Category Archives: balance

Week in Review 1.9.17 to 1.15.17

Monday: One of my favorite runs ever. 8 miles around Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. We did the White Rock Loop then added on and ran up to La Madre Springs. The terrain was incredible and varied but 100% runnable and the weather was perfection at 45 degrees. I was super grateful for trail shoes as it was muddy and rocky at times. Ended the run completely gassed.

We started at the White Rock Road Trailhead and ran in the direction of the highpoint. The descent was fun, the return to the parking lot was not.

Cameras can’t capture the vastness of this area but we tried anyway.

Tuesday: 20 minutes on the elliptical in Salt Lake plus arms and core.

Wednesday: 30 minutes on the elliptical plus legs.

Thursday: Planned to run in Maine but the gym didn’t open til 6 am so I did an in-room bodyweight workout instead. I loved the Elbow Plank with Leg Lift and Negative Pushups.

Friday: 2 mile run plus arms. “College” core routine at night.

Saturday: Hilly progression run on treadmill in Cleveland. 6 miles total. Legs afterward.

Sunday: Traveled home, rest day.

Total Miles: 16

This week was INSANE in terms of travel. On Monday, I was in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, we flew to Salt Lake City. On Wednesday I flew all the way to Portland, Maine. On Thursday night, I flew to Greenville, SC. On Friday night, I flew to Cleveland, OH and finally on Sunday, I flew home to Burlington. For 36 hours. I leave tomorrow for Virginia, although I’ll be back Wednesday night. With all this travel, I’m thankful I got any exercise in at all!

What I am super excited about is that I’m getting back into a routine of getting daily strength work in and it is making a big difference. I feel stronger and my back is much less achy than it usually is. Will and I both agree that going forward, it is more critical for me to be consistent about strength and core than get 5 or 10 extra miles per week in.

This week, I’m back to running at about 35 miles a week with a long run and two workouts. I’m trying out a new watch (Soleus Pulse) and excited to pick up my GoMeb Razors later in the week. This shoe is EPIC. It is a lightweight neutral trainer and I suspect it’s going to supplant all the other shoes in my arsenal.

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.

 

Nutrition Intervention

I’ve always prided myself on my approach to nutrition. The daughter of a Registered Dietitian, food planning and preparation have always been relatively easy for me and I legitimately prefer real, nutritious food to junk food. That’s not to say that I don’t like treats but if I have a donut for breakfast, I’m still looking for a berry smoothie to feel done with the meal.

When I traveled to Asheville a couple of weeks ago, I had a few hours on the plane to think in peace and was reflecting on many things, one of them being my nutrition. I have been in and out of my home (and my kitchen) since March of 2015 when I was in Maine for Family Medicine and since March of 2016, I’ve lived in Norwalk, Chicago and Asheville. Needless to say, any semblance of routine has been hugely disrupted. Add in all my recent travel and long coaching days fueled by…adrenaline? and I found myself feeling severely undernourished. Sure, I was eating food and getting through the day but couldn’t recall the last time I had a salad or planned a whole day of nutritious food. Diet Coke had crept back into my life after a few years and I found myself eating more candy and sweets than usual. Interview meals are a whole other issue; you eat what the program provides and quickly, since someone is almost guaranteed to ask you another question before you can swallow.

Travel makes it hard but I’ve spent the last two weeks working hard on planning and preparing so that I have access to as much nutritious food as I can. I’m back to roasting root veggies on Sunday for salads and packing a cooler of food for when I’m on the road. I hand mixed a new trail mix that has enough fat, protein and carb to power me through even the longest interview meet and greet. I throw a couple of Light Muscle Milk cartons in every bag so I always have an easy, portable option for protein to tide me over. I’m aggressively paying attention to my caffeine to water ratio and bringing tubes of Nuun with me everywhere to combat hotel room air. (Why ARE hotel rooms so dry?!) I even had the opportunity to pair up with Honey Stinger for 2017 (more on this later), so I now have a great supply of Stinger Waffles for pre-run or even survival in my carry-on.

