Category Archives: nerves

Week in Review: 3.6.17 to 3.12.17

Monday: I didn’t have high expectations for this run. I’d been sick and expected to basically survive this. Instead, I had a darn good run! Warmed up then 2 by 2 mile at tempo pace on the track. First set was 6:32 pace, second set was 6:23 pace. Both felt totally in control.

Tuesday: Surgery Day. Didn’t do much besides sleep in the OR, sleep in PACU and sleep on my couch.

Wednesday: Back to class. Short walk with the dogs.

Thursday: Light arm lift with resistance band workout from here.

Friday: Hour walk in the woods with the dogs.

Saturday: 20 minute uphill (10% grade) walk on the treadmill and at-home Barre routine from here. 

Sunday: 20 minute jog on treadmill. Light arms and legs.

Total Miles: 10.3

I had no expectations that this week would be a big one for running. My hope was that I could get a little physical activity in for sanity and heal up so I can get back running soon. I attempted to run on Saturday but a few steps in, knew that it was too soon and settled for an uphill treadmill walk. Today, I was able to do an easy jog.

My restrictions are 1) no strenuous activity and 2) no lifting anything heavier than a milk carton. The latter is pretty objective, the former not so much. What is strenuous? For me, a jog isn’t technically strenuous but perhaps it is on a new scar. I chose (and this is NOT medical advice) to let pain or discomfort be my guide. If anything felt off, I had to stop doing it. I’ll continue that plan through this week. Suffice to say that New Bedford looks to be out of the question. I’m adding some other local races, however, in hopes that I’ll heal quickly enough for those.

There have been two major upsides from this week, however, besides the obvious of a safe, successful surgery. The first is that since I haven’t been running, I’ve had a ton of time to deal with my to-do list. I’m psyched to say that today, I finished a first draft of my manuscript and that by Tuesday at noon, my goal is to have a do list. Can you imagine?!?

The second upside is that I’ve had to be creative about lifting options and came across some really fun (but really hard) low weight ones. If you think you’re in shape, I encourage you to try to resistance band one. In full disclosure, there was no way I could do 100 of the lying pullovers. I did 50 and literally couldn’t do another one.

The other exciting news for the week is that it’s MATCH WEEK!!!! Tomorrow at 11 am, we find out if we matched via a cryptic email that just says yes or no. On Friday at noon, we have a big ceremony at school (as do all 4th year medical students) where we open envelopes and find out where we’ll be going for Residency. I think I’ll breathe a sign of relief tomorrow at 11 but I have a feeling it’s going to be a long week.

Calm (Alternative Title: Mindfulness I Can Tolerate)

I am one of the least intentionally mindful people on the planet. I move at 100 miles an hour, I always have ten projects in the air and generally consider it a successful day if I get through half of my to-do list. Recently, however, while on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, I was introduced to which is a website and app dedicated to simple mindfulness exercises. What I like most about the site is that it has 3 minute guided mindfulness exercises, which are a tolerable length even for me. There are also numerous options for calming noise on the right sidebar which is a nice feature for when I’m working or reading something that doesn’t require 100% concentration.

As I’ve shared many times on here, I struggle with significant running anxiety. Interestingly, my race anxiety has decreased a ton over the past few years (maybe too much as sometimes I feel like I don’t care about race outcomes any more) but my workout anxiety remains incredibly high. I don’t sleep the night before a big workout and as I get ready to start, I’m nauseous and in full on panic mode. Flooding one’s muscles with cortisol is not exactly the way to prepare for success so I made a deal with myself to try to incorporate some mindfulness features into my pre-workout prep. Now on workout days, my routine goes warm-up –> 4 laps of jog the curve, stride the straights –> drills –> eyes closed, mindfulness moment. I close my eyes, work through one of the mindfulness actions of wiggling my toes and attending to that action and take some deep, intentional breaths. It sounds hokey and one of my biggest challenges is not rejecting the idea but my workouts have improved MARKEDLY since starting this. It could certainly be incidental but it seems that taking a few moments to focus before starting helps to bring my heart rate down and narrow my focus.

For me, a few minutes of intentional mindfulness a week is a much more tolerable way to work on focus and anxiety than yoga, which has the paradoxical effect of making me significantly more stressed about my schedule, my lack of flexibility and so on. I do still do my 20 minute routine for runners but beyond that, yoga has never seemed to work to help my mental game. I’m hopeful that adding this small touch of mindfulness will be a good addition to my pre-race routine and help me move back towards a healthy dose of anxiety and race anticipation.

Do you practice mindfulness? How do you focus yourself before workouts and races?

Week in Review 11.9.15 to 11.15.15 and Goals for Philly

Taper begins…

Monday: 9.2 miles at practice.

Tuesday: 5 by mile at T pace (6:00, 6:08, 6:08, 6:06, 6:02) and 5 by 200 at R pace. Felt pretty clunky but once I focused on cadence, everything felt better. Legs afterward.

