First Days in Spain

Good morning!  I’m currently  in Cádiz, Spain, where it’s 10:30 am (six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time).  This is our first morning in Cádiz- we arrived yesterday around 6 pm, met our host mom, explored the beach and saw an awesome sunset, and then kind of got trapped in the house.

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Not wearing the boot #badidea

The past few days have been full of travel and new experiences and lots of Spanish!  We left the US around 6 pm on Thursday 5/17 and arrived in Madrid Friday morning, so we essentially lost an entire night’s sleep.  I dozed on the airport floor and during the bus ride to the hotel, and then we all crashed for several hours throughout the afternoon in the hotel.  My friend and I walked around Madrid for awhile after that.  We then went to el Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, where I got lost from the group and couldn’t contact them #nice, and then our guide took us on a long walk where we got to be stampeded by the soccer fans celebrating the Club Atlético de Madrid.  After walking like 5 miles, it was finally time for dinner!  We had paella and croquetas and sangria at 10 pm.

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I ended up walking 7 miles in the boot on Friday.  My foot was throbbing by the end.  Ouch!

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On Saturday, we left Madrid in the morning and took the bus to Cádiz all day.  After getting settled in our host family’s house and eating a surprisingly early dinner (7:30), my roommate and I went for a walk, saw an incredible sunset on the beach (which is a 3 minute walk from the house!), and met up with some of our other study abroad people.

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This morning, I woke up around 8:20 and did some core.  While I’m having a good time, I’m torn between feeling like a slacker for not doing any training in like 3 days and feeling depressed because my foot is killing me and I was going to start the walk-to-run program this week.  ARGH!  But my host mom is taking me to join a gym tomorrow after our orientation at the university, so that will be good 🙂

After doing core, we ate our first breakfast prepared by our host mother.  Talk about culture shock!  As you know, my usual breakfast at home involves some combination of oatmeal, fruit, nut butter, eggs, protein powder, cinnamon, etc.  Breakfast is like my favorite meal of the day!

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Case in point: my last breakfast at home

In Andalucía, the typical breakfast involves bread and sugar.  This morning, our host mom gave us chocolate-filled pastries, sweet milk that tasted like drinking butter (I couldn’t do it haha), orange juice, hot cocoa, and toast with our choice of butter or jam.  I ate the pastry and toast with strawberry preserves and for the most part passed on the drinks because I rarely drink anything except water and coffee.  I’m happy to try anything and am willing to fully immerse myself in Andalusian culture, but we’ve had some funny culture-clash moments so far.  When she asked what I like to eat for breakfast and I responded “oatmeal and eggs”, she looked at me like I had seven heads and said, “We don’t do that here.  Eggs are not for breakfast.  They sometimes do that in Barcelona, but not here.”

Welp…so much for that!

The next 5 weeks are definitely going to be a learning experience!  I’m really excited to start classes, continue to explore Cádiz, take day trips to other southern Spanish cities, and immerse myself in Andalusian culture.  I’m apprehensive about training (or lack thereof) and sad that my foot pain hasn’t gone away yet (seriously- I’ve run like 100 miles in the past 4 months…)

But this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m so grateful I get to do it!  Cádiz is beautiful, and the weather is unparalleled.  And we have a cute roof/garden right outside our bedroom!

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Combating Training Rigidity

Good morning!  I hope everyone’s Tuesday is off to a wonderful start.  I just got back from the gym and am doing some last-minute study abroad prep before heading to work for the afternoon.  I’m currently icing my foot while typing this post 🙂

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Got some weird looks with my post-workout breakfast, per usual

I’ve got a lot on my mind that I want to say after this morning’s gym session (both good and bad!).  Recently, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a mental and physical rut with training.  Because I took my break early and am not allowed to run yet in order to let my second metatarsal heal, I’m on a slightly different timeline than my teammates.  They’re wrapping up their rest week and starting “active rest” and light training, while I’ve been doing that for 3-4 weeks now.  At this point in the year, all of our training is pretty much up to us.  The whole idea is to keep our bodies moving but fresh, and keep our minds eager and motivated by letting us do what we want when we want to, and take rest when we want to.  It’s supposed to be pressure-free and help us gear up for when summer cross country training ramps up.

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I was rebellious and did not wear the boot to the bookstore the other day…

I’m a creature of routine, so while I can thrive off of this freedom, I am not currently thriving.  There’s a little voice in the back of my head that has been constantly telling me things like, “You need to be doing this.  You need to be building up the cross training volume, you need to be doing a certain amount every day even though your coach is telling you to keep it relaxed.”  This has been exacerbated by the fact that I’m alone- counterintuitively, it’s easier for me to keep an open mind towards training when I’m surrounded by my teammates and coaches.  Also when I’m not injured 😉

Another unhealthy facet of what I’ve been doing is that I’ve been focusing on filling some sort of quota every time I train, whether it be minutes, calories, or the like.  (“Am I going to reach 400 minutes of cross training this week?”)  Then I’ve been super anal about my post-workout snack, the timing of my food, and other things that are good as long as you don’t overthink them.  Your body is not a goddamn robot, Kathryn.

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Biking and reading

The past few days, I’ve been a little sick, which has made me look forward to the cross training even less.  But I still biked on the recumbent bike for an hour yesterday.  I convinced myself that I felt awesome, which maybe I did during the bike, but afterwards, I felt like crap.  I’m having a hard time keeping the long-term in mind– been focusing too much on the daily/hourly/minutely (is that a word), and it’s made me start to dread the stationary bike and the pool.  I’m a person that loves weight training because it makes me feel strong and unstoppable…so why have I been only doing boring cardio???

