Category Archives: speed

Week in Review 3.21.16 to 3.27.16

Monday: 7.5 date run with Joey! Windy but nice out.

Tuesday: 9.5 mile workout. 2 mile tempo on the track plus 4 by 200. Felt really clunky during the 200s, so definitely need to be really intentional about getting striders in.

Wednesday: Travel day to Norwalk. Always a much longer trip than I anticipate. 8.1 miles around Norwalk, trying to get my bearings.

Thursday: 5.7 miles plus 4 striders.

Friday: 5 mile progression run on the treadmill. It’s dark when I wake up here and this is not a town where you run in the dark. Wanted to make sure I got legs in so cut my run a bit short.

Saturday: HEAVEN! 7.5 miles in Mianus River Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever run. Amazing trails, well marked and technical enough to be fun without having to concentrate intently. Arms after.

Sunday: Less heavenly…11.4 miles around town. Hard to find a place to run safely and long here but I did find a decent, almost car free loop for tempo Tuesdays.

Total Miles: 54.7

It’s always tricky to find places to run in a new town. Luckily, I think I’m going to be able to make Norwalk work with the carrot of Mianus River Trails on off days. The biggest challenge is going to be finding a place to do speed work. It’s track season which makes high school tracks difficult to find and there aren’t any colleges with tracks close by.

Overall, I’m extremely grateful for this week of training. My mileage was solid for recent weeks, I felt good on my runs and I actually had a few moments of total zen on my Saturday run. Can’t ask for much more! This will be my last up week before a mini-taper for the trail championships so I’m hoping for similar mileage and workouts with one of those workouts being more speed focused if I can figure it out.

Will HIIT Training Really Make Me a Faster Runner?

Post-Philly with LT. The LOVE statue was much smaller than we anticipated.

Post-Philly with LT. The LOVE statue was much smaller than we anticipated.

LT has been my running buddy since I moved back to Burlington. She drove with me to Philly, has logged countless miles with me around Vermont and I’m going to miss her terribly as she and Chris move to Oregon this summer. For the past two years, LT has been working on her Master’s in Exercise Physiology, the culmination of which was a thesis that aimed to quantify whether HIIT really makes you as fit as people claim. I was particularly interested in her findings because she used fit athletes and her control group did 30 minutes of vigorous running. Essentially, she emulated what summer training for XC looks like.

Halloween Fun with LT and I

Halloween Fun with LT and I

Study Design: LT took athletes from SUNY-Cortland’s Field Hockey team and divided them into two groups: endurance or HIIT. The Endurance group served as the control and did 30 minutes of runner at 75 to 85% of predicted HRmax, somewhere between easy and tempo. The HIIT group did a 3 minute warmup, 8 rounds of 20 second of burpees or squat-tuck jumps with 10 second recovery and a 3 minute cooldown for a total of 10 minutes. Training sessions were Monday, Wednesday and Friday for four weeks.

At baseline, athletes had an average VO2max of 44.96 and a Running Economy of 213.42.

Results: There was no statistically significant difference between the groups. However, both groups improved aerobic capacity as measured by VO2max by >6% over the four week intervention. Interestingly, the time invested to make these improvements was vastly different: the endurance group did 90 minutes per week while the HIIT group did 30 minutes per week.

At the end of the study, athletes had an average VO2max of 47.78, an increase of almost 2.8 points in 4 weeks.

Implication: The “so what” of LT’s research is incredible. Here’s what I’m most excited about:

  1. Time: We’re all busy and we generally acquiesce that when we’re busy, our training suffers. This research suggests that even though we may not improve running economy with just 10 minutes, we can maintain and even improve our VO2max.
  2. Injury Prevention: I am constantly trying to find ways to make my team fitter without more pounding on the roads and this study offers an idea about summer training approaches, when we only meet three days a week and when we delicately balance increasing fitness with increasing risk of injury. Same goes for the injury prone runner: if someone can maintain or improve VO2 max with just 6 minutes of running, I have a great option for my runners who just can’t tolerate a season of tempo runs.

