I realize, this is what its all about.


Nearing the End of my MAF Only Block; Thoughts and Prelim Results


Yes, this is how I log my runs.

In my past few posts, LCHF MAF and 2016 Goals, I talk about taking time off and starting to rebuild.  It seems people take two approaches to starting their next race season.  The first, by building speed at shorter distances.  Many ultra runners will begin their year with an early spring marathon and build distance into their speed for their summer ultras.  The second is a slower, higher mileage approach.  I took the latter, having sort of done the former in the past with shorter winter/spring races like the Mt. Mitchell 40 mile race and Uwharrie 40 both in very early spring, but usually burning out by late fall.

My A race this year isn’t until September, so I’ve been slow and steady all winter.  I have owned a heart race monitor for years, but this is the first time I have really ever used it.

So by the end of today, I will have hit somewhere around 140 miles this week.  The last time I did this was summer of 2013, and I ran two weeks of 150.  Because the weather and temperature was very different from then to now I can’t make an exact comparison (Av temp this winter has been in the upper 30s-40s, the summer is usually 70s in the morning and 90s in the afternoon.)

I don’t have exact strava data for 2013 because it was before I used that application, so I have to look back on my trusty hand written guide.  I ran all of my runs by feel, which back then was probably too fast at the start and hitting the wall and having to run the second run slow slow slow…

The week went something like this;

  • Day 1; 30, AM 21 road, PM 8.9 trail
  • Day 2; 23, AM 15, PM 8 road
  • Day 3: 26, AM 4(tired) PM 22
  • Day 4: 15 road
  • Day 5: 5
  • Day 6: 36, AM 30 all single track trail, PM 6 road slog
  • Day 7: 15, AM to road, PM 5

I remember just being tired and hungry and brain foggy and stressed that whole week, and afterwards.  It was supposed to be my peak week for a 100 3 weeks away and I would taper after it… the 100 was cancelled, which was a blessing in disguise because I was TOAST.  Mentally, physically, emotionally.  I signed up for a race a month later, recovered all the next month and had a great race..sub 23 hours at Pinhoti 100.  Had I run Grindstone the three weeks after that 150 mile week no doubt I would have done horribly.  Post Pinhoti my body was still fried though.  I had hives, I couldn’t sleep through the night, I was cranky, and tearful, and wasn’t my usual social self.

This week looks something like strava data (I started the week on Saturday).

  • Day 1; 20 miles trail, faster the last 10 miles
  • Day 2; 30 miles road
  • Day 3; 10 miles of a recovery run (this run I use my HRM specifically and run each mile according to HR.  ie first mile HR is near 100, second mile 110, third 130, etc until a few at 150, and then back down. Seems to loosen my legs up after a long road run.
  • Day 4; 30, AM 20 trail, PM 9 Treadmill, 1 barefoot around indoor track + leg day
  • Day 5; 10 easy miles 1:40hour
  • Day 6; 30,  All in a row with no break=20 road miles, 5 treadmill miles, 4+ easy with the dog
  • Day 7; that’s today… I have 10 planned trail miles after I finish cleaning the house and writing this.

The big difference is how I feel physically and mentally. I’m not starving constantly, I don’t wake up hungry and can’t get back to sleep.  I am present, no brain fog, at night I can go out to dinner with friends and hold a conversation.  I am not sore and stiff and always on the cusp of worrying if that niggle is an oncoming injury, and I am in great spirits.  I ran all of the miles under my MAF HR which is just under 150, which means that I’m certainly not at my fastest, but not far off and feel better. I think on Day 4 the first 20 I ran I hit 18 miles on the trail at 3 hours, and in the past I have hit 20 in 3 hours on the same route, but the different is I felt good enough to do 10 more in the afternoon and lift legs, whereas after the 20 miles in 3 hours before I would have to sit on the couch or nap after.

In general I would say its hard to compare my actual pace because looking back over the data this winter there was a lot of muddy days, snowy and icy days that skewed the pace results, so I have been looking at mileage and how I feel and can function rather than the actual pace. Back in December a 17 mile trail run used to feel like a hard effort, while now its a normal Tuesday morning.

