Week in Review 8.15.16 to 8.21.16

Another whirlwind week!

Monday: 5.5 miles while I got my oil changed with 4 laps of striders on the track at UNC-Asheville. Super hot!

Tuesday: 7 miles with 3 by 5 minutes at tempo effort.

Wednesday: 5 miles of recovery running on the Mountains to Sea trail.

Thursday: 6 miles easy, my last morning in Asheville.

Friday: Travel Day. Winchester, Virginia to Roxbury, VT to meet my girls at training camp! Unfortunate feature was getting rear-ended about an hour from camp.

Saturday am: Easy warmup then 5 by 3 minutes at tempo effort (XC girls).

Saturday pm: 3.5 mile recovery run. Beach abs after.

Sunday am: Easy warmup then 5 by Windridge hill hard. Legs after.

Sunday pm: Hour plus of yoga; tons of hip and back work. Much needed.

Total Miles: 37

I’m back in Vermont! I spent the weekend with my girls at training camp and loved every second. As mentioned above, I did unfortunately get rear-ended while traveling on Friday, which was my first accident in over a decade. I was stopped in traffic and she didn’t see that we were stopped and hit me at a pretty good clip. Thankfully, I had Will’s Honda and although it needs some repairs, no one was injured and besides some sore muscles and a sore wrist, I was totally unscathed.

I’m excited to get back into a groove this week and start following my 9 day schedule on Wednesday. Since I’ve been at 35 to 37 miles for the last 3 weeks, I’ll adjust down to 45 miles for this first week back, rather than pushing for 50.

 

Why I Am Trying a 9 Day Training Cycle

It’s no secret that my schedule is wonky at best. I am occasionally on a Monday through Friday workweek but most of the time, the idea of weekend or workweek is irrelevant. Add in the fact that I start coaching full time this coming week with meets almost every Saturday and half my weekend instantly evaporates. On top of this, I have call requirements and a fall full of interviews, some of which are a long travel from Burlington.

In addition to this scheduling nightmare for the fall, I’m also in desperate need of a better recovery plan. Thanks to the above schedule, my ability to increase sleep is limited and by definition, I’m on my feet all day, sometimes in very awkward positions. How then, to create more recovery time so that I can keep chasing after my athletic pursuits? One option is to increase my intensity but drop my volume. I ran a very successful first marathon on 35 miles a week, so this is a possibility I’ll likely reconsider during residency. The other option and the one I’ll be trying out this fall is the 9 day training cycle. 

The premise is simple: instead of trying to do a speed workout, tempo workout and long run in 7 days, you do it in 9 days. The nice part of this is that each harder effort is followed by both a recover run and a regular run and increases the likelihood you hit hard workouts fully recovered. Because there are more days to play with, the added benefit of flexibility is a good fit for the inevitable travel delays that I’ll experience this fall.

Here’s what my first “week” back will look like:

50 8/24/2016 Hard 8/1:1 x 10 Legs
50 8/25/2016 Recover 6 Arms
50 8/26/2016 Regular 7 Core
50 8/27/2016 Hard 8/3 by 1 at T Legs
50 8/28/2016 Recover 6 Arms
50 8/29/2016 Regular 7 Core
50 8/30/2016 Long 12 Legs
50 8/31/2016 Recover 6 Arms
50 9/1/2016 Regular 7 Core

How do you adjust mileage for a 9 day cycle? As I’ve addressed in comments before, I prorate all of my mileage to get the right day to day load.  In the case of the example above, 50/7 is a daily load of 7.1, so my workouts are (daily load + 1), recovery is (daily load – 1) and regular is 7. Long run will start at about 25% of my total mileage and increase. After this 9 day set, I’ll go to 55 miles per ‘week’ and adjust accordingly.

When do you have an off day? I’ll be taking an off day on the 4th recovery day, which is every 12th day. Right now, I take an off day every other week which can be anything from 8 to 13 days. I think with the additional recovery offered by the 9 day schedule, I’ll be okay with this being on the long end but it will definitely be something I pay attention to when I reevaluate.

How long is my experiment? I’ll be trying this through early October, enough to go through 6 microcycles. If I feel like it’s an improvement over my current schedule, I’ll keep it going through the rest of the fall. if not, I’ll either go back to a 7 day schedule or try something new.

Anyone ever do a 9 day cycle? 

Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Only a month late…it’s been a really busy month!!

Midtown

Short Version:

Not the day I wanted but not the worst day either. Very clear areas for improvement but also evidence of a solid fitness base. 1:26:48, 20th for women, 99th overall.

Long Version:

I went into this race with a simple goal of a) running faster than I had at Plattsburgh (1:26:44) and b) getting a good sense of my fitness for the fall. In my head, I anticipated being around 1:24 if the weather cooperated. I was 4 seconds slower than Plattsburgh, so not an enormous failure on point A but certainly way off 1:24.

