Category Archives: endurance

Week in Review 2/8/16 to 2/14/16

Well, the Trials are a wrap and it was an incredible day as promised. The heat was severe as many athletes dropped out throughout the race and even the seemingly infallible Shalane Flanagan suffered towards the end. In the end, the men’s side came out to be Galen, Meb and Jared Ward while the women’s side will be Amy Cragg, Desi and Shalane.

Monday: 4.25 mile run on the frozen golf course to start getting my legs ready for my spring adventures.

Tuesday: 5 miles early on the treadmill. Workout attempt fail #1. Hip core after.

Wednesday: 6 mile hill run on the treadmill.

Thursday: Post call, off day.

Friday: 6.2 mile plod and study.

Saturday: 10 miles feeling great on the treadmill because it was -8 out!

Sunday: 4 miles easy plus arms.

Total Miles 35.4 

Running is such a fickle beast. Last week, every run felt amazing. This week, every run was a ploddy achy struggle until Saturday when I felt great again with no explanation for either end of the spectrum. So it goes. For this week, I’ll be doing my normal running mileage plus adding in an afternoon workout of either snowshoe running, trail running, stairclimber or walking/jogging at 15% grade as the weather and snow allows.

Feel the Burn

No, this isn’t a political post even if I’m from Vermont and Bernie Sanders was in fact a bit of a track star.  This is about that burn that we all chase as endurance athletes, the one that part of us shrinks from and the other part of us reaches for.

It’s not that I can’t get good lung burn when I run but I’ve been doing it long enough that it’s rare for me to really hurt during most workouts. On Saturday, however, I remembered what it’s like to suffer. I started the day by skiing. In a normal year, I ski most days of the winter and besides the first couple days, I’m generally happy except on the steepest of hills. Thanks to surgery this winter, however, I’ve only been on my skis a handful of times. As such, I put myself in a bit of an exhausted hole by the end of the races on Saturday morning. Then I head out to run on my snowshoes. I wanted to try it before the race and with another melt on the way, it seemed like Saturday was my best bet. I set off at a good clip (read: in motion) across the fields at MMU with the plan of running our new XC course a couple of times. By the time I had climbed the first big hill, I was gasping for air and looked down at my watch: 4 minutes. Shit. As the run went on, I got more efficient and learned how to run hills without totally going into oxygen debt but one thing is for sure: snowshoe running is no joke. I’ll be thrilled if I run 11 minute miles next weekend.

And this wasn't even deep snow!!

And this wasn’t even deep snow!!

On the way home, I was invigorated in a way I haven’t been after a run in a long time. Yes, I was humbled and exhausted, but I was also so excited to be challenged and to find a new way to expand my fitness.

What activity have you done lately that humbled you? What’s your surefire way to make your lungs burn?

Week in Review 1.18.15 to 1.24.15

Monday: 5.25 miles with 3 by 5 minutes at tempo. Legs afterward.

Tuesday: 4.2 mile recovery run. Arms after.

Wednesday: Off day.

Thursday: 6.3 mile progression run with hip core afterward.

Friday: Full workday plus our biggest MMU Pursuit ever! Lots of running around the course but no real run. Up for 22 hours…

Saturday: 9.5 mile long run. Flipping freezing out!!

Sunday: 7 miles with 10 by (1 minute hard, 1 minute easy) on the track. The hard sections were about 5:30 pace which I was psyched about. Legs after.

Total Miles: 32.2

Another solid week! I didn’t intend to take two days off but with the Pursuit on Friday, there was a ton of administrative work to do that meant I was up later than I wanted to be on a couple of occasions. Despite that, I fit in three quality efforts, plenty of strength work and another > 30 mile week. I also did much better on bringing my own food for the week which made me feel a lot better than eating cafeteria food (even if our cafeteria food at UVMMC is pretty amazing).

I’m at the end of the Surgery clerkship tunnel, with the oral boards and national shelf coming up at the end of this week. I should then have another hour in the morning which is just awesome. Hoping to push my mileage up towards the 40s as that happens. Also trying to figure out my racing schedule for February and leaning towards getting both my 3K indoor race in and the 7K snowshoe race as part of the All Terrain Runner series. I haven’t done this series before but with lots of different events that I would otherwise not enter, it seems like a great idea for a year where I don’t have the optimal training schedule.

Week in Review 10.5.15 to 10.11.15

Finally some hope!!!

Monday: 7 mile recovery run.

