Training Recap–week 12

Last week was a mixed bag–the transition to spring hits me hard every year. I don’t know why–things don’t come back to life that quickly, and temperature changes don’t actually cause sickness–but somehow I end up fighting something off every year at this time. This week was no exception, but I still had a really solid week of training.

Monday–Rest Day–Did a Yoga for Distance Runners show that I have saved on the DVR. Definitely going to incorporate this more often.

Tuesday–Kettlebell Day–cancelled. I was really really run down by the time I got through work. Figured I’d rather rest and be okay to run (hopefully) on Wednesday than power through and force myself out of a run.

Wednesday–5 mile progression run. Had a friendly challenge going within our training team to see who could come closest to our paces for our speed workout. This was a really good thing for me. I felt great and would’ve pushed too hard out the gate if I hadn’t had this challenge to reign me in. Nailed the first two paces within 2 seconds. Went all out on the last one because I was feeling good and it felt good to push that hard near the end of a workout, still came in within 10 seconds of goal pace.

Thursday–6 miles easy. Had a great run through the city with my friend Lara. We push each other appropriately, and generally speaking always have good runs together. Thursday night runs have been much better lately, and I’m pretty sure the fact I usually have company is part of the reason.

Friday–Kettlebell Day–cancelled again. Allergies were going haywire all day at work and I just felt lousy. Again…I’d rather be able to run tomorrow than force through a workout tonight.

Saturday–24 miles easy. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I was having a bad morning. A really bad morning. Comedy of errors trying to get to the run, coupled with a complete emotional breakdown. Everything just kind of compounded. Normally I don’t mind a few miles by myself, though I try to get them in before the group run so I can finish with my friends. Today I was thankful I didn’t run a single mile alone, I could not have handled having that much time to think without distraction. I pushed pace on poor Lara and Abbie during our first 4 miles because I was so upset it was hard to hold back. But I got some much needed therapy and I finished my longest run in over a year. Watch was dying (just one of the many things that went wrong that morning…) so I stopped pausing it at stop lights, no idea what my real paces were, but I got through it and felt pretty okay. Ran up Forbes again, near the same mileage that I will hit it during Pittsburgh, so that makes me feel good about my odds on race day. And we’re running the Birmingham Bridge–my nemesis–on a regular basis so I’m becoming somewhat desensitized to it. Also did this whole run on macadamia nut butters from F-Bomb, first time I’ve used all fat on a run and I felt really good. Took a packet every 10 miles (roughly every 2ish hours) and that seemed to work well.

Sunday–10 miles easy. Easy 10 miles on the schedule, so I ran the Mill Creek Distance Classic half marathon. This is one of my FAVORITE races. It’s tough–19 hills over 13 miles. The park it is in is absolutely gorgeous though, and I really do love awful things. Wasn’t sure how it would go after 24 yesterday. Definitely felt my quads on the first downhill. But I was solid and strong out there. Really steady, and honestly didn’t walk that much, all things considered. And I can tell because even though I ran 24 miles the day before, I set a 4-minute course PR! I can’t get over how strong I’m getting this training cycle. Followed this up with a trigger point class with my training team. That was awesome and I’m rolling my feet on the lacrosse ball as I type. Definitely going to work some of that into my routine.

Big races coming up next weekend. Not goal races–training runs with medals, but I have a really good feeling about the marathon on Saturday. More soon, friends.

Keto Continues

So an update on this little experiment. I’m continuing with it. Honestly, I feel really good. Haven’t been as strict lately, putting a little “life into living” as they say, but here are some observations as I continue this journey:

I’m not hungry all the time. I’m doing some high volume training. Previously, even with lower volumes of training I was a bottomless pit. Hungry ALL the time. I definitely have moments where I’m ravenous, but it’s not like it was. It is possible for me to be sated for relatively long periods of time.

