Category Archives: Athletes

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.

 

Why I Am Trying a 9 Day Training Cycle

It’s no secret that my schedule is wonky at best. I am occasionally on a Monday through Friday workweek but most of the time, the idea of weekend or workweek is irrelevant. Add in the fact that I start coaching full time this coming week with meets almost every Saturday and half my weekend instantly evaporates. On top of this, I have call requirements and a fall full of interviews, some of which are a long travel from Burlington.

In addition to this scheduling nightmare for the fall, I’m also in desperate need of a better recovery plan. Thanks to the above schedule, my ability to increase sleep is limited and by definition, I’m on my feet all day, sometimes in very awkward positions. How then, to create more recovery time so that I can keep chasing after my athletic pursuits? One option is to increase my intensity but drop my volume. I ran a very successful first marathon on 35 miles a week, so this is a possibility I’ll likely reconsider during residency. The other option and the one I’ll be trying out this fall is the 9 day training cycle. 

The premise is simple: instead of trying to do a speed workout, tempo workout and long run in 7 days, you do it in 9 days. The nice part of this is that each harder effort is followed by both a recover run and a regular run and increases the likelihood you hit hard workouts fully recovered. Because there are more days to play with, the added benefit of flexibility is a good fit for the inevitable travel delays that I’ll experience this fall.

Here’s what my first “week” back will look like:

50 8/24/2016 Hard 8/1:1 x 10 Legs
50 8/25/2016 Recover 6 Arms
50 8/26/2016 Regular 7 Core
50 8/27/2016 Hard 8/3 by 1 at T Legs
50 8/28/2016 Recover 6 Arms
50 8/29/2016 Regular 7 Core
50 8/30/2016 Long 12 Legs
50 8/31/2016 Recover 6 Arms
50 9/1/2016 Regular 7 Core

How do you adjust mileage for a 9 day cycle? As I’ve addressed in comments before, I prorate all of my mileage to get the right day to day load.  In the case of the example above, 50/7 is a daily load of 7.1, so my workouts are (daily load + 1), recovery is (daily load – 1) and regular is 7. Long run will start at about 25% of my total mileage and increase. After this 9 day set, I’ll go to 55 miles per ‘week’ and adjust accordingly.

When do you have an off day? I’ll be taking an off day on the 4th recovery day, which is every 12th day. Right now, I take an off day every other week which can be anything from 8 to 13 days. I think with the additional recovery offered by the 9 day schedule, I’ll be okay with this being on the long end but it will definitely be something I pay attention to when I reevaluate.

How long is my experiment? I’ll be trying this through early October, enough to go through 6 microcycles. If I feel like it’s an improvement over my current schedule, I’ll keep it going through the rest of the fall. if not, I’ll either go back to a 7 day schedule or try something new.

Anyone ever do a 9 day cycle? 

Rock’N’Roll Chicago!

When I found out I was going to Chicago, the first thing I did was check out the running scene, identify my possible running routes and try to find a race that fit into my schedule. Since I’ll be on Emergency Medicine, my schedule is a little erratic so I didn’t want to sign up for a race that might conflict with a shift. When I found out that the Rock’N’Roll Chicago half was on the weekend after I finish, I sent in an application for an elite entry and crossed my fingers. It might be hot and miserable but I though the opportunity to have something to focus on and to check my fitness was a great one. In awesome news, I got word last night that my application was accepted for July 17th!

Excited for a new skyline next week!

Excited for a new skyline next week!

It’s hard not to go into a race with hopes of a PR but in this case, I’m just hoping for improvement from Plattsburgh and another great race experience where I can work for a top finish next to other fast ladies. It also offers an opportunity to see how my fall might shape up and whether I’m ready to tackle another 26.2.

How To Structure a Training Cycle (When You Work Full Time)

I had a brief opportunity to live the pro life this fall but as anyone who’s been reading this blog for more than a few months knows, that didn’t result in a huge breakthrough but instead left me disappointed and a little heartbroken after Philly. All’s well that ends well, but upon reflection, I thrive when my schedule is busy and struggle when all I have to focus on is training.