I’m so excited about this study that I’ve already put it into action for our summer runs. On Wednesdays, we are no longer hitting the roads for a 30 to 45 minute jog. Instead, we’re doing a brief warmup followed by a circuit that includes HIIT. Last week, we used a short, steep hill and did hill sprints (real, all out sprints) between body weight exercises.

During the season, I’m not completely sure how I’ll fit this into our schedule. One thing I’m considering is using it in the awkward weeks where we have a Tuesday meet but still need to get a second workout in without totally ruining legs for a Saturday race.

If you’re interested in reading the whole paper, let me know.

Have you tried HIIT? Would you be willing to after reading this?

Week in Review 5.11.15 to 5.17.15

Starting to get into a routine again. Started Inpatient Peds this week, which means I’m in at 6 am and out by 4. Rough on sleep but good for running. Legs were definitely a little toasted from walking around a lot but I’m working on it!

Monday: Workout, drills then 6 by 200 at R pace. Total of 8.8 miles. Legs after.

Tuesday: 6.85 mile recovery run at the crack of dawn with Carl. Solid rain.

Wednesday: In the OR for a bit in the late afternoon so took my rest day. Prorated 7.5

Thursday: 9 mile progression run. Ran for 30 minutes then bumped the pace up every 5 minutes for the next 30 minutes.

Friday: 5.75 mile recovery run.

Saturday: 13 mile long run. Hot out!

Sunday: Workout prep run. Warmed up to the track (misnomer since it’s hot here) then did 2 miles of 300 easy-100 hard. Hip pretty snarky.

Total Miles 56.7

Happy with how this week went. It’s hard to do much other than run, sleep and work but it all worked out. It also stayed pretty hot and humid this week but we did a good job of just staying true to effort. I’ll be upping my miles to 62 miles this week. My other goals are to a) lift arms and legs at least once b) stay hydrated even when I’m running around the floor and c) cut out the afternoon coffee that I’m pretty convinced is interrupting my sleep.


Week in Review: 4/20/15 to 4/26/15

An alternate title for this week in review could have been don’t burn the candle at both ends. What started last Sunday followed me through a truly miserable week of illness and fatigue that I just couldn’t shake. My time in Lewiston and Rotation 1 is almost done and besides the enormous amount of clinical learning, I’m also learning to accept this new normal of running for me.

Monday: Inspired by the Boston Marathon, I put 7.25 in through pouring rain and wind plus striders. Right hip pretty darn tight. Stomach feeling better but starting to get a wicked cold.

Tuesday: No run, thanks to the cold from hell. Couldn’t breathe or hear.

Wednesday: Spent all day in bed and was so restless by 5 that I went for an easy 4.3. Really dizzy but otherwise ok.

Thursday: Still dizzy and sick but went for my workout, figuring that effort above jogging still counted as a stimulus. 3 by 800 (2:59, 2:59, 2:55…woof) and 8 by 200. Total of 10 miles. Legs after.

Friday: Had a relatively quiet night shift on Thursday and got a few hours of sleep, so I drove home to surprise Will and the doggies for the weekend!! Glorious 5 miler around the golf course with my favorite running buddies. Arms after.

Saturday: Still feeling horrible. Dizzy, weak and couldn’t breathe so Coach Will took over and made me rest. Just a walk in the woods with the family.

Sunday: Workout 2 for the week. Paces still slow but starting to feel really smooth when moving fast(er). 2oo at R pace, 2 by 1000 (3:39, 3:42), 2 by 400 (81,82), 2 by 200 at R pace. 9.5 miles total. Legs after.

Total Miles: 36

I’m working on adjusting my attitude towards running and being grateful when I can get runs in and trying to let go of times when I can’t. I have one week left in Lewiston, which means that I’ll be back in Burlington in no time where I can run safely almost any time of day. I have the Champlain Classic next weekend and am looking forward to another opportunity to race.

A couple of articles from the week…

Really excited to try this new Nuun product when it comes out; could make Nuun the only thing I need for a marathon!

