Paris Marathon Training Log: Sprints, January 23 2018

I was WAY overdue for sprints. In a perfect world, my marathon training should consist of one race pace run, one sprint workout, and one long run per week. But, this is not a perfect world so I haven’t done a sprint workout in two months. Leave it to me to wait until the week of my half-marathon to start doing things the right way.

After the hiatus, sprinting wasn’t easy. I was only able to rally for four out of the six 1/2-mile intervals I could easily complete last January before the Key West Half-Marathon. My pace was also average, ranging between 7:24 min/mi and 7:36 min/mi. (Early last year I was putting forth 10% less effort and running each interval about 20 seconds faster.)

Even so, I’m proud of what I was able to finish. In the end, I got in nearly 5 miles: a 1 mile warm-up at 9:13 min/mi, 2 miles of sprint intervals with 0.7 miles of walking in between, and a 1 mile cool down at 9:15 min/mi. Plus, I came to three important conclusions:

1. Sprinting is a good way to burn off stress. Running is my therapy. Period. But, sprinting pushes you to your physical limits in a way no other type of workout can and is therefore a great way to channel and get rid of stress. Today’s workout was a perfectly timed antidote to my currently hectic life.

2. Rap music is great for keeping pace. Rap music can be a valuable tool for setting and maintaining a goal pace. For example, during the Key West Half Marathon, the rhythm of She Can Get It by DJ Laz helped me find the 9:15 min/mi pace I needed to PR. Similarly, Lemon by N.E.R.D—yes, I finally switched up the soundtrack—allowed me to reach the elusive 7:24 min/mi pace during my best interval.

3. A heart rate monitor is an invaluable tool for sprint workouts. A few weeks ago—on the training log for January 7 2018—I mentioned my heart rate monitor, which pairs with my Garmin watch, has started to chafe. I haven’t worn it since and haven’t missed it…until today. One of the stats that guides my pace and effort during sprints is my heart rate. I aim for 90% my max heart rate (around 180bpm), waiting for it to lower to 70% (around 140bpm) between intervals. Without my heart rate monitor, I was running blind.


Gear: Brooks Glycerin 15 running shoes, Garmin Forerunner 920XT watch, Amphipod running belt (similar here), Beats Studio 2 wireless headphones

Playlist: My “Move” playlist on Spotify

Paris Marathon Training Log: Long Run, January 21 2018

I saw the best and worst of Miami on today’s run. I guess that’s what I like about being a runner—it allows me to get to know cities more intimately, including my own. For example, I learned there’s a really cute pitbull that can drink water by himself from the beachwalk water fountains. In less cute news, I learned we have a lot of pet owners who don’t pick up after their dogs including one guy whose dog left a present in the middle of the South Pointe Pier. Yuck!

I have never been to Paris and am excited to explore it for the very first time through the unique lens of the Paris Marathon. (If I have to run 26.2 miles, it might as well be past the historical landmarks and glamorous arrondissements of the City of Lights, non?) The route starts and ends near the Arc de Triomphe, passing by the Place de la Concorde, Place de la Bastille, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Eiffel Tower. I will basically be taking a tour of Paris’s “must see” attractions but at a 9:40 min/mi pace and accompanied by 55,000+ strangers from France and abroad.

While I’m jonesing for Paris, today’s run was all about the Miami half-marathon that I’m running next Sunday. My back-to-back ski trips put my training on an untimely pause so today’s 8-miler was an important last push to get my head and body right for the race. Surprisingly, despite the nearly two-week hiatus, I felt good. I managed a near-perfect “predator run,” averaging less than 9 min/mi on miles 7 and 8.

Leading up to next week’s race, I am going to take it easy. That said, I’m hoping to get in three easy runs—a sprint workout on Tuesday, a slow and steady 6-miler on Thursday and a warm-up 5K on Saturday—before the big day. The wind has been killing me the last few long runs so I’m also hoping to get in a “no wind” dance before Sunday. Stay tuned.


Gear: Brooks Glycerin 15 running shoes, Garmin Forerunner 920XT watch, Amphipod running belt (similar here), Beats Studio 2 wireless headphones

Playlist: My “Night Skiing” playlist on Spotify (I added a handful of new songs, including Tongues by Joywave which I used to get me out the door.)

Paris Marathon Training Log: Tempo Run, January 10 2018

I’ve been very whiny about my last few training runs, but not today! I killed—no, I mass murdered à la 300—this workout. It was a tempo run geared toward my Miami half-marathon PR of under 2 hours so I set off with the intention of averaging a 9:10 min/mi. I finished feeling strong at an average pace of 9:04 min/mi. The doubts following Sunday’s long run about my inability to reach my goal at the end of this month have been swiftly eradicated.

