400 meter repeats

Greetings from my bed, where I will be spending the rest of this #lit Friday night.  I don’t have class on Fridays, so after completing a quick two-mile shakeout and savoring the luxury of having time to make my favorite oatmeal breakfast, I spent a quality day with my accounting textbook, legal textbook, and Spanish paper before heading to practice.

We had a track workout today (my first full one back!), and afterwards a group of us went out to dinner! Dinner was delicious, and not what I usually eat!– I had a gyro on pita with lots of tzatziki sauce, a mountain of french fries with ketchup, and a cannoli– but I think I went a little overboard with the dairy today.  That, coupled with a hard track effort and first ice bath in awhile, has made my stomach feel less than stellar.  So I’m just going to drink some tea and watch Chicago Fire and get ready for the long run bright and early tomorrow morning 🙂


(Stole this photo from my friend’s Facebook)

Anyway!  Today’s track workout marked the first full workout I’ve done in three weeks!  On Tuesday, one of my teammates and I did 5 x 800 (2:55, 2:52, 2:51, 2:51, 2:50) and felt good about the paces but was sore for days afterwards.  But that was not quite a full workout 😉  Today, most of the team was either doing their pre-meet run and strides in preparation for their races tomorrow, but five of us were on the track.

The workout was straightforward: 20 minute warm-up; drills; strides; 3 sets of [4×400] with a lap on the turf in between sets; 3 mile cool down.  The first set was at 5k pace (82) with 60 seconds recovery, second set was at 3k pace (78) with 90 seconds recovery, and last set was around mile pace or faster (76) with 2 minutes recovery.

Set 1: 81, 82, 81, 81
Set 2: 78, 76, 76, 77
Set 3: 76, 76, 76, 72

It was very gray and gloomy the whole time, but we had a blast.  I was very pleased with the workout.  It was definitely hard and a bit of a shock to these legs that have gotten complacent with being slow-twitch over the past three weeks, but I felt comfortable hitting the times!  Our group of three worked very well together, and the longer rest really helped us continue to feel good as the intervals got faster.

On the last interval, our coach had all five of us start together in a kind of “free for all”, and they took it out hard.  The last 150 was one of the longest 150 meter stretches I’ve ever run in my life.  The lactic acid was brutal… But I split a 72, so that was a nice rust-buster!  If only I could hold that for 7.5 laps to run a 9:00 3k 😉 (or even just one 4:48 mile would be nice.)


Also stolen from friend’s Facebook

Total mileage for the day was around 11, counting the morning shakeout.  Working out with teammates is awesome.  I love it.  I missed it so much.  Today was a surprise confidence booster and showed me that my fitness is still in a good place.  See- pool workouts really do work!!


Last week before REGIONALS

Happy Sunday!  I spent the morning at a new cafe across from my dorm reading about devalorized femininity in the military and studying for an accounting midterm.  The coffee shop’s aesthetic was amazing; the prices and products, not so much.  This afternoon will be spent checking more things off the to-do list but also relaxing 🙂

The past week has been interesting.  Physically, both my workouts were good and my runs felt fine.  I belatedly switched to new trainers and SuperFeet inserts, so my legs and feet have been sore.  Emotionally, I was a little bit rollercoaster-y.  Gotta love feelings :/

Week of 10/31-11/6:

