Category Archives: Athletes

Race Report: Swamp Rabbit Urban Ultra 25K

Let’s start with the punchline first…

And now tell the funny story…

I was initially planning to do a half marathon two weeks ago as a fitness test but ended up tweaking my hamstring and getting the Resident Plague and spending that Sunday in a feverish ball asleep for 36 hours. Because I live firmly in the Bible Belt, finding a Sunday race is tough and I work on Saturdays so finding a replacement race was difficult. Thankfully, I am now on a rotation with the world’s most understanding Attendings who are generally entertained by my running escapades and they were okay with me missing last Saturday so I registered for the Swamp Rabbit 25K. When I discussed this with Dave, we were both psyched for the distance because it provided an opportunity to really assess my current marathon fitness. Of note, I MAY have mislead Dave into believing this was a road race because I believed it was. See, the Swamp Rabbit is the 30+ mile greenway in Greenville so I assumed this race used the greenway. I was wrong.

I woke up bright and early on race morning and headed to Greenville. As has been our lot lately, the weather was a bit on the miserable side. Summer has come back with a vengeance and the humidity is oppressive. It was about 70 when I got to the race course with an equal dew point, leading to almost 100% humidity. Thankfully, it was overcast with occasional rain sprinkles. The course was a 10K out and back but the 25K started at the halfway point and since we had to be bussed out there, I didn’t bother warming up until we got out there. I did a short run (on the paved trail) and some drills and we were off at 9 am.

I immediately ended up at the front and although another woman went with me for about a half mile, I spent the remainder of the race alone except for passing 50K runners or seeing other 25K runners on the out and back. The first mile was on pavement and I just tried to settle into a relaxed pace that approximated marathon effort. I came through in 6:58 and thought “perfect!.” And then we took a sharp right turn onto a goat path. Turns out that although the course was BASED on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, it actually included many segments on single track, boardwalks and sand. Whooops. As I sputtered internally, I focused on staying efficient and keeping my effort up while I explored the first 5K back to the Finish Area. We climbed a big grass hill with multiple switch backs, then barreled down the back side on a root filled descent. The remainder of the “back” contained boardwalks, trail, stairs and some pavement and a final grass hill up to the Finish/turnaround. I rolled through and headed onto the “out” section.

The first part of the out actually stays on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, so I tried to use this time to pick up my leg speed and bring my pace down again. We then climbed a long hill followed by a long descent and turned onto the same switchback that we had careened down on the way back. That climb was TOUGH. Roots and switchbacks made keeping momentum tough and although the first time over it wasn’t too bad, the second time was misery. Then it was down the grass hill and back on the Swamp Rabbit to the 10K/where we started.

I took my first gel at the 10K and this was where I realized how hot I was. Since my goals of using this a marathon simulation were a bit shot and I was comfortably in first, I actually stopped and took my gel rather than choking on it. Then I set off again for the return trip. On the pavement, I was happy to see my pace right around 6:50. On the trails, all bets were off. I will admit that as I wound my way through the last trail before the Finish Area, I was internally whining about having to do ANOTHER 10K on the trails. I came through the Finish/15K and stopped again for a sip of water and THE BEST SIP OF COCA COLA EVER. I see why real ultra runners swear by it…By now, I had soaked through my singlet and shorts and was just in survival mode.

The last 10K included a few moments of happiness but mostly a slog where I bribed myself multiple times with the idea of a) laying down and b) finishing the Coke I’d left at the finish. During this last 10K, the sun came out and the conditions went from overcast and humid to just plain brutal. Crossing one of the swamps on a boardwalk, I am pretty sure turtles were moving faster than me. Somehow I persevered and the next thing I knew, I was crossing the last bridge and running up the grass slope to the finish. I crossed in 1:57 and happily found my Coke. I didn’t lay down because I was SO soaked that I never would have gotten the grass off of me.

