Category Archives: Hills

Week in Review 8.1.16 to 8.7.16

When your Sunday run starts at 5000 feet, your legs are gonna burn...

Where my run on Sunday started. 

July Stats: 174 miles, 1 race (for which I still haven’t written a Race Report…)

Monday: 6 miles easy bright and early. Well, not bright because it was pitch black but certainly early.

Tuesday: 8 miles early.

Wednesday: In the OR until almost 10 so no run for me.

Thursday: 7 miles on the French Broad Greenway. Nice break from the hills and it wasn’t even hot.

Friday: My first real failed adventure. Headed to Warren Wilson College to run the trails but clearly didn’t get connected to the right trail network because I ended up doing 3 miles on deer paths until I gave up.

Saturday: 7.5 miles including Riverside Cemetery. Odd to run in a cemetery but Asheville maintains it as a park.

Sunday: 3 miles up Mount Pisgah.

Clouds caught on the top.

Clouds caught on the top.

Total Miles: 34.5

Not the best training week. I got off my schedule of running in the morning early and then had a couple late nights in the OR and a misfire on an adventure run. It’s tough to get workouts in here because I’m running in the dark and there aren’t a lot of flat options for interval work so I’m going to go with intervals and hills for the next two weeks and regroup once I get back to Vermont. I did decide that I’ll be switching to a 9 day cycle for my upcoming races and am excited to share what that will look like soon!

Not running related, but a beautiful piece that captures a huge amount of what I see and feel on a daily basis. It both captures what draws me to surgery and what sometimes brings me to tears after the immediacy of a situation is handled. I run for many, many reasons but finding a way to process stories like that is one of the big ones.

Looking towards Tennessee from the observation deck at ~5900 feet.

Looking towards Tennessee from the observation deck at ~5900 feet.

 

Weeks in Review: 7.18.16 to 7.31.16

Wait, it’s AUGUST tomorrow?!?! Slow down summer.

From my run today. It's not pretty here at all.

From my run today. It’s not pretty here at all.

7.18.16 to 7.24.16

Monday: Drove from Lexington to Charlotte then hung out in the Charlotte airport for a ridiculous amount of time. American Airlines, we are not friends.

Tuesday: Easy 3 with Will around the new XC course.

Wednesday: 6 miles with the team (hearttttttts, I missed them). Striders and hip core.

Thursday: 17 mile bike ride with Will. Every time I think I like biking, I actually do it and my butt hurts for a week…

Friday: 4.5 mile run around campus.

Saturday: Cougar Chase but no running.

Sunday: 3 miles with the dogs. Reminded myself why I never run with them. Flew back to Charlotte and drove to Asheville.

Total MIles: 16.5 

7.25.16 to 7.31.16

Every entry from this week is an iteration of “holy sh*t, humidity, hills and altitude are tough!”

Monday: 5.25 miles

Tuesday: 6.5 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles on the Mountains to Sea Trail.

Thursday: Slept in and found out why I have to run in the morning; 95 and humid when I got out from work.

Friday: 7 mile fartlek with some speedy hills on one of the many hills in town.

Saturday: 9 miles post Step 2. There is no flat here…

Sunday: 6 miles on the Mountains to Sea Trail straight up; climbed almost 2000 feet in 25 minutes.

Total Miles: 38.8 miles

This week feels like a huge accomplishment. I made it to Asheville, survived a week in the Neuro/Trauma ICU and took Step 2 (our second set of Boards). On that last item, it wasn’t my best effort with trying to cram studying in between work and training, but I’m hoping it will turn out okay.

Running here is TOUGH. It’s humid in the mornings (usually 88 to 90%) and there isn’t a single flat place in all of Asheville. The Mountains to Sea trail is pretty amazing, however, so I’ll take the elevation change for the opportunity to run on a trail like that. I seem to have adjusted to the altitude now (I had a horrendous headache on Wednesday) so I’ll be heading up higher for next weekend’s long run. I’m still stinging a little from Chicago and trying to figure out what the fall looks like but operating under the assumption that it will include a marathon so I’m stretching out my long runs little by little.

Week in Review 4.4.16 to 4.10.16

Monday: 3.25 mile recovery run with big arms and core.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles with 10 minutes at tempo pace plus 4 by 30 seconds hard uphill. Still feeling the residual of a lot of hours on the trails. Legs after.

Wednesday: 4.27 miles with striders.

Thursday: 4.4 miles.

Friday: 2 mile progressive shakeout.

Saturday: Merrimack River Trail Race, aka the “Rivah.” Finished 12th for women in 1:16:20, which was momentarily disappointing, but overcome by the realization that I a) had a ton of fun b) executed my race plan and c) smiled for almost the entire (really flipping hard) race.

Sunday: Off Day. My legs are tired from yesterday but nothing appears broken. Given that I have to turn around and race a 10K on Saturday, however, I opted for more rest so I can get a little training in this week around that.

Total Miles: 32.4

This week (well really weekend) was one of the most refreshing ones I’ve had in a while. On Friday night, I drove up to Boston and caught up with my Uncle on the drive. He’s a retired physician and has been an enormous support to me throughout this process so it was great to catch up with him. I stayed with my best friend from college and we got to giggle and catch up all weekend. Then today, I got to catch up with another dear friend on the way back to Norwalk. Medical School is BRUTAL on personal relationships and I am so grateful to have friends who stick by me and to have a few hours to just be a regular person.

