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Mouth-Breathing, FitrWoman, and Vitamin D

#AskAway with Coach MK! 3/1/20

Coach MK livestreams question and answer sessions each week on the Fitness Protection Program Facebook Page, The Fitness Protection Program YouTube Channel, and Twitch, simultaneously. Join us! They are a lot of fun, super informative, and anyone may ask follow-up questions during the live broadcast!

This week Coach MK celebrates her runners' accomplishments and reminds everyone that ultra training for Three Days at the Fair starts MONDAY before tackling questions about periods, hormones and heart rate training, hamstrings, heart rate guidelines for half marathon success, and mouth-breathing vs nose breathing.

Running Life Fitness Protection Podcast FitrWoman Runner Vitamin D

February sucked! Wasn’t just me, it was hard for a number of my friends and clients, too. I don't know what was in the air, but I'm happy to put it behind me. Mercury is in retrograde until March 10, so don’t let your guard down just yet!

Opening Schpiel

THIS WEEK: If you are doing a distance 50k or longer, to be clear I mean “From 50k to multi-day”, then it’s time to get cracking! Ultra plans kick off this week, our runners have their first homework assignment, it’s due Friday.

I want to emphasize, the coaching isn’t just for ultrarunners. Anyone planning to go to Three Days at the Fair and expects to run for 5 hours or longer can and will get their money’s worth out of this coaching program, it is not too late to join us. We spend March getting to know your body, then all of April tailoring that knowledge to the demands of the event as well as your strategy and approach. Link HERE to check out the plans.

What You Didn’t Miss

The segment where we highlight a runner who isn’t running and talk about why (and what they did not miss). Listen why I tell you why this segment matters: you ARE what you do, not what you don’t do. Yet I have the worst time convincing my runners of this.

People frequently ask how long they need to be not running before moving into Runner, Interrupted. I don’t understand that question, because I look at it this way: when you are staring down a prolonged period of not having time or space to run (one month or indefinitely longer, say after a major surgical procedure, during cancer treatment, or for some special needs parents this is IEP season), and you don’t want to have a calendar of runs reminding you of what you are not doing because it stresses you out too much, then Runner, Interrupted is for you. It’s a support program, more of me in your ears eyes and inbox telling you that you are what you do and YES I DO see the work you are doing right now, not a specific run plan that can push you into that abusive way of thinking that beats you up for what you aren’t doing. This program meets you where you are at, and you get to decide that. I just follow your lead and support.

As for the rest of us, we need to remember to focus on what we do without worrying about what we don’t. You will never be defined by what you miss around here, we celebrate the work. You are what you do, not what you don’t do. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to break you down, ask them what they get out of that.

This week, I’d like to introduce you to a #runnernotrunning, a runner who is a great big badass, a mom of 4, an entrepreneur, and someone who is incredibly dedicated to the sport as well as the fitness habit, but also to her family and the needs of her clients.

It’s MEEEEEE!!!!! If you follow me on Strava (click here: you can see I only ran 53 miles in February! That’s better than 0 but a far cry from my usual. Let’s recap: at the beginning of the month I was recovering from sinus surgery. I had one good week and a half, then the baby had surgery and her recovery was difficult. All she wanted was for Mommy to hold her, so I did that. All day, and every 90 minutes all night long For 8 days straight in one spot on my couch. Now, I have help so ARGUABLY I probably could have run, but 1. I was TIRED and 2. It was WINDY AF. If ya’ll read the blog over at you KNOW how much I hate wind #fuckspring. I hate it more than rain or humidity. Wind picks up pollen and crams it down your nose and throat, it makes cold weather colder and humid weather unbearable. To be clear: I don’t always stay inside when I see wind, I got big girl britches and can put ‘em on when I need to, but when I do it’s because there’s something I need to get NOT something I need to prove. There was nothing I needed outside this week, so I stayed in, snuggled a hurting baby, and did not miss a darned thing.

Do you think less of me? Damn right you don’t. That would be stupid. Be sure you’re using that same measuring stick to judge yourself, celebrating what you do. That’s all that matters. Effort always deserves an A in the Fitness Protection Program. we’ll never ask you to work harder than you have to, but we’ll give you all kinds of excuses to get out the door when you need ‘em.

I tell you that to tell you THIS: I don't expect anything good to happen until June. You shouldn't either. Till then, do the best you can. Moving forward is still moving towards the finish line, even if it's slower than you want to go.

#Winning at Life

  • Stacy Clark is #WINNINGATLIFE this week! Stacy lives in Connecticut, works for a sports media company and has two kids, aged 8 and 5. One time while out on a marathon training run, Stacy found a LARGE painting that someone had left out for the trash collector, and she decided she liked it and didn’t want to risk the trash collectors arriving before she could get back with the car to pick it up, know what she did next. “Good thing I can’t run with bulky furniture because I probably would have come home with some cool chairs if I could have managed.” That is why we love Stacy - she has been running in the Maintain program since last summer, and she brings that GO FOR IT energy to everything she does, and after a bruising half-marathon and then full marathon in the fall she’s been Slow Burning for the past two months. WE LOVE YOU STACY! You are strong AF!

  • Kaitlin Henry Meisler is WINNING AT LIFE this week, too! Preparing to run the Atlanta Half-Marathon this weekend, Kaitlin lives in Alabama with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. This is her 11th year teaching middle school English - currently 7th grade - and she has been running for almost exactly 10 years. After two times running the Boston marathon, she had to pull back and treat an overuse injury, after which she became pregnant and started a whole new chapter of her life. Kaitlin started running with FPP in ReBuild several months ago and then moved over into Maintain, and she is exceptionally good at making time and space for running AND recovering even when her busy schedule works against her. She says, “I’m so glad to have you guys help me find a place where I can just enjoy running and not worry about trying to “get back” to my previous speed or fitness level—because my life looks very different now.” We are so glad to have you with us, TOOOOO!!!!

