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6 Marathons Later – What am I doing differently?

I just realized Boston will be my 7th marathon over the course of three years! My first marathon was March 2015 (3:42) then I rode off that training with another attempt in May 2015 (4:00). After those two I took time off until my coworkers convinced me to run Sugarloaf in May of 2016 (3:33). Then I took the entire summer off after that and dedicated myself for training for Napa in March of 2017 (3:20) then came Burlington in May with my sister (4:00) and Chicago in the fall (3:23).

Now that you can see the timeline, I am going to get into some things I am doing differently this training cycle. No training cycle is the same for me, I always add in some new elements to see if it helps.

  • Nutrition

I am going to admit something here for all my past marathons I was terrible with nutrition and fueling. Don’t believe me? Only 3 of my marathons I ate something before the race and only one I fueled with maple candies during the race. Luckily one of those I did both, Napa 2017! I have always had trouble with fueling and I never took the time during training to really try to find something that worked for me.

This training cycle, I have tried generation ucan, tailwind, untapped maple syrup and waffles, run gum and english muffins with peanut butter for breakfast! Right now I really like to have Generation Ucan before my long runs around 30 minutes before, then I use Tailwind during my run. If I don’t decide to use Tailwind during, I will use the maple syrup gus or candies during. My current plan for Boston is to bring a waffle to have before the start since the start time is pretty late.

What’s worked for me? Testing my fueling on a treadmill run, especially if you get stuck indoors for a long one!

  • Strength

One of my first training cycles I did Kayla Itstines BBG workouts and found myself totally burnt out following that as well as doing my running workouts. Every since then I have done one day of TRX a week and one day of yoga which has worked well for me.

This training cycle I am working with Crystal Seaver to get stronger! She builds my strength plan around my running workouts so that I still have enough time to recover. I have loved it so far but it is a lot to try to find time for two workouts a day some days. Hopefully it pays off for Boston!

  • Hills

I don’t think I have ever focused on hills until this training cycle and I still could be doing better. I have added some short hill sprints and some longer runs on rolling hills. A little later I am hoping to do a tempo on some rolling hills, granted where I am that’s still not bad but its something!

  • Mileage

50-55 miles a week is my sweet spot, it is where I like to be most weeks although most other training cycles I have been more in the 40’s. This cycle is turning out to be better, already I have had 3 solid 50 mile weeks and another one is coming my way next week. I hope to get to around 60 this training cycle, that will be my most ever!

Side note, I definitely play the comparison game and see people running 75-95 mile weeks and feel inadequate sometimes but that only lasts a few seconds before I tell myself to snap out of it. Maybe one day I will get there, but right now I am not there and no way am I forcing it and getting injured!

  • Long run workouts

For Napa when I ran a 3:20 one of the workouts that helped me the most was 10-15 mile mid-week tempo workouts and long runs with workouts! I didn’t have much of those in my training cycle for Chicago and I did not feel prepared for that race, but also mentally because long run workouts make me more confident in my training even if I struggle with the paces!

This training cycle I have done a lot of these workouts and I am already feeling like things are clicking more than in the past. Next week I have a 20 miler with 12 at GMP, wish me luck!!

  • Sports Massage & Recovery

I have never focused on recovery and maintenance enough while training, until this year! Since my runners knee I have gotten into the habit of foam rolling every day, especially before I go out for a run. I also just bought an AMAZING foam roller from Trigger Pin – the Vector, it does wonders for those hard to reach spots. My IT Band loves it because it hits the muscles around the IT band unlike a typical foam roller.

I have never had a sports massage until last month and it is now going to be part of my training. She made my legs feel amazing. She was also so knowledgeable and gave me pointers based on what she was feeling and seeing with my muscles. The money was definitely worth it. I went to Knead to Run Massage in Exeter, NH for anyone local!

Anyway, right now this is what I am doing differently for Boston, hopefully it pays off but even if it doesn’t there is always another day to chase a goal. There are always more chances, don’t forget that!

Mid-Winter Classic 10 Miler – Recap

As the buffalo chicken dip warms in the crockpot and I wait for the Super Bowl, I decided to write a race recap as it was fresh in my mind!

