A recap on what happened at Hartford Half Marathon and what I'm doing now to follow-up the race!Read More
I have become fortunate enough that running is a part of my career now (notice I don't say job- job and career are two very distinct things!). It took a lot of guts for me to make this happen, but I took the leap to make a career change and I can now honestly say that I have found my vocation. I don't wake up ever feeling like I am going to "work"... I just do what I love and I'd do it even if I didn't get paid.
Every week I host a group run with a lovely bunch of ladies. They are kick A**- seriously - anyone who wakes up by 5am to go for a run is pretty awesome, so you can only imagine how sick our running talks are. You are reading this thanks to their encouragement to keep up with the blog and just write.
So much has happened over the last few months, which means so much much to write about! I want to accomplish a tremendous amount of things every single day, and the thought of telling you all about it all can get overwhelming - because where do I even begin? From career change to racing and training I can write on here for days, but of course at the risk of boring you. So I will attempt to give you the "quick notes" version of the last few months of my training life.
I am racing the Hartford Half Marathon in the "New England's Finest" elite field in October. This has been one of the most challenging training cycles I've had because of a few unanticipated set backs. I went into it with a sprained ankle and couldn't run for the first few weeks, and started real training just 12 weeks out. Then I got sick for 2 weeks. Like seriously sick. Like 103 degree fever, aches, shivering chills sick. Terrible. That's my own fault because every time I felt better, I'd go out and run hard only to get sick again that same night. So I think I had a total of 3 different viruses during those 2 weeks. I'll never let that happen again- so you may see me walking around with a giant bottle of vitamin C. Just saying. And I probably won't shake your hand, and I'll likely run away if you sneeze or cough.... don't take it personally.
My training volume is lower than I'd like it to be, but part of the reason why is because every day I am literally walking from 6am to 6pm, and I barely sit. I am constantly training on legs that are more fatigued than I am used to and I don't feel like I need to run as much on my easy days. Not having a sedentary "job" is the best thing for the body. My legs don't feel tight, I recover more quickly, and I never have to go from a two hour run straight to sitting down for 8 hours.
With just 5 weeks out from my race. Time to dial in on everything from sleep, carb intake, rehab work, massage, and... tempo/threshold running. I truly enjoy the process and the journey. It is an incredible learning experience, and feels like a giant experiment trying to manipulate certain factors day in and day out to find the precise formula that works for my body.
Oh- and new sneakers are always something to talk about. I just received my order of fresh sneaks - 1 training shoe and a new racing flat (one that I've never tried before). The Adidas Ultra Boost is what I have used for easy runs for the last year. The racing flat is something that has been an issue - I haven't found the right match. I ran in these Brooks racers for a workout yesterday and they were PERFECT! Just the right amount of plushness but also not too heavy. They will be my shoe of choice on race day!
PS- trying to write a blog post with a 10 week old kitten who insists on walking across your keyboard the entire time ... not so easy!
April and May were great months in regards to my endurance training. I was making major improvements and nailing every workout, but also knowingly teetering the line of injury. Longer and faster workouts combined with high mileage is the real-deal danger zone of running and you never know when your body is going to say - "enough!"
I always tie my running shoes very tight (it's a personal preference thing). Last month I began feeling pain right where the top lace crosses the top of the foot. It felt like nerve pain, as if my laces were way too tight and pinching. If I had thought that there was any possibility it was a stress fracture I would have stopped running right then but I continued to run through it because I genuinely thought it was nothing- but it got progressively worse. The inside of my foot, below the pointy ankle bone and above my arch was extremely tender to touch, which I first thought was just a bruise from my laces... But palpation pain is the classic symptom of the dreaded stress fracture.
So I did what everyone else does when they suspect a serious injury - I consulted with Dr. Google to figure out what was going on. I looked at the anatomy of the foot and discovered that the pain was emanating from the navicular bone and it is possible to get a stress fracture in that area. Cue the doom music. When I saw this I frantically began googling every single article on navicular pain believing it was a stress fracture and I was done running for 2 months.
So I started my "standard" stress fracture recovery process 1) Ultrasound for 60-90 min/day 2) Consuming excessive amounts of collagen 3) Obsessively googling how to heal stress fractures quickly (even though there is nothing I really haven't done).
The pain quickly started diminishing and I stopped running completely. I kept up my endurance training using the stair climber and figured that as long as it didn't hurt, I'd keep doing what I was doing and not even go through the hassle of getting an MRI. Until I finally had enough and decided to go to a doctor to get confirmation that it was a stress fracture.
Long story short- the MRI was negative for a stress fracture and it turned out to be a "Grade 1" sprain to my tibionavicular ligament (never even knew such thing existed!) likely caused by a severe ankle roll. Since I have been pain free for over two weeks I got the clearance to begin running again! Even though I was devastated to have a setback while I was on such a good roll, this was a "wake up" call for me and a reminder not to take my body or running for granted!
It'll be a long buildup to get back to where I was in April, but patience is key. I was recently notified that I will be running in New England's Finest field at the Hartford Half Marathon in October - something I've wanted to do since last year but never thought my times were fast enough to qualify! It's definitely motivating knowing I'll be running next to the best runners, getting free hotels, escort service, exclusive on-course nutrition, and other cool perks! Time to see if my legs remember how to do this...
If you know me personally, you know I am definitely not an advocate of mediocrity. I am an athlete looking to achieve extreme performance standards because that is what fulfills me- it’s what my soul craves. But with extreme expectations comes extreme efforts that require extreme amounts of discipline, and it took me awhile to finally stop looking for the easy way and start looking for the right way.
It can be very challenging when you want something that 1% of the population actually achieves and society tries to zap that hope from you, and that is why many of the dreams we had as children quickly vanish as we grow older - we become bombarded with limiting beliefs. But I’m really sick of hearing all this talk about “moderation” because it inhibits the potential to achieve greatness, I’ve experienced it, and I was miserable. I am being blunt and just speaking the truth that you don’t want to hear - that I didn’t want to hear either. I am writing this because I want you to realize that you are capable of so much more than you can even comprehend, but society takes that belief away from you. But you can take it right back, you just have to be open-minded.
If you want outstanding results you have to put the effort in, there is no magic pill- sorry. If you're not getting the results you want, you're not putting the work in that you need. Effort beyond what you might even be able to conceive, along with the extreme levels of discipline and dedication, is required to do anything spectacular. You cannot let society convince you that “just enough” is fine, or that there is some magic pill, or quick-fix, to greatness. Those who achieve anything noteworthy have unfathomable levels of discipline. They don’t allow their feelings to dictate their actions. Only proven principles can determine their actions. But society wants you to think that you shouldn’t have to work hard, that there should be an easy way, that moderation is key, or that only those with natural talent succeed. Why? Because the majority of people don’t have what it takes, and those same people don’t want to see you climb to the top because then they're missing out on the glory.
I am writing this because I used to be victim of dogma, looking for the easy way because that's what society told me to do. I wanted the results but I didn’t comprehend or accept the amount of extreme discipline it would take to achieve these results. And when I didn't get the results I wanted I just complained and felt bad for myself. It was a constant battle until I accepted the reality of what it would take, and that people are doing it every day. I started taking responsibility for my actions, or lack thereof. But I am an example that you don't have to be born with a winner's mindset, you have to build it little by little and create a "mental fortress".
