Category Archives: Training to run

Humidity: Let’s Get Practical

It should be no surprise to you that I absolutely love to run hills in training. My favorite trail, lately is mostly hills.  Now, I get to add humidity to my training recipe. DOUBLE LOVE.

I talk about this every year, as a reminder, as an encouragement. You cannot live in Middle Tennessee and train for races or run for leisure in the summer without having to deal with humidity.

Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures.

Meaghen Brown Outside OnlineThe Positive Benefits of Training in the Heat

Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon. “Heat acclimation provides more substantial environmental specific improvements in aerobic performance than altitude acclimation,” he says. And in contrast to the live low, train high philosophy, we more quickly adapt to heat stress than we do to hypoxia. In other words, heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.

Training Effect

Numerous studies have shown that training in heated conditions, two to three times per week for 20 to 90 minutes, can produce a multitude of beneficial training effects. These include:

  • Lower core temperature at the onset of sweating
  • Increased plasma volume (Plasma is the liquid component in your blood. If the volume is increased, you can send blood to cool your skin without compromising the supply carrying oxygen to your muscles.) *To produce more sweat
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Increased oxygen consumption
  • Improved exercise economy

Allie Burdick, Competitor Running Online, “Why Runners Should Train in the Heat

Let’s get practical: Slow down. Be patient. Relax. Bring Water. Drink electrolytes. Have a route with plenty of water stops. Dress appropriately.

Slow down: I run approximately 1-2 minutes slower on humid days, and 2-3 minutes slower on really hot/humid days. I can run closer to my “cool temp” pace, if I push. But, as we are just entering the “heat/humidity”, it is important to slow down and to get your body comfortable sweating, dripping, being hot.

Relax and be patient: I think these go together. I certainly do not go out on a run with a temp of 75 degrees, “feels like” of 80 and give myself a time limit or try to squeeze in a run before an appointment. I have really enjoyed slowing down, getting out, being okay with being slower. Walk, if you feel like your heart rate is getting too high. It will lower your heart rate a bit and give you a break. If you need to stop, to cool off, find a shady spot to stop in.

Bring water and drink electrolytes: this to me is not optional. Carrying a handheld gives me a “cup” for water refills. If I am starting a run with a temperature above 80 degrees, I will make sure to drink electrolytes and water. I find that I need more than just water. *Also remember to “drink before you run”. Do not use your long run to catch up on water intake. Drink before you run, drink during your run, drink after your run.

Route with water stops/shade: This is important for a longer run. Run in the shade as much as is possible. Even a portion of a run in the shade will give your body a break.

Dress appropriately: I like to wear compression shorts in the summer, if I am running long. I do not feel nearly as wet and I usually do not need to bring a change of shorts. I also like to wear a “bra top” or just a sport’s bra. I know that some of you are thinking. . . “there is NO way I am running in a sport’s bra without a shirt”. Okay! Find the lightest tank possible to wear over your bra and choose a light color.

*Ladies-as hormones fluctuate during the month, so does your body’s ability to cool itself off. During the second half of your menstrual cycle, your body must reach a higher temperature before your thermostat compensates and begins to cool itself. In other words, you will be hotter before sweating starts to cool you off. 



Racing in 2018

I am excited about what I have planned this year. It has not been a training season without bumps that is for sure. Let me tell you what I have planned.

Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race. June 15-17

Pikes Peak 50K. July 28

Kodiak 100. August 17-18

Lookout Mountain 50. December 15

2018 racing in brief: Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race was SO MUCH FUN last year. VERY hot and humid and I loved it!! It was cool to start and finish with the same group of runners for 3 days, to share stories, run together, laugh, groan. . . My fav day was day three on Signal Mountain. MAN! The last time I ran on Signal Mountain was for my first trail race in 2012, Stump Jump! I had an entirely different comfort level and experience this time around.

I am running Pike’s Peak 50K in Colorado Springs approximately 3 weeks out from my 100 miler. Pike’s Peak 50K starts at an elevation 6,200′ and climbs to 11,224′. This will be the highest elevation that I have climbed in a race. I am not nervous. I just have absolutely no idea what to expect or if I will make it! 🙂 A D V E N T U R E!!

The Kodiak 100 Ultra Marathon is a dream course with a lively Start and Finish downtown in The Village of Big Bear Lake. Runners will circumnavigate the entire Big Bear Valley including a visit to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain (9,963′)** and a trip through the rarely visited Siberia Creek Canyon. This is a true mountain 100 miler, with technical footing and a lot of running above 7,000′, per the course description.