One of the biggest questions that I get from people in real life and people on the internet alike is how I fit training in around the horrendous schedule that is medical school. Third year has been the absolute hardest of the years in terms of scheduling (and thankfully I’m officially a 4th year Friday at 2 pm), but I’ve still managed to hang on to a fitness base and ramp up for spring races. Part of this is a systematic approach to a training cycle, which goes something like this:

  1. Begin with the end in mind. My goal race for the early Spring is the Plattsburgh Half Marathon in early May. It’s sponsored by Skechers and many of the new Northeast athletes are getting together to aim for a sweep. I don’t need it (or expect it) to be a PR, but I do want to put in a good performance. To run a solid half, I need to have some reasonable long runs under my belt, spend time at tempo pace and get in some general speed work. Whenever you approach a goal race, it’s also critical to know what that race will demand course-wise. For Plattsburgh, the course features a LOT of sharp corners (not unlike the middle miles of Vermont City Marathon), so I need to be prepared to have my momentum disrupted and get refocused quickly.
  2. How will I get from here to there? Between now and May, I’m also scheduled to run the New England Trail Championships in April. While this isn’t a goal race, it’s a great opportunity to challenge myself for approximately the same amount of time I’ll likely be on my feet for the half marathon. Because it’s on trails (a river trail with reasonable footing but dirt nonetheless), I’m making sure to get in plenty of trail work on my recovery days and will be hitting Balboa Park next week for both recovery runs and a trail tempo workout.
  3. Where will I go from there? After the Plattsburgh Half, my next scheduled event is the US Mountain Running Championships which are WAY out of my comfort zone. It’s safe to say that from May on, I’ll be running a lot more vertical feet than I usually do but even between now and then, I’m working on increasing the vertical feet I run every week. I’m limited on the treadmill, but when I do a recovery run, I do it at a serious grade. When I’m able to be outside, I choose the hilliest routes I can find. Once the half is done, I’ll be heading to the mountains for a workout at least once a week with long runs on the Long Trail. Why not start this before Plattsburgh? Because the muscles and skills that let you go uphill fast are not the muscles and skills that help you race on the roads.

On a week to week basis, my Sunday night is spent looking at my goals for the cycle and deciding how my week will work towards those goals. On a macroscopic level, I always know where I am (base building versus strength building versus specific training) but microscopically, it’s all dictated by my schedule and where my legs are at. It takes some flexibility and a lot of faith, but it always works out in the end.

Week of 3/8/16: Goal of 45 miles with 2 workouts (continuous tempo and hill intervals)

Day Workout Focus Strength
Day 1  Regular Run Chest and Back
Day 2  Tempo Effort (continuous) Legs
Day 3  Recovery Run (on trails) Core
Day 4  Regular Run Biceps and Triceps
Day 5 Interval Work (30 second hill repeats) Legs
Day 6 Regular Run Yoga
Day 7 Long Run (90 to 120 minutes relaxed pace with strides after) Core

How do you approach your training cycles? Do you have a bigger picture and tweak it week to week or take things a week at a time and see how you feel as races approach?

Welcome to Skechers

For someone who generally has plenty to say, it’s hard to put into words what today’s post means to me. For anyone who has run competitively, sponsorships are an incredible gift and shoe sponsorships are the holy grail. Yes, shoes serve a practical purpose since most of us go through shoes at an alarming rate but beyond the practical, a shoe sponsor is validation, hope and motivation all wrapped up into one incredible document.

