We’re back

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It’s almost a full group warming up these days… 8-10 women. It’s amazing (sometimes intimidating) how much talent and drive there is in the group.

I was part of a panel discussion last week. The topic was women supporting women, and how to lift each other up in sports and business. At talks like that, many times there is a question about how to reduce cattiness and competitiveness among women. In my experience, that isn’t the key question. For me, it’s how do I remain confident in myself, while also surrounding myself with successful, confident people.

I only get the urge to be gossipy, or want to find something “wrong” with someone else, when I’m a low on my self-esteem. And that tends to happen when I lose track of my personal path and goals.

Example from last week: For our Tuesday workouts, I am usually given a shorter set. This is because I run less mileage, and I’m relatively new to the program. Still, I don’t want to feel like the runt of the litter, and it’s easy to compare myself with training partners who seem so similar on the surface. We are runners! We are women! We are comparable!

But that is a trap. Just because we can wear the same sports bra, doesn’t make us the same. We are different people, different stories. Right now for me, feeling within myself on a 4.5 mile fartlek is progress. I want to keep pushing that up in distance, but I also have to acknowledge that that’s a big step.

And the more I clarify my unique path, the more I am able to celebrate the unique strengths in my training partners. The mantra I use to get in this mindset is, “I am me, and I love me some me.” Silly, but effective😬! Of course it’s easier said than done. I go through ups and downs in my confidence. But like anything else, it’s the progress that matters. 💋

Photo by Jordan Beckett

Find the rhythm

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I love the rhythm and timing of training cycles. 6-8 weeks is enough of a chunk to make gains, but not so long that the work seems endless. And I like the optimism of beginning again. It’s a time to evaluate habits, and try new ones if something isn’t serving (Not just something for New Year’s resolutions!). ⠀ ⠀
After getting over the initial inertia and fear of returning to workouts last week, it’s been nice to get into a routine.
This period is a mini base phase, meaning I’m running more miles per week, a weekly long run of 14-16 miles, and workouts are more strength-based (less rest between intervals…). You’re never meant to feel super sharp, because races are still a ways out.

Consistency is a goal. For me, a perpetual “new cycle” resolution is keeping consistent with my PT and prehab, so my body can handle the workload. Base training is for nothing if you get injured during the phase.

So far, workouts have been manageable. That’s a big difference from last fall. But also makes me wonder if I should be pushing harder. I think that’s a bit of the art of training (and coaching) … knowing where the edge lies. One thing I do know is as the weeks accumulate, so will the fatigue. And workouts will continue to get harder. I’m waiting a bit for that switch to flip, and just want to be as strong and ready as possible when it does. 💪🏼

Photo by David Bracetty

Workouts begin

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Almost immediately after writing last week’s update, we got the text that workouts began the next morning. I wrote this note after the first workout…

He texts at nine and my heart skips a beat. I feel nervous like the first day of school. One of my first thoughts is: “I’m not ready.” Or I just wish there was more time.
I can’t believe I still get nervous like this after so many years.

I remind myself… just because a thought appears doesn’t make it real. (This is a tricky one. Maybe especially for people who have experienced periods of great mental strength. You get used to being able to accomplish anything you put your mind to, and that’s an incredible high. But then what happens when you are in a building or uncertain phase? If I know that anything I believe about my abilities is true, what do I do when a nervous or scared thought pops up?)

Anyway, back in moment.
Don’t overthink. Go to sleep. Wake up. Make coffee. Two cups of coffee. Go to Nike. See friendly faces (Colleen was back, we heard about Birmingham). And just don’t attach too much meaning to any passing thought. Track tempo followed by 4 x k. Nothing crazy, and my tempo was shorter than the others’, but I finished. And there’s a wave of relief after. (I think I’m still a bit shell-shocked from fall training. Even today, I was waiting for a moment when I’d drop off. Not ideal, but this is a good reminder that I could benefit from starting back with sports psych).

Other than that, we are back to a 7 day cycle… two workouts and long run per week. The intensity will increase, but for now I’m glad to have one week checked off. ✅

Where to Run – Portland

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  1. Waterfront loop (pavement)

    • Start at Water Avenue Coffee (or anywhere near the water. I just like this as a meeting place for easy parking and river access). Go down Salmon Street to the water, a loop from the Tilikum Crossing Bridge to Steel Bridge and back is about 5 miles. This run has all the Portland sights (downtown, river, bridges, markets).
    • Just after Tilikum, the path goes along the road for a second. Follow signs for the bike lane and it will join back with the separated waterfront trail. If you want longer, continue past Tilikum Bridge and follow signs for Spring Water Corridor. You can take that all the way to the Sellwood bridge, cross the Sellwood and come back the other side. That full loop is about 10 miles.
    • East PDX Waterfront is ground zero for good food options. Produce Row Cafe and Trifecta Tavern are Portland takes on American gastropub. Afuri and Maruken are two of the best ramen places. There is a food cart pod on 12th, and a bunch of other options stretching out along Hawthorne and Burnside.
  2. Leif Erikson in Forest Park (dirt/gravel fire road)

    • Leif is the entry-level trail. It’s a fire road closed off to cars, so you get all the beauty of Forest Park (largest urban forest in the country!), without the technical aspects of the single track trails. Though mountain bikes are allowed. The trail runs a net uphill from Northwest District to Germantown Road, but it’s relatively rolling and mild from either direction. I usually do an out and back for 5-8 miles, starting at either end. But there also trails that connect up to Wildwood every few miles, if you want a more adventurous loop.
    • DragonFly Coffee and Clearing Cafe are two common starting places for group runs to Forest Park. I love DragonFly for the local flair, and their homemade chai latte with hemp milk. But the best coffee in the area is at Groundwork one block over. Or Barista isn’t far.
    • After the run, Stepping Stone is a classic diner. Kiva Cafe has smoothies and bowls. St. Honore is a local French bakery with perfect pastries (plus other food). And Kenny and Zuke’s has fresh bagel sandwiches. Olympia Provisions is my favorite brunch in the area, but it’s a few more blocks out.
    • 23rd Avenue is the local shopping street. There you’d find some iconic Portland stores (Tender Loving Empire, The Meadow) and food (Blue Star Donuts, Salt and Straw, Grassa, Pine State Biscuit).
  3. Wildwood Trail (single track trail)

    • Wildwood is a single track trail that runs the length of Forest Park. It’s almost 30 miles long, and a classic Pacific NW trail run. As you get toward the Northwest District and Pittock Mansion, the trail has a lot of elevation change (I’m a baby with this stuff). To avoid that, I prefer the section from Germantown Road back toward town, there are about 12 miles of relatively flat running.
  4. Tracks and soft surface loops in town

Photo by Jordan Beckett

Waiting game

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It was the second week of no workouts, and I wasn’t too upset when I heard that. It’s a chance to get miles up, get all runs and core/lifting in, and hopefully feel strong and healthy and ready for the higher intensity efforts.
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I’ve been watching my heart rate on runs and trying to keep it in lower zones, avoid many big spikes. I want this time to really be about recovery and building, not getting in a hole. My easy runs (measured by HR) have gotten quicker throughout the week. That’s a good sign. And I’m getting antsy for workouts. Also a good sign; I was a bit worried last week when that wasn’t the case. More than anything, I’m tired of podcasts and remixes and I miss run friends… ready to start meeting the group!! (well, i hope i’m ready😬).

Photo by David Bracetty