**at mile 65, begins approximately 8 miles of climbing to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain at mile 72. Approximately 7,000′ at mile 65 to 9,963′ at the top of Sugarloaf.

Lookout Mountain 50. If I am able to run LM 50 this year, it will be my fourth consecutive year. I almost have a set of 4 glasses, and they had brown sugar bacon last year!! It is a nice end of the year, closer. They added a 20 miler two years ago. It is a beautiful 20 mile course.

Bumps along the way: My hamstring!! My hamstring has been bothering me since January. Nothing crippling just frustrating. I personally do not like running when my body does not feel at least 98.9% normal to me.

In April and May, I completed all of my training miles, and I took specific steps to alleviate my hamstring irritation. I continue to work with my trainer on Thursdays. I love this day. It is usually hard, but I have enjoyed the creative ways he is targeting my muscles this training season.

I had several visits with a Physical Therapist (PT). My PT, Craig, told me that I have a strain in my hamstring. He was helpful. I think he was most helpful “calming some of my worst fears”. He does not want me to stop running. Some days I wish it was as easy as “not running and getting better”. I think it IS this easy but there is a cost. I am not sure I want to stop or that I need to stop. So, I will trust and be patient.

I have completed all of my training miles for May and I am so, so much enjoying running in the heat and humidity, again. THIS weather is a bonus to those of us who live in the South. It is a free training benefit. I will take it!

. . . add several days of hill repeats to the heat, humidity and triple the bonus!! Love it or leave it. I choose to LOVE it.

As far as my hamstring goes, I am feeling better. I am being patient. I am being conscious of how it feels, how I feel and I am pressing in to month two of training!!




Lookout 50 2017: training

“There’s never a top to the mountain. Each summit just gives us a better vantage point for the next peak. How high do you want to climb? Give yourself permission to be a giant. “Realistic” is an interesting word we throw around, but we’re talking about going past your current context. Who cares if your big picture goal is a bit unrealistic?”

-Chandler Stevens, “Go Big: Be Your Own Coach” from Breaking Muscle.

“Being prepared means getting to the point where you can forget about all the preparation you’ve done, because you trust that it’s done. You can do all the training in the world, but if it doesn’t translate into trust and confidence in yourself, you’re never going to be able to relax. If you can’t relax, you can’t improvise, or respond intelligently to the actual situation as it unfolds in real time. ”
-Riley Holland, “Get a Samurai Mindset: Unshakeable and Invincible” from Breaking Muscle

“The idea is to be brave not perfect. It’s to be resilient not flawless, confident not complete. . . The best athletes don’t train to be perfect! They train to tolerate discomfort. If you cannot adjust, you lose. Life will never conform to your plan.”

-Eddie Pinero, “Your World Within”

“Average is the norm for a reason. Being exceptional demands extra effort, sustained inspiration and uncommon discipline. When we attempt to give flight to our dreams, we have to overcome the weight of opposition. Like gravity, life’s circumstances constantly pull on our dreams, tugging us down to mediocrity.”

-John C. Maxwell

Some of my fav quotes above, this training cycle!

I ran my 100 mile race, Mogollon Monster, on September 17, 2017. For the first 2-3 weeks, after the race, I did little to no running. I start with no running or exercise for about 5 days. Then, I sat on the bike for a few days. I ended the 2-3 weeks, post race with the bike and hiking on the treadmill, mixed with some running.

I started training for Lookout 50 in October. Here is a brief overview of the months post-100 and leading up to my race next weekend!

October 2017 (249.46 miles/32,455′)

  • October 2-8:  48.33 miles
  • October 9-14:  53.13 miles, 6504′ of ascent
  • October 16-21:  74 miles, 14, 870′ of ascent
  • October 23-28:  74 miles, 11,081′ of ascent

November/December 2017 (365 miles/65,636′)

  • Oct/November 1-4:  75 miles, 11,833′ of ascent
  • November 6-11: 74 miles, 11,507′ of ascent
  • November 13-18:  73 miles, 13,753′ of ascent
  • November 20-26:  73 miles, 16,341′ of ascent
  • Nov/December 27-3:  70 miles, 12,202′ of ascent

My goal for Lookout 50 is 10:30, which is a 12:36 pace. 

I like to try new things with each training cycle. Each race, distance, training, prepares my body for the race coming next. I work specifically with my trainer as I prepare in the weight room. I mix up speeds/climbing as I prepare with my training cycle.

