This book is a total game changer.
A woman is not a small man. Therefore we cannot train like one.
As you know, I have spent the last few months trying to figure out the glitches in my body that have reeked havoc on my normal training patterns. I have lost muscle mass, gained a few pounds and just don’t have the same endurance as I am used to. Truth be told I haven’t been in a specific training regimen since October, but I am even finding it difficult just to maintain my fitness. I actually have been kind of intimated to ramping it up again.
With these changes to my body, I have been spending quite a bit of time researching, looking for some answers and suggestions on training at this phase in my life. If you have read previous posts, I had blood work done to review specific biomarkers, which I found incredibly insightful. I have also spoken with other masters runners who have offered a ton of insight, especially about recovery. However I haven’t been too successful in finding specific training and nutritional suggestions (and the reasons why)..that is until this weekend.
A few weeks back someone suggested I read the book Roar. Then I Dr. Sims joined forces with Nuun Hydration to create a great performance product that I love. Since I had been hearing so much about her and I knew I couldn't wait any longer to get this book in my hands. I received the book last week, and after skimming it, knew it would be full of great info. I was hooked after the first page and literally read it in two days. (its also saturated with highlighter notes) There are soo many enlightening details, specific strength workouts, and nutritional with hydration guidance. Keep in mind Dr. Stacy Sims is a scientist, so she shares her recommendations based on research, not the latest fitness trends.
The premise of Dr Stacy Sims philosophy is that in order for us gals to be at the best performance we must first understand the female physiology. It’s kind of a no brainer that as a woman we are different from men and that we shouldn’t train like one. However, the reality is, most running training plans do not designate between men and women, the base is usually the same. This book digs deep into the types of female bodies, how hormones can effect training each month and how to make nutrition modifications to meet an individual training needs.
What I liked most is the specific data and training suggestions this book provided for masters runners. As we age, our hormonal makeup becomes unbalanced and in some cases is depleting, so we shouldn’t be fueling and training the same as we did in our 20’s and 30’s. I have heard this repeatedly, but have gotten stuck on how and what modifications to make in order to be successful in training. The detail Dr. Sims provides is the most specific I have seen, (especially to combat hormonal changes) and seriously has me fired up.
I am not going to sugar coat it, running as a 48-year-old woman is so much more challenging than I expected. I knew I might slow down as I got older, but I honestly didn’t expect to feel such a struggle with the endurance of long runs or gains in training. To be honest, these struggles have intimated me to train hard. Part of that struggle has created an excuse not train, but part of that is negative self talk and feeling like I can’t compete. It’s easy to say, just change the attitude and get out there and do the hard work, but I am the type of person that needs to understand the why and not “just do it” because the latest article or fitness pro tells me to.
Taking the steps I have to better understand my body and what it might need to train, has given me a boost. I still need to work on my confidence with training, but at last I feel like I have some solid resources that resonate with me and make it feel ok to try. Next week I run the Santa Barbara Wine country half and then I want to spend my summer training for a trail 50k. For the first time in a long time I feel I have the knowledge I need to feel secure in at least trying for this big goal. I know a lot of you are probably wondering what this insightful info is, but to be honest I don’t want to misinterpret the guidance from the book. However, in two weeks I start a training regimen again, I will share weekly what I have done and what worked. I hope that that too will give you a bit of insight.
Seriously thought, if you haven’t already, get this book. I got it on Amazon for less than $10 and I swear it will be one of the best investments you make!
I am a masters runner. I repeat, I am a masters runner.
What's the big deal i thought, I have run for years, age is only a number right? Well not exactly. I can't speak for everyone, but as I get older my body is definitely responding differently to training. I have noticed it is so much harder to maintain my speed, and my strength and recovery doesn't come as easy in previous years. That can really screw with your mental game..and to be honest it has mine. However, I still have this yearning to hit some running goals. I still believe I can do this and understand training include modifications to my normal routine. Throughout the spring and summer I will share those with you.
In the past few weeks after hearing from other master runners, I have gathered a few new training ideas and resources to guide me. In May I am running the Santa Barbara Wine Country half marathon and then I would like to follow that up with a trail race (possibly a 22k) at the end of May. I had a hunch (or at least a hope) some of my performance issues could be tied to nutrition. I am not one for supplements, but I was curious if adding specific foods or vitamins could help in any way.