So first lets go back to this week. Last weekend I slipped walking my dog and caught myself with my knee. The same knee that I just got rid of my runners knee on. I spent most of this week discouraged as I tried to run and had strange pain I couldn’t pinpoint. I tried to get in to my PT but he is only in Portsmouth one day a week now 😦 (so sad!!). So I decided to try a sports massage on Saturday before the race. GAME CHANGER!

Saturday, I went to Knead to Run Massage in Exeter, NH. I told Sara what was bothering me and she was able to pinpoint the tightness. She worked on it, but not too much because she knew my race was today. I was very impressed with her knowledge of runners and where I feel pain just based on my ankle break in high school and my recent knee pain. I will be returning! Already booked my next appointment. It was a splurge for me, but I realized after going that it will be a necessary addition to my training.

Anyway, I was contemplating not racing this weekend up until my massage. Then afterwards I felt great. I slept amazing and I decided I would give it a shot, worst case scenario I would just run easy and go for miles.

I left my house around 7:30 because I wanted to have time to add a few miles in before. I got to Cape Elizabeth High School at 8:30. When I stepped out of the car I noticed the wind and started having my doubts, it was also cold! I grabbed my number and went out for three easy miles. Even in the warmup miles I was unsure what I would go for today, the miles didn’t feel easy and I was running around 9 minute pace. 2 minutes off what I was aiming for as a pace the first half of the race AND I knew the course would be hilly. I headed back to the gym went to the bathroom again and then did some rolling and headed to the start.

I always tell myself the faster you run the sooner its over before I start. Before I knew it we were off. I should add this race only has about 1,000 runners but less showed up today probably because of the weather and Super Bowl plans! In the first mile I aimed to settle into a pace. The first mile is one of the easiest on this course because it’s downhill. So it was a little fast at 6:48, but then I pulled myself back and settled into a pace around 7. There were a lot of hills in the next two miles so I aimed to stay comfortable and not really focus on pace. Something I do in most races is I find someone around my pace in the beginning miles and settle in behind them so that they can do the work and I can just relax and stay calm and run behind them. I did this in this race too. For the first 5 miles I stayed behind a girl around 7 minute pace and just made myself stay with her no matter what.

When I crossed the mat at mile 5 at 34:46 (6:58 pace) I knew I could stay where I was or start pushing it. My goal for today was sub 1:10 because I have been going for that for a while. I don’t run many races but it has been my 10 miler goal since 2017. I decided it was go time. If I couldn’t hold on to it, that’s okay but I was going to try. I set my sights on another person and spend the next two miles chasing them (6:50, 6:55). Still not as fast as I hoped but I decided to keep pushing but not go all out until the last two miles. Mile 7 was a 6:51. It was go time, only 2 miles left. I can do it. I can do it. I repeated it over and over. It started to feel uncomfortable. I no longer felt calm and in control, but that’s because I was pushing myself and that is what racing is for!

Around mile 7 I was 6th girl. Now I was chasing the 4th place girl, I was determined to catch her. Mile 8, 6:39 pace, got into 4th place. No other females in sight so I knew I probably wouldn’t catch them but set my sights on the next people in view and went after them. I never did catch them but I am super proud of my last mile being a 6:32!

Came in at 1:08:30 4th female and 1st in my age group and a huge PR! I mean I say huge but a 2 minute PR on a windy cold day, I will take it. I did a 2.5 mile cool down for 15.5 miles total for the day.

Also, NO KNEE pain!!! Knead to run massage gets credit for that one 🙂

Now time for the super bowl. I have all the snacks and beer!

Jules

The Beginning – Boston Training

I have been meaning to write a blog post for weeks now and meaning to give everyone a training update for Boston, but if we are being honest, during busy times blogging is the first thing to go for me. So, apologies for my absence!

Anyway, I will take you through the last two weeks because they were good ones 🙂

After taking all of November and December to heal my runners knee, it has finally been better and I have felt strong the last couple of weeks!

