Week in Review 7.11.16 to 7.17.16

This week has been an utter whirlwind. Finished in Chicago, ran a half, drove to Charlotte, got stuck in an airport for 14 hours and finally got back to Vermont. 

Monday: 2 by mile at T pace (6:25, 6:24) then 4 x 200 hard. Sweltering heat, the kind that makes the lines on the track blur. 6.1 miles.

Tuesday: 4 mile recovery run. Arms and core after.

Wednesday: Off Day.

Thursday: Quick interval workout of 2 by 400, 2 by 200. Super humid and hot but good prep for Sunday. 5 miles.

Friday: 4 miles easy.

Saturday: 2.5 miles easy.

Sunday: RockNRoll Chicago Half Marathon. 1:26:48 and 16 miles total on the day.

Total Miles: 37.6

I’ll write a full race report soon (probably next week after I get to Asheville and get through this next set of boards) but RockNRoll was not quite what I wanted it to be. It did serve as a good fitness test and will certainly propel me forward but it was frustrating to yet again find myself totally comfortable in the 6:30s with no real ability to pick it up from there.

The next two weeks will be pretty low-key from a training perspective for a few reasons. First, I need a small break from running and to evaluate what pieces of my training need to change. My reaction to a crappy race is always the same: one half of me wants to quit and never run again and the other half is angry and just wants to hammer harder. It’s fine to hammer but I need to take some time to figure out how to hammer smarter. Second, I have another set of medical boards next weekend that crept up on me. This test isn’t quite as big as Step 1 but it’s not one that I can blow off either so I’m spending most of my time studying for that and just keeping active for maintenance. Finally, I’m starting up in Asheville on Sunday and as it always is in a new place, it’s hard to know how the schedule will work.

Week in Review 7.4.16 to 7.10.16

Hard to believe my time in Chicago is coming to an end already! This week was a bit Dickensian with both the best and worst workout of this training cycle.

Skyline

Monday: Horrible workout. It was hot, my legs were exhausted and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get into my heart rate range for tempo because my legs were so tired. To top it off, my right foot went numb so I spent my cooldown panicking that I’ll need surgery on that side soon. 2 by 2 mile at tempo pace, 9 miles total.

Tuesday: 8 mile recovery run.

Wednesday: Conference plus shift = not a ton of time to run. 5 miles after work with strides on the track. Saw fireflies as I was finishing up!

Thursday: Unplanned off day. With horrible weather (violent thunderstorms) and my legs feeling really punky, I decided that a little rest was better than forcing out a workout. Prorated 7.

Friday: (Inexplicably) fantastic workout! 85 degrees and humid on a black track, yet the best workout of this mini-cycle. 1 mile at tempo pace, jogged lap, 4 by 400 at interval pace (5:35 ish), jogged lap then 4 by 200 at repetition pace (5:00 ish). 9 miles total.

Cooked, but worth it.

Cooked, but worth it.

Saturday: Long run along Lake Michigan on the Lakefront Path. Definitely crazy crowded at times but what an incredible resource! 13.1 miles because my running partner insisted on the extra point 1…

Sunday: Taper begins! Easy 30 minutes around the neighborhood plus 2 laps of strides. Legs tired from the Friday/Saturday combo.

Total Miles: 55.3

Happy to finally reach a down week since my last real one was in May. I’m glad to be going into the half with some decent training on my legs but also incredibly grateful that my body held together without an adaptation week. I don’t like to push it around such things and will take this week very easy with a 50% taper and some finger crossing that my legs respond.

Right now, race day weather is looking grim with a capital G, calling for humid and 85 with a dewpoint in the 70s. Thankfully the race starts early (6:30 am), so we’ll avoid direct light. The trade off, of course, is that it’s often most humid in the morning. My goals are pretty loose given that summer races depend almost entirely on weather but am hoping to a) run faster than Plattsburgh (1:26) and b) would really like to be in the 1:23 range going into fall training. Since I’ll be heading to Asheville and altitude next week, I’ll be back in basetraining mode and a 1:23 would be a nice marker before heading up and slowing down.

