My Reindeer Run 5K Workouts – Week 3 – September 18th through 23rd

Reindeer Training Week 3

This week was a little rough because I was a little stuffy from being in West Virginia last week. I took a few days at the beginning of the week to try to get rid of the congestion so my workouts were off.

Rest – Trying to get rid of my congestion so I didn’t workout.

Rest – Trying to get rid of my congestion so I didn’t workout.

I was finally starting to breathe again so I did a power walk incline workout on the

I got a good run in on the treadmill. I ran about 30 mintues and finished with some core work.

I didn’t get in a workout today because we were travelling ALL DAY LONG!

OMG! I was in Nashville, Tennessee for the weekend visiting my son at college. My daughter needed to get in a run so we went to this near by park called Radnor Lake State Park. The guy at the hotel said it was a great place to run. What he did not tell us was that you can only run on the roads. My daughter does not like running on the road so we went on the trails and actually tried to jog when no one was nearby.

Unfortunately, there were quite a few people so we ended up going up a “difficult” trail to try to get away from more people. Well, let me tell you, for two girls from the coast, that ding-dong mountain they have that that park seemed like the Mountain Goat Mountains we tried to run in West Virginia.

We ended up running and hiking almost 4.75 miles and most of it seemed like it was up! I reviewed the topographic map for the area later and the climb was only about 320 feet over a distance of a mile or less but it sure seemed like we climbed more.

This was not the run I was hoping for but it was a really good workout anyway. If you are in Nashville, check out Radnor Lake State Park in Brentwood.

I didn’t get in a workout today because we were travelling ALL DAY LONG!

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My Reindeer Run 5K Workouts – Week 2 – September 10th through 17th

Reindeer Run Training, Week 2*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure at the bottom of the page for more information*

Hurricane Florence has arrived! This week is a disaster for training. My plan is totally out the window since we had to evacuate from South Carolina to West Virginia. You don’t really think too much about location until a couple of girls who are used to running on the nice, flat coast have to find a way to run where NOTHING IS FLAT!

Monday was a normal day. I was able to get a good run on the treadmill with about 20 minutes of core and weights.

The pool was closed so I was not able to swim. Hurricane Florence was heating up and I spent most of the day trying to figure out what we were going to do about the storm. I did do a 40 minute power walk on the treadmill.

My daughter, dog and I left really early in the morning and drove from South Carolina to West Virginia. When we got there, we went to a park and ran for a little while. It is really hard to run away from home. We didn’t know the trails and they were super hilly, which made them really difficult. I think we ran for about 30 minutes but part of it was walking up the steepest part of the hills and trying to figure out where to go.

We went back to the same park to run. My daughter only got about 2.7 miles. I got about 2 miles. It was really hard and the hills are starting to hurt my daughter’s knees because we are not used to the ups and downs.

My parents have a stationary bike so I just did 30 minutes on the bike. It was a NordicTrack Recumbent Bike. It was really nice and had a programmable display. I chose a 30-minute rolling hill workout and got about 6 miles in for my workout. I did about 10 minutes of core work after the bike.

We went back to the same park to run where we went earlier in the week. My daughter only got about 3.0-3.5 miles. I got about 2.75 miles. It was really hard again but my daughter did much better getting up the hills this time.

We found out late on Saturday that school would be back in session on Monday so we spent the day driving home through Tropical Storm Florence (Thanks, governor) so she would not miss school. So, no exercise for me.


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My Reindeer Run 5K Workouts – Week 1 – September 3rd through 9th

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure at the bottom of the page for more information*

Reindeer Run Week 1 WorkoutsThis week starts my 14 week training for the Charleston Reindeer Run in hopes of reaching my goal of 28:13. Each week, I’m going to chronicle my workouts and how they are going. If you are training for your own 5K, post your updates in the comments and let’s everyone know what great workouts you are doing, too.

Monday:  Treadmill Tempo Run + Lift and Core

Today was tempo run day. Because is was Labor Day, there were people around with places to go and I could not do my run outside before it reached a million degrees here in the south. On a day like today, hot and humid, I would rather get a good run on the treadmill than a crappy run in the heat. I know the treadmill is not as good as outside training, but hey, I get to decide what I want to do.

