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 🙂

 

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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 🙂

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

Glute Glory

Good morning!  Yesterday started bright and early because I had to retrieve my dog at 7 am so that my mom could finish up her long run without having to drag along a tired canine.  After we got home, I whipped up a delicious stack of healthy pancakes with fruit, maple syrup, and peanut butter.  Perfect Saturday breakfast 🙂

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Since I didn’t have a run yesterday, I was itching to do something endorphin-y after a morning of chauffeuring my brothers through typical Northern Virginia traffic to their various activities.  So I brainstormed, browsed Pinterest, and came up with a new strength workout to do after a quick 30-minute bike session.

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Yes, I did include stick figure drawings to remind me what some of the exercises were 😉

This workout works the whole core, but especially the glutes.  Sometimes, I feel like runners can get stuck in the 10-minute-ab-circuit trap and forget to work the other parts of their core.  The glutes are especially neglected, even though they are one of the most important muscle groups for efficient form and power in running!  They help stabilize the body, extend the hip, and propel you forward as you run.  Additionally, females have wider hips than males and are therefore more prone to instability and knee and hip problems because we are farther away from that “straight-line” ideal.

See why it’s important to strengthen the glutes?  I promise that this workout will leave your glutes burning.  In the best way.  By the time I got to the side plank leg raises, my body was shaking.

Next post will recap the first week of “summer”!

 

Pool workout: benefits of cross training!

When you have no Friday classes but still wake up naturally at 6 am and do a 70 minute pool workout…

The workout:

12 lap warm-up (lap = down and back)
4 x [6 laps hard/steady, 2 laps easy]
6 x [sprint down, easy back]
2 laps easy
5 x [submarine* down, easy back]
13 lap cool down

Total: 70 laps (3500 meters)

*submarine means swim under the water for as long as you can without taking a breath.  If you can make it all the way down, congrats– you are my idol!  This part of the workout made me breathe so hard, I thought my heart was going to come out of my chest.

The workout took about 70 minutes, and then I sat in the sauna and stretched for a bit.  Afterwards, I ate my pre-packed breakfast (chocolate banana overnight oats with plain nonfat Greek yogurt and peanut butter) before heading to the training room to do STIM and ice.  My feet are feeling a lot better while walking around, but it’s important not to push the impact too much too soon! Now I’m chilling in my favorite campus coffee shop, drinking coffee with almond milk and blogging instead of reading my accounting textbook 😉

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Cross training picture from the summer

Anyway, I thought I’d talk about some benefits of cross training!  When you’re injured, or fighting off little setbacks, there’s no excuse to not put in the work even if you can’t run.  (On the other hand, if you’re sick or have a serious injury, it’s absolutely okay to take some time off and give your body the rest it needs).

My go-to forms of cross training include the stationary bike, aqua jogging (don’t use the belt!), and swimming.  Our coach doesn’t love the elliptical, so we tend not to use it.

A few benefits of cross training:

  1. Reduces impact on your feet/joints.  If you’re in the middle of a high-intensity training block and your feet are screaming at you to quit pounding out 10 miles on the sidewalks every day (hey, relatable!), getting in the pool or on the bike can help you get in some volume in without risking injury.  It puts less stress on the weaker or more vulnerable parts of your body that are worn down by the constant pounding from running.
  2. Increases endurance, efficiency, and power.  As I said, some parts of this morning’s pool workout made me breathe harder than track workouts!  Good cross training form in the pool and on the bike also leads to greater efficiency by strengthening knee drive, arm swing, etc.
  3. Prevents burnout.  I’ll be the first to admit it– there are some days where I wake up and dread the day’s run.  “I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I hate running.”  Even if you are the world’s biggest lover of running, you’re not going to have a positive attitude every day.  However, throwing in a few cross training sessions can refresh your mind and body and keep your love for running going strong.  You look forward to something different, and you also end up looking forward to the next run because you had a day away from it!

