Category Archives: race day prep

Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose…Updated

Three and a half years ago (omg…) I shared a blog post right after VCM about what I wanted to accomplish in running. At the time, I structured it into 18 month Goals, Someday Goals and Pie in the Sky Goals. I was about at the end of my first year of medical school and didn’t know that I would pick General Surgery, move to Asheville, have breast surgery etc. That post continues to sit in my mind, however, because it was a vulnerable position to put myself in. What if I never crossed a single thing off?! Did that make me a failure or mean I had poor insight into my abilities? Would I always wonder what if?

It turns out, that list hasn’t changed much in terms of checking things off. I ran a PR in the marathon the fall after I wrote that. And I just won my first marathon last weekend which prompted me to revisit my list. I’m leaving out the 18 month time frame on my new version and just doing To Do and Pie in the Sky. I tried to come up with a combination of goals that are participation based (on me to complete), time based (again, on me to achieve) and competition based (on me AND other athletes).

To Do:

PR in the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon (18:44, 38:33, 1:21, 2:54 respectively)

Run a Trail Marathon

Win a National Championship

Run a Beer Mile

Run the Shut In Trail Race

Pie in the Sky:

Olympic Trials Qualifier in the Marathon

Run a US Running Circuit Race

Earn an Elite Bib at one of the US Majors (Boston, New York or Chicago)

Run for the US on a World’s Team

Still (Mostly) Alive

It’s hard to believe that only 11 weeks have passed since starting Intern Year and in the same breath, 11 weeks has flown by. I am almost done with my first rotation of this year (Acute Care Surgery) and with it, done with the bulk of my training for RDC! As expected, my running has had to take a bit of a back seat to everything else but I’ve done a reasonable job of continuing to train and build and finally have some long term goals in mind!

July: My only real goal for July was to survive and figure out what my running schedule might look like when the reality of 80+ hours of work hit. We had a relatively mild summer here and since I ran in the early morning for most of it, I really didn’t struggle too much with heat and humidity. I ran a very reasonable 181 miles and my long runs progressed to 16 miles. Workouts were non-specific (long trail runs, fartleks and easy tempos) and focused on general fitness acquisition.

August: I started to figure out what work was all about and finally managed to get through my days more efficiently. I hit the wall a bit energy wise in the middle of the month and finished up with only 165 miles. I did, however, get my first 20 miler in for the cycle and my workouts started to get more specific. I also started going to Orange Theory, which has been very interesting in terms of my perception of effort versus my heart rate.

September: After a relatively disappointing August, I have been trying to refocus more on my running in September. I am about as fatigued as I’ve ever been right now and my body is showing it with lots of general aches and leg heaviness. I did get another 20 miler in and my workouts have become even more focused (more on this later). I restarted my iron to make sure I’m tuned up from that perspective and have been focusing on sleep and stretching as much as I can to combat 80+ hours of standing/interrupted sleep/weird positions in the OR. I’m doing a check in half marathon in Johnson City this weekend and interested to see where I’m at as compared to both Unplugged and the Asheville Half. I don’t know what the topography of the course will be and the weather looks hot but it will be nice to have a supported “up-effort.”

I realized in August is that I have to become more flexible with training and with that, workouts have to become more intentional. I don’t have the recovery ability to do multiple workouts a week and instead, have to make do with a couple of quality efforts each week. Because of this and because I have been so frustrated with my stagnation, I finally decided to hire/bring on a coach. I say ‘bring on’ because I am working with Dave Ames, who is a friend beyond being a coach, and the decision was about as collaborative as it gets. As many people know, Will has been my coach forever but with intern year for him and an intentional shift in our marriage to be as focused on just being married and not being co-workers, co-coaches, athlete-coaches, it was time to make a different plan.

One of the amazing things about having a coach is that all I have to do is workout. One of the terrifying things about having a coach ARE those workouts. For example, I had a medium long run on Sunday with a workout built in that didn’t seem that difficult on paper but was EXTREMELY difficult. Similarly, I have a mile repeat workout today that I am convinced is all but impossible so I have the difficult task of convincing myself first that I can do it and second, getting through it. Dave gets incredible results from his athletes and furthermore, has a lot of experience with the sports psychology aspect of racing which I need almost as much as the physiologic piece.

My race schedule has evolved as well, with a new focus on the US 50K Road Championships (hoping to podium) in March and CIM 2018 for my (hopeful) OTQ attempt. This takes a little pressure off RDC where my main goal is to just get back into marathon running and hopefully undo some of the emotional baggage I am (still) carrying from Philly.

But first, the Bluegrass Half in Johnson City on Sunday!

