Erin Does Life.

Adventures in movement
Inspired by BenDoesLife. Early thirties, working to get to an average BMI, vegan. Adult-onset runner; completed three marathons with Team In Training and now I can't stop running. Go figure. Let's go do stuff!


Ahhhhh, Sundays.

So, this isn’t something LoseIt tells you (they too only have light and regular beer options) but it’s intuitive - the calorie count of beer varies according to its alcohol by volume and additional sweetener. Where has this resource been all my life???

By way of comparison - I don’t have it every day, but my favorite beer (Goose Island Bourbon County Stout) is about 15% ABV. By this chart, that’s about 440 calories, as opposed to the 153 calories that LoseIt assigns to every 12oz of beer that’s not “light.” 

To quote GI Joe, knowing is indeed half the battle…

Post by The Oatmeal. Sums up my sentiments.

Hey guys! Tumblr tells me it’s been three years since I started this blog. I’ve met so many inspiring, insightful folks via the fitblr community. 

Like so many folks, I’ve been struggling a bit. I’m almost 15 pounds heavier now than I was last year. From a health perspective, I’d like to be in the middle of the “healthy” BMI range (under 24) and to be a stronger runner this year. 

But I’m also curious about what you guys are most interested in reading about. Weigh-ins? Tips/observations? Running updates? Marathon training? Recipe ideas and food I’m eating? Fitness apps? This is obviously a blog I use to document my journey (ugh I hate that word) and to that extent, well, you’re stuck with what I post, but if some of that is more helpful to you than others, that’s good to know.  What do you think?

I am probably the very last person at the party about this but this website is fantastic. This is very much the philosophy underlying my use of intervals in running. Why not use intervals to achieving other goals? Unf*ck all the things!!

Very humid - the team even started at 6am  - but it was still 67* and humid when we started and 80* with a heat index of 83* by the time I finished. Disappointed by my time, but trying to remember that this has to be the warmest 18 miler I’ve ever done. Ugh, I hate heat and humidity.

I had this great Ragnar moment a few weeks ago. I was doing a Ragnar-class “very hard”, no van support segment for over 8 miles - basically my team would be penalized for stopping and crossing the road or offering any kind of water or food - of this incredibly challenging terrain and quite honestly wasn’t sure how it would go. Blacktop, no shelter from the sun, zero cloud cover, hilly, mid-afternoon with a heat index of 90*. About four miles in, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. I started yo-yoing with my run/walk intervals by this incredibly fit guy. “Ugh,” I said, “this is going to be an awful run.” He shook his head. “No, just tough.” Touche. Tough runs don’t have to be bad runs. Just difficult. No shame in struggling with something that’s hard. I wonder if other runners know how much these little exchanges help me finish what I wasn’t sure I could do in the first place?

During the run today, the weather was so gross I could actually feel sweat rolling down my knees. For the first time ever, I was so sweaty that on the drive home I soaked the driver’s seat. My guy had to request a towel to cover it when he had to use the car for errands. Running is soooo sexy. And dignified.

On the bright side: some super speedy dude complimented me on my pace this morning! In retrospect, of course, I was going too fast. But I’ll take it!

Marathon in less than four weeks. Starting to panic…!!!

Oh man.

Forecasted low: 56*

Current temp at 6:44a - 70*

Soooo unless the temperature rose 15* in the 90 minutes… shady stuff, Weather Channel. Shady stuff. (Hourly forecast says it’s not supposed to get to 56* until tomorrow (Fri Aug 23) morning at 5am.)

Current BMI: 24.82
July 26 BMI: 
Change: -0.43

Weight change: -2.6lbs

Change from SW: -38 lbs
Change from HW: -45.5 lbs 

Not getting too excited about this until it prevails for a couple of weeks. We did hills last night in 85* weather and I’m not sure I’m completely rehydrated, so could be just water weight. We’ll see…

Scale told me a weight three pounds less than this about four times before it finally coughed up this number. Sneaky, sneaky…

Holy hell. I thought I was doing a relatively good job of posting my weekly weigh ins, only to find my last one was… in May. Oopsies.

Well, gotta start somewhere! 

