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.

Tired

The feeling of the week is tired. We’re behind at work, so that means OT. We can use the money, but I do have hard limits–I can’t start earlier due to both their timing restrictions and the nature of my job, and I won’t stay late because that’s when I work out and my training is too important to me. So I work through my lunch break. Damn I never realized how much I need that time away from my desk to re-charge. I’ve been skipping it for that precious OT–not just because we could use the money (my racing habit and new house are not cheap) but also because I want to help out, I’m in management and if I want others to pony up then I feel like I should be doing it too. It’s starting to take its toll on me. I rearranged my weekend runs so I could take the Saturday shift they are offering (again, good showing for management to be there, even though one of my leads is able to come in) and I know that I’m seldom able to come if offered in the future because of races and whatnot. Mentally, though, I’m drained. Hopefully this weekend (and the bank holiday on Monday) will go a long way towards getting us caught up and giving me a reprieve.

I’m not whining or complaining. I’m not playing the martyr. I’m making a conscious decision to work the OT. I could say no. I could take my lunch break (and pretty soon, I probably will). I’m choosing it because the extra income would be nice right now and we don’t have OT offered all that often. Just like I make the conscious decision to train hard, and I make the conscious decision to get up early to write and study. I own that these are my choices and in effect, I’m doing this all to myself. I just need to find some way to recharge. I’m thankful for my workouts because they’ve taken care of the stress element–I’m VERY glad to go run or throw around kettlebells after my shift. I’m also very glad that I’m coming up on a cutback week (what? did *I* just say that?) because I think a little bit of rest will be good for my body (even though I feel good and it’s going well).

I’m hanging in there. I’m tired, but I’m hanging in. All things are temporary, I’ll get through this. I get a little extra sleep tomorrow morning, I get to run with friends on Sunday (thank goodness, I *really* didn’t want to do all 18 miles alone). It will all work out. Staying the course for now and taking the small victories and moments where I can. Thanks for listening to my rambles.

More soon friends. Happy weekend.

Training Recap–week 6

Training is my happy place these days. Not every workout is perfect, but it’s the part of my life that is going smoothly. I’m so glad to be back doing what I really love.

Monday–REST DAY. Have I mentioned how much I appreciate my rest days this time around? I really appreciate them. I love the grind, but my body is so ready for the rest. I don’t hurt or ache really, but I’m definitely fatigued.

Tuesday–got to run my warmup mile outside for a change thanks to a break in the weather. Class was a killer–got tricked into using the black bell (26kg) for 4 rounds of an intense circuit, and lived to tell the tale. It was ugly, but I did it.

Wednesday–speedwork. It was nice out, but I turned to the treadmill. Had a really lousy day and wanted to make sure I would hit my paces (which I’m really sure I would not have outside). I’m glad I did, this was a really solid run.

Thursday–easy miles. It was NOT nice out, it was pouring rain. I had a rough week and so I ran outside anyway. It was really good for me. Cut it a mile short because my stomach was bothering me, but while I was out there it felt good. Didn’t feel as cleansing as I’d hoped, but I felt very strong for being the crazy out there running in the rain.

Friday–solid warmup mile and my last KB class with Kristi. Killer deck of cards workout, gonna miss those. Very thankful that I can work with the trainer that is taking over on Fridays–all of the trainers are excellent but not all of them are good for my personal efforts.

Saturday–long run. Half Marathon Kickoff training run. THIS is one of my favorite runs. Can’t really explain it, but I seriously love this day as much as I hate the Marathon Kickoff. Got there early and did my extra miles so I could finish it off with my friends. BRF paced the 11:30s which I did a decent job keeping up with (avg. pace was a little slower for me but no biggie). And I ran all the way up Forbes without stopping! I’ve never done that, and I had no idea that Saturday was going to be the day. Hopefully I can pull that off during the marathon. 16 very solid miles. Loving that my average pace is improving without me trying that hard on my long runs.

Sunday–met up with my friends again for my recovery run. I’m so thankful for my RunCrew. I know that I would’ve struggled with this run if I’d been alone (I was in a rough place mentally/emotionally going in), but instead I enjoyed it.

That about sums up last week. Resting today then back to the grind. More soon.

Feelings Friday

It’s been a very rough week. There is a lot going on in my world–though not to me personally. Things that aren’t my stories to share, so I won’t, but it’s bordering on too much as it compounds all at once. I’m okay, though, I’m hanging on, and hoping the weekend will bring some resolution.

Workout game is strong–I’ve needed the release. Last night I ran in the rain. I wanted to. I looked forward to it even. It wasn’t as cleansing as I’d hoped, I didn’t come out of it feeling clean and renewed with my worries washed away. I came out of it feeling strong. It was dark (I got a later start than I’d wanted/planned), I’m lit up with my headlamp and noxgear vest. And I have the streets/sidewalks basically to myself. I know the passing cars think I’m crazy for being out, I got splashed a few times, the wind pelted me as I ran across the bridge–but I kept going. I didn’t stop. Nothing could take me down. It was warm enough that the rain felt good and I was in a remarkably good place while I was out there. I needed that.