I finally decided last year that I would set my eyes on the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon, despite being told that I couldn’t do it by many people. Why? Because average is not good enough in my world, it's just an internal trait. I think everyone has this craving, but it gets smothered by society. But I had my share of struggles when I started to believe I was nuts for thinking I could run a 01:15:00 half marathon. Why? Because "they" said it’s “really hard to do.” I’ve never balked at something because it was hard, why would I start now? If hundreds of girls achieve this marathon standard every year, why couldn’t I? I have every resource I could possibly imagine to run a qualifying time. I do not have any limitations or excuses and it would be a disgrace for me to not go after it given that fact that God has blessed me with a healthy body. But there is a price to pay for everything and I had to decide if that price was worth it. Before I became decisive, I became very unhappy when I played the victim card expecting to run a 01:19:00 half marathon without doing the excruciating tempo runs and speed workouts that it required- I expected that there was some easy way. I did not want to accept what work was really required to compete at the elite level. When I finally wrapped my head around what really needed to be done, I started grinding. I began running workouts that I used to believe were absolutely insane and impossible - but that was when I started seeing the results. When I started running 90-100 miles a week- I started seeing results. When I was meticulous about my diet- I started seeing results. Call me crazy, neurotic, or whatever you want but I really don’t care. Yea it sucks at times. Ok- a lot of the time. But I grind through the good and the bad because I could not be happy with anything less that great. I've learned to embrace the suck. And if I fail at some point, that is okay too, because I'll know deep inside that I gave 110% every single day and I'll still have achieved a lot. That’s the mentality you need to instill to achieve extreme results.
I am on a mission to do great things, and I will do whatever it takes to get there. I don’t say any of this to brag (I definitely don't have anything to brag about!), I say it to inspire you. I don't even do anywhere near the amount of work that my idols put in everyday. Despite how much I work, there is a whole different level, and I am seeking that out. I won't let the "hard work" and difficulty scare me away.
Nobody wants to hear about the blood, sweat, and tears that are being sacrificed day in and day out, but once you do, and once you realize that people are out there grinding every day while you’re “resting”, you might wake up and start really living.
1. Decide what you really want in life. Do you want to start a new business, to set world records, go to the Olympics, lose 100lbs, run an 18 minute 5k, write a book, etc? Think of something that you think is totally crazy and impossible.
2. Why do you want to do this? (Loaded question)
3. Find someone who has already done this feat, read their biography, study their life, take notes on how they did it. Find someone willing to mentor you. I promise someone has already done it. But you must then IMPLEMENT this knowledge. It doesn't do any good just knowing it if you don't implement it!
4. Map out your plan from the end and work backwards. How will you accomplish this? Commit 110% and trust the process.
5. Break it down into a series of manageable goals. Set time frames of when you need to achieve minor milestones. Yearly, semi-annually, monthly, and weekly.
6. Break it down even further into daily habits of what you need to do. What characteristics and qualities do you need to adopt to achieve this goal? Who do you need to become? When you face adversity ask yourself, "What would 'Jon Doe' do in this situation?"
You are truly limitless. Don't let the fear of hard work deter you from doing great things. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
I am an early riser. I love starting the day when the birds just start chirping and the sun is beginning to rise. After making my bed (something that was hammered into me during my 6 months at the police academy) I literally make a mad dash to the kitchen to brew my beautiful latte. Yes, a foamy and delicious caffeine-filled cup of greatness. I use unsweetened cashew milk that I buy at Stop & Shop, put it in a milk frother, and enjoy the liquid gold while I review my goals for the day and look over training plans for my athletes. I have a milk frother from Nespresso , and while it might be considered pricy, I promise it is worth the money.
Sometimes I eat breakfast and sometimes I don’t. It simply depends on if I am hungry or what my workout is. If I do eat anything before training I’ll have some fruit like apples, a small bowl of oatmeal, or a handful of raisins and nuts. I keep it light.
After my first workout I either have a bowl of oat bran with about 8 egg whites, 1 egg, and some avocado mixed in (and salt of course!). or I might make a rich smoothie with a handful of nuts thrown in and a plate of starchy veggies like carrots. If I am feeling patient enough, I'll make coconut pancakes.
In the afternoon I will have a sweet potato (I love the Japanese version- it’s purple on the outside and white inside- sold at Whole Foods). I simply pop it in the microwave for 5 minutes and slather some nut butter or salt on it. It literally tastes like cake. No joke. Or instead I might have a bunch of apples, berries, and avocados. I try to keep my afternoon snacking to raw fruits, but if I am in heavy training I will munch on starchy foods like potatoes and oat meal. I also have to be careful what I choose to eat throughout the day because I typically have a second workout scheduled for the evening, and my stomach does not always work well.
I have recently started using organic kefir (pictured below). I have not eaten dairy in a few years for a variety of reasons, but kefir is lactose-free and supposed to be more tolerable for people with stomach issues (which I have!). It is absolutely delicious and with only 90 calories in a whole cup, I have been using it a lot! Either drinking it out of the bottle, making parfaits, or adding it to smoothies it has become a staple in my diet over the last week!
After I attended that “Fully Raw” seminar two weeks ago, I’ve been making raw dinners every night. I am not fully raw by any means, but I learned to integrate new recipes which have proven to be very beneficial to my digestion. I make a gigantic bowl of kale mixed with spinach, throw some nutritional yeast on top, add vinegar or a raw sauce (if I made it) and massage it all together (yes with my hands!). I get creative on some nights (if I have time and patience) and make zucchini noodles (a substitute for traditional pasta) and top them with a "raw" alfredo sauce.
After dinner I have another protein “smoothie”. Usually at this point I am so stuffed from the salad, but my body still craves more nutrition. The protein is something I would ideally like to replace with something small like fruit and nuts because I don’t like going to sleep feeling bloated. But it is a habit and I have not committed to giving it up… But now that I have been using kefir and trying it in different recipes, I have created the ultimate smoothie recipe. You must try it. I call it “Very Berry Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream” and it is super easy to make. Here’s what you do:
- Fill a blender cup 3/4 of the way with ice
- Add 4oz of organic kefir
- add 3-5 TBS of water (more water will make a thinner consistency)
- Add 1/2 c frozen unsweetened cherries
- Add 35g of chocolate protein powder of choice
- Add 1tsp of Xanthum Gum
- Add salt and stevia to taste
- Blend for 60 seconds. Longer blend time yields a fluffier texture.
- Top with delicious “crunchies” of choice (I like walnuts or raw cashews)
It is really filling and perfect as a post-workout recovery shake during these heated summer days.
