Monday, May 23, 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Runs

This past weekend, including Friday, I had the pleasure of getting some serious trail time in with Nathan and enjoying some of the best the Bay area has to offer in terms of trail running. These runs couldn't have been more different for me: one was pretty good, one was horrible and one was just right (aka awesome! aka a Devon Day!)

Friday:

Friday trail tempo run with Nathan.
Nathan and I got up super early and headed up to Mountain Home Inn to do a nice 11 mile loop. Nathan wanted to run hard, so out of the gate I was killing myself to lead us at a good pace. The first 27 minutes we ran at a low 6 minute pace, I could handle it but it definitely didn't feel easy. We backed off a bit as we continued to climb up and around the top of Mt. Tam. Clearly my favorite part was popping out above the clouds at West Point Inn and then getting to dive bomb down Nora trail to Matt Davis. Once we were on Matt Davis, I got a bit possessed and started hammering away at a low 5 minute pace for a nice stretch of groomed double track. We covered 11 miles in 1:25 with 1660 feet of climbing. My glute/back felt good, my energy was decent. I was definitely enthused by the run. It helped diminish my trepidation about Saturday's run: The Rapture on Mt. Diablo.

Saturday:


Nathan ready to go with his new Black Diamond poles

Friday was decent, I felt pretty good the rest of the day and got busy on my one weekday non-cooking day. I was hoping Saturday would go well. We planned to run on Mt. Diablo and the last time I ran there, I was worthless. I was pretty good last week about listen to my body, fueling and recovering and generally giving myself a break after flying back from Australia (was that really just a week ago? I actually had to check my calendar!) and all of the craziness of the April and May. I have been feeling off and on worn out pretty constantly for two months and I am well aware that I need to be forgiving and take good care of myself after such a stretch, especially as I begin to think about actual training again. I told myself that I would just see what the run had in store for me on Diablo and respond accordingly and appropriately.
Sad face. But awesome new Rudy Project sunglasses.

The run definitely had something special in store for me but I can't say I handled it with grace or style. It was an absolutely beautiful day out, not to warm yet and Brett, Nathan and I headed up Burma Road to do a 20-ish mile loop Nathan had mapped out. From the car we immediately went up a super steep grade and my calves cramped up horribly and my achilles felt ouchie. And we were less than 1/4 mile into the run. I felt absolutely drained on top of that and as I continued to power hike, Brett and Nathan became smaller and smaller specks on the never ending climb to the top. I wanted to keep up, I wanted to feel good and I couldn't even make a feeble effort from the beginning. I got really down on myself, felt sorry for myself and started to mentally talk down to myself a lot. So much for forgiving and taking care of myself. As I continued to climb, my stomach started to act up and it felt like I had a bowling ball flopping around in there- uncomfortable to say the least. Brett and Nathan patiently waited for me at a turn and I apologized for holding them up. I contemplated what to do but was being stubborn and said I would continue on the planned route (despite not "needing" the miles). The route now took us downhill steeply, which inevitably would lead to another very stout climb up to Eagle Peak. 

As I ran downhill, my energy left me, my stomach was flopping around and I couldn't even keep pace running downhill which is my specialty. Brett and Nathan were pulling away and I stopped, yelled, "I am turning around" and did an about face to go back up the hill. I was a big falling apart mess and not my proudest moment. I couldn't handle my emotions well for some reason and I really appreciated that Nathan was so comforting and Brett was so understanding. We all have bad runs, I just need to not fall apart when they happen. I think sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to keep up or run well when I am with others. Having a crap run by yourself is one thing, no one is effected by it, but when you are with others, its harder not to be hard on yourself. At least for me. I am working on it. This was a lesson that I am not quite there yet. I am not sure where along the line I picked up this response (it never happens in a race or when I run by myself) but I am certainly not enthused by it. But like I said, I am working on it.

After splitting up with the boys, I kept climbing up to the summit of Mt. Diablo, cashed in 3500 feet and then got to descend for what seemed like eternity. When I got back to the car I was completely wiped out. I drank a half serving of Ultragen with coconut water, changed my clothes and pretty much passed out in the back seat. Or at least I wished I was. When the guys got back, I was bonking pretty bad and spent the majority of the car ride back loopy to do much more than stare out the window. Yes, I pretty much had a very winning day all around. At least, the day passed and I was still alive (it was after all the rapture) and could try again in the morning.