Those are the biggest benefits for me.  There are myriad others, but I don’t want to make this post into a novel, so I hope the few that I mentioned will be helpful!

Winter training and life

(Written earlier this week)

Good morning!  I hope everyone’s weeks got off to a stellar start.  Mumford & Sons, coffee, and a beautiful sunrise on the way to work have made being stuck in a cubicle seem slightly more bearable 🙂  Less than a week until spring semester!!

I realized I haven’t really done a training/life update in awhile, so this will be rather long!  Over the past couple weeks, I’ve built back the mileage back up and started workouts, and except for some recent treadmill-induced piriformis and bunion pain, it’s been 80% smooth sailing.  I ran a 12 mile workout on the treadmill on Sunday!!

Week of 12/5-12/11: 39 miles, 60ish min XT

Week of 12/12-12/18: 44 miles + 40 min bike

Week of 12/19-12/25: 49 miles, 30 min bike

Week of 12/26-1/1: 53 miles

Week of 1/2-1/8: 54 miles + 25 min bike

Week of 12/26-1/1:

M: 3 miles recovery + core and yoga.  Sore hamstrings.

T: AM: 7 early morning miles, drills, strides.  PM: lift day 1 (lower body)

W: 3 mile warm-up, drills, 30 minute tempo (averaged 6:22ish), 3 min recovery, 4 x [:60, :60], 2 mile cool-down.  Total: 11 miles.

Th: 5 miles + core after work.  Mentally not great.

F: AM: drills, 6 early morning miles, strides.  PM: lift day 2, felt sick.

Sat: 3 mile warm-up, drills, 4 x 800 with 200m jog recovery (2:53, 2:53, 2:53, 2:52), lap, 6 x 400 with 60-75 seconds recovery (78, 78, 80, 78, 78, 77), 3 mile cool down. Total: 11 miles.

Sun: 11 miles on bike path.  My feet/bunions were killing me the whole time!  Limping by the end :/

Total: 53 miles

Both workouts that week went pretty well; I was on the canal for the first one and the track for the second one.  I was a little mental going into the track workout because I was alone and kept thinking I wouldn’t be able to hit the paces, but it ended up being fine!  Total: 10 miles. Most of the runs were decent as well, although I think randomly switching shoes made my feet really hurt towards the end of the week.  

Week of 1/2-1/8:

M: off; core + yoga

T: AM: 7 miles treadmill.  PM: drills, 2 miles to gym, strides, lift day 1.  22 total chin-ups!

W: 3 mile warm-up, drills, strides, 2 x 200 (37, 36), 3 x [4×400] w/ 1 min rest and 1 lap between sets (82, 82, 82, 82, 84, 80, 81, 81, 83, 81, 81, 81), 2k w/ 200 @ 5k pace and 200 around 48-50 seconds. (Total was 7:39).  Total = 11 miles.  Felt ok, not great, not bad.

TH: 5 miles early morning run, a little stiff but progressively better + core

F:  AM: 7 miles treadmill. Had to convince myself to actually stay on the treadmill. Piriformis pain.  PM: 25 min bike + lift day 2.  Felt a little weak today.

Sat: Snowy track workout! 3 mile warm-up, drills, 4 x mile with 2 min rec (6:09, 6:02, 6:00, 5:57), 3 mile cool down.  Total = 10 miles.

Sun: Treadmill long run workout.  3 mile warm-up, 4 x [7 min on at about 6:50 pace, 8 min off at about 7:50 pace], finished to mileage.  Total = 12 miles.

Total: 54 miles + 25 min bike

This week was solid!  The first half was uneventful.  Friday sucked, honestly– I had to talk myself through the treadmill run and was miserable and had a bunch of piriformis pain so I biked in the afternoon instead of running again.  I actually fell asleep at 7:30 pm for two hours and felt weirdly exhausted/disoriented for the next like 16 hours.  On Saturday, my teammate and I worked out together, and it went surprisingly really well considering the weather.  Sunday’s long run/workout went surprisingly well, too.  Changing the pace every mile actually made it a lot more bearable.  I didn’t push it too much, either.