So essentially, my diet consists of mostly fruits and raw vegetables, protein shakes, small amounts of kefir, organic eggs, oat bran, organic chicken (rarely), and nuts. I do not abstain from anything like beans/legumes, red meat, etc… it’s just that I do not always buy these foods so I rarely eat them. Everyone is different and has personal reasons for eating the way they do. Some people have ethical reasons (animal rights), health reasons, or environmental reasons. I try to learn from different perspectives and experiment with new things when I can. But no matter what, I have learned to respect everyone’s dietary choices whether I agree with them or not. My priority is fueling my training and recovery, and I choose the foods that will only enhance the way I feel.
What are your go-to foods?
It’s been awhile, I know! But my training has been going well and I have been stringing along 95 mile weeks and feeling strong. But since running the NYC Half Marathon I ran the Greenwich Half Marathon in April with a friend who I helped coach- and got to watch her break her PR by 3 minutes! Seeing someone realize that their limiting beliefs are *BS* is beyond fulfilling. Despite having to run through deep sand for about .4 miles she still had a phenomenal performance!
Other than that I have not raced since March and I am definitely eager to do so. I have the Fairfield Half (June) on my plan, which is coming up very quickly. If you’ll be there, let me know! The two times that I have raced Fairfield did not go well AT ALL so I am definitely nervous about giving it a try again. The course is notorious for being dangerously hot (which is never good for a marathon), and has some steep climbs that runners hit twice along the course. While it's definitely not a place to PR, the community support is phenomenal. Literally, people stand on their driveways along the course and spray runners with hoses to help cool them off. I guess the best part is that it finishes on Jennings Beach with a sweet afterparty filled with so. much. great. food! Plus it gets a highly competitive field with the areas best athletes and even some Ethiopian and Kenyan runners.
Most recently, on Monday, I attended the “Fully Raw Diet” seminar hosted by Kristina Carrillo-Buckram with my friend Chris who is a devoted vegan and encouraged me to attend. I am always interested in learning about new ways to enhance my performance and just feel better in general. I am also an animal lover, and I really do not eat meat much at all because I am fully aware of the brutality and horror of the meat industry, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to get some extra motivation in going fully meat-free! Kristina has an amazing story of how she went from crippling illness to living a bountiful life by switching to a raw food diet that consists of ONLY raw fruits, vegetables, and a small amount of nuts/seeds. Her book, "The Fully Raw Diet" was given out and let me tell you- you need to buy this book. Or I'll let you borrow mine. But just get your hands on it. Not only are the recipes incredibly inspiring, but Kristina goes into all aspects of living a beautiful life and how we must nourish our mind, body, and spirit. I was so inspired by the beautiful recipes in the book so that night I went home and made an absolutely delicious (and gigantic) raw kale salad made with Kristina’s tahini dressing recipe. Not only was it super fast to make, but it left me much more satisfied than my typical massive broccoli bowls and I did not feel the least bit bloated or stuffed like I normally do after dinner (and it was BIG!).
PS- in my attempt to share the beauty of this delicious salad I have developed an instant and profound appreciation and respect for those food bloggers who literally make their dishes look like ART! I'll work on the photography stuff...
Since then I have been eating raw dinners every night using Kristina's recipes (check Instagram for my daily posts of dinners). I still have my protein smoothie before bed (because it tastes like a Wendy's Chocolate Frosty and I need it with my training volume). I feel great so I do not feel inclined to go cold turkey on this attempt to go fully raw, but I definitely want to stop eating animal products- not because I think they're "bad" for you, but because I have such resentment towards the meat industry for the cruelty and abuse that the poor animals are subjected to.... another topic for another day...
Now on to the good stuff. Running and fat loss. I thought this would be important to discuss after I overheard an interesting comment last week on the topic.
I eat a ton, ton, ton, of steamed vegetables at night. I mean - like way more than you would imagine and fathom. The topic of what I eat on a daily basis deserves a post of its own, but for this one, the broccoli “thing” is key. I eat about 250-300 calories (it's an estimate, I don't measure) of broccoli at night. That’s a lot of volume (about 1.5lbs!). I was eating in front of a family friend a few nights ago and he goes, “Wow she eats like a man!” In response, someone else said, “Well if I ran 95 miles a week I’d eat whatever I want all day long too.” WRONG. Wrong. Wrong!!! I train about 1.5-2hours a day, plus strength training 2-3x per week, and do most of my errands by bike or foot- and I cannot eat as much of whatever I want (if I want to stay at an ideal racing weight). Racing weight and "healthy" weight are two very different things. For most people, simply cutting out refined sugars and highly processed foods (pizza, cereal, deli meats, cookies, etc) and eating fruits, veggies, lean meats, and nutritious fats will eventually bring them into a healthy BMI range- which is great! Literally, you can eat so much when you eat a whole foods diet and extra fat will just melt off (not because it's "healthy" but because you're likely to get satisfied more quickly and eat fewer calories)! But for athletes, body composition is a bit more intricate and is a critical component of performance- in my personal experience (everyone will have different opinions!). But I'm not going to beat around the bush here- I'll be "fully raw" with y'all!
A little background on my experience with this- In the beginning of my running journey back in college I had difficulty keeping weight on. Between running 70-85 miles a week and walking about 4-7 miles a day through campus for classes, and being incredibly busy, I struggled to maintain 105lbs (I am 5'6") while eating as much as I could. I was constantly on the run. If I ate processed foods this could have been very different, but because I eat foods in their natural state (whole foods) my body adapted at a low bodyweight- but I felt great. I ran multiple PR’s during this time without much of a structured training program and was very fit, but it was just the beginning of my running "career" and my body was not used to the training. No matter how much I ate, I just maintained a very lean body composition.
Fast forward 2 years filled with "real life" stress, high-volume running, and high intensity training.. Now 13-14 mile early morning runs seem like nothing, 95 mile weeks don’t phase me, and running in itself feels effortless (*usually* but I definitely have my days!). Hours of training a day is the new norm for me, and my body has reverted back to homeostasis. I still eat the same foods as I did in college, but I don't eat the same quantity- yet I am about 10lbs heavier and training even more. Why? Adaptation. My stride is now much more efficient, so instead of burning 70 calories per mile, I burn 40-50. In a 10 mile run I might burn a maximum of 500 calories if I am running on hills- but that is not much at all, and with the wrong mentality, it is easy to over-consume. Like any sport, when you practice a lot you get efficient.
When you are a competitive athlete, especially in endurance, body composition is incredibly important for performance. Any extra/unnecessary body fat will slow you down, but you do need to be at a healthy weight in order to perform at your best. Being underweight will inhibit your performance just as much, if not more, than being overweight. So while I am able to get away with a little more “wiggle room” than someone who sits at a desk job 12 hours a day, I’ve learned from experience that you still cannot overindulge and think that it won’t matter even if you train 15 hours a week. I do not restrict my any means, but I basically can feel what my body needs, I eat whole foods in their natural state, and indulge in a few treats on occasion. I am never "hungry" (like rumbling tummy hungry), but my body gets hungry for nutrients from all the training.
8 weeks before a race I start to monitor my food intake more precisely- making sure I am eating mostly carbohydrates and not snacking too much at night (by snacking I mean eating like an entire container of almond butter). I like to be lean when I race, but I am not that strict year round or for “practice” races- it’s just not something I desire to do. So yes, I gain weight in between races like 99% of competitive runners, but the key is to keep it under control.