I texted my coach yesterday to essentially tell him I was being a stubborn moron (no surprises there!), and he had a really good response.

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“Take some time doing active rest, not structured workouts.”  Music to my stubborn ears!!

So this morning, I took his advice to heart.  I got to the gym with the intent of doing another 60+ minutes on the infernal stationary bike.  However, I got there and had zero interest in doing that, so I made up a dynamic core/strength session as I went along.  It felt amazing to get my body moving dynamically (one of the consequences of the boot is that I can’t do anything impactful on my foot, so jumping exercises and even walks are out of the question.  I’ve felt antsy and just want to move some fast-twitch muscles!)  I continued to steer clear of jumps and too many weight-bearing exercises, but before I knew it, 45 minutes had flown by and my body was buzzing in that endorphin-fueled “I’m going to be incredibly sore tomorrow” state that I love.

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Throughout the workout, I was literally dancing during my rest breaks.  This workout was the type that reminded me how much I crave the process of getting stronger.  Instead of sitting on the stationary bike or doing circles in the deep end of the pool looking at the clock every 15 seconds, I worked my entire body, was never bored, and only did things I wanted to do.  It was awesome.

My lesson of the day is to focus on doing the things you love.  This might change day to day, but listen to your body and don’t get caught up in the minutiae of training.  There are some days where I really do want to get on the bike for 90 minutes or swim a 70-minute workout.  Then there are days like today, and yesterday, and the day before…where I just don’t.  While my number one love is running, I can’t do that right now, so it’s important to trust myself and figure out how to stay healthy and happy (physically and mentally).

I leave for Spain in two days, which I think will be really good for me in all issues mentioned above.  And I get to start the walk-to-run program while I’m there!  But perfect training and fueling won’t be my primary focus- my primary focus will be to enjoy Cádiz, soak up all the experiences, conduct my independent research project about the markets, and learn millions of new things.

Have a wonderful day 🙂

 

Spring 2018: The semester of injury

Long time no blog!  This morning, both my mom and one of my friends asked, “Do you still blog?”  My gut answer was, “Of course!” before I remembered that I actually haven’t blogged in four months…Sorry about that!

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I just wrapped up what was definitely the most challenging semester of my life, both academically and athletically.  I drove home from school this past Monday, and I have about a week and half to chill out (and work) before I leave to study abroad in Spain until the end of June!  Luckily, I didn’t have any final exams, but I wrote 59 pages of final papers and had several group projects.  Phew!  Time for a life update (as a means of procrastinating on the final paper due for the semester).  Settle in; this is going to be a long one.

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From my 21st bday party- had to wear sneakers due to injury haha

To start things off on a rather sour note, I have essentially been injured this entire semester.  Writing it out seems unbelievable.  As you know, I was fighting some mild injuries throughout December and January but had worked back up to normal-ish mileage (albeit on the treadmill) by the time I headed back to school for the spring semester.

Once I got back to school, I immediately started going to the training room every day because the foot and ankle pain was persisting.  I got an x-ray in mid-January, which didn’t show anything, so then I got an MRI, which showed posterior tibial tendonitis.  I cross trained hard until February 14th (my 21st birthday!), at which point I convinced the trainers and my coach to let me start running on the Alter-G, even though I was still having foot pain.IMG_1487.jpg

My 21st birthday was super fun even though I had to write a paper.  Since so many of my friends had birthdays in February, we had a 5-way birthday party!

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I started bringing the stationary bike outside because after a month of being shut up in the Alter-G room, I was in desperate need of some vitamin D (and social interaction, haha).  Most days, I would bike and/or swim 60-90 minutes, with two or three days being workout efforts with intervals, and the rest being steady maintenance cross trains.  I was getting stronger in the pool, on the bike, and in the weight room!  I started consistently doing chin-ups with chains and squatting heavier weights.

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I slowly transitioned back to running, running on land for the first time on February 22.  My mileage progression went something like this:

  • Week of 2/19-2/25: 4 miles + 10 Alter-G miles
  • Week of 2/26-3/4: 15 land miles + 3 Alter-G miles
  • Week of spring break: no idea
  • Week of 3/12-3/18: 22 miles
  • Week of 3/19-3/25: 32 miles

While the post tib was getting better, the bunion issues and related foot pain from last year came back full force the second I started running again.  So this whole time, running was a question mark every single day.  Mentally, this is a terrible way to train.  Each morning, I woke up with no idea how my foot would feel, how much I would be able to run, etc.  It was extremely frustrating and demoralizing, but it made the good days that much more gratifying.

At the end of February, my mom came down to run the hilly, hard half marathon hosted by my team, and she placed in her age group!

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Just after starting to run on land again, I drove down to Tybee Island, Georgia, with a random group of teammates for spring break.  That week was very freeing- I didn’t worry about training or mileage, did what I could, sunbathed on the beach in 58 degree weather (#nice) during the day, explored Savannah, and enjoyed being 21 at night 😉

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Finally, towards the end of March, I managed to put together “real” mileage of 32.  Too bad I got overzealous and did 4 comparatively hard efforts in that one week.  On March 25, I ran 9 miles cutting down to 6:30 pace, and subsequently strained my right hamstring.  The trainers aggravated it by scraping, which put me out of commission for another two weeks and ruined my plan to return to racing at the Colonial Relays (beginning of April).

