Monday, February 29, 2016

5k Training: Week 4

My legs felt better than last week, but training still felt slightly harder than I would like, especially towards the end of the week. However I think it was the strong winds this weekend that played a large part in how exhausting my weekend runs felt. That and the fact that I ran a mere 52 miles in January and jumped that up to 134 miles in February. Fortunately week 5 is a cut back week.


Distance: 6.85 miles
Pace: 1.26 miles @ 9:37, 6 x 60s hills @ 6:45 [4:00 recovery], 2.95 miles @ 8:59
Comments: I brought my running gear to work with me Monday morning so I could take advantage of a large hill on the medical campus. The pace felt very manageable for each hill climb, probably because of the substantial recovery period between each interval. I easily could have managed another 2-3 reps.

I could tell it was a good run day for me since my cool down run was fairly hilly and it felt effortless. I couldn't believe the pace I saw when I uploaded my run data. After feeling so out of shape last week this was a huge confidence boost.


Distance: 3.33
Pace: 9:49
Comments: Tuesday is usually my rest day but with a winter storm warning for Wednesday and Thursday I wanted to take advantage of the good weather while it lasted. This put me at 7 days in a row of running and I could definitely feel it on this run. I could tell my legs were very tired so I focused on just keeping it slow and easy.


Distance: 0
Pace: 0
Comments: Snow storm. I knew it was coming. I was hoping to get out for another quick run Wednesday night, but decided to pass. It snowed all day but the temperature was slightly above freezing creating a blanket of kind of wet, heavy snow and kind of slush on the roads/sidewalks.


Distance: 6.1 miles
Pace: 9:09
Comments: Another confidence boosting run. My first mile was just under 10:00 pace but as I warmed up the pace dropped without any extra effort. Last three miles were all sub 9:00. Things were really clicking in the first half of this week!

Also I have to share my love for my local parks! It snowed all day Wednesday and continued to snow through Thursday morning, but by the time I was out running at 4 PM the running/biking paths had been plowed. Awesome!


Distance: 5.02 miles
Pace: 9:07
Comments: Easy run with my favorite Ironman, Ty.


Distance: 11.1 miles
Pace: 9:23
Comments: This run felt harder than I would have liked due to half of it being into a strong headwind. Even into the headwind I managed 1.5 miles at tempo pace (7:31).


Distance: 4.1 miles
Pace: 9:45
Comments: Recovery run. 20 mph wind with gusts up to 37 mph. On top of already tired legs it was a pretty terrible run.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


I found out on Tuesday that I was offered admission to University of Michigan's School of Information! Hooray! 

Future Librarian!

I'm so excited that I'm not even sure what to say. Thanks so much for putting up with my whining last week. I feel sort of silly now. All of that stress and worry for nothing. Or I suppose I could call it practice for when I am trying to balance working full time, classes, and training! This might have been just the tip of the crazy iceberg. Ha!

Classes won't start until September 6th so I have plenty of time to figure it out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February Check In + March Goals


February Check In

Today I am linking up with A Change of Pace and alyssagoesbang to check in on the monthly goals I set for February: strength train every day and only take the stairs.

I will be the first person to admit that strength training really is not my thing. Running 5-6 days per week? No problem, I'll get it done. Adding in even one measly day of strength training each week? You can expect that to last 2-3 weeks tops. I know that strength training is important for preventing injury and reaching my full potential, but I can never make it a habit. Even with the added motivation of StrongBody Streak, after two weeks my dedication to this goal began to fade.

On the plus side even with my multitude of missed days, I have noticed some measurable results! At the beginning of the month I could not do any pushups (other than modified knee pushups), now I am able to do 5 full pushups (no modifications!). I have also increased my plank time from :30 at the beginning of January to 1:15.

I was much more successful in taking the stairs every day. So far I have had only one day when I used the elevator instead of the stairs. It was the day after a hard speed workout and climbing stairs was so exhausting that I had to admit defeat and just take the elevator. It was clear that my legs needed a complete rest day.

March Goals

In many ways March can be seen as a continuation of February. I'd like to continue taking the stairs, because why on earth would I go back to being lazy?! I don't feel like this has fully transitioned to being a habit, but hopefully another month will do the trick.

Instead of a daily strength training goal, I am altering my goal to be 15 minutes of injury prevention work every day. This will definitely still include strength training, but on days when I need to focus on recovering from a hard run it might be focused on foam rolling and stretching or yoga. Variety is the spice of life, right? This also ties in nicely to my goal for the year: do the work.

"Train hard, but smart. Rest when needed. Eat healthy, drink more water, get plenty of sleep. 
Put in the miles. Put in the cross training. Get to the starting line healthy and prepared. 
Hopefully run some PRs, but if not evaluate what went wrong and learn from it."