I woke up early on race morning and headed into the city. Because the course looped through downtown, I parked far away from the start in a garage that I knew I could leave from right after the race. I had to drive to Lexington that day and didn’t want to delay that misery! It was warm at 4 am already, around 70, but not as hot as it had been. Since it’s Chicago, there was also a “breeze.” Although wind is becoming my nemesis in racing, I will admit that it helped to keep air moving on a sticky morning.

Prerace was a BREEZE. I’ve done a number of Rock ‘n’ Roll events and sometimes, the logistics don’t work out well (see, Vegas) and I start the race stressed and grumpy. This one was the opposite. I dropped my bag easily, realized I left my Gu in my bag and was able to get it again with no issue. I walked right up to the start line and found a spot with no issue and the race went off without a hitch. Right before the start, I met a brand new post-collegiate runner who was running her first half and had a goal of about 1:25 so we agreed to run together for the first few miles.

O to 5K

As we got rolling, I didn’t feel terrible but I didn’t feel great either. Way too much celebrating with my Chicago classmates and way too little slept left me more tired and dry than I normally would like to be. Lesson 1: No amount of water or Nuun can compensate for a rowdy night at Journal Club.  We rolled through the first mile in about 6:22 and I was cautiously optimistic that things would continue that way. After the snafu at Plattsburgh with mismarked miles, I was wearing my Garmin for this race but all the tunnels and turns quickly made it irrelevant. Lesson 2: Garmin-free racing works better for me in short races. The first 6 miles of the course wind through downtown and although the scenery was great, it was hard to get into any kind of a groove. To add to this, we kept crossing these weird canals that were extremely painful underfoot in flats. Both McKenna and I remarked “I DON’T LIKE THESE!!” as we went over the first one. We went through the 5K in 20:07 (6:28) and I started to feel a bit better while McKenna started to feel worse. We got separated and I rolled on alone.

5K to 10K

Right around here, I had a momentary panic that this would be my first DNF as my right foot went completely numb. After years of running with a numb left foot and a few episodes of numbness in my right foot lately, there are few things that make me worry more and although I can usually tough out a workout, 10 miles seemed like a long way to push. Once we got onto the straighter section of the course, however, my foot started to feel better and I went through the 10K in 40:42 (6:33). The wind was pretty tough heading south and although I tried to connect with other runners, I had a similar situation developing as I did at Plattsburgh where I just felt…gearless. I was happy cruising along but couldn’t seem to find another comfortable pace. Women were flying by me and I couldn’t do much more than just watch them go.

10K to 15K

As it sometimes goes in a race, my best miles were right before my worst. Towards the south-most part of the course, we turned onto a newly paved out and back and it just felt like heaven. I was floating along, could see the remainder of the women’s field and had a fleeting (silly rabbit…) thought that I might be able to close the last 3 miles quickly. I went through 8.9 miles in 58:13 (6:32). As we turned back onto the main road and made the turn towards home, however, that fleeting thought quickly faded.

South Part of the Race Course

15K to Finish

We connected with the Lakefront Path and started dodging 10K runners and in a final insult to my focus/stride, went through the MOST bizarre race feature I’ve ever experienced: a long tunnel that was blacked out with flashing strobe lights. I’m sure some people thought it was fun, but for me, I couldn’t see my footing and slowed to a jog as I tried not to trip over a) my feet and b) 10K runners. By the time we came out of the tunnel, I was all but done. I tried to gear up and felt like I was crawling. The finish had a great, long straightaway that would have been great for a strong finish but I didn’t have much strong left. I crossed in 1:26:48, which means my last few miles were barely under 7 minute pace. Yikes.

After the finish, I waited for McKenna to finish and we went for a brief cooldown. By the time I got back to my car, the skies opened up with an epic Midwestern thunderstorm and I headed south to Lexington through scary driving conditions.

Thoughts:

The good news is that I am apparently quite comfortable at 6:38 pace as I’ve landed there in almost all my races and workouts lately. This suggests good general fitness and a solid base from which to begin fall training. The bad news is that I am lacking any top gears, which makes sense since most of my training has been unstructured at best. As I said in my training week review yesterday, these last two rotations have been my priority (as they should be), but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to tighten down on my training and incorporate more interval work as I go into the fall. Lesson 3: Speedwork really does make you faster…or at least keeps you from slowing down in the end of a race. 

As always, I am enormously thankful for the support, both official and unofficial, that allows me to continue to run through the various adventures of my life. In this case, the Competitor Group comped my entry for this race (I’m starting to think it’s a curse; anytime they are gracious enough to do this, I race poorly…), Skechers supports me with shoes and gear and Nuun covers my hydration.

Week in Review: 8.8.16 to 8.14.16

Monday: 7.5 mile fartlek. Poured rain until I got back.

Tuesday: 7.5 miles with 4 by 50 meter striders.

Wednesday: 6 miles with 8 by 30 seconds hard uphill.

Thursday: Tough day. Used what I had left of the light to scramble up Craggy Pinnacle and breathe in some air.

