Author Archives: Runner Under Pressure

Product Review: Lumo Run

As I shared in January, I was lucky enough to be selected to be a Lumo Run ambassador for the next year which means that I got my own sensor for use for free AND have codes to pass along for all interested.

I will admit that at first, I was nervous to wear the Lumo Run. After all, did I really want to know exactly what things I was doing wrong while I was running?! After my first run, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that in fact, my running form isn’t all that bad. You may recall my embarrassment last year during my track 10,000 when a woman yelled “stop shuffling and run!!” as I went by. In first place. The truth is, we could all probably use a little help and for me, Lumo Run is a much more private way to improve.

The Lumo Run is a tiny sensor that clips onto the back of your shorts or tights and just hangs out there while you run. For your first run, you do need to run with your phone to calibrate, but after that you can run with just the sensor or the sensor and your phone for instant updates and suggestions. I never run with a phone, so I sync up afterwards which probably diminishes a tiny bit of the benefit that I could be enjoying.

Approximately the same size as a chapstick.

Lumo Run measures five key categories for efficient running: cadence, braking, bounce, pelvic rotation and pelvic drop. Once it identifies your weak areas, it suggests exercises to help improve your statistics in those areas. For those who use it on with a phone, it can also provide suggestions and corrections throughout your run.

For me, my biggest issue has been braking, which is how much you slow down with every step. Although this is often associated with people who overstride (which is not my issue with my teeny, tiny choppy steps), I’m willing to bet my patented shuffle is creating a similar issue. To work on this, I’ve been doing ankle rolls before every run and recently, had a longer run where all my metrics were in line! Interestingly, this long run was on a car free bike path with no curbs or potholes, which may have something to do with my confidence moving more smoothly over a surface. I did wear it the other day on a trail run, but it was out of batteries so I’ll have to test my theory again later.

This tool is a great one for runners of all abilities. For new runners, it can help with common issues like bounce. For runners with weak hips, it can help reinforce good habits and reduce drop. For runners who haven’t done speed work in a while or are primarily trail runners, it can help encourage a more efficient cadence. What I love most is that your data are kept private if you want to which allows you to improve without feeling totally self-conscious. If you are a someone who runs with their phone, then this tool is practically indispensable for you.

If you want to try out a LumoRun, you can buy one here and with code SM10, you can get $10 off the price of the sensor.

Week in Review: 2.27.17 to 3.5.17

Monday: 10 K of skate skiing at the second part of the State Championships. Kids did AWESOME. Boys ended up third overall and girls were second. Such a fun day and an amazing end (sob) to my coaching career (for now).

Tuesday: Back to reality. 4.5 mile run before work. Legs totally exhausted from skiing. 300 abs at night.

Wednesday: 7 mile fartlek workout with 5 by 30 second hills hard then 4 by 2 minutes at tempo pace.

Thursday: The post call day that just wasn’t. Didn’t leave the hospital until 5 pm and then had to pretend to study for my national shelf exam that was happening Friday morning.

Friday: The niggle of a cold on Thursday turned into a full-blown cold by Friday morning and it.was.gross. I brought a roll of toilet paper to my exam and apologized profusely to my classmates for the 2.5 hours of sneezing, sniffling and nose blowing. 5 miles on the trails behind my house, however, between components of the exam.

Saturday: Down for the count. Couldn’t breathe, think or move. Since Will is gone for the next month, we attempted to have a nice day together but all I could manage was a coffee shop and then sneezing my way through the rest of our errands.

Sunday: Still sick but decided to move (slowly) to try to feel better. 5 miles on the trails again. Didn’t feel great but didn’t feel awful and I’m glad I got out there. Arms afterward.

Total Miles: 27.2

Total February Miles: 137

I am the poster child for burning the candle at both ends right now. I had a few threats of sickness over the past few weeks but was lucky and never fully crashed until Thursday, just in time for my first full weekend off in a while. Compounding this is the fact that tomorrow (Monday) will be my last run for a week because of my Tuesday morning surgery. As I said to Erin Lopez yesterday, this winter has been a total bust for training and only some of it has been in my control. I’m obviously going to play it by ear this week and let pain be my guide but my hope is to be doing light cardio by Thursday with hopes that I can be back to running for next Monday. After that, it’s scramble as best as I can until Unplugged and hope for the best!

