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Think Up

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Think Up

The view from the top is pretty but …

I’ve been fortunate in my life and both my careers to have had the view from the top and the view from the bottom. I say fortunate because both views, despite being scary as shit, have their appeal. Look up from the bottom and you feel the thrill of how far you have yet to climb; look down from the top and you see how far you can fall.  So, which view is my preference?

I’m short. I’ve spent my entire life craning my neck, tilting my chin, rolling my eyes, to look up. It’s my normal. It’s comfortable. It’s the view I prefer. I’d pick the long hard climb to the fast free-fall any day.

Maybe that’s why I am fine now.  Despite the last year being less than ideal – personally and professionally – I am actually, for the first time in a long time, fine.  I’m not looking forward. I tried forcing that this year and the most movement I made was two steps back for every one step forward. I’m not looking down, because, to be frank, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a new bottom. 

I’m looking up.

I’ve always struggled with change of speed.  My coach has always thrown different pick-ups into workouts and long runs to try to teach my body to respond to pace changes mid-race.  Changing pace has been incredibly difficult for me this year.  I fought it.  I tried to push and force my body to recover, telling myself that I was perfectly fine after my spring stay-cation at St. Michael’s hospital. It’s been a hard lesson to learn that slowing life down has actually allowed me to speed up – maybe not in the form of fast miles yet, but certainly my health and recovery.

Speed “up” by slowing down.

“I’ve been here before”.  That’s been my mantra this fall and it is serving me much better than the other battle cries and rallies I’ve tried. I used “new bottom” because I am not where I was in 2012 when I hit bottom. Then I was jobless, homeless, not on the Olympic team and hopeless.

I am not where I was as recently as this spring when I was in hospital, fighting sepsis; celebrating if my pee was more urine than blood that day.  No. Now I am at a bottom where I have accepted that this is a new climb, but a familiar one.  That I still have ownership over my body, even if it’s a slightly different one.

“Up”. It is not a new concept for me. It was the cue word I used as a figure skater. “Think “up” when you jump instead of “don’t fall” - otherwise the last thing your brain is going to remember is “fall””. Advice almost as simple as #makeyourlegsgofast. I’d ride my edge, pick my toe into the ice, draw my weighted leg in while pivoting, pressing down into the ice while simultaneously drawing upon its force to catapult me into the air. And in those final few milliseconds think “up” as I snapped up, wrapping my arms and legs around each other, and I’d, for that split second of rotation, feel long. I felt tall.

Think “up” so you don’t fall. 

“Up. Up. Up. Can only go up from here”. Thanks Shania, but I politely beg to differ. Going up. Picking yourself up. It’s a choice.  It’s not a decision made by default. Despite finding bottom, you can always try your hand at digging further.  Plenty of people do. You can head forwards. Actively decide to slide backwards. It is all a choice. 

For 2018 I am choosing to think “up”.

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Putting Together the Pieces

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Putting Together the Pieces

Everything this year has been about building a program, training and recovery wise, that is sustainable and that I will be able to use next year as I prepare for the Olympics in Rio… iron out those kinks so-to-speak.  Changing events from the marathon to the 10,000m meant putting together a new puzzle and making sure each puzzle piece fits.

So here I am, training in South Korea before heading over to Beijing, China for the IAAF Track and Field World Championships.  I have continued my season jet-setting across Canada and the USA for training camps and races… lots of races… and am happy to say I sit here less than two weeks out from the Championships with a body that has held up and is ready to go.  I am happy to have found a recovery routine that keeps my body happy and put together (even when I am racing national championships on back to back weekends in cities located across the country from each other)... it has proven to be one of the most important pieces.

It has been a busy but successful season so far with two national titles (10k Road Race Championships & Half Marathon Championships) and a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games (10,000m), and I am not done yet. 

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Recovery on the Road

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Recovery on the Road

 

The season is off and running (pun intended) and so begins my tour of training camps and race locations. I packed up my training gear, some street clothes, and my recovery pump at the start of January and have been on the road since. From Chattanooga, to Ottawa, to Kenya, to Montreal, to Ottawa, to New York, to Vancouver, to San Francisco, and now in Flagstaff... it’s been a busy last four months and it will not be letting up anytime soon.


I opened up my season in New York with the United New York Road Runner’s half marathon on a tough course and in some windy conditions. The following weekend I raced the Modo 8k in Vancouver and then had two very wet and cold weeks of training. I headed to California for the true test of my early season fitness at the Stanford Invitational where I raced the 10,000m on the track. The field wasn’t what I hoped for so I ended up running the entire race solo. I came away with an 18 second personal best, running 32:11, which puts me very close to the World Championship standard of 32:00. So here I am… back at altitude here in Flagstaff hoping to find 12 more seconds when I head back to California for the Payton Jordon track meet.