  • M: AM: 3 miles + core.  Started using new shoes.  PM: 2 lap w/u, speed ladder, hurdle drills, 7 miles, 4 x 150 strides, pull-ups/push-ups/dips, 10 min yoga.
  • T: 20 min w/u, drills, strides, 2 miles controlled up-tempo (~12 min?), 6 min run back to track, 2 x [1000, 600] with 2 min rec.  3:30, 2:00, 3:29, 2:00.  Felt pretty controlled.  3 mile c/d, lower body lift in weight room.
  • W: 5 miles trails + core.  PM: massage on tight quads and calves.
  • Th: AM: 2 lap w/u, speed ladder, hurdle drills, 7 miles, 6 x 100 strides, upper body lift in weight room.  PRed in amount of unassisted chin-ups (17 out of 24) and underhand cable row!  (The next day I was very sore.)  PM: 3 miles
  • F: 20 min w/u, drills, strides, 2 x 800 w/ 200 recovery run (2:48, 2:49), 3 x [4 x 400] w/ 60s rest first set, 90s second set, and 2:00 last set.  [80, 78, 77, 77], [76, 75, 75, 76], [75, 75, 75, 75]. Very windy!  Focused on cycling/turning over quickly.  3 mile c/d
  • Sat: shorter long run 9-10 miles.  Not great.
  • Sun: off
Total: 54ish miles.
Both my workouts were good; it’s fun being able to hit paces you couldn’t hit even a few weeks ago!  On the other hand, Saturday’s (shorter) long run was pretty bad.  But afterwards, my teammate’s parents hosted a delicious brunch at their cute house.  Bagels, banana bread, fruit, yogurt, spreads, French toast bake, coffee, amazing apple cider melded with orange zest…  And their house was straight out of a Pottery Barn catalogue.

PSA: My mom finished her first marathon!  She is officially a marathoner 🙂


The finish of the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon

Another highlight from the past week includes the best oats of my life:


The secrets to the best oats ever:  Use almond milk, and cook shredded apple directly into the oatmeal.  I microwaved 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and a splash of vanilla extract halfway, added the shredded apple, and finished cooking the oats.  I then added cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and the rest of the apple.  They were unbelievably creamy and amazing.

Last night, my roommate and I cooked dinner in the dorm before going to see “The Girl on the Train.”  I read the book so I knew what was coming, but the ending…damn.  It was cringe-worthy in the best way.

Dinner: pan-seared steak, spaghetti squash with basil/onion marinara, sauteed zucchini, and roasted Brussels sprouts.

We leave for NCAA D1 Regionals in just a few days, and I couldn’t be more excited!  I can’t believe it’s almost here!

One of my top 5 hardest workouts

(OK, I actually did write this post this morning; I just forgot to publish it.)

Good morning!  It’s a beautiful spring day, I just finished my 3-mile double, and I thought I’d talk about Tuesday’s track workout while I eat a lovely breakfast of Greek yogurt, Wawa coffee, oatmeal with apple/chia seeds/almond butter/cinnamon, and of course my daily multivitamin.  No class until 12:30. 🙂


Oatmeal is THE ugliest food ever but still so good

All right!  Tuesday’s workout…Let’s just say I have no trouble recalling the experience because my body still despises me two days later.

The (good? bad?) thing about getting fitter and faster is that your coaches will adjust your workout paces accordingly.  On Tuesday, I was put in sort of a new workout group.  We went out for our 3 mile warm-up and then did drills and strides before our coach told us the workout.

5 x 400 at 77-75 seconds, 4 x 800 at 2:38, 4-5 x 400 at 77-75 seconds


What actually happened: 5 x 400 at 76-75 seconds, 3 x 800 at 2:43, 2:47, 2:48, 1 x 600 at 2:04, 4 x 400 at 78, 77, 76, 76

By the time the first 5 x 400 was over, it felt like I’d already done an entire workout, and we were less than 1/3 done.  Our coach told us to hit 79 for each lap of the 800s (um, what), but I’m pretty sure the only time I ran 79 was the first lap of the first 800.  Each one after that got slower and slower.  And they were still fairly faster than I’m used to!  By the third 800, my legs were immovable logs and I was pretending the 800s were 600s because the last 200 doesn’t matter amirite 😉  So I’d get to 600m and then just death-march the last 200.  My coach modified my 4th 800 to a 600 (bless).

Am I being dramatic?

For the last set of 400s, she had us do the first two backwards on the track, which was pretty weird.  I led the last three 400s and at that point I was just riding the pain train home.  We hit 78, 77, 76, and 76.

After a 3 mile cool down in which we were so destroyed that we were babbling nonsensically, we completed a leg lift and then stretched, rolled, and ice bathed.