All in all, I’m very happy with this race even if it wasn’t quite the simulation run that I’d hoped for. My pace averaged out to 7:30 pace on super challenging terrain which makes me feel more confident about what I can do on the road in a month. I’m also happy with my mental game. I could have completely shut down upon finding out the course was a trail race but instead, I worked hard on the paved sections as I could and tried to be efficient on the trail sections without injuring myself or letting my heart rate drop too far. I also had a great time getting to know more of the local Ultra community. Maybe it’s the South but the two ultra “crowd” experiences I’ve had since moving here have been just overwhelmingly welcoming and positive.

Splits below, although not that useful as my Garmin is atrocious on trails/under tree cover. I saw everything from 5:50 to 12:00 minute pace during the race and although I believe the latter, I’m skeptical about the former…

6:58

7:29

7:33

7:26

7:36

7:09

7:50

7:46

8:00

8:30

8:00

7:38

8:00

8:00

8:08

 

Still (Mostly) Alive

It’s hard to believe that only 11 weeks have passed since starting Intern Year and in the same breath, 11 weeks has flown by. I am almost done with my first rotation of this year (Acute Care Surgery) and with it, done with the bulk of my training for RDC! As expected, my running has had to take a bit of a back seat to everything else but I’ve done a reasonable job of continuing to train and build and finally have some long term goals in mind!

July: My only real goal for July was to survive and figure out what my running schedule might look like when the reality of 80+ hours of work hit. We had a relatively mild summer here and since I ran in the early morning for most of it, I really didn’t struggle too much with heat and humidity. I ran a very reasonable 181 miles and my long runs progressed to 16 miles. Workouts were non-specific (long trail runs, fartleks and easy tempos) and focused on general fitness acquisition.

August: I started to figure out what work was all about and finally managed to get through my days more efficiently. I hit the wall a bit energy wise in the middle of the month and finished up with only 165 miles. I did, however, get my first 20 miler in for the cycle and my workouts started to get more specific. I also started going to Orange Theory, which has been very interesting in terms of my perception of effort versus my heart rate.

September: After a relatively disappointing August, I have been trying to refocus more on my running in September. I am about as fatigued as I’ve ever been right now and my body is showing it with lots of general aches and leg heaviness. I did get another 20 miler in and my workouts have become even more focused (more on this later). I restarted my iron to make sure I’m tuned up from that perspective and have been focusing on sleep and stretching as much as I can to combat 80+ hours of standing/interrupted sleep/weird positions in the OR. I’m doing a check in half marathon in Johnson City this weekend and interested to see where I’m at as compared to both Unplugged and the Asheville Half. I don’t know what the topography of the course will be and the weather looks hot but it will be nice to have a supported “up-effort.”

I realized in August is that I have to become more flexible with training and with that, workouts have to become more intentional. I don’t have the recovery ability to do multiple workouts a week and instead, have to make do with a couple of quality efforts each week. Because of this and because I have been so frustrated with my stagnation, I finally decided to hire/bring on a coach. I say ‘bring on’ because I am working with Dave Ames, who is a friend beyond being a coach, and the decision was about as collaborative as it gets. As many people know, Will has been my coach forever but with intern year for him and an intentional shift in our marriage to be as focused on just being married and not being co-workers, co-coaches, athlete-coaches, it was time to make a different plan.

One of the amazing things about having a coach is that all I have to do is workout. One of the terrifying things about having a coach ARE those workouts. For example, I had a medium long run on Sunday with a workout built in that didn’t seem that difficult on paper but was EXTREMELY difficult. Similarly, I have a mile repeat workout today that I am convinced is all but impossible so I have the difficult task of convincing myself first that I can do it and second, getting through it. Dave gets incredible results from his athletes and furthermore, has a lot of experience with the sports psychology aspect of racing which I need almost as much as the physiologic piece.

My race schedule has evolved as well, with a new focus on the US 50K Road Championships (hoping to podium) in March and CIM 2018 for my (hopeful) OTQ attempt. This takes a little pressure off RDC where my main goal is to just get back into marathon running and hopefully undo some of the emotional baggage I am (still) carrying from Philly.