  • Week of 3/26-4/1: 13 miles
  • Week of 4/2-4/8: 25 miles

After my hamstring pain cleared up, I emailed my coach asking if I could run the 5000 on the track at the Duke Invitational (4/21).  I hadn’t done any workouts, but I didn’t care.  I just wanted to race!  Shockingly, he responded that I could run the 5k at George Mason a week earlier (4/14).  Off of zero workouts and barely 20 miles per week.  I was 10% apprehensive and 90% jumping for joy!

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Beach with teammates the night before the race

Unfortunately, my body couldn’t hold it together.  The post tib pain came back literally the day before the race, and I also had pain on top of my foot that I just ignored because it had been 3 months of injury and I didn’t want another thing to be wrong (pro tip: don’t ignore pain).  I literally did my pre-meet on the bike, and my coach said I could travel and just take things one step at a time.  If I could do the shakeout with no pain, I could move on to the warm-up.  If I could do the warm-up with no pain, I could race.

I made it through the shakeout and warm-up and laced up in spikes for the first time since November.  I was not pain-free, but I pretended that I was.  The gun went off, and it was amazing to be back on the track again.  This was the first time I’d worn the uniform on the track since May 2016 (my freshman year).  Each lap, my teammates would scream-cheer, and I would burst into a smile.  Until about lap 8 and then I realized that it’s kind of difficult to run the 5k off of no workouts, haha.

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I ended up running an 18:38, not that it matters!  (For reference, I split a 17:35 5k during a cross country 6k in the fall, and my goal before I got injured was to run 16:XX on the track this season.)  It was incredibly fun, but I couldn’t walk the next day because I was so sore!

And then I seriously couldn’t walk by Monday.  By Tuesday (April 17), the nagging foot pain on top of my foot (metatarsal area) was sharp and throbbing.  I had clearance that day, so I saw our team orthopedist as well as the head athletic trainer, and both of them agreed that I should shut down my season right then and there because it wasn’t worth trying to get back into shape through another injury to maybe score points in the 5000 at the CAA championships on May 4-5.

So after over three months of trying to come back for CAAs, I did not run CAAs.  I got an MRI that showed I have a stress reaction in my second metatarsal on my left foot (aka the problem foot, apparently!). I took six days completely off, went home for the weekend to have a mental break before the end of the semester, started lightly cross training two weeks ago, and have essentially been doing whatever training I’ve felt like doing since then.  Some days, that’s a 40 minute swim.  Some days it’s a 70 minute bike workout.  Other days it’s yoga, or core, or nothing.  I’m going to be in the walking boot until I go to Spain and potentially longer, and I will start a return-to-running walk-jog program in a couple weeks, as long as there’s absolutely no pain for awhile before that.  As of now, I still have pain, and I really don’t want to come back to running before my foot is ready.  It’s going to be a longggg road back to fitness anyway.  So right now, I am doing what I can to maintain my aerobic fitness in the pool and on the bike, while not doing so much as to disrupt my love for training in general.

For someone who fully admits that the majority of her life revolves around running, this semester was incredibly confusing.  I had to rediscover who I was outside of running, which I honestly don’t think I succeeded at (yet).  I was a bitchy pill some days, but a great teammate/friend/sister/daughter other days.  The past four months have definitely been trying, but I have learned so much about myself, others, training, sanity, and balance!

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Featuring my snazzy Aircast

I don’t want to make it sound like my whole semester was miserable, because it truly wasn’t.  It sucked to be injured (and still sucks! I’m still injured!) but I had so many great life experiences outside of running.  I strengthened some friendships, took classes that were extremely difficult but helped me realize how much I actually do like my Hispanic Studies major, applied (and was accepted) to study abroad!, had fun, and made both irresponsible and responsible decisions.

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Irresponsibly wearing heels instead of the Boot 😉 

I expanded my food Instagram, made crazy memories, and feel more adult than I ever have.  I did gain weight (funny how that happens when you stop running 50-60 miles per week) and am trying to remember that my body is smarter than my brain and will eventually settle into the best possible state for itself.  I am really excited to study abroad in Spain this summer, as I think it’s going to be one of the best (and hardest) experiences of my life!

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More later– my post-swim brain is dead 🙂

Training 1/8-1/14 and beginning of semester!

Happy first day of school!  The second semester of junior year started bright and early this morning with an hour-long pool workout, training room visit, and 9:30 am marketing research class.  And it’s snowing!  I have an hour and a half break between classes, so I’m going to drink coffee too quickly and catch you all up on what’s been going on in my life 🙂

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First of all, I spontaneously got a haircut!  Chopped off about six inches of gross, dead hair left over from when my body was falling apart at the end of the cross country season.  #newyearnewme?  But that has next to nothing to do with training, sooo moving on.

So unfortunately, right as I was beginning to feel in shape and enjoy training again, I injured myself.  Last Tuesday, I did a tempo run on the icy bike path and completely fucked up my left foot and ankle.  Since then, I’ve been experiencing pain in my arch, plantar, and ankle bone, and it isn’t getting any better.

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Post-pool-workout overnight oats and warm whirlpool

Ironically, I’m in the same position I was in at the start of last semester: cross training, foot/ankle pain, daily training room visits…hoo boy.  I’m trying to take it in stride, though- be patient, smart, don’t rush things.  Unlike past injuries, I want this to completely heal up before I try to train on it.  And I’ve been killing it on the bike, in the pool, and in the weight room, so those are all positives!  Might get an x-ray if the pain doesn’t improve soon.