Choosing my post-workout treat was hard (I chose a truffle)

The next morning, my roommate and I both woke up to cross train, fairly hobbled to the rec, and I sat at the edge of the pool for a little bit because I just could. not. get. in. Everything hurt.  I felt like a zombie.  But this is the work that will give us an edge in future races!

natalie email.png

In my meeting with my coach yesterday, she brought up a really good point (see above).  I’m at an entirely new fitness level for myself right now.  While the paces she gives me may sound scary, she gives them to me because she thinks/knows I can hit them.  Just because I’ve never run that fast before doesn’t mean I can’t do them now.  I need to work on believing in myself in races and in workouts when I get to the point where I can either make a move or stay where I am.  In this new fitness territory, it’s all about confidence!

Kickass track workout (+ macronutrient update)

GuEsS wHaT!  I had an amazing track workout today.

The workout:

  • 3 mile warm-up, dynamic drills, strides
  • 5 x 1000m, 5 x 400m progressively faster with 2 minutes rest
  • 3 mile cool down
  • leg lift

I hit 3:40, 3:39, 3:39, 3:38, 3:37 for the 1000s and then ran 81, 79, 77, 75, 73.9 for the 400s.  It. Was. Awesome!  The weather was pretty much perfect, and I felt really good throughout the whole workout, and my roommate and I twinned.IMG_4156.jpg

I think being back on campus with the whole team really helped everybody out today.  Running last week was sub-par, and my workouts were trash.  I arrived back on campus on Sunday morning and did eleven miles by myself on some of the sidewalks and trails in the area.  It was a decent solo run, even though I cheated and brought my iPod for some jams.

Just being in a workout group today, with the coaches on the track and the whole team working so hard, made it so much easier and more fun to get through the whole workout.  Everyone was super supportive of each other, it was 70 degrees and sunny, and we finally have most of the team working out and/or getting healthy after an indoor season plagued by injury and illness.  Our first outdoor meet is this Saturday, and we’re all working toward a common goal.

Days like today don’t come around that often, but it was a great first workout back on campus.  I adore being on campus and being in a routine with the whole team here.  I don’t want to go home for the summer! 😉

Tangentially, we’re going to take a minute to admire my new nut butter acquisitions.  I went a little bit crazy over spring break.  Some of it was on sale, okay…


Tragically, I left the maple almond butter and vanilla almond butter at home.  But the chocolate coconut peanut butter, which I’d never had before either, is holy-crap-amazing.  I am partial to just plain creamy unsalted almond butter and peanut butter, though.  Why mess with a good thing?

Also, since I like to be relatively transparent, here’s my nutrition update:  I have been roughly tracking my macronutrients recently.  Our coach had a talk with us last month about the “right” carbohydrate-fat-protein ratio and how we should be consuming 40% carbs, 30% fat, and 30% protein.  Well, I tried that- or at least, I tried 45% carbs, 30% fat, and 25% protein because I couldn’t quite make myself hit 40-30-30- and yeah, I don’t think it’s for me.  My energy levels were in the toilet (which was also probably due to upping my training intensity at the same time I decreased carbs and increased protein).


Some kick-ass steak and chicken kebabs from last week

Macronutrient percentages are not a one-size-fits-all type of deal.  Not all athletes thrive on 40-30-30.   I changed mine to about 50% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein, and that’s been working a lot better for me.  Remember, this is just a rough estimate.  Some days, I do end up with a 40-30-30 balance.  Other days I eat 35% fats because #peanutbutter.  Some days (like today!) close to 60% of my calories come from carbohydrates because a) all the food in the caf sucked so I had pasta and salad all day and b) uh, all I craved after today’s workout were fruits and vegetables (aka carbs!!)


Anyway, that’s my nutrition update!  Lesson- don’t stress about hitting macronutrient goals because your body needs will fluctuate to go along with your physical activity.

As I mentioned before, our first outdoor meet is this weekend!  I’m running the 3k on Saturday, and today’s workout was a nice confidence booster for the race.  Towards the end of last week, I was feeling very negative and not “race ready”, but there’s not too much pressure for this race since it’s an outdoor rust-buster.