A full discussion on the topic of nutrition is beyond the scope of one small blog post. I am not a certified nutritionist (I would like to be!), and what I am saying here is just from personal experience. Everyone’s biology is unique and you might have a different experience with your diet so I would love to hear about it - comment below and share! But seriously- everyone is different, so don't feel like you need to do what I do and don't take offense to what I've shared. It's what works for me. I just want to be upfront with everyone and not try to act like I eat whatever I want (as some bloggers will try to portray!). Just trying to be fully raw :)
If you are interested in a more in-depth discussion on this topic check out Matt Fitzgerald’s book “Racing Weight “ or Meb Keflezighi’s book Meb for Mortals . Both are great resources and give insight to the diet of competitive athletes. Meb specifically discusses how he has had to adapt his caloric intake after years of training.
The moral of the story is that if you are trying to lose fat you cannot out run a bad diet (too many calories.) Those 350 calorie deserts in the Starbuck’s display case will cost you an 8 mile run- so choose wisely! That's why having a true and sincere purpose behind your running is so important. If you're out there running a 20 mile long run just to burn extra calories you're probably not going to persevere when it starts hurting. Find your purpose. Let running complement your fat loss goals, but during that journey explore the beauty of the sport and all it has to offer your mind, body, and spirit.
Yesterday was a monumental day in my running career. I surpassed all my own expectations. I learned more about myself yesterday than I have ever before, and it brought me to a whole new level of self-belief and opportunity.
I registered with a qualifying entry to the 2016 NYC Half Marathon in the fall thinking it would help me train hard throughout the winter months. I always set high standards for myself, but not always the most realistic, so I decided I’d aim for a 01:23:30 - a minute faster than my 13.1 PR but not totally unrealistic. I have never run a race this large or logistical, so that was also on my mind as a factor that might affect my performance.
Fast forward through 14 weeks of training filled with 90+ mile weeks, intense speed sessions, and endless runs in the cold dark mornings of the winter. Race week came up so suddenly and it was time to taper…
I have been running road races for 6 years as a fun hobby, but I never developed true speed in those years. Going into this training cycle I knew I had to focus on learning to run fast because I already have really strong endurance, but the speed component was missing. I did a lot of fartlek workouts and speed work like:
15x1 min @ 5k effort
10x2 min @ 5k effort
6x1 mile @ 6:10 - 6:15
3x2 mile @ 6:15
I also added in strides about 3 days a week (all out sprints that last about 20 seconds). I believe that this faster work helped me develop a new level of efficiency in my stride and mechanics and made the slower tempo work feel easier. The strides helped keep my legs fresh and fast. But all this time doing speed work did not leave much time for threshold work and tempo runs… and I began to worry…
I began losing confidence with the race just 7 days away. If a 6 mile tempo run felt tough, how was I going to run 13 miles!? So I really started doubting myself, as I always do before a race, or anything where I put myself to the test.
Fast forward again to race morning. I had been assigned to Wave 1 Corral 0- to run with the 01:20:00 runners… well that wasn’t happening so I dropped back to Corral 1 with the 01:25:00 pacer. As we talk off in mile 1 my legs were numb because I had no warmup and it was about 28º. My first mile was 6:29, and I thought, “oh great…this is going to suck.” But then once I started warming up I passed the 01:25:00 pacer and thought, “just keep him right behind and it’ll be fine.” I hit the hills in the park, which were not nearly as bad as I had anticipated - nothing compared to my Connecticut hills! But they were enough to slow my splits down in the park a little bit and get that Bad Wolf going.
Once we began exiting the park things started flattening out, I was warmed up, and my stride opened up like crazy (Seriously- I have never felt my stride feel so long and smooth). I looked at my watch and was running 5:55 - 6:03 effortlessly… I thought my watch must be wrong, but I kept going just zoned in on my stride and keeping my shoulders loose. Now that I think about it, I don’t even remember breathing heavy or labored one bit.
Then we hit Times Square. This was the most surreal experience I have ever had. Thousands of people were lined up on the sides screaming with support and encouragement. They believed in me, but I didn’t believe in myself? Another look at my watch was showing 5:50 pace… what. the. eff. I never trained for this pace. What’s going on?!
I then turned onto the West Side Highway knowing that I’d either hit a headwind or a tailwind… and fortunately there was not much wind at all! But then I look up and see this dominating the horizon:
For those of you who don’t know, I have a strong connection to 9/11. My father, a lieutenant in the FDNY, was down there that day while I sat home with my Mom upstate panicking about the unknown and praying he and all the first responders would be okay… it was a true nightmare. I have not been to the sight since, too many sad stories and family friends who gave their lives that day. So when that “Bad Wolf” voice started chirping telling me to slow down, that I was ahead of my goal time I looked up and saw the Memorial. I said a prayer to myself and decided “eff it. I’m going for this.” I put my head down, opened up my stride (somehow even more), and ran with a true deep purpose to the finish line.
I felt phenomenal until coming out of the tunnel at mile 12.5/13… it was an uphill blip that went straight into a wicked headwind and my legs started giving out on me… the adrenaline could only get me through so much. I tried drafting off some really tall guy but he was slowing down and I thought I just have to make a move and give it all I’ve got left. I took off ahead for the final 400m, with the wind screaming in my face making me feel like I wasn’t moving. I didn’t care- I was not stopping now - I will die for this sh*t. Then finally, the finish line was in sight and I desperately picked my legs up as quickly as I could until I went stumbling across the line…
It took me a few minutes to come back to reality and get some breath, but then I realized what I just did. Then that was it. Literally. I took my heat sheet, made my way to Broadway, and walked 30 minutes uptown to meet my father who drove me to the race and offered to drive me back home. It was over. And I wanted to go back and do it again. And again. And again.
You have to run with heart. With a purpose. Because when the going gets tough, if your “why” is to burn some calories, or look good for summer- your mind won’t let you go to your limits. It has to be a deep and sincere why. Internal. When you find that, you truly are limitless and you can defeat that Bad Wolf. I never, in a million years, thought I’d be clipping off 5:55 splits mid marathon yesterday. But I was elevated to a different level, I was in a “flow state” as they call it. All because I was running with heart and was just zoned in on my body. Yes, my speed work helped, my 90 mile weeks helped, but I did not train for that pace. So find purpose. In everything you do. Even the small things. Be present. Do everything with meaning and see where it takes you. You are limitless, you just have to permit it to happen. I cannot help but wonder what could have happened if I did not mentally defeat myself in the first few miles.
And what’s next for me? Well that’s to be determined. A few days of recovery and catching up on things that have been neglected over the last few months. I know I will be at the Hartford Half Marathon in October, and I am going to go for an Elite qualifying time (Sub 01:20:00). But I now need to find a race where I can do that in the coming months before July! I’ll need to give this all I’ve got to make that time. This week I am going to be spending some time dialing in everything- racing schedule, training schedule, strength training, and nutrition. By dialed in I mean DIALED IN because “behind every principle is a purpose, but behind your feelings is nothing.”
