Ragnar Trail Carolinas – my first Ultra run!

Ragnar Trail Carolinas – my first Ultra run!

Ragnar was a king and hero of early 9th century Scandinavia. He was a conqueror, a wild man, a leader, fearless and free-spirited.

And that’s exactly how you feel when you are done running a Ragnar relay race! You feel like you’ve conquered a huge challenge as a team (which you have!) and you want to go do it again! I had the chance to be a part of an Ultra Ragnar Team for the Ragnar Trail Carolinas race October 6th and 7th this year.

When our team captain Amber asked me to join the team…I was completely nervous I wasn’t going to be able to do it. A standard team for this race is 8 people, who run 16 miles each over the 2 days of the race. Our team as an ultra had 4 people, so 32 miles each. I had just ran my first marathon earlier in the year and struggled. How and why did I think I could run 32!?

I have a love/hate relationship with running. It is time consuming. Your legs always are sore (maybe that’s just me??). So, I wanted to spend the least amount of time running – so only gave myself 9 weeks for training. I don’t recommend this, 12 weeks is a much better time frame. My goal was to get up as close to 40 miles per week at my peak mileage, which was 3 weeks before the race. I was able to get up to mid 30’s for several weeks and then had a successful taper, 40 was too much for me with the amount of time I gave myself. I did have to back down at one point because of several sore spots (injuries in training) and add in extra rest days around that peak mileage time and reduce a run or two. Not worth getting the miles in if it’s going to cause an injury, so I rested and then was able to continue on training.

I would say the number one thing I did which worked REALLY well for me was running on tired legs – doing double day runs. I’d do an AM run and a PM run, and then another AM run the next day to simulate the effect of running on tired legs, which you do at the Ragnar. I recommend doing this very cautiously and not upping mileage significantly (no more than 10% overall for the week) or you will risk injury. I started around 3-5 mile range for the runs and increased up to 7-8 miles for each run. My longest consecutive run was only 13 miles, but I did around 14-15 miles a few times with the double runs.

I also practiced fueling between runs like I would at the Ragnar – lots of carbs that wouldn’t bother my stomach. I found fig bars to work really well as well as baked potatoes, PB&J sandwiches and fruit. I always thought I had a very sensitive stomach because I often had digestive issues while running in the past. After listening to some great runner’s nutrition podcasts, I’ve learned that the quality of carbohydrates does matter. Certain sugars cause the intestines to pull in additional water, which causes that emergency porta potty stop! And everyone is a bit different in what their body likes and doesn’t like.

So onto the race – I went down Thursday night and set up camp with Amber and we camped out there Thursday night. All of the teams started at various times during the day on Friday, depending on their projected run times – everyone needed to be completed by 6pm on Saturday. The first runners were off at 9am with several start times later during the day. My team started at 11am on Friday and we ended up finishing around 2:30pm on Saturday. I was runner #2, so I was ready to go when Amber finished up her first leg around 12:30pm!

Ragnar
Finishing my first leg – 10 miles!

There were 3 trail loops – green, yellow and red. The loops are always run in stoplight order, and you wear a snap bracelet with the loop color you are running (this was definitely needed for the night runs when you were a bit sleepy and prone to forget what loop you were doing!)

My next loop was around 10:30pm, after runner 3-Jillian, 4-Michelle and 1-Amber went again. Headlamp on and ready to – 12.7 miles! I did trip once on a root but thankfully just a very minor bruise and scrape, I fell in dirt, ha! The first loop (yellow) I passed quite a few people walking and it was very enjoyable. The second loop (red) was quite lonely and felt a bit eerie. I barely passed anyone, I got passed a few times but I think I saw a total of one person per mile. It was good motivation to run faster! I started cramping around mile 16, which was right before I went through transition area to do my second loop of the leg. There was a product being promoted and given out for free called Hot Shot, which was supposed to help with cramps. I would have drank pretty much anything to help with cramps at that point. I texted my teammate who was up next because I knew she’d be awake to grab me a hot shot for the transition area. I drank it going through transition and it was AMAZING. It tasted like cayenne pepper mixed with cinnamon and burned my throat for 5 minutes after drinking it, but it completely took away my cramps for the rest of the run. MIRACULOUS! I’m hooked. I drank one before my third leg too to prevent cramps and had no issues.

