Summer Training Weeks 3 and 4: Return from Spain and injury update

Happy Monday!  Sorry I forgot to publish last week’s summer training recap- 3 weeks in and I already slacked off 😉 Classic.  I have a ton of highlights for you, so settle in!

IMG_4546.jpg

The week of 6/18 to 6/24 was my last week in Spain.  I was planning on increasing the walk-to-runs and enjoying my last week, but unfortunately my foot got progressively worse.  After talking to my coach on that Wednesday, we ended up shutting down the walk-to-run progression and limiting me to an hour a day of cross training and no more than 3x/weekly strength exercises.  I took off on Saturday and Sunday because we spent those days traveling.

Week of 6/18-6/24

  • Monday: AM: 5×6 min run, 1 min walk + 25 bike.  PM: 35 min easy recumbent bike + core + push-ups + foam roll/ice.
  • Tuesday: AM: 70 min bike workout (15 w/u, 5 x hard song, easy song, 5 x 1h1e, 10 c/d) + strength.  Foot pain while walking.  Iced.
  • Wednesday: Foot pain 😦 Glute activation, 50 min easy recumbent bike, core.
  • Thursday: AM: ~30 min yoga by the ocean.  PM: 60 min recumbent bike, glute activation, light lift/core.
  • Friday: 52 min bike + light core.
  • Saturday: off. Travel from Cádiz to Madrid.
  • Sunday: off. Travel from Madrid to US.

Rundown from my running log: “Really sad about not being able to continue the walk-to-run & foot has almost constant pain- lots of breakdowns and bad body image BUT striving to see the positives <3”

After months and months of living in constant pain and trying with all my heart to come back to running, each time it gets taken away I feel a mixture of heartbreak, familiarity, and resignation.  This unfortunately made my last week in Spain less enjoyable.  Due to that and a month of sleep deprivation, I felt really non-functional on that Sunday and suffered from a depressive episode on that Monday that was scary and difficult.

DE86E91B-31C8-4D7F-81B0-95A1522C4BF3.jpg

So I got dressed up and took a selfie to feel better

There were some highlights- awesome sunsets, finishing classes, watching the World Cup at a sports bar, retail therapy (shopping haha), touring the Catedral de Cádiz and enjoying world-famous empanadas, watching our professor get sangria-drunk at a program dinner, and meeting up with our teammate in Madrid!

744A680F-6778-41B5-BC11-A887F9C291BE.jpg

I’m not gonna lie- my body image SUCKED.  I felt extremely uncomfortable and wasted a lot of mental energy hating myself, especially the weekend that we were traveling back to Madrid and then the US.  With injury, especially injuries that won’t heal, there’s a tendency to feel like your body is betraying you and become angry/sad/body-dysmorphic.  Add in travel where you’re out of routine, and it’s a perfect storm for self-hatred.  That’s exactly what happened to me.  Luckily, returning to the US and getting back into a “normal” summer routine, with enough sleep! (albeit without running), has done wonders for my mental state and self-perception.

IMG_4650.jpg

Cute doggos help, too


Week of 6/25-7/1

  • Monday: AM: early 60 min swim (3500 yds).  PM: 20 min glute activation/core/light dynamic strength.
  • Tuesday: 60 min bike with long pick-ups  Lift (Swiss ball core/hamstring curls, quad curl/cable row, hamstring machine/pull-ups, DB shoulder press, calf raises, lat pull-downs.)
  • Wednesday: AM: 60 min swim.  PM: 1 hour slow flow yoga.
  • Thursday: 50 min pool with my friend (30 swim, 20 aqua jog).
  • Friday: 65 min bike (20 miles) with some intervals.  Lift (glute activation, planks, chin-ups, hamstring curls, RDLs, lat pull-downs, hip thrusts with plate, ab leg raise, monster walks, core/DB push-up rows).
  • Saturday: Off. Light yoga.
  • Sunday: 60 min swim (3350 yds) with some harder intervals.

Rundown from my running log: “Nice week, great to get back in the pool & also find out what’s really wrong with my foot!  Work is tiring!  Did well on sleep this week but am staving off a cold.”