I still had managed to cover 15+ miles with 3500 feet of climbing in what seemed to be a very long time. And I ran into lots and lots of snakes.

Sunday:

Happy face. And another sweet new pair of Rudy Projects.

I was a bit nervous for my run on Sunday but decided to be more resolute about accepting whatever I felt and whatever came up. I knew Nathan was going to do about 20 miles, so I aimed for a 15 mile loop out of Mountain Home Inn where we parked the car. It was a cool morning as we set off up Mt. Tam. I pretty much said, "see ya, have a good run" to Nathan before we left the parking lot, thinking he might want to take it out hard. Instead he said he'd like to run together for a while, so I figured I would just settle into whatever pace felt good and say goodbye whenever he was ready to take off. Since we had run counter-clockwise on Tam on Friday, we headed clockwise up Matt Davis which is very runnable and only a slight uphill. 

I felt like a completely different person. I had energy, I had spring in my step, I had speed and no soreness. I glided along the trail and threw down a pretty fast start. We made it to the climb that goes 1 mile up to Rock Springs. Before we had started running, I had set a goal to run up this trail from bottom to top. I usually don't make it all the way up. But I did it. I got to the top and exclaimed, "yeah I made my goal". I was feeling good and Nathan suggested I continue on a bit farther with him instead of taking my turn onto Ben Stein. I figured I was feeling good and a few extra miles would be fun. I knew I would NOT be going the full distance with him since I had no desire to drop down cataract only to turn right around and do the steep climb back up to Northside. We jammed along and finally I took my turn up High Marsh trail which I had only been on once before and started flying along, really feeling good. 
 Goldilocks and the good view.
I really liked High Marsh trail and I managed to find my way back over to the Northside trail which is one of my absolute favorites on Mt. Tam. No mountainbikes are allowed and it is not near any parking or close trailhead, so it tends to be pretty empty. I zoomed along, rocking out to my music and picked up speed with the sun shining down on me. I had a geeky smile on my face I am sure. I hit popped onto the fireroads and flew back to the car, passing other runners and taking the time to make huge two foot leaping jumps into puddles along the way. It was refreshing. I just played and laughed and had fun. I let go of the previous day and remembered that this kind of moment was what I do what I do for. Its not about how fast or far its about how fun and beautiful. I definitely was having fun. I just kept picking up speed and came squealing in on two wheels back into the parking lot; 18.5 miles in 2:30 with 2,000 feet of ascent. It was awesome.


Speed on the High Marsh Trail

Since the craziness of races, work and sleeping at altitude began at the beginning of April, I have been doing my best to navigate all the things that have come up. Some days I am outrageously successful, some days there is much room for improvement. I am feeling, ultimately, that I have come out the other side in one piece and with the wheels still on. I am looking now towards the beginnings of training (transitioning back to real structured training-slowly!), a fun month of pacing gigs and many more great days out on the trails doing what I love to do.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nutrition Navigation: Traveling for races

Welcome to back to my ongoing series: Nutrition Navigation. The idea behind the series is part of the vision behind the cookbook I am working on, that is, bridging nutritional knowledge/needs and great food. In this series, I will focus on specific training periods or training needs (like peak training or post-long run), on a specific nutrient (like Vitamin D) or a specific food (like Kale) and show you how that translates into real, healthy, gourmet meals. Often times that means I will provide a snapshot of a days worth of meals or a collection of ideas, recipes or methods. Have questions or want to see something specific covered. Email me with your special requests! Please note, I am NOT a registered dietitian and these views reflect only what have worked for me as a runner and personal chef.


One of the hardest things to navigate through for me as a special needs eater is traveling for races, especially internationally. After being careful and consistent through my training with my diet, it would be a shame to things go to the crapper, literally, before a race. After 3 years of being on the 100k National Team and traveling internationally for those races plus others (like NF100k) and numerous races all over the country, I have devised some strategies to make sure I go into the race feeling good, without stomach issues and also well fueled. 

