Reflections of a Training Cycle

This one has been tough – not on time, but on my body.

From start to finish (16 weeks), I only gained 6 lbs but the inflammation is very pronounced. I have failed to disclose previously I’m under orders to stop running for 6 weeks. Ooof. Due to a probable hamstring sprain/strain bordering on a tear, instructions were given to rest/ice/heat/medicate and a whole list of other things for no less than 4 weeks. Instead, I continued to run and train for several weeks to make it to race day. So what does that mean now? It means I’m very lucky to have made it through the race and now I will be following doctor’s orders for the remainder of the month and partially into January. Not exactly the plan I had, but here we are. Surely I realize the scope of my decision to train regardless of pain, etc; however, once I finally received a diagnosis, it was exactly 10 days until R-Day. Many people much smarter than I have decided not to compete in events incredibly significant, i.e. the Olympics, for injury prevention reasons. Alas, my measly race pales in comparison yet I continued to train despite the bruising, pain, and swelling. I don’t say this to brag; rather I say it to reemphasize what not to do and how little I use my brain cells. Please learn from my mistakes.

If anyone needs me, I’ll just be ambling around chained to an ice pack alternating with heating pad and taking copious amounts of muscle relaxers to release the muscle from its confines of tension with the ultimate goal of running sans pain in the very near future! Speaking this into existence! Also, it seems I’ll definitely need to make an update to my eating habits for the duration. Can’t be imbibing in everything my heart desires if movement is limited. Don’t misunderstand – I don’t run so I can eat. It’s taken a long time to get to a place where food is fuel. I eat so I may run. I eat to enjoy the little things in life, like fresh baked cookies. But the donuts and croutons and extra pie need to take a back burner to getting myself well again. They will be there when I’m ready.

16 weeks is a bit too lengthy for me. Garmin told me I “peaked” around 14 weeks and instructed me to race soon as my fitness would start to decrease. So I proceeded to continue running as prescribed because what were my other options?! Then the reported VO2 max kept increasing so was I really peaking? Was the peak an early symptom of the highest VO2 max I’ve ever accomplished? Who knows. Let’s be honest…I have never considered my VO2 max as any number worth being concerned over and I’m not starting now. But it was awesome to see the message ‘Superior’! haHA! Superior! Anyway, previously I said (wrote) I wanted to focus more on the 10k distance in 2022; I think my plan is solid even if it won’t start as early as I’d hoped for due to mandatory rest. Seems like every single time I have a great running base something comes up. Oh well.

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I ask you –

What is your typical training cycle length?

Have you ever continued to train for an event despite a recommendation to stop?

Tell me the stat you like to track!

BMW Dallas Half Marathon Recap!

Let’s start off with the good stuff, shall we, on this edition of the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Yes, I met my goal of a 2:10 half marathon! Specifically, I ran 2:10:45 with an avg 9:58 pace. I asked my feet to fly and they did what I’d trained for with an 8 min PR! It was a lovely 35° at the start line – I met the most awesome people! My 2:10 pace crew also seemed nice.

Now the bad. Allow me to be a bit dramatic. My pacers were pushing us 20-30 seconds faster than what we were told we’d be running. I was able to stay with them the first 5 miles, then I dropped back. I don’t train to run non-stop. In fact, only one time have I ever run an entire half marathon without walking. It’s just not me. I’m super proud for holding on for 5 miles! But that wasn’t the plan. After the race was over, I remembered hearing pacers talk about this course “running long”, no pun intended, which means in order for pacers to lead their runners across the finish line in their prescribed time, the pacers were going to have to run faster. My unofficial course time was 2:12, but Garmin showed I ran my 13.1 in 2:10. Thank you, Garmin! Finally! I reject the course time.

