Category Archives: pacing

Week in Review 4.3.17 to 4.9.17

Monday: Kicked my own rear. 1.5 miles at tempo up the UVM Bike Path, 1 mile at T on the track and 2 by 200 all out (ha!) on the track. Did this full body lift and loved it!

Tuesday: 4 mile recovery run in the torrential rain. Quite miserable.

Wednesday: 2 miles easy plus round robin lift.

Thursday: Off day. Didn’t totally intend to do an actual off day but exhausted from my first week back in the ICU.

Friday: 3 mile shakeout run with 5 by 1 at MP, 5 by 1 at T Pace.

Saturday: 2 mile warmup then Half Unplugged at Steady State pace. Finished in 1:31:54. Super happy with my ability to do my workout and not overdo it despite two early miles that were probably too aggressive.

Sunday: 5.25 mile recovery run in 60 degree weather. Amazing!

Total Miles: 37.6

Quite pleased with this week. I started up in the SICU again this week (read, dead legs from all day standings) and still managed to get some reasonable training in including a huge workout yesterday at Unplugged. It was mentally challenging not to press as hard as I could but I was really happy to get a controlled tough effort in and am especially happy today as I’m tired but not trashed.

What I’m most excited about, however, is that I am much more interested in training again! I don’t know if it’s the weather or getting something like Unplugged under my belt, but I’m ready to get back into workouts and start the improvement cycle.

One thing I did differently this week was run after work. I have to be in by 5:30 and with our current schedules, it’s hard to go to bed early enough to get good sleep in time to get up at 3:30. Even with compression on, my legs were miserable but at least I got some runs done in the light! For this week, I’m going to try am workouts and see if it’s better.

One thing I didn’t do well at this week was hydration. It’s hard to drink enough water in the ICU because we can’t have water on our work stations and we spend a lot of time running around trying to keep critically ill patients safe. Every day this week, I would come home completely parched and realize that the only water I’d had was in my coffee. I need to prioritize drinking more water this week so I’m not so miserable by 6 pm.


Week in Review 9.14.15 to 9.20.15

Monday: 7.2 miles of recovery plus 6 striders on the grass. Hip work afterward.

Tuesday: 6 by 1K repeats (3:40, 3:44, 3:45, 3:45, 3:44, 3:45). Legs totally dead and a super frustrating workout. Leg lift afterward.

Wednesday: 7.1 mile recovery run. Lifted arms.

Thursday am: 13.1 miles with 2 by 2 at Tempo Pace. Was supposed to do 3 by 2 miles but when I went to start the third, I almost couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. Essentially jogged home.

Thursday pm: 3 miles warming up with Erin before her 3K.

Friday: Scheduled Off Day. 7 miles prorated. Lots of activity setting up our school fun run.

Saturday am: 5 miles plus 6 striders bright and early.

Saturday day: 5 miles of running plus 3 miles of coursewalking at the Invitational. Legs cooked at bedtime. Girls had an epic day with JV winning and Varsity in third.

Just want to bottle this happiness!

Just want to bottle this happiness!

Sunday: Downtown 10K in 38:33, a 5 second PR and the win! Much more in my race write up but a perfect example of why going out with caution and racing smart always pays off. In this case, literally, with a $125 prize.

A little stunned at the finish.

A little stunned at the finish.

Total Miles: 67.4

Before this morning, this week was one of the most stressful in all of my running life. I don’t totally understand what’s going on with my running and it’s so frustrating to feel like I’m doing all of the right things and having nothing really work out. Finally made a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow morning to get my iron levels checked, among a few other things, and will see a sports dietitian on Thursday to see what suggestions she has. Having a good race today is a huge mental help, however, as I felt like the first 4 miles were extremely easy and that changing gears wasn’t that difficult.

Why Do I Feel So Horrible When It’s Humid? (A Scientific Answer)

Will and I were plodding through town the other day, lamenting how horrible our legs felt in the 61 degree dewpoint and oppressive sun when I whined/asked “I know why I don’t evaporate sweat in this weather but WHY do my legs feel so terrible.” Ever the well-read scholar, Will replied not with his own whining retort, but with an awesome concise answer on precisely why we all turn into plodding wrecks in the humidity.

