Senior Year of College

Aaaand a month later, here’s another post.  This always happens.  Sorry, friends!!

I started the day off with a nice bowl of pumpkin chocolate oatmeal before going to do my long cross train of the week.  Yes, I’m still injured.  90 minutes of biking and aqua jogging later, I’m back in my apartment and ready for a nap.

To catch up briefly on the last month of my life, the end of summer was full of work, fun times with teammates on training trips, horrible travel days, and lots of reckless biking in the mountains!

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The OG 3 ❤

We had one training trip in the Poconos, followed by another training trip the day after the first one ended in Banner Elk, North Carolina.  What was already going to be a marathon travel day turned into a nightmare when my bike fell off the back of my car on the PA turnpike, then my car battery died, then the subsequent four-hour delay (and $200 new battery) caused my passenger to miss her train by four minutes, then I got locked out of my apartment for the night when I finally did make it to my college town 14 hours after the travel day began.  At least it makes for a good story!

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The training trips were fun and useful for team morale and building a championship culture, but it was nearly impossible for me to train on the second one since I couldn’t run.  I was frustrated and ready to have a little time away from constant stimulation by the end of the eight days 😉  On the plus side, it was nice and cool and picturesque everywhere we went!

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The road was awful for biking, but at least the views were amazing!

Most of us were in town for about a week before classes started, so we spent that time training, going out to eat, and getting ready for the year!

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Classes began a week and a half ago, and at that point I was mandated by the trainer to take time completely off to see if my foot would heal.  This made for way too much free time.  I had no idea what to do!  It was also really hard to have to go to practice, do nothing, listen to beginning-of-the-season hype from the coaches and watch everyone else learn the new hurdle routines and stuff.  I did have a giant breakdown in the locker room, but my selfless teammates helped me through it.  I also finally began talking to the sports psychologist, which was great.

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Convocation 2018

Luckily, after five days, I was able to start cross training again.  While not the same as running, a familiar, regimented cross training routine truly makes me feel like myself.

I am now a senior in college (didn’t we just get here??) and finishing up my Marketing and Hispanic Studies majors and Accounting concentration with a very hypothetical plan of getting my Master of Accounting next year.  To do that, I am taking 15 credits this semester: four upper-level business classes and one senior seminar Spanish class (the last one I have to take!).  I have two 80-minute classes on Monday/Wednesday and three on Tuesday/Thursday.  None on Friday (shocker, right?)

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My non-athletic goals for this semester include keeping my apartment clean, establishing good study habits, avoiding the comparison/social media/boredom trap, implementing meditation and mindfulness into my everyday life, and taking advantage of any opportunity that comes my way.  I am really excited for this year- academically, socially, and career-wise!

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In terms of running, my goal is to continue to approach every day, every training session, as an opportunity to get better.  Over the past many months of injury, I’ve learned how to back off and have a more balanced approach to training.  This is something I had trouble with in the peak of training when I was healthy, but I do think that is one silver lining of injury- being able to be more balanced and less rigid in all aspects of life!

Running will come back into my life on the timeline that it is meant to.  Everything happens for a reason, and I am happy to say that I am walk-jogging a little bit and my foot is hanging in there.  We’ll see how this trajectory continues!  I am hopeful and optimistic (at least, until my MRI follow-up on Tuesday…hehe).

In terms of this blog, I’d like to post more recipes, senior year updates and ruminations about future plans, college student/young adult budgeting tips, “Day-in-the-life” type stuff, and mindfulness discussions!

One last note- I made this cake for my friend’s birthday last week, and it was the best cake I’ve ever made/eaten.  It may have taken four tries to get the writing on top to turn out okay, but I was so proud. It was a homemade dark chocolate cake with homemade vanilla buttercream frosting, and everyone loved it!

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Ok that’s all for now- Gonna summarize my week of training in the next post!

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Week of 8/6-8/12

Happy Sunday!  We’ve made it to the end of another (cross) training week.  I spent the morning working my last shift of the summer and the afternoon catching up with some old friends and making popsicles.  It’s also my 5-year blog anniversary…what!?

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Coconut chia mango popsicles made in mini muffin tins!

Week of 8/6-8/12:

  • Monday: AM: 60 min freestyle swim (3800 yards), felt awesome.  PM: circuits, incorporating more impact exercises.
  • Tuesday: active warm-up, 70 min bike workout (20 warm-up, 8x2h1e, 7x1h1e, 12 cool down, glute activation lift.  PM: 20 min elliptical.
  • Wednesday: 60 min swim.
  • Thursday: dynamic warm-up with skips, 5 x 1 min run 1 min walk on turf, 60 min bike, 25 min core/push-ups/squats/lateral lunges.
  • Friday: AM: 4,000 yard pool workout.  PM: 35 min bike ride on W&OD.
  • Saturday: 30 mile bike ride on the W&OD trail
  • Sunday: Off day.