Lifts have been going well; my pull-up ability isn’t progressing as quickly as I want it to 😉 but I’m getting there!  I’m better at chin-ups than parallel grip pull-ups, but I’ve been working hard on parallel pull-ups with the ultimate goal of being able to do all 3 sets of 10 unassisted.  At this point, I’m about halfway there!

Sleep is okay- I wish I could get nine hours every night, but I’ve probably been getting 7-8 as usual.  It’s better than nothing, I guess!  I’m working on getting off my phone before bed and writing a few things in a gratitude/reflection journal.

Work is work.

Surprisingly, I’ve been doing yoga at least once a week, which has been good.  I’ve never been into yoga- my mind doesn’t turn off and I rush through the exercises and I’m inflexible as heck- but I have to admit I always feel better after doing it, even if it’s just stretching.  Honestly, one of the more challenging parts is the “corpse pose” at the end– put on a peaceful song, turn off the lights, and lie motionless/relaxed for the duration of the song.  It’s a great way to clear your mind and forget about everything else that happens during the day.  Although it usually takes me most of the song to wind down my brain and truly relax!

Go-to corpse pose songs:

  • “I See Fire”- Ed Sheeran
  • “Only Time” – Enya
  • “Corazon Sin Cara”- Prince Royce (this was the jam in eighth grade)
  • “Atlas Hands”- Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Tangentially, I watched the documentary “Minimalism” a few nights ago, and it was enlightening.  My dad is a hoarder, so I developed minimalist tendencies as a coping mechanism around the age of 14, but those have all but disappeared.  However, I’ve made it a goal to somewhat de-clutter (my dorm room, my life, etc).  We’ll see how that goes 🙂  I really appreciated their analysis of how minimizing your lifestyle can help with relaxation of the mind and enable you to step away from the chaotic, constant stimulation of modern society.  It’s good for the brain.

I finished this blog post and my coffee at exactly the same time.  How convenient.

Coffee and Core

Happy Sunday!  I ventured out into the sixteenth consecutive day of gloomy weather and completed a nice little five-mile run to end a 17-mile week 😉  Afterwards, I enjoyed a lovely breakfast of oatmeal, yogurt, coffee, and bacon.  And Gone Girl.

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I thought I’d share my go-to core routine on this lovely, rainy Sunday.  (Seriously.  Enough with the rain.)

I didn’t start doing core exercises on a regular basis until the end of sophomore year of high school, and throughout high school my core routines were about five minutes long.  Which is better than nothing!  But I wasn’t really pushing myself to get stronger.  A strong core is vital for running efficiency and injury prevention.  When you’re at that point in a workout or race when your arms and legs get heavy, a strong core will prevent your form from breaking down, and you’ll waste less energy!

Once I got to college, we were doing some form of body-weight strengthening every single day, and improvements were noticeable.  The planks and bicycles and toe touches that I found impossible in high school have become just another thing to check off as I move through the routine.

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Feel free to make the routine longer by adding any exercises you wish to!  Don’t forget to incorporate back strengthening exercises such as bridges, Superman, donkey kicks, etc.  The back muscles are often neglected when they are a vital part of your core.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you do the same exercises in the same order every time, your muscles get used to it and you stop seeing as many benefits.  It’s important to mix it up and try new exercises, or a new order!  I’d suggest asking other people for their core routines; a few years ago, one of my good friends and I exchanged our “favorite” abs exercises.  As a dancer, she is physically one of the strongest people I know, and her “favorite routine” was killer.  It still is.

After completing this routine, if it’s still raining, I’d suggest foregoing all planned outdoor activities, curling up with a nice cup of coffee (or tea…I know I’m a traitor) and reading Gone Girl.  Or maybe that’s just what I’ll be doing…

Rain, rain, please go away.