So here’s the ugly. Because I spent the first almost half of the race running faster than I had trained for, miles 6-11 were brutal. The walking increased, even though I was still mostly holding on to a 9:45 pace. I began to favor my left hip/leg/hamstring/knee which caused a lot of pain in my right foot. So glad I decided to put BCAAs in my CamelBak and fuel with jelly beans. Even then, those middle miles felt awful.

pre-race injury treatment – long story for another day

Overall, course support was amazing! There were people giving out donuts, beer, mixed drinks, extra energy bars, and who knows what else. The water stops – though I used my own hydration – were frequent and plentiful. The bands on nearly every other street corner were more entertaining than anything I’ve seen in a Rock n Roll event. And those events should be bursting with music! Finish line food was great: pizza, tacos, bananas, enrrgy bars, more Gatorade, tons of chocolate milk, sweets; it was all incredible!

Morgan from Oregon kicked butt out there! She, too, dealt with the disappointment of a long course and too-fast pacers, but I think she rocked it! She’s got an upcoming 15k event and we’ve discussed a late summer run nearer to her so we’ll see.

At this moment, I’m retiring from the half marathon. Remind me next time I tell you all I want to race again!

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I ask you –

How was your weekend? Anything exciting?

Runners, do you write motivational things on your pace band, arm, etc?

Chance I’ll stay “retired”: 60/40

Race Weekend is Upon Us! + Track Me!

You can track me using this link (find my name – Kelly Atwell): https://rtrt.me/ulink/RRSA/RRS-DALLAS-2021/tracker/RBRE5GLH/focus

I love races with real time tracking! There’s many cool things about tracking race participants, notably finding out if they finished, but also being able to receive real time stats (that’s my favorite!). And who doesn’t love a good stalker app. It’s literally permission to stalk someone. So weird.

So I don’t have a “real” post for today – this might be the only time I’ve ever said that. I’m really excited to race and then take an extended, forced break. More on that later. On Sunday afternoon’s drive home, I’ll re-cap the race, load photos, and give you all the ins/outs of racing the BMW Dallas Half Marathon for Monday’s post. I’ve tried to take it easy this week – doubling down on low stress, stretching religiously, eating well, and sleeping more to ensure I can meet my goal.

It may not be much to anyone else, but to me this goal is doable and a long time coming. I’ve really put my body to the test during this cycle – never before have I been so cognizant of tempo runs, cadence workouts, strides, and progression runs. Some of those have become dirty words in my vocabulary!

Wish me luck!

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I ask you –

What are you currently training for?

How often do you use tempo and progression runs in your training?

Give me some words to use when it gets hard!

Wk 14, HM Training

Officially on the next-to-last week! My goals are to survive two full days of training mid-week, begin a successful taper, and end the week with a long conference.

Garmin says Monday’s 4 miles is just maintaining, so whatever. I think it was a solid effort!

Since the two days of training got cancelled, I went back outside for a tempo run on Tuesday. At first, I was disappointed because I only ran 2 miles, but then I realized it wasn’t so much about the miles…it was about the pace (avg 9:15-9:35). Duh, tempo run.

And THIS! 48 VO2 max!!

Did some cadence work on Thursday, then my final long run Friday! I had to shorten it by 30 mins due to lunch time constraints vs after work when I usually complete my long run. 5.84 miles with some tempo training toward the end. It was incredibly hot out.

“Chaos Coordinator”

Still stalking next weekend’s forecast. Hoping for mid-30s on the overnight! Trust me, I’ve never said that before.

Wk 13, HM Training

Clearly this week’s schedule doesn’t think I have a job. Sheesh. I know it’s Thanksgiving, but that’s doesn’t mean I have the week off. Anyway, I did have several days at home so I made do.

Typically my VO2 max is 45. One day it was 46. Honestly I don’t pay much attention to it, until Monday, when it reached 47! No idea what this means, but whoohoo. Garmin also said my training was peaking, so there’s that, too.

Funny not funny story: this training cycle has resulted in some strange chafing situations. And by strange I mean incredibly painful in places one would never wish to be chafed.

For Tuesday’s goal pace run, I went to the track so I wouldn’t have to think about crossing roads. But when the headwind hit me, I had a hard time sticking with it. My legs were seriously struggling but I managed to stay on track (pun intended).

haHA! Check out that 9:12! Learning I really don’t like progression runs but I do rather well at them so there’s that good moment. Considering it was pre-turkey, pre-stuffing, pre-pie…and extremely windy…

Long run completed! Super early, super cold (real feel 15°), and super long! I started with 23 layers, a hat, gloves, and a whole lot else, but I made it.