In some ways, it would be easier to just take a grab and go approach. After all, my time is limited and trying to make it to 20+ cities on time, in a suit and looking vaguely professional is enough of a challenge without trying to do food prep. But after two weeks of being much more intentional about my fuel, I’m feeling so much better. I’m not waking up starving or crashing during runs, I don’t drag through the day and I generally feel better. If I’m going to be short on time, I’d rather feel good for the time I do have.

What are your tricks for eating healthy when your schedule is tight? Any favorite meals to prep on Sunday or great grab and go snacks? How do you keep a routine when you travel?

Where My Skechers Have Been (Aka Interview Season)

In keeping with the rest of medical education, interview season for residency is a bit of a savage process. You apply to a ton of programs (for an exorbitant fee), you get interviews at a few and you travel to them for a two day speed dating event where you essentially pick where you’re going to live and train for five years. Super low stress. I’m applying in General Surgery which is considered a “late” interview season and we are just starting to get underway. My first interview is Thursday and Friday in Asheville, where I did an audition rotation this past summer. I am beyond excited to return to Asheville (especially since I get a second fall just as the snow is starting to fly up here) and as I was thinking about how to reframe all my upcoming travel in a positive light, I came up with a silly hashtag to highlight all the travel opportunities ahead: #wheremyskechershavebeen.

Running is a central part of my life and wherever we end up next year, I need to be able to escape for a run when I do leave the hospital so I am bringing running clothes with me to every interview. My plan is to run-explore on the first day so that I can see what’s out there in each city. On the second day, interviews start early, so I’m likely going to be touring many hotel gyms for that component. During my interview season, I’m going to be taking ridiculous pictures of my running shoes as we travel the country and scoping out great places to run across the United States and will be sharing those on here. The impact of reframing an annoyance to a positive? I’m actually pretty excited for my first flight delay when I’m posting photos from an airport bathroom. My bet? The flight from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis in December…

Ready to go? First stop, Asheville. 

Weeks In Review 10.3.16 to 10.16.16

October 3rd to October 9th

Monday: First Day of TAing, so off day by the time we left.

Tuesday: 8 miles early with Carl.

Wednesday: 7.5 miles with Will plus core.

Thursday: 8 mile fartlek workout. 5 by minute hard, minute easy. 5 by 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Great early workout minus the person who stole my headlamp!!

Friday: 5 mile run at Mills plus a 3 mile course walk.

Saturday: 4 mile run around Franklin Park.

Sunday: 3 mile course walk while volunteering then 4.5 mile run and Body Pump in the evening.

Total Miles: 37

October 10th to October 16th

Monday: 6 mile run with 2 by 1.5 miles at tempo pace. Almost embarrassingly sore from changing my squat and lunge weight on Sunday.

Tuesday: 4 mile recovery run.

Wednesday: 4.5 mile run.

Thursday: 7.65 mile run after a long day.

Friday: Big zero. Too much going on between TAing and Homecoming. We won Best Homecoming Float, though!

Saturday: 8.5 mile workout on the Hardack Course. Progressive warmup then 8 by minute hard, minute easy. Coaching sprints after the workout felt harder than usual…

Sunday: 7.5 miles easy through Intervale with Carl.

Total Miles 38.2

Feeling a little bit like my life is currently held together by duct tape and post-it notes. I’m TAing Anatomy this month which is a huge amount of fun but also takes a ton of time between dissections, teaching and studying for the next day not to mention holding office hours. Almost as soon as it started last Monday (the 3rd), I realized any hopes of big mileage this month are just shot. Between TAing and coaching, there isn’t enough time for my own training and that’s something I’m working on being okay with. After all, next year is likely to be similar (if not worse). I’m working on being grateful for the runs I do get in and trying to let go of days when my runs are short or non-existent. I also need to work on accepting that my house is going to be dirty and my to-do list a little longer than normal. Maybe next week…

First years have an exam tomorrow which makes tomorrow a marathon day. Hoping to get up early and get at least 30 minutes in on the treadmill before heading in for the whole day. On Tuesday, I’m off so will do the workout with the team and hopefully set myself up for a reasonable remainder of the week.

