Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Training Week 4 / Whole30 Week 1 Update

This was my fourth week of working with Coach Matt, so it was a planned cutback week.  This corresponded with a conference at work (read: 11-14 hour days at the office) and the first week of the Whole30 (read: lethargy!), so I was really grateful for the lower intensity and mileage.

There's not too much to say about this week, except I ran four times for a total of 27 mi and had no time for cross training (no lifting or yoga).  The only notable workout was the last one - 7mi with a timed 4miler in the middle.  The 4mi was a little interesting though.  The plan called for 3.5mi hard, with 0.5mi easier during the workout (to practice recovering and surging).  I could choose where to put that easier 0.5mi, but I was not supposed to make it 4 straight tempo miles...but I was supposed to time the entire thing.

I was really anxious going into this on Saturday morning.  The rest of my week had been total crap.  I'd been running S.L.O.W.L.Y. at 4am before the conference started.  Switching to the Whole30 made me exhausted, cranky, and in major need of a sugar fix.  I was running the warm up and thinking about all the excuses - tired, overworked, worn high heels  yadda yadda yadda.  Excuses, excuses.

I got to the trail to start the workout and realized that I just had to let it go.  I would time this 4miler and whatever came out of it would be just fine.  I decided to find a "hard but sustainable" pace for the first mile and planned to just work to get faster than that (whatever that was) as the miles went on. 

2mi warm up, including 6 x 20 sec strides - 9:44, 8:20
4mi - 28:46 (7:11 pace)
1:           7:15
1-1.5:     7:13 pace
1.5-2:     8:19 pace (rest interval)
2-3:        6:53
3-4:        6:47
1.2 mi cooldown
And it felt great!  Sure, it was hard.  I haven't run consecutive miles in the 6:50's since my 5k PR in 2011!  But it felt GOOD to work that hard.  I was pushing right up again my capability with that last mile.
As for the Whole30....well, it's going.  It's actually not bad or terribly hard when we are eating at home.  We've cleared the house of things we shouldn't eat, and we are both familiar enough with paleo rules and recipes to make some delicious food....
Grilled seafood and veggies with PaleOMG sweet potato & chive biscuits

NomNomPaleo's Kahlua pork, baked sweet potato and green beans

But I went out of town to visit my parents for Easter and that was HARD.  My mom keeps candy in bowls all around the house!  But worse than that was eating out.  I tried so hard to remain compliant, but things snuck in.  For example, I found a compliant meal at Panera, only for them to add pesto to it which was not compliant...but I didn't realize until I'd already eaten it.  I also ordered a baked sweet potato at dinner only to take a bite and find out they'd added sugar to it.  I scraped it away, but I really struggled mentally with what that meant for that "failure"?

Patrick and I talked about it and he reminded me that we are just doing this for our own edification and to become better athletes.  There's no need for me to freak out about messing up something that I am doing alone, for myself.  I don't have anything to prove.  I messed up accidentally but I stopped as soon as I realized it, so the only thing for me to do is move on.  It's not like I fell face first into a cookie jar or intentionally chose to deviate from the plan.  So I'm still calling this "Day 8."

I will admit...we struggled like CRAZY yesterday.  We were both having the most intense sugar cravings.  It was ridiculous.  But with the help of some dried fruit and almond butter, we didn't kill each other or eat an entire pint of ice cream, although Patrick kept saying he wanted to punch people in the face (haha).  Fortunately, I think I've turned a corner at least.  It's a little early for "Tiger Blood" (that's supposed to be Day 16), but I've been insanely productive today! I hope this means things are looking up.  I'm ready to start seeing some results! 

Am I the only person who feels like cutback weeks are the most sluggish weeks?  I'm actually looking forward to hard training again.

Any good Whole30 recipe suggestions?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Confession Time

I've been debating whether or not to post about this.  A while ago, I wrote about how I was going to give up sugar and wine for Lent.

Confession?  That didn't happen.  I didn't even have a good reason for not doing it.  I just didn't want to, so I didn't.  I ate less of it, sure...but I definitely didn't give it up.  Things sort of continued along just the way they had been going in that department.

Recently, Patrick and I have decided to give something a little different - and a little the same - a try.  We are doing a Whole30.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it's basically 30 days of this:

That's cheese, no chocolate, no grains, no wine.  Yikes.  Patrick's gym is doing this together, so at least we're not alone!

I'm sure everyone who reads this is wondering the obvious question.  Why??