My anxiety is messing with me some–I care too much. I internalize things. Its how I’m wired. And while I work to control how I respond to things, I honestly wouldn’t change the fact that I feel deeply. I would rather learn to deal with the negative feelings because it means that I also get to experience the good things. I would rather give until it hurts than pretend I don’t care at all. Tough times are temporary, I’m holding out hope that things will get worked out how they are supposed to. All I can do is my best, battle the anxiety with facts (because it is spinning some LIES right now), and manage my self-care so I have something to give to the people who need me.

Sorry for the rambles. It’s what I got today. More soon, friends.

Training Week 5 Recap

Last week was another solid training week. First off, I am loving my rest days this cycle. I love the hard work of training, but my body is happy to have a day off to recover after 5-6 days of grinding. I did skip my Tuesday class last week (*sad*) because my hamstrings were tight and it was affecting my knees, and I wanted to be able to get my runs in. Class, from past experience, could have helped or made it worse, so I erred on the side of caution.

Wednesday and Thursday Pittsburgh was thrown into the Polar Vortex, so I got up and did my Wednesday run on the treadmill before work. Knee was doing better after some quality time with Orange Spiky (my favorite and most terrifying roller) the previous day. I ran fasted and it went remarkably well. I’ve not had much success running fasted in the past, and I wouldn’t do it running outside, at least not without a little more experimenting. But an occasional treadmill run is worth experimenting with.

Thursday I did my 5 on the treadmill again after work, then realized I only needed 1/2 a mile to hit 130 miles for the month, so you know I went back to the treadmill and ran another half mile. 130 miles in the month of January. Unreal. Loving this ultra journey. Solid run, nothing remarkable except my cumulative mileage.

Kettlebell and warmup mile on Friday. Very nice warmup mile, and really solid class. Even bumped up weight in the last round of the circuit. I felt really strong.

Saturday was my longest run in over a year. I’m really struggling with the Saturday group runs with all the stopping and starting and breaking up the mileage, so I wanted to do this as close to unbroken as I could. I ran with BRF and another friend out at North Park–not my favorite place to run, but I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to keep stopping. The run went really well. I was strong and pretty consistent. Did start getting fatigued near the end, but held it together well. Spent some QT with the BRF after the run, grabbing lunch and checking out the new Pro Bike + Run location (heavy emphasis on the Bike…). Pittsburgh was thawing out, but not when I was running-temp was between 9 and 12 when we got started.

Sunday, I got up at the crack of dawn to run with some friends. 10 solid miles in the city. 33 degree starting temps felt like a heatwave after the rest of the week. Felt really good during most of the run, though fatigue started to catch me near the end. Definitely felt more sore after the run (and some quality couch time with my cat) so I’m glad I have a rest day. Need to work on more solid recovery practices–this has always been my weakness.

I am LOVING this ultra journey. Loving. The high mileage makes me so ridiculously happy. I feel good going into each run, and for the most part I’m recovering well and quickly.

My N=1 experiment…

So I’ve been experimenting with something for the past month. Quietly, haven’t shared it with many people (until very recently) because I didn’t want it to be a *thing*. I don’t do things because they are popular, I’m not jumping on some bandwagon, I was just genuinely curious.

I’ve been following a Keto diet.

Super controversial right now, especially since Jillian Michaels recently lost her shit about it. I didn’t want to talk about it or draw attention to it. I’m not going to proselytize or loudly complain about things I “can’t” have (it’s ridiculous…I can have whatever I want, I’m making a conscious choice. Why would I complain?). But I’ve heard some compelling things in documentaries and podcasts that made me curious. This isn’t just a diet or quick fix to drop a few pounds (though if that happens, I’m never going to complain). As someone embarking on serious endurance training, I’ve heard about the potential benefits for endurance athletes and it made too much sense to me not to at least try it out and see.

The basic gist of why I tried it, why it makes sense to me: the human body can only store so much glycogen–after a couple of intense hours of exercise, this is used up, and it becomes harder to replace it as you continue to go on–if you can’t stay on top of it (and very few can), you bonk (also known as the dreaded “wall” in a marathon). Even if you do manage to keep up on it, the amounts of sugar and fast-acting carbs you need to ingest, particularly over the course of an ultramarathon, will wreak havoc with most people’s digestive systems (runner’s trots). If you’re fat adapted (which is what happens when you’re consistently in ketosis), you’ll still require some outside fuel (especially in ultra scenarios) but the human body–even the leanest athletes–have enough stored fat to work through to avoid the dreaded bonk. So even if you can’t or don’t fuel at exactly the perfect intervals you can continue moving.