January 1st- 7th: Week 1

Monday: 7 easy miles (9:20 average) & TRX

Tuesday: 5 miles easy at lunch

Wednesday: 2 mile warm up – 5k time trial (19:30)- cool down (6.5 miles total)

Thursday: 45 minutes yoga & abs/hamstring exercises

Friday: 4.5 snowy miles with Lyla

Saturday: 50 minutes of yoga

Sunday: 16 hilly treadmill running miles

Total: 40.5 miles

January 8th-14th: Week 2

Monday: unplanned rest day

Tuesday: 7 easy with strides & planks

Wednesday: 2 mile warm up, 4 miles at tempo (6:40, 6:53, 6:59, 6:45), 1. 25 cool down (7.25 miles total) & 40 minutes of AM biking and rolling

Thursday: 5 easy miles at lunch

Friday: 5 easy with Lyla & planks

Saturday: 7 easy, 8 miles at tempo (7:27, 7:28, 7:11, 7:17, 7:08, 7:09, 7:17, 7:15), cool down to 17.5 miles & foam rolling – this weather was crazy windy and 20 degree change – mentally tough

Sunday: yoga & mini strength routine

Total: 41.75 miles

January 15th- 21st: Week 3

Monday: 4 miles easy

Tuesday: 2 miles up, 8×800 (2:58, 3:12, 3:01, 3:10, 3:05, 3:16, 3:07, 3:22 – all on rolling terrain), cool down for 8.1 miles total

Wednesday: 2 snowy miles (can’t resist a snow day!) & yoga & strength

Thursday: 10 snowy hilly miles

Friday: Rest day, cross country skiied at lunch

Saturday: 20 miles easy & 25 minutes yoga

Sunday: 6 miles easy & yoga & planks

Total: 50.1 miles

January 22nd- 28th: Week 4

Monday: 5.3 miles easy

Tuesday: rest day!

Wednesday: 4 miles easy, 10×20 seconds fast with 60 second recovery, cool down for 7 miles total

Thursday: unexpected rest day

Friday: 4.56 easy lunch run

Saturday: 15 hilly miles in south berwick & 1.5 mile walk jog with Lyla (slipped and hit my knee)

Sunday: 6.7 miles easy – called it quits because knee was sore from yesterday’s fall

Total: 40 miles 

So far it has been a solid January, although I am hoping my knee stops hurting. I just got it to a good spot, but I can’t control that. You can be cautious like me and still fall on ice, clearly.

I have also been practicing fueling on my runs a lot lately. I have been drinking generation ucan before my runs and using rungum and maple syrup gus during my runs, it has been going well! Treadmill long runs are perfect for practicing fueling.

The next couple of weeks I have some exciting workouts coming up, crossing my fingers my knee allows me to do them.

Side note, when I know I took enough time off between hard training, its when I honestly feel excited for all the workouts and all the training, it’s not just a grind, it makes my day!

Thanks for following my journey!

Jules

Fueling on the Run

Hi everyone! 

My name is Megan, I am Jules’ twin and also a Registered Dietitian at Spaulding Rehab in Boston!

Have you ever hit a wall? Not literally, but figuratively. That feeling where your body just can’t anymore? I have. Multiple times. Take my marathon for example. I was all giddy and chatty until about mile 17. And then I couldn’t talk because every breath was too much effort. I couldn’t chew my gummies because the act would take too much energy. And every step felt like I was moving in slow motion and hurt like hell. Because of that wall, and because I made my time goal oh-so-perfectly (thanks to Julie, or Jules as you know her), I likely won’t be running another marathon. It’s not for everyone and as I like to say “to each his/her own.”

No matter what race you’re running, you’ll want to do what you can to avoid that wall. That comes with training, but also with fueling your body appropriately. Previously we talked about what to eat before a run but that can only last you so long. For short to medium runs eating adequately beforehand will suffice, but any run that will last over an hour may require some extra fuel.

What I found to be key during my training is thinking of food as fuel. You want to eat before you hit the wall, just like you want to fill up your gas tank before you hit empty and have to pull over on the side of the road. Hitting empty slows you down no matter what, even if you have some fuel (gummies or gas) on hand, you’re still losing precious time. There are times to eat when you’re hungry, but there are also times to plan ahead and fuel up even if you aren’t hungry.