Tuesday: 3 by 2 miles at tempo pace. (6:22, 6:25) (6:15, 6:25) (6:21, 6:19). Much better than last time! 11.6 miles total.

Wednesday: 6 mile recovery run.

Thursday: 7 mile normal run.

Friday: 9 mile normal run. Put workout off because the weather was horrible.

Saturday: Intervals. 6 by 800. (2:50, 2:48, 2:48, 2:49, 2:48, 2:50). Hard to believe that a month ago, I was struggling through at 2:57 pace. 10 miles total.

Sunday: 18.2 mile long run in perfect fall weather.

Total Miles 68.8

Finally turning a corner! Between last week and this week, the tone in my running log has changed from “survived” to “felt great!” Easy runs no longer feel like slogging through quicksand and my workouts are both speeding up and feel much more reasonable effort wise, especially my tempo efforts. I’m a little over two weeks into my iron supplementation and feeling so much more like myself. I’m still adjusting my goals for Philly but with a whole lot more hope and happiness.

Week in Review 2.9.15 to 2.15.15

Warning! Gross picture below for the particularly squeamish.

Highs of this week? Got two surprisingly good workouts in and a lot of solid skiing. Lows? Fricken freezing here (wayyyy below zero twice) and an allergic reaction that derailed an otherwise decent week.

Monday midday: Warmed up to the gym in another storm then did 25 minutes at T pace on the treadmill that just felt effortless. 8 miles total.

Monday afternoon: Hour of skate skiing with the team in epic conditions.

Tuesday: 4.5 mile recovery run nice and easy. Skied a little with the kids (maybe 3K) before coaching.

Wednesday midday: Another surprisingly good workout. Took advantage of sunshine and decent temps to head down to my waterfront “track” for 8 by 400 at I pace. Footing wasn’t perfect but I made do. 8 miles total. Felt really, really good. Encouraging.

Wednesday afternoon: 45 minutes of skate skiing. Conditions changed; lots of balance work!

Thursday: 6.4 mile recovery run at Mom and Dad’s over my old hills. Roads a mess but beautiful, sunny day.

Friday: Fricken frigid. -18 when I woke up, -8 when I skied. Did an hour on the VAST trail on waxless.

Saturday: Woke up with an allergic reaction, slammed some Benedryl and carried on. Previewed the race course with the team (5K) then swapped skate skis for backcountry and skied around to coach (and try to stay warm).

Sunday: Woke up looking like this:

I didn't need to see today, right?

In case you thought I was a sugarcoating blogger, I present my face this morning.

Spent 4 hours at Urgent Care and decided a 90 minute steady state run wasn’t a great idea. It never got above zero here today and wind chills were -35. Got some Prednisone and feeling much better, so I’ll aim to get that run in first thing tomorrow.

Total Miles: 27

Total Skiing: 4+ hours

Lots of mini-weight workouts on study breaks.

Although I’m frustrated with how the week ended up, I am encouraged that despite low miles and a schedule that stinks right now, I’m hanging onto my fitness. 2 more weeks of insanity then I can get back to normal running life! Maybe by then it will come above zero. What a winter! I was on the fence about Amherst but since I missed this weekend of running (and studying), I can’t afford a full day of travel next weekend. I’ve also missed long runs the last few weeks and feel like a 10 mile hard effort here is just as valuable as one in Amherst. Bummed to miss out but ultimately think it’s the right way to go. There are always more races…

This past week also marked a year to go until the Trials. Yikes! Once I get through the Boards, my big focus will be figuring out how to approach going after that standard. The big questions to answer are:

  • When to go for it (Considerations: summer weather, clinical schedule, backup plan if something goes wrong)
  • Where to go for it (Big competitive field? Low key race?)
  • Half Marathon or Full (Half is a lot faster (1:15 versus 2:43) but everything doesn’t have to go perfectly for a half marathon to go well and if it doesn’t go well, recovery and trying again is a little more feasible than after 26.2)

For the week ahead, I’ll aim for three workouts again and whatever other running and skiing falls in there:

  • 90 minute run with 45 minutes at steady state pace (10 to 15 seconds slower than tempo)
  • 5 by 5 minutes at tempo pace
  • Structured Fartlek

 

 

Week in Review: 1.26.15 to 2.1.15

January is over?! Does that mean the frigid cold is over too? Looking ahead to another winter storm advisory (and another 6 to 8 inches of snow), it seems that winter is nowhere near wrapped up. I love the snow but I’d also love to get out of the single digits and back to running outside.

