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?

Don’t Believe Everything You See on Instagram

Disclaimer: I love social media. I once coordinated the volunteer response to a hurricane on social media and continue to do research on the role of social media in public health promotion. I benefit from social media; my relationships with Skechers and Nuun and with countless other companies who send me free things to review or comp my race entries are closely tied to my social media presence.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I am also deeply concerned about the way that social media is changing the way we run. Is is possible to go for a run without posting a picture of your Garmin? Is it possible to eat a recovery meal without first snapping it in pretty light? How many shots does it take to get a good daily run shot and WHO THE HELL IS TAKING ALL YOUR RUNNING PHOTOS?!?

Much of this has come up for me over the past few months as I continue to figure out how to balance the PR and training components of my running. I am deeply grateful to my sponsors and want to represent them in a good light and demonstrate how their support makes it easier for me to meet my training goals. That said, I also don’t have time to set up a photo shoot after every run nor do I have someone around to take a photo of every workout or run. All of this came to a head a few weeks ago when I was down in our gym doing legs after a workout. I wanted to get a picture after a good workout and was busily trying to set up a timer app on my phone to capture me in the middle of a single leg squat. After 15 minutes of trying to get a shot with decent lighting, however, I was out of time both for squats or to post a picture and as I was showering started to reflect on the sheer ridiculousness of compromising both my social media presence and training to get a good workout shot.

My bigger concern, however, is around the authenticity of content on social media as it pertains to running. No one, and I repeat no one, has good runs every day. Perhaps every run has moments of good but the reality is that if you run regularly, most of those runs are average and run of the mill. And that’s okay. No single workout or run makes a training cycle. It’s the stacking of average run on average run that leads to breakthrough performances and personal records. So why the pressure to talk about how amazing every run was or how fast you were on every repetition? Why the cultivation of the myth that running and training should always be glamorous and photo ready? Some of my biggest breakthrough workouts are the ones where I miss my paces but stick it out anyway or the ones where I drench through my mismatching clothes. Where’s the rush to post those moments?

Part of the story but not the whole story.

Part of the story but not the whole story.

In general, I think I do a good job of being real on this blog. In fact, I think I am a little too rough on myself which is something I noticed when reading through race reports recently. On Instagram, however, I fall into the trap of cultivating my content. Some of this is unconscious; if I don’t have time to post a picture, I don’t. Some of it, however, is 100% intentional. When Will and I have time to run together, I regularly ask him to take pictures of apparel and shoes while I’m running and we do way more than 1 take. As I was flipping through my phone photos this week while planning out this week’s content, I busted myself (thus the impetus for this post) for taking pictures of all the amazing veggie concoctions I’d enjoyed all week. The issue was not that I took pictures of pretty summer vegetables, it was that if I posted just those, it would create the image that I eat perfectly healthy meals and erase the reality that one of those nights of a bright salad was only because we’d opted to eat chips and salsa for the rest of our dinner. It erased the reality of Friday where we had tons of cookies leftover from a dinner party and I literally ate only cookies for breakfast and dinner. Why was THAT not on my camera to share?

Going forward, my personal plan is to be more mindful of what I’m choosing to put on my social media accounts and be less self-conscious about sharing the real moments while taking everyone else’s content with a grain of salt. Hair a tangled mess and face blotchy from working hard on the track? Resist the urge to filter the sh*t out of it. Posting a picture of a great, healthy meal? Own up to cookie breakfasts and lunches or to the days when I eat zero vegetables.

Would you engage with a social media account that was more…average? How do you decide what to post on social media? 

Week in Review 5.30.16 to 6.5.16

Monday: 11.5 miles on the bike path with Will.

Tuesday: Easy run plus 4 laps of striders on the track.

Wednesday: 7 mile interval workout. Warmup, drills, 4 laps of ins and outs plus 6 by .25 miles on the bike path. Effort was definitely there, pace was a little off because of the terrain.

Thursday: 4 miles in the early morning. Exhausted!

Friday: 10 mile long run on the Causeway. Nice to get my run done before the weekend.

Saturday: 6.8 mile tempo workout with 3 miles continuous tempo via heartrate. (6:31, 6:39, 6:36). Legs after. Felt good.

Sunday: 5.5 mile recovery run with 4 laps of striders on the track. Arms afterward.

Total Miles: 50.3

Total May Miles: 220

The Good: I got up and got my runs in early this week which made it a much less stressful week from a running perspective. I continue to do a good job getting striders in and feel like my efficiency is really improving. Although my mileage is the same as it has been, it was really an adaptation week because my day to day volume was lower besides the Monday long run.

The Ugly: Still struggling to get my strength work in. Got two workouts in this week plus bedtime abs, so hoping to add another leg workout to next week.

