Category Archives: lessons

Product Review: Lumo Run

As I shared in January, I was lucky enough to be selected to be a Lumo Run ambassador for the next year which means that I got my own sensor for use for free AND have codes to pass along for all interested.

I will admit that at first, I was nervous to wear the Lumo Run. After all, did I really want to know exactly what things I was doing wrong while I was running?! After my first run, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that in fact, my running form isn’t all that bad. You may recall my embarrassment last year during my track 10,000 when a woman yelled “stop shuffling and run!!” as I went by. In first place. The truth is, we could all probably use a little help and for me, Lumo Run is a much more private way to improve.

The Lumo Run is a tiny sensor that clips onto the back of your shorts or tights and just hangs out there while you run. For your first run, you do need to run with your phone to calibrate, but after that you can run with just the sensor or the sensor and your phone for instant updates and suggestions. I never run with a phone, so I sync up afterwards which probably diminishes a tiny bit of the benefit that I could be enjoying.

Approximately the same size as a chapstick.

Lumo Run measures five key categories for efficient running: cadence, braking, bounce, pelvic rotation and pelvic drop. Once it identifies your weak areas, it suggests exercises to help improve your statistics in those areas. For those who use it on with a phone, it can also provide suggestions and corrections throughout your run.

For me, my biggest issue has been braking, which is how much you slow down with every step. Although this is often associated with people who overstride (which is not my issue with my teeny, tiny choppy steps), I’m willing to bet my patented shuffle is creating a similar issue. To work on this, I’ve been doing ankle rolls before every run and recently, had a longer run where all my metrics were in line! Interestingly, this long run was on a car free bike path with no curbs or potholes, which may have something to do with my confidence moving more smoothly over a surface. I did wear it the other day on a trail run, but it was out of batteries so I’ll have to test my theory again later.

This tool is a great one for runners of all abilities. For new runners, it can help with common issues like bounce. For runners with weak hips, it can help reinforce good habits and reduce drop. For runners who haven’t done speed work in a while or are primarily trail runners, it can help encourage a more efficient cadence. What I love most is that your data are kept private if you want to which allows you to improve without feeling totally self-conscious. If you are a someone who runs with their phone, then this tool is practically indispensable for you.

If you want to try out a LumoRun, you can buy one here and with code SM10, you can get $10 off the price of the sensor.

Weeks in Review: 2/13/17 to 2/26/17

There’s no filter to undo those circles…

2/13/17 to 2/19/17

Monday: Early morning snowshoe run for 45 minutes because the snow was just too amazing to not play in. Plus, I’m signed up for the Northeast Snowshoe Championships so I figured I’d better get out and practice!

Tuesday: 8 miles with 4 miles at tempo pace. Downhill skiing in the afternoon.

Wednesday: 4.28 mile recovery run.

Thursday: 8 miles with 4.5 miles at steady state on the treadmill.

Friday: 3.25 miles easy.

Saturday: 45 minute snowshoe run at my parents. SO hard in all the snow.

Sunday: Off day.

Total Miles: 23.5 plus 90 minutes of snowshoe running.

2/20/17 to 2/26/17

Monday: 8 miles with 5 by 2 at interval pace followed by a mile at steady state.

Tuesday: 5 mile recovery run

Wednesday: 6.65 mile regular run

Thursday: 5 mile progression run

Friday: 10 miles of classic skiing at the State Meet.

Saturday: Long call. Lots of hospital walking but no run. 300 abs routine before bed.

Sunday: 11.3 mile long run.

Total Miles: 46.0

The last two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. When we’re on Inpatient Medicine, we typically work six days a week with one weekend day off. Since the State Meets fall on weekdays, however, I had to stack some weekends so that I could have the time off. This past week, my “off day” from the hospital was very much an on day at the rainy, windy classic State Meet. Needless to say, I’m pretty wiped out and amazed I ran at all!

The toughest girls you’ll ever meet.

And my resilient, wonderful boys relay team.

My workouts have felt pretty good lately, which I attribute in part to my being fastidious about taking my multivitamin with iron. I stopped taking extra iron after last summer because my running had decreased and the high sweat loss season was done. However, because of the size of my hematoma, I decided to add a multivitamin with iron back in and have felt much peppier on runs lately.