How I Finally Got Consistent with Strength Training

When I look back over all my notes over all my training cycles for the past decade (I came back to racing in 2007), there is always a note somewhere about being more consistent with strength training and core work. And yet, as the miles climb and workouts get harder, it would drop off and my prerace reflection and post race recap would inevitably mention a need for more strength work the next time around. In many ways, I’m lucky that I’ve gotten away without a serious running injury in that time. It’s not that I do NO strength training, it’s just in fits and starts rather than a consistent, careful approach. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve done a little core routine every night before bed since college and I think this has made a huge difference for me. Still, I feel the repercussions of my inconsistency during long workouts as my form collapses or late in races when certain muscles fail faster than others.

Anyway, in an effort to prepare for intern year and acknowledge that even more than usual, time will be at a premium for the next five years, I downloaded a free version of the Daily Workouts app for abs and arms. Each of these had a 5, 8 or 10 minute option. Within a couple of days, I was hooked and bought the full app ($10). This added levels 2 and 3 as well as kettle bell, cardio, pilates and exercise ball routines. Since buying this app in April, I haven’t missed a single strength workout. A single one. Through moves and graduations and everything else, I’ve done at least 5 minutes of core daily and 5 to 10 minutes of other strength workouts on the appropriate days.

Here’s why I think this app works for me (I am in no way sponsored, by the way): when I normally did strength workouts, I would plan to do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps for a variety of exercises focused on a body part. Inevitably, I’d finish a set or two, then open my phone. And answer a text. Or scroll Instagram for a second. Or answer an email. Then I’d half-heartedly go back to lifting. Not only did this take way more time than it needed to, but half the time I wouldn’t finish the workout I’d planned in my head. This app doesn’t allow me to get distracted and it doesn’t allow for excuses either. I have 5 minutes to do arms or abs or glutes, no matter what. Once the app starts, it is counting and showing you the exercises. No exiting to check Instagram, no distractions.

I share this story not only to be as real as I can about a training struggle that I face but also in case others have a similar experience with strength training or schedule restrictions and want another possible solution. As I said, I ended up purchasing the full app but the free version was excellent too, just with ads and more limited range of exercise options.

How do you get your strength training in? Does anyone else use an app or online software?

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

My first selfie as Dr. Waterman Manning!

I won’t even attempt to recap the past few weeks of training (or life), but the very short version is that I graduated (wooohooo!), celebrated with family and friends and managed to get two very anxious doggies back home to North Carolina. We are now getting settled in Asheville and the dogs look like little kids complete with tons of mud, scratches and sunburns. They love the new backyard and are only happy when they are outside. I’m feeling similarly and have spent countless (uncharacteristic) hours just quietly rocking on the porch and dreaming up home improvement projects. I know the storm is coming but for now, I’m enjoying 9 hours of sleep a night and no real “to-dos.”

Hard to describe the bond between classmates but it’s a bit like leaving the best teammates ever.

Running is going well and I must admit that I’m relieved to feel reinvigorated now that I’m in Asheville. It is getting hot and humid here so runs are slowing down but I’m happy to get out the door every day and enjoying slow progress with my fitness. I’ve started the process of exploring running spots around the area and was blown away by Bent Creek and the new sections of the Mountains-to-Sea trail that I’ve discovered so far. I tried to join in on a group run the other night in an attempt to make some friends but it was a pretty horrible experience (still debating if I want to write about it…). Despite that, I’ve had tempo runs, steady state runs and interval workouts that have demonstrated slow but forward progress.

The Asheville half is this coming weekend and the weather looks…not great. As much as I would like to taper down in hopes of having a great peaked result, my training hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant a taper. Instead, I’m going to train normally this week but add a rest day and extra easy day on Friday and use this as a jump off point for summer training in preparation for my fall marathon. My only goal is to have a strong last three miles, which has eluded me lately in half marathons. I haven’t chosen a race yet (waiting on vacation approval) but am excited to think about starting the (long) journey towards my Trials attempt.

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 3.27.17 to 4.2.17

What?! A real week of training?

Monday: 5 hilly miles in Asheville. Made a dog friend on my run who followed me for 2 miles. His name was Finn and he was a sweet old guy who loved to run. Happy to reunite him with his dad, however!

Tuesday: 6.4 miles with striders. Super slushy out.

Wednesday: Humbling 7 mile progression run. Legs after.

Thursday: 6.2 mile recovery run. As I thought for 90% of this run, getting back in shape is the pits!

Friday: 4.5 mile run.

Saturday: Another snowstorm! 12 miles on the treadmill. Mind numbing but happy to get a longer run in.

Sunday: 3.4 miles plus this arm workout which was a killer. I can barely type.