 

scrape Ragnar

I have no idea what time I finished, but I vegged out a bit, had some smores at the Village campfire and refueled with some food before going to bed. I had brought some full size “shower wipes” at REI, and they worked amazing. I wiped my entire body off and felt pretty clean after each run! I rested/slept in my tent until my next leg around 7am.

Amber, runner 1, texted me when she was going out for her last 3 mile loop so I had time to get myself dressed and ready. The last leg was my slowest, but I still felt pretty good running it! But yeah, I was pretty glad to be done. The last mile or so was a lot of hills (the finish to every loop was up a long, sloping grassy hill, ugh).

After finishing I was able to relax, have a beer and wait for my teammates to finish up! It started raining about an hour or two after I finished, drizzle turned to steady so our last runner had to run in the rain. Most of the trails were covered with the tree canopy but there were some open spots through meadows and crossing swinging bridges. Michelle finished up the last leg around 2:30pm and we crossed the finish line with her, and our prom dresses!

Ragnar prom 2
Team Off Like a Prom Dress!

Did I forget to mention that team themes are strongly encouraged? There were so many hilarious team names. We went with a prom theme and for our first legs, started running in prom dresses and then discarded them (off like a prom dress!) after the initial start. It was a lot of fun and we decorated our tent site with a disco ball, lights, and had everyone vote for prom queen based on signs we made. Amber won, I think the election was rigged! Haha just kidding Amber.

Overall, Ragnar Trail runs are pretty awesome. To say I loved it would be an understatement. I am trying to plan one for my family to do closer to PA and I am planning on putting together a team for next year’s Carolina Ragnar, but with a team of 8 instead of 4. Less running, more fun! I’d love to hear about your Ragnar experience, have you run one? Would you?

 

 

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Endurance Diet vs. strength training/HIIT Diet: What I’ve learned.

Endurance Diet vs. strength training/HIIT Diet: What I’ve learned.

In January 2016 I decided to try a crazy thing and follow a specific workout program and nutrition plan. Because what could it hurt?? I ended up loving the nutrition plan and workouts, I found them both sustainable for long term – I lost 20 lbs in four months and have kept it off for over a year and a half now. With my new found fitness regime, it gave me the confidence to do something I never would have attempted to do before but always wanted to – run a marathon.

I ran several half marathons in the past but always got EXTREMELY burnt out running and usually gained weight afterwards because I didn’t want to run for a period of time afterwards. And honestly, in the last 10 years or so, running was always the best way to lose weight that I knew of so I kept going back to it. Now I didn’t need to do it to lose weight; and I had a fallback workout regime for when I needed a break from running. So I ran my first marathon in March 2017!

I was planning to do it once and never again, but before the pain in my legs even subsided I signed up for the same marathon for next year. Because I knew the first one wasn’t my best effort. I felt I had a lot to learn and could do it better and run it stronger; and I wanted to feel good finishing (not sure that’s possible for a marathon, but I’m going to try!!).

This time around, I’m doing things differently. I really struggled for a lot of my long runs marathon training – fatigue, low energy, dead legs. A number of things contributed to this for me, with incorrect fueling before and during running chalking up as numero uno. I read the book recently called The Endurance Diet by Matt Fitzgerald, which talks about the diet of elite athletes – which coincidentally is the same across all continents. They all eat well and eat a diet heavy in carbohydrates. Obviously I am not an elite athlete, I am in the recreational category – but he lays a persuasive argument for the benefits of such a diet and why recreational runners can benefit as well. I’m not going to outline it here, but his research is substantial and definitely convinced me that carb heavy was the way to go. Not just any carbs – think clean eating/whole foods/whole grains/fruit/ oatmeal/potatoes, not sugary cereals or desserts. He outlines the specific food types and many examples of things different athletes eat in his book.

healthy carbs
Some healthy carb examples – beans, brown rice, potatoes, fruit.