A few weeks back I mentioned I had gotten some blood work done to determine if there was anything I could add nutritionally to enhance my training. There are a few companies that offer athlete blood screens, and I chose to use the services of Athlete Blood Test. This company was referred to me by Oiselle, as some of the pros have used their services and seen great results from their recommendations. The process was very easy, you just go to the website, pick which testing option you would like to purchase (they vary depending on your training needs, or you can create your own). The company then provides you with a lab (or in my case numerous ones) that are nearby where you go to have your blood drawn. The blood is tested and the results sent back to the docs at Athlete Blood Test a few days later. In about a week, I received an email with my results and recommendations.
The test results are broken down into various categories, based on the testing option you choose. I chose the Gold Panel which includes tests for blood count, hydration levels, metabolic panel, micro nutrients status and training tolerance (which includes hormone testing) and a lipid panel. I know based on recent physicals my blood count levels and lipid panels would be fine and within range, but I was excited to find out about the other categories of testing. What I really liked about ABT’s type of testing, is the results were rated against the “normal range” and the “ideal range”. The normal range is the range most labs use based on the general population. The ideal range is the ranges ABT has calculated base on gender, age, and training.
How did my results break down? As I thought, overall I was pretty healthy and quite few of my results were in the normal and ABT ideal range. However, there were a few bio markers that were not.
For example, my Vitamin B12 and Folate levels were in the normal range, but were low according to ABT ideal ranges for me and my training needs.. Based on the feedback from ABT, these deficiencies could be causing the early stages of fatigue I am experiencing in my training. Another deficiency that was within the normal range, yet not high enough for my training needs was Vitamin D. As I expected by hormone levels were unbalanced as well…mainly testosterone. One thing I found very interesting is the correlation between Vitamin D levels and testosterone. ABT’s report explained low testosterone could be the source of my inability to maintain my strength levels and the DOMS after a hard strength or hill workout. It was recommended that by increasing my Vitamin D levels it will help adjust some of my testosterone, and could help with my recovery. The other thing to note, if I don’t raise my testosterone levels I have a higher risk of injury as I increase my training levels.
Based on the test results, the docs at ABT provided me with recommendations for supplements and additional nutrition needs to boost my performance and improve my training abilities. There was even a recommendation of a green smoothie each morning to boost my intake of veggies high in folate, see...easy as that.
Overall I really liked the product and test results I received from ABT, and felt it was well worth the cost. In my recent physical exams my doctors have struggled to find ways to advise on how improve my training as they consider a good majority of my blood levels in the normal range. ABT was able to give me the information I need to make modifications in order to achieve the performance I desire. My recommendations are very manageable. I have purchased the suggested supplemental vitamins (only 3 so not too bad) and will structure my diet to include more green veggies (and as my training increases, more iron) each day. They said it would take about 3 weeks to a month to start seeing a difference, and I will keep you all posted on my progress.
In order to better maintain my progress, and make sure I am holding myself accountable to my training, for my upcoming spring/summer races I will need to do more weekly meal prep and journal my workout results. These are two areas I have been seriously lacking this year, and tracking these new findings is just the motivation I need to get back to the grind. I have also been advised to not amp up my strength workouts too quickly in order to prevent injury. As much as I love strength training, slow and steady build up is the plan for now.
That’s all for now, there is a green smoothie to blend, veggies to roast for this week’s meal planning, and strength sessions to plan.
Sometimes running gets in the way of training, and it's just what you need. An ode to the SoCal Volée
I should have spent the past two weeks amping up my training in prep for an upcoming spring trail run. Guess what happened. Running got in the way…
A year ago after moving to LA I had lost my interest in running. I had spread myself to thin, trying to serve too many people, doing “all the things” but not listening to my own running needs. This created burnout and I took a break. I found running love again via trail running but as I reflect on the past two weeks I realized something else too, I have fallen back in love with being of service to the running community.
This month was the LA marathon. For those of you that know me, know I love marathons. I may be on a break from them right now, but my heart will always have a special place in it for this distance. My love is not actually about the race, it’s more about the journey it takes to get to the finish line. I love the challenge and structure of the training, I love the way my body evolves during the training season, and I even have a soft spot for the agony of defeat that always teaches me something. This is why I had to be a part of the LA marathon this year in one way or another.