  1. Pack your bags. Although most countries will not allow you to bring in fresh produce, meat, dairy, nuts or seeds, you can bring in things like gluten free granola, packets of peanut butter (I use individual Justin's Nut Butters), real food bars, gluten free pastas and breads.
  2. Find a grocery store. The first thing I do when I arrive somewhere is fine the closest health food store. In the states, this likely means a nearby Whole Foods but I managed to find one in Australia too. If you have a fridge in your hotel room, stock up on perishables you'll need (like Almond milk for your GF granola) and fresh produce. 
  3. Be boring. I am a foodie (obviously) but before a race, I am not trying to mess with anything new and so I stick to simple things (like salad) that I will know all the ingredients in. Often times I will go to a salad bar for multiple meals before a race (like they have at Whole Foods-with lots of options) and build my pre-race meal for that.
  4. Eat a big breakfast. If I bring my own granola or cereal plus nut butters, I can make a sizeable breakfast by adding fruit and eggs from the morning buffet at most hotels. I tend to eat a bigger breakfast when I am traveling because I am not certain there will always be food available to meet my needs while I am out and about.
  5. Stick to your plan. I have a normal prerace meal I like to eat and while on the road I work very hard to have the same thing: plain potatoes, salad and meat: either chicken or steak, but with no sauce or additions. If you need special accommodations for your pre-race meals, don't be afraid to ask. Most hotel restaurants should be able to make you something according to your needs or point you in the direction of a place that can. Call ahead and plan accordingly.
  6. Get enough. One of the things I struggle with the most while traveling is getting enough food. Often times, before a race when traveling I will be so concerned at not eating the wrong foods, that I don't eat enough or let myself get too hungry. Arm yourself with bars you can eat and pieces of fruit you can supplement with.
  7. Ethnic eats. Thai, sushi, mexican are some of my favorite types of cuisine. They also happen to be predominately gluten free or way more so than American/European cuisine. I seek out restaurants that are ethnic when I need a heartier option than salad. I try to aim for sitdown restaurants of these styles, skipping the processed and fast food style places. But that goes for all eats.
  8. Treat yourself, after the race. This one is two-fold. In the spirit of not doing anything different, it is smart not to add back anything new before the race. It also means saving yourself from potential stomach issues from trying the local delicacies or special treats. After the race, by all means- reward yourself with the local fare or special treats!
  9. Plan for the plane. I am not a fan of airplane food and I try my best to bring my own food for the plane. This is important on the way to a race (so you don't ingest something your body won't like/to stay properly fueled) and equally important on the return trip when you are likely to be radically more hungry.
  10. Ask the question. One thing I got over pretty quickly was the embarrassment of asking for special requests. Need soy milk? Ask for it. Wondering what options they have for a gluten intolerant? Inquire. For example, at our hotel in Leura in the Blue Mountains, Australia, they actually had gluten free bread on hand and all I needed to do was request it. I would have never know if I didn't ask.
What works for me:

I personally learn from examples. Even though I can understand a list (like above) or a set of instructions, often times I am able to synthesize it best by viewing an example. I thought for this series, I would include an example of what a typical travel day of meals looked like.

Breakfast: gluten free granola (from home) with soy milk, fruit and scrambled eggs from hotel buffet. Coffee with soy milk.

Lunch: salad and chicken from a local cafe. dressing on the side.

Dinner: thai food out. Got my favorite curry which has potatoes, coconut milk and chicken (though there ended up being about two bites of potato in this). Served with rice.


Snacks: fruit with peanut butter packet from home or a "long-black" and a artisan chocolate.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

North Face 100k- Blue Mountains, Australia

Blue Mountains, New South Wales

The adventures and racing never stops. At least not in last 6 weeks. Last Sunday I boarded an airplane to Australia for my final journey of a crazy jammed packed April and May. I headed down under to join 7 of my Salomon International Team teammates as well as a wonderful crew of Salomon support for  the North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains (May 14th, 2011). Our Salomon squad included: Jen Seggers (Canada), Julia Böttger (Germany), Nerea Martinez (Spain), Kilian Jornet (Spain), François D’Haene (France), Ryan Sandes (South Africa) and Grant Guise (New Zealand).

With everything going on in the past few months, I have had little time to train, prepare or even think about the race. When I boarded the plane the day after Miwok 100k (where I paced my sister), I didn't even really have much of an idea of even where I was staying once I landed in Sydney 15 hours later. All I knew was that our team leader and logistics/coordinator extraordinaire (and kick ass trail runner of all distances) Anna Frost, would be at the airport bright and early Tuesday morning to pick me up. This event was a big team race for the Salomon International Team and Salomon did an amazing job taking care of every last detail of our trip. 


Naima and Frosty, our fearless leaders!