I have further proof of this diet working – coincidentally, I followed it in high school. I did fairly well running cross country in high school, and my best year was my freshman year (26th in the Pennsylvania State Championship) where I followed a very strict diet of my own choosing. I don’t know how I came up with this, but I pretty much ate exactly the same high carb foods every day with little variation: a low sugar cereal for breakfast with milk. For lunch: juice, bagel with cream cheese, fruit and pretzels (hello carbs). Dinner was usually a protein, carb, and vegetable. I abstained from the majority of desserts and ate more fruit if I was hungry. After my freshman year, for whatever reason I lightened up on my diet and began including some unhealthier carbs; and in looking back I think diet was a contributing factor to my performance dropping. I still did well but not at the same level as that first year.

Matt Fitzgerald also talks about training in his book; and how most elite athletes do 80-90% of their training at a low intensity and only a small amount at a high to moderate intensity. Which was very surprising, but again – my high school cross country years came back to support. All I did for training during that time was consistently run 3-6 miles at a comfortable pace. Yes, during the season my coach incorporated speed and hill work, but my foundation during the summer was set with low intensity runs. And it worked.

Back to the present day – I attempted to follow my regular workout nutrition plan for marathon training with some higher carb cycle days, and looking back it was a colossal fail. It DID work for up to a half marathon distance, however. I had a PR for the half marathon distance December 2016 with a 1:38 time. But once I started running distances greater than 15 miles I really started struggling. I ended up with a minor foot injury 4 weeks out from the race so my training was cut short early in order for it to heal to run in the race, but I was really struggling on long runs and maintaining the paces that my training plan outlined.

Fitzgerald also mentions how too much protein can actually decrease your endurance performance. Honestly, I forget the scientific explanation, but you can read his book for it or just trust me that I’m not making it up to throw you off. And guess what my workout diet had plenty of? Protein. My meal plan wasn’t extreme like Atkins or anything, but it does lean heavy on veggies and protein and lighter on carbs and fats. Protein is necessary for endurance runners on a daily basis, but not at the frequency I was used to following.

So unknowingly, I was sabotaging my results with my diet last time around. So this time I’m trying to eat smarter. I am working on a balance of healthy carbs, fruits, veggies, protein and fats that are conducive to endurance running as I train for a Ragnar Ultra, which is 31 miles, but the training is very similar to that of a marathon. I’m already seeing the results, which is eye-opening!! I have SO much more energy on long runs. Although my legs do get tired, I still feel like I can push and keep going. Carb-centric is the way to go! I’m still working on finding that perfect balance, and honestly I love protein and had such a good routine with it so it’s hard to cut it out at times. I find myself thinking about carbs so much that sometimes I don’t realize I am not eating enough veggies, either, which are very important to a balanced endurance diet as well.

It’s a work in progress! If you are struggling with your endurance training – I highly recommend you read The Endurance Diet. I don’t know Matt Fitzgerald, I am not receiving commission off sales of his book (I borrowed it from my local library to read) – but it was a really, really good and informative read and I’d say a must for any long distance runner! Happy running ya’ll!

endurance diet

 

 

 

Ragnar Ultra Countdown: less than 4 weeks!

Ragnar Ultra Countdown: less than 4 weeks!

The past two weeks I’ve had both kids start school; one in kindergarten and one in preschool. I now have 3 times a week I am ALONE for 3.5 hours. What have I been doing with all of this lovely free time? Running. Yes. Almost every time. Here’s why!

I am running in a Ragnar Relay Ultra Team in 4 weeks! What is a Ragnar? It’s a relay race that you run with a team, taking turns running until you are all done the set course. There are trail ones, there are road ones, there is even a new crossfit division. Check their website, there is probably one in your state if not near you!

The Ragnar I am participating in is a trail run so we will not have to have the whole van situation of driving around as is common for the road race series. We will be camping out in a set location with three different trail loops that all start and finish in the same location. Typically for this race, there is a team of 8 people. Since my team is doing it as an Ultra (more mileage) – we have a team of 4 lovely ladies.

And what kind of mileage are we talking here? See my legs and mileage below. I am runner #2, so I will start my legs whenever our first teammates finishes hers; and each leg going forward is dependent on when my teammates finish theirs, etc.
Leg 1: will start approximately 2pm on Friday – approximately 11 miles
Leg 2: will start at approximately 10:30pm on Friday – approximately 13 miles (nothing like running a half marathon in the dark! Gotta get a headlamp soon!)
Leg 3: will start at approximately 7am on Saturday – approximately 7 miles. Hallelujah! Then I’m done.