Week of 1/8-1/14:

  • Monday: AM: 7 easy miles + circuits. PM: active warm-up, 3 miles, strides, GS1, foam roll.
  • Tuesday: 20 min warm-up, drills, 4 mile tempo on bike path (SUPER icy).  Splits: 6:18, 6:26, 6:07, 6:03.  20 min cool down.  Lower body lift at home, and did 24 chin-ups!  Foot/ankle started hurting a lot later in the day.  Iced it.
  • Wednesday:  AM: tried to run- too much pain.  30 min elliptical with ankle brace.  PM: 30 min bike + core.  Foam roll.
  • Thursday: AM: 8 miles + strides + upper body lift.  PM: 2 miles.  Foot/ankle feel better than Tuesday and Wednesday, but not pain-free…in retrospect, I’m just a stubborn idiot 😉
  • Friday: active warm-up, 4 miles- planned to do workout but after I warmed up for 2 miles, it was too painful, so I ran 2 miles home and then did a 50 minute pool workout (10 lap warm-up, 5 x 4 laps hard, 1 lap easy, 5 x 1 lap hard, 1 length easy, 10 lap cool down).  Rolled, Epsom salt soak, electrical stim and ice, mobs, massage.
  • Saturday: 100 min XT (80 min bike + 20 elliptical). Rolled, Epsom salt soak, electrical stim and ice, mobs, massage.
  • Sunday: off. 40 min yoga/core.
Total: 33 miles + 210 min XT
I wrote a melodramatic post on Saturday that I might post later, but essentially I was really frustrated about having to cross train and dealt with some “If I can’t run, it’s a waste” thoughts.  Luckily, I’ve remembered that cross training is highly effective at keeping us in shape, so I’m going to take advantage of the bike and the pool to get some quality work in!  Also, so many women on my team are injured right now that cross training has been kind of a party…haha.
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This semester, I have no 8 am classes.  Thank goodness!  On Mondays and Wednesdays, I’ll be taking three marketing classes from 9:30 to 3:30, with morning and afternoon practice.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will have morning practice from 7:30-10:30, followed by two Hispanic Studies classes from 11-2.  And for the third semester in a row…no Friday classes!  I’m well on my way to completing my two majors (BBA in Marketing and BA in Hispanic Studies), and it’s crazy to think that we’re already in the second half of junior year.
I spent the majority of yesterday meal prepping even though I didn’t really need to, mostly because I wanted an excuse to break in my new food processor!  It’s super fancy, with 4 different blades and about 10 different parts…quite a change from the old mini one that stopped working last semester 🙂  Also, I realized that all the food I prepped was some shade of brown.  Nice!
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Carrot muffins, curried lentils, black bean brownies, homemade larabars, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and beets

I hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday, and I’ll update again soon about my injury, semester, and life in general!

Week of 1/1-1/7 (51)

Happy Monday- the start of the last week at home before spring semester begins!  I’m currently wearing cozy fleece pajama pants and settling into a Thai chicken curry coma while writing this post.  I’m working tomorrow so planning to do my workout and lift pretty early.  In typical Monday fashion, I am battling a severe cold, and my car battery died.  But on the bright side, the AAA guy was really nice, and I got in two really nice outdoor runs today after the Treadmill Horror Week!
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Color coordination is not my strong suit

Since last week was so cold, I decided to play it safe by doing the majority of my training indoors.  However, by the end of the week, I was beyond done with the monotony of the dreadmill.
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Yikes…

Week of 1/1-1/7:
  • Monday: AM: active warm-up, 7 miles @ 7:45 pace on treadmill, GS1.  PM: active warm-up, 2 miles @ 7:39 pace outside, strides, circuits.
  • Tuesday: active warm-up, 2 miles @ 7:45 pace, treadmill fartlek (2 x :90h, :90float, 4x:60,:60, 6x:30,:30), 2 miles @ 7:50.  PM: ice skating.
  • Wednesday: 7 miles @ 7:02
  • Thursday: AM: active warm-up, easy 7 miles @ 8:00 on treadmill, upper body lift at home.  PM: 2 miles @ 7:55 on treadmill, 2xhill stride simulation, circuits.
  • Friday: AM: workout at “indoor track”.  Active warm-up, 2 miles @ 7:30, drills, 2×200, 2 x [1000, 400, 800] with 200-400 recovery, 2 mile cool down.  Splits: 36, 37, 3:32, 77, 2:52, 3:40 (ouch), 81, 2:50.  Honestly, this track is awful, so the effort was much harder and I’m not too worried about the splits.  PM: 23 min aqua jog.
  • Saturday: 30 min bike + core
  • Sunday: 11 miles on the treadmill (7:20s-7:30s, finished a bit faster). I reeeeally didn’t want to do this on the treadmill, but I only had time in the morning and it was -3 degrees.  Almost put a baseball bat through the treadmill if I’m honest.

Total: 51 miles + 55 min XT

Physically, I got in some good work this week.  My runs and lifts all went pretty well, I didn’t hammer too many maintenance runs, and I got in some quality strength.    Surprisingly, I am not stressing too much about the fact that my mileage buildup has been a little lower throughout winter break.  It’s hard to train alone, the higher-quality work is done back on campus, and we have a long season(s) ahead of us.  I’ve been taking care of myself and getting in good work, and that’s what matters 🙂

However, I was definitely going stir-crazy (and dreadmill-crazy) by the end of the week.  The lack of sunlight didn’t help, either…

While it wasn’t fun to train primarily indoors, there were a bunch of highlights this week!