Weeks in Review: 2/13/17 to 2/26/17

There’s no filter to undo those circles…

2/13/17 to 2/19/17

Monday: Early morning snowshoe run for 45 minutes because the snow was just too amazing to not play in. Plus, I’m signed up for the Northeast Snowshoe Championships so I figured I’d better get out and practice!

Tuesday: 8 miles with 4 miles at tempo pace. Downhill skiing in the afternoon.

Wednesday: 4.28 mile recovery run.

Thursday: 8 miles with 4.5 miles at steady state on the treadmill.

Friday: 3.25 miles easy.

Saturday: 45 minute snowshoe run at my parents. SO hard in all the snow.

Sunday: Off day.

Total Miles: 23.5 plus 90 minutes of snowshoe running.

2/20/17 to 2/26/17

Monday: 8 miles with 5 by 2 at interval pace followed by a mile at steady state.

Tuesday: 5 mile recovery run

Wednesday: 6.65 mile regular run

Thursday: 5 mile progression run

Friday: 10 miles of classic skiing at the State Meet.

Saturday: Long call. Lots of hospital walking but no run. 300 abs routine before bed.

Sunday: 11.3 mile long run.

Total Miles: 46.0

The last two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. When we’re on Inpatient Medicine, we typically work six days a week with one weekend day off. Since the State Meets fall on weekdays, however, I had to stack some weekends so that I could have the time off. This past week, my “off day” from the hospital was very much an on day at the rainy, windy classic State Meet. Needless to say, I’m pretty wiped out and amazed I ran at all!

The toughest girls you’ll ever meet.

And my resilient, wonderful boys relay team.

My workouts have felt pretty good lately, which I attribute in part to my being fastidious about taking my multivitamin with iron. I stopped taking extra iron after last summer because my running had decreased and the high sweat loss season was done. However, because of the size of my hematoma, I decided to add a multivitamin with iron back in and have felt much peppier on runs lately.

I finally feel like I’m getting in a rhythm with my early morning runs…which must mean it’s time to switch schedules again! I have one more week on Inpatient Medicine, then switch to Surgery Boot Camp. This has a later start time but I think I’ll continue to do my runs in the morning. As ski season winds down, I’ll also be looking to add Body Pump back in for strength training.

Mass

No amount of medical training can prepare you to absorb the words, “we found a mass in your breast.” I am a healthy 33 year old with little family history of cancer and although I by no means think I’m infallible, if you told me I’d start 2017 with a breast biopsy and the placement of a bead for annual followup, I wouldn’t have believed you.

So that the few people who know me personally exhale, let me skip to the punchline first: the mass is benign and everything is a-ok. The pathology came back as a sclerosing papilloma, which is the most common breast mass in women in my age group.

***The rest of this is a little TMI, so feel free to skip.***

This all started in August, when I was in Chapel Hill for a girls weekend with friends and woke up to find that there was blood on my sheets and shirt from my nipple. At the time, I discounted it as terrible chafing from my sports bra. KC and I had run the day before in 104 degree humidity and every other square inch of my body was chafed, so I didn’t worry about it and didn’t say anything to KC or Lindsey. Everything was fine for a couple of weeks and then it started happening rather regularly. Sometime in the fall, I also started having intermittent stabbing pain, usually with movement but sometimes just laying in bed. Without laying too much blame, it took some time to get into my PCP’s office because they were in a transition and I was away for interviews.

I had my mammogram and ultrasound at the end of December. Public Service Announcement: I had heard horror stories about mammograms and they are false. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it’s awkward. But it’s never painful and it’s so worth it. Get yours. The mammogram was normal but the ultrasound revealed a mass in my right breast and warranted a biopsy and placement of a bead so that the mass could be tracked for either surgery or further monitoring. A few people have asked if I was scared and to be completely honest, I wasn’t. Somewhere between Katrina relief and medical school, I’ve stopped trying to control things I can’t control and this situation fell firmly in that range for me. I knew that the chances of it being malignant were low and I also knew that the Breast Cancer Center at UVM was incredible and that I was in the best hands possible.

Telling my husband, parents and sister, however, was horrible. Will lost his mother to breast cancer when he was in high school and she was diagnosed in her early 30s. He has been great through the whole process but I can’t help but imagine that this dredged up a lot of things he didn’t want to remember. My family was fantastic and I did my best to prepare them for what was most likely (and what was the worst case scenario).

