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After a few weeks of solid content output, it’s been a quiet week here at Relentless Forward Commotion. Yet here at RFC headquarters (that’s fancy blog talk for “my apartment”) it’s been anything but quiet. The “commotion” part of this blog aptly applies to the past week.
I’m trying to focus on training as my constant during some times of uncertainty, holiday weeks, and 90+ degree temps. So far, it’s working. Here’s how week two played out:
MONDAY 7/2: Legs & a Stroll
Monday morning I woke up feeling strong. Though it was a rest day from running, it was a scheduled leg day at the gym. Squats, deadlifts, step-ups, kettlebell swings, multi hip machine (my favorite for hip flexors and glutes), leg extensions and curls, adductor/abductor, leg presses, and calf raises, not at all in that order. I’m focusing on moves that will help strengthen the legs specifically for climbing, since our lack of elevation here in Myrtle Beach puts me at a huge training disadvantage. It was a solid lift, not my best as I was still feeling fatigued from the weekend, but definitely an “A” for effort.
Monday night is our traditional group run at the trail, but I specifically showed up in my running sandals, so I wouldn’t run. Even though they are RUNNING sandals. My logic is flawed, but I refrained from running, and instead walked about two miles.
TUESDAY 7/3: Tempo Tuesday
Tuesday morning included my normal plyometrics and strength class at the gym. Only a few people showed up, as this “4th of July on a Wednesday” week has seemingly caused everyone to be unsure of when they should go on vacation. One very nice woman asked if I would still teach, despite so few people showing up. In my head I answered “uhh, mother f*cking Barkley Fall Classic, ladies!” but out loud I said “it would be my pleasure to still teach!” And I meant it, I truly love what I do for a living. The fun that day included burpees, star jacks, ski jumps, jumping lunges, and planks galore, as well as a number of other standard strength training and plyometric exercises. Wake up fast twitch muscles, I know you’re in there.
That afternoon I had a scheduled 5 mile tempo run: one mile warm up, three at a Z4 ish range (somewhere slightly slower than 5K pace), and one mile cool down. I have been adapting really well to the heat this summer, so I was pretty confident going into this run, despite the 90+ degree temps.
HAAAAA…famous last words. It’s been so hot and humid lately you can practically SEE the mugginess in the quality of my phone pictures. The lense fogs up.
I am trying to do most of my training on the trails (principle of specificity, my friends), so that’s where I headed. The warm up mile was great. The first tempo mile was also great. Mile two was when the dizziness and chills started. I often make stupid decisions when it comes to racing and training, but I really wasn’t feeling like suffering from heat stroke on this particular day. So after I finished the second fast mile, I decided to call it and cool down. The last mile was run in my “easy” zone (Z1). I was pretty stoked to see that my heart rate returned to a high Z1 almost immediately when I switched over from a fast run to a light jog. Way to step up body, thanks for your hard work! (Side note: why do people hate the word jog? I think it describes that leisurely pace quite perfectly.)
WEDNESDAY 7/4: Legs & Bridges
Leg day #2 was much more productive than leg day #1 this week. That’s not to say that leg day #1 was unproductive…but I tried a new pre-workout on day #2. I typically do not recommend pre workouts to anyone, and I’ve tried to not become reliant on them with my own workouts. The stimulants can be dangerous, and they really aren’t good for you, especially with long term use. That said, holy cow do they work (for me, at least).
I barely walked out of the gym on my own two feet, my legs were shaking in a way that would have made some sort of “beast mode” meme proud. (Note: I only promote “beast moding” once or twice per week. Balance and moderation are key. Stay safe, kids! ) After our workout, Geoff and I headed to the beach, because it was the 4th of July, and we live in Myrtle Beach. It’s pretty much a requirement.
That afternoon called for bridge repeats. I absolutely LOATHE bridge repeats, not because of the bridge itself, but because of the incessant inhalation of car exhaust. I am a trail girl through and through. Alas, the overpasses here in Myrtle Beach are the only inclines of any significant distance, so we make due with what we have available. Big goals call for sacrifices.
4.6 miles of bridge intervals. Approximately 16 intervals up, 16 down, in varying distances, old school basketball practice “suicide” style. In short, it sucked (but it didn’t suck alone, thank you Fe for joining me!) The temperatures were once again in the 90’s, despite being after 7:00 pm. My heart rate profile spiked with all sorts of effort colors on my Garmin, but thankfully quickly came back down on my descents. I followed up the run with a couple of pop-rock filled oreo cookies. They are a real thing. A really…interesting…thing. #America.
THURSDAY 7/5: Garbage Brigade
Thursday was the day the trail Gods decided to test my patience. Or thank me for my service, I’m still not quite sure.
It started when we arrived to the trail to find the entire parking lot covered in 4th of July debris. Fireworks, sparklers, plastic remnants everywhere. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was irritated. So I spent a solid 20 minutes grumbling about “kids these days”, walking around, cleaning it up.
Around 7:30 my friend Chelsey shows up for a run. I kid you not, we didn’t make it 200 yards before we were cleaning up more trash. Plastic bottles, firework leftovers, dog poop bags. We run another few feet. Pick up more shit. Literal feces. I’ll save the rant for Instagram (it’s over there if you want to read it) but in short, I don’t understand the point of picking up poop in a plastic bag and then throwing said plastic bag into the woods. Human beings, you baffle me.
