You see it everywhere in the running world. “Running with a group will make you a better, faster runner”. I have been a huge believer in this, especially with my experience with my old run club in Chicago. What happens when you change locations, or life simply gets in the way and you can’t train with a crew?
Find a source of powerful women and lean into it.
My power source is Oiselle. The sisterhood of the Volée (the Oiselle running team) is made of of runners from all backgrounds and experience levels with one common goal: to set goals and encourage each other to reach them. The connection (whether in person or virtually) created with other in the group provides a constant line of support and motivation; all there ready to remind you what can be accomplished if you only try. We are all real runners with real stories, each one different, yet equally as important. This poem by Lauren Fleshman, perfectly describes the mission of the flock. Even though I may not have my crew of ladies with me on my runs, the connections and shared stories of this sisterhood keep me motivated to get it done.
One of the best perks of being part of this flock is the connection to the Oiselle running pros. The pros are constantly there to answer questions, respond to a social media post, and a consistent part of Oiselle events. One of their objectives (when they aren’t out running the world) is to empower and teach the Volée how to succeed and reach the goals we have set for ourselves. For example, I emailed Devon Yanko last week and she graciously provided me trail running tips to share with my local group at our meet up this weekend…and she did it within 24 hours. That is an example of what makes me feel like I am part of a very special team.
If you would have told me running 15 miles on the trails would be hard (really hard) 6 months ago, I probably would have thought you were crazy. As very experienced marathoner I have run more 20+ mile runs than I care to admit. Running trails in the mountains though, that is a whole different way of running. The pace is slower and elevation gains can be draining. As I progress through my training plan, the miles get longer and the struggle gets realer.
To get through the long runs, I had to go back to my running hacks toolbox. One piece of advice I used to give running headed into their first marathon, was the break up the race into sections, then focus on running that section. When you finish the first phase, focus only on the second phase, and so on, all the way to the finish line. I used a bit of my own advice this week during my long run. I broke my run up into 3 parts of 5 miles each, then channeled the mojo of some pretty badass women the running world for my long run this week. These women have shared mantras that they have used in challenging times to help them stay present and focus on the goal.
My first 5 miles I focused on the mantra Relaxation is Power. I heard Rebecca Pacheco discuss this on a recent Running on Om podcast and it really resonated with me. So many times when we start to struggle during our run, all we need to do is relax. The stress we are carrying is blocking our power. By relaxing the shoulders, take a deep breath in and out, you can find the power and carry on.
The next 5 miles were all about Working the Problem a mantra used by Devon Yanko in this amazing video. As my legs grew tired, and the sun started shining, I started tripping quite a bit. I reflected to my current mantra and realized I need to focus more on my running form and pick up my legs vs shuffling and getting caught up in uneven terrain. Working the problem, rather than giving in to the tired legs really helped and before I knew it 10 miles was done.
The last five miles is where it started to hurt. After hitting an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet it started to feel like the finish was so far away. I kept repeating the famous words of Sally McCrae The further I go the stronger I get and it really helped. It gave me a purpose to those last few miles and to be honest, I was feeling pretty bassery when I was done.
This week’s training:
**I am enjoying this journey into developing mental strength that I spoke about in a previous blog post. In the coming weeks I hope to right a separate post to recap my exploration into mindfulness.
**It’s almost racing season. I am considering doing a couple more races this fall. At least one other trail race, and maybe two. I just need to remind myself to take some time to rest too, even though I now live in a location where I can comfortably run all year long.
What races are on your fall schedule? Keep me posted and I'll cheer you along to your finish line.
There was a full moon this week..a large, predominate full moon. I am not normally one who pays attention to astrology or signs from the universe, but I make an exception for the few days each month of a full moon. Thanks to this month's full moon, this week I felt like all the crazies came out to play. Random power outages, crazy personality clashes, and so many things breaking down. That was just a few of the highlights from my work week. Saturday and my long trail run just couldn’t come soon enough.
When Saturday arrived, much to my surprise the crazy continued. With the beautiful weather forecast, I decided to head out to Malibu for my mountain trail run. Malibu offers ocean views that are just as breathtaking and therapeutic as you can imagine. I had the perfect route planned, a nice ridge run, without a lot of elevation gain with a finish steps from the beach. Let me also mention Malibu is much farther than folks who are not from LA realize. Believe it or not the Pacific Coast Highway along the Malibu Coast stretches for 35 miles. It’s takes a bit of time to get there, which is why I don’t run there often.
