When you reset your watch, every day is a PB

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The altitude catchphrase: everything hurts and I’m dying. I kind of love that feeling… you know something good must be happening. But still, it can be easy to lose track of progress. If everything feels a bit crappy, and all the paces are different, how do I know if I’m getting in good work? ⠀ ⠀
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I’ve found logs to be immensely helpful as an anchor in these situations. I’ve kept a training log in one form or another for six years now. I don’t look back at them too often, but I like to use them to establish a baseline in hard training blocks. ⠀ ⠀
I started doing this on trips to Flagstaff. If I was struggling the first week, I might look back and see I was running faster than previous trips, or more mileage. It calms me to have a reason to know why I’m more tired. ⠀ ⠀
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Of course, there can be a negative side to holding too tightly to past experience. If you have a certain key workout you need to hit, it can seem like failure if you don’t repeat it exactly (one reason why I hate the idea of indicator workouts before races). Example: I finished my long run today and was bummed because I averaged slower than last week.
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I guess like anything, logs have to be an exercise in optimism: go find one thing that you’re doing now that you weren’t a year ago, one point of progress. If I practice this attitude, I can most times find something that has improved – be it mileage, pace, workout load – and that helps me feel like the bar has been raised and I’m building momentum. When each day is a bit of a slog, that’s exactly what I need to believe.

Where to Run – Mammoth Lakes

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  1. Whitmore Tubs Road and Track Loop

    • The track here is new and open to the public.
    • For an 8.8 mile loop, park at the track and run back toward the highway for about a half mile and turn right at the dirt road that heads to the airport. Keep making right turns, up an unnamed road, to Hot Creek Hatchery Road, over the hill, back to Whitmore Tubs road. There are bathrooms at the start and at the Hot Creek Geologic Site at the top of the hill.Screen Shot 2018-11-25 at 3.52.25 PM.png
    • Most of the roads in this area are unpaved. There are endless possibilities for loops and out and backs. We’ve also parked closer to Owens River Road and started there. You can make a 10-11 mile loop by going out Antelope Spring and back Forest Road 3S138.
    • For a less hilly option, you can run from the track down toward Crowley Lake. Or park across the highway along the road to Convict lake and go back toward town. These are a bit boring, but you avoid any major hills.
    • The whole area is beautiful, with incredible views of the mountains. After a run, try one of the hot springs. We went to Wild Willy’s.
  2. Runs in/near town

    • Shady Rest Park – Maze of dirt trails
    • Town Loop – 7.3 asphalt path around Mammoth Lakes. This is a rolling/hilly run.
    • Lake Mary – Loop this one for a run at almost 9000ft. It’s about two miles on Around Lake Mary Rd. And you can add another two out to Horseshoe Lake. The trees are dead up there because of geologic activity, it’s eery. This is all road running.
  3. Dirt runs farther away

    • Mono Lake – Park at Mono Lake South Tufa Area and run out Test Station Road to the Forest Road 1N44. These are wide roads with good footing. As a bonus, there’s a great scenic view of natural limestone formations (tufa) steps from the parking lot.
    • Whoa Nellie Deli is a deli in a gas station in the nearby town. It’s a popular spot for people coming in or out of Yosemite.
    • Bald Mountain Road is another dirt out-and-back run
    • Ohanas 395 is a Hawaiian food cart parked at June Lake nearby. Friends on Mammoth Track Club say it’s the best food in the area.
    • Owens River Campground is a good place for soft surface running at lower elevations.
  4. Food /Coffee in Mammoth Lakes

    • Black Velvet Coffee
    • Stellar Brew & Natural Cafe – They seem to have a bit of an issue keeping inventory (whenever we got there later in the day, they would be out of common lunch items). But it when everything was available, it was my favorite place for smoothies, bowls, and healthy breakfast options.
    • Good Life Cafe – Generic diner fare, which I always like after a long run. There are a few similar options in town, Good Life was my pick.
    • Shea Shatt’s Bakery – Good deli sandwiches, hit-and-miss service.
    • The Eatery at Mammoth Brewing – for the weekly gastropub hit
photos by Talbot Cox