Will was away for an interview so my mom took me to my biopsy on January 2nd. The team at the BCC was incredible; they are kind, caring and just the nicest people you could ask to undergo this with. The biopsy wasn’t too bad, just a ton of pressure. The placement of the bead, however, gave me an appreciation for 10/10 pain. In a classic Sarah move, I thought I was fine, went out to the waiting room to wait…and promptly vasovagaled down and had to go lay down again. Things went well after that but unfortunately, I had quite a bit of bleeding from the biopsy and formed a large hematoma which earned me a breast binder. It is exactly what it sounds like…the nurses wrestled me into it and I went home to recover.

Because a hematoma is a deep bruise that needs some help to drain, I had to wear the breast binder for a few weeks. The worst part of the breast binder was the inability to expand my lungs. The second worst part was that it makes you stand up incredibly straight. Both of these things made it virtually impossible to ski or run normally, so I skied slowly with poor form and didn’t do much running.

What it took to run or ski…and yes, the breast binder is pink and flowery. Don’t get me started.

The pathology (cell type and behavior) came back as a sclerosing papilloma which essentially means that the cells were normal but they were stacking up on themselves to make this nice little mass in one of my ducts. Because mine is symptomatic and because it’s large and unlikely to stop bleeding on its own, I’ll be having surgery on March 7th to remove it. It’s a straightforward surgery and I don’t even have to have general anesthesia but I can’t run for a week afterward because I’ve already demonstrated that I like to bleed. The long term bummer is that I won’t be able to breast feed on that side due to scarring.

So why share this on a running blog? First, because I am a split inch from being a doctor and I want everyone to pay attention to their preventative health. Second, because I attributed this to running and chafing and easily could have continued that had I not had my background in medicine. And third, because it changes the way I will be approaching my training for New Bedford. Provided I don’t have any complications, I will now be running New Bedford as a long workout in preparation for the Unplugged Half in April. Because I need to take a week off after surgery, it just doesn’t make sense to force myself to try to get a race effort in at New Bedford. I may feel totally fine and get a great workout in or I may have pain and need to just back off and do it as a workout.

Good Eats: Lemon Couscous, Raisin Bran Muffins and Thug Kitchen

Finishing interview season has been a bit like coming up for air after trying to swim the length of a pool. It took me a week to figure out how to live at home again but once I did, I was right back to menu planning and recipe experimentation.

The first thing that has been rocking my world is the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook. If you haven’t heard about Thug Kitchen yet, it’s this awesome vegan cookbook (no, I’m not vegan but I like vegetables) with expletives throughout. Totally entertaining way to cook. Anyway, Joe got this for Will for Christmas and in the style of TK, we have been cooking the **** out of it. At $12 on Amazon, get it and be open minded. Goodness knows we could all eat more veggies…Things we’ve loved so far:

  • French Crushed Chickpea and Artichoke Heart Salad
  • Sun-dried Tomato Carbonara
  • Creamy Squash Mac and Cheese with Hot Sauce Bread Crumbs (feeds an army, just FYI)
  • Red Curry Noodes (our first recipe and omg…I was in love and I don’t even LIKE curry)
  • Quinoa Taco Mix (fed this to teenagers and grown men who only eat meat with no complaints)

The next recipe I made was a Lemon Couscous Cucumber Salad to accompany Chicken Picatta. Since we are 100% moving in May, we have started the extremely painful process of trying to clean out our house which includes our cabinets, fridges and freezers. As such, I came across a jar of capers and a bag of Israeli couscous and voila. For the chicken, I had chicken cutlets in the freezer already and didn’t bother with buying full breasts and butterflying; if you’re averse to that kind of prep like I am, I can attest that cutlets were equally delicious and cooked in about 2 minutes.

Finally, I made the boys two dozen Raisin Bran muffins with some stale cereal that’s been haunting the cupboards for months. I made mine with almond milk instead of buttermilk (lactose hurts at least half the house) and added in a half cup of dried cranberries to up the fruit content. Mostly because I didn’t pre-read the instructions and the over was already preheated, I skipped the 45 minutes to let the cereal soften. No one seems to be complaining and there are only 8 muffins left less than 24 hours after they came out of the over.

Product Review: Honey Stinger Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Protein Bar

After my scathing review of the Soleus watch last week, I figured I’d better redeem myself with a far more positive post. As I shared earlier this year, I was lucky to join the Honey Stinger hive earlier this year and I do get a discount on their goods. Beyond that, this is not a sponsored post and I’m not getting any additional compensation.