  1. I ran with a friend on the canal on Wednesday, and the run flew by because we talked nonstop.
  2. Homemade pizza night!IMG_0810.jpg
  3. Convinced the aforementioned friend to join me for an indoor track workout on Friday!  I would not have been able to do the workout without a buddy.
  4. Made some delicious homemade bars (with walnuts, dates, oats, chia and flax seeds, and chai spices.)IMG_0860.jpg
  5. Went out for pho with friends and talked for three straight hours.  It was a blast.
  6. Started working again, and my out-of-town friend showed up unexpectedly, which was so much fun.
  7. Due to a massive, random craving, I picked up some salteñas after cross training on Saturday.  They were just as incredible as I remembered.IMG_0869.jpg
  8. Got through Sunday’s long run without killing anyone!  Even though I bailed out a mile earlier than planned.
  9. A networking brunch with the people I will be working for/with!  It was a lot of fun, and I’m really excited.

So yes, lots of positives this week.  This coming week is my last week at home before I go back to school for the spring semester, and I want to make it a good one!  My friend joined me for 7 early miles this morning.  This early riser hadn’t actually risen early in awhile, so my alarm was quite the shock!  It was fun to catch up with her (and run outside…blessed).  I had another quality run in the afternoon, followed by strides and a general strength session that felt awesome.  I am definitely not taking today for granted; it was really, really nice 🙂

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Tried to film my afternoon strides but it didn’t work too well…

My goals this week are to enjoy training, work more hours, remain positive and continue to remind myself why we are doing this training, get ready to move back to school, cook some new foods, and prioritize sleep and foam rolling (been slacking a little…).  And don’t feel bad about spending a few hours not doing anything at all! (I’m terrible at this.)  Classes begin next Wednesday, and our first race is in less than two weeks!  I know I’m not in the best shape ever, but I’m excited to get through a few more workouts at home before rejoining my teammates.  That always makes workouts more fun and effective 🙂 I’m truly excited to race on an indoor track (and race a track race in uniform!) for the first time since freshman year!!  Here’s a throwback to my first race in uniform:

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Baby Kathryn!

Today :)

Okay, okay, I know I said I would write a Year in Review and 2018 goals post…and I am, I swear!  But today has been such a nice day that I just wanted to write about it.

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To be perfectly honest, I’ve lacked motivation towards training over the past couple weeks.  I’ve still gotten out and done it, but my mentality has been seriously lacking.  Being away from my team, my coaches, and being so far removed from what we’re working for (racing) makes it really hard to stay motivated!  It doesn’t help that it’s been zero degrees outside.

Anyway, today I woke up to real-feel temperatures of -1.  To the treadmill I went!  I had a short fartlek on tap, so I headed to the community center gym because my treadmill tops out at 10 mph (not fast enough for speedwork).  When I got there, the gym was packed.  Somehow, counterintuitively, this boosted my lackluster mood!  I was excited to see everyone busting their butts to achieve their goals.  In my opinion, having a lot of people at the gym makes you more motivated to kick butt in your workout because you don’t want to look slow.  (Just me?  Probably.)  My high school teammate, who is a kickass D1 runner herself, was bearing down on the treadmill in the middle of an eight-mile cutdown run to 5:30 pace.  Freakin’ inspiration.

After completing an active warm-up routine, I hopped on the treadmill next to her and ran a two-mile warm-up before starting my fartlek.  [2x:90 hard, :90 float, 4x:60h, :60f, 6x:30h, :30f] with a two-mile cool down.  Because it’s scary to run at high speed on a treadmill, and the effort always feels comparatively harder, I didn’t go “all out.”  I started the hard intervals at 5:40 pace and cut down to 5:10 pace.  Even though it wasn’t as hard as I could have gone on land, I hadn’t run that fast in awhile, and I felt like I had gotten in a good effort at the end!  And now that I’ve done some fast stuff, I feel much more inclined to do speedwork in the near future.  Funny how that works 😉

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Fueled up with a Picky bar before completing the day’s lift.  I went home, showered, ate lunch, power napped, and headed out to ice skate on the frozen canal with some friends that I don’t get to see a lot!  It ended up being such a good time- I hadn’t talked to them at length in awhile- and it was so cool to skate on the canal.  And we managed to avoid getting beaned in the head by the more aggressive hockey players out there.

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Afterwards, we warmed up our frozen bodies with the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.  We used heavy cream, melted semisweet chocolate, and cinnamon sticks, so what’s not to love?

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It was just a really good day.  I sometimes get miserable in the cold, especially chronic extreme cold like this!  But now I’m bundled up and toasty warm, and it’s been a day to appreciate the small things like laughing with friends, reading interesting newspaper articles, feeling a little more motivated towards running, and resting under a string of pretty lights.  Also, I accidentally left clothes at the gym and went back to get them hours later and they were still there!  Heck yeah.  Happy New Year 🙂

 

Week of 12/25-12/31 (45)

Happy New Year!  Started 2018 off strong with 7 morning treadmill miles, 2 miles outside in the afternoon, two strength sessions, and the first of many intentional Meatless Mondays!

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Ancient, but functional, treadmill set-up

I will do a New Year’s post recapping 2017 and discussing my goals and intentions for 2018, but for now, gotta wrap up the last week of 2017!