Wednesday: True beginning of taper with an off day, prorated at 5.4 miles. Drills and arms.

Thursday: 6.3 miles easy with striders on the track. Calves very sore.

Friday: Me versus the wind. Again. 3 by 1K (5:38 pace) plus 5 by 200 at R pace. Felt clunky again but got it done. 2 times through leg circuit after.

Saturday: Ran 2.5 with the girls at New Englands (they kicked butt!!!) and then did 3 easy with Will when I got home.

Sunday: 8.1 mile “long” run with 8 striders on the track. 1 set of arms after.

Total: 50.2 miles

The start of taper is always met with such mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that you are done with all the hard work. On the other, you instantly begin to think about all the things you should have done or could have fit in. Things haven’t been too bad thus far because I’m actually pretty sore (I’m hoping from the 200s) and happy to have the easier days.

I also spent most of last week harassing Will about what he thought I could run. Not trying to sell myself short, but the 1:15 just seems out of grasp given the way my fall went. I’m not disappointed in this training cycle but definitely could have used the 6 weeks I spent feeling awful in August/September! I’m a huge fan of A, B and C goals so here are mine:

C Goal: PR (under 1:21:45). I’ll be honest that I’d be very disappointed if I couldn’t better this time, excluding crazy weather which we aren’t forecast to have.

B Goal: Break 1:20. This is essentially where most of my race plan is focused. 1:20 is a big mental barrier for me but also a major entry point into many of the top level races that I’d like to be a part of going forward.

A Goal: 1:18:30. Just under 6 minute pace, this would be a great run for me.

Race Plan: I’m not planning on wearing a watch and will approach Philly much like I did the first time: ease into the first 2 miles, steady state effort til 6, tempo effort til 10 then send it for the last 5K. One¬†adaptation to this may be that I connect with a group of women going for the Trials Standard in the full, who I imagine would go out right around 1:20 pace. It’s far easier to pull along with a group, so if the opportunity presents itself somewhere between 5:55 and 6:05 pace, I’ll be trying to chug along with them to pass some miles. The other adaptation will depend on how I feel in this final week; if my tempo miles tomorrow start to show taper pop and I’m down around 5:50, I’ll have a little more confidence to go out at 6 minute pace and hold it, rather than accelerating through the race.


Quiet the Doubts in Your Head

In the vein of Halloween, some workouts haunt you forever. Steady state long runs are one workout that spikes my anxiety enormously, dating back to the first real disaster I had training under Will. It was my birthday and we had a meet so I needed to get my workout in early and headed to the bike path. It was something like 13 miles total with 6 at steady state pace, which was probably 6:45 pace that year. Within a couple of miles, it was clear that the workout wasn’t going to go well. I couldn’t breathe, my legs were heavy and hitting 6:45 pace seemed impossible. I ended up crouching on the side of the bike path because I was crying so hard at my “failure.” I remember dragging myself to the meet, not wanting to make eye contact with Will because I was so ashamed. I would later be introduced to the term “misfire,” which is what he writes in his coaching spreadsheet when a workout goes awry. A cute term, but challenging to bounce from as an athlete. Later that cycle, I would try the workout two more times with full success, even noting in my training log that it was “easy” the second successful time.

I had a similar workout on the calendar for Monday: 2 hours with 8 miles at 6:30 pace. Despite the fact that I’ve run longer workouts at a similar pace with no major issues and that I just raced a 10K significantly faster, I launched right back into the mode of “this is a workout that I can’t do.” I told Will 1000 times that I was anxious about the workout, that I didn’t think I could do it, that 6:30 pace was too fast. Although it was three years ago, the memory of crouching by the bike path thinking “failure, failure, failure” felt like it happened yesterday.

As most workouts do, my run on Monday turned out fine. In fact, it turned out great. With a very honest steady state effort, I clicked off 8 miles at 6:23 pace and 15 miles total. Despite this, I wasn’t excited after my workout, I was just happy that it was over. Why is it that we’re so willing to dwell on one bad workout for years but won’t celebrate a good one for even a day? When another steady state run comes up, I guarantee that I’ll think back to the “failed” one and not remember the one from Monday where I felt fit and fast.

What workouts haunt you? How do you erase the memory of a bad workout or race? What workouts always make you smile when they show up on your schedule?

Pre-Race Saturday

It’s hard to get back in the swing of pre-race routines after almost a year away from racing. Nevertheless, the day before is here and things are going as they usually do the day before a race; nervous texts to teammates (LT taking the brunt of it today), nervous foam rolling, naps, packing and repacking…

I’m not nervous for the race for the normal reasons but because unlike a “normal” race, I don’t actually know what my abilities are right now. I’m relatively fit but I have no specificity and haven’t asked my foot to do anything resembling a race pace since surgery. I’ll probably be fine but some looming doubts are creeping in.

This is why I can't have nice things. Who goes outside like this?

This is why I can’t have nice things. Who goes outside like this?