Packing for months of travel, training and racing is not fun… planning and locating massage and treatment options proved to be a bit of a hassle in some locations, so I found I was really reliant on my RecoveryBoots to keep me going through heavy training loads and hard workouts. I found them especially helpful when I needed my hands free to work from the comfort of the living room and to eat some fried chicken and waffles post-race.

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Fitness Friday: Gettin' er Done

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Fitness Friday: Gettin' er Done

I have decided to try my hand at the Canadian Championship 10k next week held at the Toronto Zoo Run.  I was debating whether or not I wanted to race in anything big between now and the Scotia Bank Toronto Waterfront Marathon next month, but decided that I want to give the race a go.  I have had some pretty good experiences racing in this CRS event... last year my sister Shannon made the trip with me and warmed up with me and Natasha... and it gives me a chance to head back home to Canada.
I'm not quite sure how my fitness will compare with the rest of the field, but I am looking forward to testing the waters.
This week's FITNESS FRIDAY brought me back to the pool with Kim and Ryan for an early AM interval session.  Those of you that remember my university training will remember that I used to spend a lot of time in the pool cross-training and rehabbing.  Those workouts involved a lot of aqua jogging and a lot of holding my breath.  While those workouts definitely benefited me back then, I now believe that full-on swimming workouts fit better into my training plan.
I started swimming with Kim and Ryan in July and feel like I now have a pretty good handle on how to pace myself through the workout.  What I love about swimming is that I can get my heart rate up and feel a completely different fatigue than that which I feel during running intervals.
Kim is hardcore... she usually swims 3000m for her workouts, while Ryan and I stick to 2000m (Hey! We started out at a mile in July... so I'm happy with our progress).  This morning however, Kim, Ryan and I all did the 2000m workout... and though I'm sure neither Kim nor I would admit this to each other... we were totally racing!
We start all our swim workouts with 200m easy, 200m pull, and 100m flutter kicking.
Then we move into the actual session.
Our intervals usually include several sets of 100s, some 50s even harder, and then some 200s keeping the pace steady.  Today there were a lot of 100s.
Finally, the cool down is 200m easy... but Ryan and I usually end up pulling the first 100 to make it go by quicker.

For those of you who want to look into some swim workouts... here is a pretty easy website to start out:

http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/swim-cgi/

Nothing like that rubber feeling after a hard swim session!

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 Fitness Friday: Beach Ready

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Fitness Friday: Beach Ready

This week I am heading to the beach with "double down" and a few of his friends. To try and make my weekend a bit easier running wise I did a hard track session earlier this afternoon (3x(5x400m) and then heading back to the basement to do some stretching and strength work.  Now I'll just have an easy run tomorrow and a long run Sunday. I'm anticipating it being pretty hot when I get down there, but am looking forward to a few days to lay out in the sun!
My general running fitness seems like it is coming along fairly well... I'm sure I have Ryan and Kim, and the C.O.W.S to thank for keeping me fit while rehabbing my ankle all summer.

First I started out with some work on my foam roller:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoHBDim_fzk

Then I went back to work on my ab ball and made use of the laminated card that I was given and is now in the hands of other athletes in Chattanooga:

First I did some general planking balancing on my ab ball (3x 60s), then I switched to some arm and leg extensions while balancing on the ball (3x15s per side).

rom there I did a side plank then rotate to bring elbow under the shoulder of my supporting arm (12 per side).

Finally, starting in a push-up plank position with my feet balancing on the ab ball, I then engaged my core to pull the ball in towards me, bending at the knee (3x15 reps).

Not a crazy long core session, but enough to stretch out and engage my core after a pretty solid track session.

Now to pack for the Beach! 

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Fitness Friday - err... pre-race recovery

Ok, so tomorrow I make my return to racing at the Crim 10 miler here in Flint, Michigan. I made the road trip up here yesterday and have been chilling in my hotel room with my Colorado running buddy Deanna Ardrey.
Yes, I opted to drive up to the race. Yes, there was a lot of car dancing. Yes, I still hate Ohio. No, I'm not crazy.
I'm actually going to jump up to Canada after the race tomorrow to visit the fam, and so that I can then cross back over the border to have my paperwork processed. Fun... eh? eh? Let's hope that border patrol do not find me "too hot to cross" again, and I get through in a timely manner.

So, since I am racing tomorrow my "fitness friday" hasn't been to "fit" feeling.  Dee and I went for a shake out run and will hit up the pasta dinner tonight... that's about the extent of today.
I'm not looking for much out of my race tomorrow... Just a solid effort to see how my body is coming back from this dang ankle injury.  I have been able to maintain some form of fitness swimming and rollerblading... but man, I now understand why people complain about running. It's hard! I didn't remember it hurting this much to get back in shape.
Anyways, enough sounding like a wimp for me.
Next week I'll be "fit" again, I promise!