Long workouts with speedy teammates

I’m happy to say that this week’s training has been going pretty well.   Last week, I cut Tuesday’s workout short and didn’t work out for the rest of the week.  I didn’t even do a long run on Sunday, just an 8 mile MR+.  My total mileage for last week was a whopping 31 miles…not good.

There’s been some ankle and arch pain for the past couple days as I adjust to my orthotics, but I’ve been able to train through it.  I also just received my training schedule for the next 4 week training cycle, and if I play my cards right, I might hit 50 mpw! I’ve never done that before.  This week will be between 44 and 47, along with increased cross training.

Anyway, I was able to work out on Tuesday (off the track) and Friday (partially on the track!!).

Friday’s workout was possibly the longest workout I’ve ever done.  My coach put me in a group of about six where I was the only freshman and every single other person was significantly faster than I was.  Running with the “big girls”, as she put it! (9:30-10:00 3ks, 16-17 minute 5ks.  5 minute miles are relatively commonplace among these ladies.)

Workout: 10 min run, 5ish mile progression run (took me about 33 minutes) on a very hilly road, 10 min run back to the track, relaxed 4 x 400m with 200m jog (78, 78, 79, 76), 15 min cool down.  Total = 11 miles.

I was able to stick with the group for the first half of the progression run, struggling right before the turnaround as we crested a steep hill.  That hill took a lot out of me, and I lost contact with the girls and therefore ran the entire second half alone in the woods.  I fell apart in the fourth mile but rallied during the last few minutes and finished okay.  Honestly, I hit the point where my legs just did their own thing during the last mile and I went along with them.  It was kind of cool, actually.


After I regrouped with the rest of the girls, we ran for ten minutes back to the track and then did 400s.  It was my first bit of track work in six weeks!  My coach told me to just aim for 2 400s, but after 2 I was feeling good, so I got the okay to do the other two.  I was pumped to be running 76-78 for the 400s with little to no trouble at all!  After a progression run and no timed speed work in forever!

We cooled down for 15 minutes for a total of 11 miles, aka the longest workout day of my life!  After leg lift, stretching, rolling, ice bath, and core, some of my teammates and I made dinner: steak, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, followed by baked Quest bars (cookies and cream, double chocolate chunk, and s’mores) for dessert.  We did all of this in a dorm kitchen! So good.  Gotta replace that heme iron 😉


This weekend is pretty busy since we’re hosting a half marathon/5k/fun run tomorrow.  Today, I’m doing homework, running 3 recovery miles, cleaning/doing laundry, and helping to prepare the arena for the race “expo” tomorrow.  I’m currently hanging out in a cute little coffee shop on campus while I work on macroeconomics.


Tomorrow, I’ll run eleven miles early in the morning and then spend the rest of the day working the races and doing a group project in the evening.  Spring break is in a week!  Maybe I’ll get to go skiing!


♫Is it too late now to say sorry♫…

…to my coaches and my calf for running yesterday’s workout way too fast?

But first: Monday’s lunch!  ‘Twas simple yet gorgeous.


PB&J, carrots, sugar snap peas, pretzels, edamame, and plain Greek yogurt with strawberries

After an easy (finally!) six miles on Monday, my calf wasn’t feeling great but the rest of me was raring to go.   The workout was the usual 20 minutes warm-up, drills, and strides, and then 4 sets of 3-4 x 400.  The freshmen (so, me) were instructed to only do 12 total, so I did 4 sets of 3.  The first set was supposed to be at lactate threshold pace, the second set at 10k pace, the third at 5k-3k pace, and the fourth at 3k-1500 pace, with rest time increasing as pace increased and a lap between sets.

But…um…it’s really hard to go lactate threshold pace for 400s.  The “comfortably hard” pace is ideal for pace runs and sometimes even mile repeats, but for speedwork?  Clearly, this workout stressed control, and I failed miserably.