I’m not a parent so maybe I don’t get it, but I don’t see this move as inspiring and selfless like most people seem to; I’m in the obnoxious camp…

Similarly, I wish we’d get tougher on life after drug bans, both to send a message to young athletes that it’s unacceptable and to keep the playing field fair for those of us who don’t INTENTIONALLY INJECT EPO FOR ADVANTAGE. Sorry for the caps, but Hunter-Galvan didn’t even pretend to call it a mistake, she fully admitted that she doped to hang on to her competitiveness. Given that we still don’t know whether the benefits of doping continue for years, I feel horribly for the master’s women at Boston who were displaced from significant prize money.

Week in Review 3/30/15 to 4/5/15

I survived my first week in Lewiston and on “the wards.” The schedule has taken some getting used to and my legs are thrashed from a week of a lot more walking and standing than normal but I made it. I also somehow made it to taper for the 4 miler, so I’m excited to see how that goes next Saturday.

Monday: 7 miles of loops around Bates Campus plus striders.

As seen on my run...the benefits of running with my phone?

As seen on my run…the benefits of running with my phone?

Tuesday: Gear Changing workout. Added bonus of trying to find somewhere 1) safe 2) flat enough 3) long enough. 5 minutes at T pace, 1 minute rest, 2 by 800 at I pace with 3:00 rest, 400, 300, 300, 200 at R pace with full recovery. 8 miles total. Lifted legs after at the hospital gym.

Wednesday: Insane, insane day at the clinic. Went for a walk while on the phone with my mom instead.

Thursday: 8 mile run with legs that felt just plain horrible. Didn’t realize how hilly it is around here until this run.

Friday: 6 by 300 at R pace for a total of 7 miles. Feeling clunky. Arms after.

Saturday: 5 mile recovery run.

Sunday: 7.2 mile “long run.” Thanks taper! Actually found a lovely place to run north of town so that was nice. Legs feeling a little better.

Total Miles 42.2

Total Miles for March: 217

For this week, I’m going to try to get my runs in before clinic and see how my legs feel. I do have a night shift this week which will mess everything up but I’m hoping I can get my legs to feel a little better before Saturday.


There’s a quote that states that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. A similar sentiment is captured by if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. I got to thinking about these two quotes when I was running around the track on Tuesday, dreading my next 200 meter repeat. I’ve been training for marathons so long that speed is almost theoretical at this point. I am still adjusting to running fast enough that I have to bend over at the finish to catch my breath.

This Spring has been/will be a marked deviation from my normal training. I’m happy with my progress in the marathon thus far, but also frustrated. I’m an endurance monster, I always have been. But it’s taken me 6 years to go from 3:17 to 2:54 and I recently had to admit that much of that is attributable to the fact that I haven’t developed my speed. With two surgeries and an almost annual marathon on the schedule, I’ve gotten really good at running moderately fast for long periods of time. The fact remains, however, that my 5K and 10K PR are way slower than my marathons would predict. It’s not I’m not capable of running fast; I can dummy Will in a 200. I just haven’t used those systems in a very long time.

In the past few weeks, my workouts have been a total deviation from normal. Instead of 2 hours at marathon pace or tempo miles, I’ve had workouts like 5 by 300 meters or 2 by 200, 200, 400. When I get my workout assignments, my reaction is almost always WHOA, that will be easy. Halfway through, however, my quads and lungs are burning and I temporarily miss tempo pace. All of my races for the first part of this season will be (relatively) short, with nothing over 15K on the schedule. The hope is that by working on my speed now, marathon pace will feel significantly easier (and get faster) come this fall.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be racing a 4 miler. After that, it’s a collection of track and road 5Ks, a 10K and a 15K. And as much as these workouts hurt, I’m really enjoying the change of pace both literally and figuratively.

Have you done a training cycle that focuses on something completely different from your normal? What’s your reaction to short, fast stuff?

