I love this recipe because of its flexibility. Basically, there are two parts of preparing the mixture: the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. There is a lot of room for experimentation! I will describe how I usually make it, but also some variations.
Combine the following dry ingredients:
4 cups old fashioned oats, 1 cup sliced almonds, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
Combine the following wet ingredients:
½ cup vegetable oil, ½ cup honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Carefully pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and gently stir. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and spread the granola onto it. DO NOT skip this step! I have tried to use cooking spray and half the granola was baked onto the dish! It was a messy pain! Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 40-60 minutes. Be sure to stir every 10 minutes.
VARIATIONS: I often add wheat germ, flaxseed, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, steel oats, or different nuts; just be sure the dry ingredients make up about 4 cups. If you would like to add dried fruit, chocolate chips, or m&m’s, do so after the granola has cooled. I have a friend who substituted a different oil, but I have never tried that. I hope you enjoy! It doesn’t last long in my house, so we usually double the batch.
As a marathoner, learning to run the correct pace is important, and the only way to do that is by practice! If you have a time goal for your next marathon, this is my favorite confidence-boosting workouts. I believe it is what helped me run my first sub 3 marathon. Not only does it teach your body pace, but it is a workout that you can easily see and measure progress. I find that when I can see weekly progress, it motivates and encourages me.
WHAT TO DO… The first session, just do a single 5k at marathon pace (with a warm up and cool down) so the total run is about 7 miles. The second session, warm up with 2 easy miles (slower than marathon pace). Run a 5k at marathon pace or 5-10 seconds per mile faster. Recover for 0.9 miles (slow jog, but no walking). Run a second 5k 5-10 seconds faster than marathon pace, then cool down 1.9 miles so the total run is 11 miles. I try and run the second 5k slightly faster than the first. If you were to do 3 x 5k, it would be a 15 mile work out, and if you did 4 x 5k with 2-3 easy miles at the beginning and end, it could be a 20 mile workout. When I ran my sub 3 marathon, I worked up to 4 x 5k, with the first one at marathon pace, and the final one about 10 seconds faster (per mile).
PACING is very important. Be sure to warm up slowly, and jog the recovery slowly. Focus on breathing during the recovery and relaxing during the interval. If the effort is difficult, then reevaluate your goal.
TIMING of these workouts is also a consideration. It should not replace speed work or a tempo run because those are faster than marathon pace. Depending on your weekly mileage, it can be a midweek medium long run, or in place of your long run when you are doing 3 or 4 repeats. If you find they make you tired, be sure to focus on recovery and do an easy workout the following day. Some runners are able to build up intervals weekly, others need to do so bi-weekly.
LOCATION: I know I am in the minority, but I do not mind the treadmill. In fact, there are times when I see it as a beneficial tool. This workout is the perfect example. If the goal is to teach your legs the correct pace, a treadmill can be helpful for leg turnover.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I worked up to 4 x 5k when I ran my sub 3, and I did 5 x 5k for my marathon PR (2:53). I am hoping to work up to 5 x 5k again for Boston. One thing I did notice, as your marathon time gets faster, it becomes more important to run each 5k progressively faster. The photo above is from my 2 x 5k last week. I can’t wait to do 3 x 5k tomorrow!
NOTE: This was originally posted on my former blog in 2017.
Are you overwhelmed with choosing a marathon? It’s no wonder because there are over 800 marathons in the US alone, according to Running in the USA. How do you go about choosing the right race for you? Here are some things to consider:
WHEN: Narrow down your race date first. If you can’t pick a date, at least narrow the timing down. Take into account your family schedule, work commitments and holidays. I find it easier to search for race options once I’ve picked my marathon month. Also, consider your training schedule – you may not want to run a September marathon if you have to run huge mileage in the August heat and humidity.
COURSE: Terrain, elevation and elevation change are also important factors to consider. Know your running strengths, and decide on a race that is good for these strengths. Some courses are pancake-flat, like the Chicago Marathon, and advertised as super fast. Other courses are net downhill, like Steamtown. Both courses can be fast, but speed isn’t guaranteed. I like marathons with rolling hills. Think also about specific course characteristics – some offer shade and protection from the sun. Many spring marathons along the east coast can be windy, which makes for a challenging race day.