So I’ve been playing with this since the beginning of the year. I’ve managed to stay between 20-50 grams of carbs a day most of the time (I tend to go slightly over around my long runs, but haven’t noticed any negative impact from that). I’ve noticed that I can go longer and farther during my runs without fueling, or with significantly less than before. I used to take a gel about every 5 miles (about 1 hour), for any runs over 6 miles (I might take it earlier than 5, but you get the idea). I’ve gone 10 miles without any additional fuel without a performance drop. My last 15 miler, instead of the full 3-chew serving twice during the run, I took 2 chews at a time twice during the run. I’ve done training runs with just a few sips of gatorade in the middle miles and nothing else but water. And I feel good. It’s not perfect, I’m still working out the kinks and figuring it out, but by and large I plan to stick with it and see how it goes. I’ve lost about 10 pounds (again, not my main reason for doing it, but as someone chasing racing weight I will never complain), and honestly, despite how much I love carbs (and I do…) I don’t really miss them. It’s not like I’m saying “never again” to carbs. I had a beer during the hockey game the other day. I will eventually have real pizza again, though I’ve perfected my cauliflower crust and I’m digging it. And on race days anything goes–whatever sounds good I’ll go for. But as long as my training is going smoothly, and I feel good, and it seems to be having the desired effects, I might as well keep this up.

I never imagined this would be something that I would try and like. The idea of “giving up carbs” was foreign to me. I don’t miss them though–I made stroganoff with zucchini noodles last week, and it was amazing. I preferred the zucchini noodles, they gave it a richer flavor. Like I said, my cauliflower pizza crust is pretty near perfect at this point, and while I miss the convenience of having someone else make my post-run pizza, I don’t feel deprived. It’s a little more work (okay, a LOT more work) but I’m not coming home and crashing after my long runs (like I used to) so I don’t even mind it.

Again, I’m not proselytizing, you do what works for you. But this has been working for me and I wanted to share it since I’m a month in. Long run tomorrow–my longest in over a year and I’m really looking forward to it. Training recap on Monday. Happy weekend, friends! More soon

Training Recap: Week 4

This was a really really solid week of training. I hit every work out. Three of four runs were outside, which is always a good week in my life. Pro Bike + Run group run on Wednesday was great–warmer weather than we’ve had with a slightly different route. I crushed (most of) the hills. Saturday’s run was in cold and blowy snow, so it was slow going but I got it done. Flew solo due to a commitment in the morning, though the group run was cancelled anyway. Flopped my mileage so I could run my longer miles with people on Sunday. Explored a new to me rail trail and it was great! So happy to have somewhere else to run closer to home.

I’m trying to be mindful of my weights in KB classes and choose bells that are still challenging, even though I’m running a lot. 1) I want to be stronger. That happens when you challenge yourself. 2) Ultras are made on tired legs. If I’m going into my runs a little sore and/or fatigued it will only prepare me for the challenge that lies ahead of me. (That said, there is a huge difference between being a little sore and fatigued and being really sore and fatigued…keeping my schedule as is and keeping an eye on who is filling in so I don’t completely wreck my runs…)

I’m over 100 miles for the month already, and I still have a few more runs left. I LOVE this! I’ve grown to really appreciate my rest day, and when I tried a runstreak it did not end well for me. But I feel like a streak of 100+ mile months is something fun to shoot for, and will be easy this year.

I’m recovering really well from the runs/workouts. Fatigued and ready for my rest day? Definitely. Sore? Not too much. I might be done by the end of a run, but the next day I usually am ready to go back out. Distance really is my happy place. I feel really good and I think I’m built for this ultra-life. Bigger mileage starting this weekend and I’m kinda pumped to see how it plays out. I have my long run distances mapped out through my first ultra for the year, so I’ve started to see when I can schedule races around them to make it more interesting. I also need to start comparing them to the scheduled group runs to see how I can get the extra miles I’ll need.

So another successful week in the books. More soon, friends.

A good place…

My intention for my Friday posts is for them to be more personal, less training focused (though I’m me, so everything kind of comes back to running eventually…). I got away from that in the past year and I think that if I’d done more of it and processed the stuff I was working through I would’ve worked through it better than keeping it under wraps and just bugging my people with it. I’m in a good place right now. Things are starting to come together. I’m absolutely LOVING my training–the increased mileage agrees with me. I’m already at 100 miles for the month and I still have a week left! I’ve had some really good, solid runs lately.

Don’t get me wrong. My anxiety is coming out to play to be sure, but it’s much easier to beat it back. Still working on my time management and getting it all done, but that’s getting better too. Working on getting back to my racing weight, and I’m making real progress in that arena as well. Social anxiety gets me still–trying to make plans with friends, things that get me out of routine stress me out. But I have enough clarity at this point that I know I’m overreacting, that I’m being unhealthy about it and I can kind of force myself through to prove it’s not such a big deal. A skipped workout isn’t that big of a deal. A dietary indulgence isn’t the end of the world. I’m trying to strike the ever elusive balance and not get too caught up in anything. In effect, that’s part of what I’m loving about this round of training–with very little emphasis on speed or pace I get to just enjoy it. My watch isn’t ruling me (funny that I upgraded when I’m obsessing over it less, but hey, cest la vie), it’s just a tool.

Things are good, and I don’t have much more to say, so I’m going to close out for now. I’ll check in again soon.