Week in Review 3.16.15 to 3.22.15

Monday: The first day of third year did not go quite as planned. Woke up with another allergic reaction and spent most of my morning waiting to get more prednisone so I could open my eyes. 6.8 miles with striders at the end.

Really face, again?

Really face, again?

Tuesday am: 5 by 300 meters hard for a total of 6.3 miles. Loving this fast stuff!

Tuesday pm: 4 miles easy with legs afterward.

3 crockpots of corned beef for St. Paddy's Day.

3 crockpots of corned beef for St. Paddy’s Day.

Wednesday: 7.5 mile run, feeling great.

Thursday: Off day, prorate 6.2 miles.

Friday: Easy 5.5 plus striders.

Saturday: 10 by 400 meters in Lane 8 of the actual track! 80, 82, 81, 81, 82, 81, 83, 81, 82, 83. Psyched to see these times early in the Spring and in the crazy Burlington wind! 8.6 miles total with legs after.

There's little I love more than March Madness sadface. Just gonna play my piccolo as my team ruins brackets...

There’s little I love more than March Madness sadface. Just gonna play my piccolo as my team ruins brackets…

Sunday: I try never to be ungrateful for a run but this one just plain sucked. 10.3 miles in 10 degree temps and negative windchill. Again.

Total Miles: 55.2

Besides a miserable long run, this week went really well. I did lots of hip flexor stretching and am feeling almost 100% on that front, my workouts were both fast and efficient and I’m starting to feel really good. I have an adaptation week coming up and am looking forward to feeling the effects of a little rest on my speed. Maybe I’m not just a marathon runner after all!

This also kicks off my last week in Burlington until May. Next weekend I’ll be shoving off for Family Medicine in Lewiston, Maine. I’m anxious about most of that experience but spent a lot of time this week planning runs and finding places for workouts. I’m also excited to be able to do my long runs on the Eastern Trail, one of the most incredible places I’ve ever run. Well worth the hour drive to Portland!

Thanks to a lot of time in orientation this week, I also read the entire internet. Twice. Three articles made it into my bookmarks to share:

Western Mass Distance Project makes a statement: I’m not crazy about USATF in general right now and I share some of WMDP’s criticisms of USATF-NE. I’m a member of Olde Bones and we are members of USATF-NE right now because we need to be able to compete in some of their races, but it will be interesting to see if there’s any response.

Blake Russell: My fricken hero. She gives me hope that just because I’m 31, my career isn’t over next year. I hope I’m flying like her at 39.

Little heartstrings read from New Bedford. I love that race and loved this story too.

Boredom Busting Treadmill Workouts

Let’s face it, the treadmill can be a little boring. Necessary evil in the middle of winter or heat of summer, but almost no one’s favorite place to run. That being said, the treadmill offers some great training opportunities that can also reduce “treadmill dread.” Because it’s a controlled environment, it can be a great place to practice a marathon pace or attempt a workout that you aren’t sure you’re totally ready for; after all, you can always tone down the pace if you find that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Here are my favorite treadmill workouts that don’t even require a towel thrown over the display:

1. The Progression Run. The ultimate boredom buster, this gives you a little workout stimulus and keeps you entertained. Warmup at your regular run pace then add .1 to your speed every minute for 15 minutes. Assuming you don’t do your regular runs incredibly slowly or your tempo runs fast (too fast, I might add), this should end you right around your tempo speed. Return to your regular run pace for 2 minutes and repeat 1 to 2 more times.

  • You can also do this as a pyramid; build for 15 and step back down by .1 for 15. This is a much harder version because you’re spending a lot more time at higher speeds but another great way to shove your fitness forward.

2. The Wave Run. Warmup at your regular run pace then begin sets of 1 minute at interval pace, 1 minute at cruise pace. Your cruise pace should be harder than your regular run pace but easier than marathon pace. I usually set my cruise pace about 30 seconds faster than my regular run. Repeat 1 hard, 1 cruise for 30 minutes. Although you get a “break” between hard segments, it’s much faster than you usually go and works on running fast on tired legs.