I started out on my drive to my trail head in Malibu and just as I got to the area I planned for my weekly therapy, traffic came to a halt. Then I saw the cyclists…hundreds of them. That is when it hit me I completely forgot the Malibu Triathlon was this weekend. At first I thought, this could be ok; I could just cut around and turn a few streets ahead to get to my destination. Soon I realized this wasn’t going to happen as the cycling course of the route ran down the PCH another 14 miles. Yes, this meant I was stuck in traffic, barely moving for 14 miles until I could get past the race course. We all know when you have your mind set up for a long run and you get a big kink thrown into your plan it is easy to freak out. I knew it would probably take me about an hour to get to another trail past the race course (yes that is how bad traffic was), and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
As I sat there in traffic, I came back to a lesson I have been learning through my meditation, get comfortable being uncomfortable. Recognize the difficulties you are facing, accept it and then let it go. After pondering this for a few minutes, I recognized how privileged my inconvenience that morning was. Here I am in Malibu (one of the most beautiful places in the world), surrounded by athletes trying to accomplish a major life goal. Yes, this was a reality check on my crazy ending to a crazy week. No matter how my week flows and what obstacles come my way, I must be grateful for the life I am living and be ok with what seem at the moment like really uncomfortable and especially unplanned situations.
So what did I do? I rolled down the window and cheered as loud as I could for athletes as they road by and loved every minute of my traffic delay. Then I headed to my alternate trail route, which was a little more technical of a trail than I had planned to run, and with the late morning heat it was a bit harder than I intended for that day. But, guess what it was worth the struggle to get there and to the mountain top, as it was one of the most beautiful trail views I have experienced here in LA. I even lingered on the mountain for a bit, taking in the ocean breezes, the mountain views and let go of the week’s stress. Yes folks…life is good and trail running is even better.
This week’s workouts;
**ICYMI my friend Cass ran a 50k this weekend, and she ROCKED it. Before race day we talked about the transition from road running to trail running. She shared my tips and her observations in this amazing A Sweat Life blog post.
**As my training increases during this 2nd half of my training cycle, I have realized I need more substantial calories to fight off the post long run hangry. My newest obsession: savory grain bowls. This can be bowls with brown rice, farro, or even quinoa. However, the magic happens when you add a savory protein source and a good fat. One particular option I can’t get enough of is an idea listed in the Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook (yes I realized I have referenced this for the past three weeks, but it is just that good of a cookbook) that includes, sautéed spinach, brown rice, spicy black beans and a fried egg on top. I also added sliced avocado. These bowls are soo filling and packed full of recovery nutrients.
I have another pretty exciting opportunity courtesy of Bib Rave that should start in the coming week. Check back next week to hear all about it.
This week’s lesson
Respect the Run.
My week started great, I felt like I was off and running…literally. With the day off for Labor day I took my speed run to the beach, then hung out for a bit of beachfront meditation. (I actually really like doing meditation outside) The rest of my week flowed as normal with the usual runs and cross training. Then came Saturday, my long run day. I bonked. Four miles into a fourteen mile run I realized this was going to be a sufferfest. At mile four, I was already getting tired and whispers of hunger started creeping in my mind. Then a mile later, those whispers got stronger and before I knew it all I wanted was food. I ate the Honey Stinger wafer and fig cookies I brought, but soon realized it wasn’t enough. All I could think about the rest of the run was shoving a PB & J in my mouth. I made it through my run, but barely and oh so slow.
On my way home from my run, as I tried to sort out what when wrong, I realized I had barely eaten the night before and had restless night of sleep. This week, I didn’t get in a good cross training session, and my weight training was just so-so this week.
I get it, life happens from time to time. My diet isn’t always perfect and my sleep patterns suck. After the reality check this weekend, I realize I can't ignore the basics of long distance running…Respect the Run.
Treat the running and training with respect and don’t think you can just glide into it. The mileage will increase, the speed work gets faster, the weight training gets heavier. This flow is necessary to properly execute training. I am at the half way mark in my training, and as the endurance gets tougher on the long runs I need the weekly training to prepare me for those long miles and steep climbs.