I met Dave at the Craft Brew Race last June, where he got a pair of GoRuns into my hands. I subsequently fell in love with the shoe and started trying to get SkiRack and Fleet Feet to carry them locally. When the opportunity to apply for the 2016 Team came around, I jumped. Dave and I were able to chat leading up to Philly and I had high hopes that I could demonstrate to Skechers just how great an investment I would be. I won’t lie that part of my post-race disappointment came from feeling like I’d blown my chance with Skechers. Imagine my relief when within minutes of my race, a text came back from Dave that said “It’s just one race, we all have bad ones.” That’s a company that gets runners…

All of this to say is that for 2016, I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I’ll be racing for Skechers Performance along with some other awesome Northeast runners.

As you’ll start to see on my sponsors page and with product reviews for Skechers shoes and apparel, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. I’ve always aimed to be transparent when I am given gear to test and this will be no exception. Yes, Skechers will be providing me with free and discounted gear but they are extremely clear in their social media policy that we are not only encouraged but expected to be honest, good, bad or neutral. 

I’m so excited to reveal this next chapter in my life to all of you and to join with Skechers Performance as I strive for the next level in my running.

Have a fast day.

 

It’s My Body and I’ll Billboard If I Want To

As my post on Thursday alluded, it’s a rough time for endurance sports. Perhaps some of this comes from the insanity associated with chasing after and keeping sponsorships, most of which have performance requirements tied to them. When you have to perform to pay the bills, it’s not a huge leap to see why people might be willing to bend or outright break the rules.

That’s why I find this letter by Nick Symmonds incredibly timely. As he says, major contracts are few and far between (and increasingly a thing of the past). As such, many of us cobble together sponsorships to support our running. When we race, we want to acknowledge the companies who support us. We want to make sure everyone knows which products we believe in and count on. As the rules are now, however, my body isn’t my body at USATF events. The Nuun tattoo I wear to thank that company isn’t allowed. If I want to recognize a sponsor in addition to my team, I essentially have to rely on pre and post race gear to get the word out. It’s not that this doesn’t work: I spent 2 hours after the Craft Brew race answering questions about Nuun thanks to my trucker cap and tattoo. But it would be nice to have my singlet adorned with the logos of the companies that got me there.

In nordic skiing, for example, athlete uniforms reflect all of their sponsors. This year, for example, the US women have white uniforms that have nordic related sponsors like Craft Performance, Fischer and Rossignol next to non-nordic specific sponsors like Visa and Subaru. The other nice feature of the U.S. Ski Team is that although there are team specific sponsors (Craft, L.L. Bean and others), athletes can also personalize their uniforms and hats with other sponsors, such as their boot maker or fuel company.

I’m not saying I want to look like a NASCAR rig. I neither have that many sponsors nor the intention of making my quads a billboard. What I am saying (and what Symmonds is saying) is that athletes should have the opportunity to recognize all their sponsors on their race gear without penalty and that companies should have their logo readily visible on the athletes they so graciously sponsor.

What do you think the solution is? Should USATF be able to dictate what athletes put on their bodies? Where do we draw the line on bodies as billboards?

Improvement Season: Recovery

In looking back at Philly, this is perhaps the most confusing part of my performance. Unlike my normal training cycles where I balance school, coaching and training, I was essentially off to train. Yes, I was still coaching and taking classes, but I was able to get 9 hours of sleep every night and had ample opportunity to nap during the day if I needed to. Furthermore, I had a totally flexible schedule which meant that if I needed another day before a workout, I could take it. Despite this, I felt like my taper was the least effective of any taper I’ve done. In some ways, I’m curious about how running goes now that I’m back on my regular crazy schedule.

Sleep: I start Surgery on Monday and furthermore, start on the night shift. I actually prefer running while on Nights because I can run at 3 in the afternoon on rested legs. When I flip back to days, my plan is to run at 4 am and then do strength after my shift. I know some people can run after a day in the OR, but I can’t stand the ache of “OR legs.” In general, if I can get 6 to 7 hours of sleep, I’m a functional human so this is my goal going forward.

Compression: As warm as it can be in compression socks while scrubbed in, I just need to get over the fact that I’m always the sweaty kid and do it.

A rare dry moment. Must be pre-op.