Recently Read: Trials, Doping, and Rock’N’Roll

Obviously this week is all about the Trials and although I’m mostly watching through Twitter and Instagram, the drama continues to delight. I found this three-part article on the 2012 5000 meter final especially intriguing. The finish was everything a Trials event should be but it was especially interesting to read the perspective of the athletes involved and how it continues to shape their lives going forward.

We’ve made it big time? John Oliver took on doping this week and he is spot on, both in his analysis of how we got into this pickle and the barriers to make any changes.

I have the opportunity to race a number of Rock’n’Roll events over the years and will do so again in the middle of the month, so I found the recent article by Tony Reavis about the history of the series interesting. 

Finally, the debate over running form never ends. While the anecdote about the runner who was stuck at 2:42 and relearned how to run and ended up at 2:23 is certainly compelling, the fine print that was glossed over in the article was the amount of time it took to make the transition and the risks that come with monkeying with your stride.

Week in Review: 6.27.16 to 7.3.16

Monday: Had to get drug tested for a couple of the hospitals I’m visiting this year so didn’t get to the Illinois Prarie Path until 11 when it was already 90 and full sun. Promised myself I’d just do the workout on effort and happily executed 5 by mile at tempo pace (6:52, 6:53, 6:51, 6:53, 6:48) in the heat. Legs after.

Tuesday: Forced myself to take a prorated off day of 7 miles. Too tempting to jam in running with my more open schedule.

Wednesday: 9.2 miles on the CalSag with strides afterward. Legs totally cooked from working.

Thursday: 9 mile interval workout. 2 by 800, 600, 400, 200. Pace progressed through the workout and finished with a 37 second 200. Legs after.

Friday: Hour run around the neighborhood.

Saturday: 12.2 mile long run. Felt horrible for all of this because I ate WAY too close to running but just took it a minute at a time.

Sunday: Hour run with mile of ins/outs on the track. Arms after.

Total Miles: 60.4

The theme of the week was tired legs. I had a big block of work this week and my legs let me know it, with stinging and aching galore. Despite that, I got solid running in and am starting to feel some fitness come back under the fatigue. The opportunity that this presented, however, to practice working on effort rather than prescribed paces was an awesome one and I’m proud that I was able to do this successfully for both of my workouts and my long run.

This will be my last “up” week before I cut back for the half. I have a continuous tempo on the docket for today, minute hard/minute easy later in the week and a 2 hour long run before my 50% week.

Week in Review 6.20.16 to 6.26.16

Finally, a solid week of training!!

Monday: 7.2 miles around my new neighborhood in blistering heat.

Tuesday: Back in Vermont. Didn’t have an inhaler so kind of a fake workout. Did 7 minutes at tempo pace then a mile of striders on the track. 8.5 total.

Wednesday: 8 miles at Palos Woods. What an incredible place to run!

Thursday: 11.5 miles on the Cal-Sag trail.

Friday: 10 by (1 minute hard, 1 minute easy) for a total of 9.25 miles. Focused and strong for all the hard sections. Really happy with how this went. Legs after.

Saturday: 7.1 super hot miles around the neighborhood.

Sunday: 10 miles at Palos Woods. Didn’t mean to do that much but got a little lost on the back loop. Much needed after a really rough night in the House of God. 

Total Miles: 61.6

Really happy with this week of training, especially since it was a big transition week for me in a new place on a new rotation. The running options in Chicago are amazing and I’m grateful for it because the rotation is definitely one that requires some…decompression. I also have my full schedule for the next three weeks so was able to plan all my training out. Such a luxury!

I start the coming week off with 5 by tempo miles on the Prairie Path tomorrow then speed later in the week and a long run next Saturday. I’m toying with jumping in a 4th of July 5K as well just to shake things up and check my fitness going into the half.

Week in Review 6.13.16 to 6.19.16

As though the delay on this post wasn’t enough of an indication, this past week has been a flipping whirlwind. I finished my rotation at Central Vermont, drove to Chicago and then 24 hours after arriving there, flew to Burlington and back to Chicago in less than 17 hours. And somehow ran every day…

Monday: 10 miles around Berlin Pond. Still feeling the weekend big time.

