Category Archives: goals

Spring 2017 Racing Schedule

For many reasons, the last year has not been an optimal one for targeting races. From away rotations to interview travel to surgery, it’s been a whole lot of two steps forward, one step back. On top of that, I didn’t know where we were moving in May, so it was difficult to aim forward at any race. Now that I know we’re heading to Asheville however, I’m ready to plan!

I’m still not able to run a ton without discomfort so I had to adjust Unplugged from a goal race to a workout. I hate running races as workouts. First, I think it’s a cop out that people use. Second, I think that even if you’re not using it as a pre-made excuse, it’s difficult to execute your workout plan and not get caught up in the race. That being said, I’m going to try to make Unplugged a valuable workout although I haven’t decided if I’ll do a progression run or a steady state run.

After that, however, I’ll be gearing up for the Asheville Half in June. What better way to kick off life in my new city!! This is a hilly half and I expect it to be warm, so I’ll be adjusting my training to prepare for the hills and hope that I’ll have enough time to adjust to the heat.

April 8th: Unplugged Half Marathon

April 22nd: Rollin Irish Half Marathon (super hill, muddy race)

April 20th: Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race (Trail 10K)

June 3rd: Asheville Half Marathon

After Asheville, my first task is to adjust to a new town and build a good base and coming up with a training plan that allows me to get good workouts in AND be an intern.

Week in Review 11.28.16 to 12.4.16

Monday afternoon: 6 mile easy run plus 100 pushups/200 crunches.

Monday evening: Hour spin class with Erin.

Tuesday: Unexpected cross training day. 10 minutes on bike, 10 minutes on elliptical, 10 minutes rowing. Core cross train.

Wednesday: 45 minute bike.

Thursday: 10 mile long run in Kalamazoo.

Friday: 5.5 mile run post-interview. Arm lift.

Saturday: 7.3 mile run.

Sunday: 5.5 mile run with a mile of 100 on, 100 off.

Total Miles 34.3

This week could be better described as ‘doh!’ Just when I was starting to get some momentum and literally within 5 minutes of looking at spring half marathons, I kicked my metal bedframe while putting laundry away and gave myself a huge, swollen foot that couldn’t bear weight. I cross trained for two days then when I was ready to run again on Thursday in Michigan, realized that I’d left my inhaler in Vermont which resigned me to easy, slow running so as to not have a medical emergency some 600 miles from home.

The upside is that I did get some lovely running in while in Michigan and am starting to look forward to some spring events and more importantly, to Trials 2020. The standards were released today. The full marathon window opens September 1st, 2017 and the standard is 2:45, which was the revised standard you may remember me griping about last fall. The half marathon window opens a year later and was dropped to 1:13. In otherwise, big nope on aiming for that standard. That means I need to start working towards the 2:45 (6:17 pace) and come up with a plan that accommodates a potential move across the country AND intern year.

Week in Review 7.4.16 to 7.10.16

Hard to believe my time in Chicago is coming to an end already! This week was a bit Dickensian with both the best and worst workout of this training cycle.

Skyline

Monday: Horrible workout. It was hot, my legs were exhausted and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get into my heart rate range for tempo because my legs were so tired. To top it off, my right foot went numb so I spent my cooldown panicking that I’ll need surgery on that side soon. 2 by 2 mile at tempo pace, 9 miles total.

Tuesday: 8 mile recovery run.

Wednesday: Conference plus shift = not a ton of time to run. 5 miles after work with strides on the track. Saw fireflies as I was finishing up!

Thursday: Unplanned off day. With horrible weather (violent thunderstorms) and my legs feeling really punky, I decided that a little rest was better than forcing out a workout. Prorated 7.

Friday: (Inexplicably) fantastic workout! 85 degrees and humid on a black track, yet the best workout of this mini-cycle. 1 mile at tempo pace, jogged lap, 4 by 400 at interval pace (5:35 ish), jogged lap then 4 by 200 at repetition pace (5:00 ish). 9 miles total.

Cooked, but worth it.

Cooked, but worth it.

Saturday: Long run along Lake Michigan on the Lakefront Path. Definitely crazy crowded at times but what an incredible resource! 13.1 miles because my running partner insisted on the extra point 1…

Sunday: Taper begins! Easy 30 minutes around the neighborhood plus 2 laps of strides. Legs tired from the Friday/Saturday combo.