My tempo runs usually take me on the Venetian Causeway because the distance between Margaret Pace Park and my apartment is exactly 6 miles. Also, have you seen the view at sunrise and sunset from the bridges? It is the absolute best motivation for getting out there. This evening’s sunset was particularly killer and coupled with music like Hunter by Galantis set the right ambiance for beast mode.


There’s not much more to share about today’s run other than I had trouble controlling my pace because I felt so good the entire time. Luckily, I learned from Sunday’s mistake of taking off too fast and made it a priority. It’s the only reason I was able to increasingly up my pace from 9:47 min/mi on mile 1 to an 8:28 min/mi pace on mile 6. Also, I made sure to drink water every 1/2 mile. Whatever made the difference, I am so glad today went well.

P.S. A lot of you requested that I start including what gear, music, and other variables are going into each training sesh in these posts so I’ve added a new section below the stats where I share these details. Keep an eye out for this section in future training logs and let me know in the comments or on twitter what other details you want me to include!


Gear: Brooks Glycerin 15 running shoes, Garmin Forerunner 920XT watch, Amphipod running belt (similar here), Beats Studio 2 wireless headphones

Playlist: My “Night Skiing” playlist on Spotify

Paris Marathon Training Log: Long Run, January 7 2018

I had an awful 13-mi run today. It went the complete opposite of how it should have gone because I did the complete opposite of what I needed to be successful. I went to bed late last night after drinking wine with the girls. I ate a plate of spaghetti an hour before heading out. I didn’t drink water every half mile like I usually do. And, I started out WAY too fast in the first four miles, averaging between 9:30-9:50 min/mi when I normally warm up at 10:30 min/mi on long runs.

The wind didn’t help. It was blowing around 20 knots from miles 5 through 11 and I had to run against it. Nevertheless, as I sit here drinking my recovery concoction (a blend of Isopure protein, collagen, banana, peanut butter and almond milk), I know my overall lack of performance was my fault and I am disappointed. I’m particularly bummed because today’s run was the litmus test for the Miami half-marathon where I am vying to PR with an under 2 hour finish time. It is a real possibility I’m not ready.

The good news is I messed up in training and not during the race. Also, I’m proud that I finished. For a minute while I was on the MacArthur I was teetering on the edge of ending early and walking home, but instead I sucked it up, turned up the music and pushed one foot in front of the other. I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed running through my neighborhood, especially after being away on vacation for so long. Miami Beach is really at its prime on Sunday afternoons!


The stunning view on my run during mile 7 on the MacArthur Causeway.

This run was overflowing with lessons, but also some questions with which I will leave you. If you have any guidance on the three questions below, please leave it in the comments below or send me a tweet @margaritaruns. Thank you and goodnight.

1. What tricks help you get past a mental hump or when you hit a wall?

2. Do you have a good pair of socks or other trick you can recommend for foot pain? My metatarsals have been hurting the last few runs once they’ve been pounding the pavement for about an hour or so.

3. If you wear a heart rate monitor, has it ever chafed you? My Garmin heart rate monitor has started to rub off the skin where it sits the last few runs. Is it time to get a new one or is there a product I can use to reduce chafing without damaging it?


Three Reasons Why Skiing Makes You A Better Runner

To be a great runner, you need to run A LOT but did you know running alone is not enough? Your body needs to move in different ways to become stronger, improve cardiovascular fitness, and be more flexible. That’s why the best runners cross-train. Whether they lift weights, dance or practice yoga, they alternate running days with other types of physical activity to improve their overall performance.

When Roy was prepping for the Boston Marathon, he supplemented the miles he logged with weight training, targeting muscle groups that helped him run faster and reduced his risk of injury. I am far less strategic about my cross-training regimen. I alternate between dancing, cycling, yoga, etc. depending on what strikes my fancy at the moment. What I am strict about is doing something other than running every week to balance out my running workouts and keep me from getting bored.

Since I started training for the Paris Marathon, my typical week looks like this:



Cross-training days before the holidays consisted solely of Vixen Workout. (I promise to share what that is and how it benefits my running in a future cross-training post.) This past week, however, I was on an end-of-year road trip with friends that took us from Wyoming to Utah. While our travels put my running on hold, I was able to keep up with the cross-training part of my workout thanks to my favorite all-time activity: skiing.