Week of 12/25-12/31:

  • Monday: active warm-up, 7 miles, circuits
  • Tuesday: AM: 30 min bike + lower body lift.  Pushed weight and did 21/24 chin-ups!  PM: 7 miles, 4 x strides, 5 min core (got bored).
  • Wednesday: 4 miles @ 8:00 pace + 30 min swim.  SORE.  Felt pretty shitty.
  • Thursday: Travel ALL DAY.  Active warm-up to keep warm… 8 miles @ 7:30 pace on treadmill at night after getting home.
  • Friday: AM: active warm-up, 2 miles, drills, 4 mile pace run (watchless), 2 miles.  Upper body lift.  PM: 20 minute aqua jog…didn’t stretch afterwards, oops.
  • Saturday: 11 miles in the snow @ 7:35 avg (felt harder because slippery).
  • Sunday: OFF.  Aches and pains from snowy long run.  45 min yoga/stretching.

Total: 45 miles + 80 min XT

After essentially taking five days off from running the previous week, I ran six days in a row this week and hit semi-normal mileage.  Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but it was convenient!

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Tried this protein shake after Tuesday’s lift and it wasn’t bad! (and I hate protein powders)

I pushed Tuesday’s lift and woke up sore on Wednesday!  Wednesday’s run-XT combination was kind of dreadful, and I had to talk myself through every minute of it.  “Come on, just swim one more lap.  You can do it.”  Along with the perennial lie: “There’s nothing you’d rather be doing right now!”

We woke up at 4 am to travel home from California.  We were supposed to be home by 4:30 pm Eastern time, so I was planning on doing a maintenance run and then going to the gym to lift.  Unfortunately, we got a little stranded and didn’t get home until close to 7 pm.  It was 80 degrees in California and 15 in the DMV and we did not have coats.  I ended up doing some active warm-up routines to keep myself warm while we waited outside for the train for half an hour.  It worked, and the release of endorphins made me less crabby after traveling all day!  When we finally got home, I ran eight miles on the treadmill and did not lift because it was like 8 pm at that point.

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I didn’t do a workout until Friday’s pace run, and my watch died 3 minutes into the warm-up, so I went off of effort.  It went significantly better than the pace run I’d done the previous Monday!  My right leg locked up per usual, but otherwise I felt strong and confident.  No idea how fast it was.  I spent the afternoon making homemade bagels with my friend, and we went to the pool afterwards for a quick shakeout.

Overnight snow and ice made Saturday’s long run a little treacherous.  It wasn’t the most stellar run ever, but I got through it…However, the gait changes I made to compensate for the slippery bike path caused me to wake up sore and hurting on Sunday.  I was planning to cross train, but I took the day off, did some yoga, and hibernated inside after attempting to go to the farmers’ market in zero degree weather.

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I had New Year’s Eve plans, but after visiting a friend and eating a lot of mac and cheese, I got minor food poisoning.  So I ended up staying home and celebrating with my family. (and by celebrating, I mean eating brownie sundaes, drinking champagne, watching The Holiday, and falling asleep before midnight.  Party animals!)

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Even the dog was a party animal.

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I’ll write more about the year transition in the next post!  I’ve felt a bit…stale…towards life and training recently, although a rejuvenating double outside in the cooold helped reinvigorate me today 🙂

Christmas

Christmas with family always alternates between hysterically funny and infuriating.  I’m sure most people can relate 😉  We hit the road early on the 22nd to fly out to Southern California for a week.  We used to fly out almost every year to spend Christmas with my mom’s side of the family, but it’s been a few years!  I think the last time we were here for Christmas was my sophomore year of high school.

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Christmas morning, 6 am

This year was a little different from past years because the youngest member of the family is now 13 and two of us are adults and therefore all of us got to be Santa instead of just my mother the traditional Santa!  In other words, we all got to stuff stockings and give gifts to everyone and go broke, instead of just my mother.  This new responsibility made us realize how we’ve made out like bandits for twenty years.  Sorry, ma 😉


The six-hour plane ride on the 22nd (there were headwinds) was relatively uneventful, although my youngest brother consumed 7 servings of hot Cheetos and asked for ginger ale every time the flight attendants rolled up.  What a nutritious lunch…

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The rest of the day was spent in a tired traveler’s stupor, getting settled in and picking fights with each other.  Classic 😉

On Saturday, my gramma took my mom and me to her gym so we could complete our respective training.  (My mother is a marathoner.)  After cross training for one hundred minutes!!, I refueled before heading out to do some last-minute Christmas shopping with my middle brother.  He is now a senior in high school and has recently turned into an actual real person (in my eyes), so it was actually really fun to face the harried Christmas crowds and terrible traffic since we just cracked sardonic, somewhat inappropriate jokes the whole time.  If you had told my ten-year-old self that my brother and I would be good friends a decade later, I would have probably passed out from laughing so hard.

That night, we feasted on the quintessential Irish dinner of corned beef and cabbage and potatoes for no particular reason.  Maybe we were celebrating the fact that we hadn’t all killed each other yet?

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And then the older ladies drank wine and recounted shady family history and I discovered that I had almost died when I was born and caused my parents a lot of trauma and honestly the neonatal oxygen deprivation probably explains my screwiness 😉

 

On Christmas Eve, I cross trained (shocking!) and then baked a lot of cookies. (The best chocolate chip cookies, and the best molasses cookies).

My family is sometimes really extra when it comes to cooking, and I horrified my brother by using Trader Joe’s pre-made garlic and herb pizza dough instead of his homemade from-scratch dough for our Christmas Eve tradition of homemade pizza night.  Sorry, bro…

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Goat cheese, mozzarella, caramelized onions, pineapple, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, and oregano

After pizza night, we went to the Christmas Eve church service, which was lovely even though I was in a pizza-and-cookies-and-jet-lag-induced coma.