This week was pretty high volume, even with a complete off day today, but it went well for the most part!  I set a distance PR during Monday’s swim and promptly broke it on Friday.  I can tell I’m getting faster in the pool!

On Thursday, I got to the gym to bike and couldn’t stand being shut up inside any longer.  So I did dynamic skips and ran a little bit.  5×1 min run, 1 min walk.  My foot felt all right during the run, but since then it’s definitely been a little aggravated.  I’m disappointed, especially since I’m medically cleared to run tomorrow, but I know I should not in good conscience clear myself.  I know my body best.

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It was nice to get outside, though!

On Friday, I finally got around to getting a bike.   After work, I gleefully took it for a test ride…and then on Saturday, I biked 30 miles through Northern Virginia for my long effort.  It was hot and humid and rainy and hard and awesome to be outside.  My quads were trashed halfway through, but I took a lemonade Huma gel at 20 miles and made it home okay 😉 My bike isn’t a road bike, it’s a hybrid, so it was a little less than aerodynamic…

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bike ride feels

Took today completely off from exercise.  I didn’t sleep that great this week and am not sure why.  I opened the store 4 out of the past 7 days, which necessitated getting up early, but I kept waking up two hours before my alarm!  I got a few power naps in, though, so I’m trying not to worry about it.

In non-running news, I worked a lot this week and caught up with some friends.  It was great to see so many of them!  I spent time with my family, enjoyed the farmer’s market, drank coffee and read books, and am hyped to see my teammates on our training trips this coming week.  To be honest, I’m a little worried about comparison and feeling sad when they’ll all be running and working out and I will not.  But I love them as humans, not just as runners, so I’m looking forward SO MUCH to spending quality time with them in the beautiful mountains!

 

Week of 7/30-8/5

Good morning!  I’m sitting outside while typing this because it’s nice and sunny and not too hot (yet), and I need the vitamin D.  An Animal Control van just drove by…hmm.  I’m heading to work in a little while but figured I should probably type up a weekly training recap (on time for once!) before I go.

Week of 7/30-8/5:

  • Monday: AM: active warm-up, 60 min XT (30 elliptical, 20 bike, 10 elliptical) + 5 min core + Airex pad stability.  Legs and brain felt awful.  PM: circuits.
  • Tuesday: AM: 60 min swim (3500 yards).  PM: glute activation, 30 min bike, lift.  Felt much better today.
  • Wednesday: 60 min elliptical
  • Thursday: AM: 60 min pool (35 swim, 25 aqua jog).  PM: 30 min elliptical + core.
  • Friday: 30 min bike, 40 min lift, 30 min bike with some progressive/pick-ups
  • Saturday: 60 min swim + 75 min vinyasa flow yoga
  • Sunday: off

Overall, physically this week went pretty well.  I was able to do 60-90 minutes of cross training every day, along with solid lifts, circuits, and yoga.  I didn’t sleep quite as well as I wanted to, but I never got less than 7 hours of sleep per night.  I got in some quality efforts even though I didn’t feel like doing full-on “workouts”.  The workout efforts consisted of some pick-ups whenever I felt like doing them 😉

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Mentally, it’s a bit of a different story.  I’ve been struggling with body image this week in particular- not sure why it’s been worse than before, but I was extremely harsh towards myself.  Keeping it real!

On Tuesday, I didn’t really want to go to the pool, but I got there and saw my swim buddy!  (She’s in high school.)  This motivated me a lot more, and we were able to swim together for about 25 minutes.  Turns out she was having a (relatively) awful swim, so it was beneficial for both of us that we fought through our lack of motivation and got our butts in the water.

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Friday was a really weird day because I had to get up at the crack of dawn to go to work but was home by 6:45 and after eating breakfast, I intermittently slept until like 11 am.  I was exhausted and discombobulated.  In the early afternoon, I had like 3 breakdowns and ended up going on a walk and talking to my friend for an hour.  She was great, and I felt a lot better, and later in the afternoon I went to the gym and had a great bike and lift.  I incorporated split squats, weighted RDLs, and weighted back squats for the first time in forever, and my foot felt good!  However, it was just a weird, concerning day in general– and these days are becoming more frequent than before.