Tuesday: Second week of continuous tempo at the Tuesday Night Fun Run. Super windy but came in at 26:45, which was close to last week’s time but with a faster closing mile. 9 miles total.

Wednesday: 7 slow, ploddy miles plus strides and hipcore.

Thursday: 8.8 miles around Berlin Pond.

Friday: Mixed bag workout. Warmed up, 4 laps of ins and outs then 4 by 200 hard on the road. 6.25 miles total.

Saturday: 4 super hot miles when we got to Chagrin Falls.

Sunday: 6 miles in Chagrin before church/driving.

Total Miles: 51.1

Struggling to get my long runs in lately but hoping 10 is good enough to get me through the half later this month. My schedule is wacky going forward but planned out so I can hopefully get into a bit of a routine for the next couple of weeks. I have begun to explore the trails and bike paths around southwest Chicago and so far, it’s a beautiful (albeit a bit flat) place to run. I also found an incredibly reasonable local gym that offers BodyPump, which is one of my all time favorite strength classes so I’m hoping to be able to make it there at least twice a week.

Week in Review 6.6.16 to 6.12.16

Monday: Prorated off day, 7.5 miles.

Tuesday: Big workout day. Warmed up, 8 x 100 meter strides as ins/outs then 4 at tempo pace (heartrate based) with the Central Vermont Runners group, then 8 x 100 meter strides as ins/outs for a total of 9 miles. Legs afterward.

Wednesday: 10 miles around Berlin Pond. So fun to be back on my old stomping grounds.

Thursday: 8 recovery miles with Erin. Feeling really wiped but trying to convince myself to push through the new mileage burden.

Friday: Workout that went surprisingly well! Was exhausted when I hit the track but talked myself into trying one 400 and got in 6 by 400 at (85, 83, 84, 82, 82, 82).

Saturday: 8 miles up a mountain. Literally. Was up at Jay Peak for Sully’s wedding and decided to run up the mountain, which I did for approximately 15 minutes before realizing it was a good way to break my ankle. Ended up getting a lot of elevation gain on the roads around the resort after that.

Sunday: Off day. Exhausted from the wedding, sore from running a ton of elevation then wearing heels. Although I wanted to get some miles in, it seemed stupid to do it on calf muscles that were already cramped.

Total Miles: 50.8

The Good: I got in two great workouts that I feel really good about as well as a midweek long run, which has formerly been a key to fitness for me. I’m also really proud that I kept a positive attitude about my Friday workout and was able to get that workout done even though my legs were exhausted.

The Bad: A little frustrated that I missed my longer run again this week because of scheduling issues. I am not doing a great job of prioritizing running with all my other commitments right now and although that’s the reality of life right now, it still frustrates me!

Wrapping up this rotation this week then off to Chicago on Saturday for a new adventure!

Rock’N’Roll Chicago!

When I found out I was going to Chicago, the first thing I did was check out the running scene, identify my possible running routes and try to find a race that fit into my schedule. Since I’ll be on Emergency Medicine, my schedule is a little erratic so I didn’t want to sign up for a race that might conflict with a shift. When I found out that the Rock’N’Roll Chicago half was on the weekend after I finish, I sent in an application for an elite entry and crossed my fingers. It might be hot and miserable but I though the opportunity to have something to focus on and to check my fitness was a great one. In awesome news, I got word last night that my application was accepted for July 17th!

Excited for a new skyline next week!

Excited for a new skyline next week!

It’s hard not to go into a race with hopes of a PR but in this case, I’m just hoping for improvement from Plattsburgh and another great race experience where I can work for a top finish next to other fast ladies. It also offers an opportunity to see how my fall might shape up and whether I’m ready to tackle another 26.2.

Calm (Alternative Title: Mindfulness I Can Tolerate)

I am one of the least intentionally mindful people on the planet. I move at 100 miles an hour, I always have ten projects in the air and generally consider it a successful day if I get through half of my to-do list. Recently, however, while on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, I was introduced to calm.com which is a website and app dedicated to simple mindfulness exercises. What I like most about the site is that it has 3 minute guided mindfulness exercises, which are a tolerable length even for me. There are also numerous options for calming noise on the right sidebar which is a nice feature for when I’m working or reading something that doesn’t require 100% concentration.