Monday, February 22, 2016

5k Training: Week 3

Three weeks of training are in the books! I am finally happy with my weekly mileage (35.1, aiming for 35-40 each week of this training period) and was able to successfully complete all scheduled workouts. Unfortunately I am still dealing with lost fitness from my off season. Hard workouts require a longer than usual recovery time and the overall volume of my training is creating some noticeable fatigue in my legs.


Distance: 6.53 miles
Pace: 1.75 miles @ 10:12, 5 x 3:00 @ 6:42 [3:00 recovery], 1.48 miles @ 9:47
Comments: It snowed Monday morning so I spent all day thinking I would postpone my speed work until later in the week. As predicted my usual route was snow covered and slick. I decided to check out a neighboring subdivision and, thanks to their excessive salting, the sidewalks were dry. I like getting my hardest workout out of the way early in the week so I made the snap decision to just get it done.

The first two intervals were manageable (6:37 and 6:33 pace), but the third destroyed me (6:47). I was prepared to just call it a day but during my recovery period I decided I would rather just run them a bit slower (aiming for 7:05ish) and get it over with it. The final two intervals actually felt easier than the 3rd one (6:43 and 6:48). I think I was just not mentally prepared for a hard run.


Distance: 6.25 miles
Pace: 9:38
Comments: This was such a hard run. Even following a rest day my legs were so tired and heavy. It was so difficult in the first mile that I decided that if it didn't turn around, I would call it at 3-4 miles. Finally after 4 miles my legs loosened up and running was suddenly easy.

I have a hard time judging if the pain I am working through is just general fatigue from training or if it is the early signs of an injury. In this case, judging by how easy the second half of the run felt, it was clearly just general fatigue and I am glad that I pushed through. But in the past I've also managed to turn a tweak of minor pain into an injury by pushing too hard. Hopefully this is something that I am getting better at judging.


Distance: 3.55 miles
Pace: 9:28
Comments: Recovery run.


Distance: 5.61 miles
Pace: 9:17
Comments: Friday afternoon run with friends! The first two miles felt alright but the next two were a repeat of Wednesday: tired, heavy legs. A quick bathroom stop provided enough of a break that I was able to finish the run feeling light and easy.


Distance: 10.06 miles
Pace: 9:17
Comments: I expected this run to suck based on how terrible my legs felt on Friday. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to have the entire run feel easy. The only complaint I have was the unrelenting 20-30 mph crosswind. To keep it interesting I threw in one mile at tempo pace (mile 8, 7:22).


Distance: 3.1 miles
Pace: 9:48
Comments: Recovery run.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

All things stress

Friday will mark exactly 5 weeks since I submitted my graduate school application. I still have not found out whether or not I have been accepted. The school indicated that it would take 4-6 weeks for a decision to be made. So I really shouldn't be worrying yet, but the waiting is making me crazy.

I've been stressing about this application since I decided to apply. I thought the worst would be the last week before submitting my application, when I was spending an hour or two each night working on my application essays. Trying to patiently wait for a response is definitely worse. If I wouldn't have submitted my application on time, well, that would have been my fault. I could blame procrastination and laziness. I could say I might still apply next year.

Now that I have done everything in my power to be admitted to the program, I have to accept the fact that it just might not be enough. I might not be good enough.

In an effort to stay positive and avoid spewing molten crazy all over the place, I've been trying to keep myself distracted with running and reading (and binge watching Scrubs). Right now I am alternating between reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I will probably finish Attachments in the next couple of days and could really use some book recommendations! Plus any other distractions or relaxation techniques that you can offer would be so greatly appreciated.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

5k Training: Week 2

Week 2: 33.56 miles

This week I made a deliberate effort to slow down on all of my easy runs. I was disappointed in cutting last week's long run short and did not want a repeat performance. Last week also served as a reminder that I have lost some endurance during my off season. I'll be keeping it slow over the next few weeks while I get back on track.

In terms of mileage, I am very happy with the 4+ mile increase from week 1. I should be on track with my target mileage (35-40 mpw) in week 3. I anticipate staying in that weekly range for the duration of my 5k season.



Distance: 6.2 miles
Pace: 2.27 miles @ 10:17, 8 x 30s hill @ 7:07 [3:00 recovery], 1.97 miles @ 9:35
Comments: Not as hard of a workout as anticipated. See details here.


Distance: 6.0 miles
Pace: 9:32
Comments: It was cold and windy and I spent the entire run wishing I was done.


Distance: 3.01 miles
Pace: 9:59
Comments: Recovery run.


Distance: 5.15 miles
Pace: 9:17
Comments: Another Friday afternoon run with Ty.