The race was also an amazing experience. I’ll recap it more in my race report, but I am just overwhelmingly proud of my execution. It wasn’t my best race and I’d hoped to be faster but I did a great job of just running my race plan, putting in a solid performance without risking my race next weekend or the half in May and had a total fricken blast.

As I’ve alluded a couple of times, the 10000 meter component of the All-Terrain Runner series is coming up next Saturday. I didn’t intend to race back to back weekends but finding a 10K on the track is a bit of a feat and I can’t make the only other guaranteed date this Spring so next weekend, I’m heading up to Fitchburg State University to run in a college meet for 27 some odd laps!

All of this means that my week gets shuffled a bit. I need to recover from yesterday, sharpen for Saturday and still keep my eye on May 1st. I’ll do a glorified strider workout tomorrow even though I won’t be fully recovered, another workout on Wednesday (trying out the Greenwich Running Company workout this week) then two easy days, use Saturday as a workout/heavy tempo and long run Sunday.

 

The First Time I Tried This

When I was first getting back into competitive running during graduate school, Emmy and I had this brilliant idea to do a trail race in January in North Carolina. We had just finished City of Oaks Marathon and wanted a reason to keep training through the winter so we signed up. The day dawned sunny but cold and we learned a valuable lesson that even though we lived below the Mason Dixon, ice could still form and that even more importantly, what was recently ice would turn into mud.

My face captures it all...

My face captures it all…

Not having raced a trail race ever (Emmy) and not having raced off the roads since high school (me), neither of us were sure what to expect. The first mile or so was fine and I thought my worries were for nothing. Then I slid down an entire hill and came up covered in mud. I don’t remember specifics from the rest of the race but do distinctly recall thinking that 5 miles had never been so hard.

An hour and a half later (seriously! 1:27 something!), I finished and turned around to cheer Emmy in. Emmy and I have done tons of races together, so I have a good sense of when she should be coming in, but when 2 hours clicked by and she wasn’t there, I will admit to getting a tiny bit worried. Shortly thereafter, Emmy came around the corner and raised her hands over her head as she crossed. It turned out that Emmy had a few falls during the muddy section of the course. Once we’d banged the mud off our shoes, we vowed to never do a trail run again, a vow I kept until recently.

Rest assured that should things get rough tomorrow (it’s supposed to be cold and snowy), I will be thinking of Emmy and our vow!

Week in Review 3.28.16 to 4.3.16

201.9 miles for March, my first time over 200 since October.

Monday: 6 miles on trails for recovery.

Tuesday: Off day, prorated at 7 miles.

Wednesday: 9.5 mile tempo workout. Warmup then 3 miles continuous at tempo. Pretty windy but felt good once I was rolling. Legs afterward.

Thursday: 3.35 miles on the treadmill. Not what I wanted but serious traffic driving to JFK to pick up Will.

Friday: 6 miles at Mianus with Will.

Saturday: Super tough trail workout at Cranbury Park. 8 miles with 5 by (1 min hard, 1 min easy, 30 sec hard, 30 sec easy). Legs gassed but good to force them to work.

Sunday: 10 miles at Mianus.

Total Miles 49.9

4/6 runs were on trails this week, leaving my legs very trail tired this afternoon. Despite that, it was a good week of work and I’m encouraged that I’m getting better at seeing lines on trails and moving with confidence over technical sections. I don’t know what to expect next weekend (and that’s okay with me), but I feel better going into it with 4+ hours of trail work this week.

My goals for next weekend are pretty simple: finish, get in an hour plus at a good effort and try to race the people around me. I’m not setting a time goal since I have no idea how the course sets up other than it is flat for the first three, hilly for 4 then flat for three again (out and back). I also don’t know how muddy it might be there.

I will do a mini-taper this week since I’m due for an adaptation week anyway. Besides a tempo effort on Tuesday and turning Saturday into a long run, I’ll be taking things pretty easy which should (theoretically) allow me to catch up on some work!

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 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?

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.

Week in Review 7.27.15 to 8.2.15

The actual temperature for most of this week...

The actual temperature for most of this week…

Monday: Arms in the morning before clinic. 7.5 at night with Erin. Feeling pretty banged up post-Mansfield.

Tuesday: Temps in the 90s so I took my off day, prorated to 8.5.

Wednesday: Still ridiculously humid with a 72 degree dewpoint. 10.2 miles with 8 by 30 seconds hard uphill.

Thursday: 8 hot recovery miles.

Friday: 9.1 miles with arms after.

Saturday: 10 miles with 4 to 1 fartlek. 4 min at T pace (6:21), 3 min recovery, 3 min at T+ (6:05), 2 min recovery, 2 min at I pace (5:47), 1 min recovery, 1 min hard (5:35), 1 min recovery, 1 min hard (5:27). Not as fast as I would like but have to be happy with it in the heat.

Sunday: 15 miles through Richmond. Hip core after.

Total Miles: 68.3

Total Miles for July: 277 miles with 3 off days.

It’s not easy but I’m pressing on with running despite oppressive heat and lack of sleep. I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to three weeks from now when all I have to do is train but I’m surviving and for that, I’m extremely grateful.

Not sure how the next two weeks will go as I start nights on L&D (6 pm to 6 am) but aiming for two more full mileage weeks as I wrap up this clerkship then an adaptation week while I’m on bridge and then the big time training begins!