As the LA marathon runners of the Oiselle Volée squad began increasing mileage for their upcoming race, I coordinated meet-ups in the hopes they could log the miles and share the journey with others. Each week I saw these runners bond, share stories, encourage each other and most importantly keep coming back for more. I heard many comments on how running with others, and knowing you weren’t alone in the madness of a marathon had made this training season a much more enjoyable experience.
Then came race day. We set up the Volée cheer station, and passed out cowbells to friends and family. As the morning went on, Volée members started showing up, not there to run but to support our team as they reached the hurting point of the race. One by one as the runners came by I heard the sounds of the marathon: the cheers and the clank of the cowbell. However, what caught my attention was the runners. Our Volée team lit up the course as they passed the cheer squad. This bad ass lady gang was all smiles; seriously every single gal looked fierce and strong as they flew by. I know there was pain, but what I saw in their eyes was a joy, a joy I could relate to. The joy that comes when you realized the journey of the last few months has brought you to this point. The joy of nearing the finishing line, knowing you’ve got this. That is what the marathon is all about!
Without even running this race that I love so, the Volée sent me home with a full heart.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. Back to my running, and I was scheduled to run the Hot Chocolate 15k in San Diego. Truth be told, while I had run a lot this winter, I hadn’t run a lot in the past couple weeks. I had spent alot of time preparing for marathon meet ups, and gave that a priority over time for my own training. I know this is slippery slope for me and I tried to be mindful to incorporate some sense of balance during those few weeks. After witnessing the power of running at the LA marathon and receiving so much gratitude from the LA Volée I honestly had no animosity of not making time for my training. I had gotten back my joy in helping others reach their goal and that was more valuable to me than training runs.
When I stepped up to the start line of the Hot Chocolate 15k with a few of the San Diego Volée team I had a feeling this hilly course could be a bit of a struggle. The weather was perfect, I felt great, but I knew I didn’t have enough training in to hit a good race time. Just as the negative thoughts started to enter my mind, Natalie (the other SoCal Volée leader and an all-around amazing person) suggested our group of three take this race slow and make it a fun run. We ran at a comfortable pace, walked the hills and stopped at every single sweet station (because who doesn’t love marshmallows and chocolate when running). We laughed, told stories and had the best time. It had been a long time since I had ran a race, where I wasn’t taking myself so seriously. Instead of struggling to hit a time, I noticed the beautiful scenery of San Deigo’s Balboa park, took pictures of the blooming flowers, high-fived the aid station volunteers and fed my soul with the time spent with my team.
I know I will not run races in that manner very often, because as a goal oriented runner, I need to meet running goals to drive me forward. Being a part of the SoCal Oiselle Volée compares to no other run crew I have ever been part of. The support, the love, the gratitude is always there from another runner just when you need it the most. As I crossed the finish line Sunday, I was again reminded that sometimes running gets in the way of training but sometimes that is exactly what I need.
The last 7 days have been amazing. From the responses I received from last week’s post, to cowbelling (both in real time and virtually) for the badass #Birdstrike team, to meeting up with an old and new friend for a hike. I have been inspired, uplifted and definitely ready to get trail running.
In last week’s blog I shared my thoughts with you on my struggles with training as a masters runner. I was pleasantly surprised with the responses I received from others in the same boat. It’s funny how my internet research left me answer less, but hearing from others (who too wish there were more discussion on this topic) has given me support and a few options to try.
However there was a common thread in my conversations with others, beating ourselves up for not living to our expectations, specifically as a masters runner. So many comments questioning abilities and struggles; judging performance (or lack thereof). It’s honestly like being a teenager all over again, struggling to understand how to adjust to life’s physical changes on our bodies. While there is definitely truth in the importance of eating right, and dedicated training to achieve goals, there is also the emotional side of training which we rarely talk about. I too find myself struggling at times with negative image and negative self-talk.
How am I working though this? For me, it’s Yoga.
For the record, I am not one of those runners who embraced yoga into my life. I actually fought it for many years, the poses, the time, the slowing down. I honestly didn’t understand the benefit it would bring to my training. I saw yoga as a way to stretch and keep the joints loose. It doesn’t help that I was under the mindset, if you weren’t pushing yourself to fatigue it wasn’t a true workout.