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Fitness Friday

Alright... I have found a new Ap for my iPhone and am in love with it! The Nike Training Club.  This thing is great... there are tons of workouts to pick from and you can hammer out a great core and strength workout in 15 min when you are pressed for time or choose one of the longer ones (30 -45 min) depending on what you are wanting to accomplish.
This week I did the "Core Crunch":

Each exercise lasts a minute:
1. V-ups
2. Full Extensions: Extend your legs out straight and arms above your head holding a med ball and then bring your legs in and the med ball to your feet. (I didn't have a med ball, but substituted using a weight)

3. Suitcases: Squeezing the ball with your inner thighs, bring knees and elbows toward each other until your shoulder blades are off the ground. (Again, I had to get creative and used my roller to hold between my knees).

4. Side Plank Crunches (30 seconds each side)
5. Frogger with Swivel: Start in pushup position with hands close together; Jump your feet to the outside of your hands; Jump back to start position; Twist through the hips to bring one knee up to the opposite elbow; Bring the knee back and swivel the opposite knee up.

Repeat 1 -5
Then:
6. Plank
7. Side plank (1 minute per side)
8. Opposite arm/leg supermans
9. Kick downs: Lie on your back with legs straight up int he air, 90 degrees from your body; Keeping your legs straight, lower them as far as you can.

Great little session to finish out my training day!

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Fitness Friday: Fitness on the Go pt 2

Just when I thought I was going to start to settle down and have some routine to my life... girls weekend parked itself on my calendar and Ellen and I found ourselves road-tripping it up from White, Georgia through Knoxville to pick up Shannon, and then up to Johnson City.

Time to get creative again.

So, what does a girl do when she's staying with friends and needs to squeeze a workout in during a chatty girls weekend? She does WATTS:

First you start with 100 crunches
Then you roll over immediately and do 10 push-ups
Roll back over and do 10 crunches
Roll over again and do 11 push-ups

You repeat this adding 10 crunches and 1 push-up each set until you have worked your way back up to 100 crunches and finish off with 20 push-ups.

I generally like to switch up the crunches and do different variations to keep things interesting and to focus on different areas of my core muscles. I'm not gonna lie, by the end I struggle to get through 20 push-ups... but it does eventually get easier.

Not a bad quick fix for a workout... now time to visit with the gang and the new baby!

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Fitness Friday: Fitness on the Go pt 1

It's Friday! Time to go to work!

 

This week, as some may know, I was house-sitting for a friend in Chattanooga. It definitely made my life a bit easier not having to commute from Georgia, but it also meant I had to get more creative with my core training this week... did I mention there was a 17 year old lil' dog involved in my house-sitting?

 

This week I totally stole my workout from my lil' big sis. She had just recently traveled for a convention and posted a workout about training in a hotel room. Granted I wasn't in a hotel, but working with a smaller space than usual and perhaps, lacking a little motivation sent me scanning my sister's blog for inspiration.

 

http://www.cupcakedujour.ca/2012/07/work-out-wednesday_19.html

 

Not a bad little work out at all eh?

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Fitness Friday

Ok, so another week has come and gone and it is again time to focus on my core strength and flexibility. This week I took part of my workout outside on my sweet blades

and then finished it up inside with my trainer friend Dameian from STAT Fitness down here in Chattanooga.


Those of you who are from my figure skating past will remember the good old days of rollerblading around the parking lot at the arena doing one legged pulls and snowmen with our feet.  Since I am still in the process of upping my mileage I decided it would benefit me to start doing "interval work" on my blades.

First I rollerbladed a few miles down the river-walk, then I started into it:

First I did 1 min of sculling (also known as making snowman with your feet) with 30 sec normal rollerblading. I repeated this 5x.

Next, I did one legged pushes on each leg. 30 sec each leg x5 with a minute recovery blading in between.

I then returned to standard rollerblading for 5 minutes before repeating the above sets of intervals 2 more times.

After I was done my interval session I headed over to STAT Fitness to have Dameian help me work on my calf strength and get full mobility back in my hips and ankles.

Not a bad little Friday if you ask me ;D

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Fitness Friday

http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=16625

Ok, so it's again time for some core, strength, and stability work! This week I chose to reacquaint myself with the strength routine from Coach Jay Johnson. During law school I was usually pretty good about coming in from a run and jumping right into these exercises. Maybe it was because my laptop was usually already out from homework, or it served as a good distraction while I waited for my dinner to finish cooking... but since I have been living my new double life, I have fallen off the wagon.
Rollerblading has shown me how weak my hips, bum, and lower back have become, so I opted to do "Part 1" of the general strength exercises.

