My last week of training (10/11-10/17)

On Wednesday, Pete had me do a 6×1500 meter repeat workout at Bass Lake. Tyler was doing the same session but as he is incredibly race sharp (46:47 for 10 miles 2 weeks ago) and much fitter than I am currently, I did the session on my own. The goal of the workout was to run each 1500 meter segment faster than the previous one. It was a fairly windy day along the Aqueduct portion of the lake so the times would be a bit slower had conditions been perfect (more on the wind later). Here’s how it went:

6×1500 meter, 2 minutes rest:

  1. 4:46
  2. 4:45
  3. 4:41
  4. 4:39
  5. 4:36
  6. 4:39

2×400, no set rest:

  1. 67 seconds
  2. NT

Overall it was a good session. My legs felt way better than the week before and even though I got tossed around a bit in the wind, it was still solid. And while I was “fighting” the wind, Tyler apparently didn’t notice it at all! He ended up having probably the greatest 1500 meter repeat workout of anyone in ZAP history. He ran somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:25 down to 4:16…on dirt…into the wind! I guess when you’re really fit nothing really bothers you and the ground just floats along underneath you! Watch out for him at the Pittsburgh 10 Miler and the US 12k Champs!

Now for some bad news…Towards the end of the Wednesday session my left ankle got quite sore to the point where the cool down was mostly a limp. I didn’t think much of it as I often get various bumps and bruises from all the miles I put in. The next morning Tyler and I got in an easy 90 minute run and I could barely move the first 20 or so minutes my ankle hurt so much. I decided to take Saturday off and get my long run in on Sunday to see if a day off would help alleviate any of the pain.

Well, on Sunday my boys team was playing in Winston-Salem so I did my long run at Salem Lake. Salem is a great 7 mile rolling loop where I did many of my first tempo runs while at High Point. To make a long story short, it was an incredibly painful 15 miles. My ankle ached the entire time and there were large portions of the run where it felt as if my plantar fascia tendon was torn (I know what this feels like because it happened to me in 2011).

Salem Lake in Winston Salem, NC.
Salem Lake in Winston Salem, NC.

Suffice it to say, I left Salem Lake depressed. I have no idea what is going on in my ankle/foot but I know that it doesn’t feel right. I have had lots of minor tweaks through the years yet the pain currently radiating through my ankle is something I am not that exactly familiar with. Perhaps a bone spur? Some residual cartilage damage from years of running? A re-injury on my talus bone where I had a small surgery back in 2009? Maybe even a torn plantar?

I have been faced with my fair share of injuries during my ZAP career and although they are never fun I am NEVER one to wallow in self pity. I want to find out what the issue is ASAP so that if surgery or some outside intervention is needed I can do it without wasting weeks waiting for something to heal. After returning home from Winston-Salem on Sunday I immediately got an MRI scheduled. Luckily through the help of ZAP friends I found myself driving to Asheville, NC last night to get a scan.

Not where I wanted to be on Monday night!
Not where I wanted to be on Monday night!

Please think positive thoughts as I will find out my results tomorrow evening! The Olympic Trials are less than 4 months away and I can promise everyone reading this that I will toe the line for that race no matter what. Injuries happen and however long I end up being out I will keep my eyes on February 13. My goals have NOT changed in the slightest.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (10/11-10/17):

Sunday: AM: 16 miles

Monday: AM: 7 miles  PM: 5 miles

Tuesday: AM: 13 miles   PM: 4 miles

Wednesday: AM: 13 miles (6×1500, 2×400)

Thursday: AM: 13 miles

Friday: AM: 11 miles (8×20 sec)  PM: 5 miles

Saturday: OFF, ankle/foot F-ed up

Total: 87 miles, 9 runs


Slow and Steady

The last few weeks have been filled with lots of easy aerobic running as I try to get my iron levels back up. The previous 3 weeks were mostly unenjoyable but last week I think my increase in iron is starting to take effect as most of my runs felt good. My long run for the week was in Winston Salem, NC at Salem Lake because my U12 girls soccer team had a tournament in town. Salem Lake is a 7 mile rolling loop with each mile marked. It is a great place for a long run as the ups are pretty moderate in comparison to Moses Cone but those ups are followed with downhills that allow you to really roll over the second half of the run once your body is warmed up.

I was not planning on running particularly fast based on the previous 20 days of trudging along, but my body surprised me with some good energy. I ran the first mile of my long run in 7:45 but completed the first 7 mile loop in 47:30(6:47 avg.). Let this be a lesson to anyone reading this: starting your runs slow is very important! In every other sport you warm up so why would running be any different? Hitting the ground running your prescribed “pace” from the first step is both uncomfortable and can lead to injury if something is already tight going in! Your body will be much more able to run faster at the end if you allow the first few miles to be as slow as your body needs.

On my second 7 mile loop I ran 51:50 (5:58 avg.) and then finished up the last 5 miles ranging from 5:40 down to 5:24. It was a great run considering my last month and it felt pretty controlled until the last mile or so. The rest of the week was similar in that my legs felt fairly fresh and I enjoyed all the runs. I am retesting my iron next week and am excited for the next few months. Pete and I have sat down and talked about what my revised racing schedule will look like in June and July. I plan to run Litchfield Hills Road Race on June 8, Grandma’s Half Marathon on June 21, and Peachtree Road Race on July 4. I may add another race or two but that’s the plan for now!