I finally feel like I’m getting in a rhythm with my early morning runs…which must mean it’s time to switch schedules again! I have one more week on Inpatient Medicine, then switch to Surgery Boot Camp. This has a later start time but I think I’ll continue to do my runs in the morning. As ski season winds down, I’ll also be looking to add Body Pump back in for strength training.

It Ain’t About How Hard You Hit (Olympic Trials 2020)

It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. 

I’ve talked about it here before although not in great detail, but Philly 2015 and my failure to make the Olympic Trials or even break 1:20 did significant damage to my running soul. I’m still not sure I’ve recovered as evidenced by my lack of…caring during races but I’m starting to feel a bit more life since the 2020 Standards were released this past weekend. The full standard will be 2:45 and opens September 1, 2017, which is what it was relaxed to at the end of the window this past year. The half standard was lowered to 1:13 and doesn’t open til 2018. Aka, I’ll be going for the full standard.

When I asked Will on Sunday if I had a chance, he didn’t miss a beat and said, “without a doubt.” He’s generally pretty honest, so I allowed myself a little hope and even decided that I’ll run the New Bedford Half Marathon this spring as part of an extended build-up. My goal isn’t to PR but to start getting some long distance specificity back. I can’t pick a goal race or even a window yet until I know 1) where I’m doing residency and 2) what my schedule looks like for PGY 1 and 2 but I’m officially putting it out there as a big, scary goal.

Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come in the marathon amidst some disappointments, but here’s my trajectory AND what I’ll need to qualify.

  • City of Oaks 2008 3:17:35 (7:32)
  • Rock’nRoll 2009 Las Vegas 3:15:51 (7:28)
  • Boston Marathon 2011 3:11:18 (7:18)
  • Vermont City Marathon 2012 3:05:33 (7:04)
  • Vermont City Marathon 2013 2:58:28 (6:48)
  • Mohawk Hudson River Marathon 2014 2:54:38 (6:39)
  • Olympic Trials 2020 Standard 2:45 (6:17)

6 marathons, 23 minutes off and a drop in pace of 57 seconds. For a 2:44:30, I’ll need to drop 10 more minutes and 23 seconds per mile. It seems wholly insurmountable now, but we all have to start somewhere, right? I don’t anticipate doing it all in one bite; it seems more realistic to aim to get under 2:50 first and then take the final stab after that.

Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Only a month late…it’s been a really busy month!!

Midtown

Short Version:

Not the day I wanted but not the worst day either. Very clear areas for improvement but also evidence of a solid fitness base. 1:26:48, 20th for women, 99th overall.

Long Version:

I went into this race with a simple goal of a) running faster than I had at Plattsburgh (1:26:44) and b) getting a good sense of my fitness for the fall. In my head, I anticipated being around 1:24 if the weather cooperated. I was 4 seconds slower than Plattsburgh, so not an enormous failure on point A but certainly way off 1:24.

I woke up early on race morning and headed into the city. Because the course looped through downtown, I parked far away from the start in a garage that I knew I could leave from right after the race. I had to drive to Lexington that day and didn’t want to delay that misery! It was warm at 4 am already, around 70, but not as hot as it had been. Since it’s Chicago, there was also a “breeze.” Although wind is becoming my nemesis in racing, I will admit that it helped to keep air moving on a sticky morning.

Prerace was a BREEZE. I’ve done a number of Rock ‘n’ Roll events and sometimes, the logistics don’t work out well (see, Vegas) and I start the race stressed and grumpy. This one was the opposite. I dropped my bag easily, realized I left my Gu in my bag and was able to get it again with no issue. I walked right up to the start line and found a spot with no issue and the race went off without a hitch. Right before the start, I met a brand new post-collegiate runner who was running her first half and had a goal of about 1:25 so we agreed to run together for the first few miles.