This week’s runs:
--I’m absolutely loving the Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook. I have taken a liking to making my own snack bars, because a gal cannot live off of Picky Bars alone. Seriously though, I have a hard time with gels, chews, and gu’s for running fuel so I have been taking “real food”, such as dried fruits and energy balls on my runs. The Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook is a great resource for these options as well as great recipes that focus on the needs of an athlete. My personal favs are the recovery quinoa salad, the fig bars, sweet potato cookies (they are more like an energy bar) and superhero muffins. I am going to try a few of the smoothies this week.
--I finally found a place where I can use compression boots for long run recovery!!!! A couple weeks back I finally met fellow Oisele Volee runner Ciara who is a chiropractor and health & wellness specialist in Santa Monica. She is focusing most of her business on recovery for athletes and has just started a division of her business geared toward recovery sessions. She offers a variety of services, but I tried the compression boots this weekend. After a long run when by body took a beating, those compression boots saved me. I can’t wait to go back again and again in the coming weeks.
That’s all for this week, now it’s time to rest, meal prep, and write out strength session plans.
When I am asked what I like most about running, my standard answer is because of the sense of community running brings. No matter where you are in the world, runners have a way of connecting even without saying anything at all.
I run my long runs on mountain trails in the Los Angeles area. I like to pick a trail that has a nice stretch for running, and hills with elevation gain. The more popular trails are shared by runners, hikers and even dogs. When I head out early in the morning, I tend to see more trail runners, vs hikers and when I finish I see more hikers vs runners. Those early morning trail runners are mostly running alone, like me, taking advantage of the opportunity to have a wide open trail to run, rather than one that is heavily populated with groups or hikers. (this was a similar situation in Chicago for early morning lakefront runs). One thing I love about trail runners, is this sense of comradery, a bit of a “you’ve got this” for other runners, whether they are strangers or route regulars. This week on my trail run, I felt this with every mile I ran. My run started at 6:30am, right after sunrise and surprisingly there were a good amount of hikers headed out for their morning adventure. As the trail lead up the mountain, through the hiking switchbacks, it opened to a ridge, perfect for a few miles of solid running. This is where I found my groove, and other trail running peeps, trekking through their long run. Each time I passed or came up another runner, I made a point to say good morning, good job or some type of encouragement. Every single runner I came up responded back with a smile, a “you’ve got this” nod, and some even said hello first. Half way through my run, I came up a man with his toddler in the midst of trying to capture a photo moment. I had to stop and enjoy the view for a minute, as she was running, giggling and seriously loving every bit of nature around her. I saw them again a few miles later, as I was headed back from my run and this time she was back in his backpack, but it was if she was trying to say something to me. Her dad quickly explained, she wanted a high five, as she had been high fiving everyone she had seen that morning. Yes, this trailing running group, is one I don’t intend on leaving anytime soon.
My training this week went pretty well. As I mentioned last week, I am trying to incorporate mental strength training and while I have a lot of work to go in that area, incorporating this into my training plan hasn’t been as challenging as I thought it might be.
This week’s workouts included:
This week I began my initiative into incorporating mental strength training. First up, mediation with Headspace. Headspace is a guided mediation app. I have completed 5 sessions and so far I really like it and find it comfortable to use. Trying meditation makes me realize how much my mind can wander and how much work I have to do to control my focus. The guided app really makes it easy to understand the process of mediation, and how to get the most out of each 10 minute session. I have tried both first thing in the morning and right before bed. I am not sure which I like better, but will keep you posted.
Next up was a yin yoga session. Yin yoga is a session that has very specific poses that do not flow, but instead are held for a range of minutes (usually 2-5). The point of this type of yoga is to not only get a deeper stretch, but also a restorative way to bring awareness to your body and inner thoughts, similar to mediation. I am not gonna lie, this session was hard. My body is a lot tighter than I thought and my I need needs lots of mental restoration, but it was an amazing challenge. I hope to do a session like this once a week.
From here on out, my weekly miles pick up and workouts get tougher. As I enter the peak cycle of my training I know incorporating the mental strength training will help with burnout, and loss of enthusiasm that tends to come at this stage. I will tackle it head on, and hope to make it out in one piece…or should I say peace…
Until next week. Run Fierce. Live Fit.