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.

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. 😋

Something has switched

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve gone from nervous about workouts, to excited about them. Over the past few months, I’ve gone from not finishing or falling off, to hanging on, to being okay with helping lead and push some reps.

I so wish I had started these updates in the fall, so you could see just how different this is from then. Instead, you’ll have to take my word. It is such a freaking relief.

I’m excited to go to practice again. I’m holding myself back from asking for more.

I was talking with Amy about that shift. I love the way she put it… as inertia starts to kick in, there’s an extra motivation each day to keep the streak alive. I want to nail the workouts bc of my goals. But now I also want to finish because I have a rhythm going, and I don’t want it to stop. Completing each session moves more into the column of “nonnegotiable.” Momentum is a beautiful thing.

And there are still all the familiar worries… that I’ll take it for granted and somehow jinx it… or what if one day it all just stops and I’m back on the struggle bus. But the fear of that struggle is lessening the more I see it as a feasible challenge, and a sign that good things are to come. And for now, I’m just trying to enjoy the flow for a sec. To borrow the phrase from my current jam… GTFOMD 😜

Photo by Jordan Beckett