 

How do we handle bad days?

Damn, my last post was so optimistic and positive!  Sorry in advance for the negativity today, but I hope I can come to some good conclusions.

On Monday, I ran six miles with my friend, and we hammered.  We were hitting 7:00 flat.  I was not recovering from my long run.  I skipped the strides just because they didn’t fit in to where I had run, and I did upper body circuits and abs when I got home.  I’ve recently been really into Siggi’s yogurt, and I tried the orange and ginger flavor for post-run fuel.  It was incredible.IMG_8687.JPG

Yesterday started out mediocre and turned horrible, both running and otherwise.  After some emotionally traumatizing family issues last night, I went to bed emotionally and physically exhausted, slept badly and wasn’t particularly in the mood to work out.  The temperature rocketed up to a sunny 80 degrees (what happened to last Friday’s ice storm??), I sat in the car for two hours while taking my mom to the airport, and I was annoyed at having to bear more responsibility for my brothers and the house this week.  Not an ideal way to get ready for a workout.

The workout was simple: 4 x 1600m at 6:00-6:10 with 1 minute recovery.  I warmed up for 20 minutes, did drills and strides, and started the workout.  My first 1600 was a 6:06 and felt fine, although once I stopped, my heart was pounding really hard.  I took 90 seconds and started the second 1600.  This one was immediately bad; my legs wouldn’t move, I was nauseous due to the heat and got even more upset because of that, and it escalated.  I think I hit like a 6:35 or 6:40.

I called my coach, and she told me to get off the track and do a fartlek of 4-3-2-2-1-1 minutes with half-time recovery.  I ran 5 minutes to the bike path and did the fartlek, but I could tell early on that the heat was really getting to me.  (Remember how much trouble I had once it started getting warmer last year?)  After barely completing the second 2-minute interval, I cut off the 1 minute intervals and jogged back to the track.  Guzzled water and jogged a 1.5 mile cool down for a total of 9ish miles today.

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I only had time for 5 minutes of lunges and squats and no stretching before I had to get in the car and go pick up my brother.  I wolfed down a cookies and cream Quest bar, hopped on the highway, and sat in front of his school for 20 minutes with no one answering their phones before I learned that he was at home the whole time!  So I was sedentary for 50 minutes right after a horrible workout for no reason.  My mood worsened.  I sped out of the middle school and stretched and took an ice bath the second I got home.

Anyway, yesterday was definitely not the best day.  But it’s important to stay positive.  I’ve already recognized the factors contributing to the shitty day: heat, hammering my maintenance run yesterday, sitting in the car, emotional trouble, etc.  But hey, at least I got some work in!  Even if it wasn’t quality work.  And I’ve been doing really well with balancing mostly quality foods with rare indulgences recently, and I’ll continue to drink lots of water, and try to get some sleep and recover well so that the next workout is better.

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We can’t control everything, and sometimes things just don’t go our way.  But we can make sure to do well at the things we can control: fueling properly, going to bed at a reasonable time, staying off of social media (I need to work on this!), and working through our emotions (I need to work on this, too!)  I’m a little bitter that this spring break isn’t going to be as “spring break”-y because I’m essentially stuck babysitting my brothers all week, but I need to get over that and focus on everything I’m lucky to have.

Last night’s dinner of leftover butternut squash/kale/Gruyere casserole, roasted pork, roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon and coconut oil, and (unpictured) mini heirloom tomatoes cheered me up slightly 🙂

The past month

Hi everyone!  Sorry I haven’t blogged in a month!  Training and life have both been a little bit hectic due to various factors, but I have some spare time on this lovely Friday night, so I thought I’d catch up on life.

