs because those are the most prevalent types of runs in my schedule.

Effort level for Foundation runs ranges from extremely easy to comfortable. You start out at extremely easy for 5 minutes, then do easy/comfortable for the majority of the run (about 15 or 20 minutes on my schedule), and then finish up with another 5 minutes of extremely easy running. In this plan, easy is just another word for slow. So slow that I’ve had to walk a few times to keep in the right heart rate zone. Which I find incredibly annoying. But on the other hand, I really enjoy the middle chunk of these runs which is just a relaxing easy/comfortable paced run.

Another thing I should mention is that I’ve been doing the foundation runs using a hill program on the treadmill, because when I go back outside there will be hills. This only make me have to go slower, and I’d probably enjoy the runs more if I didn’t do it. But future Amy will thank me for not completely losing all ability to run up hills.

And now, my questions for you:

Do you use the hill function on the treadmill? How do you deal with excruciatingly slow running? Have you ever run through the city to catch a train, and how’d it work out for your legs?



80/20 5k Training – Week One

Hey there!

I know my posting has been a little infrequent lately, but don’t worry, I’m still here! I’ve just been busy with work, studying, and commuting. And, then I spend most of my internet time reading other people’s blogs rather than writing in my own. 😉

The big news over here is that I FINALLY started my 80/20 training plan! First, I read the book during my self imposed 3 week break from running, and then I took some time to slowly get back into running while looking for a goal race to stick at the end of this training plan. Unfortunately, mid-March isn’t race central around here so I ended up with a goal race in April which pushed back the start date of my training plan.

I spent the time setting up my heart rate zones and corresponding pace levels, and making an excessively complex (but awesome) spreadsheet about the whole thing. The spreadsheet is still a work in progress, but some day it’s going to be super cool. All of this prep work was probably a lot more effort than required, but I was in a weird sort of training plan limbo and needed something to motivate me. Manufacturing all of these set-up “requirements” did the trick, and I’m more excited than ever to finally be actually following the training plan.

Which looks like this:

80-20 Schedule

Neat, isn’t it? I color-coded all the runs.  And in the spreadsheet if you click on a run it takes you to a little description of what the run actually is.  This part is still in the works, but is completed for the week I am on. It was too much to put every single thing in the spreadsheet all at once.

So, anyways…I settled on the level 1 5k plan in the book.  The description says it’s good for beginners and runners who for whatever reason want to have a lower training volume. I’m in that second group…and my reason for wanting lower training volume is what I mentioned before about work, studying, and commuting taking up all of my time.  After I complete this cycle, I’d like to move up to level 2; I will hopefully have passed my exam in March and will be spending less time studying and more time running.  (Fingers crossed!)

As you’ll notice from the picture above, I have crossed off ALL the workouts for week one. This is because I actually completed every single workout for the entire week! This is unheard of….I’m sure I”ll be receiving my Nobel prize for consistency in 20 minute workouts any day now. Feel free to praise me!

It was fun and exciting trying out some new workouts and it was definitely interesting doing heart rate training for the first time. I’ll have to give you some more details on all of that in another post because for now, it’s time to get ready for bed. Gotta start the week off on the right foot!

Saturday stuff…a little list of randomness just for you!

Wearing compression socks all day and spending the evening reading running blogs counts as cross training, right?

If so, I’m totally rocking it!

2014-08-30 07.00.38No one knew I had these puppies on all day at work yesterday!

Juuust kidding…I know it’s not cross training, and I’ve done only slightly better at cross training this week than last, meaning I went to the gym once. Hey, if the bar is set low enough, improvement is easy. On Thursday, I rode the bike for about 30 minutes, and then did uphill walking for about 15 minutes. I did something similar today, and I’m planning on going again tomorrow, which will bring my total up to 3 days for this week. Not bad…it’s just a little weekend heavy.

And, now, here is a list of random stuff:

  • One of my new year’s resolutions is to try a new recipe every month. This month, I picked fancy pizza! It has apples, Gorgonzola, and Mozzarella, and then is drizzled with rosemary and honey. It was good and very easy. I’m making it again this weekend because I liked so much, and also I have leftover Gorgonzola. (Note: Jeff made the dough, which is the hard part of pizza making.)

2015-01-03 18.37.09I’m good at food blogging because of the high quality photos I take.

  • I’ve been trying to steal glances at all the treadmill runners when I’m at the gym. 80/20 running talked about form, and how experienced runners have an ease about them. So, I’ve been trying to pick out who looks new and who looks like they’ve been running for years. All while trying not to stare like a giant creep.
  • I don’t often get a good look at my form while running, but the last race I did posted a video, and I was able to spot myself. (If you’re interested, I come right across the front of the screen at about 1:04, and I’m wearing a long sleeved white shirt). I always picture myself looking awkward and slow, but I didn’t! I looked like a real runner! It was very exciting. And if that wasn’t enough proof, Jeff snapped this one from the finish line. Check out that form. Really? Who is this person?

IMG_20150101_103614909That’s me in the middle, with the fancy socks and beautiful form.

  • Uphill treadmill walking is hard! This is another thing I got from the 80/20 book. Set the treadmill to 15% incline and walk. I can’t go very fast without it being incredibly difficult. It is super boring though. And that’s coming from someone who enjoys treadmill running. You need a book or TV for sure.
  • Speaking of treadmills, do you follow the gluten-free treadmill? If you don’t, you should definitely check it out. Laura is planning to run across the United States this summer. (Seriously, think about that for a minute…. the entire country in 67 days.) She’s doing it to raise awareness and funds to help victims of sexual violence, and she’s also aiming to break the record for a woman running across the US. Pretty cool, huh? Well, her blog is a really great place to find out more, read about her training, and if you’re interested, learn how to help support her in this massive effort. Also, she’s selling these cool tank tops. So head on over and check it out.