In case you missed it, I have a giveaway going on right now. Three lucky people will win a MedZone gift pack that includes all sorts of products to help you run through the summer without misery. There are three ways to enter* between now and next Sunday at 5 pm:

  1. Leave a comment about your worst chafing experience and picture of the carnage if you’re really brave.
  2. Post a picture of a chafing nightmare on Instagram and tag me (@runswatrun) and @goMedZone
  3. Share this post on your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (maximum of 1 entry for this option) and tag me and @goMedZone or send me a screenshot of your Facebook post.

*Maximum of three entries per person.

Product Review and Giveaway: Chafe Zone and Blister Zone Skin Protectant

These products were provided to me for no cost from the MedZone company. The opinions below are my own. 

It’s chafing season. I’ve run through many summers and am no stranger to those days when you forget to do chafing prevention and then pay for it within a couple miles. Just last weekend, I wore a tank top for the first time this season and completely forgot that the neckline rips my skin up. As a result, I’ve had to avoid v-neck shirts all week to hide my battle scars.

When Joe from MedZone reached out to me in April about their line of products, my question was a classic one that gets asked in lots of pharmacology trials: what’s the difference between this product and a well-established product (in this case, Body Glide). Joe was very diplomatic about things and said that the products would speak for themselves. As such, I approached trying the arsenal of MedZone products as a “non-inferiority” trial compared to Body Glide, a product I’ve used for years.

Chafe Zone

In short, Chafe Zone is non-inferior to Body Glide and I mean that in the best way. For the past 6 weeks, I’ve kept my stick of Chafe Zone in the bathroom where I throw my running clothes on and have used it religiously. It’s easy to apply (deodorant style stick) and is translucent but thick enough to see where you’ve applied. Unlike Body Glide, Chafe Zone has a subtle scent which I actually really enjoyed. In terms of function, I had zero chafing incidents and we had some hot, sweaty days that would have been prime opportunities. My only observation with Chafe Zone is that it really stays on, even through a shower with scrubbing! This is a good thing if you’re a really heavy sweater but I did have a couple days where I wished it came off a tiny bit easier. This is where Chafe Zone stands out to me. It was designed first for military and tactical use and it is a formidable product that can go as long as you need it to without reapplication. 

Blister Zone

Blister Zone was harder to evaluate. Knock on wood, blisters have never been an issue for me although spikes tear my heels up. Ironically, I got my first blister in a long time during the Plattsburgh Half and was kicking myself that I didn’t use Blister Zone. Since then, I’ve used Blister Zone to protect that area as it has healed back up. Although it’s not the preferred order of operations, it has worked to keep the skin from opening back up. Given how well the Chafe Zone worked for me, I imagine that Blister Zone would work similarly well for blister-prone folks and Will has been using it on his hands under gloves while doing trail building this Spring.

Pain Zone

Finally, PainZone: This product comes in single use packages but also comes in a roller and is a less viscous version of other muscle rubs. Close to a liquid in consistency, it also contains 3% camphor for pain relief. I’ve been using it on Will’s right shoulder (he recently tore his labrum falling on a run) and he says that although the pain relief is nice, the best part is that the consistency of the gel allows for good muscle glide without any painful friction or pinching. This would definitely have been a product I wanted around for scar massage after surgery and we’re buying a stick for our house as Will awaits surgery later this summer.

In addition to providing me product to review, MedZone also offered three MedZone gift packs to giveaway to readers! I’ll pick three people by Random.org next Sunday (6/12/16) at 5 pm EST. There are three ways to enter*:

  1. Leave a comment about your worst chafing experience and picture of the carnage if you’re really brave.
  2. Post a picture of a chafing nightmare on Instagram and tag me (@runswatrun) and @goMedZone
  3. Share this post on your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (maximum of 1 entry for this option) and tag me and @goMedZone or send me a screenshot of your Facebook post.

*Maximum of three entries per person.

How to Start Running: Month 6

Fireworks

Congratulations!!! 6 months ago, you started with a simple 30 second run and moved for 10 minutes total. By the end of this month, you’ll be moving for 33 minutes and running for 30 (!?!?!) of those minutes. Let that sink in for a moment.

Week Workout Plan
Week 21 33 minutes (2:00 walk 9:00 run. Repeat 3 times)
Week 22 36 minutes (2:00 walk 10:00 run. Repeat 3 times.)
Week 23 34 minutes (1:30 walk 10:00 run. Repeat 3 times)
Week 24 33 minutes (1:00 walk 10:00 run. Repeat 3 times)

Once you get comfortable with this (expect it to take a couple of weeks), here’s how to continue to add to your running: increase the run section while keeping the walking section at 1:00 by a minute at a time. Thus, you would walk for a minute, run for 11 minutes and repeat three times for a week, then move up to 12 minutes etc.

Congratulations again! If you’re looking for additional training ideas, just drop me an email or a comment and I’d be happy to cook some ideas up for you as you look forward to your next fitness goal.