The Whole30 claims to do a lot of things for people, but Patrick and I are particularly interested in a few things.  Let's do a list, because that's easy and I'm lazy.  I haven't had sugar in four days and I'm tired.

1) Improved health, specifically in the form of allergy mitigation, improved thyroid function, and clearer skin.  Patrick has been getting totally rocked by allergies this spring and, as I've discussed here before, I use diet to control hypothyroidism.  Dairy, sugar and gluten have all been reported to exacerbate allergies, so hopefully this will give Patrick some relief without the loopy Sudafed-induced feeling.  Speaking of my thyroid, I've actually been experimenting with introducing some foods back into my diet to see how they affect my thyroid function. I have a sneaking suspicion that this may be contributing to the recent weight gain, but I am waiting to get bloodwork results back next month before jumping to any conclusions. Either way, I've had the blood drawn, so I am now hoping that this dietary change will improve functionality going foward.  Finally, I've been noticing lately that my face is breaking out more often lately...and it seems to be triggered by sugar.  Maybe this will fix it?

2) Weight Loss.  Ok, ok, I admit...I'm vain.  But I have also gained weight over the winter and I dislike it.  Plus, I will run better and faster if I can shed these extra pounds.  Which leads me to the next point....

3) Improved Athletic Performance.  The Whole30 claims that it will provide greater energy, better athletic performance, and improved endurance.  My next race is just a few days after these 30 days, so I think it's worthwhile to test it out!  My "A" goals are this fall, so I should do the experimenting this spring. 

4) Changed Mindset.  I think this is the biggest thing I'm hoping to get out of the Whole30.  In the last couple of months, I've developed some bad habits.  I work at a desk and it can be boring, even if I'm busy.  I spend a lot of time researching and writing...and snacking.  I snack pretty much all day.  This boredom-eating has trickled into other areas of my life.  I want dessert when I'm stressed, when I'm happy, when I'm tired, when it's get the picture.  Even in just the last few days, I've become more aware of how often I was doing that. 

We are day 4 right now and I had a dream about donuts last night.  I don't even like donuts!  Apparently I have a sugar dragon.

Anyways, I have no intention of blogging my Whole30 meals every day or documenting my daily updates.  I'm sure no one wants to read that and 'ain't nobody got time for that!'  But this will affect my training and energy levels in the coming weeks, and this is a running blog, so it seemed relevant.  I may post some good recipes though, since we will be cooking a lot in the coming weeks!

Have you ever done a Whole30?  Did it make you want to inhale an entire jar of frosting (because that's what I want right now)? 

Spring Training Recap: Week 3

Third quality week in a row and it was definitely starting to catch up with me...

Monday:  Rest


AM:  9mi with 30min @ tempo pace (avg. 8:31) + 0.4mi cool down walk

Ouch, ouch, ouch.  But I nailed every interval during this workout!  The mental benefits from this workout far outweighed the physical, as I practiced staying with hard things.

PM:  60min strength training

Lots of KB work, plus the usual bicep curls, presses, deadlifts and abs.


AM:  5 recovery miles (10:00 pace)

I was rocked after Tuesday...this was a slow slog before work in the morning.  At least the weather was finally cooperating and it was beautiful out.

PM:  75min hot yoga  


AM:  5 miles (9:11 pace)

Finally feeling a little better after Tuesday!  Nothing much to say about this...just easy miles before work.


AM:  75min hot yoga

I was so ready for this rest day.  This was a lot of hip and back needed.  We also worked on breathing with and through the poses, which is good practice for me, especially after Tuesday.


AM:  13mi long run (8:48 avg pace) + 0.4mi cool down walk

Rested!  This ended up being a great run.  The training plan had no time goals or objectives for me, so I got to run by feel on a beautiful, warm, sunny morning.  I started slowly, around a 9:30 pace and slowly worked my way down to the low's 8's.  It was just downright enjoyable.

I also got in a little cross training with bocce ball and frisbee golf in the afternoon. :)


AM:  4.5 mi trail run (12:02 pace) + 0.5mi cool down walk

 Easy 4.5 mi on the Bull Run trail with Patrick...such a great, relaxing weekend.

TOTAL: 9 hours, 36 minutes

36.5mi running (5:41)
1.3 mi walking (0:25)
1 x strength training (1:00)
2 x hot yoga (2:30)


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Open Season

Camping season, that is!