Mountains

Friday: Jetted out for 4 miles before the trip to Chapel Hill.

Saturday: DYING with KC in the 95 degree weather but we were running in Chapel Hill, so we didn’t care. 4.5 miles. Did real arms with weights!

Sunday: 5 miles on the treadmill watching the Women’s Marathon. Still heated about the clueless announcer lambasting Desi…core after.

Total Miles: Oddly, 34.5 just like last week.

Just accepting that running cannot be priority one right now; learning to operate is. I have an amazing opportunity out here to get a ton of case hours and although it means I’m barely running, it’s a sacrifice worth making. I did get two decent efforts in last week and will aim to do the same again this week before I get to head home on Thursday!! Well, not home, but to training camp with the girls, which is just as good.

So excited for cross country to officially start and to get my own training locked and loaded (and maybe under slightly less humid conditions).

Week in Review 8.1.16 to 8.7.16

When your Sunday run starts at 5000 feet, your legs are gonna burn...

Where my run on Sunday started. 

July Stats: 174 miles, 1 race (for which I still haven’t written a Race Report…)

Monday: 6 miles easy bright and early. Well, not bright because it was pitch black but certainly early.

Tuesday: 8 miles early.

Wednesday: In the OR until almost 10 so no run for me.

Thursday: 7 miles on the French Broad Greenway. Nice break from the hills and it wasn’t even hot.

Friday: My first real failed adventure. Headed to Warren Wilson College to run the trails but clearly didn’t get connected to the right trail network because I ended up doing 3 miles on deer paths until I gave up.

Saturday: 7.5 miles including Riverside Cemetery. Odd to run in a cemetery but Asheville maintains it as a park.

Sunday: 3 miles up Mount Pisgah.

Clouds caught on the top.

Clouds caught on the top.

Total Miles: 34.5

Not the best training week. I got off my schedule of running in the morning early and then had a couple late nights in the OR and a misfire on an adventure run. It’s tough to get workouts in here because I’m running in the dark and there aren’t a lot of flat options for interval work so I’m going to go with intervals and hills for the next two weeks and regroup once I get back to Vermont. I did decide that I’ll be switching to a 9 day cycle for my upcoming races and am excited to share what that will look like soon!

Not running related, but a beautiful piece that captures a huge amount of what I see and feel on a daily basis. It both captures what draws me to surgery and what sometimes brings me to tears after the immediacy of a situation is handled. I run for many, many reasons but finding a way to process stories like that is one of the big ones.

Looking towards Tennessee from the observation deck at ~5900 feet.

Looking towards Tennessee from the observation deck at ~5900 feet.

 

Weeks in Review: 7.18.16 to 7.31.16

Wait, it’s AUGUST tomorrow?!?! Slow down summer.

From my run today. It's not pretty here at all.

From my run today. It’s not pretty here at all.

7.18.16 to 7.24.16

Monday: Drove from Lexington to Charlotte then hung out in the Charlotte airport for a ridiculous amount of time. American Airlines, we are not friends.

Tuesday: Easy 3 with Will around the new XC course.

Wednesday: 6 miles with the team (hearttttttts, I missed them). Striders and hip core.

Thursday: 17 mile bike ride with Will. Every time I think I like biking, I actually do it and my butt hurts for a week…

Friday: 4.5 mile run around campus.

Saturday: Cougar Chase but no running.

Sunday: 3 miles with the dogs. Reminded myself why I never run with them. Flew back to Charlotte and drove to Asheville.

Total MIles: 16.5 

7.25.16 to 7.31.16

Every entry from this week is an iteration of “holy sh*t, humidity, hills and altitude are tough!”

Monday: 5.25 miles

Tuesday: 6.5 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles on the Mountains to Sea Trail.

Thursday: Slept in and found out why I have to run in the morning; 95 and humid when I got out from work.

Friday: 7 mile fartlek with some speedy hills on one of the many hills in town.

Saturday: 9 miles post Step 2. There is no flat here…

Sunday: 6 miles on the Mountains to Sea Trail straight up; climbed almost 2000 feet in 25 minutes.

Total Miles: 38.8 miles

This week feels like a huge accomplishment. I made it to Asheville, survived a week in the Neuro/Trauma ICU and took Step 2 (our second set of Boards). On that last item, it wasn’t my best effort with trying to cram studying in between work and training, but I’m hoping it will turn out okay.

Running here is TOUGH. It’s humid in the mornings (usually 88 to 90%) and there isn’t a single flat place in all of Asheville. The Mountains to Sea trail is pretty amazing, however, so I’ll take the elevation change for the opportunity to run on a trail like that. I seem to have adjusted to the altitude now (I had a horrendous headache on Wednesday) so I’ll be heading up higher for next weekend’s long run. I’m still stinging a little from Chicago and trying to figure out what the fall looks like but operating under the assumption that it will include a marathon so I’m stretching out my long runs little by little.

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.