Am I Improving My Half Marathon Training?

I received an email from this week with a bunch of half marathon related articles, including 7 Ways to Improve Your Half Marathon Training by Coach Jenny Hadfield. The article starts, “In case you’re wondering if half marathon training is easy, it isn’t.” Thanks for sugar coating that, Jenny.

As I started looking over the tips, I thought to myself, “am I doing this? The USAF half marathon is just over 50 days away!” To to ensure some success on September 17, let’s do some analysis.

JENNY’S TIP #1: Personalize it.

There are lots of ways to prepare for a half marathon, but the plan that will work best for you should line up with your goals, interests and life schedule.

I did this! One of my favorite sayings: “fail to plan, plan to fail”. I did not plan to fail when I made this schedule – those workouts in italics are what I completed each day


JENNY’S TIP #2: Mix and match.

Burn out and lack of motivation can arise from doing the same thing over and over again.

I’m doing this! In addition to doing yoga, biking and kickboxing, I’m mixing up the location of my runs. From around my neighborhood, on the towpath, on vacation and even back at the gym, I’ve been everywhere man!

JENNY’S TIP #3: Invest in rest.

Rest days and cutback weeks are woven into the program to give you time to recover from the demands of training and adapt and grow stronger.

I’m doing this – perhaps too well! The day on – day off schedule I have for my scheduled runs is working and is allowing for fresh legs when I’m ready to get those miles in. However, I probably could be a bit more active on those “off” days with some low level activity – a few more pup walks are in order…

JENNY’S TIP #4: Listen, adjust, and keep moving forward.

Listen to your body for aches and pains or just plain fatigue. If your body is giving you a yellow flag with a few aches, take an extra day off and adjust to allow full recovery.

I’m doing this! I’m listening to my body after my long runs. Interesting enough, I recover faster and with less post-run pain if I stay moving the rest of the day. Sunday fun days on the couch lead to painful Mondays at work!

JENNY’S TIP #5: A little core strength and flexibility can improve your form.

Investing a few 15-minute sessions on core strengthening exercises can improve your form and durability for race day… Dedicate five to 10 minutes after every workout to stretching and foam rolling and it can release tightness, alleviate aches and pains, and keep you running strong.

I’m doing half of this! No surprise, I’m loving the yoga sessions that I’ve woven into the training plan. Saturday mornings at Nishkama balanced with sun salutations after each run are making me feel longer and stronger. That said, I don’t hide the fact that I HATE weight training, but know I should be working it into my regular routine. The hubby has offered to help with this so I just might have to take him up on it.

JENNY’S TIP #6: Be social.

Research has shown that when runners train with a social group or buddy they run longer and faster than when alone.

I’m not really doing this quite as prescribed. It’s mostly because of my inconsistencies as a run/walker, but I prefer to run alone. One thing I LOVED however is bringing together the Ohio Blogging Association members for the Run for the Pierogies. It was so much fun to run with friends that day, even if we weren’t going the same pace.

Rumor has it Amanda loved her first 5K so much she’s joining me next week at the Independence 5K Run/Walk to A Healthier You! And on a side note: did you see the pictures of the July 9th race the organizers recently posted online? Check out this uber weird finish line photo of me:


JENNY’S TIP #7: Train by effort rather than pace.

When you train by your effort level, you flow with the rhythm of your life and make the most of each day. Keep it simple, run from within and you’re more likely to recover efficiently and run strong longer.

I’m doing this – both in running and in life! All things in moderation, right? I’m finding when I stop over-processing (“I HAVE to do this run today”) and start living in the present (“It feels great to be up and moving”), I’m so much more grateful for the results.

Based on Jenny’s tips, are you improving your race training? If not, how could you improve?

My 7 Links

Sometimes I’m a big goof and pray to the blogging gods that someone will tag me in a social media meme. So you can only imagine my excitement when I saw this tweet:


Morgan to the rescue! Thanks lady! Here are the details on the “My 7 Links” meme:

THE GOAL: To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.


  1. Blogger is nominated to take part
  2. Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
  3. Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part. Blogger also tweets to the handles of those bloggers using the #My7Links hashtag.
  4. These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers.
  5. And so it goes on!


Most Beautiful: It’s between Cultivating Optimism on My Yoga Mat (includes somersaulting) and Find Your Moment Today (includes a certain fuzz). There”s a certain glow about these posts that I find absolutely lovely.

Most Popular: according to the widget in my sidebar…

Most Controversial: Many were shocked to learn the ins and outs of A REAL Day in the Life of a Flight Attendant. After that, you might understand why my mom is no longer in the airline business.

Most Helpful: I was incredibly scared to share with the world my battle against anxiety and depression, but Owning It Versus Being Owned not only helped me come to terms, but seemed to help others as well.

Surprise Success: When I was planning the April Ohio Blogging Association meetup, I promised everyone  “bloggers’ roundtable”. To be honest, I had NO idea what I meant by that! An hour before leaving for the event, I found some inspiration that lead to an amazing discussion about our passions as bloggers. Therefore, the event recap: OBA Cleveland April Blogger Meet Up tells the story of that evening’s surprise success.

Not Enough Attention: After seeing Great Lakes Theater Festival’s production of Othello this past Fall, I was inspired to write an audience member’s response: eliminating negative influences. Its main message: there is not enough room in my life for the negative energy that I allow to sneak in.