I realize for those of you that are seeking actual data and numbers this is loose and not really conclusive enough, but for me its a really great improvement.  I have been striving to get the big mileage with out the drawback of feeling wasted every day afterwards.  I am hopeful that this base will serve me well as I add in some quality workouts in the upcoming weeks/months.

Next week is the beginning of some actual speed work, so no more MAF only running.  One day a week I will drop off the 30 mile and switch it out for a hilly run aiming for a pace and feel, and ignoring my HR.  The rest of the week will remain mostly HR based.

I’m both excited and apprehensive to be switching up my running.  I am one of those people who tend to fall prey to “hard is good, harder is better,” and tend to dig myself into over training holes.  This is the year of training smarter not harder.  I’ll be curious to see if I can stick to that.

Thanks for reading!!

*also, with all this mileage I have been able to add muscle (finally, typically I get all gawky and lose muscle at higher mileage) and have lost just 1-2 lbs of fat.


Better Energy, and Recovery Means I Can do More things!

Like this: climbing! This is so much arms are core were so wonderfully sore after!

And this:

Painting! I have had the energy to paint again!  You can buy my art here, coming soon.


Even more hiking!

Winter Base; more slow MAF and LCHF

Winter Miles on the Road

Choosing an “A” race so late in the year (Run Rabbit Run is in Sept.) is a long way off for making a training schedule.  This helped me decide that this winter I would start-over building base miles, slow and steady. No racing till spring.  I took the month of November off, started running for fun in December, added in very different (to me) weight training (heavy weight, low reps) and slow MAF miles.  I have kept up the changes to my diet; higher fat, lower carbohydrates, no processed foods, lots of veggies, some fruits..but not nearly as many as I have eaten in the past.

Goofing off while base training, who says running isn’t fun?!

It all began a little more than frustrating, but was kind of a nice change as well.  My MAF HR is 145, but I added a few BPM because I haven’t been injured and have been running a long time.  Going out on the trails and keeping my HR between 143-147 was SLOW!  Like painfully-mindlessly-walking up everything slow.  Most of my friends stopped running with me, fortunately one friend, Nate, decided he was into trying this out as well, so we have been keeping each other company on the long, cold, dark mornings.

Early cold morning miles with Nate

So putting trust into these slow miles was easy at first.  I was tired and a bit burned out from last year.  My first race was in March 2015 and wrapped up the year with the final race in Nov 2015…I was tired.  I hadn’t really given myself any time to rest, it was race, recover, build, build, race, build, build race, race…  I was ready to give myself over to something different.

December was long and slow, but finishing each run felt good.  I had energy, didn’t have that insatiable hunger post run, I have been sleeping well, no GI issues..and slowly, but surely, my pace has been getting faster at the same HR/effort.  I also don’t need more than water to run 3+ hours.

Another side effect of this slower running in the winter is that when the trails become super saturated from heavy rain or frozen over I have been varying my training on the Treadmill and roads again.   I had almost forgotten what great running tools these two things are.  The road to practice faster turnover, treadmill to really pay attention to my gait.  Its been sort of wonderful.

Its now been 2 months and some change and I have felt stronger, and fitter than in the last few years.  Last week I ran 115 miles, plus 3 sessions of weight lifting, and if I hadn’t run out of time my body would have happily gone up to 120mpw, which is something I haven’t done in two years.

From what I have read, and it makes perfect sense,(childbirth, and our hormones) make us, women perfect for fat burning.  Peter Defty podcast about this.  However, I do have to be aware that too low carbohydrate isn’t always a good thing.  Sweet potatoes, fruits, and starchy veggies and nuts are still a part of my diet.  I did try a week super low carb test and while I felt much better doing it, by the end of it I found that adding in some low sugar fruits helped me sleep better at night (plus I don’t think 115mpw is recommended while doing this carb intolerance test.). Which also leads me to wonder, 6 years ago I eliminated wheat gluten and felt better, I have since been eliminating sugars and feel much better.  I did have may of the symptoms described at the beginning of the article, but over this winter I think I have figured out that its not quite a gluten intolerance but a carbohydrate intolerance. It has helped my HDL come way up and triglycerides level off actually.  I have a family history of it, its always a surprise to every new doc I go to when I have a fasting blood test and I have high LDL with all the running I do.