But first, the Bluegrass Half in Johnson City on Sunday!

Race Report: Cottonmouth 8 Mile Beer Relay

Hands down, this was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a race. Will really doesn’t race anymore after three ankle surgeries but I wrangled him into this one because it was a relay race, involved beer and was on trails rather than roads. The basic setup was that there is a two mile trail loop and teams of 1 to 4 had an option to drink a beer before the lap then set off for a 2 minute deduction in total time. The other component was that you had to carry a full beer “baton” for the whole race. There were age graded adjustments built in as well for final results. We did the relay as a two person team; I ran legs 1 and 3 and Will ran legs 2 and 4.

The night before the race, we had the arduous task of choosing our beer. It had to be >5% ABV, it had to be beer based (meaning ciders etc were excluded) and we wanted it to be in a bottle for easy drinking and something we would likely never want to drink again in case we got sick while running. We spent an inordinate amount of time in Ingles and finally settled on New Belgium’s Watermelon Lime Ale, coming in at 5% in bottle form. Our only mistake was not making sure they were twist off tops, which meant that we had to also remember to bring a bottle opener.

We got to Travelers Rest a little before 9 on Sunday morning and had an easy, breezy check in process. The Race Director was delightful and super welcoming, which was a nice change from my last attempt to get involved in the running community here. Will and I set out to preview the course which was marked with big arrow signs and after the first downhill (which, incidentally, was super technical), encountered two arrows that went like this –> <–. Hm. We tried to backtrack from the other side of the loop and still couldn’t make it work. We finished the course preview of the second half, a loop that included a football field and old asphalt track and let the Race Director know that something was up with the first loop. When he went out to check, he found that someone had reversed 5 of his arrows overnight! After he fixed it, we went back out to preview the first half of the course and it had magically turned into a great trail loop!

From the get-go, this race was low key and fun and prerace was no exception. People were hanging out, drinking beers and playing beer pong and corn hole. I didn’t drink before because I was already concerned about my ability to drink two beers and run 4 miles. I was also worried that I’d overload on fluid so despite the fact that it was in the 80s and sunny, I didn’t let myself have water and was PARCHED. My biggest prerace concern was chugging a beer at the start. I’ve never been one to chug anything, in part because of my inability to burp, and I was worried that it would take me 2 minutes to finish my beer and erase the 2 minutes that drinking a beer erased from each lap.

Chose an appropriate singlet for the morning! Cheers!

The start went WAY better than anticipated for me. I got the bottle open without difficulty and managed to drink it in ~25 seconds. I started to run in about 15th place and jogged out of the start area. Our plan was to take the whole race at about tempo effort but try to run intelligently on the course. The first mile was all trail and had sections with very technical footing and a big climb. The second mile was much more runnable and had a football field and lap on the old track, so was a perfect place to make up some time. The first downhill was MISERABLE. I was so full and had a sloshy stomach and desperately needed to burp, which is never my strong point. Since the whole idea was to have fun, I just kept jogging until I finally mercifully burped and felt 100% better. I found my tempo effort and started passing people quickly. When we came out of the woods, I found myself in 3rd place, solidly behind first (the race director who is a beast of a trail runner and beat us by 90 seconds) and about 30 seconds behind second. As we moved onto the faster part of the loop, I worked at closing the gap to second (our main competition) and ultimately got within 15 seconds of him. I finished the first lap in 15:35 and tagged off to Will, who put his beer down much more efficiently than me.

The man, the myth, the legend with better knee drive than I could ever hope for.

Will’s first lap was a beautiful thing. I’ve never seen him race and it was really fun to watch him pick his way over the course. He’s a great trail runner and a heck of a gamer in races and it was incredibly fun to get the chance to cheer for him for a change. The runner from the other team was very, very fast and Will did his best to hang close enough to him to keep us in it. At some point in his loop, Will passed the second runner from the team who had come in first (they were a 3 person team) as well and he came into the exchange zone in second by about 20 seconds.

