Category Archives: strength training

Week in Review 2.29.16 to 3.6.16

It’s always easier to accept a low mileage week when you anticipate it. With the State Championships this week, plus a full week on the wards and a rapidly approaching shelf exam, my frame of mind this week was that any run was a good run. Plus, the boys won the State Championship with an incredible 49 points (40 points is a perfect score) and I got to announce my big shoe news so it’s hard to be disappointed with anything else this week.

Monday: 5 mile recovery run. Chest and back for lifting. (154 miles for February)

Tuesday: 6 mile steady state run. Warmed up for 10 minutes, then 30 minutes at steady state (effectively marathon pace), cool down to 6 minutes.

Wednesday: Off day. Running around trying to prep for the second half of the State Meet.

Thursday: 4 miles early before leaving for States. Biceps and triceps.

Friday: 100% wiped. Survived the day then went to bed at 7 pm.

Saturday: 7 mile interval workout with 5 by 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy. Legs after.

Sunday: 7 mile recovery run plus striders. Wanted to run long but was wiped and sluggish and didn’t think I would get a lot out of struggling for 5 more miles.

Total Miles 29.2

Now that I’ve (almost) survived my medicine rotation, it’s time to get my butt in gear training wise. I’ve done some good early season workouts but want to start looking forward to my week in California and my half in early May. I won’t be going for a PR (obviously), but would like to compete for the win and in my optimal world, run around 6:25 pace. I also need to start getting in more time on the trails as I prepare for the New England Championships in April. Unfortunately, the snowshoe race next weekend looks like it will be a scratch as weather will be in the 60s this week and we didn’t have much snow to begin with.

For the coming week, I’ll be aiming for 45 miles with a wave tempo and hill workout plus a 12 mile long run. Then it’s off to San Diego, where I’ll alternate between workouts on the Silver Strand and lots of minutes in Balboa Park and hopefully Miramar Reservoir if I can swing it.

The Plan for 2016

  1. Gain more race experience. As I reflected on 2015, I continued to notice race outcomes that might have been improved if I’d had more race experience. For example, after the start delay in Philly, I just continued my race plan of going out at 6:05 pace. What I SHOULD have done is go out a bit slower until I felt warmed up, then geared up towards my goal pace. I’m getting off on the right foot by racing today but will work on this goal by racing at least once every month this year. These don’t have to be big or long races; the goal is to put myself in a race situation so that I continue to add tools to my toolbox that can help with every race situation.
  2. Continue to build strength. I’m 32 and thus facing the sad reality that all my muscle mass wants to do now is disintegrate. I did a good job of establishing and maintaining strength routines in 2015 and want to continue that momentum. To do that, I have started to write down moves and routines that I really like or that really challenge me on our whiteboard in the gym. My goal is to do 4 sessions of strength training a week. In the past, I’ve separated these into arms, legs, and core days but for 2016, I’ll start experimenting with doing more “full body” approaches. I am likely to keep one day as legs only after my hardest workout of the week. One of the full body routines I’m curious about is this one that Nike shared on Runner’s World. At first glance, it doesn’t look difficult but my guess is that it will lead to some VERY sore muscles.
  3. Address my hip and lower back pain/inflexibility. Erin and I talk all the time about how we need to stop complaining about our back pain and hip pain and deal with it, but the reality is that with jobs that put us in weird positions (retracting on a step stool for 6 hours, anyone?) or sitting through epic conference calls (her world, not mine anymore!), it’s really hard to make headway. Not to mention, busy schedules that leave us with 45 minutes total for exercise find us heading for the roads rather than our yoga mats. The problem with that is that tight hips and backs affect those 45 minutes on the road and set us up for poor performances, bad workouts and sometimes injury. This year, I’m committing to 20 minutes of yoga a week. I’ll be doing it on a recovery run day and doing 20 minutes of yoga after an easy 25 minute run.
  4. Maintain my fitness base. We finish third year in March, take another set of boards in May, apply for residency in August and interview for November and December. Given this, I don’t have the highest expectations for huge personal improvements in running over 2016. That being said, I would really like to run a fast marathon at the Vermont City Marathon in 2017 (or aim to get my Trials Qualifier as soon as the window opens, presumably in August of 2017) so I need to maintain my fitness base as much as possible over the next year. To do this, I’ll be aiming for 2,800 miles in 2016 (approximately 55 miles a week). Here’s how my training will set up for most of 2016, with some exceptions when I have more time.