I don’t have a lot of cravings. Not saying I never crave carbs. I do sometimes. A couple weeks ago I would’ve cut someone for some pasta. So I had some. And then I was good and I didn’t want any more. But by and large–I don’t crave much. I like the things I’m eating. It’s not a struggle to avoid sugar/carbs. If I *really* want something, I have it. Going off for a meal here and there will not kill me, so I don’t stress about it, but I also don’t have the desire to go off plan very often. We’re a month out from Easter and I’ve not had a Reese’s egg or Cadbury mini-eggs (my favorites) because I haven’t wanted them enough to get them. *shrugs*

My recovery has been amazing. Will be interesting to test out when I’m racing as opposed to running for training, but I’m not nearly as sore as I have been in the past, even though the volume of my training has increased quite a bit. I can do my long run, or speedwork and be ready to run the next day. I can lift at kettlebell, and be fine running 2 days later (when my DOMS was always the worst). There’s a little soreness, I’m still challenging myself, but not like it was.

I’m less “crazy” about food than I’ve ever been. As someone with body image issues who is also into distance running and interested in health and fitness and all that good stuff–food has always been a big topic for me. Trying to balance wanting to lose weight with being constantly hungry was a major challenge for a long time. Counting macros really worked well for me, but at a certain point the math made me absolutely nuts–1/2 a serving of this, 2/3 serving of that…just to hit my numbers got old. This is so much easier on me mentally–which I never thought would be the case. I don’t have to figure out how to “make” it fit, I just acknowledge that it doesn’t and make the decision to either have it or not. Less math, less measuring–so much happier.

My athletic performance is improving. My runs have been pretty great lately. I’m holding decent paces on my long runs and pushing pace on my shorter runs feels really good. I can go longer without fueling, and I’m transitioning from the chews to F-Bomb macadamia nut butters when I do need a boost. So far, so good. It’s not like I’m intentionally pushing myself to go longer without fuel either, I just don’t feel the crash or the gnawing hunger like sensation I used to get. I got 11 miles into a long run before I thought “I should probably take something” a few weeks ago.

I also want to note that I’m doing a much more real-foods Keto approach than what is trendy now. I’m not using a lot of sugar substitutes or keto-friendly fake foods. If I’m going to go off plan, I’d rather have the real thing and be satisfied by it. No “low carb” pasta, I just either have pasta or I don’t. No “keto-friendly” desserts or treats–I just either eat the cake or I don’t. This feels much more sustainable (and wallet friendly) to me, and I think it’s part of why I’m actually satisfied when I eat–I’m not trying to trick myself, I’m just eating food. So far, I’m sold on this. It feels sustainable to me, especially in the way I’m approaching it.

That’s all I got for now friends, have a great weekend. More soon.

Training Recap–Week 11

Must have kicked whatever was ailing me the previous weekend, I felt great all week.

Monday–rest day. I want to start doing the Yoga for Distance Runners that I have saved on the DVR on Mondays, but today was not the day. I went to a fueling for runners seminar after work, which was interesting, but didn’t tell me much that I didn’t know (bear in mind I’ve been at all of this for awhile and am studying for my nutrition certification for this round of CEUs). The dietitian who spoke is also against keto, which is working really well for me (more about that later this week). I wouldn’t push it for everyone (especially not all athletes) but it’s working for ME, so I’m staying the course.

Tuesday–kettlebell and warmup mile. Got to run my mile outside–yay! Felt good (and different!) to push my pace some outside for the warmup. Chased it with some foam rolling and then a really great class. Moderately heavy weights, and I got to work on single bell squat form with a heavy non-racked position. Need to do more of that to get my confidence up for double bell squats.

Wednesday–easy miles. Had 4 on the schedule, but a few friends needed 5 so we did the Team RWB run and then tacked on some extra. It was a beautiful night to run around the city and I felt really good.

Thursday–easy miles. Again, 4 on the schedule, but my friend needed 5 so what’s one more? Went up to North Park in the evening wearing a tank top and capris! So excited for that weather. I miss running in some heat. Loving having company for these Thursday night runs, makes them go much better.