Weekly Wins

  • Happy Birthday Amy Szcerbowitz! "I'm ending the month on a high note celebrating my birthday. As a leap year baby it's a day that only comes once every 4 years. I'm solidly in my 50's now, but in leap years it is #13."

  • "My surgery was successful. The tumor peeled off my artery which was the best possible outcome. I am home now and on the road to recovery. Every second from here out is a win!"

  • "I got the BEST hug from an old friend this week! His wife is a fellow cancer survivor and she recommended the practice where I get treatment (which is amazing)! I get hugs from my family all the time, but I didn't know how much I needed a big old bear hug from a friend until I got one, total win!"

  • "I am home from the hospital and plan to watch the Murder She Baked marathon on Hallmark Mystery Channel."

  • "I had not exercised for 18 days...until today when I did a treadmill-based walking/Bootcamp class online. I will be sore tomorrow but my weekly win is moving my body again, even if it wasn’t that beautiful outdoor run I was imagining on this sunny mid-40s day."


  • CONGRATULATIONS to SarahScott Dietz who, after a rough month of not running as much as she realized, ran a half marathon today and came within ten minutes of her half marathon PR she set ten years ago before kids….AND she felt really GOOD. “I’m believing that I can run FASTER, that I can be STRONGER, that it isn’t that unreasonable to think I can improve, and I can’t tell you how much of that is because I feel supported and confident because I am coached and loved, and I don’t know how to thank you, I don’t know how to convey how much this means to me.”

  • I’ve been assuming that the warmups and cooldowns are done walking. Is that right? And so if you’re in lane 2, you extend the workouts with more walking?

  • I am struggling with exercise timing and eating- I am a morning exerciser. I wake early, have espresso ( sometimes a few!!), and foam roll, silly toes, stretch a bit and head out ( or onto the ‘mill). Some days I am awake for a few hours before I run. I am usually not hungry before running, and sometimes not afterwards for a couple of hours either. Am I doing myself harm by not eating before or shortly after exercising? I am trying to listen to my body and eat when I am hungry.....


  • Big congratulations to our sponsored athlete, Nikkia Raedawn Young, who ran a half-marathon today, concerned she was neither ready nor prepared, because February has sucked for her, too. “I’ve never felt so control in a race. I felt strong throughout, never walked, and kept my HR under 170, which is HUGE!!!”

  • I am looking at the new training plan for 3DATF for the 50 mile option. Does it matter what days during the week we complete the stacked runs? 3 days a week I work 12 hour shifts as a nurse and it will be difficult to get the second run in after my shift at 1030 at night. Or, would it be helpful to complete that run that late on tired legs to get the experience? I could move the stacked days to the days I am off and making the second run easier to fit in. I have a treadmill at home so running at night isn't dangerous just tiring.

  • I was doing Slow Burn in January, but haven’t really run since February 1st because I was so tired. I found out it’s because my vitamin D is super low. I’m on a high dose of vitamin D now, but still get tired easy. For March, should I got back to Maintain, knowing that I may need to dial back some of the harder effort stuff, or would I be better off spending a month (or more if needed) in rebuild?

  • I am training for a 50k at 3DATF and I am YOLOing a half with my BRF March 28th. What modifications should I make to do the half and maintain my 50k training?

  • So, let’s say that someone was kind of dumb and signed up for a 10k race a week after a pretty hard half. What should the week in between look like (I’m kinda hoping that you won’t say no running, even though I know that might be the answer).

  • Can u talk a little about menstrual cycles and training? I have an IUD but still ovulate and cycle and “feel” hormonal shifts. How does this affect training? Are there certain times in The cycle that are harder/easier? Better times to push vs ease up? Are there times in cycle when Baseline HR is more elevated? My guess is that any changes would be reflected in HR effort and can go from that, but just curious. (

  • Questions... I’m posting my splits. I was tired at the end and working, but for the majority of the race my perceived effort seemed to be less than those around me. In terms of general race strategy, is it better to start a little faster and Not have such a swing in pace times? Or is that drop about appropriate? How much of a 1/2 should feel hard and pushing? What are the general HR guidelines for a half?

  • I haven’t run more than 20 minutes a couple times a week for the last month. I don’t feel guilty at all cause sometimes life is all we can do at the time. But I want to get back to it. Should I drop back to rebuild for a month to ease back into longer runs- or just dial back in Maintain and build back up the time? Thanks coaches...Kristy

  • What is your advice for right hamstrings - right more than left but both are tight. My right glute isn’t too happy either but I think foam rolling will help that. Not sure about the hamstrings. Thanks!

  • Hi! What are your thoughts about nose vs mouth breathing while running? I'm pretty good about nose breathing when not running. I've always been a mouth breather while running. I've had a chronic cough while running for at least this past year, not fixed by inhaler, decongestants, acid reduction, and I've had a normal pulmonary function test. A fellow Slow Burner mentioned a book called Close Your Mouth, and it sounds like nose breathing techniques can solve a few different breathing issues. Of course, they note that in extreme exertion, mouth breathing is necessary. But overall, on easy runs, what do you think? I did an easy run today, tried to nose breathe as much as I could, but needed to slow way down. What do you do, Coach? 😍 Thank you!

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Coach MK Fleming is the founder of Fitness Protection, LLC where she trains her runners for $30 per month and gives marathon plans away for free.

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