O to 5K

As we got rolling, I didn’t feel terrible but I didn’t feel great either. Way too much celebrating with my Chicago classmates and way too little slept left me more tired and dry than I normally would like to be. Lesson 1: No amount of water or Nuun can compensate for a rowdy night at Journal Club.  We rolled through the first mile in about 6:22 and I was cautiously optimistic that things would continue that way. After the snafu at Plattsburgh with mismarked miles, I was wearing my Garmin for this race but all the tunnels and turns quickly made it irrelevant. Lesson 2: Garmin-free racing works better for me in short races. The first 6 miles of the course wind through downtown and although the scenery was great, it was hard to get into any kind of a groove. To add to this, we kept crossing these weird canals that were extremely painful underfoot in flats. Both McKenna and I remarked “I DON’T LIKE THESE!!” as we went over the first one. We went through the 5K in 20:07 (6:28) and I started to feel a bit better while McKenna started to feel worse. We got separated and I rolled on alone.

5K to 10K

Right around here, I had a momentary panic that this would be my first DNF as my right foot went completely numb. After years of running with a numb left foot and a few episodes of numbness in my right foot lately, there are few things that make me worry more and although I can usually tough out a workout, 10 miles seemed like a long way to push. Once we got onto the straighter section of the course, however, my foot started to feel better and I went through the 10K in 40:42 (6:33). The wind was pretty tough heading south and although I tried to connect with other runners, I had a similar situation developing as I did at Plattsburgh where I just felt…gearless. I was happy cruising along but couldn’t seem to find another comfortable pace. Women were flying by me and I couldn’t do much more than just watch them go.

10K to 15K

As it sometimes goes in a race, my best miles were right before my worst. Towards the south-most part of the course, we turned onto a newly paved out and back and it just felt like heaven. I was floating along, could see the remainder of the women’s field and had a fleeting (silly rabbit…) thought that I might be able to close the last 3 miles quickly. I went through 8.9 miles in 58:13 (6:32). As we turned back onto the main road and made the turn towards home, however, that fleeting thought quickly faded.

South Part of the Race Course

15K to Finish

We connected with the Lakefront Path and started dodging 10K runners and in a final insult to my focus/stride, went through the MOST bizarre race feature I’ve ever experienced: a long tunnel that was blacked out with flashing strobe lights. I’m sure some people thought it was fun, but for me, I couldn’t see my footing and slowed to a jog as I tried not to trip over a) my feet and b) 10K runners. By the time we came out of the tunnel, I was all but done. I tried to gear up and felt like I was crawling. The finish had a great, long straightaway that would have been great for a strong finish but I didn’t have much strong left. I crossed in 1:26:48, which means my last few miles were barely under 7 minute pace. Yikes.

After the finish, I waited for McKenna to finish and we went for a brief cooldown. By the time I got back to my car, the skies opened up with an epic Midwestern thunderstorm and I headed south to Lexington through scary driving conditions.

Thoughts:

The good news is that I am apparently quite comfortable at 6:38 pace as I’ve landed there in almost all my races and workouts lately. This suggests good general fitness and a solid base from which to begin fall training. The bad news is that I am lacking any top gears, which makes sense since most of my training has been unstructured at best. As I said in my training week review yesterday, these last two rotations have been my priority (as they should be), but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to tighten down on my training and incorporate more interval work as I go into the fall. Lesson 3: Speedwork really does make you faster…or at least keeps you from slowing down in the end of a race. 

As always, I am enormously thankful for the support, both official and unofficial, that allows me to continue to run through the various adventures of my life. In this case, the Competitor Group comped my entry for this race (I’m starting to think it’s a curse; anytime they are gracious enough to do this, I race poorly…), Skechers supports me with shoes and gear and Nuun covers my hydration.

Salt In the Wound

For the last few weeks, I felt like I was finally moving beyond Philly. People had stopped asking about my training, the Olympic Trials came and went and I survived and I had a few good weeks of training. Then yesterday happened. The rest of my classmates are full, official 4th years while I’m making up the rotations I missed while I was training this fall. I was doing 4th year electives while I was “off” but I have to make up those clerkships before graduation and I opted to do them right off the bat. As such, I’m now surrounded by 3rd years who don’t know me or my story and who assume that I failed the Boards or otherwise floundered in third year and have to repeat a clerkship. I guess I could let them assume that and maybe so doing would ultimately be less painful, but I have had to have the following conversation multiple times in the past day.