Anyway, as I’m back on the wards now (on late call today which means anything from a 6:30 to a 10 pm departure from the hospital. Blech), I wanted to find some snacks that were easy to stash in my coat or pockets but offered some nutritional staying power. When I found out that Honey Stinger made protein bars, I ordered a box of Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond but prepared myself that I might not like them. I tend to find protein bars too chalky for my taste or way too much for a simple snack. I can’t do the meal replacement bar thing; my brain demands “real” food so if I eat a 500 calorie protein bar, I’m still hungry for dinner.

Simply put, these are fricken delicious. Like, really, really good. They don’t taste fake at all and the combination of chocolate, cherry and almond feels way more like a candy bar than a protein bar. I’ve thrown them in every bag and coat I own and made it through some crazy days of early morning run to wards to nordic practice to the alpine hill thanks to these bars.

Nutritionally speaking, they are a great balance of fats (8 g), proteins (10 g) and carbs (19 g) in a 180 calorie package. Because of this, they are a versatile choice for pre or post workout or a snack between meals. Right now, I’m primarily using them as an afternoon snack to get me through practice and to dinner. I can see myself using them as a quick breakfast in a pinch, however, paired with a piece of fruit and bottle of Nuun.

Week in Review: 2.6.17 to 2.12.17

Monday: First day back in the hospital. 6 mile early morning workout with 10 by 1 on, 1 off.

Tuesday: 3.25 easy run in the early morning snow.

Wednesday: 5 mile treadmill hill run.

Thursday: 7 mile progression run, starting at 6.1 and ending at 9.1.

Friday: Post-call, prorated off day. 4 miles.

Saturday: Nordic skied in the morning, downhill in the afternoon.

Sunday: 6 mile run plus arms and core.

Total Miles: 31.3

First week back on service! The good news is that I did a good job of getting up and getting my run done. The bad news is that I didn’t get a lot of lifting in and I missed my long run this week. I had intended to do it on Friday when I was post-call because I expected to be done around 1 but didn’t leave the hospital until 5. I coached on Saturday and I am back at work today. I got up early to fit a run in but felt miserable so just did an easy run and lifted.

We’re heading into a big storm cycle today which is going to be GREAT for skiing and snowshoeing but less good for running. I’ll be on the treadmill for my workouts this week but hoping to get outside for my easy runs and hopefully by next weekend, there will be enough clear roads for a long run.

In general, it’s working well for me to have workouts scheduled without prescribed mileage because it changes my perspective to be grateful for any effort. I am of course frustrated that I can’t seem to string together any real training but I’m working on being grateful for the running I can get in.

Finally, I got to try my new Lumo Run  this week and will admit to being a little nervous to see what it said but my initial run was very positive. The pace was off because I was on the treadmill but all of my markers looked good except for braking. I’m so excited to see how this project goes and how I can tweak my running form.

Product Review: Soleus Pulse HRM

It’s always awkward to find a product that you are totally disappointed in, especially when it’s a relatively new company. That said, one of the beautiful things about the blog community and the endurance blog community in particular are the availability of candid product reviews. In the time of a bazillion sponsored posts, as uncomfortable as it is to give a product zero starts, it’s also important to keep it (really) real. I (obviously) wasn’t sponsored for this review; I saw an internet special on this watch and sprung for it because I wanted a wrist based HRM.

I had EXTREMELY high hopes for the Soleus Pulse HRM. It has a built in heart rate monitor which meant no futzing around with a heart rate strap; I could just put the watch on and go. I really like training by heartrate for outdoor tempo runs and for recovery runs but the strap is uncomfortable and almost untenable in the winter under a bunch of layers. It also featured a GPS, activity tracker and chrono function, so my hope was this watch could become my all the time watch. Not so much. If I can’t figure out how to return it, I’ll probably throw it out.

Right off the bat, the watch disappointed. First, the face is HUGE. I can’t take too many points off for this because I have tiny wrists but the watch face was much broader than my bones and to tighten the watch such that it could even work as a heart rate monitor, I was at the very last hole on the strap before the face. I’m not overly vain but it wasn’t a watch I wanted to wear around work because it was just so bulky.

Second, you need a PhD to make this thing work. I’m a relatively smart person and actually tech savvy but the startup guide that comes with the watch is all but useless. You have to go on to Soleus’ website to figure out how to configure it. Again, not a deal breaker, but it certainly wasn’t plug and play and the buttons still didn’t make sense after reading the manual. I would have been willing to spend more time getting to know the watch, however, had it actually worked once I figured out how to start it.

