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Thank you to everyone who humored me with the “I stole this from another Heather” get-to-know-you post I shared last week. It was awesome to get a tiny glimpse of who is behind these page views. I appreciate all of your kind words, and especially the resounding fact that most of you said “don’t change a thing” about this blog. That truly put a smile on my face. Even if you were just trying to be nice, it still means a lot to me.
That said, there were a few who asked for some training posts, and I’m happy to oblige. (Though you might change your mind after you realize how many words I can use to describe 7 days worth of training.)
I’m kind of a rouge athlete in the sense that my training, while done with purpose, isn’t nearly as structured as it could, or perhaps should, be. I have a number of Facebook friend running coaches who love to condemn this type of training (not towards me specifically, but in general). Personally, I’m in the “run because it makes you happy” category, and it’s working pretty well. One day if I’m ever feeling competitive or have a real specific goal, I will structure my training plans. But as for now, my “plan” is just to be fit enough to endure whatever nonsense comes my way.
Currently: that nonsense (I say that term endearingly) is the 2016 Trans-Rockies 6 day run. That starts 7 weeks from this very day, to be exact.
Now, I know what you are thinking: “Uhhhh, Heather? TransRockies is kind of a big deal, the kind of big deal you should have a structured training plan for.”
I know readers, I know, and you are not wrong. And we’ll get to that…next week.
During the window after our 100K and before I knew we were going to Colorado, I decided to give my legs a massive break. They felt good, I felt good, but there was travel and the first week of the kids summer vacation, so I used both as an excuse to just relax. It could only help, certainly not hurt.
My first week back to training was simply a “hey, you haven’t really run in about 3 weeks, so maybe you should get back on the wagon” sort of week. And it went as follows:
Monday: Geoff and I like to start most of our mornings at the gym. Three reasons, really:
1) The gym is relatively empty in the morning, so we can have the place to ourselves
2) The giant-warehouse-of-a-gym is not insulated, never mind air conditioned, so our best bet at not completely dehydrating ourselves due to sweat loss is to attend in the much cooler mornings
3) When you get a strength workout done early, you can’t make excuses later in the day to skip it.
Monday called for leg day. I won’t bore you with specifics, but we are currently in more of a hypertrophy phase, with four sets of 6 reps as heavy as we can go. Exercises include: back squats, stiff leg dead lifts, front lunges, and side lunges all with the Olympic bar, adductor, abductor, leg extension, and calf raise Nautilus machines, and then when our legs are completely fatigued: box jumps. Because embracing the “suck” is the best way to start your day. So is fearing for your shins, hands, and face when your legs shake so much you’re almost convinced there is no way you’ll make it to the top of the box without some sort of total disaster.
That night we met a few friends down at our local trail for an easy 7 miles. Per usual, there was much laughter, and much sweating…it’s flipping humid here in South Carolina. People claim this may help me when it comes to suffering (code for: suffocating) in the altitude in Colorado in August. I’m not certain there is any truth to that, but it’s just enough encouragement to keep me going when I can’t breathe in this humidity.
Tuesday: Chest, back, and core at the gym in the morning.
After lunch, I headed back to the gym to hop on the stair climber. I have a love/hate relationship with that thing. Mostly hate, as it hurts and the monotony is enough to drive me crazy. However, past anecdotal evidence proves that the stair climber was responsible for allowing me to pass dozens and dozens of people climbing up the faces of Killington Mountain, therefore I totally buy into the hype of this thing. In Vermont, I utilized the stair climber because I was a chicken during the winter and wanted to train inside. In South Carolina, however, I utilize this thing because it is truly the only access to long distance climbing I have (the options of stadium stairs and overpass repeats only give you a few seconds of climbing before you have to descend again). As mentioned above, it was at least 85 degrees in the gym during the afternoon, so I proceeded to sweat my tail off as I climbed about 3.5 miles.
Wednesday: I think we slept in and didn’t go to the gym, but to be honest, I’m not sure if it was Wednesday or another day. This is why I never write training recaps, because I can never remember.
I do know that we hit the trail again that night. Prior to our run, a typical South Carolina storm blew through. One of those situations where one minute the sky is blue, the next minute it is green and you are pretty certain every tree in the forest is going to blow over. Followed by lightning and monsoon strength rain. But it cleared and we headed out on the trail with just a light drizzle.
We were joined that day by two friends, one an elite obstacle course racer, the other a recent Boston qualifier, both incredibly fast. Those two plus Geoff took off and my as-of-late-lazy-ultra-legs struggled to keep up. And they were doing a good job, until my intestines started to intervene. Remember that hernia surgery I had last year? Yeah well, it didn’t hold. No surprise, considering what I do for a living. The hernia is back, and while it hasn’t been as limiting as it was the first time around, it is still proving to be a giant pain in the ass. I mean abdomen. More on this later, but the point is, it was causing me pain during this run, so I bailed about 4 miles in.