IMG_4633.jpg

20 miles later…

Last week, I got back in the pool with zest and zeal after 5 weeks of not swimming.  Jet lag made for some super early morning training sessions.  I also worked over 25 hours, and the store was 90+ degrees, so we were all dying…But gotta get that money!

I stuck to my coach’s instructions of an hour a day, and it has been just enough to keep me sane while not enough to make me feel like a walking zombie.  Excellent!

IMG_4611.jpg

Met up with some friends for dinner in Georgetown

On Thursday, I began wearing the AirCast again and met with an orthopedist at Georgetown Hospital to find out what the heck has been going on with my foot.  A few x-rays later, he told me that not only had I had a stress reaction in my second metatarsal, I had a (healing) stress fracture in my second metatarsal and a stress reaction in my third metatarsal!  Holy shit.  I felt crushingly relieved because this explained why a) my foot hadn’t healed, and b) why I was having what seemed like pain all over my foot, when it “should have” been localized to the stress reaction spot.  It all makes sense!

So to let this thing heal once and for all (jesus, it’s been almost 6 months of injury), I am wearing the boot until I feel zero pain, and then waiting another two full weeks before even attempting to run.  I’m sticking to my hour-a-day of cardio, and my goal is to get strong, sleep a lot, and be happy.  I’m motivated to increase my aerobic capacity and functional strength while letting my foot heal for good this time.  Once I’m in the clear to run, I have a “prescription” for a local Alter-G (haha) and a follow-up appointment at the orthopedist at the end of July.

Did I ever think I would be in this position right now? Never.  I distinctly remember back in January when I first got post tib, my teammate asked, “So you think this is going to be like a 3-week thing?” And I responded, “yeah, I think it’ll clear up pretty quick, I’m not too worried!” Little did we know…

But I have my whole life to run 🙂 There’s no law stating that I have to be as fast as I can ever be within these 4-5 years of NCAA eligibility.  And my current goal is to get hella fast in the pool (and #ripped in the weight room) because that is what I can do right now and there’s no point wiling the days away comparing myself to past summers and wishing I could be running 60+ miles per week.  Sustainable running careers are built off of loving the process, and my process right now consists of biking, swimming, lifting, and trying not to die of heatstroke throughout these 100-degree weeks, haha.

 

Advertisements

Summer Training Week 2 (11 miles + 345 min XT + other stuff)

Happy Sunday!  I started off today’s off day nice and slow by reading a book all morning, then walked to a plaza, savored an helado in the sunshine, and enjoyed an iced café con leche at a café with some friends while working on a paper.  Then, I got yelled at for being late to lunch, and I am now writing this post while listening to bachata music 🙂

IMG_4341.jpg

Week of 6/11-6/17:

  • Monday: AM: 6×4 min run, 1 min walk + drills + 30 min bike.  PM: 30 min elliptical + ~20 min circuit I made up.  Lots of push-ups and dumbbell squats involved.  Iced foot and quads.
  • Tuesday: AM: 60 min bike workout.  Legs were dead again so I did what I could.  15 warm-up, 4 x [2 min hard, 1 easy], 4 x [2 min hard, 2 easy], 3 x 1h1e, 10 cool down.  PM: 10 min core.
  • Wednesday: 4-8-4-8-4 min run with 1 min walk + active warm-up + 25 min bike.  Legs/body were tired.  ~12 min core circuit.  PM: ice, some foot exercises, bachata class!
  • Thursday: AM: 70 min bike workout (15 warm-up, 45 min of hard/easy songs, 10 cool down).  Tired legs and foot hurt a bit.  PM: 20 min bike shakeout (legs felt great after!) + lift (glute and core activation, squats, OH/UH DB row, weighted RDLs, chin-ups, Swiss ball hamstring curls, TRX).
  • Friday: 6 x 5 min run, 1 min walk.  Later: 30 min aqua jog in the ocean.  Stayed in the sun too long and felt awful at night.
  • Saturday: 80 min XT (52 elliptical, 28 bike).  Very tired.
  • Sunday: off.  Yoga (planned).

Total: 11 miles + 345 min XT + strength/yoga/etc.