Most Proud: My race recap of the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon, no question. Back in the day, I was the girl that barely passed ninth grade gym because I couldn’t even “run” a mile under 15 minutes at the age of 14. On that day in January, I proved to myself that I really could do anything.


…or anyone who wants to join in the fun! Let me know if you want to be added to my list!

p.s. don’t forget to check out my staff interview over at The Chubby Cook blog from yesterday!

guest post from The Jolly Fox: Earl Grey Cupcakes with Lavender “Butter”cream Frosting

A MEMO FROM THE CEO OF PIP: At the beginning of 2011, I was bothered by the word “vegan”. Not because I had an issue with what you ate (or didn’t eat) while practicing it, but because it became trendy. Suddenly, it became a buzz word instead of people listening to your body for what it needs.

Since then, I’ve met very kind folks who embrace veganism for all the right reasons. Through my relationship with Bess at I Dream of Greenie, I was introduced to her friend Lauren. Lauren kindly hosted us for a wonderful picnic with an amazing array of vegan food and beverages. I was amazed with her creations and how her substitutions to dishes were hardly noticeable.

After prodding from many friends, Lauren recently started a food blog called The Jolly Fox. While it’s infancy, she’s already provided some fun posts on her adventures. After a PIP reader request from that picnic recap post, Lauren has offered to guest post today with a fun recipe for Earl Grey Cupcakes with Lavender “Butter”cream Frosting. Take it away Lauren!


Lavender. The scent of lavender is probably my favorite smell. It just smells so darn good I want to bury my face in it forever. I kinda feel that way about fresh basil too. Lavender makes its home in the mint family and the most common varieties are English, Spanish and French. I happen to grow these 3 types in clay pots and they are very sturdy plants. They don’t require very much watering and they attract honeybees and butterflies.

In recent years, I’ve developed a fancy for visiting lavender farms whenever I get the opportunity to do so. It started a few years ago when I was on Maui and heard there was a lavender farm on the way up to Haleakala Crater. I visited and roamed beautiful fields of lavender and other flowers, all on the side of a dead volcano overlooking a big blue sea. Yeah, lavender and I are close now.


On one of the farms, I picked up some lavender to cook with (among other armfuls of lavender products) and that’s when my culinary adventures with lavender began. It has a slightly sweet and floral taste-sort of exactly what you would expect from lavender. It pairs well with lots of different foods and flavors like strawberries, chocolate, lemon, vanilla and even cinnamon. It’s also great for savory foods and most of you may even have some already in your herbes de provence spice blend. You can also add it to risotto (mmm, Meyer lemon-lavender risotto anyone?) and it tastes great on roasted veggies. What I’m saying is, the possibilities with lavender in your kitchen are endless. And it smells great and has relaxing capabilities too!


Since lavender is clearly so amazing, I knew I wanted to incorporate it into at least one dish or dessert at my Third of July Summer Picnic, a backyard picnic of close friends and lots of yummy vegan food. I ended up making a ton of food, but lavender managed to make its way successfully into two things: Lavender-Guava Wine Cooler Punch and Earl Grey Cupcakes with Lavender “Butter”cream Frosting.


Earl Grey Cupcakes with Lavender “Butter”cream Frosting

Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Makes one dozen.

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 c Almond Milk
  • 4 Bags of Earl Grey tea or two tbsp loose tea
  • ¼ c Canola Oil
  • ½ c Plain or Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt
  • ¾ c Unbleached Cane Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/3 c Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Unbleached Sea Salt
  • 1 -1 ½ tsp Lemon Zest


Preheat Oven 350°. Line a muffin/cupcake tin with liners.

Heat the almond milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave until hot, but not boiling. Heat it just enough to steep your 4 tea bags or two tbsp loose tea (in a tea strainer of course). Steep tea for about 10 minutes and then give them a good squeeze after removing them from the pan. If you don’t still have 1 full cup of milk, just add a little more until you have 1 cup.

In a large mixing bowl, use a whisk or a fork to combine the oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla extract and tea milk. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Mix until there are no big lumps, but be careful not to over mix.

Pour or spoon batter into lined cupcake tin and bake for about 20-25 min. Give a peak after 20 min to see how they’re doing and do a toothpick check. Also, make sure that your oven is the right temp. These cupcakes will sink if your oven is too hot or too cold. If you’re not sure of your oven accuracy, get an oven thermometer. I got one for less than $10 at Sur La Table, so they are inexpensive and can be essential to baking in a picky oven.

Lavender “Butter”cream Frosting Ingredients:

  • ¼ c Nonhydrogenated Shortening (I like Earth Balance)
  • ¼ c Nonhydrogenated Non-Dairy Margarine (I like Earth Balance)
  • 1 ¾ c Powdered Sugar
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ tsp Lavender Extract (I used Silver Cloud Estates Organic Lavender Extract)
  • Lavender Buds to taste (start with 1 tsp and work your way up to your taste)
  • 1/8 c Coconut Milk Creamer


Beat shortening and margarine together in your mixer or with a hand mixer. Beat until well combined and creamy and then add the sugar. Beat for a few more minutes. Add the vanilla and lavender extracts, as well as the coconut milk creamer. Beat another minute. Then add in the lavender and beat another minute or so.

If you like a lot of frosting on your cupcakes, you can go ahead and double this recipe.

Lauren will be sharing more of her recipes and thoughts on her blog, The Jolly Fox. Make sure to head on over and show her some blog love today!

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