Friday–kettlebell and warmup miles. Hit the treadmill because of the wind, but it was still a solid warmup mile. Foam rolled a little. Awesome class. 10 round ascending ladder (adding an exercise each round). I don’t always finish these, but today I did! I got through all 10 rounds! I’m really proud of my effort and how strong I’m getting.

Saturday–10 miles easy. Instead, I ran the Shamrock Shuffle half marathon in Harmony, PA. I like awful things, I really do. Ask my friends, I have a special place in my heart for the hilliest most awful races. Ogden is one of my favorites. Mill Creek is another favorite–I’ve had friends swear off both and ask what I see in them. But this race makes even me question my judgement. I remembered part way through why it’s been 5 years since I last did it–you need awhile to forget about it before you can go back. At any rate, I ran it with a couple of friends which made it much more bearable, enjoyed my jello shots, survived the freak snowstorm (hitting just as we were about to come down the most massive hill), and ended up with a 23 minute course PR! It wasn’t easy, to be sure, but I was definitely not racing. I wasn’t forcing pace (well…maybe a little at the end). I am so freaking proud of that race–I’m so much stronger than I used to be. I can’t get over it. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come and all the work I’ve put in to get here.

Sunday–8 recovery miles. Mentally I was not interested in running today. But we all know that wouldn’t stop me from doing it. Met up with my friends and got it done. Quads were trashed from the hills on Saturday but I still felt remarkably good while I was out there. Pace was solid, which made me really happy after the previous day’s workout. Just another sign of how much stronger I’m getting.

Word for this week–STRONG. I felt really good and really strong, and I can see my progress. Great feeling coming out of a cutback week, bring on the next 2 weeks of training!

On being an athlete…

Okay. Hard post to write, but lots to process, so here goes…

I really, really struggle with seeing myself as an athlete. I was a fat kid and have struggled with my weight and body most of my life. Even since I fell in love with running it hasn’t been easy, in fact it has complicated it even more in some ways. I’ll have spells where I’m good with myself and don’t give it a second thought, but ultimately I still see myself as a fat girl. By and large I’m to a point where I can say that I don’t care and mean it–I’ll run around the city in my sports bra because I don’t really care what other people think. If they don’t like my body they don’t have to look. They certainly can’t say anything to me that I haven’t said to myself a hundred times already that day.

This is one of the beliefs that holds me back the most, and it’s not something I can ignore, try as I might. A hundred times in a hundred different ways I’m confronted with the dissonance between my self-perception and reality. I reach for sizes or order race shirts that are too big because I can’t get it through my thick skull that I’m not as big as I used to be. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or see a picture and am caught off guard because it doesn’t match my usual self-critique. I frequently comment to my BRF that anyone who doesn’t know me wouldn’t think by looking at me that I work out at all, let alone as much and as hard as I do. He of course rolls his eyes and tells me (gently, of course) that I’m an idiot and to get over myself.

It is this very thing that smacked a little bit of reality into me a week or so ago. We have some new hires at work, and management does a little introduction game early on so they get to know us. The ice-breaker this round was Truth and a Lie. We had to present a truth and a lie about ourselves and see if they could guess which was which, without knowing us at all. So, armed with the belief that I don’t “look” like a runner, I said I was training for a 50-miler and have 2 dogs, sure they’d call the 50-miler the lie. They did not. Three people who have never seen me before and met me only moments earlier believed out the gate that I’m training for a 50-mile race. What the what?

So I’ve been wrestling with this demon for the past couple of weeks, trying to get my head around the fact my self-perception is so messed up. I know this is one of the things that holds me back as an athlete. I write myself off all the time, if only in my head, as being ‘pretty good for a fat girl’ or ‘kinda fast for a fat girl.’ But here I am training to run these crazy stupid distances and the unbelievable thing is the distances and why anyone would do that in the first place, NOT that *I* am doing it.