For my tempo run, I did about three miles on the treadmill on an incline of 1.0. I walked/jogged a 3 minute warm-up and then ran the first mile at a 4.0 speed, the second mile at 4.2 (believe me, it felt A LOT faster than 4.0), and then back to 4.0 for the third mile. After my last mile I lowered the incline and jogged/walked another two minutes.

The interesting thing about running on the treadmill is that the speed on the treadmill is not really the speed you would be running outside. I have a chart that corrects the speed for the lack of wind resistance and incline. I have a Garmin Forerunner running watch, it I can set it to “Run Indoor” mode and it is different still. My Garmin says I’m running faster than my Sole Treadmill does. I like my Garmin!

Afterwards, I did weights and core work for another 20 minutes or so. I got the weight and core routine from one of my kid’s coaches. If it works for me, I’ll give you the deets in another post.

Tuesday: Swimming Workout with 15 Minutes Aqua Running to finish

I love swimming. The smell of the chlorine makes me happy. I was a swimmer as a kid and in college, which is why I wanted to use swimming and aqua jogging in my 5K training. I firmly believe that the endurance you get from swimming helps on your longer runs. Plus, as dopey as aqua jogging looks and feels, I’ve read countless articles about how it works.

Today, I did a favorite ladder workout. A friend named Larry gave me this workout so my daughter and I call it our Larry Ladders. He is a personal swim coach in the Charlotte area and really focuses on stroke mechanics. If you have young swimmers or if you need stroke work yourself and can get to Charlotte, I highly suggest you get in touch with Larry at iSwim 1-2-1.

So, the Larry Ladder is:

1 x 100 yards
2 x 75 yards
3 x 50 yards
4 x 25 yards

I like to mix it up and do different strokes each time. Today, I did a freestyle ladder, a backstroke ladder and an IM ladder (leaving out the breaststroke on the 75s, I because I just suck at that stroke.)

I also did 300 warm up and 200 cool down to make 2,000 yards total. Then, I aqua jogged for 15 minutes.

Wednesday: Speed Workout – Running + Lift and Core

Today was Speed Workout Day. I ran a modified version of one of my daughter’s workouts. she is waaaay faster than me so I cut the workout in half so that I spent about the same amount of time at the track.

Here is my workout:

1 x 400 jog warmup
2 x 200 meters sprint (30-45 sec between)
1 Mile Fast
2 x 200 meters sprint (30-45 sec between)
400 walking cool down

I need to get the mileage up on my speed workouts but this was not a bad start.

Thursday: Swimming Workout with 15 Minutes Aqua Running to finish

My Thursday swim was a pyramid. I got a little too competitive with the other swimmers at the pool and stuffed 2000 yards into about 30 minutes but it was fun. My workout was:

200 Swim Warm-Up
1×100 Freestyle
1×200 Backstroke
1×300 Free, Back, Free by 100s
1×400 Back, Free, Back, Free by 100s
1×300 Back, Free, Back by 100s
1×200 Free
1×100 Back
200 Swim/Kick Cool Down
15 Minutes Aqua Jogging

Brutus the Great Pyreenes

Brutus the Great Pyreenes – follow me on Instagram @brutus_the_polarbear

Friday: Long Run

I ended up doing my Friday run on the treadmill with lifting and core work.

Weekend: Easy Run one day with core work. Active rest one day (i.e. Walk the Brutus).

This first week worked out pretty well. There is a hurricane on the way so we’ll see how next week goes.



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I’ve Been Running, Swimming & Ice Gardening!?!

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure at the bottom of the page for more information*

Ice Gardening, They Run I RunThe long running joke in my family is that I absolutely suck at gardening. No matter how much I want to have a nice landscape with flowers, container gardens and indoor plants, there are very few plants that I can actually own and keep alive.  I’m not really sure why I’m so bad at growing plants but it seems to be a sad pattern in my reality.

This summer, in addition to my decision to PR my next 5K in December which is requiring a renewed dedication to actual running and swimming training (and not just lots of easy runs), I tried a new gardening method that I developed. I named it “Ice Gardening.” A friend commented once that she “waters” her orchids with ice cubes. I have three orchids that had beautiful flowers when I first got them but later turned into greenish/brown stalks. When my friend suggested watering with ice, I gave it a try and two of my three orchids BLOOMED! I was completely shocked. But, ice worked.