Monday: 80 minutes of classic skiing at the Range including a whole lap all by myself! Most of the team went back country so I took a small group to do focused technique. Just awesome.

Tuesday: Blizzard workout creativity. Warmed (ish) up to the gym then 30 minutes of 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy and a cooldown for 8.6 miles. Legs afterward.

Wednesday: 3.25 mile recovery run and an hour of skiing (mostly games) with the team. Legs wiped but might be more from soft snow than anything.

Thursday: Skied up the back of Mansfield and then since it was beautiful out, got a 5.25 mile run done when I got home. Legs tired but knew the cold snap was coming. 4 striders at the end.

Friday: Snuck 7.1 in before the mock boards.

Saturday: 8.5 mile threshold run on the treadmill. Legs and abs after.

Sunday: Mentally defeated by being indoors!! Was hoping for 90 minutes but literally couldn’t make myself do any more than 60. Arms after.

Weekly Total: 40.0 (on the dot) plus 4 ish hours of skiing.

2 legs, 1 arms.

Total for January: 185 miles.

Did my best to get a little running in every day this week. The temperatures are killing me (I really can’t keep my hands warm below 5) so I’m hoping we warm up a tad soon. Our Board Prep class has wrapped and now I only have coaching on the calendar, so I should have a little more flexibility to run. My general plan is to get my run done early so I have a nice chunk of the day to study before heading to practice.

Week in Review 1/19/15 to 1/25/15

We’ll try this again. Pro-tip for anyone who thinks the migration from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is easy: it is not. I’m still not totally sure where in cyberspace this blog is and almost paralyzed at the thought of clicking any more buttons for fear that I’ll lose half my content again, which is how I spent most of yesterday afternoon. Regardless…

Monday: Tempo with 5 by 5 minutes at T pace on the treadmill and 8 miles total. Legs after.

Tuesday: Recovery ski, 1 hour.

Wednesday: 9.2 run/skate in running shoes with LT.

Thursday: Workout! 5 by 3 minutes hard, up and down Riverside. Down sections felt great, up sections were humbling. Legs after.

Friday: 3.5 mile recovery run.

Saturday: 5.5 mile run with 4 striders and arms afterward.

Sunday: 11 mile hilly long run on Spear. Chilled to the bone by the end.

Total: 45.2 miles

2 leg lifts, 1 arm lift.

Upside? Got two workouts and two longish runs in. Downside? Mileage still pretty paltry. Working on accepting that as my fate until the Boards are done.

 

The Endurance Mindset

When Oprah was training for her marathon, she quipped that “running is the best metaphor for life; you get out of it what you put in.” There’s an enormous amount of truth to this. Sure, freak things may happen but for the most part, what you get on race day is a sum of quality miles trained plus the benefits of all the extras like strides, core, strength, stretching etc.

When I started to prepare for Step 1, I didn’t even know where to begin. I’ve taken big exams before; after all, I managed to get into medical school which required the MCAT. The MCAT, however, was a half day test and although it ostensibly determined my entrance to medical school, a poor performance didn’t mean I could never go to medical school (I could retake) and didn’t represent an investment of over $100,000. The USMLE Step 1 exam represents two years of classroom knowledge crammed into a day long test with a total break time of an hour. The only way you can retake is to fail but the space between barely passing and being competitive for a residency is enormous. The more I thought about it, the more Step 1 resembled a marathon. You study for about 12 weeks. You start by building a knowledge base and as you get stronger, you add workouts that are more and more specific to your task. Finally, you work on the endurance to sit and focus for 8 hours. Once I framed it that way, the test preparedness paralysis lifted. I wrote a schedule the exact way I write one in running, with dates down the y-axis and specific domains across the top x-axis. I built in recovery days. I even built in a taper so that I’m fresh and ready on test day (March 2nd), not crawling to the start line.

Throughout medical school, people have asked how I keep training at a (relatively) high level, almost always incredulous that I can find the time. Some of the answer is that running is a top priority for me and I make choices that support my running ahead of many other things. I don’t belong to any student interest groups; I choose to believe that a long coaching relationship with MMU demonstrates my interests just as well. I don’t do many social things; almost all of my friends are runners, so I make that my social time. However, making running a priority isn’t the only reason I’ve kept at it during medical school. Being a runner has given me an endurance mindset and gives me a set of tools to approach any enormous challenge that life can throw at me.

How do the things you’ve learned from running carry over in your life?