Almost every day this past week consisted of skiing. I skied three resorts (Jackson Hole, Snowbird and Alta) and completed more than 60 runs. It put my body through the ringer, sending me home with sore legs, sore abs, and whiplash from a pretty serious wipe out. (Thank god for helmets.)

Ok, so skiing doesn’t get your heart rate up as much as running does—according to my Garmin watch, I averaged 140bpm skiing versus 160-180bpm running—but according to sports medicine research, it offers several long-lasting benefits for runners. Here are three that I look forward to reaping when I get back to my training this afternoon:


1. It boosts running performance. Oxygen is more scarce at higher altitudes. That’s why your heart rate is higher and your breathing is faster when you exercise at high altitude, like when you ski, as compared to sea level. To compensate, your body generates more oxygen-carrying red blood cells, a physiological change that noticeably boosts physical performance and can last up to 20 days after you leave.

2. It builds versatility in running muscles. Skiing works your hip muscles, hamstrings, quads, calves, and feet. More importantly, as this Outside Online article explains, it “works the leg muscles in many different planes, which is beneficial for runners.” When I run, the usual suspects in my legs (hamstrings, quads, calves) get sore. When I ski, I also feel the burn in my inner thighs and other areas of my legs where I didn’t even know I had muscle.

3. It reinforces the importance of good form. As runners, we focus a lot on our form when it comes to buying new running shoes but most of us forget about it thereafter. You can’t do that in skiing. Every micro movement—whether you lean forward versus backward, where your feet are pointing, how far your legs are apart from one another—can mean the difference between riping down the mountain or wiping out. Skiing this past week was a good reminder of how form affects performance.

We’ll see later today how much of a difference one week of skiing really made. Per usual, I’ll post the training log once I’m done!

Paris Marathon Training Log: Long Run, December 25 2017

Remember those “non-negotiable” twelve miles I was due on Saturday morning? The universe had a different plan. On Friday afternoon I got a kidney infection and was rushed out of Disney. Not only did I miss Mickey’s Christmas Party, but I was also in no shape to run the next day.

Not one to give up, I finally got them in this morning. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to make it because my legs were stiff as rocks when I got out of bed. Three consecutive days of walking around Disney parks—I logged nearly 45,000 steps on these thirty-year-old legs—will do that to you. I moved like molasses and clocked the first half mile at 13 min/mi. But as faja reminded me, “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.”


Once my legs warmed up around mile four, it was smooth sailing. I managed a perfect “predator run” (a Roy-ism for a run where each mile is slightly faster than the previous one), ending with a 9:37 min/mi pace on mile 12. I made my way to the car dancing to “16 Shots” à la this Tim Milgram video as my dad watched in awe. A few hours later, I’m resting on the couch, watching my family unwrap their Christmas gifts and reminiscing about a time when I wasn’t completely immobilized:


Before I go, I came upon another interesting conundrum during today’s run so I posted a poll. Leave your answer in the comments below or submit it via Twitter. Also, you can now follow me on Strava if you’re into that sorta thing. Merry Christmas, everyone!


Training On Vacation Is Hard

I’ve been on vacation for less than 24 hours and my Paris Marathon training is already discombobulated. I was scheduled for sprints yesterday that I couldn’t find time for amidst work and packing. Today was a rest day and I went on a four mile fun run with my dad because he asked so nicely. Then there’s tomorrow. I’m due for twelve miles while I’m with my family at Disney.

Training on vacation is hard. For tomorrow’s long run, which I consider non-negotiable, I had to broker a backroom deal with my mom—she set the military-like itinerary for our family Disney road trip—to carve out the two hours I need to get it in. There’s also the fact that we’re going to be walking all day today and tomorrow in the parks so my legs will be tired. Oh, and we’re going to Mickey’s Christmas Party tonight so I won’t be getting into bed early.

Tomorrow morning won’t be easy. Heck, the next two weeks of vacation are going to be a challenge for my training. But I’m coming to terms with it and instead of wallowing in what I can’t do, I am going to find the flexibility in my travels to do what I can. This morning’s run, while not marathon training material, was a good start. (And, even though the route is mega boring, my dad and I had a great conversation that made it pass quickly!)


Paris Marathon Training Log: Tempo Run, December 19 2017

I was due for a tempo run yesterday…then work got in the way. (Why is it every week before I take vacation the sky starts falling?) Luckily, last night I went out for a drink with my friend Joah who is in town and because he’s a runner, we decided to meet up this morning for a sunrise 6-miler.