When I was in high school and playing basketball, one of my favorite things was to travel with a big team. While traveling in a big group does have its downsides and annoyances, it is so much fun to share an adventure with other people, friends and teammates. This Salomon team trip really made the experience, the NF100k aside, it was a blast to be able to spend a week with Salomon teammates and friends from around the world. 

I lost 17 hours in time change flying over the ocean, almost an entire day. While I slept a bit on the plane, I walked off the plane feel worn out, beaten down and definitely not invincible. Over the course of the long flight, my right side back, glute and hamstring became very angry with me. I usually don't fair well sitting for long periods of time, but the pain usually disappears pretty rapidly. I had a short lived flare up in that glute in April, but Scott at Psoas was able to get rid of the issue in one good rub/painful ART session. I hadn't had any problems since. When I got off the plane, I figured it would work itself out before Saturday's race. I focused the remainder of my week, resting, recovering, tapering and trying to fuel up for the race. We had a full slate of media events, appears and meet and greets as well as some fun team bonding and a bit of light running.

Running with the gals at Manly Dam

Jamie fully into the swing of things on our run at Manly Dam

On Wednesday, I got a massage with Angi, our team massage therapist who'd flown down from California. When she started working on my glute, it was obvious that there was an issue, but I wasn't feeling it just walking or even running around, so I figured it was no big deal. We didn't dig too deep on it and the rest of the week without any incident.After LA marathon, Mad City 100k and Grand Canyon R2R2R FKT so recent, I was not surprised that my body was not absolutely 100%. 

Way back in January when Salomon invited me to be a part of this event, I didn't have LA or Mad City on the agenda. I had thought that I would have bagged my OT qualifier in Houston, then switched over to the trails to prepare for the big climbs and trails of R2R2R and NF100k. Things didn't work out that way and I decided that I would make the best of things. My main goal leading up to NF100k was to not push myself too hard and find a way to arrive as rested as I possibly could. I have a back log of necessary recovery and I had hoped that I would be able to find a way to make it through just one more event. With each additional event, I knew I was pushing myself closer and closer to the edge and that the room for error and forgiveness in my body was drastically reduced. I resolved to see how race day went and to listen to my body. I have had an amazing six weeks and season, I knew that whatever happened at NF100k would happen.

Thai Curry in Katoomba. My one great meal of the trip.

We headed up to the Blue Mountains on Thursday and prepared for the race ahead. I did my best to find food that would properly fuel me for the race at the restaurants we ate at as a team, but most lunches and dinners settled for a salad. My favorite meal by far was thai curry on Thursday night out in Katoomba. Anna did a great job with me and was ever patient trying to ensure there were options for me to eat. She even changed the entire team and crew's plan (20 people!) to attend the pasta party the night before the race because there wasn't food for me. On short notice, she coordinated a dinner at the hotel we were staying at and made sure the chef made me lots of plain boiled potatoes.

Pre-race treat in Leura, a long black and a artisan peanut butter truffle.

Getting together my mandatory gear and checkpoint bags

The usual pre-race rituals, resting and packing ensued. Each of us had to have a huge list of mandatory gear including warm fleece and rain pants to be carried from Checkpoint 4 (which we would end up having to take due to very cold temperatures). I have never had to carry so much gear before in my life and I really appreciated the help of Salomon US team leader Adam Chase and all of the Salomon crew in helping us sort our packs. I went to sleep on Friday night calm and easy, my belly full of potatoes and plain chicken, looking forward to the adventure of the next day.

Ready to roll in the prerace meeting.
The race start was a very civilized 7am, so teammate and roommate Jen Segger and I got up a bit before 4:30am and had some french press coffee (Segg's brings her own french press and beans with her, what a pro). I tucked into a hearty bowl of gluten free granola I'd brought from the states topped with two packets of Justin's peanut butter. I really felt like I didn't eat that hearty over the week and wanted to make sure I had some fuel to keep me going. We headed to the start less than 1km away at 6am. One of my favorite moments of the trip was walking into the Fairmont Hotel where the 800 race participants were gathering all together as a united team. I love being a part of a team and over the course of the week I truly felt like I was part of a team instead of merely being around other similarly sponsored athletes. This was my team, my family and I was proud to walk in with them.

NF athlete Sebastian, Francois, Grant, Killian, me, Jen.
I can't tell you how many cameras got whipped out when we lined up for this shot.