So my coach likes to refer to the first few weeks of a new training block as the “Valley of Fatigue”, where your body is adjusting to the increased workload and you generally feel like crap for awhile.  Looking back at this week, that’s exactly what happened 😉  Luckily, my teammates and I have been commiserating with each other and most of us have been feeling similarly, so we know it’s just this stage of training and (hopefully) it’ll pass/we’ll adjust.

IMG_4266

XT sweat overactivity??

Overall, I got some quality work in this week and increased the duration of my running intervals.  I had planned to do 7 x 4 min run, 1 min walk on Wednesday, but I impatiently and stubbornly skipped two of the 1-minute walk intervals, which resulted in two running intervals that were 8 minutes long (aka twice as long as I had been running).  This did not bode well for my foot.  It’s been hurting more than it had been for several days.  You live and you learn.  The concept of walk-to-run exists for a reason!

On Thursday, I didn’t feel like coming up with a structured bike workout, so I put on the Latin Dance Cardio playlist on Spotify and alternated hard/easy intervals depending on when the song switched.  It was a great way to switch things up!  However, I literally left a pool of sweat on/underneath the stationary bike.  Ew.

IMG_4263.jpg

Nice

I was getting kind of tired of the bike by the end of the week…

IMG_4281.jpg

On Friday, as I mentioned, I spent all afternoon in the blazing sun at the beach, which resulted in some mild sun poisoning 😉 OOPS.

This week, I also read The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll.  I would recommend it as a summer beach read!  I thought the ending was the best part, so I would say it’s worth wading through the somewhat melodramatic plot/characters and exaggerated pseudofeminism at times.

the-favorite-sister-9781501153198_lg.jpg

Image source

I still didn’t sleep very much this week, which was annoying and has had negative repercussions on my body’s ability to recover.  However, I’m getting okay sleep, and I know it will all work out.

While so many aspects of study abroad have been absolutely amazing, by this point I am craving home and familiarity and starting to feel depressed and anxious (partially due to physical exhaustion).  At the risk of sounding like a spoiled princess, I am tired of not feeling comfortable in this house (due to a variety of factors).  I am tired of not having a name (my host mom can’t pronounce my name, so I’ve been nameless for a month, which is harder than you would think!).  I am tired of not sleeping well or having any privacy.  However, I am not tired of the beautiful Spanish language, friendliness of the people, cheap food, mercados, beach, university, or nice cool mornings!  There are some things I will miss so much when we leave in a week.

Last night, after an admittedly bad day, I dragged myself out of a depressive funk and went to watch the sunset on the beach with my close friends.  We ended up talking and laughing for over two hours, and by the end, I felt so much better.  It was unprecedentedly wonderful ❤

IMG_4335.jpg

Intentions for next week:

  • Continue icing (I did a pretty good job this week!)
  • Sleep as much as you can 🙂
  • Crush the last week of classes!
  • Safely increase running
  • Listen to your body about cross training intensity ❤
  • Learn 1+ new thing about Cádiz (or Spain in general) every day

And to end this post, here is a picture of a shark that you can actually buy at the Mercado Central.  I love that place.

unknown.jpg

 

A Day in the Life: Study Abroad

Hi friends!  I’m currently sitting at a coffee shop working on my research investigation.  I just finished an ethnographic observation of the Mercado Central in Cádiz and submitted my midterm report, so I thought I’d take a little break and talk about some recent happenings because there might be one or two people out there that care about my non-training-summary musings 😉  Speaking of which, I’m going to finish this café americano in a few minutes and head over to the gym for my weekly long cross train session because the smell of fish from the Mercado Central is getting to me, but first…A Day in the Life: Cádiz Edition!

IMG_4302.jpg

Yesterday (Friday) was a surprisingly fun day.  We don’t have classes on Fridays (theoretically we’re supposed to use the day to work on our research investigations, which I actually kind of did, but usually we just jet off to random parts of Spain or go to wine tastings in ancient castles.  You know how it is.)  I woke up at 7:30 and didn’t feel like running right then because the Valley of Fatigue is real and my body is/was #destroyed.  So I stayed in bed until 9, ate the classic breakfast of pan tostada with my roommate, and then sat on the terrace upstairs in the sunshine working on my paper.