  • If you want to focus on endurance, you can swap to 2 minutes at interval, 1 minute at cruise. If you want to focus on speed, do 1 minute at R-pace (faster than interval) and 2 minutes at cruise.

3. Mount Von Gym. Warmup at your regular run pace then add 1.0 of incline every minute up to 10%. By the end, you should be working hard. If not, consider that your regular pace may be too slow! Recover for 4 minutes on flat then climb up to 10% again. Repeat up to two more times for a total of 40 minutes of climbing.

A note on treadmill effort: there are various schools of thought about what adjustments are needed for the treadmill to be “equivalent” to outdoors. I’m in the camp that finds treadmill running much harder than outdoors; the stagnate air really bothers my lungs and I feel that my effort is way above my pace most days. For other people, the treadmill is easier than outside. One commonly accepted strategy to compensate for the lack of wind resistance is to adjust your incline to 1.0. Another adjustment calculator is here if you need it. I don’t tend to use 1.0 when I’m doing more speed oriented stuff but I do for warmup/cooldown and for tempo oriented runs.

What treadmill workouts are your go-tos? How do you fight treadmill boredom?

Week in Review: 1/12/15 to 1/18/15

This week was all about making like Elsa and letting it go. I had hoped for a 53 mile week and ended up with only 36 and 3 consecutive days off. My schedule was crazier than usual this week and a Friday night wedding in New York City with 13 hours of driving in 24 hours meant that running got pushed to the back burner. So I’m calling it a cutback week and moving on!

Monday: 8 mile run with 6 by 90 seconds hard on the UVM bike path uphill. 90 seconds was exactly 400 meters, so I’m thrilled to be moving that well uphill and in snow. Legs after. Hiked up Cochran’s a bunch of times in the afternoon for the race.

Tuesday: 5 mile recovery run.

Wednesday: 9 mile midweek longer run. Skied with the team for 45 minutes after.

Thursday: Skied with the team for an hour.

Friday: Lifted arms and legs before we left for New York at 7 am.

Saturday: Nada.

Sunday: 14.25 mile long run with LT, Amy, Ryan, Erin and Laurel. Besides some major GI issues halfway through, I felt great. Probably the three days off…

Total Miles: 36.32

2 legs, 1 arms and lots of skiing this week.

Storm coming in tonight means I’ll likely be inside for my workout tomorrow. Might head to the track with my spikes to work on speed and hoping for two workouts this week. It seems like I need to get up earlier (ugh) and just get my run in before cases or I find myself dealing with too much test anxiety by the end of the day.

How do you make sure you get your runs in? Get up early? Push dinnertime? Treadmill at home?

How Do I Get Ready for Speedwork Again?

A fellow runner is coming back from injury and asked for some input on how to get back into workouts after a bit of a layoff. It’s a great question and one that I face as an athlete at the end of the off-season and as a coach when we transition from summer mileage to in-season workouts. I don’t know how others feel, but there is little more daunting about those first workouts back. Despite the fact that an underwhelming workout doesn’t mean anything, there can be SO MUCH PRESSURE. These two workouts are designed to take the pressure off. One has no prescribed recovery time; you go when you’re ready to go. The other is just time based; when time is up, you’re done running hard and jogging back down the hill.

Caveat: If you are coming off of a long layoff, your first step should be to add striders back in to the end of your run. Aim for 4 to 6 at 90% pace and good form. Once you’ve done those for a week or two, you’re ready for the next step back towards the following workouts.

3,2,1 Rust Buster

Packard Repeats: This is named after the workout we do on the First Day of School every fall on a hill near the high school. Find a hill that is about a quarter mile long and after a warmup, alternate between 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 90 seconds hard up with a jogging return. Aim to do three sets (9 minutes of hard work). The benefits of this workout? Because you’re running uphill, it encourages good leg turnover and begins to strengthen your quads, two key elements for successful speedwork.

What workouts do you use to get back into the swing of things? Do you do strides regularly? (Hint, you should!)

P.S. Welcome back Fox!