My second beer was not as smooth as my first but I got it down in about 30 seconds and took off again. Unfortunately, the team that we were chasing was much more proficient and he was gone from sight before I finished my beer. This time, I was able to burp almost immediately and pushed my effort to tempo effort from the get-go. Although I couldn’t see my actual competition, there were plenty of people to pass on course which made it very easy to stay focused. Unfortunately, the second lap was MUCH warmer than the first. When we were in the woods, it wasn’t too bad but when we came out into the full sun, woooooweeee it was hot. I worked hard to not give up on the track and through the final field and was happy yet again to find that I had the fitness to start in tempo/interval effort in the final part of the race. I came into the exchange zone in a solid second but quite a ways down from the first team. My lap time was 15:45, which I was happy with now that I had two beers sloshing around.

Will took off after another great beer exchange and I jogged to the corner at the end of the woods loop to await him. The runner for the first team is clearly a trail guy; he hammered the first half of the course and put a lot of distance on Will. When they hit the flats, however, Will started to close the gap again. They ultimately beat us handily but I think Will and I were both super happy with our efforts!

The final rule was that at the finish line, you had to shake up the full beer that had been your baton the whole time and crack it open and spray. I’ve rarely seen Will smile so easily as he did when the finish line official made him do it! I had to duck and run to avoid a full spray of warm, shaken Budweiser.

Good thing we brought a change of clothes!

All in all, it was an awesome experience for us and a decent workout to boot. After the race, we hung around for almost two hours and ate pizza and met lots of runners from the Greenville running community. I connected with a runner (incidentally the guy who ran my leg from the team who beat us) who works at Pace Running, which is a local running store in Travelers Rest that exclusively carries Skechers so it was fun to talk shop a bit. It was such a nice contrast from my first experience to feel welcome and included just by virtue of showing up.

From a race perspective, I’m just so grateful to continue forward progress. My laps were very close in time and our team average pace was 7:45, so my 7:47 and 7:52 didn’t hold us back too badly! Given that my mile pace for the Asheville half was 7:20, I feel very good about this performance on trails, in the hot sun post-beers!

My favorite part of the day, however, was getting to see Will in race mode. We met after his first ankle surgery when he was already in the long, long recovery process and he hasn’t raced much since then. He did one 5K as part of the VCM relay and paced another for one of my athletes but otherwise just runs for fun. Without putting too much of him on the blog without his permission, I’ve always thought that he was nervous about racing again because it might fall short of his prior performances. I think Sunday was a great step for him to realize that you can reinvent yourself and race for fun and still be a “runner.”

“Running Connects Me”: Giveaway Winner

Ellie from Eat, Run, Pavement had this to say about how running enriches her life:

“Running connects me with my body. I can feel everything, pain, pleasure, elation, sadness, feat. It is the one thing that makes me feel completely alive.”

Touche! Everyone’s entries were wonderful and demonstrated all the things running can do for the body and soul. For her entry, Ellie wins a copy of Marathon Woman, the new book by Katherine Switzer. Congratulations Ellie!

Giveaway: Marathon Woman

There are few running scenes more recognizable than that of Katherine Switzer being forcibly removed from the Boston Marathon course. With the help of fellow runners, she was able to fight back and finish the race, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and an undeniable marker of women’s coming of age in running. When Switzer ran Boston again this year, it was in her original bib 261 and was one of my favorite moments of the day. I even told the story to my non-running colleagues in the SICU and they too celebrated as she crossed the line again.

I was thrilled, then, when the publisher of her new book offered me a copy of Marathon Woman and a copy to share with others!! I haven’t finished the book yet but it is an inspiring read that I would recommend to all runners. 