Current BMI: 25.25
May 2013 BMI: 
Change: -0.11

Weight change: -0.6 lbs

Change from SW: -35.4 lbs
Change from HW: -42.9 lbs 

TNTers, welcome! I received some questions about my experience with run-walk intervals, so I thought I’d put it all down in one handy-dandy post. I use this blog to connect with other folks interested in doing life and chronicling my own adventures in eating well, running, healthy weight loss, etc., so apologies for the profusion of thoroughly uninteresting posts about weigh-ins, etc. 
Obviously, running is all about finding what works for you, and this is just my experience. I’m interested in folks’ comments - what tweaks have you made to make running easier for you? Do you use intervals, and if so, how has it worked for you?
Why intervals?
The most difficult part of running, to me, is finding a training program that is both challenging but manageable. Interval running - that is, running for a given amount of time, recovering for an amount of time, and then repeating until your scheduled distance is complete - is a great example of finding a running strategy that works for you. It’s not for everyone, but I found it to be a great resource for me. 
Some reasons why I think run/walk intervals work well for my situation: 
  • It’s an easier, incremental way to build mental discipline. It’s easier to run for three minutes than it is for an hour or more. You know the old adage about either training to increase your distance, or your speed, but not both at the same time? For me, anyway, the same is true of mental discipline. It’s a muscle that must be built through periods of training and rest. Intervals let me build that psychological endurance at my own pace.

  • Intervals allow me to push my pace while allowing me to recover during my walk break - I find that I got faster using intervals, and I think it’s because I could push my run portion of the interval at a faster pace but can still recover. Which is great, because going fast is fun!

  • Intervals can allow you to recover more quickly from weekday and long runs.
  • I like intervals after I’ve been away from running for awhile - e.g. for an injury or just an especially tough, icy winter. It’s a great way to ease back into training and reduce risk of injury. 

  • I really like the walk break to bring my heart rate/respiration down before starting my next interval. 

  • I’m a big fan of the “do what works” philosophy, and as along as you’re using intervals consistently throughout your run and during your training, the actual ratios themselves are pretty flexible and adaptable. The biggest thing is to find what works for you.

  • Overall, my experience has been that it takes time - sometimes a long time - to achieve running goals. The trick is to find a place where you’re challenging yourself but not getting so frustrated/burned out that it becomes overwhelming to continue. If you’re getting burned out on running, you’re training too hard. Intervals helped me find that balance.
2013 marks my fifth year as a runner. For my entire running career, I’ve used a run-walk interval method. If we’re on the same trainin run, or in the same race, you’ve probably seen me run past you - then you pass me on my walk break!
I started running in 2009 with the Couch to 5k plan, which starts out integrating a small amount of running with walking, and gradually increases the amount of running until you’re running a 5k (3.1 miles) without a break. I found that not all of the interval changes worked for me, so I began improvising - reducing the run ratios by 15 seconds and creating “half steps” in between the walk/run times from week to week. Running for the entirety of a 5k never really worked for me - I found I got tired easily, it was tough to pace (I “ran out of gas” easily) and benefited from the recovery time.
About the same time, I signed up for my first marathon with Team In Training to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (highly recommended BTW), so I needed to find something else that worked! Fortunately, I ran about the same pace as another TNT member, Jen S., who was doing run/walk intervals. We started out running 10 minutes and recovering for 2 minutes. I used that interval for my first marathon - 2009 Twin Cities - and finished in 5:33.
It turns out Jeff Galloway, a former member of the US Olympic team, is a leading advocate of using run/walk intervals for runners of all abilities. Interestingly enough, I discovered that running 10 minutes and walking 2 minutes was probably too long of a run interval for my pace. Today, I run for 3:30 and walk for a minute. Seems counter-intuitive, but I am faster with a 3:30/1 min run/walk ratio than I was with a 10 min/2 min recovery ratio. The extra minute of recovery really seems to help me.
Additionally, a couple of books by John “the Penguin” Bingham and his wife, Coach Jenny Hadfield, were very helpful to me in interval running (or walking.) They are "Marathoning for Mortals" and "Running for Mortals." Both are very accessible, and both authors describe themselves as “adult-onset runners” (you can see why the books were very suitable for me!) The marathon book includes suggested walk/run intervals for marathons or half marathons, if you’re a walker interested in adding running intervals, or run/walk intervals, if you’re a runner interested in adding walk intervals. Use them as a guide - again, you may find that you need to tweak them just a bit for your own situation. 
A couple of caveats about run-walking, from my experience: 
  • If you’re going to use run/walk intervals in your race, you should use them in your training, as early in your training program as possible. I use run/walk intervals in my mid-week and long runs. Some of the midweek team runs lend themselves to this strategy, and some don’t as readily - experiment, figure out what works and use it. 

  • Run/walk works best if you integrate it from the beginning of the run - training runs and your race. If you wait until you’re tired, run/walk intervals won’t be effective. There’s a different set of muscles used for running and walking, and the goal of run/walking is to allow the run muscles to work longer by giving them a break with the walk breaks (shifting to using walk muscles.) If your running muscles are already fatigued, introducing run/walk intervals can’t help much. (This is really important at the beginning of a race, too. When your adrenaline is high, it’s hard to do your walk interval - but do it!)