We’ve long know that there is a threshold temperature at which our brains and bodies essentially shutdown. It’s why we worry about overheated runners in a marathon or people with uncontrolled fevers. The link between this threshold and running performance, however, seems to be a less direct link. Essentially, it’s the speed with which you APPROACH this threshold temperature that matters. An analogy could be drawn to accelerating in your car: you can get to 60 by slowly depressing the gas pedal or you can floor it. The end point will be the same, but the slope of the line is different. With body temperature, a steeper line means your central nervous system (CNS) puts on the warning lights earlier and tells your skeletal muscles that you’re exhausted to keep you from overheating. Or, as the author of this seminal work on hyperthemia notes “the organism can anticipate…and avoid a catastrophic outcome.”

The other piece of warm weather running that we’ve come to understand is that it’s a one shot deal; once the warning signal has come on for the day, no amount of external or internal cooling will turn that signal off and let you feel peppy again.

So where does this science hit the road? It’s summertime almost everywhere and we’re all dealing with heat and humidity on a daily basis. Since we can’t take off running until the temperatures cool down in October, the natural conclusions are as follows:

1. Take it easy in the heat. Sort of a no-kidding conclusion but it’s worth thinking about the slope of your temperature line when you do your workouts this summer. You can get them in, but make sure your warmup is slow enough so that you don’t flip the kill switch before you’ve even started working hard.

2. Consider shortening your warmup and external cooling in extreme conditions. Racing a 4th of July 5K? If the weather is forecast to be seasonably hot, it’s a good idea to shorten your warmup, keep it extremely easy and try techniques like an ice vest and cool compress to flatten out the line until the race.

3. Keep the faith. Everyone feels horrible in the heat and humidity, even people who claim to “run well in the heat.” While this may be due to making smarter choices in the heat, there is very little person to person variability in heat tolerance or critical temperature threshold.

How do you manage in the heat and humidity? Does it reassure you to know why hot, humid runs feel so darn tough?

Workout: Prerace Shakeout

Summer is peak racing season and as such, it’s not uncommon to have a race almost every weekend. Although frequent racing is a great way to improve speed, it also disrupts training cycles because you are constantly preparing for and then recovering from a race. This is not unlike the challenge I face as a high school cross country coach: how do we continue to have good performances every weekend AND make progress towards the State Meet. In past years, we’ve used Friday’s as our “shakeout” day, with a short run and striders before we head to our pasta party. This spring, however, I’ve been personally experimenting with other prerace routines and will be implementing the following both for my own races and for the team this fall.

First, do an easy run for whatever your daily mileage is supposed to be minus 1.5 miles then hit your local track. For all laps, aim to maintain light, smooth form. All of these paces should be effort-based; the purpose is to remind the legs of all your gears and get the legs ready for a race effort.

Lap 1: Jog the curves and run the straight sections at regular run effort.

Lap 2: Jog the curves and run the straight sections at tempo effort.

Lap 3: Jog the curves and run the straights at interval paced effort.

Lap 4: Jog the curves and run the straights at all-out effort.

When you finish your last lap, cooldown to home or your car.

One of the biggest barriers that I see as a coach and experience as an athlete is difficulty in changing gears from an easy running pace. Many of us can go from “slow” to “fast” without a lot of thought, but the ability to click through other efforts is lost for many of us and inhibits our ability to execute smart races or cover opponent’s moves. Doing this workout regularly before races helps create neuronal circuitry and muscle memory that will reap benefits through a racing season.

When Do I Do This Workout? This workout is great for the day before races up to a half marathon in length. If you want to use it for a marathon, change the paces to regular run – marathon pace – tempo pace – half marathon pace. This workout is also a great way to come back to speed work in general; it helps you to remember your paces and gives enough stimulus for positive adaptation.




Week in Review: 9.22.14 to 9.28.14

Taper has begun and par for the course, I’m now terrified that I’m going to break an ankle, get pneumonia or get hit by a rogue biker. The last item was close to reality on my long run today, as the bike path was packed with people taking advantage of unseasonably warm temps to evidently learn how to bike.

Monday: 7.2 miles with the team at mostly recovery pace with a few hills at a faster pace. Feeling pretty good from the workout.

