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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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.

 

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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 🙂

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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.

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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.

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Nice

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

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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.

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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 ❤

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 🙂

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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!

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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.

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

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We climbed some towers, and the views were unbelievable.

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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 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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 🙂

 

Summer Training Week 14: 58 miles + yoga + new apartment!

Greetings!  I’m back in my college town after a crazy, eventful week.  School doesn’t start until Wednesday, but practice starts on Monday.  I’ll recap this week’s training and then catch you guys up on what else has happened!

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Week 14 (8/21-8/27):

Monday: AM: drills, 8 miles on bike path/sidewalks, strides, core circuit.  PM: 2 miles.

Tuesday: workout at Burke Lake Park with teammate.  20 min warm-up, drills, 32 min tempo on trails, 20 min cool down.  Most of the tempo was mentally hard for me, but we encouraged each other and pushed it at the end.  Total: 10 miles.  Also- got my period back!

Wednesday: AM: glute activation, 6 miles on bike path, 10 min core.  PM: 1 hour slow flow yoga class.

Thursday: AM: 3 miles.  Packed car/moved into apartment!  PM: 7 miles on trails around campus- awful bathroom issues, yikes!

Friday:  2 mile warm-up, drills, fartlek with teammates (2×5 minutes, 2×4, 2×3, 2×2, 2×1 with half recovery), 2 mile cool down.  Ice bath.  Felt a little tight/tired because I had slept poorly and was sore from moving, but overall went well! Mentally strong. Total: 10 miles.

Saturday:  12 miles with teammates.  Pushed the first 8 miles (close to 7:00 pace) and then got on some trails.  Felt tired but not bad.  Ice bath.

Sunday: off + light core.

Total: 58 miles + yoga class

This week was kind of crazy!  It’s amazing how the miles add up when you’re distracted by major life events and don’t overanalyze every little running-related thing.  That being said- I definitely slacked on strength this week.  Aside from some half-hearted core, I did nothing

On Monday, I semi-spontaneously bought a car!  After looking on and off all summer, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to spend the year taking the bus, riding my bike, and/or begging my roommate for rides to and from our apartment 1.5 miles off campus.  However, I found a used car that was in my limited price range, went out and test-drove it, got more specs, and ended up buying it two days before I went back to school!  Can you say last-minute??  

Also got a haircut, but that’s not that exciting 😉

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Couldn’t keep a straight face

This week has also included a lot of treats, but it’s the last hurrah before we buckle down into racing season, so it’s okay, right!?  My family went to The Cheesecake Factory for a farewell dinner on Wednesday night; while the food wasn’t great (my chicken pot pie was less than stellar), the cheesecake was amazing.  We waddled out of the restaurant 😉

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Strawberry cheesecake, and cheesecake with fudge cake and chocolate truffle cream

On Thursday morning, I got in three miles before my mom and I tandem-drove down to my college town.  This year, my roommate and I are sharing an off-campus apartment.  We each have our own rooms and closets, along with a shared bathroom and kitchen/living/main room.  It’s not the most upscale apartment ever, but we’ll make do!  I’ll do an apartment tour post once we finish setting it up!

I’ve spent the past few days setting up the apartment, driving all over town to every single discount store ever, going to the farmer’s market and grocery stores, spending FAR too much money, running and hanging out with my teammates, not sleeping enough, and generally existing in a perpetual state of distraction and exhaustion.  Good times 😉  Practice starts tomorrow, classes start on Wednesday, and it’s off into another year of college!  I’m VERY excited and a little nervous about this year!

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Summer Training Week 13: 55 miles + yoga

The past week has been very eventful!  After an exhausting last week of work and running, I went to see Lifehouse, Switchfoot, and Brynn Elliott last Sunday with one of my best friends.  The concert was amazing…but we didn’t get home until midnight, and I’ve never felt less recovered after a recovery day. 😅 So I struggled through a morning run on Monday, skipped my double, and prayed that I’d feel better for our team training trip!  This week was sort of a down week- I still ran 54 miles… Isn’t it funny how our perspectives change based on where we’re at in training?

This morning, I went to a yoga class before heading to my favorite farmer’s market for the last time before I go back to school.  I swear, the people at this farmer’s market are the nicest, most compassionate people in the world.  Every time I go there, it restores my faith in humanity 🙂

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Lifehouse and Switchfoot concert!

Week 13 (8/14-8/20):

Monday: AM: 7 miles on bike path.  STRUGGLE- body is so tired.  Glute activation + push-ups.  PM: skipped my double, light core.

Tuesday:  Mosquito-infested workout with teammates on island soft surface: 20 min w/u, drills, 12-7-7 with 3 min recovery, 3 mile c/d.  Total = 11 miles.  Went really well!  I felt very strong mentally and physically.