Anyway, I warmed up to the track and cycled through the usual dynamic stretches and strides.  My first set of 3 was 87, 86, 85, which is definitely not my lactate threshold pace but definitely not hard either.  I was itching to go faster.  This pattern of “way too fast” continued for the rest of the workout…


  • 1st set: 87, 86, 85
  • 2nd set: 82, 83, 82
  • 3rd set: 82, 82, 79
  • 4th set: 79, 76, 73

At least I decreased every set…

This workout included a lot more rest than I’ve had in awhile, and I felt good throughout the entire workout because of it.  I ended up circling the track during the same time my high school team was doing mile repeats.  On my last 400, the varsity boys were about 50 meters in front of me, and I was still full of energy from holding back the rest of the workout and really wanted to catch them, so I hammered…and I caught them.  Probably not the best decision, and it left my calves burning, but mentally, it was great. 😉  All in all, it was a good workout, even if it was much faster than it should’ve been!

Sorry, coaches.  Sorry, calves.  Please forgive me.

After a 20 minute cool down (total = 9 miles) and a couple of balance circuits, I refueled with plain Greek yogurt, melted frozen raspberries, and chia seeds.


Yes, those are my workout instructions on my hand.  No, I did not follow them.

Followed by a lovely dinner of 2 bowls of homemade lentil soup, as well as toasted French bread with olive oil.


The other night, my brother made cinnamon roll waffles… Just stick the Pillsbury dough in a waffle maker.  Decadent cinnamon rolls in waffle form!  Amazing.


Today, one of my college teammates drove up, and we met up for lunch before he went off to explore the DC area.  It was great catching up with him after not being at college for a month!  I worked my way through 4 huge pieces of the same pizza from a couple weeks ago to fuel up for my super difficult cross train. 😉  Only did 50 minutes of stationary biking (60 on my schedule but only had time for 50) to give my calves and the rest of my body a bit of a break as I work through this high mileage week.  I completely failed at the post-cross train stretching, though.


When you have to cover the numbers display with a sweatshirt so you don’t look at it every 5 seconds…

Gorgeous sunset after stationary biking.


Dinner was once again incredible thanks to my mother.   Roasted pork loin with barbecue sauce, sweet potato, green beans, and a butternut squash/swiss chard/Gruyere casserole type thing that was quite delicious.  I might post the recipe!


Tomorrow, I have the usual Thursday maintenance run, strides, and strength work.  Just a few more days until the return to school!

Fitness update (TL;DR: I’m a moron)

I have come to the conclusion that the universe is against me when it comes to running. (This is going to be a very pessimistic post 😉 )

I stopped my normal training volume at the end of January, and cross trained/biked/ran easy a few times for five weeks.  I hoped that backing off would make the tendonitis/bunion pain/etc. go away, but I wasn’t cautious enough.

States was postponed by 1.5 weeks, and I ran a 2:24 800 leg a week and a half ago.

We then took a week completely off: no running, no cross training, no strength training.

Last Monday, I jumped back into running too quickly (5 miles) and strained my hip flexor.  I iced/rolled/stretched a lot on Monday and Tuesday, and ran easy on Tuesday.  I completed a track workout (8x400m) on Wednesday, starting at 85 and working my way down to 77.

After the workout, my legs felt great but sore from lunges on Tuesday.  I had my mom give me a massage.

The massage aggravated my piriformis muscle, causing intense pain whenever I walked, carried a backpack, or sat down.  I was in a lot of pain on Thursday and didn’t run.

Yesterday, practice was cancelled, so I took another day completely off.

My hip and feet felt great today, so I was going to run about 30 minutes very easy.  Unfortunately, I got sick.  Another day of no running.


Total tally: it has been about eight weeks since being able to really train.  I somehow busted out a decent time in the 800 a week and a half ago, and I idiotically jumped back into training last week.



it’s time to be smart.  I’ve wasted too much time being stupid and dangerous and hurting my body.  It’s been two months since real training, so obviously I have to be more cautious.  I’ve taken three days off and am going to a sports massage therapist tomorrow.  Then, I plan to run extremely short and extremely easy since I’ve had a few days with no pain.