2016 Training

What are your hopes and dreams for 2016? Anyone have any target races or times already on the calendar?

How to Build a Runner’s Home Gym

With the New Year approaching, lots of people refocus on fitness and good health. For Will and I, one of the biggest keys to ongoing fitness is our modest home gym, the newest feature of which is a treadmill. Before we bought the treadmill, however, we had a fully functional home gym that cost us less than a month at a gym and was as convenient as walking down to the basement. With all the end of the year sales underway, now is a perfect time to start constructing your home gym AND set yourself up for a healthier 2016.

Functional, not fancy.

Functional, not fancy.

Space: We’re lucky to have a large basement where we can spread out. Our current set up is about 12 feet by 12 feet but if you have enough space to store the bench, you can condense into about 3 feet when you aren’t actively working out.

Equipment and Key Exercises: 

  • 16″ Step Up Box (optional: you can use your bench instead)
    • Step ups are one of the most effective exercises for runners. Start with either 30 seconds or 10 step ups and focus on tall posture and driving your knees.
  • Flat Bench
    • Tricep Dips
    • Seated Bicep Curls
    • Bench Press
    • Single Arm Row
    • Glute Raises
    • Plank Pushups
    • Bulgarian Split Squat
    • Adductor Thigh Lifts
  • Pull-up Bar 
    • Pull-up/Chin-ups
    • Hanging Pike-ups
  • Yoga Mat
    • All of the core, yoga and flexibility you can think up!
  • Speakers (gotta have tunes!)
  • Dumbbells (5, 10 and 15 pound pairs)
    • Unless you are extremely strong for a runner, these weights should allow you to do almost any exercise. Remember, higher reps, lower weight tend is more endurance focused while heavier weights, lower reps is more strength focused. You should include both over the course of a week.
  • Kettlebell (10 pounds)
    • This is a tool I didn’t entirely appreciate until I found some good kettlebell routines, but I find it irreplaceable for dynamic and rotational strength building. Check out half get ups, woodchopper and two arm swing to see what I mean!
  • Resistance Band
    • Monster walks
  • Foam Roller
  • Exercise Ball (you can use this as a bench for any exercise; added core work!)
    • Crunches
    • Reverse crunches
    • Forward tucks
    • Wall sits
    • Pushups
  • Balance Board

How To Build It Frugally!

  • Craigslist: Great source for things that don’t have joints like metal dumbbells or weight benches. Use caution with equipment like treadmills, exercise bikes or weight machines as they have cables and parts that can make them expensive (or dangerous) space wasters if broken.
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore: This store has been golden for us; our weight bench was $10 from here and when we got it, there were tons of others from a local gym that closed. You have to be a bit patient (and have a critical eye), but stores like this are a great place to pick up home gym staples at a low cost.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods or Similar: This is a place where you have to watch your prices, because you can pay a TON for basic items but their Hex Dumbbells are reasonably priced and durable.
  • TJ Maxx/Marshall’s: Much like their hidden wealth of exercise clothes, these stores often have great prices on yoga mats, resistance bands and exercise balls.
  • Your Local Gym or PT Clinic: Gyms and PT clinics generally like to have up to date equipment and replace their items more frequently than the recreational user. Although equipment like treadmills and bikes have a lot of use, they are also commercial quality to begin with and have almost certainly had appropriate maintenance. Similarly, the weights and other exercise equipment are top quality. Ask your club manager to let you know if they are planning on replacing equipment. (This also goes for hotels; worth a quick phone call)

Improvement Season: Strength

When I think about strength training, it splits into two categories: strength for injury prevention and strength for speed development. While I think I did a good job with the former, my form and turnover towards the end of my training cycle suggests that I was less successful at the latter.

What did I do this training cycle? Arms on recovery days, 20 minute legs on workout days and core with the team, which is to say a little more sporadically than desired. Going into Philly, I wasn’t injured but I also didn’t feel particularly strong.

I attribute part of this to the fact that I didn’t rotate routines or up my weights. When I make strength routines for my team, we do them for no more than 6 weeks then change it up so that muscles never have an opportunity to plateau. In the moderate chaos of coaching, training and classes, I didn’t spend enough time trying to diversify my strength routines.