On Saturday, I woke up early to go to the pool before heading to a 75-minute vinyasa flow yoga class.  After swimming for an hour, my arms were DEAD during yoga!  But it was still really great.  After working all afternoon, my foot started hurting, but it’s a different kind of pain.  I think I tweaked the bunion during all that vinyasa flow.  Chaturanga!  Upward dog!  Downward dog!  Repeat!  AHH!  (Hopefully it’ll feel better asap.)

Also, my arms have never been this ripped.  Perks of injury!

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Another vegan dinner: sweet potato, broccoli, baked curried tahini tofu, corn on the cob, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast

I didn’t really take any interesting pictures this week, so here is a photo of Eat and Run (which I am re-reading) taken in portrait mode because I was messing around with my new, actually functional phone 😉

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On Thursday, I doubled on the elliptical in my basement and watched the Breaking2 documentary on YouTube to pass the time.  Eliud Kipchoge really struck a chord with me when he said “100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team. That’s teamwork.”  Throughout these many months of cross training, it’s important to keep in mind that I’m doing this for myself, yes, but more importantly for my amazing team!

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Throwback to Penn State last year

Other than cross training, I just worked a lot and watched Scandal.  Almost all my friends are out of town, so I didn’t really have much social interaction this week (may have contributed to my solitary self-criticism, oops).  I didn’t “go out” this week because I think I’ve needed a break from all of that.  Alcohol makes me feel shittyyyyy.

I’m getting closer and closer to being able to run again.  Just gotta tough it out for another week! I know that being able to run won’t “solve” all the things I’ve been feeling, and I need to hash it out with myself, but it will hopefully improve my quality of life.  I realized the other day while walking that I haven’t been on any of the trails, bike paths, etc. that I used to frequent every single day.  I’ve also been cross training inside all summer!  Ahh! No wonder I’m going insane 😉

My intentions for the next week:

  1. Continue lower leg strength and stability (single-leg squats, you will be the death of me!)
  2. Stay off Instagram.  It’s not good for my mental health, and I waste way too much time on there.
  3. Speak more Spanish- listen to podcasts, music, and watch documentaries.
  4. Bike outside!  And go for walks outside!  Soak up the sun 🙂
  5. Compliment someone every day.
  6. Play the piano.
  7. Read two new books!  I’m currently reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

A little over a week until the training trips begin, and then it’s back to school for the start of senior year!

 

JULY

Oops, I did it again!  And by “it”, I mean I failed to write my weekly recaps for many, many weeks.  I’m sorry!

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It’s hard to believe it’s already August! Overall, July was more of the same, injury-wise.  I continued cross training, although my body felt off for a couple weeks and my training sessions weren’t the greatest.  It really didn’t help that I was on my period for like a month straight.  I’m not even kidding.  TMI?  Whatever.

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4th of July fireworks in DC- only partially blocked by the office building 😉

I ran once on the Alter-G (60% bodyweight for 15 minutes) and once on the treadmill (total of 10 minutes at like 8:30 pace) but could tell my foot wasn’t healed yet.  I had my follow-up appointment with the orthopedist on July 26th.  I was hoping he would clear me to run, but he determined that the broken metatarsals (although less “spongey” and inflamed than before) were not yet healed.  Therefore, I am counting down the days until August 13!

The good news is, I don’t have to wear the boot anymore, and there has been a marked improvement in my foot pain over the past week.  Some days it doesn’t hurt at all 🙂 I noticed at the pool this morning that it no longer hurts to walk barefooted across the pool deck.  It’s the little things…

I’m going to quickly summarize the last month of training and then jump into other things 🙂

Week of 7/2-7/8:

  • Monday: AM: active warm-up, 65 min progressive bike, lift (glute activation, Swiss ball core/hamstring curls, lateral band walks, cable row, quad curl, plate hip thrust, push-ups, 5 min core).  Felt strong!  PM: 1 hour slow flow yoga class.
  • Tuesday: Early AM: 40 min swim.  Felt crappy so stopped.   Later AM: 20 min elliptical.
  • Wednesday: 57 min aqua jog (with alternating hands above the water)
  • Thursday: 65 min bike workout + lift (same as last Friday).
  • Friday: 60 min easy steady bike.
  • Saturday: active warm-up, 80 min XT (60 moderate/hard bike + 10 easy bike + 10 erg)
  • Sunday: Off day.  Light yoga/core.