That being said, you should fuel every 1 to 1-½ hours. It depends on the person and what you ate prior to leaving the house. The first time you fuel up depends but then after that I would recommend every hour if not sooner if you’re feeling sluggish. The recommendation is to have 30-60 grams/hour. What does 30 grams of carbohydrate look like? 2 slices of bread. 1 english muffin. 2 pieces of fruit. That can be a lot to eat while running, therefore, many people choose concentrated sources of carbohydrates such as dried fruit, candy, or even maple syrup. Julie drinks maple syrup and I relied on fruit snacks. You do you. Looking back I would have switched to maple syrup or some kind of liquid carbohydrate since it’s easier to swallow in touch times. Live and learn.

Choosing a fuel.

Simple carbohydrates. Skip the whole grains and the fiber. Your stomach will thank you later.
Skip the fat and protein, it takes longer to digest. Although a little won’t hurt.
What do you like? Don’t choke down something just to be like the other runners out there.
What’s easy to carry? Do you have a belt that can hold 4 bags of fruit snacks?

Examples.
Dried fruit. Skip prunes…google it if you don’t know why.
Chewy candies. Don’t choose hard candies, choking hazard.
Energy balls. Make your own or buy some, look in the granola bar aisle.
Pretzels or crackers. Maybe try unsalted unless you run with a water belt.
Sports drinks if, again, you have a water belt.
Liquid sugar! Aka maple syrup (Julie’s favorite!), a creation of the God’s or my favorite farmers in Vermont. Please choose real maple syrup, we can’t be friends if you use the fake stuff.

I’ll leave you with this advice. Try it and if it doesn’t work try something else. Or give it another shot. Our stomachs don’t react the same way day in and day out even if we eat the same foods. Don’t give up. Just like a long run can seem impossible one day and a walk in the park the next, fueling can be equally unpredictable.


Megan Morris, MSD, RD, LDN

Chasing 2018

I love setting new goals for a new year! It motivates me, but I am also flexible about them. If my goals change as the year progresses, that is okay, if I realize something won’t be possible under certain circumstances, that is also okay. Goals help me to be my best self.

Let’s start by looking at how 2017 went!

Goals I accomplished:

  • BQ Marathon – ran a 3:20 and a 3:23
  • Become a certified coach – done!
  • read a book a month – this changed to read 12 books, but done
  • Iceland and Chicago – done and done
  • save money – not much but technically I did this 🙂
  • GOTR- coached two seasons and still going
  • Train dogs to run with me – one is going well the other still needs work haha

Goals I didn’t accomplish:

  • Run the year in miles – realized this would be forced and not natural for me
  • Yoga twice a week – did once a week and worked out well
  • be able to do a pull-up – haven’t attempted this one yet
  • Mt Washington and Mt Katahdin – didn’t do as much hiking as I hoped this year
  • Be Present – still needs work

Goals for 2018, I am coming for ya!:

  • BE PRESENT
  • Add to Run with Jules – strength coach certification, dietitian
  • Volunteer at a race (marathon or half marathon)
  • Scotland (already booked) and a new US destination (solo running adventure trip? I think yes!)
  • Focus on building strength – 1-2x a week
  • Run a trail race – first one!
  • Marathon (3:10) and half marathon (1:30)
  • Foam roll, floss and take my vitamins every damn day
  • read 15 books
  • try a new hobby with Greg – woodworking
  • celebrate the small successes with wine 🙂
  • do something that scares me everyday and gets me closer to my goals
  • find a reason to smile every day
  • five year plan – full ironman

I think one of the most important goals for me this year is being present, that pesky phone can get in the way sometimes. I find myself going into a rabbit hole of other peoples successes and their best life that they put on instagram and wondering if my life is actually that great. Instead I should be just living my best life, with people, not through my phone. True in person connections. First step, get an alarm clock so my phone can spend it’s nights in my kitchen.

Not going to lie, I wrote this post before and it didn’t save and it was really good. Maybe the second glass of wine really helped, but not sure it’s is going to be as good this time around. Anyway, besides being present I want to make sure to celebrate the small successes and each success I make. It is easy to look at social media and think the goals you have been working towards for months aren’t really that great of an accomplishment because someone else did better, whether that means they ran faster, farther, got a promotion, traveled farther, got five puppies instead of one! Literally, anything. We need to stop doing this, but believe me I know how hard it is, I have been doing it all the time lately. Am I really a good coach? Am I really a good runner? Why do I try to do this and that? We all have doubts, but if we don’t believe in ourselves who will?