Enter to win by Sunday May 21st at 11:59 and I will select a winner on Monday. There are three ways to enter and you get a chance to win from each:

  1. Comment here on your favorite Boston Marathon moment.
  2. Head to my Instagram (@runswatrun), find this Giveaway Post and comment there on what running means to you.
  3. On the Giveaway post, tag three friends who inspire you to move daily.

Do one or do all three for three chances to win! Winner will be chosen via random number generator. 

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.

Goals for 2017

The only guarantee in 2017 for me is change. In March, I’ll find out where I matched. In May, I’ll move and graduate. In mid-June, I become a surgical intern. As I’ve been ruminating on goals for 2017, one of the biggest challenges is that I don’t know exactly what my life will look like and past June, I don’t know what my call schedule will be which makes planning races or training difficult. Thus, my biggest goal for early 2017 is to lay down the habits that will allow me to continue to train during Residency. My secondary goal is to build a foundation to chase the Trials Standard for the 2020 Olympics and continue to represent Skechers Performance at local, regional and national races.

To do this, I’ve had to think about what works for me in terms of training, what is a reasonable training load that will allow me to race well AND be sane and what I’ve continued to struggle with during the past few years. I don’t know the specifics of any program yet but I do know that I can plan on working 80 hours a week with approximately one day off a week.

  1. 40 to 45 miles a week. Such a bitter pill to swallow but I have to be realistic about what I can really get in throughout the year. At this point, my plan is to do 30 minutes on most mornings with an early wakeup two days a week for an interval effort and a steady state effort plus a long run on my off day. This obviously won’t prepare me for a marathon length event but should allow me to do a half marathon or shorter with minimal notice. It will also let me scale up to the marathon once I have my schedule.
  2. Daily strength training or core. One of the things that I’ve been reminded of during my run break is that I feel so much better when I’m doing strength training and core on a regular basis. Although I am well aware of the benefits of strength training, I always struggle to fit this “extra” in. To better do this, I’ll plan to do my strength or core work at the end of the day. It’s so tempting to hammer through my to-do list but I need to make strength a real priority and setting a time for it both eliminates the need to get up at 3:30 am every day and gives me a mental break at the end of the work day.
  3. Diet Quality Score > 15. Despite my best efforts, interview season continues to wreck havoc on my nutrition. When I have a choice, I’m making high DQS choices but on interview days, all bets are off. There will be plenty of temptation to eat quick, easy food but residency is just as much of an endurance sport as running and fueling with good food will make both running and learning to be a surgeon a little less painful.
  4. Flexibility. Trying this one again! Yoga practice at least once a week, both to center my mind and work on my ever worsening flexibility. Daily foam rolling routine (8 passes over each major muscle group) to follow my daily strength/core.
  5. Morning runs!! The only constant for me is that if my run doesn’t happen in the morning, the likelihood that something comes up skyrockets. When I come back to running on Monday, my first order of business is to get my run done. My hope is that by June, it’s such a a habit that I don’t think anything of it.

As I always tell my girls, it’s one thing to set goals. It’s another to figure out the processes that set you up for success in reaching them. I’m highly motivated by checklists so I’m going to make a weekly checklist that sits on my bulletin board and includes all of these items as checkmarks. I also went back to a paper weekly/monthly planner for 2017 (I need the broad overview to feel in control) and will write in my daily workout as well as my week goal on the week page. Finally, I’m putting a bulleted version of this goal list on my bathroom mirror and on my desk.

What are your goals for 2017? How are you setting yourself up to meet them?

Cooked

Update: A timely article from Outside Magazine on why breaks (and two week breaks at that) are pivotal for runners!

As I alluded in my Week in Review last night, this past week was a bit of a miserable one in terms of running. Long term training is grinding and very rarely glamorous; anyone who tells you they love it every.single.day is absolutely lying to you, themselves or most likely both parties. That said, there is almost always joy in the process even when it grinds a tad. For me, the past few months have felt…aimless. Some of this is out of my control. My job as a fourth year is to obtain a Residency so I am obligated to travel, socialize and work hard to find my fit for the next few years. Because I have no predictable schedule, it was hard to choose any one goal race and led to a training approach that kept me fit but totally non-specific and in many ways, unmotivated.