Gardening ToolsAs spring rolled around, I once again trotted off to the store to find flowers for my hanging containers on the front porch. This time, I thought that I would try seeds. I had tried seeds in the past and they were a complete bust, but I thought that with my new gardening idea, it just might work. My daughter, who I will call Negative Nelly, firmly believed that I could not grow the seeds into stems and certainly not into flowers. So, while Negative Nelly kept telling me that I would never grow anything, I became more determined to prove her wrong!

One sunny April day, armed with my potting soil, gardening gloves anIce Gardening Layerd trowel, I set out to work. Partly, because Negative Nelly was at school and couldn’t make fun of me. I cleaned out the remnants of past failed flowers and threw out the dirt that looked gross. I tilled up the dirt that still looked okay and added more. I use the kind of potting soil that has fertilizer to help me out.

I had Cosmos, Pansies and Vanilla Carnations (I think). I honestly can’t remember the third type but the name started with Vanilla because they are usually a deeper yellow than these and (spoiler alert) they did look like carnations. My neighbor came over and asked what I was doing and as I told him about my ice gardening plans he seemed fairly positive that it would work. He did say that my pansies wouldn’t make it because South Carolina is just too hot for those delicate flowers and (second spoiler alert) he was right.

Ice Gardening Mid SummerRegardless of Negative Nelly and the predictions that my pansies were doomed, I pressed on and planted my seeds equally in two separate pots. I covered them in ice and let the sun do it’s thing. The ice melted, the soil stayed damp and I was hopeful. My hypothesis (okay, I AM a scientist) was that regular watering does not seep into the soil slow enough to promote seed growth. Every day following, I dutifully put a thick layers of ice cubes on the soil. Over the course of a few weeks, the seeds began to sprout and those sprouts (for the most part) turned into stalks and in July a miracle occurred.


Of course, where was Negative Nelly so that I could rub that flower in her face? She was at cross country camp a state away of course! I did take a nice picture and texted it to her. I think it got some response like, “Good for you. Is that the only one?”

Well, maybe.

I did get a few more flowers. Both my cosmos and vanilla carnations bloomed on a few stalks and I had some pretty flowers for a few days here and there in July and August. I’m not sure if this proves my hypothesis, but I’m going to assume that it does. Because, after all, I DID get some flowers.

If you want my secret, I don’t really have one. It was a fun experiment but it sure did seem to work!

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Reindeer Run Charleston Goal and How I Plan to Hit It

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure at the bottom of the page for more information*

Reindeer Run CharlestonIt has been a while since I ran a good 5K and even longer since I got a PR, or personal record. The last race where I ran my best time was the Charleston Reindeer Run a few years ago. I ran a 30:13 (insert your chuckles here, you fast runners!). My daughter set an awesome goal time for her current cross country season. She wants to break nineteen minutes. I sure hope that she gets there because running in the 18’s as a freshman is a pretty awesome goal.

In the past, I was never closer to her time than 10 minutes. I told her that if she was going for an 18, then I was going for a 28. To give myself a concrete goal I decided on 28:13, which would be exactly two minutes faster than my best time from a few years ago. This year, I think I have a few things going for me. I recently purchased a Sole Treadmill, which should make it easier to keep working out on yucky, rainy days and I also purchased the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells so that my daughter and I could work on our strength. Her coach thinks that she will get a lot faster if she lifts, so I am banking on the idea that it will help me too.

The Reindeer Run in Charleston is December 8, 2018, which gives me 14 weeks to get ready to hit my goal. Over the summer I was running and swimming but not with a specific plan. That plan starts tomorrow. Labor Day.

I will be changing up the workouts but the general plan is:

Monday:  Tempo Run Workout + Lift and Core
Tuesday: Swimming Workout with 15 Minutes Aqua Running to finish
Wednesday: Speed Workout – Running + Lift and Core
Thursday: Swimming Workout with 15 Minutes Aqua Running to finish
Friday: Long Run
Weekend: Easy Run one day. Active rest one day.

I was a swimmer growing up I hope that the swimming workouts can help with my endurance and strength. I feel like a dope while I’m aqua jogging but I do think it really helps. I will try to report each week on my exact workouts and how they went.