Total Miles: 55.3

Happy to finally reach a down week since my last real one was in May. I’m glad to be going into the half with some decent training on my legs but also incredibly grateful that my body held together without an adaptation week. I don’t like to push it around such things and will take this week very easy with a 50% taper and some finger crossing that my legs respond.

Right now, race day weather is looking grim with a capital G, calling for humid and 85 with a dewpoint in the 70s. Thankfully the race starts early (6:30 am), so we’ll avoid direct light. The trade off, of course, is that it’s often most humid in the morning. My goals are pretty loose given that summer races depend almost entirely on weather but am hoping to a) run faster than Plattsburgh (1:26) and b) would really like to be in the 1:23 range going into fall training. Since I’ll be heading to Asheville and altitude next week, I’ll be back in basetraining mode and a 1:23 would be a nice marker before heading up and slowing down.

Spring 2016 Inventory

Vermont has many beautiful moments but we don’t usually get a Spring, jumping instead from mud season to summer. Fairfield County on the other hand, exemplifies Spring. It is incredible here right now, with everything in bloom (and everyone coming in for allergies) with warm but not hot days and cool nights. I’m in heaven. Spring is a time of rebirth and of renewal and as I approach May, I’ve been thinking about how my training has been going for the first part of 2016. Here are the goals I set out at the beginning of the year. 

The Good

  • Consistency: It’s not easy to run every day when your schedule changes almost every day but I am proud of the consistency I’ve managed this Spring despite having much lower mileage than I’d hoped
  • Hard Efforts: I’ve done a good job of getting in maintenance workouts each week, usually in the form of a tempo effort and a faster R paced effort.
  • Race Experience: A trail run and a track race back to back with smiles all around? Huge success for me
  • Core: I’ve been doing some iteration of core almost every night which is helping (a little) with my constant back pain

The Not So Good

  • Low Mileage: I’ve been in the 40s for most of this year, far below my goal of 55 to 60. I have to make medical school my priority but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t frustrate me to not be getting my mileage in
  • Striders: I don’t know what my problem is with striders. During coaching season, it’s easy to get these done on the grass at the end of my run but in Burlington and Norwalk, it’s hard to find a flat place to get these in. That being said, I have to keep making these a priority to work on efficiency
  • Strength Training: I’ve been getting in two days a week of strength training but that’s the extent of it. I really need to find more hours in the day to get this in!

So where does this leave me? I’m actually in decent shape right now but my fitness is totally non-specific. It will be very interesting to see how the Plattsburgh Half goes with this approach. Once I get through Plattsburgh and get back to Vermont, I need to figure out my approach to the summer and if I’m going to put any goal races on for the fall.

How are you doing on your goals for 2016?

Shake It Up

I’m not someone who does well without a plan or a goal in any aspect of my life and running is no exception to this. While I don’t always have my eye on the next goal, I can’t go very long without another goal on the horizon to get me through workouts. This particular tendency has created an issue recently because I just don’t know what’s on the horizon. I have some idea of what my 4th year will look like now (and man, the summer does NOT look pretty), but it’s hard to pick a race when I’m surviving day to day.

Recently I’ve had the itch to get some races on the calendar and decided that instead of doing my usual marathon or half marathon, I’d totally shake it up. This capitalizes on my current crazy schedule where mileage isn’t a reality and gives me something new to dig into. A couple of years ago, USATF NE came up with the All Terrain Runner series that gave runners the opportunity to show off their skills across a variety of terrains and distances. I’d toyed with doing it last year but because the events are so different, it really doesn’t work with a year where you have traditional goal races. This year, however, it’s the perfect fit for me.

It all kicks off next weekend with a 7K snowshoe race (provided we get more snow…this winter sucks). I spend a lot of time on the snow and even a fair amount of time on snowshoes but I’ve never tried to run, which guarantees an entertaining time next Sunday. I’d like to get out and practice running over the next week but may have to head to the back of Mansfield for a chance at snow.

I’m also signed up for the trail and mountain components and plan to race the outdoor 10,000 and road 5 miler. We’ll see about the cross country and ultra component. The trail race is a USATF NE Championship and the mountain race (Loon) is the US National Championship, so that adds some extra motivation!

What out-of-your-comfort-zone races have you done? Bets on how many times I fall in a 7K?