The reality is I didn’t think I was “good” at yoga. The yogis, the poses, the essential oils intimidated me. I would go to a class, and get frustrated by more experienced people in my class, I would get antsy sitting in a pose too long, I didn’t know the proper form and was too embarrassed to ask for help.
Then life changed. Not long after I moved to Los Angeles, I had a mini breakup with running. I began going through a bit of internal angst, as I had always identified as a runner. I felt my mind constantly racing, searching for something to fill the void and keep me moving. I couldn’t focus on anything specific, just scrolling through social media, listening to every podcast I could and even attempted to bake a few items (that one definitely didn’t got to well).
Here I was in LA, where there is a yoga studio on practically every street corner, but I was still fighting it a bit. Then I listed to this podcast with Julia Hanlon and Rebecca Pacheco and began to think maybe yoga wasn’t so bad after all. I tried a class or two, but still wasn’t convinced. It was when I picked up Rebecca’s book and seriously, it all changed, I began to understand that yoga wasn’t only about working out, or stretching sore muscles, it was also about learning how to be present. This book helped me understand how to break down the poses, the reasons, and the rationale behind yoga and soon realized this was exactly the mental love and strength I needed in my life.
It took me a bit of trial and error, but I have found a studio that works for me. I went to studios where everything sparkles and the music is pumping, but I felt old and out of place. I went to a few outdoor sessions but found myself getting to distracted, I even tried a candlelight session but the oils and chants were a bit much. (I also tried a few online yoga programs, but I prefer the guidance of an in-person instructor) It was when I tried a local small studio; I finally found a good fit. I found a place where the participants were age diverse, and more importantly the common thread among the teachers was the self-talk lesson during session. Each class I attended I noticed the teachers would calmly work to bring your thoughts back to your own practice, your own poses and diminish the need to look around the room to others for comparison. I found this so refreshing. I began feeling stronger in my poses, even when I fell, or didnt have the proper form. I slowly began to recognize when negative self-talk thoughts would creep up on me in class and am working toward diminishing them.
As I process some of the physical challenges I am facing with my running lately, I catch myself judging my speed, my need for more sleep and especially the muscles that get so sore after a moderate weight training session. This is something I rarely have dealt with in my running life, but lately I find myself making excuses and beating myself up for my struggles. When I put out my blog last week, I honestly didn’t expect to find out others were dealing with that too. At first, it was a bit of a relief, but then I got a little mad.
Why as women over the age of 40, trying to maintain our athletic abilities are we struggling with this type of self-talk? Maybe it was because we aren’t talking about it. We hide our feelings, not wanting to be judged. Through my yoga sessions, I am learning to recognize those thoughts and then I can push them aside. I have a long way to go, but it’s a start.
I can’t speak for others, but for me it meant a lot to know I’m not alone in these fitness struggles. My hope is we can keep the positive conversations going, in an effort to quiet that negative voice when it creeps into our head. I know this doesn’t answer the questions on how to train and perform, but at least it helps to not feel isolated and defeated.
Trail running training is starting up for me again. This is my last week of base building and next week I start a full-fledged training plan. While I can’t wait to hit the trails I am so badly craving to run on, I have one step I want
to take before I dive into a plan. I have decided to get some blood tests/panel done with recommendations on ways to enhance my performance via nutrition and supplements. I go in for my testing later this week, so stay tuned and I will share my experience.
My spring race schedule in the coming months includes:
Hot Chocolate 15k San Diego
Pasadena Trail Run 5 mile
Santa Barbara Wine Country Half
Xterra Malibu Creek 22k
I hope you will follow along as I share my journey. If you are an Oiselle Volée member, join the conversation on the Ning Masters page, I would love to hear your thoughts and share ideas. If you aren’t then comment below. Let’s keep talking, motivating and helping others reach our goals
I don’t talk about this often, but its time I face the facts. I’m 46 years old. My mind thinks my body still functions the same, uses fuel the same way, and maintains fitness the same as my 30-year-old self. However, truth be told, for the past year or so, my body says something different.
I run slower.
I have a harder time maintaining muscle.