I’m working harder on shifting my self-perception to athlete. If people I don’t know from Adam can believe I’m an athlete, why shouldn’t I? I can honestly say that my keto-experiment (which I also need to update you on, but that’s another post) is coming from a pure place of athletic experimentation and not just an attempt to lose weight. I am LOVING this training cycle. I guess I just need to put it out there and be real about the ongoing struggle. One step forwards, two steps back. The little dance called life.

More soon, friends.

Training Recap–week 10

Damn. 10 weeks into this training cycle. Last week didn’t go as smoothly but was still a solid training week, miles in the bank, and inching closer to my goals.

Monday–rest day. 10/10, would do again. So thankful for my rest days this cycle.

Tuesday–Kettlebell and warmup mile. Pushed pace a little on my mile, foam rolled–something I’m trying to tie to my warmup mile habit to ensure I do it with some kind of regularity. Class was then some crazy bullshit (in a good way, of course) and I pushed heavy since my partner was back. Realized that I want to really work on squatting deeper with heavier weights–might need to go a little lighter until I get my form perfected to do it, but I think it will be worth the concentrated effort.

Wednesday–Speedwork, easy miles + pickups. Kept it on the treadmill, it was cold and I find it easy to do speedwork on the treadmill in the winter. 3 Easy miles at 12 (also my recovery pace for intervals), followed by 6 rounds of 1 min hard, 2 min easy. Hard pace was 8:34. That first minute is always a little bit of a shock to me, but after that I relax into it and trust my body to keep up. Thankful for the short bursts–not sure how long I could hold that pace, but I can do anything for a minute.

Thursday–5 miles easy Stairs at the Cathedral of Learning. Knowing that I got a little bored and frustrated with my last training cycle, coach told me at the outset that if I wanted to throw in stairs this go round–Thursdays were my best workout to swap out, and this week I finally took advantage of it. I LOVE doing the stairs at the Cathedral of Learning. 5x up the 34 flights in just about an hour (ever so slightly over). I really wanted 6, but I slowed down so much in my last round that I knew it would probably be a bad idea to go again. Next time…

Friday–Kettlebell and warmup mile. Got to run my warmup outside, followed by foam rolling. Another awesome class. Really digging the variety in the workouts and the warmups and cool downs. I know I’m getting a really good quality stretch session in at least once a week.

Saturday–22 miles easy 17 miles. Had some major GI distress during the run that just continued to get worse, so I cut it short instead of suffering even more. Really struggled with the decision, because I’m stubborn about hitting my numbers, but friends talked me down and ultimately I knew it was best to give my body time to sort itself out. (Definitely the right move, as I crashed HARD when I got home, didn’t sleep, but didn’t move much, which is abnormal for me even after a long run.)

Sunday–12 miles easy 5 miles. Felt a lot better so I headed out to run 12-14 with my friends. Body still wasn’t 100% though and had GI discomfort early so I called it at 5. Felt significantly better than Saturday though and was productive with the rest of my day. Hoping that I kicked whatever it was/is that is wreaking havoc.

Cutback week this week, so hopefully that will give my body adequate time and rest to recover from whatever the hell happened over the weekend. More soon, friends.

Training Recap–week 9

Solid training week. Crushed February with my highest mileage to date–150 mile month! March is about to get nuts if my very basic math is right…just hang tight for the ride.

Monday–Rest day.

Tuesday–KB class and warmup mile. Solid warm-up. KILLER class. Heavy deadlifts (oxymoron, I know, is there any other kind of deadlift?), squats to upright rows and dead swings (the dead swings killed me tonight, no idea why), then pushups, ropes, and a goblet squat-press-swing complex followed by some BS on the ropes. Love getting my ass kicked. <3

Wednesday–Marathon pace tempo run. Yes it was beautiful out and I ran on the treadmill. I sometimes get so laser focused on the Plan that I forget I am allowed to move things around if I want to. So I ran inside on the treadmill to make sure I could hit my pace. Not sorry though, it went well.