The Plan for 2016

  1. Gain more race experience. As I reflected on 2015, I continued to notice race outcomes that might have been improved if I’d had more race experience. For example, after the start delay in Philly, I just continued my race plan of going out at 6:05 pace. What I SHOULD have done is go out a bit slower until I felt warmed up, then geared up towards my goal pace. I’m getting off on the right foot by racing today but will work on this goal by racing at least once every month this year. These don’t have to be big or long races; the goal is to put myself in a race situation so that I continue to add tools to my toolbox that can help with every race situation.
  2. Continue to build strength. I’m 32 and thus facing the sad reality that all my muscle mass wants to do now is disintegrate. I did a good job of establishing and maintaining strength routines in 2015 and want to continue that momentum. To do that, I have started to write down moves and routines that I really like or that really challenge me on our whiteboard in the gym. My goal is to do 4 sessions of strength training a week. In the past, I’ve separated these into arms, legs, and core days but for 2016, I’ll start experimenting with doing more “full body” approaches. I am likely to keep one day as legs only after my hardest workout of the week. One of the full body routines I’m curious about is this one that Nike shared on Runner’s World. At first glance, it doesn’t look difficult but my guess is that it will lead to some VERY sore muscles.
  3. Address my hip and lower back pain/inflexibility. Erin and I talk all the time about how we need to stop complaining about our back pain and hip pain and deal with it, but the reality is that with jobs that put us in weird positions (retracting on a step stool for 6 hours, anyone?) or sitting through epic conference calls (her world, not mine anymore!), it’s really hard to make headway. Not to mention, busy schedules that leave us with 45 minutes total for exercise find us heading for the roads rather than our yoga mats. The problem with that is that tight hips and backs affect those 45 minutes on the road and set us up for poor performances, bad workouts and sometimes injury. This year, I’m committing to 20 minutes of yoga a week. I’ll be doing it on a recovery run day and doing 20 minutes of yoga after an easy 25 minute run.
  4. Maintain my fitness base. We finish third year in March, take another set of boards in May, apply for residency in August and interview for November and December. Given this, I don’t have the highest expectations for huge personal improvements in running over 2016. That being said, I would really like to run a fast marathon at the Vermont City Marathon in 2017 (or aim to get my Trials Qualifier as soon as the window opens, presumably in August of 2017) so I need to maintain my fitness base as much as possible over the next year. To do this, I’ll be aiming for 2,800 miles in 2016 (approximately 55 miles a week). Here’s how my training will set up for most of 2016, with some exceptions when I have more time.

2016 Training

What are your hopes and dreams for 2016? Anyone have any target races or times already on the calendar?

An 18 Month Check In

18 months ago, I put my goals out there for all to see, judge and watch me strive for from behind their computer screens. Since some were on an 18 month time frame, it’s time to check in on how things are going.

18 Month Goals

PR in the marathon. Done, 2:54 at Mohawk Hudson in 2014. 

Break 1:20 in the half and 37 in the 10K. Not so much, although the first is possible at Philly. 

Get a shiny new 5K PR. Done, 18:44 at Champlain Classic in 2015. 

Someday

Win a marathon. Nope, was 2nd by 20 minutes last fall. 

Win a national title. Nope. 

Run a beer mile. Nope.

Break 2:45 in the marathon, 1:18 in the half, 36 in the 10K and 17:30 in the 5K. Nope, nope, nope, nope. 

Run a trail marathon. Nope. I forgot I even had this as a goal. I actually loathe trail running. 

Transition to an excellent masters career. We can give me credit for this, as it’s a process of staying uninjured and stacking cycle on cycle. 

Pie in the Sky

OTQ. Not yet. 

Elite Women’s Start at Boston. Nope.

Get invited to the USA Running Circuit. Hoping this happens in 2016 after a great Philly. 

Get a mention on Let’s Run or Running Times. Nope, but I did post my first ever comment on Let’s Run recently. Does that count?

In all honesty, I’m actually pretty happy with the way I’m progressing towards these goals despite the fact that I haven’t met all my 18 month goals yet. I named those goals less than 6 months out from foot surgery and at the end of my first year of medical school before I knew what my recovery would look like, what studying for the Boards would mean and what clerkship hours would feel like. Despite all that, I’ve made continual forward progress and continue to chip away at these goals.

For the next 18 months (which terrifyingly takes me up to my graduation from medical school and beginning of residency), my goals are to:

Break 1:20 in the half. Breaking 1:18 at Philly would be my A+ day goal.

Break 18:00 in the 5K.

Run a trail marathon.

Win a marathon (perhaps VCM 2017 before we leave Burlington for a while).

What are you short term goals? Long term goals? How often do you check in on them?

