Category Archives: Athletes

“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.

Race Report: Halloween Hustle 5K 2016

For better or worse, I’m getting good at racing in the pouring rain and high 30s! Saturday morning was gray with moderate drizzle…until I started my warm-up when I got totally soaked. Since this was a Halloween race, I tried to get in the spirit without ruining my stride and had the unfortunate idea to rock a cotton Superman shirt. Red bunhuggers topped off my look and yes onlookers, I was cold.

Me and Pre, prerace. Yes, he always makes that face.

Me and Pre, prerace. Yes, he always makes that face.

I didn’t get back from Asheville until 11 pm and when my alarm went off at 7:30, I almost scrapped the idea but since I was registered and awake, I dragged my butt out of bed and got dressed. I was at the race site by 8:30 and the race went off at 9 am, leaving my with just enough time to jog a couple of miles and do a strider up the sidewalk. Right before the race, I asked Joe was his plans were and he said he was hoping for a 5:40 first mile. This comes into play shortly…

The start was a bit hilarious as the airhorn misfired and we took a step out, then came back to start again. We rolled out in the pouring rain and I was a few steps behind Joe and Adam and with Tim, Francis and Todd. We quickly separated from the rest of the group and headed out into the neighborhood loop. Since I thought Joe was running a 5:40 mile, I settled in behind him and felt super comfortable which probably should have been a sign that something was amiss. There were no mile markers, so I just went on time and assumed that I’d crossed mile 1 around 6 minute pace given where I was off Joe and Adam.

The first mile rolls uphill but each hill is followed by either a downhill or a flat for recovery, making it a great course to move on. Tim and I separated from Francis and Todd but worked together for the rest of the race, a needed boost in the pouring rain. Once we got to the top of the hills, we picked up the pace and started to hammer down the hills and float on the flats. I focused on keeping Adam in sight until we took a series of tight course turns and there weren’t any straight stretches to get back in contact. Around this time, I also stepped in a river running down the street and soaked myself up to my shins.

For the second two miles (again, no markers, so I was just guessing on time), I just focused on pressing the pace. When I got to 12 minutes, I picked it up again and worked on convincing myself that I had the fitness to do so. Unlike last week, I found it a lot easier to find that next gear and hold it. My only big mistake was that I didn’t know the course so I wasn’t sure when we were getting near the final turn. Tim did, however, and shot by me with 200 meters to go. I crossed the line at 19:22, very happy to no longer need to drag my cotton shirt along with me!

After the race, I was a tiny bit disappointed that my time wasn’t faster but then found out our splits from Tim. Mile 1 was 6:39, Mile 2 was 6:06 and Mile 3 was 5:49. Turns out, Joe had decided to run the first mile on heartrate and ran a 6:16 instead of a 5:40. We all gave him considerable grief about this! The upside is that I felt so good in the second two miles and was able to push hard. I do think I could have had a similar progression with a slightly faster first mile so that’s a lesson for me to be attuned to BOTH my perceived effort and what others are doing.

Not a lot of female company out there.

Not a lot of female company out there.

Overall, I was happy with a race well executed in crummy conditions and feel like I’m starting to remember how to race again. I also cannot recommend the course enough. It is a certified 5K course and has an awesome combination of hills, downhills and straightaways. I would LOVE to race it again when a) I’m in better shape and b) the weather is a little more favorable because I think it is definitely a PR course.

Week in Review 10.24.16 to 10.30.16

Monday: 2 miles continuous tempo with team, 5.25 miles total.

Tuesday: 6 mile easy run around school.

Wednesday: Interval workout. 4 by 400 (82, 85, 86, 86) and 4 by 200. 9 miles total.

Thursday: 6 miles in Asheville! Hot, humid and hilly (and high!). Fun to be back. First installment of #wheremyskechershavebeen.

Sunset from my hotel room!

Sunset from my hotel room!

Friday: Interview Day. 20 minutes of yoga for runners before the day started and a walk from Mission back to downtown.

Saturday am: Halloween Hustle 5K (19:22) and 7 miles total.

Saturday pm: 3 miles easy of course preview at NVACs.

Sunday: Off. Tried to get caught up on to-do’s, to little avail.

Total Miles: 36.3

Not the most impressive week mileage wise but really happy to get two workouts and a race in. Somehow, the weather remains atrocious in the Northeast with another race in the soaking rain and 39 degree temperatures but I ran a much smarter race and am feeling like things are actually starting to click together! I’m also really happy that I got some yoga in again. Traveling made it a necessity and I’m thinking I need to incorporate more of it as interview season goes on.

It’s States Week again, which means that my entire priority is getting a happy, healthy and tapered bunch of teenagers to the start line. I am still planning on getting in two workouts and possibly another race in, but if the girls need me, so be it!

Has anyone tried Jasyoga? Any other yoga apps that you love?

Week in Review 8.15.16 to 8.21.16

Another whirlwind week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Miles: 37

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

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