I am loving the times I was assigned to, as I will be able to get a hopefully restful night’s sleep at our campsite for most of the night. I am excited for the night running. I hope I don’t let my team down as I imagine it will be a little bit slower running at night. I’m a bit worried about the overall mileage.

Thus my need to run every single chance I get! I have been doing a lot of trail running to get used to the conditions and have been loving every second of it. It is so peaceful and relaxing. I’ve been doubling up some days to try to get used to running on tired legs; but my mileage is still not as high as I’d like it to be – there is a fine balance with increasing mileage as not to risk injury. I probably should have started training a few weeks earlier than I did, but nothing I can do about it now besides work hard and get as close to where I need to be as possible! 2 more weeks of pushing hard and then I will be reducing mileage to rest and recover my body for the actual event. Here’s a shot from one of my trail runs! Have you ever done an ultra trail race or Ragnar?

Sherman Branch
The trails are calling and I must go.

 

 

Summer and Fall races and Training update!

Summer and Fall races and Training update!

The end of June we traveled for 2 weeks to see family in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We hit the Jersey Shore (Long Beach Island) where I got in a few runs but mostly beach, beer and candy. Then on to central Jersey where I think I got rid of my tan lines at the pool, got to catch up with Jersey friends and got back on track a little bit with nutrition and workouts (and gave my mother in law’s neighbors some entertainment, at least). Townhouse courtyard workouts for the win! Then we traveled on to Pennsylvania to see my family. We visited Hershey Park; I got some great runs in with my brother but got sidetracked with ice cream and cupcakes. The sugar struggle is real. I have a really hard time resisting it when it’s right in front of me. I just can’t. When I don’t buy it at home I’m all good but elsewhere, forget it!

So after I got back, I started up Shift Shop, which is a 3 week agility and strength training workout that progressively gets more challenging (and each workout increases by 10 minutes!). I just finished up week 2 so I’m pretty stoked to see how the final week of workouts are!

After I wrap up Shift Shop, I am ramping up the long distance running to start training for the South Carolina Ragnar Relay Ultra I will be running in the beginning of October. I will be running an 8, 10 and 12 mile leg each over a 2 day period so I need to get the training started! I am pretty sure I will be cross training with Sagi with the program Body Beast, which is a lot of weights and strength training. I need a break from Autumn Calabrese. Although I love her, we have spent a lot of time together with 21 day fix extreme over the past year and we need some space. I’m pretty excited to be doing more with weights and I think it will compliment my running very well.

I’m also running two 10k races during the Ultra Training, one in August and one in September to keep me motivated! If you’d like to follow my journey a little more please find me on IG at jodiprice55, I keep things a bit more updated there!

 

I Run For Jordyn. Who Inspires you?

I Run For Jordyn. Who Inspires you?

Who do you run for??

Last year a friend shared some information about an organization called IR4, or I Run 4. Runners are paired with people who are unable to run. The organization started with a runner named Tim Boyle and a named Michael who was physically unable to run, and he told Tim he could run anyday for him! Tim found a whole new inspiration to run and started IR4 as a way to connect and inspire runners by friends who are physically unable to run. Each runner keeps in contact with their buddy via the designated Facebook groups. There are also branch organizations, called Kerri On: I Run 4 Remembrance and IR4 Siblings: The Unsung Heroes.  It’s about more than miles; it’s about building relationships and bolstering support systems.

I decided to join the IR4 Siblings: The Unsung Heroes support group. I was quickly paired with a sweet little girl Jordyn, whose sister already participated in IR4 and had a runner through the group. Jordyn’s mom helps us to keep in touch weekly and it’s fun to be able to share my workouts and runs with her and have her cheer me on as well, as well as send silly pictures back and forth during the week.

If you already run and would love some additional inspiration, you can sign up here to have a match made for you!

I recently ran the a 6k Brew Dash at the National Whitewater Center. If you are looking for races for a great cause or local events in general, check out EventBrite’s page for finding existing events or for planning your own non profit event!