It was quite cold at the start, although it was warmer than the previous few days in which I spent most of my time nestled under 3 coats including a down coat. The nice thing about it being a bit chilly meant I could wear a few items of my mandatory gear instead of having to carry it. At 6:56 the first wave of starters were sent off and we made a mad dash up the long steep pavement driveway of the Fairmont hotel. I wasn't nervous at the start of the race but I was having a hard time getting into the mental space necessary to run a 100k. I decided to settle in, run comfortably and just manage my body. After checkpoint one, I knew we could listen to headphones, so I had loaded my ipod with music to move me along. My strategy was typical: get to the last 25k and hammer it home. My strategy was also to have as much fun as I possibly could. Without sufficient recovery or training, I knew I could be in for a long day and so I planned accordingly and brought my camera to record some of the amazing scenery. In the pre-race meeting the RD had said, "make sure you keep your head up, there will be times when you wished you had your camera", I laughed to myself when he said this and thought, good thing I have mine!


The start of the race is about 5k worth of road running including lots of big steep hills and random jumps on and off trails that included a great deal of stairs. It was random. I opened up a bit of a lead on the other women and after a few turns couldn't see any other ladies. Finally we hopped off the road and descended down into the valley of the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are a lot like the Grand Canyon. The towns of Leura and Katoomba sit on the rim, so we began with a very long technical descent that reminded me of some of the more gnarly sections of HURT100. I like technical downhill but definitely found myself taking my time and trying not to get too carried away too early. The shade of the trees meant that a lot of the uneven steps and stairs and rocks were slick and muddy and I did what I could through the section.

Self-portait between rock fields

I had a few guys chatting to me during the first 10k, which seemed to pass excruitatingly slow. With 13,800 feet of ascent in the race, I knew the fun downhill would be short lived and prepared myself mentally for going uphill. The Salomon squad had run on a few sections of the course that they reported were very "me" i.e. very runnable fireroads without singletrack or technical bits. I was looking forward to cranking on these sections and knew that the big climbs, especially technical ones, I just needed to move steadily on. Our first big ascent of the day was the "Golden Staircase". This was an 800meter ascent and truly reminded me of Topher's widowmaker. I felt like I was hiking hard on this section and making good time. I knew I was nearly at the top when there was a huge onslaught of media and camera crews recording my ascent. It was a very experience to suddenly have a camera in my face as I was scrambling to the top. I made it to Checkpoint 1 in 1:58, right about what I had wagered I would for an 11 hour finishing time. I knew it was feasible given my recent 7:46 100k and my 9:30+ Miwok 100k from last year (which has only 2,000 feet less climbing). I wasn't really pacing myself off a chart per se, but liked to have a general idea of when I could expect the Checkpoints to come. 

Video of the Golden Staircase and view from the Ridge

I put my headphones on after the aid station and began a long section of runnable fireroads. The running now reminded me of TusseyMountainback i.e. very hilly but runnable fireroad. We were on an amazing ridge with sweeping views on all sides and I got snap happy at the scenery. 


On the climb up to CP1, I noticed my right leg was a bit niggly. The top of my right calf muscle was feeling crampy much like I experienced at Grand Canyon and I took some salt to help combat it. I also hoped that the long runnable section would help it sort out. Instead, the long road section transferred the pain up into my lower back, glute and hamstring. I could feel my right leg going and less than 25k into the race, I was not happy with that. I just tried to stay comfortable and cruise. I took in my gels on schedule, drank my water and took my salt. Soon, we popped off the firetrail and did another very technical descent. We climbed down a very scary (but awesomely cool) ladder section and down through very steep boulder fields in which you only know the course because of the flagging.



My leg was really hurting as I boulder hopped and zig zagged my way down the narrow ridge. The section was really cool and I wish I had felt better so I could have flown through it better. I took an advil in hopes of ridding myself of the pain, but to no avail. I hit another fireroad and shuffled along contemplating my state. I was not even 40km into the run and my leg was not doing well. I could put my head down, push past the pain and hope for the best or I could make the hard decision. I contemplted what to do. I searched myself and tried to be honest. If this had been the first race of my season, my big "A" race, I would have stopped at nothing to get to that finish line. But it wasn't. The NF100k was my fourth race in 6 weeks after 3 "A" race efforts. The reality was that pushing through the pain could easily mean injury. After all the racing, my bodies capacity to bounce back or forgive was drastically diminished. I was less than 5km from Checkpoint 2 and knew what needed to happen. I was done. Soon thereafter, my Salomon teammate Jen caught up to me and I talked with her about my pain and my options. She didn't offer up a stirring speech to motivate me through, instead she agreed that stopping was the best option to avoid further injury. By the time we arrived at Checkpoint 2, I didn't waste a second thought on dropping. I told the first aid person what was going on, relinquished my timing chip and dropped from the race.

