Category Archives: balance

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.

You Can Have It All

You can have it all, just not at once. 

I’ve been in a hurry since conception. I arrived on a warm September day when I was supposed to arrive in late November and besides needing some time under the bili lights, I was surprisingly healthy for a preemie. Thanks to my September birthday, I went to kindergarten when I was 4. When I was 7, I wanted to go to sleepaway camp even though you had to be 8, so somehow convinced my parents and the camp director to let me go. It’s practically in my DNA to want everything all at once and I generally do a good job of juggling 100 priorities at once.

The process of scheduling my fourth year, however, is challenging this lifelong balancing act. Without going into the specifics, trying to schedule audition rotations, interview months, study for another set of boards and prepare to move our entire life plus attempt to continue to train and coach plus maintain a marriage and friendships is almost paralyzing. Unlike the first three years where UVM is essentially the only institution with whom we have to coordinate, fourth year requires coordination with 30+ programs who all run on their own schedules and time frames. This process is not one to half ass; what you choose for a specialty and where you choose to train is arguably a bigger life choice than choosing a spouse and significantly more difficult to dissolve if you make the wrong choice.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked myself into my share of tizzies over how to make this all work. I love medicine and feel so honored to have the opportunity to work with patients every day but I also love running, coaching my garden and my family. The thought of not having time to train or at least run regularly is unfathomable to me after almost ten years of consistent mileage and running. Not coaching my “girls” this fall isn’t an option. Will and I would also like to expand our family in the future, which raises a whole other host of issues in a field that is still not particularly welcoming to pregnant or parenting women.

Although this isn’t particularly running related although thinking about giving up high level running is part of my stress, this is certainly what’s kicking around in my head while I’m running lately.

What are you worrying about while you run lately? How have you achieved work-life-running balance?

Everything Is Extraordinary

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary. 

I don’t know what my problem was on Monday. The Heels won on Sunday night, taking us to the Final Four. I had a great weekend full of sunshine and amazing runs. But whatever my problem was, I woke up on Monday to driving rain and wind and I was grumpy from minute 1. I stormed around the apartment getting ready for work. I stormed (internally) around the hospital all day with more consults than we had time for. I barked at an ED doc who called with a ridiculous consult. By the time I was done on Monday, I had whipped myself into a full on tizzy. (Is that a word that only my grandmother used? That happens not infrequently to me…)

I had previously planned to head back to Mianus River Park so when I got home, I grabbed my trail shoes and threw on running clothes. My shoulders were up by my ears and I spent the whole drive convincing myself that the trails would be soaked from the rain, that I should quit medicine because it’s so f****** frustrating sometimes and on and on. Whew.

Then I got to Mianus. I got out of the car, I shed my top layer because the sun had come out and it was warm and I ran. And ran. The trails weren’t too muddy or slippery. The park was quiet save for a few peepers and birds. My shoulders relaxed. I zoned out and worked on trail running technique. Minutes passed and the weight of the day, unidentified as it was, lifted. By the time I got back to my car, I felt human again. Ashamed of my day long grumpiness, but human.

Don't mind the storm clouds floating over Fairfield County...

Don’t mind the storm clouds floating over Fairfield County…

For me, running can lift the weight off my shoulders, even on the worst days. The ability to pink my cheeks and make me feel like I can handle anything, so long as I have my running shoes. For that alone, I should be eternally grateful but sometimes I just plain forget how good I have it.

How long can you stay grumpy on a run? Anyone else prone to storm cloud days?

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?

Week in Review 1.4.15 to 1.10.15

As I alluded in this post, this week was a harsh welcome back to the end of 3rd year, although all in a good way. I came into the week with high hopes of a 50 mile week and came out with a 25 mile week but an adjusted appreciation of the time I do have to run.

Monday: 4.2 miles on the treadmill, welcome as it was 3:30 am and 3 degrees out.

Tuesday: 6 miles.

Wednesday: 4 miles with 10 minutes at T pace. Legs afterward.

Thursday: In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution, yoga! The routine wasn’t hard but it was hard for me to do. Lots of work to do.

Friday: 3.1 miles. In hindsight, not sure why I didn’t just do the full 30 minutes.

Saturday: 15K of skiing with the team at U-32. So grateful to be outside and get to coach for the day!

IMG_1412

Sunday: 7 miles in the pouring rain and wind. Didn’t care because I got to be outside!!

Total Miles: 25

A bit of humble pie this week; surgery is an important clerkship for me and it’s a demanding one, so I had to make a choice between being good at work (or at least awake and engaged) and getting all my hoped-for miles in. I chose the former and am actively working on accepting that for the next couple of weeks, even 30 minutes a day is a great thing.

I am working on figuring out my racing schedule for the next couple of months and am toying with doing the All Terrain Runner series with USATF NE. If I do this, I need to find an indoor track 3K relatively soon. In keeping with this, I’m going to aim for a tempo run and an R pace workout this week plus whatever else I have time to get in.

