Training Diary 6.22.14 — Speed Phase Week Four & See Jane Run Race Week!

Kathryn and the Bad Luck Mondays. A good band name, right? Like Iggy’s Stooges, Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Richard Hell’s Voidoids, the Mondays surround me with their music: the cold cough of a struggling Volkswagen against a midnight ocean drone. The 8-inch blade of a Wustof slipping off a new sponge like a record player needle. Is it Mercury’s retrograde? Or maybe a the result of a summer workday, the worst one of all.

Anyway, poetry aside, I have 3 loose stitches and a mess of gauze interfering with the use of my right hand. So blogging was a little delayed this week. This also means that this coming Saturday I will need to bow out of Jason Crandell’s yoga workshop at Yoga Flow that I registered for ages ago. Sad times. But downward facing dog is a no-go until these fuckers come out on July 3.

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At least last week (minus the car issue) was productive (spoiler — I PR’ed the 5k! BOOM!)

Monday — Vinyasa Yoga / 60 minutes

Tuesday — Strength Training  It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned how much I hate doing this. Thank god it’s only 20 minutes and that I get a shoulder massage right after. Gaaahhh why does strength training have to be so important?

Wednesday — Tempo Run / 5 miles / 8’43” pace  After last week’s debacle, I made sure to come up with a decent plan. I needed a good workout, and I needed to finish encouraged. No more sad sack tempo face. Mile 1 warmup (8’26” – a bit fast obviously), mile 2 -3 tempo pace (8’29”/8’22”), mile 4 cooldown (9’38”), mile 5 strides/fartleks (8’32”). Challenging but not over the top, although I think as I become more comfortable with these kinds of runs the top speeds need to increase and/or roll out more progressively. But look at this steady pacing! A major improvement from last week, I’m ashamed to say that I even had a little bit of fun. I’ll crack you yet, devil run!

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Thursday — Rest

Friday — Easy Run / 3.7 miles / 9’00” pace

Saturday — Yoga from Hell / 90 minutes  Well not really yoga from Hell, but class was more intense than expected, and left me slightly worried that lingering soreness would impact Sunday’s race. BUT I had that great buzzy post-shavasana glow as I left the studio — always the sign of a great class.

Sunday — Race! See Jane Run San Francisco / 3.1 miles / 7’27” pace  Crushed my sub-25 goal with a 23:07 finish time! Yay for speedwork! Hell, yay for tempo runs! Yay for beginner-friendly women’s races that allow me to place first in my age group! Stay tuned for the recap in a few days…

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Despite a dull lingering hum from the hammond organ and salty dogs at the Royal Cuckoo, last Saturday morning I emerged from my front door at a quarter-to-eight to take a very dirty dog for a very necessary haircut. A strawberry smoothie, a stroll around Precita Park, a trek up and down the hill to the Noe Valley farmer’s market (bounty: kale, parsley, summer squash, rapini, lavender, sunflowers), and a very strong cup of Philz later (Greater Alarm blend) — I felt it. Summer. Arrived.

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Here are a few to-dos for my summer vacation (note: summer is always a vacation, even if we’re still nine-to-fiving):

Finish FIVE Books Since purchasing an iPad, reading has become a rare event. When I do select from the bookshelf or Kindle, it’s usually nutrition, running, or cooking-related, so I’m focusing on fiction. Novels and short stories kind of exercise the brain creatively in a way that nonfiction doesn’t, as corroborated by this article from the Boston Globe:

“The emerging science of story suggests that fiction is good for more than kicks. By enhancing empathy, fiction reduces social friction. At the same time, story exerts a kind of magnetic force, drawing us together around common values. In other words, most fiction, even the trashy stuff, appears to be in the public interest after all.”

Hoping the “magnetic forces” not only feed my soul but also improve my sleep (by doing away with the evil blue light of the device screen). I’m only almost finished with book #1 (The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham), so I need to get cracking. What can I say? I was derailed by OITNB.

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Write 3x/week “Writing” is a common excerpt from my Gratitude Journal. I’m attempting two blog posts and one free-writing or exercise. Maybe a few creative nonfiction prompts from Poets and Writers?