For this race, I tried 3 new things. First, because of my time goal, my trainer suggested running parts of some of my running at race pace. I did this for a week and decided that I needed to get a little more uncomfortable. Race pace was not easy, but it was not uncomfortable enough. I decided to run 4/6 runs during the week, faster than race pace. I did this for the middle 6 weeks of my training. Second, I hiked on the treadmill for 3 miles at a time, rather than 2 miles at a time at an incline between 15%-18%. My race has a significant hill that is about 3 miles long. Finally, my trainer and I worked on power and plyometrics in the gym.

I am looking forward to race day!!



107 miles in 6 days, done & done

Without knowing it, this week became a celebration, a culmination of the word DONE and the apex of the last 3 months of living.

DONE with my 100 mile week. This was physically exhilarating. Days of fast, days of slow, days and days and days of climbing. I love this kind of stuff. I live for the big weeks, the hard weeks. It really makes me feel alive.

DONE getting my kids in school. . . lots of firsts this year. I have a high schooler, now. There were some fears going into day 1, but to my surprise, each of my children had a better than expected start. It was a relief to pick up each one and hear a similar story of how excited they were about their friends and teachers and school.

DONE with my parent’s move. This is a tough one, still is. My parents moved to Michigan at the end of July.

DONE trying to orchestrate the matters of a 14 year old’s heart. This was a huge surprise to me, this friendship, this relationship. It caught me off guard in too many ways to name. Boy,  did I have a lot to learn about beauty, about being 14, about caring about other people, about boys, about girls. Still learning here.

Monday Trail: 18 miles, 3177′

Tuesday Track: 9 miles/Stairs: .30 (10 minutes)/Trail: 8.7, 1300′

Wednesday Trail: 21.3 miles, 3300′

Thursday Road: 7.16 miles/Trail: 7 miles/Treadmill: 1 mile @ 15%, .60 @ 5%, 2078′

Friday Road: 8 miles/Trail: 19.5 miles, 3175′

Saturday Trail: 6.25, 965′

107 miles and 13995′ uphill 

Great people and great athletes realize early in their lives their destiny, and accept it. Even if they do not consciously realize the how, the where, the what.

-Percy Wells Cerutty

Training for a Monster 100

This September, I am running the Mogollon Monster 100 in Pine, AZ. I am in week 9 of 18. July at a glance. I like to use the training block of weeks 7-11 for some really long runs on Saturday. I do not like running back to back long runs. My 45 year of body responds better to a long Saturday run-rest day-long Monday run. The work I do during the week tends to be speed and hills.

I think that my two biggest challenges with the Mogollon Monster 100 will be the altitude and the technical terrain. This 100 miles the racer from elevations of 5,300 feet at the start to upwards of 8,000 feet at the top of the Mogollon Rim. There will be approximately 22,000 feet of climbing. This is almost identical to Pine to Palm. But, I think the trail will be more technical.

What will help me most is the humidity, running hard hill repeats, and running hard tempo runs on the trail. I love running in the heat/humidity. I love running hills. I love running hard. I am looking forward to the weeks to come. 🙂

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Friday Sat Sunday Total
June 26-July 2 14.09


8 + weights 11.2








10.6 81.42


3-9 10.2


9.2 1700’ +

5.2 walk, 250’

2 + weights


11 + 2175’ 7




rest 75


10-16 12.2


8.5, stairs, gym 12.63


2 @15%

2 run







Rest 74.2


17-23 15 6 10 4 10 26 rest 71
24-30 15 7 13 8 10 27-30 rest 80-83


Female WINNER of the Hillbilly Half, Her Story

And our first place female runner, from Franklin, Tennessee, 15 years old, with a time of 1:37….Kathryne Hirt!! The announcer said. I couldn’t help thinking, how on earth did I get here?