On my first run, it took me all of half a mile to realize that the heart rate monitor just didn’t really work. When I was doing hip swings, it was close to what I assume is accurate in the 90s, but when I started to run, it went to 99. And stayed there. The entire run. Occasionally it would flash in the 120s, but it was never over 99 for more than a second. When I would stop running (say, at a red light), it would occasionally pick up a more believable heart rate but as soon as I started running again, it went back to 99. This happened on the second and third (coincidentally the last time I used it…) runs as well. Meh.

Not only does the lauded heart rate monitor flop, the GPS doesn’t even work well. I’ve been running in Burlington for enough years and with enough watches and GMaps Pedometer checks to know the length of my routes. On my second run with the Pulse HRM, I headed out for a known 10.25 mile loop. When I got home, it measured just over 8 miles. That’s more than just a little error and it was a bright, sunny day.

All in all, there is just nothing redeeming I can say about this watch except that thankfully, the web special that I bought it under seems to have wiped out the stock so you can’t make the same mistake as me. Back to my good old fashioned chrono Timex!

 

Treadmill Workout: Stamina Progression Run

I LOVE this run for a winter workout on the treadmill where I need to build fitness AND not go nuts on the treadmill. This is a 7 mile version but you can extend as you want by adding to cooldown or adding another mile progression segment. If you’re short on time, you can always just do a continuous progression with a short cool-down but that’s a different workout purpose.

The goal of this workout is to progress throughout your run, ending at what should be your tempo pace. It should never be over-the-top difficult, but should feel like you’re cruising smoothly through most of the workout and working pretty hard by the last mile. For each segment, you speed up through most of the segment then finish out the mile at the top speed for that segment. When the next minute comes around, you start progressing again. By doing this, you’re getting a little extra time in each zone but not as focused on holding tempo pace/effort continuously.

Right now, I start at 6.0 and go to 9.0, then cool down for a mile at 7.0. (10:00, 6:40 and 8:34 paces respectively). Pick whatever pace is very easy to start that gets you into your tempo range by the end! The example below is based on my paces, adjust as needed.

Mile 1: Starting at 6.0, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 6.5. Finish the mile at 6.5. (Warmup)

Mile 2: Starting at 6.5, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 7.0. Finish the mile at 7.0

Mile 3: Starting at 7.0, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 7.5. Finish the mile at 7.5. (By now, you should be warmed up. Good time for a stretch break if you take them)

Mile 4: Starting at 7.5, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 8.0. Finish the mile at 8.0.

Mile 5: Starting at 8.0, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 8.5. Finish the mile at 8.5.

Mile 6: Starting at 8.5, increase speed by 0.1 each minute until 9.0. Finish the mile at 9.0.

Mile 7: Easy mile at 7.0 pace.

Product Review: Skechers Go Meb Razor

I’m a good secret keeper when I need to be but when Dave showed me this shoe in October, it took all of my self-control not to say something. I had pictures on my phone that were burning a hole in my pocket and I texted him a number of times asking him when the Razor was going to hit the market. When my pair finally came in a couple of weeks ago, I broke it out immediately, even though it was snowy and terrible out and decidedly not the conditions for a sports car like the Razor.

Let’s back up for a moment. As I’ve raved about here before and in the real world, the inspiration for the Razor was the GoMeb Speed, which is my all time favorite racing flat, and the GoRun Ride which has been my regular workhorse shoe for the last year. Suffice to say, there was little chance I didn’t love the Razor. With a 4 mm drop, it’s what I’m used to running in and with an improved sole (no holes for rocks to stick in) and upper (comfortable cloth that actually moves with your feet), this shoe nails it. One of the other bonuses of all Skechers shoes is that they come with two insoles which allows you to further customize the fit. I have two different sized feet and if I wear a shoe that fits my left foot, my right foot gets slammed around in too much toebox. With Skechers, I can order a 7, take the insole out on my left and wear the insole on my right and voila, happy feet on both sides. For other people with narrow, wide or some other bizarre foot issue, the insoles give you a chance to essentially get quarter sizes out of the same base shoe size.

I’ve now done a regular run, tempo run, long run and track workout in these shoes. They were great for all uses but I think their real strength is for long tempo runs, marathon race shoes and long runs with quicker effort. They have excellent return off the pavement for workouts but are not quite as responsive on the track for the super-discriminatory. That said, if you were looking to only purchase one shoe (I realize that most people don’t have a quiver of shoes like I do), the Razor is an excellent all-purpose shoe that you can train, race and recover in.