Thursday: Gym? Yes, I think so. Unless this was on Wednesday. One way or another, a biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core workout happened. We’ve got a really random split going on right now in the gym, but I just kind of go along with whatever Geoff tells me to do. As a personal trainer myself, I spend a lot of time creating workouts for my clients, so it’s often nice to have another personal trainer tell *me* what to do.
That night we headed to our local running store, Black Dog Running Company, for the summer prediction run. Incase you’ve never done a prediction run, let me tell you, it’s harder than it sounds. You leave your GPS, phone, watch, whatever, at home. Before the run, you predict your finishing time. Then you run The person closest to their predicted finishing time wins. In other words, you don’t have to be the fastest to win…just the most in tune with your body and your pace.
This particular run was 4 miles and it was HOT out. Summer has hit us full force (I’ve been saying that for weeks now). Geoff predicted 40:40, and I gave him some hell about how there is no way I’m running that slow, even though I said I was going to run slow. So I predicted a 38:xx (I don’t remember). Anyway, we ran. We talked, we laughed, we walked a few times because it was so freaking hot. We stopped for the obligatory port-a-potty stop because Geoff has a bladder the size of a lima bean. We finally made it back in…you ready for this…40:15. Being 25 seconds away from his predicted time gave him first place male finisher, and he won a $20 gift certificate to the store. I’ve almost got him convinced to buy me a BDRC trucker hat with it. Almost.
We ate some popsicles, then headed out with a few friends to put in some night miles at the trail. I adore running at night. It’s a thrilling, almost primal feeling, combined with that sort of nervous excitement you’d get when you were little and someone dared you to go into the woods in the dark. The boogey man, a bear, or simply a very hidden root could jump out and trip you at any moment. We put in another 4.5 miles in the thick humidity, and talked about tacos – and other delicious food, but always returning to tacos- almost the entire time.
Friday: Rest day. I drank my weight in boxed red wine. Ok, slight exaggeration, but I certainly drank more than enough. While fun for a moment, as I rambled on about my love for the morbid song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and somehow started adding impossible numbers like “3” and “8” to our total Rummy scorecard, eventually drinking that much boxed wine (or, “baggo” if you know me from my alternative running group) would prove to be bad life decision. You win some, you lose some, you learn from your mistakes.
Saturday: An incredibly hungover 7 mile trail run. I imagine this is exactly what running at 12,600 feet is going to feel like, so instead of feeling sorry for myself, I commended myself for this new training technique. Suck it up, put your head down, and go.
Sunday: Can you believe Geoff and I have lived here in Myrtle Beach for about 55 weeks now and have yet to run on the beach? It’s kind of a shame, I know. But for some reason, we decided that Sunday would be the day. We hit the beach at about 8:30 am, and decided to head South on the shore first. About a half mile into the run, I realized that the reason I couldn’t keep my hair out of my face, despite the ponytail, was because we had a massive tailwind at our backs. I simultaneously regretted not wearing my standard braids and trucker hat, AND heading South first. It’s always so much easier to get the tailwind portion done first.
We dipped and dogged around the tourists for 2.5 miles before turning around. At that point my stomach was starting to hurt again (hernia + unrelated anxiety + am I still hungover?) so we intervaled our way back through the heavy headwinds.
That night we scooped up my kids from their dads house, and proposed their first ever night run. They were geeked at the idea, so we headed out at about 7:30, before dark, to let them acclimate to night running while on the trail. I brought up the rear with some walking/easy run intervals, while Geoff did hard run out and backs. Each time, he would take one kid with him for about a 200 yard or so out and back. When he’d return, that kid would recover with me while the other one went for the run.
I don’t know why it took us so long to figure out this technique, but those little badasses did intervals for 2 hours straight. Every time we’d come to an intersection, we’d ask if they were done, and they’d beg for more. But the best part was witnessing what I’m pretty sure was their first official “runner highs”. After about 30 minutes of intervals, each one would return to me and start GUSHING, almost uncontrollably, about how happy they were out there, and how much they loved me, and thank you thank you thank you for taking us out, etc. It was adorable and hilarious. None of us thought to GPS that route, but knowing our trails we covered from A to B 3 ish miles. Add in the out and backs and Geoff and the boys covered far more.
So there you go, a week of non purposeful training. Three strength days (which is actually low for me), 35 ish miles (all but 4 of them on trail), 3.5 miles on the stair climber, and one gnarly hang over.
Perhaps this week I will a) run with a GPS for total mileage purposes, and b) run with the GoPro for far better quality purposes.
Thanks for reading, and I promise next week to provide you with a much more concise, less blurry, more structured training week. Maybe…