Week of 7/9-7/15:

  • Monday: AM: 60 min aqua jog, alt hands above water.  PM: 30 min elliptical + core.  Late night so little sleep.
  • Tuesday: active warm-up, 60 min bike workout, short-ish lift.
  • Wednesday: AM: 60 min easy aqua jog.  PM: 20 min yoga/foam roll. Sore quads!
  • Thursday: AM: 60 min swim workout.  PM: light core.  Was going to elliptical but foot hurt 😦
  • Friday: 60 min bike heart rate workout-KILLER!
  • Saturday: 20 min bike, 15 min Alter-G @ 60-65% body weight, 40 min bike
  • Sunday: off

Week of 7/16-7/22:

  • Monday: AM: 50 min pool.  Felt shitty. Two hour nap!  PM: 25 elliptical + planks + 1 hour slow flow yoga.
  • Tuesday: 60 min bike + short lift + theraband exercises.  Felt horrible again.
  • Wednesday: 40 min swim, surprisingly good.  Foot pain.
  • Thursday: 30 min bike (felt awful again) + 30 min elliptical.  Core, pull-ups, theraband exercises.  PM: foam roll.
  • Friday: AM: 60 pool.  Tried to do a workout but body still felt bad.  PM: 30 min elliptical.
  • Saturday: Off.
  • Sunday: 90 min XT (60 bike, 30 elliptical).  Felt crappy on bike but better on elliptical.

Week of 7/23-7/30:

  • Monday: AM: active warm-up, 15 min elliptical 2×5 min run on treadmill w/ 2 min walk break, 35 min elliptical, core.  PM: 1 hour slow flow yoga class.  Was awesome.
  • Tuesday: 10 min bike, 50 min elliptical workout, 10 min bike, lift.  Legs still felt dead on bike.  Foot soreness.
  • Wednesday: 60 min pool.
  • Thursday: AM: 40 min freestyle swim.  PM: 30 min bike, glute activation, lift.
  • Friday: 70 min HARD pool workout!  Was pretty awesome.
  • Saturday: Off.  My back hurts SO BADLY.
  • Sunday: 30 min yoga.  50 min aqua jog.  Didn’t feel like doing a long effort because body is #wrecked.

I’m not going to lie- cross training is getting old.  Some days it’s really hard to motivate myself to get on the bike/elliptical/pool for yet another session.  It’s been SEVEN MONTHS of almost nonstop injury!  What??? But I know all the aerobic work I am doing will help so much with this #comebackszn.  And I truly do love swimming and biking, sometimes…or at least the feeling you get after you’re done 😉

Soooo that brings us to this week!  So far, it’s gone well.  (Knock on wood.)

 


Outside of training, July was mostly really fun, even though it’s rained for like 3 weeks straight.  The lack of vitamin D is getting to me!  Some highlights:

1. My friend’s really fun 3rd of July party.

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2. I got to see Ludovico Einaudi at Wolftrap!!  He’s my favorite pianist ever, and none of my friends wanted to go to a piano concert with me, so I just went alone.  It was incredible.  I almost cried.

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3. My baby brother turned 14 years old!  He’s going to high school this year!

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4. We went down to our college town for the weekend.

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5.  Coffee dates with some of my favorite humans.

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6. Kesha and Macklemore concert at Jiffy Lube!  “Good Old Days” hit way too close to home for us seniors…

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PS: how the heck are we seniors in college?  Wasn’t I in high school like two minutes ago?

7. Lots of unattractive meals eaten out of Tupperware at work.  My friend and I decided to go vegan for two weeks (more on this later!)

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Rice, beans, lentils, sun shoots, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, tahini, lemon, basil

8.  I also had a few too many (fun) late nights and probably drank too much, but there’s nothing more fun than being 21 years old in DC, so yolo 😉

Aside from (cross) training recaps, my next few posts will include, in no particular order:

  • How to stay positive during injury (mentally, physically, etc.) and general things I’ve learned
  • My two weeks as a vegan (what I ate, what happened, why??)
  • Books I’ve read this summer
  • Musings about career and the future//reflections on 21
  • Why you shouldn’t fight body changes during an injury!//inspiration I’ve found

I’m writing that to stay accountable!  I really want to get back to writing on a regular basis- it’s much easier to write training recaps when running is going well, but it’s equally as important to write about the ups and downs of life because they are inevitable, and it’s helpful to know that others are going through hard stuff so that you don’t feel so alone!

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.

 

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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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.

Combating Training Rigidity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Biking and reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful day 🙂

 

Spring 2018: The semester of injury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Beach with teammates the night before the race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Featuring my snazzy Aircast

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

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Irresponsibly wearing heels instead of the Boot 😉 

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

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More later– my post-swim brain is dead 🙂