Here is my last week of training (4/27-5/3):

Sunday: AM: 19 miles (Salem Lake)  PM: walk

Monday: AM: 7 miles   PM: 5 miles

Tuesday: AM: 12 miles  PM: 5 miles

Wednesday: AM: 12 miles

Thursday: AM: 13.5 miles

Friday: AM: 9.5 miles   PM: 8 miles

Saturday: AM: 11 miles

Total: 102 miles, 1o runs

“Men of Destiny”

Recently I started reading “The Last American Man” by Elizabeth Gilbert (of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame) where she profiles Eustace Conway, a man who left home at seventeen to move into the Appalachian Mountains, where for the last 20 years he has lived, providing for himself solely off of the land. Conway lives on land he named “Turtle Island” (not far from ZAP actually) with the romantic, ambitious, and often crazy idea that his destiny in life is to convince modern Americans to give up their materialistic lifestyles and return with him back to nature.

I have only just begun the book but a quote stuck out to me that I think loosely relates to my running aspirations. Eustace’s mother would often tell her son at an early age that he was a “Man of Destiny” with great things in his future. This idea came by way of her frontier-thinking father, C. Walter Johnson, who said the following on what it meant to become a “Man of Destiny:”

“Every age has need for Men of Destiny and in every age, some men will respond to the need…These men believed they were Men of Destiny, and prepared themselves for the task that lay ahead. They were gripped by a compulsion that they could not resist. No man becomes a Man of Destiny unless he believes, with great conviction, that he has a unique contribution to make to the society of his day. Conceit? No! Just a sense of mission and the courage to follow through. He who is compelled by an inner conviction that he has a mission that he must accomplish, that he was born for this purpose, that he must and will follow through; that man will be a Man of Destiny.”

How about that for some inspiration?! I think the pursuit of trying to make Olympic and World Championship teams requires a mindset like Johnson discusses above. I believe you must approach your training with a sense that you are doing something you were made for, something you are compelled to do without fully knowing why you are doing it. I love the romantic idea that an inner conviction is urging and fueling me to work hard everyday. An inner voice is screaming inside me as I push, push, push through all the hard miles. Now, the belief in one’s destiny as an athlete may wax and wane at times, but the courage to follow through can lead to a runner becoming a “Man of Destiny.”

At ZAP, we live a monk-like existence up in the mountains with the goal of seeing how far we can push ourselves and I think each of my teammates looks at training as a pursuit that is destined to culminate in putting on that USA singlet. Yes, running is an inherently selfish pursuit but one must approach training in this way to reach the highest heights. I believe this hubris is a necessity because the chase to obliterate our limits requires this restless and brave mindset!

I will now step off of my soapbox and give a short rundown of my training last week! First off, Esther arrived on Sunday night to stay with me for the week which was great. I have really missed having her around ZAP this year but am happy and proud to report she has been blossoming in her new running situation under coach Terrance Shea and the New York Athletic Club.

Also, I was able to get in two solid workouts last week. On Tuesday, Pete, Esther, and I drove down to Mulberry Church Road to do a “camel hump” session. Mulberry is just off the mountain in Lenoir and offers lots of rolling dirt roads that are perfect for early season strength efforts. Camel humps are a session run back and forth on a 1,000 meter stretch. The 1k starts flat then climbs over two hills before descending and flattening towards the finish, with the shape of the 1k repeat resembling a camel’s hump. The workout gives you a chance to run flat, climb, and then run downhill on each repeat which keeps things interesting and works different systems of the body.

I opened the workout with a 12 minute moderate progressive piece where I increased my pace every 4 minutes. I ran the first two miles of this opening piece a bit fast (9:44) but overall it was a good way to start the workout. Pete is a big fan of having a longer aerobic piece to open the workout as a way to a) put some fatigue in your legs before the “meat” of the session begins and b) extend the warmup so you are fully ready to go when the repeats start. After 5 minutes jog, I then did 7x1k camel humps. Following the 7th 1k I took 5 minutes jog again and then finished the workout with a 9 minute snowball effort. The progressive snowball effort started slower than I was running my 1k repeats (around 3 minutes) and finished slightly faster as I increased my pace every 3 minutes. It was a long workout but a good one that will serve me well as I move into my season.

Salem Lake in Winston Salem, NC.

After a few easy days I closed out my week with a moderate progression run in Winston Salem, NC at Salem Lake. Salem Lake is a beautiful 7 mile loop that I did most of my tempo runs on in college. Each mile is marked so it is a great place to run when you want to know how fast you’re going. I ran 11 miles total on the day with the middle 7 miles progressing from 5:39 pace down to 5:05 pace. It was a nice way to end a long week!

Here is my last week of training (3/16-3/22):

Sunday: AM: 17 miles (8×20 seconds post run)

Monday: AM: 10 miles   PM: 6 miles

Tuesday: AM: 15 miles (camel hump workout)  PM: 4 miles treadmill

Wednesday: AM: 11 miles   PM: 5 miles

Thursday: AM: 15 miles (6×20 seconds post run)

Friday: AM: 11 miles (miles 4-10 5:39 down to 5:05)   PM: 5 miles

Saturday: AM: 10 miles

Total: 109 miles, 11 runs

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