So be on the lookout for my next post in the coming weeks on my next racing schedule, goals, and strategies that I’ll be utilizing. If you have any recommendations for a half marathon between April and July, please leave a comment!
I want to give you the quick summary of my week of training, and a couple things that I encountered!
On Friday I did a 6x1mile workout with a goal pace of 6:15-6:20 and a focus on staying relaxed and opening up my stride. With this wonderful weather we have been having I was able to go to the track for this one! I ended up running ~6:15s for each repeat, but a good portion of the inner two lanes were covered by snow so I don’t really know what my exact pace was! More importantly I felt smooth and relaxed and felt like my stride was just right. My legs were very fatigued by #4 so the last 2 were challenging, but I maintained the pace with an increased effort level.
Monday was a moderate progression run. For some reason I was extremely nauseous going into this workout and literally thought I was going to get sick the entire time. But as I always say, our running training is training for “life.” Most of the time we aren’t given ideal conditions, and a lot of times we are presented with challenges whether that be in training, racing, or more importantly - life. This was one of those times, a test, and I was determined to use it to my advantage. But I am not going to lie, every 4 or 5 minutes I was tempted to just stop, but I knew how disappointed I would be in myself. As horrible as I felt I finished the run with a strong finish and 13 miles in the books.
I usually recover from workouts extremely fast (which I attribute to quality diet and enough of sleep!). But this week I was consistently sore and achey in my legs. So I took a look at the bottom of my training sneakers… safe to say they were SHOT! No wonder why I was hurting! 70-80mpw over the course of 3 months is definitely too much mileage on one shoe, and it is my fault for being careless in replacing them. Fortunately, my new sneaker shipment came in super fast!
And finally, I wrapped my week up with a nice recovery run out in the rain. You wouldn’t want to see what I looked like after... Thankfully it was a warm rain.
Then it was a trip to Homegoods. Not that I needed anything, but it is always a good place to go on a rainy day! And I needed to have this:
One week closes and another begins (my training week started today, Thursday). I spent a good portion of my morning planning my week and writing out my goals. There is no feeling like checking something off on your to-do list...
Last night I was skimming through Twitter while half asleep. I came across a post from someone that I thought was a truly phenomenal article. I hesitated to post this because I cannot, for the life of me, remember who's post it was and I want to give them major kudos for writing it. It was titled, “Why We Fear Marathon Training” and was written by a female runner who will be participating in the Olympic Trials Marathon in February (if you know who this is, please comment or email me!)
I had a major epiphany because of this article. The author discussed why training can be scary and she compared it to gambling in the stock market. Both have super highs, super lows, and mediocre periods. The scary part- you never know when the bad times are coming.
When you are running your track workouts faster than your designated pace, your legs feel loose and springy, you are nailing the pace on your easy days… life is good. Seriously- for some reason, when a run goes well the rest of the day can only be awesome. A good run sets your mindset into a different realm. No matter how many bad situations you encounter that day, nothing can bring you down- you’re suddenly unstoppable because of that run.
But the scary part, as articulated in the article, is that we know the good times don’t last forever. They’re going to end, we just don’t know when. And before you know it, you aren’t even close to running your designated paces on workouts, easy runs are more like miserable slogs, and you just can’t help but feel lethargic and unmotivated. This my friends, is the dark side of running. It’s a scary time, but we all go through it. Now instead of feeling invincible in life, you’re suddenly vulnerable to the slightest challenge.
This is a reality of training. Everyone experiences it, and it’s scary. You never know when you get out the door and take those first few steps what state your body will be in. All we can do then, is try to minimize the “dark times” by optimizing recovery (nutrition, hydration, sleep, mobility work) and manage life stress.
With the mindset of optimizing recovery in order to “keep the good times rolling,” you will find yourself picking up an apple instead of a Snickers, going to sleep instead of watching 12 more Netflix episodes, and maybe even spending some time with that foam roller that has been sitting in the corner for the last 3 months. Now you can face challenging decisions with a purpose- and with that purpose you are more likely to chose the better option when faced with adversity.
Training is scary, whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, bodybuilding etc. You never know what your body is going to throw at you, but I suppose that is part of the beauty of it because that’s how life is too. You never know what the day will bring, all you can do is do your best at being prepared and try to stay ahead of the game.
Solid 76 Mile Week
I am constantly trying to improve my training and figure out what works best for me. My new experiment is to take a COMPLETE rest day every 8th day. No running. No lifting. Not even allowed to LOOK at the gym. Nothing. The “8th Day” protocol allows me to train in a 7 day block, which means my training week starts on a different day every week.
I did not actually do “nothing”, that would be horrendous and a waste of a day. I actually cleaned for about 14 hours straight. Not really 14, but you get the point! My house is now spotless and smells fabulous. My clothes are all perfectly folded and organized, fridge is stocked, meals cooked, kitten cared for (and tired from having me home for once). I did not run or “exercise” but it’s safe to say I was EXHAUSTED by the end of the day. Seriously- I don’t remember the last time I fell asleep so fast!
With Monday off, I was very much ready to begin my training week on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I had to be at work by 7am, so I could only fit in an easy 4 miler in the morning but did a nice hill repeat workout at night (10x 1 min repeats at 10k effort). I am pretty sure this is the first time I have ever done a stress workout at night so it was definitely a monumental day for me. I’ve always been exhausted by the end of the work day, probably because my days begin around 4:45am. Maybe this “rest day” thing really works…
My next stress workout was a fartlek run of 12 sets of 1 minute at 6:07 pace. It felt comfortably hard, which means my fitness is beginning to finally come back! A strong and quality 11 miler in the books!
Friday I was scheduled to run an easy medium-long run. I planned on capping the run at 90 minutes, and did not anticipate feeling great after the fartlek workout. Well, surprised myself running in the low 7s for 11 miles on a very hilly course. Who would have thought…
I finished the week off with an easy-paced hilly 15 miler. I was a bit tired before heading out the door and was very tempted to run a flat course, but I know hills are in my future…
All in all I was very pleased to close the week in 76 quality miles feeling stronger and fitter.
In addition to my running, I had 4 great strength sessions filled with heavy lifts and core work.
I want to hear about your week!
Failing to plan is planning to fail. We all know that. I know you know that. That’s why every Sunday I write out my weekly schedule. I incorporate my two speed workouts, long run, and 4-5 strength sessions. Once I write it, I have to do it. There is no real deviation from the plan, unless I am overly fatigued, injured, etc.
With the first week of 2016 coming to a close, I feel like it was a successful one totaling in 77 miles. Not 77 junk miles- 77 strong miles. The best part of it all is that I don’t feel fatigued.
One of the biggest things I learned from this week is to celebrate the small successes. Like most endurance athletes, I am highly driven and want to achieve a lot! Unfortunately, the training zaps a lot of my energy, and I only have so much left over. Add on the stress of working full-time as a police officer, getting other things done, things I want to do, can get challenging. For example- my laundry. I have to do laundry almost every night, to ensure I have clean clothes to train in! But the “clean laundry” pile seems grow… and I Just cannot get myself to fold it some days especially after it becomes a mountain. In the past, if I didn’t fold my laundry at the end of the day into a perfectly organized system, I’d feel like a failure. Yes, something so minimal would get me frustrated with myself. But I’ve learned that I can’t do everything. If I’ve run 15 miles, worked all day, and did a strength session… the last thing I want to do is go home and do more work. Something has got to give!