Running in the USA is also a great resource for finding local races, you can sort by location, date, distance, etc.

My next race is TBD – I am looking to run two more this summer before my first Ragnar Relay Ultra in October! Any tips appreciated from previous RR!!

 

My first marathon experience, mysteries of the metatarsals and will I do it again?

My first marathon experience, mysteries of the metatarsals and will I do it again?

March 4th was my first ever full marathon, the Myrtle Beach Marathon! I’ve ran 4 other half marathons over the years; my 4th one being in December and then I carried on the long distance running from that point.  So many fun yet painful memories in that weekend. Two good friends joined me and ran the half marathon, and it was an awesome girls weekend in Myrtle Beach (apart from the running, haha). I am able to walk unassisted now, thankfully! I don’t know what I would have done without them helping in so many ways after the race!

MBM

So those dang metatarsals. I think the race would have been much less painful had I been able to train the last 4 weeks leading up to the race. I got sidelined on a 15 mile run 4 weeks before the marathon, my right foot started hurting during the run. I was able to finish, I presumed it would settle down in a day or two, but 2 days later it hurt worse and I was limping just walking, couldn’t consider running. After another day or two where it wasn’t getting better I saw a podiatrist. Xrays were fine, it was an inflammation of the tissue around the 6th metatarsal. He prescribed a topical cream, an icing regimen and said to see how it felt. After a week, it seemed to be doing better and I was able to run a few miles on it. It seemed ok, but it wasn’t healed and it continued with the same sort of consistent dull pain that concerned me that I would be doing more damage.  I also have a pinched nerve in both feet around the 4th metatarsal bone, which acts up on a regular basis. I addressed this with the doctor as well. He told me there is no easy fix, it is from the nerve being pinched, and to make sure my shoes aren’t too tight. The treatment is either to put a shot in the nerve or to kill the nerve off.  Umm…sounds painful. So yeah, never mind about that nerve!

After another failed run (tried to do a 10 miler 2 weeks before the race, had to stop at mile 2 because it kept hurting) – I took to google. I know. But, in this case it worked out.  I researched the whole pinched nerve issue, stumbled upon some article (which I can’t find now, who knows what search term I used in my desperation…) which indicated that the foot pain I was having could be related to the nerve pain. Constant and regular nerve pain/damage can radiate to the rest of the foot, causing inflammation. It just so happened that the right nerve had really been twinging a LOT lately. The article mentioned that toe spacers could help, because it kept the metatarsal bones separated, therefore the nerve wouldn’t be pinched. What a ridiculously easy thought, and that certainly wouldn’t be my solution, I thought to myself. But I wound some toilet paper between my toes, like is done sometimes when you get a pedicure. And wow, foot pain was pretty much instantly gone. Nerve pain and the rest of my foot felt great!  I found some toe foam bandages at Walmart that acted as toe separators and that wouldn’t irritate my feet while running, practiced walking in them a few days before the race, as well as started doing ice baths for my foot at night and didn’t run at all on it the week and a half before the race.

I also picked up some Dr. Schol’s active inserts at Walmart for my running shoes, I figured it couldn’t hurt. They are wonderful by the way. Why have I never used orthopedics/inserts before?? So the foot was grand for the race. It didn’t hurt one bit. The legs on the other hand…I had done some lower body strength workouts, some elliptical and some stationary bike workouts, but it definitely wasn’t enough. I started feeling the legs at mile 8. MILE EIGHT. Are you kidding me?? I was able to push through it and keep up the pace (3:45 finish pace) until the half marathon point. And then my legs completely cramped up. They felt better every time I ate or drank anything, so I pretty much ate everything I had by mile 16, and then started double fisting drinks and eating anything they had at the hydration stations. I had a few banana pieces and lots of amino type drink and water. It would help my legs for about 1/4 mile after the station and then go back to a very very tight sensation. It didn’t even really help to walk, it just took longer. So I kept going, just slower and slower as my legs weren’t allowing much. I ended up finishing in 4:28. Yes, I added 45 minutes onto my time just in the second half of the race. Kind of crazy, but my lack of training the weeks before the race plus not realizing the hydration I would need definitely added to that (it wasn’t even hot out.  It was 40’s, very nice running weather!).