Going forward, my goal is to do a different strength routine every day and to try to incorporate more movement and balance into those exercises. For example, rows from a plank position rather than bent over rows or single leg deadlifts instead of traditional deadlifts. One of my favorite resources for workout ideas is Pinterest. Although it’s not exactly the pinnacle of exercise science and the emphasis on “bikini bodies” or “blast those love handles” is a little nauseating, it does have tons of workouts and exercises from which it’s possible to make some great routines. I’ve spent the last week looking through all my workout pins, writing down exercises that I want to try and piecing together new routines. As I work through them and figure out what ones I love, I’ll be sharing them here.

Where do you get new ideas for strength training? How often do you switch up your routine?

Week in Review 7.20.15 to 7.26.15

Time is flying towards Philly! Somehow I only have a week of clinic and two weeks of L&D until I’m “off” til November. It’s both exciting to think about training full time and terrifying to feel like I’m not in the best shape I could be going into that focused period.

Monday: 7.1 in 87 degrees.

Tuesday: 8.5 at 4:30 am. 2 by (3, 2, 1 minute with equal recovery).

Wednesday: 6 miles at recovery pace.

Thursday: 8.5 miles with Annie. Slowed it down a bit and felt much better.

Friday: 6.2 miles and arms afterward. Starting to feel better.

Saturday: 8.2 mile Progression Run. First three miles of progression felt great; really easy. Last mile was awful.

Sunday: 12 mile run up Mount Mansfield. Yup, 925 feet to 2760 in 3.5 miles. Felt amazing going up. Coming down was a little rough on the quads.

Does this count as altitude?

Does this count as altitude?

Total Miles: 57

This adaptation week was needed both physically and mentally. With a little more focus on food (eating enough of it, on a regular schedule), only running in my GoRuns (can’t explain why my Kinvara and Hoka are killing me) and slowing my pace down, my legs have really calmed down. The weather is becoming a major factor with dew points well into the 70s but it’s a little easier to be patient for progress when no one feels good. Climbing up Mansfield was also a great bonus workout; hard enough to get my heart rate up but (hopefully) not so hard that I ruined my legs for the week.

Back to normal mileage this week. I flip to L&D nights next week so my schedule will be more of a 10 day structure but I’m just working on being grateful for every hour that I get to run!

Week in Review 6.22.15 to 6.28.15

Another rotation done! I finished Pediatrics on Friday and am so proud/amazed to realize that I made it through 7 weeks of really sick kids without getting sick myself. I have a week of “vacation” now, but will really be prepping for my next rotation: OBGyn. I can sum up Third Year as such:

Monday: 6.3 mile recovery run on horrible sleep. Core and arms with the team at night.

Tuesday: Scheduled off day, 7 miles prorated.

Wednesday: 8.18 miles with a (3, 2, 1) x 1 Fartlek. Felt surprisingly good.

Thursday: 6.5 mile recovery run.

Friday: 9 mile Progression Run. Warmed up for 4 then cut down for 4 at 7:23, 6:56, 6:40 and 6:21. Cooled down for a mile. Pretty hot out but dry and enjoyable. Legs after.

Saturday: 11.5 mile long run. I’m loving long runs recently! Arms after.

Sunday: Absurdly rainy 6.5

Total Miles: 55

In many ways, I’m grateful that this was an adaptation week. For some reason, I really struggled with sleep this week and it definitely crushed me to have to get up at 5 every day. That being said, I’m really getting used to morning runs (just in time for my schedule to switch again) and when I have the option, I’m definitely going to stick with that.

Legs are feeling really good. I feel much stronger than I did a couple of weeks ago and my stride is starting to look reasonable again. Back up to 65 this coming week and hoping to keep these positive feelings going. Planning to run a 5K on the 4th but we’ll see how it fits in my week as we’re considering a trip to Maine to visit family.

Week in Review 6.15.15 to 6.21.15

In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d start with two stories about my dad and running. When I was in high school, we went to the New England Running Championships, which was a big deal for me. I remember toeing the line and being terrified that I’d be last of the 400+ runners or that I’d get trampled. Incidentally, I did get run in to a pylon about 100 meters into the race but was none the worse for wear. I do distinctly remember running by my dad somewhere on the course and being absolutely BULLSHIT that he wasn’t cheering for me. When I finished, I sputtered to my mom about it, who informed my enraged 14 year old self that he hadn’t been able to cheer because he was choked up from seeing his former 30 week preemie out there running with the best in New England. I gave him a little more credit after that…A few years later when I was really getting back into running, my aunt and I ran a 5K in Maine while my dad cheered. I was winning the whole thing by quite a solid distance and as I came down the final hill, ran by my dad who just gave a fist pump to the sky as I passed by. It remains one of my favorite running moments. So Happy Father’s Day Dad! Thanks for all the years of standing on the sidelines cheering.