Here’s the run down:
Monday: Easy cross training on the stair climber- 45 minutes in a fasted state.
Tuesday: Fartlek Workout: I did this one inside, running 10x3 minutes at 6:15 pace. I set the incline to 1.0 for the first half of a repeat, and went down to .5 for the second half of the repeat. It totaled 10 miles, and I then went on to do a lower body strength session. This was a strong and fun workout that I really enjoyed- in a sick kind of way.
Wednesday: 7 treadmill miles at 6am before work averaging 7:40 pace. After work I ran outside, 5 miles. Definitely was tired on the evening run!
Thursday: Nothing exciting, easy 10 miles.
Friday: Hill Workout: This was a tough one. I do not run hills well. It’s a weakness. While I am determined to become a “hill monster”, I get frustrated with hill work. Needless to say it got done with a strong effort: 8x1 min repeats outside totaling 10 miles.
Saturday: Easy 7 miles outside, no strength work.
Sunday: Long Run: Planned on running outside for my long run until I woke up to a monsoon. Ended up running 12.5 indoors with a fast finish and some incline work built in. Finished the day with a strength session (squats, deadlifts, lunges) and a 5 miler outside.
I am very pleased with this week's training. But I also got a lot of studying done (for my personal training certification). Early morning study sessions before running, before work, were the only way to ensure I was focused and would get the work done! The only problem was this:
Only 10 weeks left to NYC 13.1. All I can say is I have a LOT of work to do because I am not feeling very fit at the moment!
We are now 10 days into 2016. Are you following through with your "resolutions?" Are you behaving like the person you want to be? Building on your mental strength? Keep the goal in sight by writing out your goals and plan on how to achieve them every week.
It is a New Year tradition to set high-arching resolutions. We are bombarded with weight loss products, new diets, workout gadgets and gym memberships filled with messages that the new year should mean a “new you.” Unfortunately, most individuals will only keep up with some new habitfor five days, or maybe not even make it all the way through January 1. If you feel like every year you are setting new resolutions only to find yourself “failing” days later, I have a different resolution for you! That resolution is making it a goal to strengthen your “willpower muscle.” Willpower is the “Good Wolf”, and if you can train it to become the alpha, you will truly be limitless.
I love setting goals. But effective goal setting is not a simple task that can be done in a few minutes on a whim. It takes great contemplation because in order to be successful in achieving your goal, you’re going to need a strong WHY that explains why you are striving to achieve this. Willpower functions, strengthens, and weakens the same way as a muscle - just like your bicep. The more you exercise and train it, the stronger and more resilient it becomes. But willpower is not an unlimited resource, as I’m sure you’ve experienced. Like your muscles, it fatigues with use and time. Do you find that you can maintain discipline with your diet, eat healthy all day, but just cannot resist those cookies when you get home from work at night? That’s willpower! It’s tired. It’s fatigued. It’s the end of the day and you’ve been withdrawing on your willpower bank all day, so by the time evening comes along, it’s exhausted. Hence the purpose of strengthening this miraculous muscle. It’s the muscle that is KEY to achieving whatever it is that you wish and establishing discipline.
The more you understand the mechanism of willpower, the more likely you will be able to strengthen it. But this is where we circle back to GOALS and PURPOSE. When temptation is high, but your willpower is exhausted, without a strong purpose behind achieving a certain goal, your “Bad Wolf” will easily convince you to give in. For example, if I set a goal to lose 40 pounds because my doctor told me if I don’t, I won’t live to ever meet my grandchildren - you can bet I am going to lose those 40 pounds no matter how challenging it gets. Every time a temptation comes along, reflect upon the reason you want to achieve your goal, and then ask yourself this question : “Is doing (this action) helping me or hurting me in achieving my goal?” You will know the answer, but without that purposeful meaning you are more likely to give in to the self-destructive temptation.
You need clarity in order to reveal what you really want. It is not easy. You might get frustrated. It took me years to figure out why I train so hard. Why do I put myself through these painful and stressful workouts, and keep doing them? It wasn’t until I got the clarity and figured out my “values” that I was able to figure out why I do what I do.
With a truly meaningful purpose, you can build the strength of your willpower muscle, and ultimately build a strong disciplined mindset- feed the Good Wolf! Here is a basic exercise to help you get started and to get you thinking:
Sit in a quiet space, without any distractions, preferably in the early morning before you become bombarded by your daily tasks. Answer the following questions, spending at least a few minutes on each one. If you are not completely positive on your answers, take as much time as you need to figure it out- it might be an hour, a day, or even a year- but make sure you dig deep and answer honestly!
- What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What goals would you strive for?
- What are your greatest values in life? (friends, family, health, money)
- How do you want to be remembered as a person (hard-working, disciplined, determined, compassionate, generous)
- How would you have to act and behave in order to achieve your goals?
Please share your answers, if you are comfortable doing so, and comment with any questions you have! I would love to hear about your passions!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a professional runner? Jonas Hampton, a 26 year old from Connecticut, opens up to reveal his strategies and methods in achieving the ultimate in his sport. From managing a full-time work schedule with a professional running career, to his diet, Jonas' dedication to the sport is inspiring. His most recent success was winning the 2015 Hartford Marathon with a time of 2:15:57. More miraculous is the fact that this was his first full marathon.
1. Where is a typical day like for you (a non-workout day)?
A typical day, pending on if I have to run twice or not, usually starts with me getting up at 6am to get ready for work by 7:30 which goes until 4:00. Then I go home and run from about 4:30 to about 6:00. Then I will come back and do core work and strengthening work for another 45 minutes and some stretching as well. Usually then I’ll just start dinner and hopefully be done with that before 7:45. I am in bed by 9:30 and repeat the next day. On days I have to double I will get up at either 5am or 5:30. Summer it is usually 5am so I can run longer before it gets too warm.
2. How do you structure your training week?
I structure my weeks usually based around Saturdays longer workout and Sundays long run. Sundays are always my long runs unless I have to race but then I make sure to go easy the following day and I’ve learned to put an extra day in there on Tuesdays as another “moderate/easy” day in order to be recovered enough from the longer weekend. Mid week I like to get in a medium-long run mixed with a workout (usually something faster around 5k race pace) to get my legs moving faster than just marathon pace. I always make sure there’s a reason behind each run, whether it’s an easy recovery run or a moderate run where I focus on form or breathing. Helps focus strictly on the task at hand.
3. Is it difficult managing a full-time job and a professional running career? What methods do you use to accomplish everything in a day?
It is very difficult. There are certain things I would like to be able to do but physically I just can’t due to not having enough time in the day to accomplish everything; for example spending more time in the gym or getting an extra nap in to help recover from a workout. I usually plan out my day a day in advance if I know I have a workout on schedule, but I am good at managing my time when I have to and will adjust when needed. Usually though in certain situations something has to be lost in the process to accomplish everything. Sometimes I just don’t eat dinner till after 8pm or I loose a little bit of sleep, which isn’t ideal.