It wasn’t until this past week, however, as I was looking over my training year and thinking about 2017 that I realized that I hadn’t taken a break in an incredibly long time. I estimated that it had been about six months, figuring that I must have taken a bit of a break after the half in Chicago or at least Plattsburgh. At the MOST, it had to have been right after Philly. As it turns out, my last “big” break was 5 days in November of 2014. The one prior to that was 6 days the month before, after my marathon but before I geared up for the November half. Since I mandate that my athletes get at least a week between seasons (preferably two weeks), this was a bit embarrassing to realize. Although I wasn’t training hard (for me), I was still running almost every day for over two years. In contrast, my athletes generally take 4 to 6 weeks off a year.

I am signed up for (and excited for) my return to the New Bedford Half Marathon in March 2017. This was my PR course for a few years (I ran a 1:27 then a 1:25 on this course before my 1:21) and I love the event. Before I gear up for that event, however, I’m taking a full week off from running. Admittedly, Will would like me to take two weeks off but I’m resisting this right now. I’m open to considering it but want to see how one week goes before I commit to two. I will be active over the next week and the only thing off limits is running. This break is certainly about a physical reset but it’s also about a mental reset too; after a week or two, I am sure to be desperate to be back out there.

While I’m resting/resetting, my other job is to come up with my goals for 2017 and reflect on what approach is most feasible given the confines of the coming year. I have a heavy schedule in February, March and April (I opted to take the fall for easier things rather than sliding towards graduation, just personal preference) followed by a move in May to wherever I’ll be and Intern Orientation in June. I don’t know exactly what my intern year schedule will look like but I do know that no matter where I end up, I can expect to be busy and exhausted and I need to set running goals that work with that rather than fighting it.

When was your last big break? What do you do when you’re on a running break: complete rest or other activities? Ever found yourself cooked on running?

Book Review: The Endurance Diet AND Giveaway

One benefiit of “frequent” airline travel is that I’ve had the opportunity to read more books in the past few weeks than I’ve read in all of medical school. A few weeks ago, a publisher reached out to me to see if I was interested in reading an advanced copy of Matt Fitzgerald’s new book The Endurance Diet. As I talked about in my post on nutrition recently, I’ve been looking for ways to improve my diet even with my hectic schedule so I said I would be happy to.

In full disclosure, I was skeptical before I started reading. I vehemently disagreed with Fitzgerald’s prior book on nutrition (Racing Weight) where he advocated that runners all have an optimum racing weight and provided a calculation that for most regular people, would leave them hungry and thin. I’m glad I gave him another chance, however, because he hits it out of the park with The Endurance Diet.

Based on interviews with elite endurance athletes across the world, Fitzgerald essentially reviewed their diet logs during training and looked for trends in general approach to diet and the balance of macronutrients (fats, carbs and proteins are your macros). His initial hypothesis was that there would be differences depending on sport and region of the world but what he found was that there was extraordinary similarity between all top level endurance athletes AND that when an athlete had experienced a performance breakthrough, a shift in diet towards the endurance diet had preceeded the change.

From this, Fitzgerald deduces five key habits:

  1. Eat everything.
  2. Eat quality
  3. Eat carb-centered
  4. Eat enough
  5. Eat individually

None of this is revolutionary, of course, but Fitzgerald takes it a step farther with his Diet Quality Score and associated app (available on iPhone and Android). Basically, you get positive points for quality foods and negative points for less quality foods. Your goal is to get to +20 quality points a day. The catch? All foods can be both, so for example, your first glass of wine for the day is a +1 because of the known benefits of wine  and beer for health. The second (and third and fourth) areall -1. Similarly, the first few servings of fruits and veggies are +2 but after a few, they become zeroes and then negative. The whole idea is to eat a range of healthy foods in moderation. What a concept!