The old shake-out run. Warmup, run a few accelerations at race effort, shut her down.

The old shake-out run. Warmup, run a few accelerations at race effort, shut her down.

Refuel with the best pancakes in the world, aka Willyum's Cooking Light Pancakes

Refuel with the best pancakes in the world, aka Willyum’s Cooking Light Pancakes

And now to lay on the couch and study for the rest of the day with a break to watch a slightly more important race, the Kentucky Derby!

Hello New Foot!

Warning, slightly icky picture below of my Frankenfoot.

I got my split off today and got to see my foot for the first time, which was pretty darn exciting. What is even more exciting, however, is that I’m cleared for moderate activity meaning that I can pedal a bike gently and aquajog as well as lift with both legs, as long as I’m not moving any sleds. I’m also tasked with weaning off my crutches over the next four weeks and even took my first tentative crutch free steps tonight.

All in all, I haven’t run in 15 days which seems like forever but isn’t too bad from a physiological perspective. For someone who isn’t post surgery, you have about two weeks before fitness starts to drop off precipitously. I won’t be as lucky because I was immobilized, but I shouldn’t be horribly out of shape either. My hope for the next few weeks is to alternate between biking and aquajogging, about 30 minutes at a time, plus lifting and lots of gentle stretching. I did 30 minutes on the bike tonight and besides a very tired left glute, things really felt pretty good. I’m cautiously hopeful!

Dr. Charlson was happy with how the incision looked and filled me in on the surgery again (since I don’t remember our first post-surgery conversation). He was happy with how things went but surprised both with how tight things were and how high up he had to go on my ankle to get things to let go. With my first surgery, Dr. Slauterback had a similar reaction. Evidently I excel at building scar tissue! Beyond the joke, it’s something to remember as I start training again: I really need to keep up with soft tissue mobilization.

Picture below, and more updates to come as I tackle the pool.

Foot First Day


Surgery was about 100 times better this time around. Anesthesia worked their butts off for me and I woke up feeling great and out of pain.

We’ll see how things go down the line but Dr. Charlson was encouraged by what he saw once he released my nerves, which were conveniently compressed by some unexpected fascia.

Now the hard part begins: recovery and staying still. Anyone have TV show requests?!


The Hurtbox

The strongest athlete isn’t always the fastest or the most talented. The athletes who perform well time after time are those who can get into and stay in the pain cave or hurtbox. I personally prefer hurtbox, as it seems more structural and less dark and dreary. Regardless, one of my struggles this winter and spring has been with the hurtbox and my seeming inability to either get moving fast enough to get there or lack of drive to stay in it. The hurtbox isn’t everything; you have to have the foundation underneath it first. However, it can be the difference maker between first and second, the tick between a good performance and a great one.

I did one of my last workouts last Tuesday. The intention of the workout was to practice my gear change between marathon pace and tempo pace, which emulates effort over harder portions of the course and any surges that might happen later in the race. Before the workout, I had a strong talk with myself about the hurtbox and made a commitment to myself that no matter how bad I felt, I was doing my best to execute this workout. My times had to be wind adjusted, but I absolutely nailed it, running 6:36, 6:38, 6:37, 6:06, 6:04. I felt so in control of the workout that I had to resist the urge to fistpump upon its completion.

The real benefit of a hurtbox success isn’t the physiology, however, it’s the psychology. Yes, the workout was uncomfortable but I did it and I feel almost invincible now. I’m less scared of what a surge might feel like or how I will react. I’m getting really comfortable at both my planned marathon and tempo paces. I’m assured of my fitness.

Welcome to Race Week.

The Wisdom of Winnie the Pooh

In Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin tells Pooh “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Wise words from a children’s book…

My teammates have spent much of this week encouraging me that I’m stronger than I think going into tomorrow. Like many runners in snowy climates, this winter was hard on training. Between snow and ice plus coaching, I spent much of the winter just plain exhausted and although my mileage volume was fine, my legs feel pretty darn rusty. I’ve done some targeted workouts but I’m not nearly as sharp as I was going into Philly. It’s hard for me to view a race as a training opportunity and to lower my expectations. I’m still at a place where my ramped up training over the past couple of years has reaped PR after PR, so not being ready to PR is hard to swallow.

My plan for tomorrow is simple: run hard, work on the small things and get 18 miles done. The course is a combination of Philly and New Bedford; it features a 4 mile downhill section in the middle of the race and hill at 12 like New Bedford, but significant hill climb between 5 and 7 like Philly. My hope is that I can get through the hills at tempo effort, work hard to use the downhill to my advantage then dig deep to grind out the last few miles. Time and place is a tertiary thought.

The rain and cold provides a different challenge. Low 40s and wet is very different than racing in low 40s and dry and I have no less than 15 outfit combinations with me to try to be prepared. In the end, the really important detail is keeping feet and chafe zones comfortable with as much Body Glide and Vaseline as possible.