Tag Archives: running

Out of town, take two- the runner’s perspective

Now it’s time to translate my last post into what it means for my running. As I’ve said, I’m training for an October full marathon, so I really want to keep up with my training while I’m down here so that the marathon is only miserable for the right reasons (it’s a really long way) and not the wrong ones (I wasn’t prepared).

I have a half marathon this weekend, but I haven’t been treating it as a goal race. I wanted to jump at the opportunity to do a race while I’m down here, and this looks like a really big and hopefully fun event. It’s a point-to-point race, too, so I should get to see a lot of the city.

My marathon plan recommends that if you do race during the plan, you run the Tuesday speed session as normal, but trade the Thursday marathon pace run for easy miles of the same distance. Then, after the race, you just get right back to normal the following week. But, that recommendation is for a 10K race, which takes less recovery than a half marathon does, at least for me.

The other factor is that I have some travel coming up in the next 2 weeks that might make it hard for me to run at all. So I really didn’t want to come in under my target mileage for this week, and then be low the next two weeks as well. That would be too much to miss, and I think it would make it tough to jump back into my plan, which is just starting to really ramp up.

To get all my miles in with the trip out of town, I ran my speed session on Monday and got up early on Tuesday to run 8 miles before I had to catch my bus. I did take Wednesday off while I was out of town, and tried not to get too twitchy whenever I saw a runner or somebody mentioned going to the gym. When I got back in to downtown on Thursday, I ate breakfast downtown before heading home. It was a nice excuse to hit my favorite restaurant (out of the one actual “restaurant” I’ve had a meal at, of course), but also it meant that by the time I got the bus back to my house, I should be far enough away from breakfast that I should be able to run.

So I ran 7 miles yesterday AM after the red-eye bus trip! The nice thing is that I am at a point in my training where the one scheduled rest day really leaves me feeling like a million bucks the following day.

Today it was just 6 miles easy, tomorrow it will be down to 4, and that should leave me with enough miles on Sunday to do my warmup and race and hit my 47 scheduled miles for the week. Whew!



I am training for my first full marathon, which is about 3 months away, and have chosen to follow a plan that has me running 6 days a week. So, when I got down here, I wanted to get into the routine of running (almost) every day as soon as possible!

My options are: outside on the roads, outside at the park, or on the treadmill

– Wherever you go, there they are
– Different stuff to see
– Can change route on the fly

– The cars will run you down and kill you, if the buses don’t get you first
– If you don’t get killed by the cars, the sidewalks might get you. I have actually fallen twice already since I’ve been here. I need to be careful (and to stop dragging my feet)! Both times, I fell in the exact same spot, and it wasn’t even a broken bit of sidewalk. Those, apparently, I have been watching out for. It was just a little spot that went up at the edge of a driveway that I didn’t see. The first time, I broke my phone and had to replace it. Good thing it is a cheap prepaid one! The second time, I skinned my knee. Ouch!
– I don’t know my way around that well
– No bathrooms (see below)

– Paved loops, no cars
– Lots of people out
– Open and in use early
– In one park, you can buy pipas (coconuts with straws in them) if you get thirsty. Or a Costa Rica jersey to support “La Sele”, of course.
– The one without drinks for sale has an approx. 400m flat track

– No bathrooms. There just aren’t a lot of public bathrooms around here at all. People wait until they get home. But when you’re running, that can be easier said than done, especially if you have a lot of miles left. In one of the parks, there are no bathrooms at all. In the other one, there are supposed to be 50-cent public toilets, but they have been locked and there hasn’t been anybody to take money. I did find a random bathroom not too far from that, not sure if it’s supposed to be open to the public.
– Can get hot/rainy/etc
– Longest loop that I have found is 1/2 mile, can get monotonous
– Sometimes bikes, random dogs, municipal workers, etc will block the path.

– Smooth running surface without killer cars, dogs, or sidewalks
– No sun or lightning issues, and they may have a little bit of AC (although they keep their doors open, and I suspect any cooling comes from the breeze)
– Can buy smoothies
– Bathrooms! Clean ones even, with seats and toilet paper!
– There are standard and metric treadmills, handy for speed workouts measured in meters

– Spendy. In the mid-$40s per month
– Limited hours, especially on the weekends

I have mostly settled on the gym, when they are open. It’s about 0.8 miles from my house, so I use my run to and from the gym as my warmup and cooldown, so that when I get there I can just hop right on a TM and do the rest of my workout or my easy miles, depending on the day. (Usually with a bit more of a warmup)

I’m happy to report that starting on my second day here, I have been able to get all of my scheduled miles in! I know that won’t be the case the whole time I’m here, since I have some big events that will probably take me away from running.

But the whole philosophy behind the plan that I’m using is that you build up your ability to run the full marathon distance by being consistent and putting in daily mileage. The runs are shorter and in many cases less intense than what you might see in a “traditional” marathon program, but it apparently works because you’re putting in solid mileage almost every day. So if I were to skip days, I wouldn’t get the advantage that the plan was designed for, OR the longer runs that I might be doing with a traditional plan.

So I am happy to have figured out a system for running, and running consistently, that has worked for me so far. I’ve fallen into a nice pattern of running just a little bit after breakfast that seems like a good routine.

Next week, I am even signed up to run a half marathon that will be taking place here! I am looking forward to it!

Health and Fitness

Costa Rica seems to be really into staying fit, active, and healthy.

Gyms- There are three “regular” gyms and two Cross Fits within walking distance of my house. Two of them have pools, and all offer a ton of classes. As far as I can tell, this is pretty typical for the San Jose area. The one I joined has a pool on the first floor, cardio and weights on the second, and then classes and more cardio/pilates stuff on the third. They also have a juice bar by the main entrance. Prices seem to be in the mid-$40s/month, similar to back home. There seems to be pretty high participation in the classes. My host mom is in her 60s, and is at the gym most days, sometimes doing 3 classes in a row! Classes are the same as home- insanity, spinning, zumba, etc. My 6 day a week running schedule doesn’t seem to be too alarming to people. The idea of get up, exercise, then start your day seems fairly normal down here.

Outside- It looks like there are tons of “polideportivo” parks scattered around, which have different ways for people to get outside and be active, in addition to the regular parks. These seem to get pretty heavy use, too. I see lots of people out walking and running at the parks, plus sometimes there are outside group classes that look like they’re pretty heavily attended. At Parque de la Paz, which is close to where I am, the walking and running path has a hill in the middle, and people were using that to do hill sprints, plus some people were up at the top doing sun salutations. Around the path, there were vendors selling juices and “pipas” (coconuts with a straw to drink the water).

Nutrition- In addition to staying active, there are about a million different stores selling health foods, supplements, etc. Several people on our block have started following a diet plan, and there is lots of talk about keeping track of the fat/sugar contents of different foods.

It has definitely been a good fit in that regard for somebody like me who wants to stay active and healthy during my time here!