IMG_3022.jpg

After finishing my paper in a pleasingly short amount of time, I walked over to the university (a 4 minute walk, #blessup) to meet with my professor about my investigation.  The meeting went well, but what stands out in my mind is that it was one of those moments where speaking Spanish was just as easy and natural and grammatically correct as English!  Even though I’ve been studying Spanish for 15 years now and can write just as well in either language, speaking has always been a bit trickier.  I feel like that’s the case in any second/third/not-first language.  Anyway, I left the meeting feeling pleased and bilingual and worldly and eloquent.  It was nice 🙂

IMG_3091.jpg

PS, look how pretty the University of Cádiz is 🙂

I ran into my friend on the way out, and we ended up walking to a plaza about fifteen minutes away to get coffee and just talk for awhile before my run.  It was refreshing not to be rushing around from the gym to school or wherever (why do I tend to do this even in a foreign country??).  We ended up in an intellectually stimulating discussion about the importance of breaking the dominant historical narrative of colonizer/colonized.  You know.  Casual.

After awhile, I felt like I should do my run, so I met up with my teammate and completed the longest walk-to-run thus far! 6 x 5 minute run, 1 minute walk.  ‘Twas lovely.  My foot hurts a little now, but I’m not running again until Monday.  Also, running in a sports bra is kind of weird in Spain, but it was 80 degrees and we were dying, okay…

IMG_4298.jpg

We ran by the beach and had a nice deep talk and it was great.  Unprecedented deep talks seem to be the theme of the day…

I went home, ate lunch, took a siesta, and then headed to the beach to hang out for awhile and eventually aqua jog in the water.  We were baking in the sun for two and a half hours before aqua jogging, which I realized later in the evening was not the smartest plan.  But the aqua jog session was super fun and flew by because we talked nonstop!

IMG_4302.jpg

I arrived home dehydrated and sun-poisoned just in time for dinner of chicken nuggets, veggies, and a salty noodle soup.  A freezing cold shower made my sun-poisoned body feel even worse, and I had to cancel my night plans and lie in bed watching Portugal versus España (damn it, Cristiano Ronaldo) before falling asleep before I planned/waking up hella disoriented/and having a restless night feeling crappy.

IMG_4307.jpg

Even with that end to the day, I still felt like it had been a great day overall.  Today, I feel like crap, so I’m looking forward to a full-on rest day tomorrow.  It’s finally getting hot in Cádiz, which is pleasant but can also get to be overwhelming!

Summer Training Week 1: Study abroad version

Happy Sunday, friends!  I know in years past I’ve started the weekly summer training recaps a little earlier in the summer, but our new coach and my injury comeback have resulted in this past week marking “Week 1” of summer 2018 cross country training 🙂  My recaps will obviously look a little different than the past 3 years because I am not just building mileage and starting workouts; I’m starting to just be able to run again!  Also, I’m limited in the quantity of what I can do on the weekends by our travel plans and the fact that the gym is closed on Sundays (“Long run” day).

IMG_4085.jpg

Our hike in Málaga

Week 1 (6/4-6/10)

  • Monday: AM: Walk-to-run (5 min walk, 6 x [2 min walk, 2:30 run], 5 min walk) + 30 min stationary bike.  PM: Circuits + 30 min bike.
  • Tuesday: 55 min bike with pick-ups.
  • Wednesday: AM: Walk-to-run (5 min walk, 6 x [2 min walk, 3 min run], 5 min walk) + 30 min bike.  PM: 30 min XT (20 bike, 10 erg) + full body lift.
  • Thursday: AM: 60 min bike.  PM: lots of walking in Málaga.
  • Friday: AM: Walk-to-run (5 min walk, 7 x [3 min run, 2 min walk], 5 min walk).  Later: 8 miles of hiking/walking in Málaga.
  • Saturday: off but walked almost 6 miles around Málaga
  • Sunday: 70 minute aqua jog in the ocean

Total: 7 running miles + 305 min XT + 8 walk/hike miles I’m counting

I’m not really sure how much to count the “walking miles” (like the “walk” portion of walk-to-run, and the hike) so I’ll just count a portion of them, haha 🙂

This was the second week of my walk-to-run program.  My athletic trainer sent me a plan at the beginning of the semester that I have been adjusting a little bit because it was made for people that have been out for 8+ weeks.  I don’t want to be too aggressive, but I think I can build up to “real” runs a little quicker than the plan entails.