Gore-Tex Philadelphia Half Marathon 2015

Claws Up!

Claws Up!

I struggled to pick my race for this coming fall, paralyzed in part by wanting the “perfect” place to take my stab at it and in part by wanting some known commodity to focus on all summer. Philly holds great memories for me; in 2012, I ran my current half PR here and finished 18th overall. It’s a fair course but it’s not an easy course, with two big hills in the second half of the course. There is decent course support for much of the race, usually good weather and at least a few other women around to race. I’m hoping that with the OTQ deadline looming, there will be more women than usual.

This is also the day before I come back to school. Talk about coming down to the wire…185 days to go!

Philly in 2012.

Philly in 2012.

 

Wrapping Up 2014

I rang in 2014 on crutches and heavily sedated on painkillers. Looking back at where it started, I’m grateful that the year still held a marathon PR despite it’s immobile beginnings. I was lucky enough to coach another season of cross country and somehow finished my second year of medical school (courtesy of the funky UVM schedule). I fully intended to have at least part of 2015 planned out by today but studying for the Boards has taken up most of my time and I’m still waiting on some sponsorship information that will change my plans significantly. So into 2015 I go sans any kind of training plan, an anxiety inducing situation for me!

I wrapped up December with 156 miles. My 2014 total was 2259 miles which comes out to a weekly average of 43 miles (which includes the 6 weeks of 0 post surgery). Thus, one of my running related goals for 2015 is to up that weekly average to 50 miles, giving me a total goal of 2600 miles for 2015. Assuming two training cycles up in the 70 mpw range, this should be attainable without scrambling next December.

Another thing I did well at the beginning and end of the year but not so hot in the middle was weight training. I know strength work is key to injury prevention and maximum efficiency but I always cut that out first when my schedule gets crammed. Thus, for 2015, I want to make sure I am getting at least 1 arm and 1 leg workout in per week. Yes, more would be better but I’m trying to be realistic.

I generally have pretty good nutrition but there are definitely areas in which I can improve. First, we eat a little too much candy in this house which is not a calorie issue, but a “bang for buck” issue. We had a “Sundays only” rule for a while, so I may lobby that we go back to that. I’ve been working on taking my vitamins (multivitamin with iron, Vitamin D and biotin) every day and finally found that if I leave my pill container by my bed (I know this makes me 80+), I actually take them daily. We recently switched to a cast iron pan and continue to make sure we eat red meat twice a week to keep my iron stores nice and full.

Finally, I need to work on flexibility. I sit a lot for school and have tight fascia, both of which set me up for range of motion issues. I’ve been working on foam rolling consistently and will continue that in 2015 but am on the lookout for a simple yoga routine to do at home two days a week. In my optimal world, it would be about 20 minute long and focus on hips and lower back.

What are your goals for 2015? Anyone have a video or website that they love for yoga?

Check Your VO2 Max in 12 Minutes

There’s a saying in cross country that State Champions are built in July and it’s true, much to the chagrin of coaches who battle summer jobs, family vacations and Netflix as they mumble on about summer mileage. For the most part, my team does an excellent job of getting summer runs in. We use a number of tools to encourage people to keep up with their running, including online running logs to which the whole team belongs, captain’s practices throughout the summer, training camp and time trials. Time trials are an excellent way for athletes to check in with themselves and for coaches to monitor progress throughout the summer. We don’t expect PR performances; after all, most athletes who are running are at peak mileage with no speed work. We do expect to see hard efforts and a good approximation of how things are going.

One of my favorite “reality checks” is one that you can do yourself. This is perfect for someone with a fall marathon on the calendar that doesn’t have an interim race scheduled or for someone coming off a base building cycle. It’s a simple test: warmup, then run as many laps as you can in 12 minutes and enter the results into the Cooper calculator. The calculator isn’t a perfect estimate of VO2 max, but it’s a good litmus test for training paces and progress. Used at regular intervals, it gives a great estimate of fitness improvements and possible race outcomes. Try adding this into your training plan once a month and see how much progress you make!

We’ve done three time trials this summer: one 3K time trial on the cross country course, one 5K race on our home course and one 12 minute test. Before the season starts, we’ll do a mile trial and one more 3K trial. All of the information from those efforts helps me to evaluate how well summer training went, design workouts for training camp and select early season teams.

What tools do you use to monitor your fitness? Have you ever had the full VO2 max test? How do you motivate yourself in a time trial setting?