4. What strategies do you use during hard runs when the going gets tough? You run very high mileage and have long workouts, how do you get through them?
When the going gets tough, which it often does, I haven’t quite figured out how I manage to keep going. Sometimes I just say “one more mile” or “make it through the next rep”. Other times I’m just having a bad day/week and just run pretty angry so to speak so I just tune everything out completely and just run till It hurts. In certain cases with specific workouts, I just keep going and thinking no one else could do this workout and that excites me to push to the finish. For example 30x400’s, not too many people do that sort of thing anymore which is why I like it, once I hit 20 or so in I’m usually too tired to care or cant help but laugh at the fact that I’m still running the same workout 90 minutes later.
5. What is your nutrition/diet like? What’s a typical day of eating?
I try to eat as healthy as I can but really I just eat what ever is in front of me half the time just because I need the extra calories and nutrients from all the miles. Usually Breakfast and lunch are always the same. Oatmeal and bananas with coffee, then lunch is 2 PBnJ sandwiches with some fruit and a bunch of granola bars, I tend to snack throughout the day as well. I recently switched to a mostly vegetarian diet with the exception of fish maybe once a week. Just a choice and something I wanted to try out and see how it affects me, I was previously only eating meat maybe 4 nights a week anyway so it wasn’t a big change. I only now just have to make sure I get enough protein, which is where the plant based protein shakes have been helping. I’ve been feeling better and not as tired on my runs lately but only time will tell as to how well it works.
6. Did you always know you wanted to become a professional runner?
Umm, I think so. I couldn’t really imagine me not running, I’ve been doing it since I was in 7th grade and its just fun. I don’t know where it will take me but I’m just going with it and seeing what happens.
7. Do you implement any special recovery protocols such as foam rolling, ice baths, stretching, or supplements?
I stretch after every run, whether its just static stretching or some other mobility work with bands I have. I’ve been trying to foam roll more since I keep putting that off but really it should be a bigger priority for me at this point. I only ice bath usually in the summer (not so much when its so cold outside already), but usually my stretching has been getting me through things. I do take iron pills and some multi-vitamins about twice a day and a protein shake every other day typically.
8. You were the champion at the 2015 Hartford Marathon, a major accomplishment. What did it feel like (physically and mentally) while running? How did you do it?
Physically I felt perfectly calm and relaxed through 22-23 miles. There wasn’t really a point in the race where I felt over stretched or too tired except maybe a short half mile stretch coming over a bridge at about mile 25 but it wasn’t that bad. Mentally, to be frank, about 10 miles or halfway through I felt bored. I had a pretty big negative split from the first half to the second half but that was only because I went out very conservatively since it was my first marathon I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially during the later stages of the race. I knew around mile 15 that I could push harder for at least 8-9 miles and that is what I did and it seemed to feel better running more open and not holding back as much. Next time I’ll just settle into a rhythm earlier in the race and see how well I can do.
Jonas will be competing in the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon in L.A on February 13!
This week of training has been off to a great start. On Tuesday I had a strong fartlek run, and it felt incredibly refreshing to get some turnover in my legs. I did 7x2 min at 5k effort (sadly it was a “slower” effort than my true 5k pace), but this is just the introduction week to my new training cycle to dust off the legs.
Workout Plan: 25 min warmup | 7x2 min @ 5k effort with 1 min jog recovery | 20 min cool down
Actual Workout: 25 min warmup | 7x 2 min @ 6:15-6:22 | 20 min cool-down.
I am going into the training cycle with a new method to see how it impacts my results. I will not be running 90 mile weeks like I used to. Clearly, having done this in the past, it never worked for me and my body cannot seem to tolerate the volume quite yet. I am confident that with a year of solid, quality, and consistent training I will have that capacity, but right now I want to ensure I recover between workouts and give my best effort at NYC 13.1 in March.
Today I have a long run, which is 90 minutes. Feels odd to consider this a long run because just two months ago, 90 minute runs were my easy days. But the goal is to keep the pace consistent and strong and to stay focused.
On to other things… I want to share some of my new “daily essentials.” Some are running related, some not. Anytime I benefit from something in my life, I love to share with my friends and family in hopes that it can benefit them as well!
1. Weekly/Monthly Planner
I have a pretty ritualist morning routine. I wake up, make my coffee pronto, and look at my task list in my calendar. I love this Blue Sky Monthly Planner mostly because it has a monthly view and a weekly view. I’ve tried every electronic calendar you can name, but nothing works as well as pen and paper!
2. Nespresso Vertuoline
Obsessed. That is all.
This is the first thing I run to in the morning. This machine makes espresso and coffee, unlike any other machine you can buy. A little pricy, but worth the money if you are particular about your coffee.
I also have the milk frother (shown in picture), which I use to froth cashew milk. It froths just like regular milk, and tastes better than regular milk.
3. Adidas Energy Boost:
I guess the fact that I have purchased over 7 pairs of these sneakers is proof that I love them. The material is unlike no other- super light but also offering tremendous cushioning. The quality is also very impressive. I use them as my training sneaker and on longer runs.
4. Oat Bran
I have never been a “carb” person so I am constantly searching for a source of carbohydrates that I like and can enjoy. I recently discovered Oat Bran. What is oat bran you ask? How is it different from oat meal? Oats are brought into a factory where the outer husk is removed, which leaves behind the groat and the bran. And that’s that.
Why am I obsessed with this? It is incredibly dynamic, you can really do anything with it from eating it raw to making a decadent cereal bowl (just by microwaving it in water for 3 minutes and adding anything your heart desires!) It is also a great slow-releasing carb and helps me stay full and satisfied for hours on end. You can purchase it at Trader Joe’s and Stop & Shop. I like it better than oat meal, it has a richer and "nuttier" flavor.
Time to head out for my long run. I would love to hear what some of your daily essentials are!
Despite the cold weather and short days, this is one of my favorite times of the year. Stores are festive, (most) people are cheerful and friendly, and I can put Christmas lights all over my house! But it is also the start of some cold winter morning and night runs. Having just been accepted into the NYC 13.1 on March 20, I have no option but to train hard through the winter. I often get asked about how to stay "motivated" in the winter. So here are some tips:
DONT THINK OF IT AS MOTIVATION! MOTIVATION COMES AND GOES! IT NEEDS TO BE :
Motivation is a feeling you get when everything is going "right". But when adversity strikes (aka you don't feel like doing it), motivation plummets. That's why you must not rely on motivation, but instead habit. Let me explain through example- when I started running, I really only did it when I felt like it and when my schedule permitted. Over the years as I became more competitive, I realized I could not miss workouts and that consistency was key. Now I am at a point in my running career where I just "do it". Rain, sun, snow, sleet, hail, headache, stomach ache... whatever it may be- I will be out there. Running/training is simply a segment of every day of my life. It's not a matter of it- I don't even think about it. No doing my training is not an option, and I do not even think twice about it.