After the 6k in the middle of October, my coach told me that I had a choice.  I was technically one of the top 12 on the team and could therefore race at conferences, but I wouldn’t race at regionals because I wasn’t top seven.  Therefore, I could either use a whole season of eligibility on one race, or I could redshirt.  Since wasting an entire season of eligibility on one race where I wouldn’t even score didn’t make any sense at all, I chose to redshirt this cross country season.

The week or two following was filled with tons of amazing food, a visit from my best friend from home for homecoming, a trip across the river to the pumpkin patch, schoolwork, and low-key nights with the team as they prepared for conferences and regionals.  Good times.

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I love dogs (this dog lives at my friend’s house)

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Our new horse friend

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Pumpkin patch! The pumpkin ice cream there was AMAZING

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Halloween! Snow White and one of her dwarves, Sneezy (yes, there were seven dwarves)

The week after the 6k, I had a great mile repeats workout where I went 5:58, 5:50, 5:50, 5:50 on a not-completely-flat bike path.  It was hard but a great confidence booster!  I was in the best shape of my life.

Then, I got sick.  I had a hacking cough, sore throat, fatigue, and I got my period at the same time, so it was one of the most miserable weeks of my life.  I felt so poorly that my schoolwork/grades suffered.  Guess it was a good decision not to race at conferences! 😉

After about a week, I was just getting worse, so I graduated from going to the athletic trainer to an actual doctor.  He told me I had a sinus infection that had gravitated downwards and caused my awful cough, and he prescribed me antibiotics.  My head coach is pretty conservative about the whole illness thing, so even though I had the doctor’s permission to run while taking the antibiotics, he limited me to an hour of cross training for several more days.  I completed my first 80-minute cross train on Saturday, November 7th, and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever done.  My friend brought me the best cupcake of my life as a reward!

My team rocked conferences, with both teams destroying the (not very good) competition.

After a week completely off and a week of cross training, I finally started running again last week!

Monday 11/10: 6 miles, lift
Tuesday: 6 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles, lift
Thursday: 6 miles, lift
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: off
Sunday: 8 miles.

Total: 37 miles

I just did maintenance runs all week, no workouts, so that was fun.

The low point of the entire season occurred at regionals last Friday; one of our top runners found out she had two fractures and therefore couldn’t race, and our team didn’t make NCAAs for the first time in four years.

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NCAA D1 Southeast Regional Championships

It was really sad, especially for the seniors, and the weekend following was insane- physically, emotionally, and otherwise.  It was pretty intense.  Weird things happened.  Weird decisions were made.  I won’t go into detail, but you can imagine.

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Mood-boosting trip to an apple orchard after regionals

But on the plus side, our top runner (not the one with fractures) made NCAAs individually! She got one of two at-large bids given out across the entire country.  She’s amazing, both as a runner and a person.  She will be racing in Louisville tomorrow and vying for her first All-American honors.

Core Four takes Team Thanksgiving <3

Core Four takes Team Thanksgiving ❤

I started workouts again this week; my first one back was Tuesday with 10 x 400 with avg 75 seconds rest.  It actually felt pretty good!  I think I averaged 79 or so- nothing crazy.  Didn’t want to push too hard after three weeks without workouts.

Today, I did 3 x 1000 at 3:37 followed by 5 x 400 starting at 80 and dropping down to 74-75.  2 minutes’ rest between everything, although I took a little extra time after the first 400 because the area near my anterior tibial and peroneal was acting up on my right leg.  Not fun.  After that workout, we had a leg lift, and now my legs are very tired!  I went out to dinner with a few of my teammates, and I had a margherita pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and a skillet cookie.  Post-workout fuel at its finest. 😉

We are so close to Thanksgiving break, it’s ridiculous.  I have a lot of work to get through over the next few days, but after Tuesday, I get to go home and gorge myself and run on the bike trails I’ve missed for three months and see my dog!

My first race in uniform is two weeks and one day from today.  Excited to get back on the track, and a little apprehensive to see what kind of shape I’m in after my illness and many months away from the track.