Due to a combination of jet lag and naturally being awfully early risers, we were up and ready to go at 6 am on Christmas morning.  While my middle brother’s and my own crack-of-dawn Christmas enthusiasm has dimmed over the years, my youngest brother continues to resemble the offspring of the Energizer Bunny and a puppy hopped up on treats.  At least we got to witness a beautiful sunrise…

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We opened stockings and then I went for a run!  7 miles along the Santa Clara river trail.  It was glorious.  My hip flexor tightened up a bit buuuut still glorious.  Afterwards, we gorged ourselves on breakfast and finished opening gifts.

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Eggs, bacon, corn pancakes, fruit, French toast bake, whipped cream…all the goods

We hit the road at 11 am (after what had already been a very long day) to go visit my grandfather and his wife at their home.  My grandpa is an interesting individual, to put it lightly.  We spent the afternoon reminiscing, almost peeing our pants laughing at various family members, going through old pictures, gorging ourselves on too-rich food, and finding gems like this:

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Me!, 1997

After a veeeerrrryyy long day, we arrived back at 8 pm and I died.  I was fast asleep by 9, fat, happy, content, exhausted, and suffering from mild food poisoning.  Woke up at 5 (again) and crushed a cross train and lift with my mom and grandma.

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3 generations at the gym (lol)

All in all, Christmas with the family was (mostly) awesome, and I know I have so much to be thankful for.  Even if the youngest generation always tends to regress in age in the eyes of the older generation…but I feel like that always happens.  Good food, pie comas, sore abs from laughing so hard, giving and receiving gifts, and everything else always makes for a memorable experience.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s almost 80 degrees and sunny, and I’ve been lounging around reading a book and waiting to run!

Week of 12/18-12/24 (22 miles + 290 min XT)

Merry Day-After-Christmas!  I’ll post a recap of my family’s Christmas later, but here’s last week’s training.  TL;DR: training interrupted by a niggling foot.

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I ran normally on Monday and Tuesday (although it felt pretty shitty), but then the mild discomfort in my foot increased to where I decided to cross train the rest of the week.  While my brain kept trying to convince me that a) “you’re going to lose all your fitness!” b) “you’re slacking!” and c) “you’re exaggerating the pain in your mind!”, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when you don’t listen to your body.  Hell, I’ve become pretty terrible at listening to my body.  But I’d rather take a few days off now than be out with tendonitis or a stress fracture for a long time.

Week of 12/18-12/24: 

  • Monday: AM: active w/u, 2 miles, 4 mile tempo on towpath (6:23, 6:22, 6:29, 6:22), 2 mile cool down.  Felt tired and not at all in it but toughed out the 4th mile after feeling like quitting at 2 miles.  GS1.  PM: 2 miles + circuits.  Getting stronger on burpees!
  • Tuesday: AM: 8 miles @ 7:42 avg, felt tired, lift day 1 (felt strong!).  PM: 2 miles.
  • Wednesday: 60 min (3200m) swim.  Sore from lift!  Pain on top of foot- took Aleve and iced it.
  • Thursday: AM: 70 min bike (with a fartlek during), upper body lift, felt pretty strong.  PM: 2 miles, foot still hurts.
  • Friday: Woke up at 4:40 am and spent all day traveling…very tired!  Pool was closed to off day today-  did active warm-up, some circuits, general band strength, and yoga.  Still have foot pain, especially when I point my foot.
  • Saturday: 100 min XT (70 min bike + 30 min aqua jog).  Set a bike distance PR!
  • Sunday: 60 min pool (35 swim, 25 aqua jog) + some yoga
Total: 22 miles + 290 min XT
Monday’s tempo was traaaash, and I made the mistake of programming Strava to call out splits every half mile because I thought it would motivate me. NOPE.  Instead, I found myself demoralized and hurting 2 miles in, but I’m proud of myself for toughing it out for 4 miles.  Of course, I spent far too long stressing about the splits and telling myself I was slow and how the heck am I ever going to run sub-17 if I can hardly handle 6:20s?  #chill.
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Glaring at my legs post-tempo

I ran with a friend on Tuesday, and we were both feeling a little banged up, so we took it easy.  I noticed that the top of my left foot was moving from sore to painful, so I cross trained on Wednesday.  On Thursday morning, I forced myself not to run and instead did a bike workout.  Tested the foot out with 2 miles in the afternoon, and while it didn’t hurt, there was some discomfort.
On Friday, my family woke up at 4:30 am to travel to California.  We hit mad traffic on the way there and even worse traffic in the airport (naturally- it was December 22!), and we hardly made our 7:50 am flight.  But we made it! Wooo.  Meals were really weird, and we were all cranky and tired.  After a marathon travel day, I was looking forward to decompressing with a swim, but the pool was closed for repairs so I took the day off and did a bunch of general strength instead.
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Saturday brought a lovely 100 minute cross train that I split between the bike and the pool.
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Set a distance PR on the bike #nice

Sunday was just maintenance.  After icing the foot and sporadically taking Aleve and ibuprofen, it felt passable enough to run on Christmas!  And I’m going to go for another run later.  🙂
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At least I’ve been able to swim in a cool half-in-half-out pool!

