Tag: training

Trail Running

Trail runningWorkout: Recovery Run (Trail Run)

Planned Duration: 0:30
Description: 5-10 min dynamic warm-up
Easy pace throughout
If you can get on a trail, do it. Trail running is good for your soul AND it helps increase your cadence and strengthen your stabilizing muscles.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve run trails. Several ankle sprains between early 2011 and late 2012 have kept me running on the smoothest surfaces I can find. But after a good year of PT and ankle exercises, I was really looking forward to this workout.

The Ashland Reservoir trails vary from wide, rocky fire roads to rooty, single track (with a strong slope to the water).  I find lots of company on the trails in the afternoon. Much of my company is the furry, four-legged, wagging variety.  And these dogs couldn’t be happier to be outside walking in the woods.  The dogs and their people are consistent wavers and smilers when we cross and share the paths.

It felt good to be back. I do love how I feel when I’m running in the woods.  My coach was right on (again); it’s good for the soul.  I feel like I am part of the forest when I run in the woods.  It’s like I become connected to the trees, the pine needles and the other animals scurrying across the dried leaves. (I’m not running fast enough to be at a scurry pace on this first trip back into the woods.)

The terrain is hilly, sloped, and leaf covered, so my legs are continuously adjusting to the different surface that each step meets.  Every step of the way I knew that every moment spent balancing on the bosu ball, etc. had been a worthy investment.  My ankles haven’t been this strong at any point in my memory.

I truly enjoy the mental requirements of trail running .  It’s like thought and instinct blend together as I look at the path ahead for the next safe foot landing.  I feel deer-like. My alertness is peaked, but not in a stressful way. It’s very different from my awareness when I’m running on the roads, against traffic. Road awareness feels more defensive, trail alertness feels more inclusive. I don’t feel any increased stress or tension.

This was an exceptional run.  When I returned back to my car, I felt  healthy and fit . This run had restored more energy than it had consumed.

What sport isn’t all about my core strength?

core powera. swim
b. bike
c. run
d. none of the above, so just get over it and do more planks. (sigh)

After last week’s monster “pull buoy at the ankles” workout, I sent a long email to my coach. It was all about how sure I was that my old, left shoulder injury and its weakness was causing my left arm to cross my body.  Her response went something like: “or it might be your core.”

Two days later, I practiced “high-elbows”.  I sent another email to my coach.  I was even more sure that I had found the cause of my body crossing stroke.  My left elbow had been too low, and clearly this was the result of my old, left shoulder injury.  She responded that high-elbows weren’t really all the rage, anymore.  So I asked what the new rage was.  Her response went something like: “focusing on your core & core-strength.”

Yesterday, I went to the pool, still fairly certain that my high-elbows were my answer.  My warm-up swim drills included a few hundred yards of swimming with a pull buoy at my ankles.  And this time she included with”closed-fists”.

She made her point.  Core strength it is.  (sigh)

gazinta swim

Daughter decorated swim workout My morning swim workout was joyfully improved by my 10 year old daughter.

Each time I reach the wall, I look at my handy workout scrap of paper to see what’s next. This is what I saw today.  Hannah had embellished. I smiled each time.

It wasn’t just that these little guys (called “gazintas”) are cute.  It was the amount of love that she had poured into the making of them and onto the piece of paper. Being a working parent and a triathlete means there’s a lot to balance.  There are trade-offs.  There are moments of guilt – for missing breakfasts and not having enough time to do her hair the way she likes it every morning.

These “gazintas” are a new at our house.  We created them to add fun to long division. (yes, “fun” & “long division” in the same sentence) We use them to figure out  how many times 7 gazinta (goes into) 35, etc.  But now there’s gazintas on my swim workout .  And what have I figured out?  There’s much love that gazinta me and my workouts from my family.  Every time they’re ok with me doing what I love – their love gazinta me.

I couldn’t do all of this without my family’s support and I can’t tell you just how lucky I feel to have it.

procrastination & BTTW*

Balls to the WallArriving to the pool at 5:45 is feat in itself.  For me, it means everything has to be packed and laid out and ready to go.  Fins, goggles, cap, water, nutrition bar, inhaler, towel – everything needs to be packed and at the back door. The alarm needs to sound at 5:10 – and I need to roll out of bed and not give myself space to think about much at all.  This morning, it was like clockwork, no thinking, and I was at the pool right at 5:40.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of arriving at the pool in the dark, only to realize that your swim bag didn’t make the trip.  It was packed. It was ready. And it was still next to the back door. ugh.  Luckily, I had been meaning to clean out my backpack since sometime in August. So procrastination saved the swim.  I had a pair of old, crappy goggles and cheap yellow race cap.  I was still in business. “Crisis averted” – my husband would say.