Anyway, this update is as much for you as it is a reminder for me for the future when I fall off the wagon on a crazy sugar binge and forget that my GI, sleep, and skin problems are linked to my carb intolerance.

As for last week’s 115mpw it went something like this;

  • Monday; easy/yoga
  • Tuesday; AM 18.5m in the woods. PM 11 on the TM+lifting=29.5
  • Wednesday; 10 easy
  • Thursday; AM road run 20m, PM 11 TM+lifting=31
  • Friday; 11 trail miles
  • Saturday: 21 (really cold morning!)+lifting
  • Sunday; 13

Links to more LCHF

Race Calendar? Maybe?

I am not a very patient person, I am trying my best to learn it, though.  I already started thinking about my 2016 race calendar this past September, but told myself I had to wait at least until the Hardrock and Western States drawings.  No big surprise, I didn’t get into either… so that at least made those race decisions easy.

It now comes down to waiting until April to run any races.  If I base build only, no speed work, no raising my HR above 150ish bpm until I hit 120mpw that will take me until the second week of March, then I can either decide to base build more, or begin specific race training.  We’ll see what happens, hopefully with my change in diet, strength training, and sleep habits I’ll hit 120mpw happy, healthy and strong!

So this is what I have so far;

April 2016;

  • Either Leatherwood Ultra in NC, or Promise Land 50k in VA
  • argument for Leatherwood is there is a 10 mile option and Drew can do that, there are sweet cabins on the property, its run on private property so there is no way it can be cancelled.
  • Promise Land, well because I haven’t run a Horton race yet (or a 50k!) and I keep meaning to… and because those VA trail runners always put on a fantastic race!


  • Ugh, another lottery, this time for San Juan Solstice 50..won’t know about this until late January.
  • I’ll need a backup in case I don’t get in… Laurel Highlands 100k? What else?


  • Jarman’s Invitational of course!


  • RUN RABBIT RUN (the second time around)


  • Mountain Masochist 50 mile
  • I think this race fills up fast so I’ll have to be on the ball to sign up.


  • Hellgate 100k!
  • If I don’t injure myself (knock on wood,) or burn myself out, (knock on wood again,) I have been wanting to do this race since I first heard about it a few years ago, but it never works into my schedule!

2016 Goals; looking ahead and Blogging for Training Accountability

I know, I know, starting a new year’s resolution is cliché, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I took my month off in Nov/Dec, did a lot of yoga, some strength, lots of stretching and addressing some weaknesses and tightness and bad habits through bodywork, help from an athletic trainer friend, and acupuncture.  What I noticed as the tightness in my body slowly unwound is that I have weak deep core muscles.  I mean I have done planks and situps and all sorts of ab work, but my very deep core, my breathing, has been hindered. By breathing with (what I can only explain by calling it my pelvic floor) I can maintain a better upright position and activate my glutes better.

I have naturally tight calves and poor ankle flexion, so instead of doing single leg squats (and never getting far enough down to be effective) I have switched to step UPS with 30lbs daily.  It started with 20 lbs and I have worked my way up to 30.

I have decided to base build for a solid 3 months.  What does that mean?  Well like many runners, I tend to do a lot of my runs in what many call the dreaded “grey” area.  So by using the Maffetone calculator, and with some observation, I have settled on keeping my heart rate between 143-153bpm.  I seem to be able to run at least 3+ hours without needing food at this HR.  I will stick to runs at this HR until at least March 2016.

I have also been working on using fat as fuel since last March, so I figure if I base build until March I will have a full year (plus a little holiday splurge) of fat adapting under my belt.  Why do this?  Well, for a few reasons, mostly because my stomach seems to dictate this.  I have run marathons with no fuel in 3 hours, but the minute my body ran out of sugars, and I ate, I would have the dreaded runner GI problems.  I have been following a combination of the Whole30 and Paleo diets, gleaning from them no processed foods, lots of nuts, coconut oil, and olive oil (since dairy seems to give me hives) eggs, lots of veggies and avocados, and some fruit.