COURSE SUPPORT AND SWAG: All marathons offer support on the course, which can include water and sports drinks, fuel and timing clocks. It’s important to know when these are offered so you can have a fuel plan. Be sure you practice your long runs with the sports drink used on the course. Some races also offer on-course entertainment that can help the miles pass. Besides finisher medals, more races are trying to give runners an entertaining and unique experience. Some races are known for their post-race parties (Rehoboth Beach has a great one!) Most races give shirts and some races offer specific finisher items such as hats or glassware. These runners are showing a spiffy blanket from the Richmond Marathon.
LOCATION: Hometown marathons offer easy logistics and are usually the most affordable. A local race can be easy to plan because you can sleep in your own bed. Reducing stress can help you focus on the race. On the other hand, traveling to a race can be a great way to see different areas.
SIZE: The size of the marathon refers to the number of participants. A larger marathon may offer more on-course support due to the increased resources. Running with tens of thousands of runners offers comradery and can help the miles pass quickly. Depending on your pace, you may find yourself running some miles alone in a smaller race, but smaller races can provide a more intimate experience. Larger marathons are typically found in larger cities, so decide if that’s important. Keep in mind that larger-city races often require you to register early, months ahead of the race.
TECHNICAL: Is the course USATF-certified course? This matters if you’re trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Boston-qualifying races will usually advertise this and you can check on Boston’s site.
COST: Races can be expensive, however, they often offer early registration discounts. When considering cost, take into account travel and housing fees. It isn’t worth traveling to an inexpensive race if you have to fly there or if the race is in an expensive city.
NEED MORE HELP? There are a number of websites that can help you narrow down your search. One of my favorites is Marathon Guide. This site allows users to search by date and includes previous results. You can also read comments by other runners who have raced the marathon you are considering. Another excellent website is Find My Marathon. This website includes course profile information and it assigns a score to each marathon that can help you determine your best option for getting a PR or Boston qualification. Another great site is Running in the USA. This site offers an interactive map of upcoming marathons. All three sites are great resources for picking your marathon – whether you are a newbie or seasoned marathoner. But nothing beats talking to other runners!
Are you near the RUN717 area? Check out my list of local marathons here!
Looking for a new place to run? This rail trail has been on my to-do list because it’s near Spooky Nook. My son has been practicing lacrosse there so I was eager to check it out. The Lancaster Junction Rail Trail is one of the many convenient rail trails we have in our area.
I love rail trails. I cannot get lost, I enjoy running out and back, and I enjoy the softer surface. This trail is about 2.5 miles one way, so I would not suggest doing all of your long run here. Crushed stone surfaces are not ideal for shorter speed intervals, but they are great for easy runs, recovery days, and the occasional tempo run. Most rail trails have unique features that keep them interesting and they are very user friendly. This rail trail even has a bathroom at the parking area.
We can argue whether runners need GPS devices and heart monitors, but few would disagree about the necessity of proper running shoes. The question is: Do we visit a local specialty store, or do we shop at a department/big box retailer, or log online?
My definitive answer – SHOP LOCAL! It benefits the consumer AND the community.
There is a lot of talk about why we should shop local, but what are the benefits?
Relationships. When I go to my local running store, I’m greeted by name. They have a history of what shoes I’ve purchased and when I bought them. They know what type of shoe I should be wearing and if I pronate, supinate, or if I’m a neutral-footed runner. Could you imagine going into a big box retailer and asking a sales clerk if they’d keep track of this information or could make such recommendations based on your running history and goals?
Newbie? If you are new to running, or maybe it is your first visit to a specialty shop, you will be given extra attention. Stores often provide gait analysis and will examine the wear on your current running shoes to determine shoes that would meet your needs.
Testing. Many stores also have a treadmill for you take a test run.
Resource. Most of the salespeople at local running stores are runners. If you have any question related to running, they can find the answer – from where to run, who to run with and other tips.
Buying running shoes from a local specialty shop also benefits the community! Not only do running stores employ your neighbors, but they also support the running community through donations, races, volunteering and running groups.
A few words about department stores: Often, their selections are based with fashion or comfort in mind, not running. Getting the proper shoe and fit is key for injury prevention. It might be tempting to save a few dollars, but you get what you pay for.