It’s a little strange making up my own training as I go along, and I’m trying not to feel guilty about not doing the workouts that are on schedule.  But the schedule was sent out weeks ago, and I’ve been cross training my butt off, so I know my fitness isn’t really suffering.  I’m just itching to get back up to regular mileage and actually have some good running workouts!  I recognize that I jumped the gun a little over the previous 2-3 weeks with maintenance and long run intensity, so lesson learned, and I’m going to practice approaching training with a more balanced, relaxed mindset.   Except I suck at relaxing, and sleeping, and all that jazz.  Guess I gotta do more yoga 😉
Christmas recap coming next!  We’ll be in California for another couple days before heading home.

Week of 12/11-12/17 (47.5)

Hi, happy Sunday!  Today was extremely chill- all I did was lounge around, eat lots of food, go to the farmers’ market, read Julie and Julia, spend too much time on my phone, and do some yoga.  My family had homemade pizza night, and all the pizzas were delicious.  My brothers and I then had a spontaneous jam session with a wide range of tunes.  It was pretty hysterical…this type of stuff doesn’t happen at school.

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PIZZA from scratch

Sometimes rest days are hard to get through, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and am winding down for the night listening to the Nutcracker Suite and feeling fat and happy 🙂

 

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Hit up the farmer’s market with the bro for some fruit (and samples) (and donuts!)

Throughout this past week, my mileage increased significantly and we continued to get back in the swing of workouts and lifting.  Some runs sucked, others were okay, and still others were pretty awesome!  I’m happy to be home but already miss my teammates.

Week of 12/11-12/17:

  • Monday: AM: circuits + 2 miles fast-ish.  Nap + Spanish final.  PM: lap, active w/u, lap, speed ladder, hurdles, 6 miles, 4×150 strides, GS1. Business analytics final. Total: 8.5
  • Tuesday: AM: lap, active w/u, 2 miles, basic drills, 2×200 with 30s rest (38, 37), 5×1000 with 200 jog (3:37, 3:38, 3:40, 3:41, 3:40) (goal was 3:36-3:32).  Felt pretty crappy but very proud of mental toughness and calmness.  Just took it one interval at a time.  2 mile cool down.  Lift day 1.  PM: NormaTec.  Total: 8.5
  • Wednesday: AM: 4 miles + circuits. Very cold!  Later: 30 min aqua jog. Finance final.
  • Thursday: AM: active w/u, 8 miles, 6x100m strides.  Lift day 2 in weight room- felt a little weak today.  PM: cleaned all afternoon so that was my double haha.  I was exhausted.
  • Friday: Active w/u, 2 miles, basic drills, strides, 3x [200, 300, 400, 600 @ 80 pace with 60s rest] + lap between sets, 2 mile cool-down, GS2.  NormaTec.  Total: 7.5
    • Set 1: 38, 61, 79, 2:03
      Set 2: 39, 60, 79, 2:02
      Set 3: 39, 59, 79, 2:00
  • Saturday: 11 miles bike path at home.  Very icy!  First half was 7:10s, second half was 6:50s, last mile 6:40…probably didn’t need to go that fast but felt like it was okay to hammer a bit with a planned off day.
  • Sunday: Off. 30 min yoga.
Total: 47.5 miles + 30 min XT + lots of strength and I actually did yoga this week!
 
This week was solid, except for setting my apartment on fire on Sunday and subsequently being exhausted from lack of sleep, cleaning all the time, and final exams.
On Tuesday, I don’t think anyone felt good, but I was really proud of the way I stayed tough and positive mentally.  On Thursday, I took two naps and skipped the afternoon double, which was definitely the right move.  Friday’s workout went about as well as could be expected; two of my teammates and I worked together well and it hurt but we’re excited for 80s to feel progressively more normal as we get into better shape!  I have no idea how I’m going to run that pace for 5000 meters when 600 was hard…
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Long run splits (ish…I forgot to pause Strava for a water break)

Saturday’s long run was pretty good…I definitely pushed it and felt beat afterwards.  While that’s good sometimes, I’m also reminding myself that getting back into shape/increasing fitness is a process and I have to be patient!  Can’t shortcut my way to a sub-17 5k.  Happy to be done with the semester, worried about keeping my foot happy, excited to be home for a little while, and brainstorming how I’ll get my training in while in California because the fires have grown to 200,000+ acres and I’m not sure how the air quality will be.
It can be hard to stay motivated throughout winter break because you’re so far removed from racing, and there’s a long gap until the next race.  However, this is the work that matters!  Similar to summer training for cross country, it’s imperative to build a strong foundation, get some quality miles in, be consistent, and make smart choices regarding sleep, recovery, and fueling.  And this year, I am lucky enough to not be working full-time like last year!  Therefore, I have ample time to foam roll, stretch, get in quality strength workouts, and generally do everything I need to do.  YESSSS.
On the not-as-fun runs (of which there are always quite a few), I am just going to keep reminding myself of my goals.  9:50 3k and 16:XX 5k…I am coming for you!!
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Here’s a random picture of my dog in a Santa hat

(Also, side note, my period is back in full force, which is annoying as hell but a strong reminder to be grateful that my body is healthy and functioning properly, especially after how I felt at the end of the cross country season!)
Goals for the next week:
  • Be smart with training.  Go hard when you need to; rest when you need to.
  • Mental toughness
  • Continue deliberate practice as it applies to all drills, strength routines, etc.  Remember that each element of practice will get you closer to sub-17!
  • Foam roll, stretch, and drain legs every day
  • Smile a lot!  Compliment people as much as possible.  Don’t pick fights.
  • Focus on nutrient timing and high-quality foods
  • Focus on the things you can control with travel, and don’t stress about the things you can’t.
  • Read lots of books and try to stay off social media
  • Reestablish bedtime routine