I checked the weather on Wednesday and was shocked to see that it was going to be 80* this weekend (it snowed two weeks ago!).  I immediately called Patrick and suggested camping.  Of course, he was in.  He's always in for camping.

Saturday morning, post-long run, we loaded up the car and headed out to Bull Run Park for a weekend of friends, frisbee golf, campfires, s'mores and trail running. It was the perfect impromptu get-away weekend...

I never said we were "good" at frisbee golf.

Gorgeous Sunday morning trail run with the bluebells in bloom!

Friday, April 11, 2014

On Staying With Things...

Let me tell you about a workout...perhaps the worst, most painful, gut-wrenching, wind-sucking workout that I've had in, oh I don't even know how long. 


It seemed fairly innocuous on Tuesday.  It had the usual warm up and cooldown sandwiching 30min of hard, progressive running broken into 5minute descending increments.  The paces didn't seem too hard - working from 7:45-7:20.  Considering I rocked last weekend's long run, finishing up with a 7:01 mile, I felt pretty cocky. 

To be fair, Coach Matt warned me.  My training plan said:

This workout might be super hard or not too bad.  
Within training you know you get crapshoot days where nothing is really 100%...
I knew that I wasn't 100% during the first 3miles of the warm up.  My legs were tired, heavy.  I wanted to just run home and go back to bed.  But  I'd already woken up early to get it done before my 9am meeting.  So I figured, I might as well do it...and practice running on tired legs, right?

1-5minutes (7:44 pace): "This isn't so bad, right?  I can do this.  I can always do this.  Hang tough."

5-10minutes (7:42 pace):  "Faster?  Ok, but just a little bit.  Only 25 more minutes. You can do anything for 25 minutes.  Oh god, this is really starting to hurt."

10-15minutes (7:35 pace): "OH.GOOD.GOD.HATE.LIFE."  Sucking wind, gasping, arms all over the place.  "Seriously, 2 more minutes at this pace??  And then faster?? Don't think about faster.  Uurrrrrghhh."

15-20minutes (7:30 pace):  "It was a slight uphill before so this should be less painful, right?  Focus, focus.  Why does my Garmin say that??  It has to be lying.  I cannot be going that slow.  Speedupspeedupspeedup."

20-25minutes (7:27 pace): "Breathebreathebreathe.  He told me to pump my arms and land midfoot when  I got tired.  Holy crap, how am I supposed to do that?  Am I picking up the cadence??"

25-30minutes (7:10 pace):  "Almost done.  Focus.  Oh god, can I just die here?  How is this still not fast enough?!?!"  Dead sprint to the end...where I promptly sat on the curb and sucked wind with my head between my knees. 

Jogging home for a few cool down miles, I had some time to think about why this was so rough.  This is the third week of solid, increasing mileage and training, which Coach Matt was obviously anticipating...but I also ran last weekend's long run too fast and I was still recovering and paying for it.  Ouch.  That'll teach me to blow off some 7min/miles during a long run just for fun.

But to be honest, that's just part of it - the physical part.  While talking running with a friend on Wednesday night, she mentioned that she doesn't like to hurt when she's running.  And I realized that I am simply out of practice with being in pain.  I don't mean injury pain. I mean the gut-wrenching, wind-sucking, I-hate-my-life feeling you get in the middle of a hard tempo workout...the pain that actually is making you better, if you can just ride it out, if only you can breathe through it and get to the other side. 

The ability to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, to breathe through a yoga pose or hard tempo workout, is a skill.  It's a learned skill, acquired through nothing but good, old-fashioned practice.  So while this workout made me want to crawl under my desk and nap, it also was a great workout.  Despite everything, I hit of those goal paces.  More than the physical benefits, this was about getting my mental game back...about going to that pain place and being willing to stay.  To see what happened.  To see if I could do it.  To see what it would do for me if I could just.stay.with it. 

This right here is why I run, why I do tempo runs at 5am in the dark, while I run hills in the snow and heat, why I toe the start lines - simply to see what happens if I stay with it.  How does it change me, physically and mentally?  How fast can I go?  How far? 

Of course, the downside to this process is that it's slow.  Painfully, sometimes unnoticeably slow.  The kind of slow where you're not really sure anything is happening.  You put in the workouts, you suck wind and lift your knees high.  You stretch before and after workouts, you fuel within the golden hour window.  You do and do and do and don't see results right away.  But I'm a big believer that, if I just trust the process, if I stay with it, results will come. 

And if I'm really lucky, they'll come by race day on May 18.