Thursday Things

1. Oh, how the mighty fall.

I needed to bake for a church event, and since I was rather busy on Saturday, I opted to go for a reliable, incredibly easy recipe, No Bake Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares. I’ve made these twice before, and it’s about as straightforward as recipes come. Melt peanut butter, butter, and butterscotch, stir, let cool. Stir in marshmallows and exercise self-control so as to not eat the entire concoction at once. So easy! So simple!


So burnt. (Ideally, this entire mix should be light brown. All of those black bits are bad news)

Fortunately, I was able to salvage the top half of things and it tasted just fine, but MAN was I frustrated. This is what I get for being all, “Psh, easy recipes! I don’t need to pay attention anything! I am baker, hear me roar!”

(And don’t worry, friends: even though I burnt some of the peanut butter, I didn’t ruin it to such an extent that wasn’t willing to eat it. This was half my dinner on Saturday night. I have no shame.)

2. Running question one of two: I want to be faster. Not Boston faster, but faster. I haven’t signed up for a spring half marathon yet, but ideally, I’d like to PR my half some time this spring, and I’d like to PR it significantly. I recognize to do that, I’m going to need to do more than easy runs, which is pretty much the only kind of run I do. I know intervals and tempo runs help you get faster, but I’m not sure how to incorporate them into my limited running schedule. I’m only running three days a week, and that’s not changing. When relegated to the treadmill, I’ve been playing with inclines to make my one of my runs for the week harder. Will that have the same impact as intervals or a tempo run? I’m mostly doing the inclines to mimic hills in an effort to not die during the Georgetown 10, but I’m nervous about the idea of doing intervals or a tempo run AND hills, and then having my only “easy” run for the week be my long run, which is always  done at an easy pace but does not always feel “easy,” given that it’s my longest run of the week. If all goes according to my hopes and dreams, my running season this year will be much longer than usual, and I don’t want to get too ambitious with hard runs, especially since I’ve never done any before, and end up injured.

3. Running question two of two: What are our opinions on cadence? I had a video gait analysis a few months ago, and the PT doing it told me I need to increase my cadence. I know 180 seems to be the magic number, but when I’d occasionally pay attention during marathon training, I was always in the 160s, and this past week on my treadmill runs I checked my cadence a couple of times to give myself something to do, and I was, once again, always in the 160s. I tend to be of the thought that however your body naturally runs is probably the best way for you personally to run, but maybe that’s just me not wanting to put in a lot of work to change my form. I also don’t quite understand how to increase my cadence by 20 steps per minute without running a heck of a lot faster, which I 1) don’t want to do and 2) don’t think I’m capable of doing over long distances. I know shorter steps = higher turnover = higher cadence, but again, that’s something I can’t seem to reconcile with a pace that’s at all reasonable for me.

Kitchen woes? Let’s commiserate!
Any thoughts on my running questions? 

20 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. I hate to bash it over the head even more but the way I got my times faster was with both speed workouts (nothing crazy 2 x a week at most) and strength training. honestly, the biggest change came with strength training. now those rice krispy things – if they are gluten free I am forcing you to ship them my way. in my books, the more burnt the better. I am weird that way.

    • Hmm. I do my PT exercises, but I don’t think that really is strength training. Probably something I should for sure look into. Thanks for the recommendation!

      I mean, they were gluten free, but they also included two cups of peanut butter. Not entirely sure that’s up your alley, Miss PB Hater :/

  2. I agree with Alex that strength training helps a lot, but if you runs hills/play with inclines that will help build that more than running on flat surfaces. I’ve never done a speed workout, but Joe and I are planning on running the hill next to our house sometime in the next week or two once a week and adding sprints to another one of our runs, as I slowly add them back. I try to run four days a week, though, so that I can definitely make one of my runs easier. If that’s not an option for you, then stick with the long run, easy run, and then either speed or tempo…or you can try to throw in some tempo miles during your long run. I know that’s what a lot of the plans I look at have you do anyway if you follow them.

    • I just think four days a week is more than my body can handle. Maybe I don’t give myself enough credit, but I think my legs really need at least a day off between runs. I’m terrified of injury haha. I like the suggestions, though. Any plan I’ve ever followed has always been strictly novice/just-get-me-to-the-finish-line-alive, so they’ve never included any of this kind of stuff. Thanks for the help!