I get most of my running shoes at Flying Feet in York, PA. We are blessed to have this store in our community, not only for the products available, but also for the services and knowledge they provide. Click below for driving directions.
I love summer running. The increased daylight, clear roads and no worry of ice and snow! I do not have to layer clothes and there is no concern of frostbite. But there is a cost – heat and humidity. We can only remove so much clothing! Fluid loss, dehydration, and heat-related illnesses are a real concern.
Set yourself up for success BEFORE you run.
HYDRATE constantly. This does not mean chug a glass of water right before you run. It means staying hydrated throughout the day. Watch alcohol and caffeine and consider drinking a sports drink with electrolytes.
Have access to water during your run. This means to either carry water or make sure you have access to water on your route. When it is sunny and above 75 degrees, I carry water, even for short runs.
Run early or later in the day. Adapt and adjust your schedule.
I know some people are not a fan but hit the treadmill. Most people use them in the winter to avoid icy roads, but they forget that it can be a safer summer option.
Hit the shade. I know some routes that are mostly shaded and this can make a difference. Many rail trails have large shaded portions.
Hit the trails! I am a road runner, but I have found solace this summer running on the trails. The trees provide protection and relief.
Want to have successful training during these conditions – Remember to SOS – Shorten Or Slow Down! Or perhaps both! What does this mean?
Shorten your run. If you normally run 5 miles in the morning, reduce it to 4 miles. I advise the athletes I coach to think in minutes. If your 5 mile easy run takes you 45 minutes, then run for 45 minutes NOT worrying about the distance covered. This may mean you get in 4.5 miles.
Slow down your run. It is so important especially on easy days to run by effort. Do not be afraid to slow down. Have the confidence in your running to not judge your ability by your pace. My normal easy run pace is around 8:00. The other day I went for a run, and it was 8:40. Give yourself permission to slow down! By the way, I find running on trails helps me to slow down. I know the GPS is not as accurate, and the varied terrain also impacts pace. I find myself able to relax and enjoy my runs on trails, even the hot ones!
What if you have a speed workout? There are times when you need to hit your goal paces. It is fine to adjust workouts as well so you come away feeling successful. There are a number of ways to adjust workouts as well, without slowing down your goal pace. One option is to decrease the number of repetitions. If the workout calls for 6 x 800 meters, adjust it to 4 or 5 repetitions. Another option is to walk the recovery or increase the recovery time. If the 6 x 800 meters had a 2:00 minute rest, consider increasing the time to 3:00 minutes.
LOCATION: 2459 River Road, Washington Boro, PA 17582
Click below for driving directions.
I recently ran on the Enola Low Grade Trail and was reminded of how fortunate we are to have such beautiful places to run. The south central Pennsylvania area is filled incredible running opportunities.
I began at the Turkey Hill trailhead in Manor Township and ran to Safe Harbor. The crushed stone trail is a little over 5.2 miles long one-way, Eventually the trail will be a continuous 29 miles. There are plenty of things to see along the way though so it does not get boring.
PROS: Like all rail trails, this has a crushed stone surface and is mostly flat. Even though it is only a tad over 5 miles, I actually enjoy doing long runs here. I usually return to my car for fuel and hydration, so this is convenient. Here is my most recent long run on the Enola: https://www.strava.com/activities/2367032498 I also appreciate mile markers (every half mile!) and port-a-potties along the trail. In addition to waterfalls, you can spy windmills, turkey vultures, bald eagles, and even a caboose!
CONS: This portion of the trail lacks shade so it can get quite warm in the summer. There aren’t any water fountains, so be prepared. Oh, and you COULD get hit by a rock slide, but what are the chances?
You put in the hard work and you had a great race, maybe even set a Personal Record! Now what?
Congratulations to the athletes I coach who raced a half marathon this weekend. For some this was their goal race and they trained for 8-12 weeks in order to run a PR. For others it was a hard effort that is part of their training. Regardless of the situation proper recovery is essential.
You had a great finish, they placed the medal around your neck, and now you just want to sit down… DON’T!