2015runacrossamericamapAlso, her logo is pretty freakin’ awesome.

  • I got some good questions on my 80/20 post the other day, so I updated the post to include those in my Q&A. If you’re interested, check that out. And if you have any other questions, keep ’em coming!

That’s all I have for now, I hope you have a nice weekend!

80/20 Running – Book Review

Before we delve into the book review, I wanted to let you know that after I told you on Thursday about how lazy I’ve been, I did finally get my act together and do some exercise. So my first week of the off season wasn’t a total bust. I took a short walk, I foam rolled twice, stretched once, did a 40 min workout on the arc trainer, and tried out some yoga. I think walking might be my favorite cross training. And right now, yoga is my least favorite. It felt awkward and way too hard — I couldn’t even sit up straight the right way.  I’m not giving up on it yet though, because you can’t really judge an exercise on the first try.


Now, moving along to the book review. Just so you know, this is a review is of the book only, not the training plans. That will come later, once I’ve had a chance to try one.

80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower By Matt Fitzgerald

2015-01-11 19.48.59

So, turns out I’m not good at writing book reviews. I’ve been staring at the blinky little cursor for entirely too long. To make it easier on myself (and improve the chances of this ever getting written), I’ve decided to put this in a Q&A format. I’m the one coming up with the Qs and the As, but if you have any additional Qs, let me know, and I’ll give you an A.

Why did you decide you wanted to read this book?

I heard about the book on a couple of running blogs. As someone who enjoys a nice leisurely long run as opposed to a lot of fast speed sessions, the claim that I could “…race faster by training slower” was incredibly appealing. I’ve read/perused a few other books that claim their training strategy will make you faster, but the “how” hasn’t intrigued me quite like this one. Plus, I’m always up for hearing new ideas.

Where did you get it?

Santa brought it! But I know you can find it on Amazon.

What is it about?

The author puts forth a case for running 80% of your runs at low intensity, and 20% at moderate or high intensity. He goes over the evolution of how elites train, and how for the most part they’re all following an 80/20 plan. He talks about the differences in how they train compared to the average recreational runner. And, he points out ways we can adapt our running to more closely follow the 80/20 rule.

Why should we listen to what the author recommends?

He gives us proof by citing multiple studies. Plus he’s a runner recommending something he’s tried. That’s always nice.

Who should read it?

Other runners or endurance athletes interested in learning more about the 80/20 plan. Or anyone interested in running studies. This book has a lot of them, and not just about 80/20 running. I find them all pretty fascinating.

What was your favorite part?

The running studies! I really liked that there was a bunch of proof to back up why this training method works. There were also several other studies/topics the author wrote about that weren’t strictly related to 80/20 running, but I liked that too. It mixed things up a little, and I found them all interesting (stride, brain/body link, 80/20 and weight loss).

Was there anything you didn’t like?

Not really, the book was really good and I’m excited to try 80/20 running. I’ve read other running books that promise you’ll get faster, and you probably would, but this is one of the first (if not the only one) that seems doable and fun. I even had a spark of interest/excitement while reading the cross training section. And that’s really saying something.

What are you going to do with what you learned?

After my 3 week running break, I’m going to do the level 1, 5k training plan. And because I’m so nice, I’ll let you follow along. 😉 And in terms of reading, I think I want to read some of Matt Fitzgerald’s other books – Brain Training for Runners and Racing Weight.

***Update! I got some reader questions in the comment section. Keep ’em comin’!***

Were there a lot of personal anecdotes in the book?  I find that I always need a ton of those to keep me engaged when reading nonfiction books filled with studies.

(sumbmitted by Chris at Pineapple Sage)

Not really. Actually, I don’t really remember any. So at the very least, they don’t make a big impression. And there definitely were a lot of studies. Personally, I felt like they were broken up into manageable chunks; however, I did notice on Goodreads that there was at least one comment saying there were too many studies, so I suppose it really depends on what you like.

What does a training plan look like following the 80/20 rule?

(Submitted by Sara at Sweaty Mess Mama)

I’m so glad this was asked…it’s kind of an important one! I hope to talk more about it when I start the training, but for now here’s some bare bones info-

  • I’ve mostly been looking at the 5k plans, but all of the race distances seem to be similar in set-up, the main difference being how long you run. For a level 1 plan, you’re “active” 6 days a week. You could run all 6 of those days or opt for cross training on up to 3 of them. A level 2 plan has you “active” for 7 days, with cross training as an option for 4 of them. And, the level 3 plans have you active 7 days a week with 3 days a week of doubles (with options for cross training 3 days a week and/or for some of the doubles.)
  • The speed work seems to come in the form of fast finish long runs or speed play in an easy run as well as some interval type workouts. The majority of the running is easy running. (You know…80/20)
  • After reading the book you have all the information you need to create your own 80/20 plan. The reason the ready made plans have so much running is because the author advocates increasing time spent running as the best way to improve.  According to him, you will notice an improvement just by going to the 80/20 ratio, regardless of how many miles you run, but after that change is made, the next step is to run more.*

*There is a whole chapter on cross training as a substitute for some/all of this additional running for hurt/injury prone/older runners or for people who just like to switch it up.

Now, some questions for you –

Do you have any other questions? Have you read this book? Do you think running studies are interesting?