Thursday–7 easy miles. Needed 7.3 to hit 150 for the month, so that’s what I set out for. Went to North Park solo after work and it was a really solid run. I was in a zone. I ran parts of the course that I seldom run when I’m alone. Some GI distress that forced a couple breaks and some walking I wasn’t planning, but got it done and overall I’m really proud of how it went down.

Friday–KB class and warmup miles. Kept the warmup mile easy, just didn’t feel like pushing. Another great class. LOVE getting my ass kicked. About a thousand lunges (that I knew I would feel on Sunday’s run…). Need to invest in some of those cloth bands because they are the shiz.

Saturday–20 miles easy. Ran the first 10 with the big group, and I was totally feeling it. I pushed pace some on the group because I was just in the zone. Pushed pace on my friend for most of the next 5 miles though I was starting to fade. The final 5 by myself were rough, but I got through them. Longest run since 2017. I felt very strong and accomplished. I LOVE getting my distance back. This is truly my happy place.

Sunday–10 miles easy. Went to play in the woods with some friends for the first 6 miles. So much fun. BRF suggested it (even though he HATES trail) and even HE had fun. The weather was great, the trails were pretty perfect (aside from some majorly down trees from the recent wind storms–but you’ll have that). Legs felt good out there while we were running, but I could tell my quads were trashed when I tried to get out of the car. Still…I needed 4 more miles. So I gave my legs a break (as much of one as I could anyway) and finished the 4 on the treadmill several hours later.

My body is tired, bring on that rest day, but damn is my soul happy. More soon, friends.

Mind is racing

Another month done. 150 miles for February, highest mileage to date. It makes me so happy to have that monthly uptick. Three months in a row of 100+ mileage. I can’t wait to see my March mileage, it’s going to be sick…

Still short staffed at work. Working OT, making sure my crew hears me on the phones so they know I’m in the trenches too. Fingers crossed that the next round of new hires makes it through training and sticks with it. I’m cautiously optimistic. Random days off help a little, but I still have stuff I need to accomplish and I really miss that hour of my day. Always more to do. Trying hard to get and stay on my grind.

Toying with the idea of some other dreams and hustles, but now is not the time. An interesting message in today’s live for the moment culture. And it’s not about being ready–I may never be “ready”. And it’s not about “having time”–I may not ever “have” the time. But I can assure you, right now, I do not have the energy to make it happen, and I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I can do all things, but I do not have to do them all at once. I’m going to keep my ideas churning and build some momentum for myself behind the scenes.

Looking forward to running this weekend. My first of many 20 milers on Saturday and some trail with my friends on Sunday. More soon, friends.

Training Recap–Week 8

Last week was a cutback week. I used to hate them, but with the training volume lately I’ve grown to appreciate them. Much like my Monday rest days, I see their value, and my body very much needs the rest. You build strength when you’re recovering/sleeping/resting.

Monday–rest day

Tuesday–kettlebell with a very solid warm up mile. One big long form circuit that we repeated for the entire class. Good times.

Wednesday–speed workout on the treadmill. Went well. Love the feeling when I relax into the speed and it doesn’t feel terrible.

Thursday–easy miles. Went with two of my friends to the Pro Bike +Run run at North Park and had one of the best Thursday runs I’ve had in a long time. Not sure if I was better rested from being off work and having the cutback week (though the workouts leading up to this were basically the same as always) or if it was having company, but it was a really great run.

Friday–kettlebell with warmup mile. Got to warm up outside! yay! Great class with Mindy. I wish I could learn to trust myself with box jumps the way I do with speed on the treadmill. I can’t get out of my head enough to go for the higher boxes, even though I *know* I can jump high enough to clear it. *sigh* I’ll get there.

Saturday–used the Spring Thaw race as a training run with a medal. Only needed 10 miles. Ran them with my friend Lara and we had a blast–pushed pace for an easy run, though not racing either. Got to crew for BRF who was doing the full 20 miles, and make sure he was fed and hydrated appropriately at mile 15. Next to running, CREWing is one of my favorite things–even when I’m waiting outside in the cold…

Sunday–weather was supposed to be iffy, but I had 10 miles and did NOT want to run it on the treadmill. Most of my crew needed 4 recovery miles, Adrian needed 6. So I got (almost) 4 in early by myself, then met up with the rest of them to trek through the city before the wind came to sweep it away. It just started to pick up after Adrian and I got back to the garage. Excellent timing, but we also got to enjoy terrific temperatures (especially for February) and some blue sky over our city.