Also, if we don’t go after out dreams, who will? 2017 I went after my dreams but in 2018 I plan to keep doing just that. I want to constantly reflect and make sure I am on the right path. Does this make me happy? Is this fulfilling? Is this what I want to work towards in life? It is easy to get caught up in the routine of life and before you know it years pass and you are still thinking about that business you wish you started or that race you wish you ran or that class you wish you took. Why not now? Why not just go for it? If you fail or it fails, do you really have regrets? I wouldn’t because at least I tried.

I think I got a little side tracked, but I think you get the point. I plan to chase after all my goals in 2018, even if it scares me, even if I have doubts.

My favorite mantra is “She believed she could, so she did”, so this year I plan to do.

Thanks for following along for my 2017, I hope you follow along for 2018!

Jules

Balance – striving for equilibrium

Do we every really have balance in our lives? Some might, so maybe I should rephrase that. Do I ever have balance in my life? No. I prefer to say I have waves or seasons. Times where I focus more on one aspect and less on another.

When I got a puppy, she was my priority for months. Training her, bonding with her, loving her 🙂 

When I wanted my redemption Boston Qualifier, I put training above everything else.

How do you do it all? I am sure you are involved of so many things just like myself, and you put a part of yourself in it all, but how do you manage without spreading yourself too thin? Or losing time for yourself.

Let’s backup and I will give you a little more insight into my life. I tend to try to keep most details off the internet, but here is a little something.

As you know I am 26 years old.

I live in New England.

I have a year and a half old chocolate lab, who is crazy…CRAZY ADORABLE.

I work at a tech company on the predictive analytics team as a data architect (from 8am-5pm)

I also help manage and recruit for our college hire and intern programs (in my “spare” time).

I volunteer as a coach for Girls on the Run.

I started my own coaching business and create plans for people at night or on weekends.

I want to expand my business more but lately I am wondering if I have the time and capacity.

Oh yeah and I run as well. I have big goals for myself and as you all know its not just about running, its about strength training, yoga, eating right, foam rolling, sleeping enough. All of those things factor into those running dreams you have. If you love it, you do it 🙂

I also have other hobbies, surprisingly! I love to read, I love yoga, I used to knit until I no longer had time. I love to try new restaurants and breweries. I love to explore and travel.

To some it might not seem like I do that much, I know I don’t have kids so power to everyone who does, you are all rockstars. However, lately I have been struggling to find a sweet spot (just like with mileage). How much is too much? I tend to take on a lot, so currently I have been having guilt. Whether it’s guilt for sleeping in and not knowing when to get my run in during the day. Guilt for working 8-5, running before work and not having time for my pup. Guilt for working on coaching after work so my boyfriend has to cook dinner AGAIN. Guilt for not having time to expand my coaching business and build new ideas like I want to. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

New years resolution, lose the guilt. Do what I can and own it.

Steps I take to stay on track.

  1. Prioritize
  2. Plan out my day and week (meals, workouts, my pup’s schedule)
  3. set my early morning wake up
  4. Lay out my running or gym clothes the night before
  5. Leave work at work, when I am home, I am home. It can wait until tomorrow.
  6. Have a plan for my pup, so one way or another she has a good day whether it is with me or not
  7. Remind myself the importance of recovery and rest (in sports and work)
  8. Step back and look at the bigger picture, what am I working towards? what are my goals? what is important to get there?

With everything I am a part of, I strive to do well, but sometimes I do some aspects better than others. I remind myself that this is normal. Sometimes I might be a better runner and sometimes I might be a better coach. Other time I might be better at my data architect job than my recruiting role. It depends on the season, it depends on the current priority. Regardless, when I get stressed out and feel overwhelmed I force myself to step back and make myself answer the question why? Why am I doing this? Is this important to me? Do I love it? If the answer is yes, then I know I will find a way, if I am unsure then maybe it is something to reconsider.

 

This also might explain why I haven’t posted a blog in over a month!

Seacoast Half Marathon Recap

This weekend was awesome! The whole week I was looking forward to Friday. Why you might ask? Well it was the Rise Run Retreat, hosted by RunFarGirl.

Every since I got into this running community through instagram and blogging there have been a number of people I look up to, RunFarGirl and HappyFitMama are two, but there are SO many! I see how you can make a life doing what you love and build an amazing community at the same time.