  3. I am really liking the strength suggestions in the comments.

    Have you heard of the FIRST training plan? It’s for 3 days a week of running. It includes tempo, speedwork and slow long run. I agree you need to have one of those slow runs a week, at least one.

    The hills will definitely help and are better than no speedwork! You will probably feel more confident for a half PR though, if you do some dedicated speedwork. Eww, speedwork. Good for you for wanting to do it 😉

    I do wonder about the cadence! I always hear 180 but never research against that!

    • I hadn’t heart of the FIRST training plan before you mentioned it, but after looking into it it seems like something I could definitely manage. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I’m going to try to incorporate those principles into my training — hopefully it’ll help!

  4. I’ve heard that running on hills mimics speed work because of the increased effort but I don’t know first hand. I’ve always lived in relatively flat areas (except for Ann Arbor).

    I was going to recommend the FIRST training plan as well but Kim beat me to it! If you don’t want to go crazy with speed work, I’d start with one day/week and go from there. I know my body prefers not to be overwhelmed with fast runs so I started doing one tempo a week and then added in a track workout.

    Good luck lady!

    • Yeah, especially since this will be totally new to me, I don’t want to force my legs into doing something they’re not ready to do yet. I like the look of the FIRST plan, though, and I think it seems really doable for me. Plus tempos I think are a little more reasonable for me right now since I don’t have super easy access to a track.

  5. Yep, another recommendation for the FIRST plan. I’ve used it before but it was for the 2010 Chicago Marathon which was beastly hot so it’s tough to say how well it worked. Still, I will say that I got SIGNIFICANTLY faster when I did speedwork once a week. I didn’t bother with tempo runs, really, but I did intervals every single week. Although, even though I didn’t do tempo runs specifically, I did run at least one or two other runs a week at or near my 10K pace so I guess they were kind of like tempo runs.

    I’ve never done hills, though. I’ve found that a combination of speedwork and strength training allows me to manage hills without training for them specifically. Sure, I might slow down some on them but I just make it back up on the downhills 🙂

    My cadence is already around 180 so I don’t really think about it. But, yes, you need to think about picking your feet up faster. It’s a weird thing to practice. Picking your feet up faster without pushing off harder.

    • Well, you all have definitely sold me on the FIRST plan. Especially since I’m starting with nothing in the speedwork department, I imagine adding anything in will be helpful.

      At the PT they told me I need to kick my leg up higher, which I would think would help with picking my feet up faster, though when I made a conscious effort to do that while counting my cadence on the treadmill on Monday I got the exact same number (83, so a 166 cadence) as I did when I was just running normally. Bahhhhh.

  6. Well… you know how successful I am with baking. As in, I’m not successful at all. So I can completely relate to your first point. At least you salvaged some of it though- whenever I bake it’s 100% inedible! As for getting faster and cadence, I’ve never really paid attention to anything to be honest. I got faster when I started running more consistently (and wasn’t injured- go figure!). The speed workouts DEFINITELY made a huge difference freshman year which is the first time I was ever truly coached, but I also started improving this year as well. I kind of just run though and whenever I think about doing something different with training (as in, doing any kind of training at all) I end up injured or mentally psyched out. In general, I think tempo runs are the best way to work on speed without doing too much differently from what you’re used to. I know nothing about cadence though so I can’t help you there 😉

    • Hey! None of this negative self-talk, lady! You killed it with those cookies a couple weeks ago, remember?? You can totally bake!

      It’s good to hear that speedwork made a difference for you. I know if I’m not working on it, I’m going to run easy every single time and not bother trying to improve, so hopefully at least having some sort of awareness of what I’m doing and being intentional about things will help out some!

  7. Oh man don’t even get me started on all this running talk! I’m honestly in the same boat as you – I want to get faster and I think I know how to do it but something isn’t quite working…I got injured. I wish I could just hire a running coach who will tell me exactly what to do. Simple and ideal right? I hope you continue to share your running adventures and trials so I can pick up some tips from you 🙂

  8. I have the FIRST book if you want to borrow it. I’ve sort of used it last year but it is hard to tell if it worked for me because I did so many half marathons last year.

    I’ve hard about cadence and the magic number being 180 but how did you measure it?

  9. Pingback: Chi Town Half Marathon Race Recap | accidental intentions

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