You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

This may go down as the most exciting and most effing terrifying blog post I ever share. Thanks to the flexibility of the UVM College of Medicine and the unwavering support and encouragement of Will, I’ll be taking the fall of 2015 to actually take a crack at seeing how fast I can get. For 13 weeks from mid August to mid November, I’ll be living like a professional athlete and my only focus will be on running and recovering to the best of my ability. I’ll still be doing some medical school related things, I’ll just be doing 4th year electives (reading month and some research) instead of clerkships, which I’ll make up when I return in November. My day to day schedule will focus on training and ultimately pushing towards a half marathon in November.

Why target the half marathon when the standard is 1:15 rather than the relatively easier 2:43 for the full?

1. The half marathon requires a little less perfection than the full to have a good day. If the weather is awful, it doesn’t take months to recover. If I have an off stomach, I can survive 75 minutes without fuel.

2. It capitalizes on the work I’ve been doing this Spring and doesn’t set me back into the pattern of long slow runs and lazy form.

3. If I am feeling really amazing and it looks like I could get a 2:43 in December, I’m able to turn around and try that with all the requisite speed already acquired.

4. From a long term perspective, we’re trying to set me up for a solid career through my 30s and 40s and although I’ll always have endurance, I won’t always have the ability to build speed.

What happens if I fall on my face?

1. A half marathon PR still pushes me forward to some of my other performance goals including gaining entry to National Championship events, the Boston Elite start and getting my elite entry to most of the big races around the country.

2. I don’t spend the rest of my life wondering what my limits are if only I wasn’t in medical school.

What’s the plan?

At this point, I don’t plan to go to altitude. That would be tough for us financially and logistically, as Will remains in the 3rd year Medical School curriculum and will need all the support a non-working spouse can provide. We are about 6 months out from race day, so I’m back to Phase 1A of training. I’ll spend May, June and July building as good of a base as I can while continuing to do speed work and working on efficiency. August, September and October will be where the bulk of the hard work happens and November is essentially for taper.

In terms of extras, my big focus for the first three months is building the muscle strength required to be fast and continuing to work on hip mobility. I’ve really locked up a lot over the past few months and need to spend some attention on loosening up again. During my months off, the focus will be on recovering as much as I can, on nailing workouts and on sharpening my mental game. I’m already finding myself second guessing whether I can do this, so that particular task will be very challenging!

The other benefit of more time is that I can do a better job of cataloging my experience. I know that I’m extremely lucky to have this opportunity and that there are many other runners who can only dream of 13 weeks off so I’m hoping that keeping this blog full of my lessons learned at least passes some of the benefits on to others.



6 thoughts on “100%

  1. Ryan

    Congrats and best of luck with the plan. I can see how that is simultaneously terrifying and exciting. What is the goal race, or will that announcement be coming soon?
    I read the article about the Tennessee track team you linked to last night after spending 4 days traveling and running with two friends who are former Penn State cross country and track runners at Ragnar Cape Cod. I sent them a quick email with a link to the story. I haven’t heard back from one because she is stuck in Boston after severe weather canceled her flight to Dallas, but the other responded quickly. At first she was pretty diplomatic saying they did run for Sullivan in the late ’90’s – early ’00’s at Penn State, but she was never a fan of coach Sullivan. About 20 minutes later, after reading the full article, she sent another less diplomatic email wishing Sullivan nothing but failure at Tennessee. That was just a brutal story, I wish it detailed how Morgan was able get an NCAA waiver and already be running for Pitt.

    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      When I wrote that post (last Friday), I didn’t know what my goal race was but I’ll be doing the half at Philly where my PR is from. Hoping to get let in as an elite or at least seeded, so we’ll see.

      Isn’t that story just heartbreaking? I cannot wrap my head around it and try as I might to see it how Coach Sullivan might, I can’t get there.

      How was Ragnar? Pretty hot weather, at least up here.

      1. Ryan

        My friend said the story wasn’t surprising to her, this was like a business transaction to Coach Sullivan – trade one full scholarship hurdler for a few partial scholarship distance runners that fit her model of a distance centric team. Had she cut the runners and rescinded their scholarships when she was first hired, as shitty a thing to do as that is, I can sort of understand it (not that I could live with myself if I did something like that), but waiting until the semester starts is simply spiteful. Just one more piece of evidence that the NCAA system is broken as far as both university conduct and student conduct is concerned.

        Ragnar was a blast, there was a cold front parked on the coast, Friday never made it to 60 and the temperature stayed reasonable through Saturday. Ragnar Cape Cod is a whole different experience than ADK.

        I’ll keep an eye out for you far far ahead of me at the turn-arounds on the first half of the Philly course.

        1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

          NCAA is a business for sure, but stories like this still shock me despite that.

          I’m so glad you guys got good weather! It was VERY warm for running here, so I can’t imagine 24 hours of it! Also totally forgot that you’re doing Philly too. It’ll be so fun to be out there together. I haven’t run it since 2012 but it was an awesome experience. I don’t know about the second half, but the first half was a really nice combo of flat and gentle hills.

  2. foxrunsfast

    SO EXCITED for you!! Thrilled to read this post and even more excited about following along with you as you pursue your OTQ! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ That’s so awesome. I know you will see a world of difference with much more time to focus on training and recovering.

    Also super bummed and disheartened to read the article about Tennessee. Ugh. That’s beyond unfair and a terrible thing for that coach to do.

    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      Thanks! I’m so blown away at the support I’ve gotten from the school and from classmates and really finding myself rededicated to training now that I feel like there will be an opportunity to really reap the benefits of recovery.


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