A rare dry moment. Must be pre-op.

Foam Rolling/Flexibility: This is a place where I really didn’t excel during the Philly cycle until the end. I have a simple routine that takes about 10 minutes. I do 8 rolls over my glutes, hamstrings, calf muscles, IT band and hip flexor on each leg, 30 seconds of hamstring stretch per side with a stretching rope and 30 seconds of calf drops off the basement stairs. My goal for going forward is to do this routine after my morning runs rather than waiting until I’m sore.

Run Paces: I suspect this last item plays the biggest part in my underperformance at Philly. In past cycles, I’ve done my recovery runs and many of my regular runs really.slowly. For this cycle, however, my recovery and easy runs just didn’t feel as easy. I think I was feeling pressure to “catch up” after the anemia fiasco and not necessarily listening to my body. Going forward, I am going to start wearing my heart rate monitor on my recovery runs again, with a goal of keeping my heartrate under 135. If I am still feeling under recovered, I may start wearing it full time. If that happens, I also need to find a way to protect the skin on my sternum, which is permanently scarred from my chest strap…

How do you assess your recovery? Any tricks for keeping chest straps from digging into your skin?

Recently Read: Orthorexia, Gender Equality and Mental Toughness

Although I have a lot of articles bookmarked this week, I don’t have anything bookmarked about the ongoing doping scandal or the provisional suspension of Russia by the IAAF. I have plenty of thoughts about it, but I haven’t found a way to put them into words that doesn’t just devolve into screaming. I imagine I’m not alone in this. For so many of us, running is pure and simple and scandals like the Nike/Salazar issue and like the systemic doping uncovered in Russia taint everything. It’s hard to look at the success of a runner now and not wonder “Is she doping?”

Orthorexia is an issue with which I’m highly concerned, especially with the proliferation of running and healthy lifestyle blogs. I’ve written about it before but was happy to see this article about the issue. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for healthy eating and fueling the body with real food, but not at the expense of balance or the development of an obsession.

We had QUITE the spirited debate in our house the other night about the issue of equality in running last Friday. With others, Kasie Enman has started a campaign to improve equality in distance running and nordic skiing. At the core of the issue are two facts: 1) teams are not always the same size and 2) distances are often shorter for women. On the first point, I’m in 100% agreement that the teams should be the same size. I cannot fathom why they are not besides some old argument that men are inherently more interesting to watch race than women. On the second, however, I disagree with Kasie and others who are calling for equal race distances and fall more in line with Lauren Fleshman’s view. Injury and eating disorders are extremely prevalent at the college level (in men too, see my sub-point in a moment) and that only goes from 5K to 6K for women. If women had to go from 5K to 8K over the course of the summer, the mileage required and the increase in workout length would increase injuries enormously. From another perspective, it would make developing college level talent difficult on high school coaches and recruiting a nightmare for college coaches. The athlete who is successful at the 5K may not have the ability to stretch out to the 8K. Furthermore, the athlete who excels at the 8K in cross country may not have the cross over to also be your middle distance runner in track. Joe’s perspective on the issue is that there isn’t a compelling reason NOT to have them be the same distance and Alex Hutchinson at Sweat Science agrees. Joe said it “sucked for guys to jump in distance, so why not have everyone do it.” While I don’t agree with spreading the misery just for the sake of fairness, perhaps there’s another way to achieve equality. Why not bring everyone down to the 6K?

Speaking of equality, I loved this YouTube video that kicks off the #covertheathlete campaign.

A great clip with Jenny Simpson about being calm at the starting line. As an athlete and coach, I’m always interested in tactics for race day zen and I loved her quote that This is home. It reminds me of the wisdom my captains brought to the team before the State Meet, gleaned from their leadership class: “Same race, different day.”

Finally, an article shared by my friend Annie who played lacrosse for UVM and still satisfies her need for competition by randomly showing up and running marathons about preparing for the end of a competitive career.