At the Reindeer Run, my daughter has agreed to run with me to help me pace properly and to yell at me if I slow down. I was really excited when she agreed to help me. I just hope that she doesn’t have to yell at me too much. I hope she can be proud of her old Mom.

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Rules are there for a Reason in High School Running

HS RulesHigh School athletics come with a variety rules in South Carolina, and I suspect other states as well. There are rules for different part of a season such as open season, closed season, and in-season. There are rules for eligibility for athletes and coaches alike. While they can seem complicated, I believe that they are in place for a good reason. They keep the coaching and competitions fair for all student-athletes.

There was a recent announcement in our town that a well-known youth team coach was hired by a local private high school but will continue to coach the youth team as well. Since several of the athletes from this high school typically also participate on the youth team, this violates the rule that says that a private high school coach cannot coach an outside team if that high school has three or more athletes on the outside team. This rule of limiting coaches from coaching outside teams if a specific number of their athletes participate also exists for the public schools in South Carolina.

As part of full disclosure, I know this coach and my children used to participate on the youth team. While I respect this coach for her hard work over the years, I don’t think this situation is right. Allowing this coach to run a high school program and a youth program is not only against the rules but sets a bad precedent for all South Carolina athletes and programs. Here’s why.

Violates Existing Rules

High school athletics associations go to great lengths to develop and maintain rules that create a fair competition for the students in the state. The rule for limiting high school coaches from outside teams ensures that high school athletes have the same training time with their specific coaches for their sport as all other competitors. I would have loved my son to be coached all year long by his high school coaches but that is not what the rules allow. By allowing this coach to coach a private school and a youth team, which allows athletes up to 19, they are ensuring that the high school athletes from this high school have access to their coach year-round.

Opens the Door for More and More Policy Violation Requests

If the South Carolina Independent School Association allows this particular coach to have a high school and youth team, it opens the floodgates for requests from every high school coach in the state to be allowed to coach their athletes during the off-season. At that point, how can you say that it is okay for one coach and not every other school in the state? Just because this coach has been involved with a youth team for years, does not entitle them, and only them, to the benefit of additional coaching time with her athletes.

Sets a Bad Example for Student-Athletes

This situation sets a bad example for student-athletes as well. How many times are athletes told that they must maintain their grades, turn in their physicals and permission forms, and follow their coaches’ rules so that they are eligible to compete? Daily. If adults allow one coach to openly violate a rule that everyone knows about, what does that say to our students? That it is okay to fail that one class because we’ll just ignore the rule this one time? Do we really want to teach our kids that skirting the rules is okay? No, we don’t because that can lead to more serious issues in their lives.

Opens the Door for Recruiting

The South Carolina Independent Schools are private schools in our state. Parents and children can choose to attend that school regardless of zoning. For students who are serious runners, having access to your high school coach when other schools do not, could be a big draw. While this school may never use the situation openly as a recruiting tool, it is certainly a plus for their runners.

My Final Thoughts

As a parent who wants to instill hard work and fair competition into my children, I find this situation troublesome. I’m not the kind of parent who advocates participation trophies for everyone, but I certainly think that all schools, coaches, and athletes should have to follow the rules so that the competitions are as fair as possible and that no athletes have a significant advantage over others, simply because their coach asked to blatantly break the rules.

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I’m What Age for Track and Field?!

How Old Track SeasonTrack season is kicking off here is South Carolina and with a new year, come new age groups for many kids. My kids run USATF meets. Running has different age rules compared to come other sports like swimming. In swimming, kids age up on their birthday so if the day they turn 11 they swim 11-12. For running, you are considered the age you will be on December 31st of the current calendar year.

For most kids, the age is pretty close to their actual age. My daughter turns 14 in June so she will be 13-14 all year for both track and cross-country. Her teammate, who is currently 16, turns 17 on November 30th so he will be 17-18 for track and field season even though he will actually be 16 for months after the season ends.

You can find the breakdown of age groups and birth years on this website: USATF Youth Age Divisions. Many teams will take 5 and 6 year-olds, but while they can compete in local meets, kids have to be 7 years-old to complete at the national level. Also, kids like my son, who will be 17-18 for three years can compete as long as they do no turn 19 years old before the national meet in July.