How Many Things Do You Want to Be Good At?

My experience in medical school is generally on the periphery of this blog, in part because it’s a blog about running and in part because I like having a section of my life that isn’t consumed by medicine and the torture that is becoming a doctor. That last statement is a bit tongue in cheek, especially over the past year. Anyone who was around me during the first year of medical school knows that I was miserable. I love people and being around patients and getting ripped away from the real world to study biochemistry was painful. Last night, however, as I was walking out of the hospital some 13 hours after I walked in, I found myself almost bouncing home and realized whoa, I am in love with my job. That’s not to say that I didn’t come home and almost cry when I realized I had 10 hours of work to do but only 9 hours til my alarm went off again and a strong desire to get a little sleep, but in general, what I get to do every day is fucking incredible.

In that vein, this week has been nuts. Will is back in Connecticut so I’m on my own with the dogs, the house and everything that goes into being a 32 year old with a life outside the hospital. Despite the fact that my alarm went off at 3:45 every morning this week, I still found myself running out of time to get my full planned run in and was so frustrated with myself on Wednesday when my planned 8 mile workout turned into a 4 mile workout. By the time I got home, I had convinced myself that I could never do a surgical residency because my house would be messy and I wouldn’t be able to get my runs in and would never see my family. Then I opened the door and the dogs were there, as happy as ever to see me and Joe made dinner (best friend ever) so I could get the 4 miles in and I just took.a.breath.

After I calmed down, we were talking about the limits of what you can be good at at one time. This topic is actually a big source of conflict for Will and I because it is one of the few areas in which we view the world entirely differently. I throw myself into things and my brain never shuts off, even when a commitment is done. Will walks out of the hospital and switches gears, leaving work at work until he goes back the next day. When he’s running, he’s running. When he’s watching tv, he’s just watching tv. In contrast, if I happen to be sitting on the couch, I’m practicing suturing, answering coaching emails, looking up articles for my next great research paper and thinking through all the unsolved questions of my day.

I don’t know which approach is best (probably somewhere between the two), but I do know that it’s definitely a place where I need to improve going forward. I will have plenty of time to be a runner; in fact, surgery ends in three weeks and I start a rotation with more time to train. I will get more time back to help coach the Nordic team. I will get a moment to call my mom.

The running related piece of this is that for the next few weeks, I’ve accepted that what I have time for is what I have time for and am working on being fully grateful for whatever that looks like. I’m so excited for some outdoor runs this weekend (even if the weather forecast is for rain, which will make our snowy sidewalks a mess). I’m grateful that I was able to run every day this week.

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.

Weeks in Review 8.3.15 to 8.16.15

I made it!! The last two weeks haven’t been pretty but I did the best I could to keep myself running through a crazy schedule and total exhaustion. I took faith in Will’s assurance that it doesn’t matter what tips the work-recovery balance and am just hoping I’m in a good position as I start the bulk of this training cycle.

8/3: 8.5 mile recovery run

8/4: 10.1 mile speed workout. 3 by (400, 300, 200). Focused on cadence and form. Legs afterward. First night shift after this.

8/5: 7 mile recovery run.

8/6: 8.5 mile run on Spear Street.

8/7: Completely and utterly wiped out. Worked til 9:30, slept until 3 then back in for 5 pm. Brutal.

8/8: Opted out of long run and went to the track for 6 by 200 to give my legs the best stimulus possible on almost no sleep. Flipped to days over this weekend.

8/9: 8.5 mile run after my first day shift.

8/10: Gave up on trying to get normal training volume and just got out for a 6 mile jog after my shift.

8/11: Off day, prorated to 8.5. So tired, I started feeling perpetually dizzy.

8/12: 4.5 miles after my last day of OBGyn.

8/13: 10.6 mile fartlek. 5 to 1 fartlek. Still exhausted but amazing what a full night’s sleep can do. Also the best day ever because cross country is back!!!

8/14: Absolutely brutal 15 miler. It kept getting oppressively humid then pouring rain, followed by more sun and oppressive humidity and then rain. Thought about quitting >15 times.

8/15: 5 easy miles on the Causeway with Emmy and KC. Arms afterward.

8/16: Finally feeling human and like a runner again. 10 miles with 6 by 45 second hills in very hot weather. Legs afterward.

Ended up with 50 miles for 8/3 to 8/9 and 60 miles for 8/10 to 8/16. Not optimal but not a disaster either. I’m still on Bridge this week but will have markedly more time for training, so looking forward to some solid mileage weeks ahead!

I did learn that going forward, I cannot expect to run after a 13 to 14 hour day on my feet. Nights were actually perfect for me; I’d come home and collapse into bed then wake up at 2:30 and get my run in on rested legs. Going forward when I’m on days, I’ll need to plan to get my runs in early morning, even if that means getting up at 3 am.