My own performance has been mixed. My first day was a +4, in part because I had just gotten home from a trip and we didn’t have much in the way of food. I had a granola bar for breakfast (-1 for refined grains, -2 for sweets because of its sugar content). The next day, however, I had 19 points after a grocery store run and a big, green salad and fresh fruit. Days when I’m home, my quality score is near 20. When I’m traveling or on an interview day, I’m lucky to break 5. What this has led me to conclude is that I need to have two goals; 20 for normal days and 10 for interview days since I don’t have control over what is served. Example of how my behavior has started to shift? I’m sitting in the airport writing this and instead of getting a dressing soaked salad, I had raw veggies, an apple, two hard boiled eggs and almonds (+8 if you were curious…) Although I don’t know what I’ll have for dinner tonight, I am confident I can find a cup of green tea, a glass of wine and another piece of fruit during my journeys.

The only major drawback that I can see is that Fitzgerald isn’t prescriptive about serving sizes and even says that his are variable; for example, when he makes a sandwich, he counts the two slices of bread as one serving of whole grain because who makes a sandwich with one slice of bread…Although this flexibility and individuality are nice, it could set some people up to be too permissive with serving sizes and be counterproductive.

All in all, I highly recommend all endurance athletes of all levels give this book some attention. It is a reasonable, accessibly approach to nutrition which is something most of us real people could sorely use.

I do have a copy of Fitzgerald’s book to giveaway to one entrant.** There are four ways to enter and you can do one or all of them to up your chances!

a) Comment on this blog post: What diet approaches have you used in your running in the past?

b) Follow me on Instagram (@runswatrun) between now and December 20th and shoot me a message on that platform to let me know you’re entering.

c) Follow me on Twitter (@runswatrun) between now and December 20th and send me a DM letting me know you’re entering.

d) Share this post on your own social media accounts and tag me as you do!

**The book is released on December 27th, 2016 so I will get the copy to the winner after the first of the year.

 

It Ain’t About How Hard You Hit (Olympic Trials 2020)

It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. 

I’ve talked about it here before although not in great detail, but Philly 2015 and my failure to make the Olympic Trials or even break 1:20 did significant damage to my running soul. I’m still not sure I’ve recovered as evidenced by my lack of…caring during races but I’m starting to feel a bit more life since the 2020 Standards were released this past weekend. The full standard will be 2:45 and opens September 1, 2017, which is what it was relaxed to at the end of the window this past year. The half standard was lowered to 1:13 and doesn’t open til 2018. Aka, I’ll be going for the full standard.

When I asked Will on Sunday if I had a chance, he didn’t miss a beat and said, “without a doubt.” He’s generally pretty honest, so I allowed myself a little hope and even decided that I’ll run the New Bedford Half Marathon this spring as part of an extended build-up. My goal isn’t to PR but to start getting some long distance specificity back. I can’t pick a goal race or even a window yet until I know 1) where I’m doing residency and 2) what my schedule looks like for PGY 1 and 2 but I’m officially putting it out there as a big, scary goal.

Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come in the marathon amidst some disappointments, but here’s my trajectory AND what I’ll need to qualify.

  • City of Oaks 2008 3:17:35 (7:32)
  • Rock’nRoll 2009 Las Vegas 3:15:51 (7:28)
  • Boston Marathon 2011 3:11:18 (7:18)
  • Vermont City Marathon 2012 3:05:33 (7:04)
  • Vermont City Marathon 2013 2:58:28 (6:48)
  • Mohawk Hudson River Marathon 2014 2:54:38 (6:39)
  • Olympic Trials 2020 Standard 2:45 (6:17)

6 marathons, 23 minutes off and a drop in pace of 57 seconds. For a 2:44:30, I’ll need to drop 10 more minutes and 23 seconds per mile. It seems wholly insurmountable now, but we all have to start somewhere, right? I don’t anticipate doing it all in one bite; it seems more realistic to aim to get under 2:50 first and then take the final stab after that.