Total Miles: 44.5

This week was humbling with a capital H. Almost every run (except my long run thank goodness) felt like a total slog and I spent most of the week being grumpy about being out of shape. That said, I am beyond grateful to be able to run and lift almost at a normal level (and for friends who reassure me that my out of shape isn’t that bad). I was also extremely diligent about my pre-run mobility drills and glute activation exercises, so it’s not surprising that I was sore and tired all week.

The week ahead has the Unplugged Half Marathon and I am looking forward to it! As I’ve said, I’m going to treat it like a workout. My plan is to warm up, ease into the first 2 miles then run at steady state pace until Mile 10. At Mile 10, I’ll try to pick it up if I can. I will be wearing my Garmin to make sure I don’t get over excited and to get a sense of where my fitness is. In my dream world, I would come in under 1:30. In a more realistic world, I’d like to be under 1:32 and feel like I executed a great workout and felt comfortable cruising along.

For the rest of the week, things will be as normal. I start in the SICU tomorrow morning (my last requirement EVER in medical school) and will be back to running at an inhumane hour until I figure out what my schedule looks like.

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.

Week in Review 5.9.16 to 5.15.16

Monday: 6 by 30 seconds hard uphill on the bike path. Humbling to try to do speed work when my legs are clunky! Legs after.

Tuesday: 5 mile recovery run in the woods. Got impressively lost and ended up on the side of 89.

Wednesday: Early morning combination workout with 5 minutes at tempo pace followed by 10 by 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy. Tempo felt great, interval work was hard but worked on staying smooth and engaging my glutes. 9 miles total.

Thursday: 6 mile recovery run in the woods. First really hot day! Arms after.

Friday: 7 mile run on the treadmill because I was being a wimp about it being cold and rainy again. Core after.

Saturday: 4 laps of 100 meter ins and out, 4 laps of 200 on, 200 off, 1 400 at I effort. 8 miles total.

Sunday: Freezing cold 10 miler along the lake. This weather is brutal for getting dressed in the morning!

Total Miles: 52

Spring in Vermont is such a fickle beast. This week had incredible days where it was 60 and sunny and awful days where it was 40 and raining. Looks better going forward but it is all-around difficult to acclimate when you’re wearing tights one day and a tank top the next!

Happy with this week of training, both because I got in reasonable miles and three good efficiency efforts. I’m 85% sure I’m in for Freihofer’s so want to keep focusing on speed while continuing to build overall fitness. I joked with Will last night that I must be recovered from my marathon (in 2014) because I’m starting to think about running another one.

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?

(No) Looking Back

When I was learning to drive, my dad took me to this hilly old cemetery in town to teach me how to back up. Petrified, I asked “But what if I hit one?!” “Then you’ll pay for it.” I proceeded to creep backwards but kept my eyes forward, which prompted my dad to give me some of the best life advice ever:

Look where you’re going, not where you’ve been. 

I’m not sure he said it to be prolific. In fact, I’m quite sure he just wanted me to use my rear view mirror but nonetheless, it’s important life advice. Taper week brings up a lot of self-doubt and a strong desire to look back. I want to look over my last Philly cycle, to see if there’s a crystal ball that will tell me what might happen on Sunday. Will has forbidden this particular activity so I’m stuck looking at the current cycle, which I think is a more productive exercise. I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve run a lot of miles. Not all of my workouts have been great, but I’m fit and not injured and most of the time, that’s all you can ask for. So without further delay, here are the workouts I’ve done in Phases 3 and 4 this year.

  • 16 by 400
  • 15.5 mile long run
  • 5 by mile at tempo
  • 8 by 800
  • 16 mile long run
  • 6 by 1000
  • 2 by 2 mile at T pace
  • Downtown 10K in 38:33
  • 17 miles with 6 at M pace
  • 16 by 400
  • 3 mile continuous tempo
  • 5 by 1K
  • 15 mile long run
  • 3 by 2 mile at T pace
  • 6 by 800
  • 18.2 mile long run
  • 5 by 1 mile at T pace plus 4 by 400 at R pace
  • 4 by 1200
  • 13.6 mile long run
  • 5 by 1000 plus 4 by 200
  • 15 miles with 8 at steady state pace
  • 14 by 400
  • 16.5 miles with 5 by 1 mile at T and 5 by 200 at R
  • 6 by 800 plus 4 by 200
  • 14 mile long run
  • 5 by mile at Tempo plus 5 by 200 at R
  • 3 by 1K plus 5 by 200
  • 3 by 1200 at T pace plus 4 by 200 at R

With that last workout done today, nothing left to do but stay calm and rest up until Saturday!

Do you look over your training cycle to gain confidence or does it just make you more nervous?