The Comparison Trap

The other day, one of my girls said, “I’m in a pain hole and I can’t get out!” We spend a lot of time on our team working to push ourselves when you reach that fork in a race where you can either choose to blast through the pain tunnel or stay where it’s safe and (more) comfortable. She excels at getting into the pain tunnel but post-race can be just plain miserable for her; when she crosses the line, that’s all she has and we end up carrying her back to the tent. As much as we giggled about her pain hole comment (and her question about whether she still had arms), I found myself thinking about it this week as I checked my email for the fifteenth time looking for interview invites (for residency), checked an online message board for the interviews others were getting and scrolled through Instagram looking at everyone’s seemingly amazing training and racing posts. I realized that I’m caught in a comparison trap and I can’t get out. 

There’s a saying about never knowing about the rocks that other people carry and I think social media exacerbates this in a way. Despite knowing that social media is highly curated, it’s hard to avoid the creeping sensation that everyone else is running faster, doing more and generally better than you. For me, daily posts by other runners that include phrases like #neverstop #workharder #rundaily don’t inspire me, they discourage me. I’m nowhere near lazy; I’m busy coaching a team, applying to residency, and keeping life going but if I’m not killing my workouts (or even really interested in doing them), I feel like a failure by the time I’ve done my first internet scroll in the morning. I’m not sure what the solution is but I definitely need to start the process of building a ladder or find some teammates to carry me back to the tent to regroup.

How do you react to the comparison trap? Have you tried a social media hiatus? What is it about social media that makes us automatically filter our lives?

Week in Review: 8.8.16 to 8.14.16

Monday: 7.5 mile fartlek. Poured rain until I got back.

Tuesday: 7.5 miles with 4 by 50 meter striders.

Wednesday: 6 miles with 8 by 30 seconds hard uphill.

Thursday: Tough day. Used what I had left of the light to scramble up Craggy Pinnacle and breathe in some air.

Mountains

Friday: Jetted out for 4 miles before the trip to Chapel Hill.

Saturday: DYING with KC in the 95 degree weather but we were running in Chapel Hill, so we didn’t care. 4.5 miles. Did real arms with weights!

Sunday: 5 miles on the treadmill watching the Women’s Marathon. Still heated about the clueless announcer lambasting Desi…core after.

Total Miles: Oddly, 34.5 just like last week.

Just accepting that running cannot be priority one right now; learning to operate is. I have an amazing opportunity out here to get a ton of case hours and although it means I’m barely running, it’s a sacrifice worth making. I did get two decent efforts in last week and will aim to do the same again this week before I get to head home on Thursday!! Well, not home, but to training camp with the girls, which is just as good.

So excited for cross country to officially start and to get my own training locked and loaded (and maybe under slightly less humid conditions).

Don’t Believe Everything You See on Instagram

Disclaimer: I love social media. I once coordinated the volunteer response to a hurricane on social media and continue to do research on the role of social media in public health promotion. I benefit from social media; my relationships with Skechers and Nuun and with countless other companies who send me free things to review or comp my race entries are closely tied to my social media presence.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I am also deeply concerned about the way that social media is changing the way we run. Is is possible to go for a run without posting a picture of your Garmin? Is it possible to eat a recovery meal without first snapping it in pretty light? How many shots does it take to get a good daily run shot and WHO THE HELL IS TAKING ALL YOUR RUNNING PHOTOS?!?

Much of this has come up for me over the past few months as I continue to figure out how to balance the PR and training components of my running. I am deeply grateful to my sponsors and want to represent them in a good light and demonstrate how their support makes it easier for me to meet my training goals. That said, I also don’t have time to set up a photo shoot after every run nor do I have someone around to take a photo of every workout or run. All of this came to a head a few weeks ago when I was down in our gym doing legs after a workout. I wanted to get a picture after a good workout and was busily trying to set up a timer app on my phone to capture me in the middle of a single leg squat. After 15 minutes of trying to get a shot with decent lighting, however, I was out of time both for squats or to post a picture and as I was showering started to reflect on the sheer ridiculousness of compromising both my social media presence and training to get a good workout shot.