After the race my legs were so sore, it was hard to walk fast!  Curbs (stepping up and down) were a REAL challenge. We went to the post race party (not that great) and oohh the steps. Then went out to dinner and more steps. Of course! The soreness continued for the next 2 days at a pretty strong intensity and then got much better. I’m fine now. My one achilles (on the right) is still sore and my LEFT foot (interesting!) at the same spot as the right one was hurt, is still sore. But I’m icing and they are getting better.

So within 2 days after the race…I was already considering doing it again. Being a beginner marathoner, I researched how quickly again one could do another marathon, because my logic was that hey I’m already in pretty solid shape now, maybe I’ll just bang out another one next month! But apparently it takes 3-4 weeks if not longer to fully recover from running a marathon, and you shouldn’t push your body too hard and do hard races too close together, it increases your chance of injury. So…I decided instead to do the same race next year. I need a break from long distance running! I plan on doing some shorter races come summer – I already have the Ultimate Win Run scheduled for June, along with a Brew Dash for June as well. Soccer is getting started for the spring, and I will have that in the fall as well – and then after it’s over I will start marathon training sometime in December. It’s so far away I’m not even going to think about it. But I’ve learned some good things about metatarsals, I already scored some HOKA’s at a GREAT price which should last me through the marathon since I’m not running a large amount of miles and I have the tiniest bit of experience now!  So can go into the race with a better plan than this year. And both my friends are in to do the race again!  Myrtle Beach Girls weekend 2018 is on! mbm2

 

6 weeks until the Myrtle Beach marathon and I’m freaking out.

6 weeks until the Myrtle Beach marathon and I’m freaking out.

A little, or a lot. I’m freaking out because I just looked over my marathon training plan again and realized I’m doing it all wrong! I’m going with the Furman plan which is only 3 days of running per week and allows for lots of cross training.  Which is perfect so I can continue strength training in some capacity, I don’t want to lose all the hard work I’ve put in! I’m using 21 day fix extreme workouts  for my cross training, I love the mix of cardio and strength training.

So the problem is, with the Furman plan you need to do significantly faster training runs. Which I didn’t realize until this week. Based on your 10k time, you need to run about 60-75 seconds slower per mile for your long runs. I’ve been just managing to finish my long runs at a comfortable jog – I usually start out about 9 min miles but end up around 10 minute miles at the end when I am exhausted. Apparently I need to be doing it around 8:30 min pace! Yikes! I’m not close to that.

I finally am starting to practice consuming fuel during the race. Probably part of the reason I am losing steam in my long runs – duh! Tried some Gu gel for my 15 mile run this past weekend – and had to call my husband a mile and a half from my house because I didn’t think I was going to make it (the Gu did not sit well). I think I consumed the second one too soon after the first.

The speed workouts need to be faster than 10k time.  I ran the Charlotte International Airport Runway 5k in October at about 21:21 (such a cool run!) and then the Huntersville half marathon December 10th, which I ran in 1:38:58 (I may be off a few seconds. I forget). So my 5k miles were about 7:07 and half marathon miles 7:32. So maybe my 10k would be about 7:20. I’ve been doing speed workouts at 5k pace, yikes – so around 7 minute miles! And I need to do them at about a 6:30 pace!

airport-5k

Here’s a pic of the Runway 5k. Sign up early and it only costs $10!!  Fast and flat course.

I had really high hopes of pacing at around 8 min miles for the marathon, and now I’m totally doubting that and unsure of how to pace. I have 6 more weeks to try to rectify things, so hopefully can get some faster runs in. I did a 7 miler on Sunday, and tried to keep my pace at 8:30 and could only manage a 9 minute miler. Um, whaaat? How did I possibly run 7:32 miles a month ago but can’t even do faster than 9 minutes now?

There is so much conflicting advice out there about running!  Don’t start out too slow, that’s the mistake most runners make; to don’t start out too fast or you’ll die in the second half of the race and lose a ton of time. I’m thinking I’ll just start out slightly conservative in the beginning for the first 4 miles, increase a bit faster for the first half and then see how it goes for the second half. What’s your marathon running experience??