Distance: 10.10 miles
Pace: 9:38
Comments: Apart from an unplanned bathroom break during mile 7, this long run felt great! Last week my legs felt heavy and tired during my long run. This week I felt like I could have kept running. I'm glad I didn't have to though, because it was freezing cold (-6 with windchill).


Distance: 3.1 miles
Pace: 9:43
Comments: Recovery run.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Head for the hills

After cutting my long run short by two miles on Sunday, I contemplated moving my hill repeats to later in the week to give my legs a chance to fully recover. But by the time I got out of work on Monday I was desperate for a good run, so I stuck with hill repeats.

My training plan calls for hill repeats to help recruit fast-twitch Type IIa muscle fiber. If you are a running nerd like me, you probably already know that that Type I muscle fibers (slow twitch) are associated with endurance while Type II muscle fibers (fast twitch) are used for sprinting. However Type II can actually be broken down further into IIa and IIx. Type IIx is best suited for all out sprints while Type IIa functions more like a combination of Type I and Type IIx: they are fast-twitch like Type IIx but resistant to fatigue like Type I. Since the 5k requires both endurance and speed, this is the ideal muscle fiber for the job.

In the article Solving the 5k Puzzle (the basis for the training plan I created), Pete Magill claims that "The best way to train this intermediate fast-twitch fiber is to run long hill repeats." I will be following the progression of hill repeats laid out in this article.

week 2: 8 x 30s
week 4: 6 x 60s
week 6: 8 x 60s
week 8: 4 x 90s
week 10: 6 x 90s

I decided to aim for my tempo pace (7:00-7:15 per my 5k PR) for this workout. I figured this would be slow enough to allow me to complete the workout without crashing (uphill at 5k pace sounded way too challenging). In the end it didn't matter; 30 seconds is just not long enough to lock into a consistent pace. My paces ranged from 6:44-7:35 (avg 7:07). I'm sure as the climbs get longer and I get a better feel for this type of workout the range will narrow.

The weird part about this run was that it really wasn't a hard run. At all. My last three climbs were actually my fastest. This is due to the long recovery period between each repeat. The article recommends 4-5 minutes of recovery between each repeat! Since the climbs were just 30 seconds long and it was much too cold to walk around for 5 minutes between repeats I cut that down to 3 minutes. In the spirit of following the plan, I will increase recovery to 4 minutes for 60s climbs and 5 minutes for 90s climbs for future workouts.

I won't lie, I'm kind of in disbelief that this workout will be beneficial with such long rest periods, but Magill insists this is the right way to do things:

"Less recovery won't give us a better workout, but it will increase our risk of injury and burnout. Remember that we're targeting a specific muscle fiber type that is recruited during a specific range of effort. Too little recovery forces us to recruit the other type of fast-twitch fiber and/or to burn through our muscle glycogen stores."

I am definitely not an expert when it comes to sports physiology or even a coach. So at this point I will be deferring to the actual experts and having faith in my plan. If you are interested in what else Pete Magill has to say about the 5k, I highly recommend reading Solving the 5k Puzzle. Wikipedia has more information about muscle fiber types (including a pretty cool chart comparing Type I, Type IIa, and Type IIx). Also if anyone is feeling particularly sciency, I came across this article about mice and running and muscle fibers changing from Type IIb to IIa.

PS: Anyone else planning on watching the Olympic Trials Marathon on Saturday? I'll be cheering for the Michigan runners Desi Linden and Dathan Ritzenhein.

Monday, February 8, 2016

5k Training: Week 1

One week of 5k training complete, ten weeks to go. My week wasn't exactly as planned, but since I only ran 52 miles in January, I can't say I am surprised by my current lack of fitness. I managed just under 30 miles for the week, a bit shy of my targeted 35-40 miles per week.


Distance: 6.0 miles
Pace: 2 miles @ 10:14, 5 x 2:00 @ 6:30 [3:00 recovery], 1.15 miles @ 9:17
Comments: Very happy with how my first speed workout of the year turned out. More details here.


Distance: 5.5
Pace: 8:38


Distance: 4.5 miles
Pace: 9:15 avg
Comments: I was hoping for about 7 miles on Thursday, but ended up cutting it short. I was having a lot of pain in my lower legs/shins and didn't want to risk injury. When I was logging my run, I realized it was probably my shoes. They had just reached 370 miles. The exact same mileage as when I retired their predecessors. This brings me down to just one pair of shoes in rotation, so it is time to start shopping.


Distance: 5.14 miles
Pace: 8:53
Comments: Since I didn't make it to run club on Wednesday I made plans to run with my friend Ty and one of her Tri Club friends, Jen.


Comments: Unscheduled rest day. I spent the morning cleaning my house and the afternoon visiting my in laws. By the time I was free to run I was exhausted.