 The summer before seventh grade, I made the decision to start running. I got up every morning and ran 1.5 miles. When I began, I could barely even make it to the corner of my street without stopping, and I really hated it. But I was determined. And when I’m determined, there’s so stopping me. Little did I know that in just a couple of years that I would run to relax.
Fast forward to freshman year of high school. I decided to run cross country instead of playing volleyball. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I could make! The team was more than a team, it was a family. The coaches were very nice and encouraging, but between you and me, could have done some more actual coaching. I made so much progress as a runner, falling more and more in love with running,  every day. By the end of the season, my 5K race time was about 21 minutes. Even thought the season was over, I ran every day, and not just a little bit. I was running 7 miles a day, and boy did I pay for that. I ended up with a stress fracture in my hip, which took two months to heal. Any runner knows that not running for two months is torturous, and it was hard.
I signed up for my first half marathon, THIS June, with my sister, and part of me thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But, my hip healed in perfect timing. I had a couple weeks to get back into shape, and then my training officially started. I used the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 plan. To be completely honest, most of the time I didn’t follow the plan. I almost always ran more than I needed to. And rest days? I hardly took them, unless the weather was too bad. I made sure to cross train, running 3.5 miles and doing a 30-40 minute ab workout on the same day. I also made sure that all of my runs included hills, which was not hard to do, living in Middle Tennessee.
My favorite part of training was the long runs. As an endurance athlete, I live for and love running long. The farther I ran, the happier and better I felt. As my runs progressed into the 9 mile and above range, I started to experiment with fueling. I tried raisins (not the best for me since they took more work for my body to digest) and GU energy gels. At first, I was hesitant to put something artificial into my body, but I soon realized that they were the best for me. And the flavors covered every base! Fruit-y, chocolate-y, coffee-y, and even maple bacon! These long runs did mean, however, that my training was coming to an end. And training coming to an end meant one very exciting thing: THE HALF MARATHON!!!!!
This brings us to June 3rd, 2017. My half marathon of choice was the Hillbilly Half. It would begin at 6:30a, which meant I had to wake up a little after 5:00a. I had learned from my training runs that I did not need much for breakfast, so I had Greek yogurt and mixed some Honey Bunches of Oats into it about an hour before running. I made sure to pack extra clothes and shoes, as well as my water bottle and energy gel. I was so excited, and a little bit nervous. So as every runner does, I made a last minute trip to the (disgusting, smelly, gross, etc) port-a-potty before the race began.
All my training was leading up to this moment. And with a ‘bang!’ it began. I weaved between people, moving around them left and right, for quite a few miles. After a while I found my pace, and maintained the same speed. Sticking true to its name, the course was constantly going up and down. It seemed like as soon as we ran down hill, there was another hill waiting for us. I ran by myself for most of the race.
About 3/4 of the way through, I ran alongside a guy going about my pace. We didn’t say anything to one another, but both of us knew we were using each other as a pacer. When we hit another hill, I took the lead. For the last 5K, I sped up. As I hit the last couple water stations and “hecklers” (volunteers dressed up as hillbillies to encourage and to entertain runners), the volunteers were cheering me on loudly, screaming “you go girl!” It made me wonder, was I the first female? And I was! As I rounded the corner to cross the finish line, I saw my mom screaming for me, and the men at the finish pulling the banner across for me to run through it. After I crossed, I got my medal and, best of all, my fresh Georgia peach from the amazing Peach Truck.
After the race, I snacked on some fruit, waiting for the awards to begin. It felt like forever.  When my category was announced, I was ecstatic to have won my very first half marathon at age 15. For the rest of the day, I was on a high, smiling whenever I thought about that morning.
Right now, I’m training for my second cross country season. My goal is to qualify for the state meet this year. Looking ahead, I want to run in college, but have no idea where yet. I love running, and cannot wait to see where it takes me!

My Mountain Life

Have you ever had one of those weeks? days? You know what mean. Life, circumstance, people take you by surprise and not in a good way. Things compound and they well up and drip out. The heartache, the brokenness the sadness drips out, like a leaky facet from my eyes.

I do go to the mountains that I have close. I go there and dream of the mountains that I want in my future. Dream of what it is going to take to get there. I remember where I have been. . . the mountains. . . I long, hunger to go back. The places that I know I am capable of going. The places that I know I get to work hard to go.

It is a longing that alludes to hope. A pure place. A wild place. An untouched place. A dark place. A quiet place. A lonely place. A drastic place. A high place. A heavenly place. . . to me. I got a taste of the depth, the struggle, the beauty and I want to go back.

It was in a (mountain) place where the beauty of friendship, fellowship, community played out. . . for me. It was a piece of heaven on earth. I am looking ahead to 2017. . . I am anxiously looking for struggle, courage, pain, depth and fire, commitment and community.

2017 targets:

  1. Cascade Crest or Kodiak 100
  2. “Running to the Roar” more, in fear and with faith
  3. Coaching women to achieve their dreams and goals, no matter how impossibly big or simply small.

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
 Jim Afremow,  The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive

“The very traits that step us toward certain life situations are the very same traits that those situations encourage, reinforce, and amplify”

-Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

“Being willing to be uncomfortable is essential for building toughness; it’s a characteristic that will pay dividends when honed to its fullest potential.”

-Jason Koop with Jim Rutberg, Training Essentials for Ultra Running: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultra Marathon Performance.