Altitude camp is underway

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I took two days off to cross train before we left, because heel stuff was getting acute. I’m trying to follow advice I would give myself… catch things early.
Am I being too conservative? Maybe. I tell myself it’s a good mental break regardless, end the sea level stint and prepare (and pack!) for the next training block. ⠀ ⠀
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The opportunities to question your training and lifestyle decisions are never more available than at an altitude camp. You share a house with teammates for 4-8 weeks, spend most of the day training together, eat most meals together. You’re bombarded with examples of how other people do it. How hard they run, do they double, or cross train. What they eat after workouts, what they eat in general. Do they nap or sleep in, read or watch tv, keep busy with lots of projects or protect their down time.⠀
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It’s important to remember that everyone is unique, and what works for one person might not be the answer for someone else. You don’t want to get sucked into the comparison game (see previous posts!!).
But charging ahead with no regard for the knowledge of others is not the way to go, either. Sometimes I can get too bullheaded in that sense. And if I don’t watch it, I miss a learning opportunity.⠀ ⠀
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I don’t know where the line is, between protecting what works for me, and keeping an open mind to the habits and methods of others. Maybe the whole point of this post is that I don’t know a lot of things. Or, a lot of things are unknowable, regardless of how much we would like there to be a scientific and singular right answer. There are so many paths to reach the pinnacle, it can’t be summed up in a one size fits all solution.
So… how does one thrive in an altitude camp, or any working environment, maintaining their principles and also growing where possible? Eep eeppp. That is the question. I’m going to coin my mindset confidently curious. And also carry some version of the serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And *wisdom to know the difference.* 👊🏼

Bryan Clay Invite

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Our sea level block has come to an end. It was a great seven weeks of training, and we finished with a race at the Bryan Clay Invitational.

The race itself was more a test of fitness for our group: no big stadiums or awards. I ran the 1500👆🏼(with Shelby, Colleen and Courtney) and placed 3rd. ⠀ ⠀
The whole experience – race prep, mental fortitude, body perception and calm – was a million times better than my indoor races. I have to be happy with that. But I‘d be lying if I said I was thrilled with a time of 4:08.

Everyone says to be patient with a training group change, it takes time. I say that. And yet, the truth is, I’ve never fully believed it. In every past experience working with a new coach, I’ve set a personal best within the first six-ish months. I’ve always thought the advice to be patient can easily turn into an excuse to be complacent, and one has to be vigilant to keep them apart.

I am also someone who tends to rely on intuition in my decision-making. Complacency only kicks in if I know something is off and I don’t address it. In this situation everything indicates good progress. Training is going well, and my mood is high. The only outlier is a race result. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀
So I’m adjusting my cynicism and staying patient and resolved. I trust I am not being complacent, and things will continue to progress. Is that just a rationalization to make my principles consistent with my actions? Maybe. But I believe it. And really, that’s all that matters. 👊🏼💥

Photo by Brett Guemmer

Rookie mistake

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This week I made the classic mistake. I hoped for an easy workout.
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I’d been dealing with a sinus infection and woke up feeling weak. I didn’t want to skip the workout, but also didn’t want to make myself sick. If I really was unwell, I shouldn’t have gone to practice. But since I was there, there’s nothing worse than starting a workout wanting it to be easy.

First off, going in with that mindset might actually make it harder, because you set yourself up for a higher relative perceived exertion (learned more about this from the book Peak Performance. Next on the list is Alex Hutchinson’s Endure). ⠀ ⠀
But also, the whole point is for it to be hard! That’s where the improvement happens. You come to appreciate that feeling. I learned that from Kim Conley. She is the best at leaning in when it’s getting uncomfortable.
Finally, beginning with a caveat makes it easier to fall off. You’re not committed, so you have to make the decision to commit over and over again throughout the session.

End result: I did the workout. Big surprise: it was hard. In a nice case of life imitating art, I thought of my IG post in the final minutes of the tempo to help me stay connected… I will keep the workout streak alive!

I hope it was the right call doing the session. I’m trying to take good care of myself and stay healthy. And moving forward, I will be content with making my cake. I’ll wait to eat it for a while longer. 😋