How to resist lying down & taking a nap on the infield when the last thing you want to do is finish the workout

I just signed up for a 4k…this Friday, against college runners, on a gnarly XC course. Which of course means this week’s workout was horrendous.

Ok, so it doesn’t look horrendous on paper – I hit all my goal splits and ran all the reps and even paced it consistently. However, everything from the warmup to the last step of the cool down was eerily reminiscent of the chapter revision work from earlier in the day. Everything felt tedious, miserable, and I just wanted to take a BREAK!!! However, I had made it through the writing at work and, gosh durn it, I was determined to save myself the mental weight of an unfinished workout during a race week. How did I make it through?

1) I broke everything down into itty bitty chunks: Making it through four 200’s is somehow way easier than focusing on the entire half-mile repeat. Just focusing on hitting each split and staying in the “now” saved me from collapsing into a little whimpering puddle on the side of the track. I knew I was really having a rough day when a 300 m repeat seemed so daunting that I ended up mentally breaking it down into 100’s…

2) My mantra became “Just finish the next rep.” If you lie to yourself you can occasionally convince your brain that you will definitely, really let yourself stop after that next repeat. And then the trick is to just jog into the recovery and keep right on jogging til you find yourself on the starting line agin telling yourself the same tricky little fib.

3) I focused on any good details that I noticed. My arms felt relaxed, I wasn’t actually getting winded til the last 50 m of each repeat, and 200 m recoveries mean I can do an out and back on the straightaway! I’m not really sure why this is so exciting – I guess going the wrong way on the track fulfills my little rebellious streak ha ha 😉 Anyhow, even these little positive boosts counteracted the temptation to focus on the smokey air, the heat, the tight muscles, etc. 

I stuck with it and actually managed to (sort of) enjoy the last repeat! Woohoo! And now I only have one little shakeout run left before I get to run my first XC race in 3 years!!!

Any runners out there have some good strategies for surviving tough workouts?

Wednesday workout – mile repeats & 200’s for a little dose of speed

I jumped back into workouts today after skipping basically all quality days last week. I woke up early and was able to get out to the park by 7:30, which meant I got to enjoy this gorgeous view during my warmup 🙂

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I also got to dodge a few sprinklers, but fortunately those turned off by the time I’d finished scouting out the loop to use for my repeats. The plan was 2 by a mile at 6:45 pace (comfortably hard/projected 5k pace for similar terrain) with 4 minutes recovery and then 4 x 200m fast with full recovery (waiting til heart rate drops down to about 130 BPM) between repeats. I marked off a mile loop with sticks every quarter mile around the perimeter of the park – I included a few decent hills in order to follow the “path”, a slightly packed down strip of grass that circumscribes the main fields. Plus, hills are perfect XC prep, hurrah!

The last time I ran this loop (2 weeks ago) I had a pretty rough day and only managed a single repeat at just under 7 minute pace. My legs felt a little better today (plus, sleep – so much more of it this week!!!) so I was hoping hitting 2 repeats in 6:45 wasn’t as far fetched as it looked on paper.

I did all the fun drills/stridey stuff, grabbed a last sip of water, and headed to the start. Took a deep breath and took off up the hill that spans the first quarter mile. I hit halfway feeling strong and only started feeling the strain going through the last 200m. I went out a bit fast and finished the first rep in 6:29 – this sort of pacing usually means it’s either going to be an awesome workout or a total disaster 😛

4 minutes flew by and I headed out on rep 2 a little out of breath. The 2nd mile was definitely tougher, but I managed to eke out a 6:30! Hurrah for not dying!!! I also managed to avoid tripping over any of the half-a-dozen dogs or their elderly owners who meandered absentmindedly into my path. Hopefully I didn’t scare any of them too badly with my wheezing 😛

I jogged the 4 min recovery and measured out a 200m segment (I use the Strava app on my phone for measuring routes and timing – I’d love a GPS watch but food & rent…and tuition…come first. Plus my right arm is definitely getting buffer from carrying my phone ha ha). The 200’s were fun (as always) and then I was done!

Oh yea, and in a typical display of workout-induced absentmindedness, I managed to bring a pair of flats to try on (the whole reason I drove instead of ran to the park) and then forgot to change into them for the 200’s. Sigh.

Anyone else experience runner brain or is it just me?

Racing season completed, time for some mileage :)

Earlier this Spring I had planned to gradually build my mileage back up to around 30 miles/week.  However, I ended up having a fun little series of 5k races instead.  The 5k’s were fun and were a great boost to my running motivation, but the added stress of fast workouts and 5k races meant my foot wasn’t able to handle any mileage bumps over about 20 miles/week.  Last weekend I slipped under 20 minutes for the 5k (my goal for Spring) but definitely felt the lack of endurance in that last brutal mile.  If I’m going to get back into sub-19 territory I need some more miles in my legs (and workouts over 3 km!).  I’ve reached my goal for the season and just got a major pay cut moving from a full TA to a grader position, which means the race fees aren’t really worth it at the moment.  As a result I’ve decided to switch my focus back to building up mileage.  

Fish proposed the awesome summer build-up from her college cross-country days and since I’m a sucker for free training plans (whoop!) I said heck yes 🙂  We’re cutting out the first couple weeks since we’ve already been running and the build-up usually starts off from a 2 week post-track season break.  If anyone out there is doing some base training and is interested in the full progression I’d be happy to add the first couple weeks as well 🙂  

Here’s what this past week (week 3) looked like:

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The Myrtle Hip Routine and Core-H are from Coach Jay Johnson’s set of supplementary work for runners.  His website has a few other awesome routines as well for anyone who has a bit more free time.  The toe work is my own compilation of exercises for my wonky foot/toe 😛  The leg set is 2-3 sets of 10 x single leg dead lifts, single leg squats, regular dead lifts, and calf raises.  This week wasn’t anything crazy in terms of mileage but a decent long run and a re-introduction to lifting.  The leg set killed my hamstrings, which made me feel like a bit of an old lady ha ha.  