I love this quote because of the use of the word "unconscious." That's a true habit.
Please do not think that this habit mentality happened over night. Like I said- it took years! But relying on motivation does not work. Willpower does not work. These "sensations" are unreliable and weak! Honestly, the psychology behind habit is worthy of a post of its own (or website of its own!), and I will talk about this a lot more. In the mean time, let me give you some steps to help get you out the door on these chilly mornings and evenings!
1. Pick a spring time race. Pay for it now. Once you are invested, you are much less likely to withdraw.
2. Keep your iPod updated: On easy runs I sometimes listen to podcasts like Endurance Planet, Ben Greenfield Fitness, Open Sky Fitness, and Run to the Top. These help me on the days I cannot run with my training partners. I also try to keep good "techno" fast-beat music on my iPod for every other run. But make sure you keep it fresh!
3. Buy some new outdoor gear- running clothing has become so fashionable these days and a new sweet wardrobe will help you feel like a rockstar!
4. Write down your plan/schedule/goals on Sunday. Post it on your refrigerator where you will see it every day. Track your workouts.
Treadmill running is also a great alternative to going outdoors. For speedy tempo work, going outside in 0 degree weather is not the smartest. Wearing bulky clothing restricts your stride and movement. So do not fear the treadmill. My friend changed my perspective the other day when she told me, "View the treadmill as a tool you can utilize this winter- not something to dread!" and she was totally right! Many elite runners train on treadmills because you can control the conditions. Plus- you'll sweat like crazy and who does not like that!?
Sundays are one of the best days of the week (after Mondays). They're a day of reflection, contemplation, and planning. A day to review the week of accomplishments, successes, and areas in need of improvement.
This week was the first week back into "training" mode. Basically all this means is that I had a schedule put together last Sunday, whereas the last few weeks I would run or do whatever I wanted day by day.
Because I suffered during a hilly race a few weeks ago, I made a promise to myself that I'd be doing a lot of hill training- no more flat runs! So off I went into the hilly suburban areas filled with steep and long climbs. After a phenomenal ten mile steady run on Tuesday night, I was exhilarated to see that my fitness was still there and the pace felt easy. But the next morning I woke up with a swollen and tender ankle. W.T.F.?!
I was so confused. What could have caused this? I didn't feel anything during that run, I felt amazing, and ten miles is not a long run for me. Clearly, it was all the hills I was climbing over the last few days. I cross trained on the step-mill for two days, and went straight to a foot doctor to get it figured out. After having two stress fractures, it's safe to say I am extremely paranoid when I feel any subtle ache, pain, or tightness.
I went to a great doctor who confirmed my belief that I had peroneal tendonitis, which is caused by tight muscles and overuse. The best part was that he was able to tape my foot and gave me permission to run moderately through the week. I was happy!
I still monitor the ankle very closely, but fortunately it is healing quickly. There are always things to learn from injuries, my key take away from this "scare" was that you cannot take running for granted. At any moment, it can be taken from you.
It has been a beautiful week with great weather. I enjoyed some beautiful evening runs! I am not doing any speed work yet (especially with having tendonitis!), but it is just making me more excited to begin serious training again!
So when you look back on your week, what were some of your greatest accomplishments? Where can you see area for improvement? I know I need to focus more on my recovery, which means more foam rolling and stretching after every run!
Have a great Sunday!
October 17 I ran the SONO Half Marathon. I had a goal of running it in 01:23:30, a VERY realistic goal, which I should have been able to accomplish pretty easily. But one of the beautiful (and sometimes frustrating) things about running and racing is that you have to adapt to the conditions presented to you, you can't always predict what race day will be like. I was presented with some challenging, unanticipated conditions like a strong 20 mph headwind (which never turned into a tail wind!), and more hills than I expected.
I ran a strong pace, but it still was not a PR. I felt great going into the race, but the headwind really killed me. I finished first female overall, but the time was 90 seconds slower than my goal. This race was supposed to be my final race for the training block. The plan was to then take a break before starting new training because I was a bit burnt out mentally. But what did I do? I found two more half marathons to run over the next two weeks- I had to get my gaol time!
Well the body can only handle so much training, racing, and stress. Safe to say I fell apart in my next two races. At first it felt like a failure. I felt terrible. But I shut those thoughts down thinking, "I learned a valuable lesson here, and thankfully I'm not physically injured!" So while it is embarrassing to have slow racing times, these races can still be considered strong tempo runs under the belt!
For now, I am in maintenance mode. I'm back to running after taking two full days off, and am making sure I add in plenty of hills. This winter will sure be filled with hill running, hill workouts, and... hills! Instead of running along the beautiful Connecticut coast line which is nice and flat, I have been heading up north through the rural, hilly, gorgeous, sections of Fairfield!
What have you learned in your racing career, or through training?
Hi! Thank you for visiting my site. Even though I have an "About" page, I'll give you a little introduction:
I am 23 years old and live in Southern Connecticut. I work full-time as a police officer and use my "free time" to train and become the best version of "me." When I was 17, I started jogging to "get in shape" and stay healthy. Having been a multi-sport high school athlete including soccer, field-hockey, basketball, and even a competitive equestrian, I had some basic level of fitness, but I was influenced by the main-stream nutrition and training styles of typical high-school athletes. I remember the first time I went onto the track to run a mile- I hated it! I thought cross-country was the most ridiculous idea thinking, "why would anyone want to run for fun?" Who would have thought that just five years later I'd have my eyes set on the Olympic Trials Marathon?
I entered into a sprint triathlon shortly after taking up running, nearly drowning during the swim and finishing third to last. But I was ecstatic afterwards. Despite my struggles and triumphs over those few miles I raced, I refused to quit and finished with every ounce of strength I had. I was hooked at that point.
I started running more, lifting weights, and training harder. I loved this sport and the freedom it provided me. One thing was still missing- my nutrition. I began reading basic nutrition books and began to understand the importance of nutrition on performance. Through strategy and a touch of discipline, I weaned myself off of my sugar addiction and began a plant-based diet. The extra body fat I carried melted off, and I started seeing drastic improvements in not only my performance, but my entire appearance and mental performance. I developed a photographic memory, my eyesight improved and my skin was beyond radiant. I was onto something!
I began racing 5ks, 10ks, and eventually half marathons where I was winning my age group consistently. With a combination of my driven work ethic and the inspiring atmosphere of running races, I ultimately concluded that I would set the bar extremely high and qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon in 2020.
Why 2020? Getting to the level of performance required to qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon (a 2:37-2:43 marathon or 1:15 half marathon for the "B" standard) requires consistency, and years of it.
And that is the reason for the blog! I want to show you what I do on my path, the discoveries I make, the mistakes I suffer through, the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Why? So you too can set the bar high and achieve whatever you want. Hard work, dedication, discipline, and consistency is all it takes.
If you live in the Southern regions of Connecticut or Westchester, NY please feel free to reach out and connect! I adamantly believe that a community is incredibly necessary when striving for great feats of achievement.
I also provide highly customized running programs utilizing the McMillan philosophy as well as my own knowledge gained through years of training. More information to come.
So welcome aboard!