IMG_4125.jpg

The beach in Málaga at “golden hour”

I was planning on doing a full-on bike workout on Tuesday, but my body felt pretty terrible, so I struggled through a regular bike session with some pick-ups.  I felt a lot better on Wednesday, and I even tried out the erg machine for the first time!

On Thursday, I used the elliptical for the first time in forever (during my injury, my doctor told me I was not allowed to use the elliptical), and it was noticeably harder on my foot than the bike but I enjoyed standing nonetheless.  After a viciously difficult exam on Thursday, three of my friends and I jetted off to Málaga for the weekend.

IMG_4118.jpg

Friday brought another walk-to-run and then a long day of hiking and exploring.  I crashed in the afternoon but revived for a trip to the beach and a late dinner.  It was nice to cook in our Airbnb!  We made a classic appetizer of toast with tomato and olive oil, followed by the main dish of pesto pasta with sautéed zucchini, carrots, spinach, and tofu.

IMG_4144.jpg

I took Saturday off from training, but we still walked almost 6 miles.  The day’s adventures included a sunset catamaran cruise, dolphin sightings, The Parent Trap, and midnight ice cream and birthday cake.

IMG_4219.jpg

Unfortunately, due to a sleep-mate issue, I hardly slept this weekend.  Also, we had a little bit of a fiasco this morning before we left to catch our train.  We got back around 1 pm, I hightailed it to the ocean and aqua jogged for 70 minutes, and as a result of all of the above, I feel sick and have completely slacked on the stretching.

Overall, this was a decent “first week” of training!  While I lacked workout efforts, I had a good lift and increased my running and made it through a long-ish aqua jog alone today 🙂

However, I reaffirmed for myself that I strongly prefer sleep and stretching over late nights and too much alcohol.  Málaga was super fun and I have no regrets, but I’m excited to rest and fuel my body well!

Things I did well:

  • Sticking to my walk-to-run schedule
  • Self-motivation during the week
  • Listening to my body and resting when it didn’t want to double or lift

Things I would like to do this coming week:

  • Be kinder to myself about my body
  • Don’t overindulge based on peer pressure
  • Spend less time perusing Instagram.  Do yoga/meditation instead 🙂
  • Sleep, stretch, and roll more!
  • Increase running but stay patient.  And actually do your rehab exercises.

Until next week, folks!

Summer Training 2018

(I wrote this post a week ago but had to publish it before I could start posting recaps!  Sorry for the lack of pictures)

Things that are terrifying when you combine them together: year after year of consistent summer training; a taste of success last year; five months of injury with very little running; and kicking off 2018 summer training by starting a walk-to-run program.

Greetings!  It’s hard to believe that it’s already June.  This is the month where summer training for cross country kicks off in full swing.  For the past several years, my daily summer routine has revolved around the day’s training and work.  However, as you know, I’ve been injured since January, the latest being a stress reaction in my second metatarsal that put me out for five weeks.  I’m essentially starting summer training with a base of zero.

This is honestly terrifying.  I’ve never been in this position before.  I was never really injured in high school, my mileage was low enough going into my freshman year of college that injury was essentially impossible, and I had great build-ups going into sophomore and junior year that helped me to some massive PRs.  I thought I knew the frustration that came with injury due to my bunion struggles in the spring of 2017, but I had no idea.  I was still able to train well, and I PRed in the 3k on the track and the 5k on the roads.  Looking back, I was freakin’ blessed!

Anyway.  Over the past five months, my body has changed, my mentality has changed, and my running goals for this year have changed.  After running 21:20 in the 6k last fall, my goals before the semester of injury were to break 17 minutes in the 5k on the track this past spring and be both the individual and team conference champion during cross country this coming fall.  These goals have not changed in and of themselves, but I am not going to put pressure on myself to achieve them this year.  I know my body will break again if I push it too hard too soon.