As I’ve shared many times on here, I struggle with significant running anxiety. Interestingly, my race anxiety has decreased a ton over the past few years (maybe too much as sometimes I feel like I don’t care about race outcomes any more) but my workout anxiety remains incredibly high. I don’t sleep the night before a big workout and as I get ready to start, I’m nauseous and in full on panic mode. Flooding one’s muscles with cortisol is not exactly the way to prepare for success so I made a deal with myself to try to incorporate some mindfulness features into my pre-workout prep. Now on workout days, my routine goes warm-up –> 4 laps of jog the curve, stride the straights –> drills –> eyes closed, mindfulness moment. I close my eyes, work through one of the mindfulness actions of wiggling my toes and attending to that action and take some deep, intentional breaths. It sounds hokey and one of my biggest challenges is not rejecting the idea but my workouts have improved MARKEDLY since starting this. It could certainly be incidental but it seems that taking a few moments to focus before starting helps to bring my heart rate down and narrow my focus.

For me, a few minutes of intentional mindfulness a week is a much more tolerable way to work on focus and anxiety than yoga, which has the paradoxical effect of making me significantly more stressed about my schedule, my lack of flexibility and so on. I do still do my 20 minute routine for runners but beyond that, yoga has never seemed to work to help my mental game. I’m hopeful that adding this small touch of mindfulness will be a good addition to my pre-race routine and help me move back towards a healthy dose of anxiety and race anticipation.

Do you practice mindfulness? How do you focus yourself before workouts and races?

Product Review: GoMebSpeed 3 2016

This shoe was given to me for free by Skechers Performance as part of my 2016 racing kit. The opinions below are my own. 

From the moment I put on these shoes, I loved them. No stranger to minimalist shoes, I like shoes that feel fast and have a smooth, efficient ride and the GoMebs are all of the above. My “purple Mebs” are actually my second pair of Mebs; the first pair is a treadmill only pair from 2015 that I like, but don’t love. Between last year and this year, they made enormous improvements to all Skechers uppers and the difference is incredible.

The GoMebSpeed 3 is intended to be a racing flat and I use them for workouts and races. From right out of the box, this shoe is comfortable and nimble. My first real workout in these was a short hill speed run in 40 degree temperatures and pouring rain and between whining about the weather, I remarked to Will over and over “oh my god, I love these shoes. These are the best. They are so COMFORTABLE.” The sole is firm and has good push-off from the roads or the track but the ride isn’t rigid, which is a complaint I’ve had with past racing flats. The upper is knit and moves well with your foot without feeling unstable and at 5.3 ounces for the women’s sizing, feels barely there once you’re in motion.

GOMeb

The best part about this shoe is that the 4 mm drop and M-Strike technology makes efficient, midfoot running almost automatic. M-Strike technology makes the most cushioned part of the shoe fall right under the ball of your foot so after a few strides, you naturally adjust to land here rather than on your heels or toes. The 4 mm drop is close to what is neutral for most people so you get great push-off without over or under taxing your achilles and calf muscles. That being said, if you are coming from a more traditional drop shoe (8 to 12 mm), you should expect to take time to transition to a 4 mm drop. Too fast and you will be uncomfortable and sore at best and injured at worst.

For most people, this should be a good shoe for speed work or road racing. Efficient runners can expect to be able to comfortable racing up to the marathon; for others, it might be best limited to half marathon or less. Because there isn’t a ton of extra support in the post (middle inside area of the foot), it is a shoe that could work against you in later miles of a marathon as form breaks down. I haven’t raced a marathon since getting these shoes but I would be likely to use them for the whole enchilada.

My only complaint is that they seem to wear faster than regular running shoes, which is somewhat expected with racing flats. I have about 100 miles on mine now and the soles look well-worn. I haven’t noticed any issues with loss of support or comfort but I do think I’ll need to replace them before my usual 300 mile mark.

Have I convinced you to give Skechers a try yet? What’s your go to racing flat? Do you race marathons in flats or in regular trainers?