 Post-DNF hug from Adam.

I didn't waste anytime feeling sorry for myself. I called upon the wisdom of my decision and the consolation of all of my other major recent accomplishments. I made a smart decision, how can I feel bad about that? I also knew while my race was over, I still had 6 other teammates (our other teammate Julia didn't start due to a calf injury) out there and wanted to do everything I could to support them. I caught a ride with some race spectators and managed to meet up with the Salomon crew at the bottom of the road where they were waiting to cheer Killian, Francois and Ryan through towards CP3. 

Now part of the crew, I was swept up cheering and helping my teammates. It was so much fun to zip around trying to pull of a huge crewing effort. The crew and our media guys pulled off an amazing coordination effort that had all six runners tended too and sorted.

The photos tell the story:

Adam, Julia and I at Checkpoint 4


 Checkpoint 4- Killian having an interesting chocolate breakfasty concoction

 Angi trying to work out my glute issue on the lawn at the Fairmont.

Congrats to my Salomon teammates!
Killian 1st place and new CR in 9:19

Francois in 2nd place

Ryan in 3rd

Grant in 6th

Nerea in 2nd (having lead until 99k, she got lost and was passed)

Jen in 3rd

When it comes right down to it, I feel 100% confident I made the right decision. As I sit here on the plane, flying home over the ocean, I can still feel the pain in my glute. How much more pain or injury woud I have sustained if I had continued? I knew going in that I had been very lucky to make it through my first three events so healthy and only suffering from fatigue. Even during my R2R2R run, I knew that I was pushing beyond my limits and not performing at the standard I wanted to. I took a risk coming to Australia to race on the heels of so many other things; I had not followed my own plan and framework to have the Devon Day I want to have in A races. Ultimately, I am just super stoked that I got to be a part of such a cool Salomon team event and had the chance to run in some amazing country. I am very proud of myself for being smart enough to know my own limits and strong enough to not push myself through injury.

What is next? That is the question everyone is hastening to ask. Rest, recovery, a break from travelling, time at home, getting my glute sorted out. I will be back to training soon enough on to the next thing. But for now, I am just going to enjoy, at long last, a bit of empty calendar space, a bit of nothing.

That said, I have already started marinating on some awesome adventures for later this year and 2012.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How To Have a "Devon Day" ebook

Introducing....





What you see above are the cover, table of contents and a sampling of the introduction, including the definition of a "Devon Day". I developed this guide after the LA marathon when I realized that my successes were coming as a direct result of the framework I was using in my training. The framework was not just specific to LA, in fact, part of the excitement of writing this book was doing in depth research into all of my own training and realizing that I have had four "Devon Days" or breakthrough performances in the space of less than 2 years. Though my training and goals were different for each of these races, the framework was the same and ultimately so was the result: successfully reaching my ideal goal.

In this guide, I walk you through the framework and talk about the aspects of my formula for success. This includes how we define our goals and the specific training aspects that make the most difference in reaching our goals. For me, the goal was qualifying for the Olympic Trials but this framework can work for anyone and any goal!

How to Have a Devon Day: A Runner's Guide to a Breakthrough Performance.

(Click on Add to cart to purchase for just $9.99)

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Invincible


Sometimes I mistakenly think I am invincible. My muscles recover pretty quickly from hard runs, even runs I feel that I am completely under prepared for or extremely taxing and I usually feel ready to run within a few days. 