Even though I maintain the same clean diet, I tend to gain a few pounds a bit easier than before.
I have cellulite
My blood pressure regulates my body temperature differently
Here is the thing, this is kind of freaking me out. I don’t want to lose the strength gains I have made over the years, and I’m not ok with getting slower on my runs. I get frustrated with my body reacting this way. Yes, I realize it’s part of life, but it sucks.
In all honesty, when I see other runners my age, still looking strong and meeting racing goals I get a little envious. Not in a way where I am jealous of their accomplishments, but I become less confident of my own. Funny thing..I consider myself a pretty confident gal, but understanding myself and my abilities as a masters runner is a new challenge to overcome.
Since I struggled with how to accept these changes, I wasn't comfortable speaking to others about it. So, I did what others do. I searched the interwebs hoping to find the motivation and tips I need from other masters runners…but no luck?!?! Yes, there are general comments about how to run while your body changes with age, or how to incorporate fitness and/or running at later stages of life. Funny though, no discussion, no details on how to make adjustments (both physically and mentally) to training as a female athlete over the age of 45.
So now what? Give up running…hahahaha as if that would happen. I still have goals. I realize I may have to train a little more creatively, mix up my nutrition to make sure I give my “new” body the type of fuel it needs, rest and recover a bit more, and maybe even adjust my goals to a new type of challenge.
When I am on the trails, climbing peaks and running the ridges my goal is to feel strong. Strong enough to reach heights and run the miles it takes to accomplish goals. I am a goal oriented person, I plan my seasons around what running goals I can meet and train in order to accomplish them. The work to get there isn’t always pretty, glamorous or what “athletes” may be perceived to look like. The outward appearance doesn’t matter to me, what does is the accomplishment of completing the task I set out to do, and putting in the work that allows me to enjoy the experience.
This training season will no doubt require quite a bit of learning; possibly working a bit harder, in more creative ways, accepting new methods of training (such as more strength/mobility work, more specific nutrition and weekly yoga to work the mind.) Not only do I seek to find the answers to my questions on being a female masters runner, but to share those ideas with others, in hopes that others come out of the shadows into their running ability.
I don’t have all the answers on how I will do this just yet, but I do I have a secret weapon…My powersuit. Sally Bergesen wrote an enlightening blog post and gave a beautiful talk at the Muse Women’s Conference this past weekend. Her talk discussed how apparel can give us the mental edge.
When I am out on the trails, I bring the gear I need to get me through the day, this includes fuel, hydration, even a buff to wipe away the salty sweat. More importantly I wear clothes and sometimes my Oiselle singlet that empower me. They don’t empower me to create an appearance, they empower me with their ability to function, their ability to breathe, allowing me the space to do the work. I have no doubt when I put on my power suit I can make it through a training day, one step closer to the finish line.
I hope you stick around for the ride as I find new ways to Run Fierce and Live Fit.
Ok, Its been a while since I posted a blog, so let me fill you in.
I’ve spent the last month running 3 half marathons. Let me clarify…road half marathons. This includes the Phoenix Women's Half Marathon, Surf City Half Marathon and the Palm Desert Half marathon. I am not gonna lie, while they were all great, well run events, it was a challenge.
Yes, last year I said I was done running road races, and here I am running multiple road events this spring? So what gives? I set out doing these races knowing I needed the mental challenge of the road. I have long distance trail plans for the fall and that means lots of mileage and long hours training and racing. In order to do this, and not get into a rut I knew I needed to build a base of running miles both physically and mental. (with that being said, running on the beach with ocean breezes and mountain views is a actually pretty awesome)
Don’t let me fool you, I did not run these three half marathons fast. The reason why? I didn’t train to race them, just to run. Like I said, my intention was to build a solid half marathon distance base this winter in order to prep me for spring trail running. However, truth be told I probably took it a little too easy (ok a lot too easy) and should have been more diligent about my training for those events. However, after my most recent race I realized one important thing. While I may not feel like I am in the best physical/training shape, I do feel like I am mentally much stronger. The route for my last race (the Palm Desert Half) was boring, we are talking running on the side of the highway for 90% of a half marathon boring. No crowd, no scenery (with the exception of numerous palm trees) but I was able to use a few techniques I have learned in mediation and pulled through the miles without any mental angst.