But the REAL kicker came when we stumbled out of one section of trail to find this pile of trash:
It had multiple boxes with an identifying address on them, so I did what any good citizen of 2018 does: I took a picture and posted it on Facebook. Nearly 18,000 views later, it had gone viral in our town and complete strangers were threatening bodily harm to each other over a freaking pile of trash on the side of a trail. Long live the internet. So I deleted the post and did what I should have done in the first place: reported it to the authorities. Lesson learned.
Also: please don’t dump your trash in the woods.
FRIDAY 7/6: Everything and Nothing
Friday got weird. It was supposed to be a rest day, and for the most part it was…minus the sleep part.
Geoff and I woke up around 4:00 am, as our friend Paul was picking him up at 5:00 am to help him (Paul) begin his 100 mile attempt. He would be running 100 miles around a 1.075 mile paved loop near his house, in honor of his son who is currently serving in Baghdad.
Around 7:30 am, the boys and I head over to aforementioned loop to pick Geoff up, then we made the almost 4 hour drive to Augusta, Georgia, to meet my sister and brother in law. The kiddos would be spending a fun week with their Aunt and Uncle, which they were really looking forward to. Shoveled some Mellow Mushroom pizza into my grocery hole, then spent the next 4ish hours driving back home.
Once we made it back to Myrtle Beach, we headed back to the 1.075 mile pond to crew for Paul. He was certainly not alone, as he had company all day, but mama bear Heather (that’s me) stepped right in and started demanding horrible things of Paul, like “TAKE THESE ENDUROLYTES NOW” and “YOU BETTER FINISH HALF THAT BOTTLE OF TAILWIND BEFORE I SEE YOU AGAIN!” You know, the type of things good friends who understand the “ultra caloric deficiency bonk” say to bonking friends.
Anyway, Paul had such a solid crew that I didn’t spend too much time on my feet (maybe a few miles) but I did spend a ton of time AWAKE. Finally made it to bed around 4:30 am, an official 24+ hours after waking up. I thought my all nighters would have been reserved for college and babies, but then I found ultra running.
SATURDAY 7/7: Long Run – 15 miles
After the 24+ hour awake spree, I got about 3 very interrupted hours of sleep. Turns out, it doesn’t matter that your kids are out of town when you have four pet rabbits, because those buggers were demanding food louder than you can imagine come 8 am, three hours past their normal feeding time. Geoff and I spent the afternoon working, and I decided to head out for my long run around 4 pm.
It had just briefly rained, so the trail was completely empty. Geoff ran the first loop (about 6.5 miles) with me, and I ran the last 7.5 solo. Every. Step. Hurt. I was exhausted, and gave myself no short of 482 reasons to quit. But I didn’t quit. And that’s truly the highlight of this run.
When I first started running, I assumed the goal with training was to always get faster. Qualify for Boston. Podiums. PR’s. Mile splits that turn heads. I never imagined that I’d be sitting here over a decade later, NOT faster. Hell, my half marathon PR was over 6 years ago. My first (and only) sub 20 minute 5K was nearly just as long ago. Almost twelve years have passed by and I’m slower than I was the year I started running. // Twelve years later, my version of “embracing the suck” is not running as fast as I can. It’s learning how to truly endure. It’s spending endless hours and “I don’t even like to drive that far” miles on my feet. It’s learning to push through sheer exhaustion, both physical and mental. It’s runs like yesterday, where I was running 15 windy single track miles on 3 hours of interrupted sleep after a 25 hour stretch of being awake due to “life” and my body was protesting every step. It’s learning how to continuously pick one foot up after the other, when every ounce of my being is screaming “JUST GO LAY DOWN IN THE BUSHES AND TAKE A NAP!” (see picture above). / // I once had a Facebook acquaintance, who happens to be a running coach, who was constantly touting that ultra runners are simply runners who don’t have the dedication to train to run fast. I couldn’t disagree with him more. Running fast hurts. Running far, beyond the point where every ounce of your natural defense systems are begging you to stop, also hurts. Some of us are better at embracing one type of hurt or another. / // The way I see it, there’s no right or wrong reason to run, but we are all drawn to running for different reasons. As it turns out, I was never meant to go fast…I was meant to run far. And I love every single exhausted step of it.
SUNDAY 7/8 : “Long” Run #2
After a solid night of sleep I felt like a new woman. We spent the morning at the beach with Paul, and hit the trails later in the afternoon for another 7 sweaty miles. I’m pretty sure I happily bitched the entire time. Something along the lines of “I really love running, but damnit my legs hurt today”. There’s something so satisfying about putting in the work, even when every ounce of your being is telling you a relaxing game of Candy Crush on the couch would be so much more enjoyable.
Training Week #2 Report Card: B+
Once again, I failed to attend a single yoga class. That poor, beautiful Manduka yoga mat I bought myself for my birthday with my Ibotta money is crying in the corner because I never use it. I also cut my assigned mileage short on Thursday, though I’m excusing myself because I was busy cleaning up trail garbage. Mother Earth is worth the sacrifice.
I’m finding myself facing the same struggle so many others have: balancing strength training with run training. I suppose, however, my version of “struggling” is vastly different than others. When all is said and done, I do lift, on average, 5 days a week. However, if we’re being 100% honest and transparent, I’m missing my off-running-season-lift-2+ hours-a-day-not-eating-like-an-ultra-runner muscles.
Alas, it’s important to focus on goals. My goals right now aren’t a bench press PR or a back that makes me flex at myself like a fool everytime I catch sight of myself in the mirror…my goal is to finish the Barkley Fall Classic.
Focus, Heather. Focus.
Ten weeks to go…