One getaway / month (June-August) With Tahoe in June, and a planned vacation mid-August, that leaves a July excursion. I’m itching for a campout, but if it must be an overnight at a B&B in Marin, well then, I guess that’s life. 😉

Foam roll & Yoga Forming healthy habits for increased speed sessions and mileage building later this summer/fall by developing a short home yoga practice (once/week in addition to my twice weekly classes), using my “Stick” after every run, and epsom salt bath and foam rolling sessions on Monday nights.

Meditation Just 15 minutes several times a week. Psychology Today discourages meditation before bedtime, which would actually be my preferred window. But after work or running sound nice too. This goal also involves exploring various mindfulness and meditation apps.

Practice happiness Continue writing in my gratitude journal. Take deep breaths. Smile. Don’t hold onto things too tightly. Take myself less seriously. Wake up early and enjoy the quiet times.

Happy Summer 2014!

(Photo by Max Wanger)

Training Diary 6.15.14 — Speed Phase Week Three (AKA – I hate Tempo Runs)

Maybe more accurately: I suck at tempo runs. Unfortunately the only solution is also the least attractive: practice, practice, practice. Hal Higdon calls them “the thinking runner’s workout,” but I never expect so many of those thoughts to be “Oh my God, what fresh hell is this pace? Ugh, Kathryn. You are a terrible runner. ” Sometimes you need matter over mind. So I try to visualize beautiful robot-movement in my form, and relax my facial muscles to catatonic slack— totally unfeeling, absolutely numb. Imagine my legs as machines, incessantly — endlessly — moving. Don’t look at the watch. Never look at the watch. Seriously, stop checking the fucking watch. GPS is the devil. Running is torture. How on earth do people do this? What ecstasy it would be to walk — or better, to stop completely, hinging at the hip, pressing palms firmly against thighs. Ugh. Kathryn. You are a terrible runner.

I’m realizing that of course I’m doing it all wrong, or at least mostly wrong. Here’s Friday’s workout:

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So for example, if I’m looking to run a 24:30 5k, then according to Runner’s World training paces calculator, my tempo pace should be more like 8:20/mile. Currently I’m completing a ¾ mile warm-up (or so), and then increasing my pace too suddenly, subsequently crashing and burning by the end? On the other hand, I know these runs should feel hard, so maybe it’s more an issue of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Or probably some combination.

Either way, I dread that the secret actually lies in a painful learning curve.

Monday — Easy Run / 5.75 miles / 9’27” pace  A make-up for last week’s delayed Sunday long run. Not very impressive for an LSD, but still meaningful enough for 5k training. Besides, a run-commute home along the Embarcadero and through Potrero Hill? Best de-compression ever. Half a mile from our apartment, I stopped at the market for fresh herbs and cruised home for dinner. Summer. Ah.

Tuesday — Easy bike ride and strength training.

Wednesday — 6×400 / 4 miles / 9’33” pace  A beautiful morning in the Haight. 6’44 / 6’25 / 6’49 / 7’00 / 6’51 / 6’55 An improvement from last week — almost all intervals in the sixes. I’m doing a lot of walking between sets, and reading conflicting information regarding the better approach: Avoid a cooldown, or rest enough so that every interval can be performed at full quality?

Thursday — Dynamic Flow Yoga Class / 90 minutes  A class full of arm balances, which I love.

Friday — Tempo Run (from hell) / 3.6 miles / 9’08” pace  See above.

Saturday — Rest.

Sunday — Long Run / 6.6 miles / 9’49” pace  A meandering exploration around Noe Valley, Duboce triangle, and the Mission. My long runs have become a bit prescriptive, always with the go-to 8 mile route or 10 mile or 14 mile route that I know well. Kept this one interesting with some new and some familiar hills, neighborhoods, twists and turns.

Training Diary 6.8.14 — Speed Phase Week Two

Not the most productive week for running, but a bunch of fun times. On Saturday, my boyfriend surprised me with a birthday getaway to Lake Tahoe! Lots of relaxation for us, and lots of swimming for Mr. Darwin!

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Anyway, my priority these 4 weeks is to get up to do my speedwork, so in that respect training was still meaningful, if truncated. Oh well.

Monday — Dynamic Flow Yoga (90 minute class).  Whenever I walk into a yoga studio and see a teacher under 25(ish), I prepare myself for a gut-buster. Still, class was delicious after the previous no-yoga week.