  • Run/walk ratios are just a guide. There are lots of different running conditions, and you should always slow down or reduce your running interval if it’s hot, humid, or you’re recovering from an injury or just getting back into running. The most important thing is to find a running strategy that keeps you going injury-free. Experiment! Jeff Galloway’s chart, below, of suggested run/walk ratios given your pace is a good place to start. 

  • When you switch to your walk interval, always be aware of the runners around you, and move over to the right-most side of the course to let other runners by. Make sure you don’t cut anyone off when you shift to your walk. 


This is a handy-dandy run/walk interval spreadsheet that will help you figure out what your run pace should be to meet a race time goal.
Additionally, a couple of books by John “the Penguin” Bingham and his wife, Coach Jenny Hadfield, were very helpful to me in interval running (or walking.) They are "Marathoning for Mortals" and "Running for Mortals."
I’ve also included, below, an article from Jeff Galloway about run/walking, for reference, which I also found incredibly useful.

Walk Breaks?

Most runners will record significantly faster times when they take walk breaks because they don’t slow down at the end of a long run. Thousands of time-goal-oriented veterans have improved by 10, 20, 30 minutes and more in marathons by taking walk breaks early and often in their goal races. You can easily spot these folks. They’re the ones who are picking up speed during the last two to six miles when everyone else is slowing down.

The mental benefit: breaking 26 miles into segments, which you know you can do Even sub-three hour marathoners continue to take their walk breaks to the end. One of them explained it this way: “Instead of thinking at 20 miles I had six more gut-wretching miles to go, I was saying to myself one more mile until my break.’ Even when it was tough, I always felt I could go one more mile.

Walk breaks in the marathon: how long and how often? 
The following is recommended until 18 miles in the marathon. After that point, walk breaks can be reduced or eliminated as desired.

First time marathoners should follow the ratios used in training as long as they haven’t slowed down significantly at the end of the long ones. If you struggled during the last few miles take walk breaks more often from the beginning. A minimum suggestion for first time marathoners would be one minute of walking for every 3-4 minutes of running.

Here are my recommended ratios of running and walking, based upon your pace per mile.
Remember that long runs should be run at least 2 min/mi slower than your projected finish pace in the marathon. An additional slowdown should be made for increased temperature: 30 sec per mile 
slower for each 5 degrees of temperature increase above 60F. It is always safer to walk more often.

Run-walk-run ratio should correspond to the training pace used:
8 min/mi—run 4 min/walk 35 seconds
9 min/mi— 4 min run-1 min walk
10 min/mi—-3:1
11 min/mi—2:30-1
12 min/mi—-2:1
13 min/mi—-1:1
14 min/mi—30 sec run/30 sec walk
15 min/mi—30 sec/45 sec
16 min/mi—30 sec/60 sec

Why do walk breaks work? 
By using muscles in different ways from the beginning, your legs keep their bounce as they conserve resources. When a muscle group, such as your calf, is used continuously step by step, it fatigues relatively soon. The weak areas get overused and force you to slow down later or scream at you in pain afterward. By shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles, you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles, increasing your overall performance capacity. For veteran marathoners, this is often the difference between achieving a time goal or not.

Walk breaks will significantly speed up recovery because there is less damage to repair. The early walk breaks erase fatigue, and the later walk breaks will reduce or eliminate overuse muscle breakdown.

The earlier you take the walk breaks, the more they help you! 
To receive maximum benefit, you must start the walk breaks before you feel any fatigue, in the first mile. If you wait until you feel the need for a walk break, you’ve already reduced your potential performance.

How fast should the walk break be? 
When you walk fast for a minute, most runners will lose about 15 seconds over running at their regular pace. But if you walk slowly, you’ll have lost only about 20 seconds.

Once we find the ideal ratio for a given distance, walk breaks allow us to feel strong to the end and recover fast, while bestowing the same stamina and conditioning we would have received if we had run continuously.

Don’t get too rigidly locked into a specific ratio of walk breaks, adjust as needed. 
Even if you run the same distance every day, you’ll find that you’ll need to vary the walk break frequency to adjust for speed, hills, heat, humidity, time off from training, etc. If you anticipate that your run will be more difficult or will produce a longer recovery, take more frequent walk breaks (or longer walks) and you may be surprised at how quickly you recover.

Do I need to take the walk breaks on the short runs during the week? 
If you can run continuously now on shorter runs, you don’t have to take the walk breaks. If you want to take them, do so. Walk breaks on midweek runs will insure that you recover from the long ones at the fastest pace.