SO instead of the normal mileage build-up where I would start at like 30 miles and work up to 60+ and maintain around 55 and hardly do any cross training, I am going to spend the majority of the summer transitioning through a walk-to-run program and doing cross-training workouts.  My mileage is going to remain incredibly low for a frustratingly long period of time, and my cross country season may or may not be as successful as (the first half of) last year’s.  I might not run as fast.  I might feel a lot worse.  But I am going to cherish every second that I get to run because I now know what it’s like to not be able to run at all.  And then to ruin the little bit I did get to run this spring by ignoring the pain, racing a 5k on a stress reaction, and putting myself out of conference championship competition and endangering my cross country season.  Nice!

Tentative summer plan/goals for now:

  • Walk-to-run program until July
  • Build up mileage consistently and sustainably- if that means I’m only at 30 miles by the end of the summer, well, it’s better than zero.
  • Work hard on the bike and in the pool
  • Complete 2-3 long yoga sessions per week
  • Functional core and lifts
  • Foot rehab exercises
  • Sleep a lot!
  • Be inspired, not jealous, by teammates’ training

I’ll update you as I progress through the walk-jog and transition back to “real” running (I’m trying not to use that phrase, but you know what I mean!).  I’m in Spain for another 3 weeks, and I’m 2 parts loving it, 1 part homesick/ready for routine.

Sevilla y Granada

Time to catch you all up on some of our Spanish adventures!  No worries, my next post will be about summer cross country training. 🙂

IMG_8041.JPG

La Alhambra en Granada

Sevilla (5/26-5/27)

Last weekend, we went to Sevilla for two days!  It was only an hour and half ride from Cádiz, so we left on Saturday morning and returned on Sunday evening.

IMG_3495.jpgWe arrived at our hotel and almost immediately left for a two-hour walking tour of the city that ended at the Plaza de España.  The Plaza de España was beautiful, built in the shape of a “u” with a canal/moat, elegant bridges, and a fountain in the center of the square.

IMG_3504.jpg

After the walking tour, we had a bit of free time, so we ate lunch in the park next to the Plaza.  It was peaceful and beautiful, with gardens and fish and intermittent bouts of sunlight.

IMG_3555.jpg

We then walked some more and went on a tour of la Catedral de Sevilla, where we observed the incredible interior and climbed la Giralda, which was 33 flights of ramps.

IMG_3583.jpg

After the Catedral, we got to see a flamenco show!  (Photography prohibited).  Then we went to dinner, where we enjoyed several courses of tapas, fish, tinto, and a three-layer chocolate mousse cake that I would like to eat for the rest of my life.  That night, we went out for awhile, and I ended up walking 13 miles total that day.  RIP to the foot.

AB010859-D737-488C-B8B4-0A4CA9D41368.jpg

On our second day in Sevilla, we toured the Real Alcázar de Sevilla.  I loved it.  It was so peaceful and full of greenery and history.  I could have stayed there forever.  IMG_3632.jpg

We also toured the barrio de los judíos and some other places before climbing the Metropol Parasól, a weird wooden structure with great views of the city.

IMG_3644.jpg

After that, we ate lunch and wandered around before driving back to Cádiz.  Sevilla was super fun, but group sleep deprivation and a stolen phone made for a really rough second day for some people.  Yikes!

Granada (6/2-6/3)

This past weekend, we went to Granada.  The drive was a little longer than the one to Sevilla; it took about four hours, and I stubbornly tried to read a book on my Kindle the entire time even though I am prone to motion-sickness.  That went well 😉  After a minor bus breakdown, we arrived in Granada early in the afternoon and spent the evening looking at the shops, the Capilla Real, the Catedral, and of course Los italianos (ice cream).

IMG_3817.jpg

17th-century graffiti!  It says “victoria”, presumably after someone finished their exams

I loved the ceiling in the Capilla Real, and it blew my mind how long it must have taken to construct the Catedral, starting in the 16th century!

IMG_3820.jpg

I was feeling pretty sick that night, so I stayed in but didn’t sleep very much regardless.  Dang.  On the second day, we spent four hours exploring La Alhambra- the Islamic palace/fortress renovated in the 13th century.  My favorite part was the Generalife, which is the section of the palace where the kings would go on vacation.  It was tranquil and perfect, filled with lush plants, beautiful flowers, and trickling fountains.

IMG_3943.jpg

We then toured the actual castle portion, which was huge and luxurious and unbelievable.