Immediately after finishing, try and replenish fluids. I suggest chocolate milk because of the carbohydrates and proteins, but sports drinks with electrolytes are also beneficial. Continue to walk around if you can. At the local half, it was rainy and chilly so most runners were wet when they finished. It is a good idea to change out of your wet clothes as soon as you can. It was in the 50’s yesterday, but one of my runners had blue lips! Get warm.
Most of us do not feel like running a cool down, stretching, and foam rolling after a race, myself included! One of my favorite recovery tricks is the yoga pose, Legs Up On Wall. If you can do this pose within 30 minutes of finishing, it can speed up recovery by improving circulation. It is simple to execute: Lie down on your back and try to get your butt as close to the wall as possible, extending your legs up, perpendicular to the floor. I can share with you my butt does not get very close to the wall, and I still benefit. Open your arms to the sides, palms up. Focus on relaxing and breathing deeply.
In the hours following a race, be sure to refuel with a full meal. After racing a longer race, I tend to listen to my cravings. Sometimes I want a salty soup, and sometimes I want a burger and fries (but tacos are ALWAYS a favorite)! I DO make sure I eat protein to help rebuild muscles and I increase fluid intake. Take some time to stretch, self massage, foam roll, and take en epsom salt bath. You do not have to incorporate all these methods, but I do suggest one or two.
The week after a race, you need to listen to your body and adapt. If this was your goal race, you need some time to recover. This is where having a coach can be an asset. You want to focus on recovery but you do not want to lose fitness. Depending on age, running history, and injury tendency, I recommend a day or two of total rest, then at least a week of easy running. You do NOT want to take an extended period off unless you have an injury. I also highly recommend getting a professional massage!
After a longer hard effort, our immune systems get tired as well. I highly suggest to athletes I coach to take extra vitamin C during the taper period and for at least a week post race. I usually do this, but got lazy after Boston. I now have had to take some unplanned rest due to being sick.
It can happen whether you run a PR (personal record) or a PW (personal worst). Post marathon blues are real and it is more common than you think. Know that you are not alone.
Boston was a few days ago and I had a decent race (3:00:26) placing me 4th in my age group. It was somewhere between my PR of 2:53 and my PW. I am experienced enough to know that being objective and finding success in the experience is important: I qualified for Boston, I got to the start healthy, I finished strong, 3:00:26 is a great time for a 47 year old female, placing 4th in age group is amazing, and although I am sore today, I do not have any injuries. I celebrate ALL of this. I KNOW those things but I also know that my 2019 Boston time does not reflect my fitness.
And although I had a decent race that I can celebrate, I can also feel IT already. I am a bit moody, teary, and unsettled. I ran 1,110 miles in preparation for Boston (beginning 1/1/19). I had a couple of 100+ mile weeks, and numerous weeks I ran doubles. I gave up fun races and activities. I tried to dial in nutrition and focus on recovery. Every day I had a goal and purpose. Structure. Focus. Motivation. Now what?
After focusing on training for months, I feel blah. I just want to sleep and I do not feel like doing much of anything. Although it may not be a clinical diagnosis, there are physiological and psychological reasons for post marathon depression.
How can we combat PMD? Here are some suggestions:
Write it down (or talk about it). Let it out through journaling or talking to a caring friend.
Perspective. Keep the race in perspective. If it did not go the way you wanted, think of it as a training run for your next race.
Give Back. Volunteer at a race or help out at one of the many great running programs like Girls on the Run.
Get Outside. This one helps me a great deal. I am used to running outside and nothing can boost your mood better than fresh air and sunshine. If you are too sore to run, go for walk or hike.
Future Goals. It can help to plan out your future racing schedule. Find your next race and commit to it by registering or making plans with a friend.
Cross Train. After long, heavy training cycles, running legs can benefit from some cross training. Try a new sport or revisit an activity you had been ignoring because of your running.
Go For a Run. We all need rest days and recovery periods, but short easy runs of 30 minutes can boost your mood and help you maintain the fitness you worked so hard to build.
Remember, PMD is real and more common than you think, but it will pass. Pamper yourself for a few days, but do not dwell. If you want to build on your fitness, have a plan and do not let weeks go by without running. I plan on getting outside later and playing soccer with my son, but right now, I think I will go nap!