Friday, December 23, 2016

Training through the holidays

It's always hard to keep training on track when your normal routine is disrupted, and the holidays are a great example of this. Technically I started my Blue Ridge Marathon training plan the week of December 4, mostly because I already had Ragnar Trail Alafia on the calendar, but after that race, I promptly had a big old goose egg the following week. I was traveling at the beginning of the week and then trying to get everything ready to visit family for Christmas, so running fell to the end of my to do list.

This week has been a little bit better - I was able to do a short run on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail on Sunday to start off the week. I've hiked sections of the trail, so I wanted to get out and see what it would be like to run on them, but winter weather has a habit of putting you on your heels. There was snow left over from last week, Saturday brought a mix of rain and snow and Sunday was warm, slightly rainy and had even more melt-off. I knew the trails would be sloppy, but what I wasn't prepared for was the trail turning into a stream and mid-shin high standing water where the trails flattened out!

Over the river and through the woods!
This section required an off-trail detour, but I loved the colors of the leaves trapped under barely frozen ice.
Shortly after that detour, I turned around and headed across Route 30 to see if the other side of the trail would be any better, and at first it was. The woods were foggy with misty / rainy precipitation and it was beautiful, but eventually I ran into another major section of unpassable standing water and figured it was probably in my best interest to take my wet feet back home to get warm.

So, Sunday I only managed just over 3 miles on the trails, but I took yesterday off of work so that I could get some shopping done and made sure to keep some time for myself in the morning to get in a 5 mile run on the Great Allegheny Passage. Again, it was just around 32 degrees when I started, so I bundled up (maybe not as much as I should have) and headed out. I didn't think about the fact that I was in the mountains and even though the sun had been up for almost 2 hours, that didn't necessarily mean it would be above the tree line on the trail I was on.


The beginning of the trail

The trail is extremely flat and I had originally hoped to run to the Pinkerton tunnel and back, but the online maps didn't quite line up with the actual mileage of the trails, so it would have been close to an 18 mile run to hit the tunnel and come back which was a lot more than I was interested in doing, so I just did a short 2.5 miles out and then back again instead.
My turnaround point

After I turned around, I took a quick detour off-trail to see the Cassellman River up close before heading back up to the trail to finish my run.

I did actually see two other people out on the trail as I was finishing up my run, but they were much better dressed for their winter walk - heading out in full winter jackets, scarves, gloves and hats. Really the only thing I missed on this run was my buff to take some of the chill out of the air I was breathing and better protect my neck from the wind, but I had my gloves and headband on and I did cheat and use a hand warmer for the run, but for the most part it worked out pretty well.

I didn't feel great on this run - my legs just weren't having it. I'm not sure if it was because it was so cold out or because it was just an off day, but I still got out there for some mileage, so I'm calling it a win!

Looking for some training help for the Blue Ridge Marathon?
The Blue Ridge Marathon and Fleet Feet Roanoke are offering two virtual training options tailored to help you conquer America's Toughest Marathon (or half)!
  • Virtual half marathon plan: A 14-week program starting on January 16
  • Virtual marathon plan: A 16-week program starting on January 2
You can use the code TRAINSMART to save $5 off of either training program. 
The fine print...
I am an ambassador for the Blue Ridge Marathon, so I have been given a free entry to the race of my choice (I'm doing the marathon) in return for promoting their events. I get emailed all kinds of details about specials for the race, including race discounts (use BRMFRIENDS to get 15% off), training runs, merchandise and other things runners might find beneficial. I will occasionally post on here or my Instagram account if there are things I think others may benefit from. I've never done this race before, but I'm looking forward to the challenge in April and will do a formal race recap (the good, the bad and the ugly) when I finish. 

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