Tuesday: 11 miles that was supposed to be easy and became less easy when I got totally and utterly lost in Starbird. Beach abs afterward.

Wednesday: 12.7 mile tempo run. Warmup, 3 by 10 minutes at T pace then 5 by 30 seconds hard and cooldown.

Thursday: Official beginning of taper. 7 mile recovery run.

Friday: 8.3 miles with 4 striders on the track.

Saturday: 5 miles at Manchester Invitational. Stood in the hot sun all day, which wasn’t optimal but the girls ran SO well, who could care.

They insisted on the porto-potty pose. I love them.

They insisted on the porto-potty pose. I love them.

Sunday: 14.75 miles. 3 mile warm up, 40 minutes at T pace (6:35 today) and cooldown to the 2 hour mark. Can’t believe this is it. Total body lift afterward.

Total Miles: 66

Besides some short tempo efforts and striders, all the hard work is over. Now all I can do is drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep and work on getting my mind ready for 26.2.

Number of Weather Checks: 1 (For the record, low of 37 the night before and high of 62 and cloudy for race day. I’ll take that.)

Race Report: Downtown 10K

When we woke up on Sunday and branches from the tree in our front yard were banging into our siding, Will quipped that I needed to make an offering to the weather gods before Albany because I had clearly angered them. Although Saturday was worse, the winds on Sunday were around 24 mph and the dewpoint was 60. In short, it was a rough day for a race with a significant number of miles into the south wind. Even on the warmup, Laurel and I were laughing as we tried to “run” down Church Street towards the finish line.

As a smallish race, I warmed up until about 8:25, then stepped right into the starting area and lined up behind the young gun guys and one jackass with his Strava loaded who stated “I’m not running for prize money but I want to be up here!” Uh, ok. The gun went off and we headed out to battle the wind. One of the biggest challenges of the Downtown 10K course is the start, where we scream down College Street to the bikepath in the first mile. It’s difficult to resist the temptation to rip out of the start but if you do, your quads will pay for it later. Thankfully I resisted the urge and held back until we made the turn onto the bikepath. At this point, my legs were feeling good and I tried to settle into a pace a slightly faster than tempo pace. It was an empty field so I just focused on finding some people to watch while we got through the first few miles.

I led the women’s field until mile 3, but knew the other two leading ladies were right on my shoulder. One was being obnoxious and tucking in behind me without ever offering to share the leading responsibilities so I kept taking 10 step surges to try to either remind her to share the work or shake her off. Somewhere in the second mile, I caught a local guy that I know relatively well from track workouts (and have never even come close to beating) and planned to just stay with him but he was slowing down considerably, so I pressed on alone.

As we reached mile 3 and the tight turn into Leddy Park, the two women who had been with me went by which was perfectly timed with my meltdown for a mile. I went from feeling fantastic with good turnover to feeling like I couldn’t lift my knees. This also coincided with a turn that would leave us in the full force of the wind for almost 3 miles. From mile 3 to 4 there is also a gradual uphill that normally doesn’t bother me (I ran it last night and barely noticed it) but was a total grind. I tried to focus on turnover and reeling the second woman back in but if I’m being honest, mostly had a hissy fit. When we got over that hill and hit mile 4, however, I shook it off and started to feel strong again. I’d let too much distance go on the first and second women but wanted to fight for my third place spot, the cash prize and avoid my fourth place curse at this race.

Miles 4 and 5 were much more positive mentally and I was able to get my cadence and form back together for two strong back to back miles. As we entered Battery Park, I felt ready to begin my early kick and head home. Turning onto Church Street and hitting the 6 mile mark brought me back to the reality of the wind. Thanks to the buildings, there was a delightful wind tunnel that made me feel like a cartoon character where the finish line just kept moving away. The turn in Battery Park allowed me a peek at the 4th place woman so I knew I had to keep grinding.

Not in a great mood at the finish, but thanks to Jan Leja for always being at races to grab photos.

Not in a great mood at the finish, but thanks to Jan Leja for always being at races to grab photos.