If it hadn’t been for Joah, I would not have gotten up at 6 a.m. Even on weekend long run days, I have a really hard time getting out of bed early to go running because my cozy bed is so much more appealing. It was definitely the case this morning, but I got up because I knew Joah was waiting downstairs. Three cheers to him for keeping me accountable!

Our run wasn’t the fastest. It took us about three miles to find our groove as running partners, averaging between 11 minutes to 10 minutes per mile. It didn’t help that the Venetian Causeway bridges are Kate Moss thin and hard to navigate with two people. Nevertheless, we were able to pick it up at mile 4 and we finished mile 6 at an 8:50 min/mi pace. Either way, the run was a win: 1. Because we showed up, 2. Because the company was great, and 3. Because we caught a killer sunrise. (How stunning is the photo Joah took on the Venetian Causeway on the way back?)


Paris Marathon Training Log: Long Run, December 16 2017

I’m sure it comes to no one’s surprise that I didn’t wake up at 7 a.m. Not even close. I snoozed my alarm every 30 minutes until 9:30 a.m. Training lesson #1: Don’t stay up until 2 a.m. launching a blog before an early morning long run.

I did everything else right. I ate a well-balanced (ish) meal of carbs and protein for dinner. I got into bed early, instead of staying out with friends. I hydrated profusely. Nevertheless, the self-induced lack of sleep and/or noticeably hotter time at which I started my run made today’s 11-miler absolutely brutal.

The run started okay, kicking off on West Avenue in the direction of the beachwalk via Lincoln Road. My legs—primarily my ankles—felt tight so I began at a 10:30 min/mi pace. Around mile 4, they started to loosen up and I got into a groove as I made it onto the eastbound shoulder of the MacArthur Causeway.


Then, as I was closing in on mile 7, I hit the MacArthur Causeway bridge on the way back and hit a wall. The rest of the run I looked like I was being tortured. I’m usually a very animated runner that dances, plays the air drums, sings to passing cars, and even raps. During the second half of todays run, every movement was carefully calculated. Even the deep frown on my face was crafted so as to require minimum energy expenditure.

I finished by breaking the remaining route into smaller segments and celebrating as I finished each one. It’s a mental trick that really works for me. Another strategy that helped was reminding myself that I have run 11 miles before with ease. Alas, I completed today’s long run training in 1 hour and 50 minutes.

According to Roy, “sometimes hitting the wall is a good thing” because your body adapts to suffering and it makes you stronger for the next run. Here’s to hoping he’s right. (He’s been right about most everything else so the odds are in his favor.) I’m definitely keeping it in mind as I go into a new week of training.

P.S. I came upon an interesting conundrum during today’s run and am polling runners on what they would do. Leave your answer in the comments below or submit it via Twitter.


I Just Felt Like Running.

I started running in the early 2000s. Inspired by my New York and Chicago marathon-running dad, I signed up for my very first race in November 2004: the 10th annual Holiday Fantasy of Lights 5K. I was already an athlete—I played volleyball, basketball, and soccer throughout high school—so it seemed like a no-brainer to give running a try. I just felt like running so I did.

My performance in my very first race was lackluster. My friend Erica Dunayer and I ran it together, finishing it completely winded in 32 minutes and 21 seconds. (For a sporty 17-year-old, that’s pretty damn slow.) Nevertheless, the rush of endorphins and feeling of accomplishment at the end launched a life-long passion. I have been a runner ever since and it has done me a lot of good.

Despite years of practice, I am still not the best runner. I am not the fastest or the most consistent with my training. In fact, running and I have had a pretty tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship for the last thirteen years wherein I go from being in great running shape to wheezing like a chainsmoker after half a mile in a matter of months. The worst phase of our relationship was in 2015 when I took a year-long hiatus.

Right now, running and I are having a “moment”. Not only can I not get enough of it, but I am also in the best running shape of my life thanks to my friend Roy’s coaching. (At 29, he helped me PR the Tunnel to Towers 5K at a cool 25 minutes and 57 seconds.) I am so motivated in my running that I recently signed up to run my very first marathon with my friend Dario. We’re training for and will be running the Paris Marathon in April 2018. I am nervous and excited all at once!

As I venture into marathon training for the very first time, I want to have a place where I can share my training logs—the good, the bad and the ugly—and trade favorite routes, race stories, run clubs, gear and other running resources with fellow runners. That’s where this blog comes in. I hope that you enjoy reading it and engage with me in conversation in the comments or via twitter @margaritaruns. At a minimum, I could use encouraging words during the coming months of hard work.

Anyway, I am due for 11 miles tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. —eek!—so I’m headed to bed. You’ll get my very first training log tomorrow as soon as I recover. Good night!