Tuesday — Strength and commute by bicycle (~ 8 miles)

Wednesday — 5×400 / 4 miles / 9’39” pace.  Effort-wise, the 400s seemed faster this week, although I don’t have splits to compare. I was truly exhausted after each one though, which accounts for the slower average pace, as I did more walking during the recovery intervals. 7’14″/ 6’44″/ 6’42″/ 6’52″/ 7’00”. I added a few 100 meter sprints after my initial warm up laps. All in all, I’m enjoying the early mornings at the track!

Thursday — Rest.  Had planned a 5 mile easy run to recover from the track. I even brought my run commute kit to work, but I bagged it following a late night at work. Instead, I met a friend at 20 Spot in SF and chatted the night away.

Friday — Rest.  Had planned 30 minute tempo, derailed by staying out too late the night before. Lame. 😦

Saturday — Easy run / 3 miles / 9’25” pace.  Holy heat! At 6000+ feet above sea level, my 85º run around Homewood was a beast, but not entirely terrible. I kept it short, made a leisurely (and totally necessary) pit stop for water at mile 2, and finished a bit wilted but in good spirits. So no tempo this week but does one run in the mountains count as altitude training?

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Sunday — Rest.  I really considered doing 6 miles, but in the end decided to stay in bed on the morning of my mini-vacation. Miles could wait till Monday.

It pains me to say, but yoga boot camp is looking less and less likely. I’ve not completely settled against it, but 6am M-F for six weeks is a commitment. I need to determine my goals and priorities with Santa Rosa coming up in August. Need a moment of truth! What to do?

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” (On the Run, With and Without a Soundtrack)

Aldous Huxley.

It happened gradually, of course, but I felt a sudden shift. One day, running was a painful death march only to be managed fast and angry, on a treadmill, for 10 minutes, two or three times a year — totally impossible without an iPod overflowing with jams. Smash cut to 7am Thursday morning in the early fall, a canopy of fragrant acacias on one of those little side streets in the Castro, shoulders relaxed, listening intently to the quiet of the city morning. Running. Easy. Happy. Two episodes separated by years but maybe just defined by altered perspectives. In fact it was a substantive changing of states, like melted ice.

Somehow I’d become one of those dogmatic runners converted to an earbud-free existence. Only the rhythm of footfalls. The evenness of breath. An office worker, hidden away from the day, evangelizing the life-altering benefits of dashing over the outside world, oneness with the pavement, with the mind of meditation. Om.

All of this has been a big success and hugely helpful to my growth as a runner.

But last March the dregs of marathon training threatened to drag me under. Although physically capable and uninjured, a monkey mind plagued the once peaceful calm of my runs. After a sloppy and exhausting 19 miler, I spent a week in a cold sweat about a 20 mile Sunday. Suddenly, I remembered music.

The only possible solution would be everything I loved when I was 13 years old. Just one intensely personal, highly effective emergency 90’s rock mix. By track #1 (“Getchoo,” Weezer), the fog lifted. Ocean Beach sparkled, the Presidio dripped mysteries, the Ferry Building trembled with my stride, the road home spread forth familiar and warm.

Since then, I’ve gone back to mostly solitary and music-less running. But I’m definitely re-discovering how a solid set of songs can enhance the experience and break up training monotony. So I was intrigued by my boyfriend’s latest obsession with Beats Music, a streaming service recently in the news when Apple acquired it for an easy $3 billion. With various ways to browse, users can search playlists curated to specific “Activities”—  including  “waking up,” “pre-partying,” “getting it on,” among other ordinary events.

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“Running” includes 53 playlists — 100 for “Working Out.” Last weekend I chose Christopher Tait’s very fun “The Road Runner,” a rollicking journey of 70’s-80’s punk and new wave. Sure, I appreciate the everyday Beyonce power-up mix, but this fresh take on running music really made my Sunday!

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Users create their own playlists via a huge  library of songs. Here are some of the work-in-progress lists I’ve got going:

Running for Years: My go-to run mix since the first steps of Couch to 5k in 2011. AC Newman, El-P, Electric Six, The Hold Steady, The Knux, Les Savy Fav, and other indie-ish junk.