I was so f***ing frustrated when I finally saw the clock; I hadn’t worn a watch for the race but assumed I was moving way faster than a 10K PW on that course of 40:27, 30 seconds slower than last year when I wasn’t training at all and almost 2 minutes slower than my PR in 2012. I was grateful to have finished 3rd but have basically nothing else positive to say about my performance besides the fact that I finished. When I plugged my performance into the Jack Daniels Smart Calculator (which adjusts for wind, temp and altitude) at even 10 miles of wind, it predicts a 37:11 so I guess I need to get over my fit but still not how I wanted to go into Albany.

After the race, however, I didn’t have a lot of time to be frustrated because I finished, got insanely dizzy and hit the bricks on hands and knees with heart palpitations. Towards the end of college, I started to have heart palpitations at the end of runs. Despite lots of tests and doctor’s visits, I never got a diagnosis and hadn’t had any extended episodes since about 2006. I do occasionally skip beats or get a run of tachycardia, but nothing too bad until Sunday. It took over an hour for my heart rate to come back down, even laying flat on our bed. Thankfully I’ve stayed in rhythm since then.

In terms of error analysis, the biggest thing that comes to mind was my surging in the early miles. Because of the wind, I knew that whoever got to the big turn in the lead had an advantage because any passing would require a whole lot of effort, so I wanted to try to call out the women sitting on me. If I did it again, I would have fought harder to not let them by I’m glad I experimented with the tactic because I want that tool in the marathon but wonder if that was part of my demise in mile 3.

Recently Read: Mistakes, Proper Arm Form, Faking Confidence and Do I Need a Coach?

This cracked me up this week. I hope this isn't my purpose on the planet.

This cracked me up. I hope this isn’t my purpose on the planet.

In the perennial debate of how should we run, another study concludes that the “best” form is basically whatever you do naturally. This conclusion is one we’re seeing more and more as running becomes extremely mainstream and “form coaches” attempt to make money off the shufflers, the T-rexers and the paddlers. Yes, some form quirks are highly inefficient but we should all aim for small adjustments, not total overhauls.

Pacing matters. We’re all guilty of getting overexcited at the start of a race or chasing someone down a sidewalk on a recovery day. Appropriate pace and correct perception of pace, however, is critical to top performance. One of my big foci this training cycle is to be more attuned to effort; I’m doing this by using my GPS, my own RPE and a heart rate monitor to compare what I feel to what my body is reporting that I feel.

This TED talk really deserves it’s own post but I don’t know enough about the psychology of body language and don’t have time right now to delve into it. That being said, it’s just a beautiful clip with actionable suggestions to help you on the starting line, in the board room or basically anywhere where you need confidence but are likely to lack it. It’s something we’ll be working on as a team this fall and I’m so looking forward to seeing the results.

Finally, although there should be an enormous caveat to vet anyone claiming to be a coach, this article is a good example of how coaching can help athletes of all levels. With the proliferation of free online plans, I’ve also observed a proliferation of injuries from plans that don’t (and couldn’t) accommodate individual needs. Can you complete events without a coach? Absolutely and many do (I did for years). Can you maximize your potential without a coach? I’m not so sure about that.

I Survived!

Full race write-up tomorrow, but I survived today and still have the majority of my ankle intact. Muddy day and ran out of fitness at about the 7 mile mark but thrilled to come back, run a negative split and only be a little (ok, more than a little but not a lot) slower than last year at this time. It begins!!

2nd place woman, 8th overall, 1:03:48 (6:52).

Really getting into this running selfie thing. And apparently my shorts tan has started...Went with the uniform shorts this morning cause it was cold!

Really getting into this running selfie thing. And apparently my shorts tan has started…Went with the uniform shorts this morning cause it was cold!

The 2014 race season has begun!!

The 2014 race season has begun!!

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.

March Madness Indeed

It’s been one of the busiest weeks of my life between work, a snowstorm and running 70+ miles, which explains the crickets over here. I’m beyond exhausted and excited for the weekend to sleep and run without balancing everything else. DC went…ok. More on that later, but basically I executed a huge tempo run and did exactly what I needed to do, no bells, no trumpets. Training week has been good despite a late snowstorm and I’m starting to get really excited for VCM.

Dan and I at the start

Dan and I at the start

DC Results