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Merry Christmas to Me! A Gift All Runners Should Have

UPDATED: So far, I love this thing. The Garmin Fenix 5S Plus. I have used it now for about 6 weeks and it's fun to use and yes, I do want to "beat yesterday", so this is a nice little toy for me. It's making me train harder because I can see the results in the analytics it provides such as Overall Stress, VO2 Max and Aerobic and Anaerobic Performance. I'm still figuring things out and will report back but so far, so good. In these 6 short weeks as the watch gets to know me, my VO2 Max has increased (from 42 to 50) simply by adding more mileage each day and pushing it (but never to my ultimate max pace yet). I can see it is going up after I have a full day of rest and then push it again. OK I can admit that rest can be a GOOD thing! My next full marathon isn't until March so I have time to see what happens. At this time, I did not purchase the Running Pod to provide additional running analytics, but I will eventually do that once I have fully explored its capabilities and understand the intricacies of the watch. I gave my FitBit Blaze to my daughter who is loving the hand-me-down right now. The watch is pricey at $599 (well originally the price was $699) but I suspect it is worth every penny. I bought this watch (as opposed to other less expensive Garmins) to store my music on, so I will no longer have to carry my phone during races. I haven't had time to download the music yet but I will soon enough. (That is my next task.) I have been trying to understand how this watch works and clearly so much is based on your heart rate. As you can see in the chart above, this 15 mile run is literally the "TALE of 2 RUNS". I started off running with my friend and we chatted the whole time and stayed at a slow pace. We were turning around to avoid ice and the roads just sucked overall that day. I dropped her off at her house and went in for a pit stop into my house and paused my watch at 4.25 miles. My intent was to always run 15 miles that day so I decided to stay in my neighborhood and use our 3/4 of a mile neighborhood loop as a track of sorts and go round and round (like Ratt!) Sometimes this really helps me. I put on my music and get into the ZONE and since I knew the neighborhood was safe of oncoming traffic and not as many ice patches, that's exactly what I did. I maintained a better pace and a lower, more consistent heart rate. Although I was running faster for the next 11 miles, I was in control and within myself. I ran 15 miles in 2:41 that day which considering how slow I started that's not half bad! It makes sense, when I am running by myself, I am not trying to talk (except a few swears here and there) and I can save my breath and my energy and channel it into the run. It's pretty cool. And you can see by the chart below, that I am truly peaking now running every single run with a 9 minute-something pace and feeling strong ALL of the time. It's unbelievable to feel like this especially reaching my 7th consecutive week of 50 miles. In the past, I have been dragging so bad just to knock these miles out and now I am pretty much running them at marathon pace with relative ease now. The thing is I don't want to run slower. It's like I am auto-programmed to run faster now and that's the speed I want to go all of the time!! I am surprised but excited because I haven't even tapered yet, so I am wondering how awesome I might feel on race day. I am confident I will get into the 3:50's. No doubt. I was going to sprinkle in a 20 mile run a week or so ago, but it snowed and it screwed up my plans. There's always a risk in putting that in there too - because I don't want to be so exhausted from going 20 miles. I want to stay sharp and strong and I KNOW I can bust out a 26.2 mile run in a few weeks, no problem. I don't think I will tackle another 20 mile run soon. I might try to get a 15 mile run in this week but that's it. I pretty much can run these distances and feel strong and good with no major issues the following day (unlike when I was training for my 1st marathon over 4 years ago! An 11 mile run then made me so damn sore!!!) Stay tuned on how this pans out. I'm getting psyched for the next marathon. I can do it. Boston Qualifying times were just tightened up but the way I am feeling, I might be able to do it. I hope so. I hope I have kissed the 4 hour plus marathon times goodbye for good. Pat keeps saying I have found another gear. Maybe. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I feel good - better than I have ever felt. I definitely HAVE NOT REACHED THE PEAK YET!!!!! This is so fun to figure out and see how my body responds. Sure beats sitting on the couch or in a cubicle. I would be insane if that was all I did everyday. Being an active person is awesome. If more people did this, I would guarantee, they wouldn't need "happy pills" or a lot of other medications either. What people need is exercise and it does wonders for the body and mind. You don't have to be a marathoner ... you just need to move your body. Walk, run, bike, whatever. Just DO something and you will be better for it.

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