*note, up until October 2014 I had been vegetarian/vegan more often than not since around 2000, relying a lot on crabs from beans, veggies, fruit and nuts and having some pretty major blood sugar crashes. Since switching to a more Paleo diet I don’t get hangry (that’s hungry+angry) and don’t have such major blood sugar dips, which has been quite nice.

Ok, so 2016!

  •   I will continue this maximum aerobic function training with my HR between 143-153bpm.  (Reassessing in March.) Mostly on single track to start, and then adding in hilly roads to keep my legs from getting slow and stale.  Hopefully peaking at 120 mow.
  • I will continue to eat following my high fat, real foods diet.
  • I will weight train at least 2 times a week, with heavy lower body weights, rather than do high reps with medium weight, I’m going to do high weight with fewer reps.
  • Sleep!  Getting on a regular sleep schedule is important.  I am usually pretty good about getting enough sleep, but I will try to get better at an early bed time so I can have an early wake up time to train. This is always harder for me in the dark morning hours in winter, however, I am not signing up for any races at least till April, so the pressure will be off to run lots of dark, cold, and early miles.
  • Blog for accountability and as a record for my progress
  • Choose my races for 2016 already damn it! I have been fighting the “too many races, not enough time,” syndrome since November…I need to sit down and really pick my races.  I didn’t get into WS or HR, so time for a new game plan!

What are your goals for 2016?


Next post, calculating my caloric needs during a race.



Time off; a Mental Break

I have never been very good about taking time off from running, aside from injury I have probably gone 15 years with out a real break.  Now that I am trying to be a more serious and focused on running, I have noticed my brain has been craving a break.

I pushed hard through the summer, 30 mile training days at the beach..on vacation, on pavement that I am sure was well over 105 degrees, plus humidity that you could taste, over night running, focused and planned nutrition, yoga, active release, and other body therapies to keep me going…. I’m getting tired just thinking back over the last very active year.

So what’s an active cant-sit-still girl to do on her off season?  We’ll here’s what I have done so far.

Monday after the race it was cold and raining… again.  I slept in, foam rolled and went to work (walked dogs in the rain for 4 hours.)  I was tired and my nerves frayed at this point because I was just so DONE with the rain.  I had just run 25 hours in constant rain and water crossings…DONE! DONE with that rain!

Tuesday I was feeling a bit better and went on a long hike with my dog

Wednesday I was feeling great!  After work I washed all the floors, repainted the kitchen cabinets, reorganized the pantry, and painted the trim.  Then went for a long hike with the dog again.

Thursday I decided it was time for yoga and some easy strength training.  I noticed about mile 20 that my left glute wasn’t firing at all during Pinhoti, so it was time to wake it up!

Friday I was on the elliptical, 40 min and did some more core strength.

Saturday, was an hour on the Elliptical, yoga, and a long walk with the dog.  I meant to go on a bike ride, but it was too cold..its my off month..I can be a weather wimp!:)

Sunday, slept in after a really late night out with friends and then went for a two hour hike in the woods.

I have also put my fat adapting diet aside this past week.  I have been eating all the things I have been avoiding.  I seem to have a very pro-inflammatory body, so sugar, gluten and processed foods really make an impact on how I feel overall.  However, since there’s no structured training I made (and ate) pumpkin bread, pecan bars, chocolate truffles, a few bars of chocolate, lots of chips and guacamole, basically whatever sugar is laying around the house that I can get my hands on. Its great, though by Sunday I was starting to crave salad.

Its Tuesday of the second week and I’m kinda itching to run, even just a short jog around the trails, but I promised myself NO RUNNING FOR TWO WEEKS! The strength training already has my left gluten sore!  The elliptical and bike will have to suffice this week as well.  However, I do have my first run planned already.  An hour or so with friends on some pristine virginal trails out in Orange County. YAY!