Next week we’ll bump the mileage up a bit and do hills instead of a progressive run:

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Can’t wait!

 

Thank goodness for track workouts!

Reasons why I needed yesterday’s track workout:

  • I needed to spend ~5000 meters emptying my mind of all the crazy, pointless worrying that has crept in lately and instead think about nothing other than what my next split needed to be and how to strive with every stride to reach that goal.
  • I needed to get a little physical suffering in.  You can’t focus on anxiety about job searches, thesis writing, and relationships ripping at the seams when you are trying to figure out whether or not you’ll make it through the next repeat without barfing.  Yup, good times.
  • I needed the reminder that taking care of myself isn’t optional.  I can try to live on no sleep, too much coffee, and a nice diet of stress hormones…but running demands sleep, proper hydration, and a few deep breaths.

For one glorious hour I was just a runner, a 5’4″ assembly of laboring muscles strapped to a watch, a pair of legs pounding the sun-baked track.

 

Tuesday at the (sunny, warm, & glorious) track

Fish & I resumed the good ol’ track tuesday schedule today 🙂  

The workout was 2x (3×300 m hills w/ walk down R into 3×300 on the track w/ 100m jog R).  5k pace on the hills, 5k – 10 seconds/mile on the track.  Temps in the high 70’s and minimal wind meant Fish & I could focus on pushing the pace and running strong – perfect day to do some speed work!  Everything felt great and it was AMAZING to push it over the red line on the hills and then get some turnover going and stride down into sub-5 pace territory on the 300’s (definitely not running my 5k’s at 5:10 pace but I couldn’t help it, I was having way too much fun!)

Summer evening workouts rock – how else would anyone want to end a long day of work than by getting outside and flying around the oval through dappled twilight and the placid evening air?

Splashsplashsplash

It’s been incredibly rainy lately, in true Spring fashion.  This has been excellent for thesis writing – I’ve gotten just over  11,000 words down on paper and have absolutely no desire to distract myself by prancing around outside in the frigid May showers.

The sudden turn in the weather has been less conducive to running.  Tuesday’s track workout turned into a bit of a battle for survival.  Fish & I had a tougher workout planned (2×800 @ 5k pace – 10 seconds/mile [200m jog recovery], 2×600 at the same[same recovery], 2×300 at mile race pace [100 m recovery]) + about 800m worth of strides sprinkled throughout) and we were both keeping an eye on the sky since there had been thunderstorms predicted.  However, it was about 60 degrees and looked pretty decent when we started.

By the time we got to the 2nd 600 the temperature had plunged into the 40’s and it was raining so hard that we both abandoned our long sleeves since they were more water than shirt at that point.  The track was flooded and we spent each lap squinting and dodging each other’s foot-splash.

The battle for survival started when we finally got back to the car & I realized my hands were too frozen to grip the key.  Yay for Raynaud’s 😛  I finally figured out a nice (and ridiculous looking) two-handed substitute for the usual single-handed pinch-grip for turning the key and we rejoiced in the fact that we were not going to be forced to suffer the indignity of dying of hypothermia right outside a nice warm car.  We survived, got to feel tough, and even managed to hit some of our splits!

Allright, enough reminiscing about the week’s runs – I have a thesis to write!  And lots of hot coffee to drink…just thinking about that workout makes me shiver!

Windy laps

Today’s track workout (again courtesy of the marvelous MountainMan) was a rude re-introduction to longer intervals.  The workout itself was actually pretty short, but MM had thrown in some longer race pace stuff and both Fish and I were a little nervous.  The workout was 2 laps of SSJC (stride straights, jog curves) into 1200m at 5k pace (so 96’s for now – that’s 20 flat pace for a 5k), then 2 more laps of SSJC into 300 m at current mile pace (so around 6 flat pace), 100m jog R, and lastly 800m at 5k pace (3:12).  

I was able to hold the paces with a bit of suffering and Fish finished just a little off on the long stuff but totally smoked our 300. Wheee!  I do think I may have a bit of an advantage in the wind – Fish weighs a good 20 lbs less than me and half the time I’m afraid I’ll look over my shoulder to see her flying off through the air like a little, runner-girl shaped kite!  My muscular frame on the other hand is in no danger of getting wafted away on the breeze 😉 

Perhaps the best (and least expected!) part of the whole workout was that we ran into one of my former teammates who is coaching throws at a nearby high school.  She happened to be at the track giving some private throws lessons and totally made my day when she walked by as Fish and I were doing strides – the look of surprised recognition as I sprinted by waving and grinning was priceless 🙂  And the brief chat with her after the 1200 gave us a little extended recovery…for which Fish and I were both *extremely* grateful.  

All in all I’d say the workout was a success – first longer reps out of the way and we held pretty steady in spite of the wind.

 

On the non-running front life is chilling out a bit.  I’m done TAing (minus a marathon grading session with my fellow TA’s at the end of the week), have been taking a little break from finite element simulations while waiting for software tokens to free up (woohoo, time to actually *think* (and write!)), and have been enjoying watching everyone else madly cram for finals as I saunter lazily to and from the lab 😉