As I write my race reviews on my month of half marathons I have made a few solid reflections.
Overall this base building phase was just what I needed. It wasn’t too high pressure, I learned quite a bit about my self physically and found that itch to set future running goals. This winter, I also spent a lot of time supporting the LA Oiselle Volée team who are training for the LA marathon. Watching their growth over the past couple of months has been so inspiring. Surprisingly, I am not at all having FOMO over not running this marathon, yet it has definitely motivated me to get back into a more scheduled training routine.
With that being said, it’s time to head back to the trails for a spring race. As it stands now that race will be the Mailbu Creek 22k at the end of May. There will be a couple other events between then, but this new race and new goals are focus.
Follow along this new journey; I promise to post more blogs, share more photos and even tell a few new stories.
On Saturday January 21, 2017, history was made when close to 4 million women united together to bring awareness to women’s rights. Unfortunately, due to a previously scheduled commitment I couldn’t attend the rally in LA but instead spent a good chunk of the morning glued to the tv and internet stream soaking in as much energy as I could. There were empowering speeches, and inspiring interviews, but the photo I posted above resonated and inspired me more than anything.
This sign is from the rally in Washington DC. I don’t know the women who are holding the poster, nor do I know the woman who created it, but there is a story that goes deeper than the photograph. As you can see, this poster is recreation of the iconic photo of Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman-Hughes from the women’s rights movement of the 1970's with the smaller poster bringing the correlation of that movement to the next generation of women. The message is clear, fighting for the needs of women now, impacts the rights of those yet to come.
What you don’t see is the story behind those females of our future. One of those future females (the blonde one) is Avery. I have no doubts that Avery will grow up to be an amazing young women. Why do I know this? Because she is blessed with an incredible Mom. Her mom, Colleen is beautiful soul with an even bigger heart. It’s no wonder she is a school teacher, because she has is leader and a guider. She listens to conversations intently, she responds intelligently, and makes everyone she is surrounded by feel like the most important person in the room. She shares with her daughter her love for life, which in turn molds a daughter with a love of life.
Like so many others who were inspired by this showing of the power of women uniting this past weekend, I have been soul searching trying to find out where to go from here. Since the time Colleen shared this photo with the world, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. There are so many young girls whose life is surrounded by amazing strong women, but there are so many who aren’t. I keep coming back to the empowerment of being surrounded by strong guiding women in your life, and the reality that there is also a guidance, and a power of not being surrounded by strong women in your life.
While this weekend, reignited the flame for so many, this is actually something I have been stewing around in my head since I moved to LA. I heard Lauren Fleshman speak on occupying space in this podcast with Julia Hanlon. I too have been trying to find my place, finding a way to fulfillingly occupy space, but doing so in a way that serves me. When I was in Chicago I was pretty heavily involved in Girls on the Run, serving on the Board and volunteering with them for many years. While I love everything about that organization, the time has come for me to find a new form of service. I want to be a light, guiding the path, a support system for females, especially those who are the future. The future can seem a bit scary right now, in many ways, but I really believe, if we come together, support the ones we love, and the ones we don’t, we can make a difference.
While I don’t know exactly where to go from here, I have a few ideas and some avenues to research. We (myself included) live in a society where it is easy to make time to scroll through social media, but difficult to find the time to get out and meet others for coffee or a run. The power of connection that social media brings also leads to isolation for so many. This weekend, we saw the beauty of what happens when we come together, in person, as liked minded people to connect and peacefully share a message.
I commit to spending the next few weeks, sourcing out volunteer options, getting to know my local political leaders and discovering ways to be of service in LA. This might be through running, through facilitating ways to bring others together, or something completely new, I am remaining open. What I do know, is my mission is to be one who is guiding, molding, shaping, and engaging while listening to the voices our future.
Oiselle posted a blog post that really resonated with me about setting goals and rejecting the distractions. This post beautifuly describes where I am with my running right now...on the edge of reaching new heights.