Lucky #13 (week) done. Just a few more remaining!

Race Ideas

Brainstorming future race ideas led me to this one: the inaugural Rock n Roll Atlantic City event!

I’ve only ever seen New Jersey as I raced through it on the way to Connecticut, though I do vaguely remember vast toll areas. Perhaps that was a different state, like Oklahoma. Nonetheless, I’d like to enjoy a proper visit and run a little race!

Credit: #myfavoriterun via Instagram

I’m also very interested in the Blue Bell runs in Brenham, TX. Held annually in April, the finish line party includes Blue Bell ice cream, which is my most favorite ice cream of all time. Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream anyone? I want to explore more 10k distances so why not start there?!

Credit: #bluebellfunrun via Instagram

I’m about over this training plan stuff. 15-16 week plans are just too long for me. Week 8 is about my cutoff. Maybe 10 if I’m feeling generous. Never before have I ever given a moment’s thought to running a virtual half marathon just so I can say I did the run and be done with it. A few weeks back – I hit that point. And I know that particular week was kind of a struggle, but I don’t feel like my fitness has increased much since. If I didn’t know that Morgan from Oregon was traversing the plains to attend, I probably would have called it quits awhile back. Alas, she has been training so I’m self-motivating to make it to the start line. My Garmin goal meter says it’s very confident I will reach it. My internal doubter has serious reservations. All I can do is run the race laid out before me knowing I’ve put in work to the best of my abilities.

break in an emergency

Now, with all that said, I just want it to be over. Thankfully start line emotions are a very real phenomenon and 10 mins after I’m done I’ll be kissing strangers and hugging babies. Jokes, lots of jokes. To keep myself on track I’ve been brainstorming things I want to do post-race. For example…

Short Term –

  • Take a long nap
  • Eat copious amounts of Mexican food, specifically tortilla chips
  • Lay on the ground contemplating my life choices
  • Call everyone I know with the great news I have a shiny new PR

Long Term –

  • January run streak?
  • Train for a March/April half marathon
  • Train for a March/April 10k unrelated to the above half marathon
  • Resume keto
  • Survive the winter months
  • Fantasize about vacation

Surely I’m missing many additions to my listing endeavors. I’ll keep thinking and update you all soon.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving – filled with turkey and ham and as many rolls as you can stuff in your mouth at one time. And pie!!!

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I ask you –

Anyone have an upcoming race or race potential near northern Texas?

How often do you make lists?

Please share some thing(s) on your short/long term list!

Wk 12, HM Training

Started off – after a long weekend and my longest run yet – with a short(er) run(ch) session at the track. I forgot how good my feet feel when I do track miles.

Speed repeats on Tuesday were tough but overall I think I did really well! Anything in the 7-8 min/mile pace is way out of my league from an endurance perspective. Glad I ate my oatmeal that morning.

Friday evening long run went better than expected! We had a potluck at work which ended up being me standing for nearly 3.5 hours so I was worried how my legs would feel. Answer: very tired. It took 3 miles to “warm up”. Then the blissful numbness took over and I sailed right on. The more I do progression runs or goal pace miles, the more I believe I’ll be able to reach my goal.

The other day I had this wild idea to run in the 2:00 pace group. My thinking was I’ll start out strong and then drop into the 2:10 group (my goal time). But then I felt like an idiot because everyone knows you don’t start out too fast or you’ll burn up at the end. Yet somehow this still sounds so tempting… Stop it, Kel. Week 13 is up next. Taper is sounding better and better!

Wk 11, HM Training

Garmin says it has the utmost confidence in me reaching my goal. Utmost! I remind myself constantly.

With several appointments and work obligations with a holiday thrown in there for good measure, I adjusted the training schedule to make sure I hit all the workouts.