IMG_3891.jpg

We climbed some towers, and the views were unbelievable.

IMG_3884.jpg

IMG_8109.jpg

No one I’d rather cram 5 people into a 3-person hotel room with

After many hours spent wandering the Alhambra, we crammed 27 people into a 15-person bus again and I spent the 10-minute ride down the mountain trying not to puke.  We ate lunch at a random restaurant, and I enjoyed another tinto de verano con limón, which has easily become my favorite alcoholic drink 🙂

IMG_3931.jpg

We rode the bus four hours back to Cádiz and arrived around dinner time.  I felt sick again, and my roommate has been sick all week, so we met our new housemates and I turned in early for the night.  I loved Granada, but I think it would be better to spend more time there, given the extent of the travel!

Málaga (6/7-6/10)

Next weekend, a few friends and I are going to go to Málaga to celebrate my friend’s 21st birthday.  We’re taking the train there and will spend the days hiking, sleeping, eating, and sunbathing (and probably running/biking if you’re me).  I’m super excited!

Cádiz Week 1

(I wrote this post before our Sevilla trip, so I’ll do another one ASAP about Sevilla because it was awesome!)

Buenos días!  We’re currently en route to Sevilla for the weekend.  I was working on a very subjective paper for my history/grammar class about finding your perfect match, but I’m feeling too cynical to continue that, so I’ll update you guys on our first week in Spain.

EADEDF55-4F00-40C0-838B-9C66E961C781.jpg

Taken in Sevilla

We’ve officially been in Spain for eight days (Cádiz for seven), and it honestly feels like we’ve been here forever.  After a free day last Sunday, classes started on Monday.  We’re all taking an art history class, an intermediate or advanced grammar/history/composition class depending on Spanish abilities, and conducting an independent research investigation over the course of the next month.

IMG_3091.jpg

View from the university

We have class from 9:30 am to 2 pm every day, with an hour-long break from 11-12.  A couple friends and I have been going to different café-bars during that break for una merienda: usually café solo (espresso) y un sandwich o tapitas.  After class, we go home and eat el almuerzo at 2 pm and then my roommate and I usually take advantage of siesta time from 2-5 pm if we don’t have a preplanned afternoon activity.  Almost everything closes during that time, and we’re usually in food comas from lunch, so it’s a perfect storm for a siesta.

Training-wise, after a weekend spent doing nothing but eating and traveling, I discovered last Monday that it’s entirely possible to aqua jog in the ocean!  The beach is right across the street from the university, and it’s calm and there are very few waves, which makes it perfect for aqua jogging and swimming.  I aqua jogged for an hour on Monday and Tuesday, and the views, sunshine, and vast expanse of water were a huge step up from my university’s windowless basement pool.

03D355F8-63F4-423B-92EB-42576F1A2414.jpg

I joined a gym on Wednesday afternoon, so now I have the ability to aqua jog and stationary bike and lift weights/do core.  I feel like myself again!  Not that working out is the main focus of my time here, but it’s nice to be able to train J  We walk to everything here, so I’m not too worried about training volume because I’ve been pretty tired from the walking.  I also don’t want to overdo it with my foot, although the plan is to do my first walk-to-run session this coming Monday.  I am pumped!  My foot has been feeling pretty good this week- I quit wearing the boot on Monday because it was just making the foot feel worse, and it was a pain in the butt to lug around for 5-6 miles every day.

14A580A0-A7D6-4F9C-AA0A-21ED1E19002D 2.jpg

So far, we’ve seen and done so many amazing things.  Cádiz is an incredibly beautiful, historic city, and the interior streets are a labyrinth of tiny stores, markets, plazas, and homes.  It’s completely unlike anywhere I’ve ever been.  Everything in the older part of Cádiz (where we’re staying) is within walking distance, so we’ve been meeting up in different plazas at night for helado or cerveza.

IMG_3085.jpg

On Tuesday, we got to visit Gadir, which is a super cool underground archeology site (Gadir was what the Phoenicians originally named Cadiz).  We also climbed the Torre de Tavira to see a birds’-eye view of the city, and it was incredible.  Their cámara oscura uses mirrors and sunlight to create a live panoramic view of the city—so it was like a photo but you could see the birds flying and laundry flapping and ocean waves in real time.  I was at a loss for words.