Friday was nothing short of what I hoped. Sarah’s house is amazing and the food and wine were perfect and plentiful. There was no shortage of laughs and stories and I met some new people. I decided I think I am somewhat socially awkward, but that was my own conclusion, nothing in particular happened 🙂

Last but not least, the swag bags. The swag bags were AWESOME. I am excited to try some new brands and most likely get hooked. Already hooked on coolcore, as I sit here using their wraps to ice my knee.


With Friday off to a great start I was excited for the rest of the weekend. My sister and parents arrived Saturday afternoon/early evening. My mom brought tons of pasta, food and wine for our own pasta party. I have always loved her chicken, pesto pasta and she brought it! We laughed, talked, ate and drank wine in my cozy apartment. It was nothing crazy, but perfect none the less. Eventually my parents headed to their hotel and I laid out my outfit for the morning. It was supposed to be pretty chilly so I opted for capris, a short sleeve with a long sleeve pullover and gloves.

At 6:30 am I woke up and had some yogurt to start the day. I changed into my outfit while my sister walked my dog and got ready to pick up my dad. I was excited. I knew a lot of people running and spectating, so it would be fun either way. At 7:45 I picked up my dad and headed to the school which was a 5 minute drive from my house. There was a bit of traffic going into the school but we parked and got to the high school by 8am, just enough time for the bathroom line! Or so I thought until I saw it and vetoed it and waited in the cold for a porta potty instead, great decision.

I went inside, found my dad and chatted with my friend Kailey before walking to the start! I remember thinking I LOVE this race, everything about it. I can’t really describe it. We got to the start just in time and before I knew it we were off. I actually liked that we only gave ourselves a half hour of waiting because it was much less stressful, we didn’t have enough time to just wait around and think about the race.

We saw my sister and mom shortly after the start, as well as my friend Angela! I was loving it already. The sun started to come out and I was running through my town, what could be better? Miles 1-6 felt really good for both me and my dad. We were right where we wanted to be around 8:40’s. This portion is where we loop out towards Wallis Sands beach and run along the water, gorgeous!


Around mile 7 it got a little hard, but I gave my dad my maple syrup gu and we stayed on track. Then around mile 8 we saw my sister and mom again which was a good pick me up. We headed out towards The Wentworth and Newcastle which is my favorite area to run. So scenic and whenever I run there I pinch myself thinking that I live so close to this beautiful place. How lucky am I? So often we take little things like this for granted so I try to remind myself to be grateful.

Mile 9-10 was where it really got hard. My knee started really bothering me. I think it is my IT band, which is discouraging. I had no pain in my IT band until the very end of Chicago, but no pain in the training leading up. I am hoping I can rest, stretch and recover! It was my knee and my dad was tired. I don’t blame him, half marathons are hard. I also had him running 3 days a week so that he could have more days for recovery, to avoid injury and not over-train, and also because that is what worked for him.

Even though the last three miles were HARD, we got through them. I tried to run a little ahead of my dad. Not because I wanted to leave him in the dust, believe me I didn’t. I wanted him to keep pushing, so I was just out of reach to see if he would speed up a little. If he didn’t no problem. We got up the last major hill which is killer (but I love hills) and the finish was in sight. I love the finish for Seacoast there are always so many people and its slightly downhill so you fill like a rock star finishing no matter what. We finished with a time of 1:56:29. A minute and a half off of his goal, which was to beat his 2015 time of 1:55, but hey we gave it all we had and we had fun doing it, at least I did.


My only goal for people is to get them as close to their goal as possible given where they are today. You always have to respect where you are which I tell my athletes all the time. If that means you don’t PR but you give all that you have left then AWESOME, you did amazing, that is absolutely something to be proud of. I want to make sure my athletes have no regrets in running and in life (cheesy I know)! 

Until next year Seacoast! You are still my favorite race but Wallis Sands is the next local half in the Spring so we will see if that one steals the number one spot. I am hoping to break 1:30 in the spring. That’s my goal and I just said it, but we will see. I am coming off a cycle where I kind of lost my confidence, trying to build it back up, but first making sure my knee/body is recovered.

As for what happened after the race, see below 😊