Monday: Recovery 7 in the pouring rain. Ab circuit with Will in the afternoon that I whined straight through.

Tuesday: 9.5 mile run with 6 by 200 at the end. Felt horrible to start but warmed up pretty well.

Wednesday: Recovery 7 at night. Kicked myself the whole time for skipping my morning run.

Thursday am: 4 mile morning easy run so I could stretch before the day.

Thursday pm: 3K race on the track! Hoped to run around 11 minutes but 20 mile per hour winds and heat decided none of us were running as fast as we hoped. Ran an 11:20, felt totally in control and most importantly had zero hip pain. 5.5 miles for the evening. Legs afterward.

Friday: 7 mile recovery run.

Saturday: 9.1 mile run with Joe on THE most beautiful Vermont summer day.

Sunday: Inexplicably amazing 16.25 mile run around Spear and Dorset Streets. It was humid with a dew point of 65 yet I felt amazing. I’ll take it.

Total Miles: 65

Another encouraging week! I had some very tired legs on Thursday and Friday but felt poppy again by the weekend. I got a few days of circuit work in with Will which is hard but definitely paying off. Even more importantly, my hip has totally settled down and I’m moving well. Adaptation week ahead (and the last week of Pediatric Clerkship) which will be a nice change.

Finally, in great news, Nick Symmonds continues to kick ass and support athletes. While lots of athletes talk a big game, Symmonds is unapologetic about helping others develop in track and field and relentless about calling out the BS that has become rampant.

Move That Ass

Since starting 3rd year, I’ve been living some great combination of standing, sitting and running all over the hospital in heels, clogs and on rare days sneakers. Thanks to this, my a** has been killing me since about March. Right on cue, another blogger friend sent me a great followup post about how to fix butt pain when all you do is sit. This applies to almost all of us, regardless of profession. In our culture, we sit. All the time.

Since getting his email and getting fed up with constant pain, I’ve been much more diligent about taking care of my rear. I get up when I sit for a few hours, try to use good posture when I have to stand (in the OR, on Rounds, in the ED etc) and stretch whenever appropriate, especially focusing on my hamstrings and hip flexors. It’s hard to stay on top of it but I’m much happier when I do.

How do you handle sitting all the time?

Week in Review 6.8.15 to 6.14.15

Summer is definitely here!!

Monday: 7 mile recovery run at Catamount. Slippery with mud in places but fun to go somewhere new.

Tuesday: 10 miles of hill work. 8 by 30 seconds hard through Farrell Park. Humid but really starting to move well. Legs afterward.

Wednesday: 7 mile recovery run with Joe. Plod city! Arms after.

Thursday: 8.5 mile run with Carl plus striders. The run was exciting and even included some accidental swimming through a flooded field in the Intervale. If we didn’t get E coli, it was well worth the wet shorts and shoes.

Friday: DO YOUR RUNS IN THE MORNING JERK! Started at yet another clinic on Friday and was anxious so just sort of laid in bed instead of getting my run in and was exhausted (no kidding) by 6 pm. Killer core circuit with Will. Prorated 8 a couple days before my next scheduled off day.

Saturday am: 8.5 mile fartlek run with 1 mile progression to marathon pace, 5 min T, 4 minute recovery, 3 minute at I, 3 min recovery, 2 minute I+, 2 min recovery, 1 minute R pace. Holy humidity but actually felt good to move.

Saturday pm: 4.5 mile shake off run then leg circuit with Will.

Sunday: 15 mile long run.

Total Miles 68.5

I’m psyched with how this week turned out. Despite an unscheduled off day, workouts felt good and I’m getting used to higher mileage again. Will did call me out on not doing enough strength work so he’s taken over making sure I get that in, which is both a plus (I don’t have to think) and a minus (he’s a cruel, cruel master). I know I need to be doing the extras but sometimes it’s easy to convince myself that 15 pushups and 25 crunches counts.

One more week in the 60s and a possible track meet/workout for the coming week!

Absolutely great story coming out of Michigan; Nick Willis is a hero of mine for his unyielding sense of community and fearlessness about speaking out about doping and track in general.

Go Derek Go! Love the bravery.

Speaking of body love, I could NEVER do what this woman did (despite the fact that I run in bunhuggers sometimes), but I give her credit for both the courage and the message. Don’t read the comments…

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.