Wednesday:  5 miles with teammates easy + core.  New shoes.  PM: eventful ocean swim with my freshman teammates in which we got caught in the riptide/current for awhile…

Thursday:  AM: 7 miles with teammates, drills, strides, strength (push-ups, lunges, roller abs, etc.) Lighthouse climb!  PM: 3 miles with teammates.

Friday:  Early workout with freshman teammate.  20 min w/u, drills, 7 x [3:00h, 1:00e], 20 min c/d.  Felt ok, not amazing.  Fewer mosquitoes!  Total: 9 miles.

Saturday: 13 miles on bike path.  Listened to podcast about accents.  Pretty humid/hot.  Took an energy gel at mile 9 and hammered the last 20 minutes.  Overall good run!  Trail was very crowded.

Sunday: off.  Vinyasa yoga class.

Total: 54 miles + 1 hour yoga class

Not the most interesting training week, but the concert and training trip were an absolute blast.  When Lifehouse played “You and Me” and “Hanging by a Moment” one right after the other, my friend and I almost cried.  We also got to meet Brynn Elliott after the show- she was incredibly affable and enthusiastic, and she’s only a year older than us!

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The training trip got off to an interesting start with a mosquito-infested workout on Tuesday morning.  Apparently, it was the worst mosquito day some of the locals could remember! A few of the girls looked like they had contracted a bad case of chickenpox.  Throughout the trip, we worked out together, went to the beach, climbed a lighthouse, ate immense amounts of ice cream every night, explored the island, saw wild ponies, had dance parties and ridiculous late-night talks, drank lots of coffee and took lots of pictures.  I am so happy this trip turned out as well as it did 🙂

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None of our seniors or fifth years came on the training trip, so the junior class (read: my class!) was unexpectedly thrust into leadership roles that we didn’t expect to have until next year.  One of my classmates organized the majority of the trip, and some of us took on the task of talking to the freshmen about team rules, team dynamic, goals, expectations, how each practice works, and college in general.  Everyone worked together really well with the cleaning, cooking, and carpooling.

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One of the freshmen and I ended up swimming far out into the ocean- farther than I had ever swum- which was exhilarating!  Until we got caught in a riptide/current that pulled us farther and farther out into the water.  There’s nothing like the feeling of being pulled backwards as you attempt to swim forwards.  This particular freshman and I are both pretty fearless, but even so, I felt a bit of apprehension as we made ZERO progress getting back to shore!  We eventually made it back by swimming with the waves and letting the current pull us around in a giant circle.  Phew!

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This trip was really good for my mental health and balance as well.  Reuniting with my teammates reminded me that all the hard work throughout the summer is done for a reason and reinvigorated me for the upcoming cross country season.  Also, a lot of last year’s top seven is in our senior/fifth year class, which meant that I was one of the faster and higher mileage runners on this trip.  Along with my fellow juniors and high mileage runners, I ended up leading workouts, runs, and conversations about college running for the freshmen.  It was surreal!

Since the juniors were the leaders on this trip, I really wanted to be a good role model for the underclassmen.  So this trip had the awesome effect of breaking unofficial routines and rules that I had gotten stuck in throughout the summer.  I just went with the flow.  Ice cream every night?  Absolutely yes.  Meals at weird times?  Waiting until 8 am to run- something that I hadn’t done all summer?  Staying up later than I had been comfortable with?  Relaxing in the afternoon?  I tried to say yes to everything.  Also tried to lead by example- post-workout recovery snack, rope stretching, foam rolling, treating myself, not hammering maintenance runs, and striking that tricky balance of relaxation and dedication to training.  I hope we (the juniors) did a good job.  The underclassmen reassured us that we did great, which was so gratifying 🙂

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One of the highlights from this morning was at the farmer’s market.  As I mentioned before, the people there are the nicest ever.  I stopped at one of the bread stands and made small talk with the woman who works there- we sort of know each other because the store where I work is very close with the farmers and small businesspeople from the market.  We talked about me going back to school, and when I tried to buy a lemon bite from her, she gave it to me for free and said, “save it for college”!  This happens all the time.  Do you see why I love it there??

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It was also really delicious.  The tangy glaze paired perfectly with the soft, sweet-yet-sour lemon pastry.

I also just adore the farmer’s market because you can find the most unique food items there.  Moroccan spiced carrot hummus?  Okra?  Dirt-cheap apples, peaches, and tomatoes?  Agave lime gazpacho??  I’ll probably miss it more than my home, to be honest…(mostly kidding).

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I’m going back to school and moving into my apartment later this week, so the next few days will be filled with planning, packing, (running) and convincing myself that I’ll be okay living 1.5 miles from campus without a car. 😉  I can’t believe summer is almost over!