“You’re a 2017, right? Why are you in this rotation?”

“I took the fall off to train for the Olympic Trials.”

“Cool, did you make it?”

“No, that’s not really how the United States system works. I needed to qualify for a chance to compete but I didn’t make the standard.” Awkward silence….

I’m facing a similar issue with writing my personal statement. My advisor is the Program Director here and she has encouraged me to demonstrate that I’m both a team player and have the ability to persevere, which is best done in my case via my running career. How do I demonstrate that perseverance when I feel like I failed at my big, bold move? How do I articulate that although I didn’t reach my A through E goals, I did achieve a lot of amazing things? How do I get over my shame enough to represent myself well?

Huge leap of faith, huge way to fall…

Paddle Your Own Canoe

paddlecanoe

There are plenty of things about being a third year medical student that are hard. You’re never entirely sure of your responsibilities, you’re almost always in the way and most of the time, you get your feet on the ground just to switch services again. It is the definition of in flux. Despite this, third year is also the time when you are supposed to pick your specialty. Picking your specialty is somewhat like picking a spouse. In fact for some people, their specialty will last longer than their spouse.

For whatever it says about me, classmates who don’t know me particularly well always assumed I would do Surgery. I wasn’t so convinced; after all, it’s a notoriously difficult residency and lifestyle and I like my dogs, my husband and my running. I loved my OBGyn clerkship and was fairly convinced that was the way to go for me. Until General Surgery. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Surgery, not unlike falling in love with your spouse. As Abbey once said, when you know you know. As soon as I admitted it to Will and to my closest friends (and switched my Advisor and my entire 4th year schedule…), I just felt at peace. I was excited again about the next phase, invigorated by the challenge of tinkering with the human body.

As word spread, however, that I ditched OB to General Surgery (we get a little cliquey about such things), I started to get reactions from friends that included, “Well, do anesthesia before you really commit” and “Are you sure? Don’t you want kids?” As sure and as happy as I was (and am), doubt started to creep in.

While I was walking the dogs late this afternoon, I realized that choosing General Surgery as a 30 something female is par for the course for me. I’ve never been one for the easy path. I’ve never been one who avoids an experience because it might be arduous or difficult. People ask me the same thing about marathons/my running life: “Aren’t they hard?” or “I could NEVER run that many miles.” Ultimately what works for me (and ignites the spark in me) doesn’t have to work for everyone else. I love running and I embrace the challenges and disappointments that come with it. Some days it’s easy and I don’t have to think before heading out the door and some days it takes sheer force of will to get out there. But it’s always worth it. I am approaching General Surgery in the same way. I know it is an exhausting road, but I can tolerate exhaustion if it’s something I’m passionate about. That is a lesson gleaned from life as a long distance runner…

Paddle your own canoe. 

 

Week in Review: 9.28 to 10.4

Fall has arrived! From sweaty away in tank tops and short shorts to running in capris and long sleeves with gloves on in just a few days…

Monday: 7 mile recovery run with a few 400s in there as the girls did a workout. Tweaked my left glute doing RDLs of all things and was pretty sore for the rest of the week. Arms in the weight room.

Tuesday: Rainy 10.4 mile regular run with Erin and Megan. 6 by 100 meter striders.

Wednesday: Pouring rain and windy so had to get a bit creative with workouts. 3 mile continuous tempo on the track. 6:33, 6:16, 6:14 that felt easier and easier as the pace dropped. 11.75 miles total. Legs in the weight room.

Thursday: 5.1 mile recovery run. Beach abs with the team.

Friday: 10.4 mile interval workout that also had to be creative because the marching band was using the track (?!). 5 by 1000 on the roads around the high school, so pace was all over the place but all good effort.

Saturday: 7 miles while coaching around Thetford.

Sunday: 15.1 mile long run with Erin. Perfect fall day. Felt pretty clunky/tired but we got through it.