First, of course, I foam rolled:

Then I set into the exercises:

Plank, Side Plank, Supine, Side Plank - x20 seconds each

Clams - x10 each side

Lateral Leg raise - Neutral x4, Toe Out x4, Toe In x4 - switch sides

Donkey Kicks - x10 each side

Donkey Whip - x5 each side

Fire Hydrant - x10 each side

Knee Circles - Forward x10, Backwards x10 - switch sides

Hurdle Trailing Forward - x10 each side

Hurdle Trailing Backward - x10 each side

Lateral Leg Swing - x10 each side

Linear Leg Swing - Straight knee x10, bent leg x10 - switch sides

I did this workout after rollerblading along the Silver Comet Trail, so my hips were pretty tired by the end of it... the goal will be to work up to going through it 2-3x after several of my easy evening runs each week.
I finished up my core strength by throwing on the Ab Ripper X video from P90x and called it a day!


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Fitness Friday: Fitness on the Mend

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Fitness Friday: Fitness on the Mend

http://www.cupcakedujour.ca/2012_06_01_archive.html
Ok, So I am officially back to training and... BACK WORKING! Yah me! I have been able to pick up some part-time work at Speek & Webb (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Speek-and-Webb-PLLC/263925700298864), a law firm based in Chattanooga, TN. As I continue to focus my attention on getting my ankle back to 100% and my body back ready to run a fast marathon in October, I decided I need to return to my roots and pay attention to cross-training. Yes folks, this means I'm back rollerblading, swimming/aqua-jogging, and hitting up the core, drills, and stretching. As you can imagine, the whirl-wind of a trip my life has been on for the last 12 or so weeks caused me to let things fall to the way-side, causing my body to remind me that it's doing the small things that keep me healthy... lesson learned the hard way. So, in my attempt to keep myself on track, I am going to start posting my cross-training/strength building workouts on here! This week, I did the Core Synergistics workout from P90x. I love doing this workout... though Tony Horton can be a bit much at times. It switches things up enough that I don't lose interest part way through, and it helps me focus on my hip strength and flexibility... my trouble spots. I last did this workout with my lil' big sis when I was in Vancouver, BC. I had to modify it then because of my foot, but was still able to get a lot of benefit from it. I've shared the link to her workout blog... as you can see, it took matching outfits to motivate us to get going ;D.

"Fitness on the Mend"
Sometimes, our bodies don't behave. Despite our best intentions, and most ardent care, we get tired, we break down, we get injured. This post is about working out through injury. Or more specifically what to do, when you can't do what you usually do. My sister was in town this week to race in a half marathon. On her first day here she ran 15 miles. On day 2 she did a 8/6 double. Day 3 brought 400 repeats. And then, something went wrong... She began noticing a tightness in her ankle. Hopeful it would settle down by race day, she tapered her training, did the old RICE standby, and bought some Advil. On race day, we were awaiting her triumphant appearance at the finish line, when my phone rang. She had pulled out at 4 km. The medical team suspected a sprained ankle, or perhaps worse.

  How does a runner keep their fitness level up when they can't run? They get creative.

How does a runner keep their fitness level up when they can't run? They get creative.

 We put matching outfits. We threw on p90x. We improvised.

We put matching outfits. We threw on p90x. We improvised.

Low Lateral Skaters:

Bow to Boat:

Squat X-Press:

Reach High and Under Push-ups:

Fitness waits for no man.

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Back to the Basics

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Back to the Basics

 


Now that I am back settled down here in the South it is time to plan what I am going to do for the near future, and well, the next few years as I put running on the front burner for the first time in my life. Let me just say that this would be a lot easier to do if I was not mending an injury, and carrying the weight of my legal education on my shoulders.
For now, it is simple... maintain my fitness and figure out the best plan of action... luckily I have just picked up a sponsor (www.marathonguide.com) and I am chatting with a law firm later this week.
Maintaining my fitness while I rehab my foot brought me back to my college days... the days of crutching to the pool and aqua-jogging in circles were not things of my past I ever wished to re-visit... but here I am.
When I was still in Vancouver, B.C., with my sis I was able to get in a few pool workouts and was able to have her join me for one... of course, she insisted on matching outfits ;D (I posted the link to her workout blog above).
Getting back to my cross-training roots has also linked me back up with the C.O.W.S (Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers), which I am not only excited about for fitness and training purposes but also because they are some of the most amazing people I have met!
 

                                                           First swim back with the COWS

                                                          First swim back with the COWS


I first started swimming with the COWS in 2010 when I was down in Chattanooga for an internship... I met up with them a few times last summer, but never really got into the routine of going every week as studying for the bar and then starting a new job proved to be too much to juggle.
Luckily, this year it seems like I can pick up where I left off in 2010 and start hitting the TN river for some swims... and plan on doing so even during my marathon build up.

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