Some kids love to have January birthdays so they are competing in their actual age all year long. But if you have a child with a fall birthday and they are stuck in an upper age group, remind them that older kids will push them to run faster. Also, as you progress to older age groups there are more events available for you to compete in so you have more options for races and more time to develop your skills in those events.

I know two kids who have birthdays on December 31st. While they both hated their birthdays for track and cross-country running, they both did great running against the older kids which gave them a lot of confidence as they moved through the age groups. So, tell your kids to embrace their new age group this season and have a great run.


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Top 3 Reasons Your Kids Should Run an Indoor Track Meet

Indoor Track MeetThis spring will be my son’s tenth season running track and my daughter’s ninth. We live in South Carolina where there is only an outdoor track and field season. Since my son wants to run in college, he decided to try an indoor track meet last week because many colleges do participate in indoor meets during the wintertime.

So, just before New Year’s Eve, my son and I made the trek to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the JDL Fast Track for him to compete in a youth meet hosted by NC United. My daughter, just having finished cross-country season, did not want to run so we left her and the Hubby home with the dog so he didn’t have to spend a couple of lonely days in the kennel.

The meet was great and very well run. I’m kind of sad that it took us ten years to try this out. Here are my top three reasons why you should take your kids to an indoor track and field meet at some point during their running career.

Reason #1:  The Weather is Great! Indoor meets have no heat, no cold, no wind and no rain. The facilities are temperature controlled and it is perfect weather for runners and spectators.

Reason #2:  The Track is Short. The JDL Fast Track is 200 meters around but some others are 300 meters. It is a great experience for runners who are thinking of competing in college to experience the track because the straight-a-ways are shorter and the curves seem tighter.

Reason #3:  New Events. Indoor meets have some different events than regular outdoor track and field meets. My son ran his very first 60 meter dash at the meet last weekend. There was also a 60 meter hurdle race and some other indoor meets have events like the 300m dash or the 1000 meter run. I think it is a great experience for runners to try new events when they have a chance.

The video below is the 60 meter dash, 15-18 boys. Noah was in Lane 2, red shirt, gray shorts. He was 2nd in the heat. 7.25 sec. Not too shabby for his first 60m ever!

Have your kids run at an indoor meet? If so, what do they (and you) love about them?

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My Version of Farklets on the Track

Track FarkletsFarklets are a common distance running workout. Typically, runners will do their routine warm up and then for the main set, will run a set distance while rotating through a series of hard sprints followed by easier sections. Some runners run patterns for their sprint section and other choose random times or distances.

I like more of a pattern to my workout. Ok, maybe I just like knowing when I can walk a little bit. I don’t really run fast enough to go slow and fast so I use walk and as fast as I can, instead. I like to go to the track and do my warm-up which consists of one or two laps around the track and then dynamic stretches. (My kids taught me the routine.) Then, I do 30 minutes where I run the straight sections of the track and speed walk the curves. Each time I do this workout, I try to run just a little further than the previous time in the same 30 minutes.

The first time I tried the workout, I made it 2.25 miles in 30 minutes. Not too bad considering how much I was speed walking. I’ve worked my way up to 2.50 miles on a good day. I really like this workout, especially on really hot and/or humid days, which seem to be about 10 months out of the year here in South Carolina.

Do you like to run a version of a farklet workout? What is your favorite method?

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Cross Country Team Scoring Explained

Cross Country Scoring ExplainedCross country meets have a different method of scoring that traditional sports. In most cases, the high score wins. But not in cross country. In cross country, the lowest score wins. At each meet, a team is composed of seven or eight runners, depending on the meet rules. Runners not on a team compete as an individual. For each team, the top five finishers among the declared runners will score. Teams with less than five runners so not score points.

Points are assigned as a runner finishes. The winner is assigned one point, the second place runner is assigned two points. This method continues until all runners are assigned a point value. The top five runners on each team combine their points to get an overall team score.

Following is an example of cross country scoring:

Cross Country Scoring Table

As you can see by this example, Track Team A team scored 28 points (1st place), Track Team B scored 43 points (2nd place) Track Team D scored 56 points (3rd place) and Track Team F scored 97 points (4th place). In the overall results, the runners who did not score points (far right column) were not part of a team.

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