IMG_3210.jpg

We went to el Castillo de San Marcos on Friday, and it was incredible (and overwhelming) to be surrounded by such rich and sometimes violent history.  Parts of the interior dated back to the tenth century!  We got to tour the bodega and have a wine tasting.  We could see the bullet holes from the executions that occurred there.  I think I went through every emotion during our visit.

IMG_7554.JPG

 

As far as the food here, it’s a huge change from what I’m used to!  As I mentioned in the last post, breakfast is the smallest meal of the day and really doesn’t contain any protein.  Our host mom has started to learn our preferences, so I’ve been enjoying decaf black coffee before classes 🙂 My breakfast around 8:45 am consists of two pieces of pan tostada, topped with either almond butter and jelly or tomato with olive oil.  I usually have a piece of fruit as well.

EF32A2C7-A6E2-4CC3-AE26-622780110DED.jpg

La merienda

The almuerzo at 2 pm is the biggest meal of the day, but I usually get hungry before then, so I usually have a snack around 11 or 12.  This “snack” is usually espresso with either be a bar, fruit and nuts, or even an entire ham and cheese sandwich, haha.  Lunch at 2 pm is usually enormous and delicious, which is a wee bit tricky because I sometimes work out at like 3:30 pm while still very full.  Some examples of lunch:

  • A huge bowl of lentejas (lentils) y pasta, followed by tuna steaks and potato salad with vegetables and olive oil
  • Salmon with lemon and roasted eggplant and zucchini, followed by a big bowl of spaghetti with homemade meat sauce
  • A plate of meat and potatoes, and a plate of sautéed vegetables and olive oil with an egg on top

Yesterday, after spending the morning touring the Castillo de San Marcos en el Puerto de Santa María, we had a huge lunch.  After instructing us to eat a lot because dinner was going to be small, our host mom served us pretty much an entire chicken each, along with potatoes and a big pan of arroz con verduras y pescado.  I took her advice too literally and ate so much that I had to lie down for like 3 hours.  I dragged my butt to the gym at 6:30 pm and still felt like exploding, and I wasn’t even hungry for dinner (personal ham and cheese pizzas).  Oops! No regrets.  Well, maybe some regrets.

Anyway, as I mentioned, la cena (dinner) is small compared to lunch, although probably pretty normal-sized as I think about it more.  We’ve had omelets and a chicken-vegetable stir fry; last night’s personal pizza; lomo adobado y patatas al horno (marinated pork loin and roasted potatoes); etc.  Every meal ends in fruit.

IMG_3661.jpg

The biggest adjustments have been meal timing, not as many vegetables, and trying to figure out what time of day is best to work out based on how much we’re eating at different times of day.  It’s been interesting surrendering control of my diet to someone else and having every meal be a surprise.  I kind of miss oatmeal 😉  But we’ve eaten some truly incredible things- yesterday, the crispy chicken skin marinated in what tasted like sherry was divine- and I’m learning a ton about Spanish culture, Spanish cuisine, the intricacies and colloquialisms of the language, Cádiz history, etc.  I love it.

Now if I can just get more sleep…

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.

IMG_3055.jpg

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.

IMG_3024.jpg

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

IMG_3021.jpg

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.

IMG_3059.jpg

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!

IMG_2965.jpg

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!

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 🙂

IMG_2930.jpg

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.

IMG_2899.jpg

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.

IMG_2922.jpg

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.

Scott is smart.png

“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.

Tuesday workout 5:15:18.png

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!

IMG_7413.jpeg

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.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

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!

73E45A9A-E7C1-47B2-956D-7CBFFA39A2E2.jpg

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.

IMG_1499.jpg

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!

1DC9FBA8-9948-4211-B9DD-5100BC97F349.jpg

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 😉

IMG_1820.jpg

IMG_1825.jpg

IMG_1982.jpg

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!

IMG_2355.jpg

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.

IMG_2362.jpg

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!

C64DD58C-357A-419D-94C1-40064079C0BF.jpg

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.

IMG_2531.jpg

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!

IMG_2487.jpg

More later– my post-swim brain is dead 🙂