Distance: 8.0 miles
Pace: 9:20
Comments: Another run that ended up being shorter than anticipated. I was aiming for 10 miles, but after 6 miles I knew I wasn't going to make it. I might have pushed it up to 9 miles had I known that I was going to end the week just shy of 30 miles.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Speed Work: I didn't die!

I did my first speed work of the year on Monday and managed to survive! It actually wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. I remember feeling absolutely destroyed after some of these workouts last year so I was expecting to feel that way again this year. I'm sure the pain will come as the intervals progress from 2 minutes to 4-5 minutes.

Here are my splits from my workout. I started with a 2 mile warm up before beginning my intervals: 2:00 at 5k effort, 3:00 recovery. I finished with a 1.15 mile cool down to bring my total to 6 miles.

I remembered from last year that I ALWAYS ended up overdressed and way too hot during speed work, so I created a route that would allow me to warm up for about 1.5 miles, stop back by my house to ditch some layers, and get across the busy intersection to the straight, flat paved running path before my warm up was completed. I was a bit cold during my cool down since the sun was setting, but still, I wore shorts and a tank top on February 1st. In Michigan. In my February 1, 2015 training log I noted that I had run in 3-4 inches of fresh snow.

I am still struggling to figure out exactly what 5k effort should feel like. For this workout I aimed to hit my best 5k race pace from last year (6:46). With my actual paces being 6:41, 6:41, 6:19 (what?!), 6:23, and 6:26, I was not really successful. The weird part is that my two fastest intervals were actually the ones that felt the easiest. The first two I was struggling to remember how to run fast and in the final interval I was starting to get tired. I tried to honestly evaluate whether or not I could have managed a 6th interval, and I'm sure I could have.

My best speed workout last year was 4 x [4:00 @ 6:54, 3:00 recovery] about 2 weeks before my PR race. I think if I tried I would be able to match this workout by the end of the month. Which is kind of awesome! Last year I didn't even start my training until March. I was worried that between marathon training and my off season I would be starting from scratch this year, but after Monday's workout I feel confident that I will actually be building off of last year's progress!

Theme song for my 5k season.
Which is really good because the one thing I have been wanting to embody throughout this season is CONFIDENCE. When I set out to improve my 5k time last year, I didn't really know what I was doing. I was constantly doubting myself and completely unsure what to expect come race day. This year I know that I have a plan that works for me and I know that so long as I do the work, I should be ready to PR this spring.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Transition Week and February Goals

Transition week between not really running at all and 5k training:

Friday (1/22) 5.1 miles / 9:51 avg pace

Sunday (1/24) 5.05 miles / 9:47 avg pace

Tuesday (1/26) 5.05 miles / 9:07 avg pace

Wednesday (1/27) strength training/stretching/foam rolling

Thursday (1/28) 5.16 miles / 9:20 avg pace

Saturday (1/30) 8.0 miles / 8:56 avg pace

Sunday (1/31) 4.0 mile run + 1 mile walk

Saturday was amazing! It was 50 degrees and sunny. Basically a perfect day for running which really doesn't happen in Michigan in January. For comparison, last January I made note of a couple runs where the windchill was in the negatives. Since the weather was so wonderful and I was feeling a bit ambitious I decided to throw in a couple of fast miles: 7:32 and 7:11 with a recovery mile in between. I know I said I would keep it easy this week, but with the perfect running conditions it was just too tempting.

The warm weather lasted through Sunday, but it rained pretty much all day. I thought about bailing on my run, but had already made plans to run with Maria. She was planning on running 6 miles, but I needed to keep it short. I didn't want to over do it this weekend and not be able to do speed work today. I ended up walking about a mile while she ran an extra two miles. 

In addition to returning to scheduled mileage this week, I am also setting two mini goals for the month of February: strength train every day and only take the stairs.

I started working on incorporating daily strength training into my routine in January. I missed a couple days while on vacation and another day or two throughout the month, but for the most part have been quite successful. I started with a very short routine of planks, push ups, and squats. I'll be participating in Allison's StrongBody Streak so I'll be expanding my routine to 15 minutes per day. I've already noticed my core has gotten stronger (I used to struggle with a 30s plank, but am now up to a minute) and am looking forward to seeing more gains in February.

As for the stairs: I am totally lazy at work and will often take the elevator between the staff lounge in the basement and my office on the third floor. With a desk job I really need to make an effort to get up and move through out the day. I do feel slightly justified in my laziness since the standard number of stairs between floors is 14. My library has crazy high ceilings on the first two floors, so there are actually 89 stairs between the basement and 3rd floor. So in reality it more like climbing 6 flights of stairs, not 3. But still, no more elevator!