April's "triple crown" of achieving my Olympic Trials Qualifier, winning the 100k National Championship and setting a CR & PR, and then 9 days later setting the FKT with Krissy at the R2R2R show my capacity to recover quickly and be ready to roll. My crazy race month in April was not by design, in fact, the only thing I had planned (at the beginning of the year) to run in April was R2R2R. LA came about after I didn't make the standard at Houston in January and Mad City came about because of the discovery that my spot on the 100k National Team was tenuous at best (as one of my 'A' goals for the year was competing at worlds). I knew as these plans all manifested themselves that I would be extremely lucky to get through all of these events unscathed. I told myself that I would focus on recovery, recovery, recovery. After LA, I did a good job basking in my success but was also able to put in some good 70-80 mile weeks between it and Mad City. After Mad City, I barely had time to land on the ground and repack my bag before I was off to Utah/Arizona for R2R2R. I don't think I even celebrated that victory as much as I should. My "recovery" was non-existent for the most part as between Mad City and R2R2R I traveled, worked my busiest week yet as a chef, slept at an even higher altitude and ran about 30 miles for the week. I was very tired for R2R2R and even more tired after the 42 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing. However, by the time I got back to SF, after a good massage and a few easy miles with friends, I was feeling much better. I even managed a fast 14 mile run on Saturday (the 4th day after R2R2R) with Nathan before heading up to Bodega Bay for some family time. I ran 70+ total miles for the week and tried to get back into recovery mentality. It was essential I do as I asked a great deal of my body in April and before I can even stop to take a breathe, I am on my way to my next race, leaving on Sunday for Australia and the North Face 100k which is on May 14th. 


I say I tried to get back into recovery mentality because for some reason last week, I had a hard time pushing out the "I should be training" mentality. Because of all the racing, I don't feel like I've been doing a whole lot of running or had a whole bunch of feel good time in my body and for some reason, I figured a good week of training would be the cure for that. Why I thought this is beyond me. I didn't go too crazy, but planned a good 90-95 miles for myself for the week. Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty light, Thursday was our normal morning ninja run and Friday I did a double plus a gym workout= 19 miles and 1 hour of weights. So by the time I woke up on Saturday, I was worked. I was ready to go back to bed before I even got out of it. My body didn't hurt (except my hamstrings from the previous days squats) but I was all over tired.

Look a bobcat. 
Or in my case, oh look, an excuse to stop while going up a steep hill!

I planned to get out with Nathan and run with him for the first 7-10, then continue on my own for a total of 25 miles. I thought I'd get a good 45 mile weekend in and that would give me a little confidence booster for NF100k (i.e. trail time confidence). The majority of the first few miles went like this: we run, we get to a hill, I start walking, very slowly and wishing I were dead. 

Nathan and I started discussing just exactly what I was playing at with the my training schedule for this week (my coach has this time unstructured as I should be chilling out not training per se). I came to the obvious conclusion ultimately that I am way too hard on myself and just because my muscles/bones feel good doesn't mean that I can just jump back on the horse and keep going full throttle. This past month has been super taxing. This past month has been super amazing and rich and full of things to celebrate. And I should celebrate them and praise myself, not push myself until I do break. I have been very lucky to make it through the past month healthy and that is something I definitely need to be mindful of. 

Needlesstosay, I decided to cut my run short. And it sucked, most of the way. I was not my best runner ever, I was tired worn out Devon (hence the death becomes her photos). I just need to cut myself a break which I use to be good at doing but haven't done in a while. I cut my run short on Saturday and changed my run plan for Sunday. I ate a half of my favorite kind of gluten free carrot cupcake to celebrate all I've accomplished (I usually don't have them except after particularly hard long run efforts or races & hadn't had one since last summer!). I refocused my energy on recovering. I am in recovery. I should be. I need to be.

When it comes down to it, the only way I can make it through my next challenge (NF100k) is not by training more but by maximizing how recovered I can get. I need to fuel myself, repair my body and rest, rest, rest. I am such a big proponent of rest (I take off one day a week) that it is funny to me how hard I find it to really rest or chill out sometimes. Ultimately, the changes I made in the weekend's run plans made the week an ideal maintenance week for me- about 80 miles. My run on Sunday was fast and felt really good, so I know that I am not too far gone. But Saturday's run reminded me not to push myself too far.

I know I am not invincible. I never intended to have the month that I have had. I don't want to become one of those people that gets sucked into chasing that high or racing too much. Instead, I want to be the type of person who cuts myself a break, rewards my good work and doesn't engage in self-defeating behavior or thought processes. I cannot continue to be the runner I am if I blindly press forward in haste, instead I must be patient, I must take a step back and I must take time to celebrate my accomplishments/ give myself credit for all I do. I think I am on the right track.

One of the things I do while resting? Make Fast Foodie Tshirts of course! Get yours here!

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