Picking up the mileage again this week. Love it so much. More soon, friends.

The Universe Knows…

I took yesterday off of work, I was supposed to take my CPR re-certification course as my personal training certification is up for renewal very soon and I need to get my credentials in order. Long story short–though I gave myself a more than reasonable amount of time to get to the city, park, and get to my class, parking in Pittsburgh is a pain and I ended up being too late to take the class. Womp Womp. Annoyed? Yes, but remarkably okay with it. I’d really been wanting/needing a mental health day that I’m far to stubborn to take, and I ended up getting it. I got some stuff done around the house, made some progress on my continuing ed course, and just got a nice mental break. Went for a run with my friends (though I would’ve done that if I’d gone to work). I’d slept in a little, had a good breakfast, I thought I had somewhere to go so I was dressed and out of the house, got a nice 2 mile walk in trying to make the class and heading back to my car, got some errands run…it was just a really good low key day.

Am I annoyed that I have to reschedule the course? Of course, its money wasted and another day off of work (because Saturdays are just not an option right now). It’s one more thing to do that I can’t cross off the list yet. But I also really needed yesterday. More than I probably realized at the time. I have time–even if my CPR cert lapses, you have to take the full course every time so I’ll be certified before I need to turn it in. It’s fine.

That run last night. Best. Thursday. Run. In. Weeks. I usually struggle on Thursday nights. My coach calls it my mental run–I’m tired, I don’t really want to do it, but I always do. I’m usually slow, struggling, by myself. Last night I had the chance to run with my friends and it was AWESOME. I pushed pace in a way that I seldom do alone. I felt really good. I had fun.

Looking forward to the weekend. Running. Some social events. Trying hard to balance this life out and enjoy it. More soon, friends…

Training Recap-week 7

Last week was less emotional, still a little stressful, but it seems like work might be calming down some, and that will be really nice. Still battling my own demons, but had some really great workouts and that always helps.

Monday–Rest Day

Tuesday–Kettlebell and warmup mile. Solid warmup mile, then some crazy Sean circuits including at 600+ pound prowler push. I did it! Only once, because honestly there was always a wait for it and I didn’t want to have the down time in my workout. So I worked with the slightly lighter one, but knowing that I can (and did!) push the heavier one was the highlight of my day.

Wednesday–Tempo Run. The intervals felt tough tonight. I was thankful for Netflix to distract me.

Thursday–Easy run. Took advantage of primo weather and ran outside around Oakmont. Thursday runs are usually on the slower side for me, I’m usually by myself and I’m tired so I don’t push much, I just go by feel.

Friday–Kettlebell and warmup mile. Pushed pace on my warmup mile. Excellent class with Mindy. Her classes are sleepers–they never look that bad on paper but leave you questioning your life choices. Fun circuits with things I like and things that I haven’t done much or at all. Highlight–learning to double snatch!

Saturday–Easy run. Switched my ‘recovery’ mileage to Saturday as I was working an OT shift and had to miss the group run. Didn’t get it done until the late evening on the treadmill, but I did it. Treated it as an easy paced progression run starting at a 5.0 on the treadmill and bumping the pace up each mile.

Sunday–Long run. Ran with Adrian and D for the first 15 of my 18. Love love love running through the city. Ran all the way up Liberty hill without stopping, and all the way up the hill to the 31st street bridge! Kinda fell apart once I split from my friends, but got the miles done. Longest run in over a year. Feels really good to be getting these numbers back. This run put me over 100 miles for February so far, so gotta love that.

Cutback this week, and my body is ready for a little bit of a break. More soon, friends.