Leaky goggles are no fun, but I was able to do the workout. It was a heck of a workout. I was exhausted when I finished.  My legs and ankles were tired from: 8 x 25 kicks on back w/ arms in tight streamline @ :15 rest (odds = easy, evens = FAST).  I am making some progress: 1. my head wasn’t cranked up like an otter, 2. I didn’t drift into any other swimmers AND, 3. I discovered two broken ceiling tiles just before the wall, one at each end of the pool.  So, still no flags, but an effective proxy.

After fatiguing my legs, I got to practice some BTTW intervals: 12 x 50 @ 1:30 [4 x (2 x 50 easy/ 50 BTTW. Before hiring coach Kelsey, I’d never heard of BTTW.  *For anyone else who might not know, it means “balls to the wall”.  I think I may rename it, “IMP” (I might puke). With the short distance, 50 yards, I gave it everything – I felt like an arm flailing beast.   For the easy intervals my swim time was :50 & :40 for my BTTW. I’m not sure that was fast. BUT…one of the flip-turn swimmers asked if I was doing intervals.  I thought this was confirmation that I at least looked like I was trying to swim at varying speeds. Awesome.

After a few easy sets I was ready for another bttw set: 12 x 25 @ :10 rest [3 easy/ 3 bttw/ 2 easy/ 2bttw/ 1 easy/ 1 bttw]. The bttw 25’s were consistently :20, until the last one.  I think this was my true bttw level – all out.  I “beasted” out a :17/:18 (hard to see the swim clock, and I don’t want to overestimate my bttw speed).

I’ve heard from just about every flip-turn (experienced) swimmer I’ve met that runners are known for their lack of kick.  This fact and the fact that running doesn’t translate to biking power either, frustrate me endlessly.  But it is what it is.  I want to be a faster swimmer and I need a stronger kick to get there.  This is how I’ll get there, not more running.

hill. repeat. hill.

Hill elevation profile“What goes up – must come down.
And then go up and come back down, again.”
8 x :30 uphill surge (fast, focus on powering with your butt)/ 3:00 easy

There may be something wrong with me.  I loved everything about this workout.

It was cold. (34 degrees) I needed to layer up in my winter gear.  The first cold run is the hardest.  I always get it too hot or too cold.  I was overdressed – I didn’t need a thermal base layer, yet.  I know that just  2 posts ago I was complaining about having to put on mittens, but I remembered last night that I really enjoy running in the cold.*

It was dark.  I’m not a fan of the short days.  And I’m not quite adjusted. This was not an intentional night run, I forgot. Just poor planning on the timing of the workout.  But off I went with my head lamp and my lovely blinking safety vest. (I’ m threatening my kids with getting one that blinks: “I’m  Will & Hannah’s mom”).

It was hard. In the middle of the second surge uphill I was thinking that 5 repeats might be a little more reasonable to start, but I pushed out all 8.  When I was finished, every bit of my body felt like it had been worked hard.  My arms, core, legs, and butt were fully engaged in the effort.  As was my focus and intention.

The cool down run home, blinking away in the dark, felt glorious.

I think one of the reasons I like cold weather, winter running is that the pollen is finally gone. My asthma and breathing is so much better.  Very cold air can present issues, but I’m good until well below freezing. 

Breaking Good

Breaking GoodRest day = Time to reflect on my first week with my new coach.

Right now, what I’m most aware of is the impact of change on my routine.  My training volume hasn’t really increased, but the amount of time it takes me to complete a training has increased, noticeably.

On the busy days when there was juggling of work and family schedules, it was actually a mental challenge to stay committed to the new plan and not fall back into habit. And it’s not like I have a ton of bad habits that I have to break. I was sort of successful in my first full triathlon season.  I got to stand on the podium after a few local races.  So, I’m actually breaking good habits…? Um, why?

More reflection. Let’s see…
  • What I’ve done in the past has been effective and has earned me what I have.
  • I have new goals.
  • They’re more ambitious than what I achieved last year.
  • If I use my same ways on my new goal, I’m likely to keep getting what I already got. I’d keep myself from achieving my new goals.  (I know I’m shooting for a crazy leap forward, not just improvement.)
  • And my coach is awesome. She’s competed so well at Nationals that she went to Worlds. Updated: she just won Rev3Venice Olympic – she’s crazy awesome!
  • And lucky for me, she doesn’t care so much about my fabulous history. She’s coaching me to get what I want, next. Everything she’s suggesting is focused forward.
  • Interesting stuff.

I’m like working with my new coach and I’m sure the workouts will feel more natural Soon. Right now I feel like I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out what my new exercises are:”dead bug“, “bird dog“, and “vertical swimming“.  (I had no idea.) I’m also working on (finding) muscles that I had no idea were involved in swimming, biking, or running.  It’s awkward. I’m awkward.

Battling the frustration/change tests my resolve.  If I was to put a positive spin on this, I suppose that this internal dialog is confirming my desire to get to nationals and my willingness to adapt.  Darwin would be proud.

End: reflection.