Haruki’s Run: Like “Logan’s Run,” but inexplicably weirder. I’m gaga for the surrealism of Haruki Murakami’s stories, and a little bit obsessed with “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.” A selection of artists, albums, and songs that Murakami himself listens to on the run (Clapton, Stones), it also features music referenced in his novels and shorts, as appropriate. For the existential hardcore fanboy (or girl) runner.

SOS Emergency 90’s Rock Running Mix: As described above. Veruca Salt, tracks from the very first Foo Fighters album, Weezer, Ben Folds Five, Fiona Apple, Cracker, and some good ol’ fashioned Courtney Love circa 1994.

If you’re a beats user you can follow me at kathrynb.

Training Diary 6.1.14 — Speedwork Week One

New to the blog this week are training diaries. I enjoy reading others’ and figure a weekly report would be a nice compliment to my own training efforts. No fun quote titles, we’ll save those for the regular posts. 🙂

The superstitious say that on day 1 of any month, an immediate utterance of “rabbit, rabbit” should keep you lucky. Unfortunately the first thing I said yesterday was “Oh, shit.” I swore I’d commit to CIM before the next price increase thus woke up with a start, certain that the last magic day had been May 31, a lazy Saturday of blustery NorCal beach walks and dog baths and 4 hours of True Detective (McConaughey. Gaah!), and not signing up for marathons.

Turns out — June 1 was the $125 cutoff! Still lucky! If, that is, lucky means officially registered for a third 26.2 mile adventure. Boom!

Last week marked the first of a series of training blocks as described in this post.

Monday — Long Run / 6.5 or 7 miles / 10:20-10:30 pace. Sunday’s LSD didn’t happen, so thankfully the long weekend saved me. Sadly, it wasn’t a great experience. I was feeling sad and kept getting mild asthma attacks. I would have given this run a big “F – U” sooner had I not promised to meet up with my friend Ari, who just about killed me with a steep climb up to Buena Vista Park at mile 4. Thanks buddy. I forgot to re-start my watch at one point (after one of the aforementioned asthma spells), so I’m not sure how far we actually went.

6 mile Buena Vista Run

Tuesday — SuperSlow Strength Training. I do a very specific type of weekly exercise with large Nautilus-type machines and a friendly but sadistic trainer (sorry David). Right now I’m focusing on adductor, leg press, behind-the-neck press, chest press, pulldown, and lower back machines.

Wednesday — My First Track Intervals! 4×400 / 3.4 miles / 8’24” pace. I woke my ass up at 5:45am to schlep over to Kezar and run my very first formalized track workout. My schedule called for 5 repeats but I’d decided earlier in the week to do 4 and see how I felt the following day. This being my first time out there and all. But damn it if I didn’t feel like such a badass!

Thursday — Tempo run / 3.1 miles / 9’17” pace. Maybe a little slow and a little short, but the idea this week was to push but also to feel out these new, unfamiliar workouts. All in all a nice quick morning run around the neighborhood.

Friday — Rest. I thought about run commuting home after work, but I didn’t even bring my gear to the office. Work and the early morning runs left me pretty worn out. My brand-new UP24 activity tracker revealed a sleep average of about 6 and half hours a night. Now I know a lot of very talented people who can function on less, but this is bad news for me — a ticket straight to injury land with a detour through grumpy town . Indeed by 4pm that day I couldn’t see straight, I was that tired.

Saturday — Rest. Usually yoga day, or I was going to make up the missed Friday run, but I did some hardcore relaxing instead. In retrospect it was nice to have a whole day free from commitments, but I could have used the yoga.

Sunday — Long Run / 8 miles / 10:00 pace. A glorious long run along the Embarcadero that more than made up for the suck-fest on Monday.

Woefully, not a single stinking second of yoga. Whaddya know? My body feels no bueno, stiffer than usual — it was at times iffy during yesterday’s 8 miler. It’s amazing how much healthier I feel when I practice regularly, so I’m on my way to class tonight! Yoga Mayu’s 6 week boot camp begins late June, although I still haven’t pulled the trigger. Otherwise, this coming week’s schedule looks a lot like what’s above. Minus a rest day, and in new Oiselle flyte shorts. Ooh la la!