I am goal orientated person. Goals, to-do lists and game plans keep me focused and help guide my daily path. I have been like this since I can remember. (Anyone who has ever worked with me, knows all about my fluid to-do lists) Over the years I have learned, analysis and setting goals works better for me on periodic basis rather than at the beginning of each year, when all the cool kids are setting New Year resolutions. I find breaking goals up into smaller, more achievable ones versus long term options help me not get overwhelmed but enjoy the process of meeting that goal and getting to cross it off my to-do list. I tend to sit down and review my goals on a quarterly basis. The change of seasons, finishing a goal race, or even watching someone inspiring reach new heights are times I find are best to hit reset and adjust as necessary.
With that being said, I have spent the last couple of months of 2016 without any running/training agenda. Breaks are necessary, but for me, so is structure. No personal running goals, or game plans has been such a welcomed way to keep me sane and prevent running burnout, but now it is time to get back to my routines and get out the door training.
This year it will be different. Last year was about trying new things. This year its about taking some of the new experiences I enjoyed, doing them again, but with bigger expectations. I want to race events (not just run), I want to hit times that will place me in the top bracket of my age group, and do this while still finding a balance between personal and running life. I know I need to step out of my fitness comfort zone, digging deep to get stronger and faster yet making sure the experience brings me joy (aka prevent burnout).
What's first in my Flight Plan for 2017? A base building training cycle.
As you know, I absolutely fell in love with trail running, and I intend to take what I learned dig even deeper this year and maybe even take a few more risks. However, since I took a couple months off from scheduled running, I recognize the fact that I need to build a strong running base in order to be a stronger trail runner. When I was offered a chance to run a couple winter half marathon in Southern California as part of the Bib Rave ambassadorship I knew that was the perfect way to get myself back on the roads to focus on running form, speed work and most of all my mental strength (the monotony of running roads can break me down).
Here are my key races for now. I will figure out more trail running options in spring.
But my first quarter goals don’t stop at running. I have also committed to incorporating a few things into my life on a regular basis with the hope that they become permanent routines.
Road racing training season has begun. I am committing to hitting new heights, while rejecting things that don't allow for balance in my life. #wheelsup2017
I sit here like most of you on the last week of the year, reflecting on 2016. The year started with my move across the country to Los Angeles without knowing anyone except Matt’s brother and sister in law. From the minute I arrived here it just felt right. The decision to leave Chicago, all the friendships, family and a way of life behind was well thought out, but did come with a bit of a risk. When you move to a new city, find a new job, make new friends you never quite know if it is going to work out as you envision. For me, it was truly a blessing in disguise. The transition was pretty smooth, I have meet so many new friends, and the change of pace in life was something I didn’t even realize I so desperately needed to function properly. (yes living a life amongst palm trees, beaches and mountain trails is as amazing as it seems) Overall the common thread of my year though was try new things…sometimes it can help you find where you were meant to be all along.
But how did this all work out so well? This is LA afterall. The city with a reputation of being the opposite of friendly and inviting. To be honest, I found the people to be generally wonderful. (the traffic on the other hand not so much) How was this possible? By searching out and embracing places, people and events that had a sense of community.
In Chicago I was pretty heavily involved in the running community, via my run club Crew Runs the World, Nike+ Run Club, Fleet Feet and Girls on the Run. Much to my surprise, finding groups like this in LA was even easier and much more welcoming than I imagined. I have tried a few different options, but want to highlight a few that have made all the difference in my new life.
November Project: It’s not a cult, but it is seriously something I can’t get enough of. If you live in an area without a tribe and don’t know what November Project is, let me enlighten you. It is a group (there are various tribes throughout the world) that meets twice a week for a 45 minute outdoor workout. The workouts are can include drills, hill sprints, burpess, squats, (all the painful exercises) and are for all fitness levels, all shapes, all sizes, all people. I will be the first to admit the LA tribe has some really athletic, fast people in the group, but this free fitness group is different. They push each workout to help you reach your potential, high five you until your arm hurts, and finish with a cheer tunnel that makes you want to come back for more. There is no comparing yourself to others, but instead the focus is on encouraging others to just show up and give it your all when you get there. There is also a social component to the group and so many options to train, race and even drink fun drinks together. I am looking forward to getting to know people in the group even more in 2017.