My bigger concern, however, is around the authenticity of content on social media as it pertains to running. No one, and I repeat no one, has good runs every day. Perhaps every run has moments of good but the reality is that if you run regularly, most of those runs are average and run of the mill. And that’s okay. No single workout or run makes a training cycle. It’s the stacking of average run on average run that leads to breakthrough performances and personal records. So why the pressure to talk about how amazing every run was or how fast you were on every repetition? Why the cultivation of the myth that running and training should always be glamorous and photo ready? Some of my biggest breakthrough workouts are the ones where I miss my paces but stick it out anyway or the ones where I drench through my mismatching clothes. Where’s the rush to post those moments?

Part of the story but not the whole story.

Part of the story but not the whole story.

In general, I think I do a good job of being real on this blog. In fact, I think I am a little too rough on myself which is something I noticed when reading through race reports recently. On Instagram, however, I fall into the trap of cultivating my content. Some of this is unconscious; if I don’t have time to post a picture, I don’t. Some of it, however, is 100% intentional. When Will and I have time to run together, I regularly ask him to take pictures of apparel and shoes while I’m running and we do way more than 1 take. As I was flipping through my phone photos this week while planning out this week’s content, I busted myself (thus the impetus for this post) for taking pictures of all the amazing veggie concoctions I’d enjoyed all week. The issue was not that I took pictures of pretty summer vegetables, it was that if I posted just those, it would create the image that I eat perfectly healthy meals and erase the reality that one of those nights of a bright salad was only because we’d opted to eat chips and salsa for the rest of our dinner. It erased the reality of Friday where we had tons of cookies leftover from a dinner party and I literally ate only cookies for breakfast and dinner. Why was THAT not on my camera to share?

Going forward, my personal plan is to be more mindful of what I’m choosing to put on my social media accounts and be less self-conscious about sharing the real moments while taking everyone else’s content with a grain of salt. Hair a tangled mess and face blotchy from working hard on the track? Resist the urge to filter the sh*t out of it. Posting a picture of a great, healthy meal? Own up to cookie breakfasts and lunches or to the days when I eat zero vegetables.

Would you engage with a social media account that was more…average? How do you decide what to post on social media? 

Week in Review 5.16.16 to 5.22.16

Monday: 7 miles of recovery on the treadmill plus arms.

Tuesday: 9.15 miles with a workout. Warmed up, strides, drills, mindfulness then 6 by 400 (84, 83, 84, 84, 85, 82) and 4 by 200 hard. Legs afterward.

Wednesday: 4.5 miles on the trails.

Thursday: Off day, prorated at 7 miles.

Friday: 8.5 mile run through the Intervale. Legs feeling really punky.

Saturday: 5.2 mile fartlek run with drills plus a mile of 100 meter ins and outs followed by a mile of 400 at T, 400 jog. Drove to and from Boston for the Red Sox game which was a blast but hard on my back and legs.

Sunday: 8 mile run in the rain.

Total Miles: 49.4

The Good: I had an AWESOME workout on Tuesday, not only because I ran paces that were faster than I expected but because I felt great doing it and got myself into a good mindset before the workout.

The Ugly: I’m trying to do too much right now and getting ready to be gone for 8 weeks has buried me in to dos. On top of that, we had tickets to the Red Sox (a great thing!) and I didn’t set my weekend up well to get my long run in. For this coming week, I need to do a better job of making sure I’m set up to get my runs in!

In an attempt to take some things off my plate before I leave for Chicago, I’ve decided not to run Freihofer’s. The race alone would be great but since I have to travel and stay overnight, it adds a huge amount of stress and uses up another weekend when I could be prepping for Step 2 and polishing my residency application. I may look for another race that weekend and will certainly be looking for races in Chicago and Asheville as I continue my 2016 goal of building race experience.