Total Miles: 67

Total Miles for September: 283 miles

Although workouts are still feeling pretty difficult, I’m starting to feel better on regular runs and am much less exhausted overall. The best example of this is that I managed to really lift this week rather than essentially collapsing after my runs. I’m getting used to being tied to my house three times a day for my iron but will admit that some days, I just end up doubling up my dose because I wasn’t home for one of them. I see Kim again this week and I’m excited/nervous to see what we come up with for tweaks. I do feel like my nutrition has been a little off track the last week or so because Will is back from Connecticut and I’m getting used to having someone else around for meals again rather than just eating on my schedule and my own meal preferences.

Now that I feel like my energy is coming back from its nadir, I’m starting to think about how I want to reframe my goals for Philadelphia. I don’t think a Trials Qualifier is a very likely outcome at this point but I’d still like to have a strong race and set myself up for the 2016 season. At the very least, I’d like to break 1:20. I’ll revisit in a couple weeks after I get some more workouts in but I think a reasonable A goal would be to break 1:18.

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.

Day 3: Memphis to Amarillo

750 miles
Tennessee to Arkansas to Oklahoma to Texas.
2 Sonic stops.
First phone call to Dad.

Long haul yesterday all on I-40! We had another beautiful travel day and minimal mishaps. It was officially Dillo Day; we saw 29 dead dillos on the side of 40. We’re also down to 4 states left on the license plate game. We also saw some (captive) buffalo and the hometown of Carrie Underwood.

I had high hopes for my recovery run in Amarillo as the Rock Creek bike path ran right behind our hotel. I failed to think about how far west we were, however, and woke to a completely dark city at 5:30. I have a rest day this week so I lifted instead. I knew I’d need some mental flexibility on this trip and am just grateful to have gotten any activity in.

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Then there was that first call to Dad. Suzanne and I are lucky to have a Dad who has done everything for us our entire lives but it leaves us utterly unprepared for anything car related. This morning, Suzanne learned that the dipstick hole isn’t the same place that motor oil goes, which induced a call to Dad. He was impressed any oil went IN the dipstick hole then told us to just drive. We only smoked for a few minutes…

On our way out of Amarillo, we stopped at Cadillac Ranch. If you ever find yourself on 40, it’s highly recommended. The story goes that a local man bought a new Cadillac that turned out to be a lemon. When the dealership wouldn’t take it back, he buried it along the highway in protest. There are now 10 buried Cadillacs and people bring spray paint to decorate the cars. True living art!

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Onward to Scottsdale!

What’s the Point?

No, I’m not having a runner tantrum or questioning the meaning of life. Training is going really well and I’m looking forward to a solid Phase III. Asking “what’s the point” however, is one of the most critical questions an athlete can ask of a coach and of themselves.

Every run should have a purpose. As such, every run has an appropriate length and pace and (spoiler alert) as hard as you can doesn’t count. I just came out of Phase II, where I was focused on getting my long run to 2:30 and on building the strength to do some big workouts in Phase III. This strength came from a steady diet of intervals with 90% rest, tempo runs and most importantly, recovery runs. Early on in Phase II, I almost derailed myself because I started to push the pace on my easy runs. I should know better but my foot called me out on the behavior and I’m back to running my easy runs somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00 pace. Yup. I race over two minutes per mile faster than I do most of my mileage.

One of the biggest challenges as a coach is convincing athletes to slow down on their recovery runs. People want to push, want to rush the acquisition of fitness or recovery from an injury. They get about two weeks out of this approach, three if they’re lucky. Think I’m being dramatic? Just read a few running blogs and look for the trend. People celebrate the return from an injury or pick a goal race, pop up their mileage way beyond the 10% rule, start hammering workouts and low and behold, just don’t know what happened when they are totally out again three weeks later.

Last year, I decided to start telling my girls about the point of each workout and run and found that in so doing, I was able to alleviate anxiety. I think we have a natural tendency to assume that a particular run or workout “determines” our future success. In reality, a goal race depends on workout stacked on workout stacked on workout and showing up every day and asking ourselves what we’re aiming to accomplish that day and then executing that. One run does not a training cycle make.

How do you make sure that all of your runs have purpose? How do you structure training cycles? What are your tricks for not pushing it too far, too soon?