Oiselle: I honestly don’t have enough words to express how much I love being a part of the Oiselle team. Earlier this year, I decided to join the Volée and it was one of the best decisions I have made in 2016. Lucky for me in July I was chosen as an area leader and have had the opportunity to make new friends in Southern California via various meet ups over the past few months. But the Volée is more than just meeting friends to go for a run. The company, its values its athletes have empowered me in ways I didn’t imagine. From watching Kara Goucher at the Olympic Trials, to getting trail running tips from Devon Yanko, to meeting Sally (the CEO) at a track meet and seeing first hand her love for the Oiselle athletes, to getting to know Heather and Lesko the duo behind the Volée ;two of the most beautiful, caring, encouraging, inspiring people I have ever met. Don’t even get me started about meeting at the start line of a race with other Oiselle runners in our singlets, ready to conquer the world. This sisterhood is not a marketing ploy. These are real women, empowering real women to be real runners who reach goals that dreams are made of.
Nuun: I have been a Nuun ambassador for a couple years now, but the friendships I have made through this program have been a key to my success in the move to LA. When I ran Hood to Coast in 2015, I made friends with other SoCal Nuun runners. Those friends introduced me to others here in LA especially in November Project. Lauren helped coach me through my first trail race. Jody, who is just an all-around amazing, welcoming person, and I connected quite a few times this year, even ran a race together. I am so happy I get to see her now (although I need to make that a more regular thing in 2017). The best part though is I have met tons of others in LA from the nuun community, including Hyla and Stephanie who I see at November project and at Oiselle meet ups. One of my favorite Nuun events this year was running Ragnar Trail Tahoe. Trails + Camping + Nuun friends was seriously the best way to launch into my trail running adventures.
To recap, in the past year I ….
The moral of the story, if you want to have an amazing year, try things you never thought you would do, get outside as much as you can, and most of all find a tribe and discover a community of amazing people to feed your soul.
Check back next week to see what I have planned for 2017.
If you hadn’t’ heard already, the main reason for my move from Chicago to LA was the weather. I wanted the ability to run all year, in the sun. I finally gave up my badassery winter running attitude and accepted the fact that I needed sun more than snow in my life. This past weekend when Chicago was in the middle of a deep freeze, I was reminded how important of a decision it was for me to move to a warmer climate and the impact it has had in my life. Ok, let me interject here that I am not trying to rub it in to my Chicago peeps.
This weekend I did a 10 mile run in the sun, on the beach at it was glorious. The temps have finally cooled in LA and a 50-degree winter run is what I consider just perfect. Seriously, my long run felt so good and a lot of that had to do with having warm sun on my body. For so many years I spent doing the hardcore winter training in Chicago, being “weatherproof” to the elements. There were so many early mornings meeting friends for below zero runs. I am not going to lie, running in horrible conditions does a lot to make it easier push through races because you face the weather demons and win.
However, this weekend when I was out for my Saturday long run in the “cool” temps with sun on my face and sand under my feet I knew I was truly in my happy place. I realized sometimes it is ok just to find a way to make running feel good again, and it doesn’t always have to be about making the run as challenging as possible. As I went farther along in my run reflecting on my blessed life, the sacrifices I made to move across country didn’t seem so bad. I realized I can find other challenges in running to conquer, that don’t involve horrid weather.
This week I was back at the grind. The next few weeks will be primarily spent running on roads. I have seen other trail athletes take this approach (especially Sally McCrae) and I am going to try it out too. I will try to focus more time on strength training and trying to improve my speed for the long miles, versus hill climbing and endurance. I am hoping this approach to base building will serve me well once I start trail running training again in February.
My training this week wasn’t too spectacular but I did get in the following workouts:
Random thoughts from the week:
**I’ve been testing out Epsom salts and I have become obsessed. I don’t really like to take baths, but I have found the salts from Epsoak really help. I also started using them with body scrub in the shower and I am loving that option. Pro tip…get them with added fragrance…makes all the difference.
**My eating sucks right now, with holiday parties and cookies everywhere. I have decided to try to balance as much as I can but not stress too much about it for the rest of the year. In January, I am going to attempt vegetarian eating for at least a month (although I might include fish) in the hopes that I can slowly remove meat from my diet. I have done a lot of research on the benefits of eating a plant based diet I am convinced it will work. I just need to get my taste buds on board with that concept.
Happy holiday everyone! Since all the cool kids are doing it, I’ll be back next week with a sappy year-end review.