We celebrated Sheppard AFB’s 80th birthday with a 5k/8k – keeping in line with the prescribed run, I chose the 8k. Started out great, then gradually got slower. It was warmer than expected. Even though Garmin said I was unproductive, I felt very good!

As I took off an extra day at work – because why would I have a holiday on Thursday, them return to work on Friday – what better way to kill two hours than by running circles around my favorite lake. Two hours.

Done and done! Too bad it was 10.98 – I could’ve run the extra 0.02 to round up!

Nonetheless, another week has been conquered. Almost there!

When You Get Excited to Run!


I knew it! Check out this article here!

There you have it, folks! Notwithstanding it was written in a trail runner magazine, doubles really are beneficial! Now…I have to forewarn. Doubles in the article and doubles I was originally thinking of are not the same. According to the writer, doubles are what you do when you run twice in one day (separated by a few hours, of course). According to me, doubles are when you run same pace/same distance multiple days in a row when planning to run back-to-back half marathon or marathon distances. Details. Ehhh.

I’ve not yet registered for the BMW Dallas Half Marathon on 12 December. I’m procrastinating because that’s what I typically do when I want to pay last minute fees and freak out about the cost. What can I say? I’m a smart person in an idiot’s body. Maybe I have that backwards? Anyway, I’m how many weeks deep into training and still haven’t registered. There’s just so much commitment when you take that final step! Alas, I am excited to race again; my goal is within reach and my fancy Garmin says the confidence I can reach my goal is very high. Even if it does occasionally say my training is unproductive. I still don’t get that part. Unproductive is doing nothing, like literally staring at my watch whilst daydreaming about running. That’s unproductive. If I’m outside running – or even inside running – I’m being productive! You’re not the boss of me! Which reminds me…I really need to find out if my running buddy is traveling to TX.

Update: Morgan from Oregon is traveling to Texas. Whoohoo!!!

Have I mentioned my tendency toward meditation lately? I finally downloaded an app – Smiling Mind – because it felt like I was more frustrated with trying to learn how to meditate than actually meditating. The app has helped a lot. It even includes meditation practice for children and families. Mini and I have done a few together; personally I like her lessons better than mine. Smiling Starfish. Look it up! I was able to use what I had learned during a long run recently – what a difference! I felt like I was in the right headspace, I was light on my feet, and the miles melted away. Nothing prompted my lean towards meditation except for a friend mentioning she was trying to embrace it and I wanted to be supportive. On my own wasn’t working, so here we are!

Back to doubles – I’d like to complete the Texas Triple, but it just seems too risky to try to race in May. The final weekend in May. A holiday weekend in May. In the summer. Do I trust my body and train and hope for the best? Or do I err on the side of caution remembering what heat illness feels like and cut my losses? Running doesn’t matter to anyone but me, yet I still want to be smart about it. There’s time.

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I ask you –

Thoughts on doubles, double runs or double races?

Have you tried meditation? What app, if so?

Stay tuned for an upcoming list of future race options! Share yours with me!

Wk 10, HM Training

What’s up with this: my legs have been exhausted lately. Even after two full days off, my legs are just slugging along at 50% of their normal get-up-and-go. I don’t think I’m overtraining. Ugh.

completed on Day 1

But in true me fashion, I continue running. I enjoy strides and intervals more than progression runs, that’s for sure! And goal pace isn’t too incredibly difficult. Hallelujah, because it’s a goal pace for a reason. The weather this week took a drastic turn towards frigid – 50s and rain which felt like 30° to me. Dramatic, huh? I had to find leggings and capris for my runs. Those short shorts weren’t doing it for me!

Speed shoes!

By the time strides rolled around on Thursday, the office felt like -20° and my patience had worn thin with the amount of cloud coverage. Back to the treadmill again.

As has become my routine, I did a switch from long run Saturday to Friday evening instead. AND I didn’t wait until the sun went down to keep cool! Straight from work was my motto so I would have no excuses.

slightly wind-blown hair

Wouldn’t you know this long run was amazing? Every time I think (read: doubt) I can accomplish my goal, I have a great run that reenforces the work I’ve been putting into it.

Let’s just hope it shows up on race day!