Monday, April 27, 2015

Surprises are AmazingCakes

This past weekend I participated in a local 5k in conjunction with the LLUMC PossAbilities sprint triathlon. And guess what? I WON. Came in 1st, female overall and 1st in my age/sex group. My only goal for the race was to PR, but if I  felt like it wasn't happening not to go all out because my goal 1/2 marathon race is this week. 

I finished the race in 22m:44s with an average pace of 7:20/mile, almost a full minute faster than my previous 5k record of 23:36. It is an amazing feeling heading towards the finish line knowing you are going to finish that distance faster than you have ever run it. It was a triple-layer amazingcake finding out that I won. The icing on the amazingcake was the group and community that participated with me. 

It wasn't a race I had been planning to run and if it was up to me never would have registered. If I wasn't part of  The Energy Lab community, Sunday's race would never have happened for me. Cindy, posted on our group's training page that she registered for the triathlon and invited others to join her. Others soon joined in and when I found out that you could register for the 5k run--I joined the pack. 

Jill Rooks (pictured above, bottom right), founder and owner of The Energy Lab, is the inspiration and success behind our group. She helps us find the motivation within ourselves and breakthough mental barriers. As you may know, I broke my kneecap in 2012 and used that setback to motivate myself to become the fittest I've ever been. No excuses. 

I've become stronger and faster-my race performances have demonstrated this. The proof is in the amazingcake. Key ingredients include the addition of speed/tempo workouts (training with a purpose) and my focus on cross-training and building core strength through the many classes and training options at The Energy Lab. It's the Lab itself that's the cake pan.  It's more than a place to workout. It's a community of supporters and inspiration. The sense of belonging that makes it special. It's a place where magic happens. Every day. And I'm no where close to being fully baked. I'm still rising. 

This week, I'm focused on Sunday's race with the momentum of this past weekend's victory. I'm ready. I've got this. And I'm tapering for REALS {meaning your won't see me at classes this week}.

(Note: Most everybody else in the first picture above is way more hardcore than me. All I did was run. Though they did semi-convince to try the triathlon next year.) 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Remember what the doorknob said

Feed your head.

Historically my training for races has either been:

  1. No training--just run (pre-2010/2011)
  2. Join a marathon training group and follow the schedule for increasing mileage for long runs (2010-2014). Run throughout the week, just to run.
I now follow a specific guided training plan, one with the goal of running a sub 1:45 half-marathon.  I have 10 days left until my final race of the Spring season (OC 1/2 Marathon) and I'm looking forward to off-season. I'll start an 8-week base-building training plan in June leading into an 18-week training cycle starting in August for my fall marathon (California International Marathon). 

These training plans have scheduled track workouts, tempo runs, long runs. What they lack is mental training; training for mental toughness.

I follow my training plan, I eat pretty well and have a good work/life balance. However, I often struggle with feelings of self-doubt, feelings of not being good enough and feelings of not belonging. I struggle through my speed and track workouts because I dread them. Because I have already decided in my mind that I'm not fast and I'm not going to hit the goal pace.

One thing that has been helping this year is using the Believe Training Journal for my run log. It's more than just a training log. It's a workbook for goal-setting and getting my mind right. There are spaces for post-race analysis and brain-storming negative thoughts and positive rebuttals; There's space at the beginning of every week to answer a question or to give an example. Last week's:  A good example of your resilience. My answer was my LA 26.2 experience. As horrible as that race was for me, I've bounced back stronger and more confident. 

Training my mind and training for mental toughness is key to improving my performance and life in general (self-doubt works its way into all aspects of life). 

This article (Improve Your Run with Mental Toughness Trainingsimplifies the process:
Thinking à Feeling à Performing

During my training break and as start my fall training, I'm definitely going to incorporate some mental tricks.

Monday, April 13, 2015

30 minutes or less (Recovery is where the MAGIC happens)

I think about food. I think about food often. Strike that. I think about food constantly. More so when I'm on a long run or during a hard workout. Fantasizing about the big honking burrito (breakfast or veggie or bean & rice?) and where I will buy it (Oscar's or Alberto's or PK's or Chipotle?) gets me through to the end. 

Something happens when I finish--I'm weirdly not hungry (this is, actually, pretty common). Food is the last thing I'm thinking about. Trainers, articles, experts have always extolled the necessity of post-workout nutrition. About how it's vital to eat something soon after you finish. Until recently, I've always poo-pahed this advice. I'll eat when I'm hungry. I have no problem eventually replacing the calories I just burnt (see: big honking burrito).

See--That was the problem with my thinking. Post-workout nutrition is not just about calorie replacement. I finally had a light bulb moment when I realized (or truly listened to the pros) that it's all about recovery so I can nail my next hard workout. It's about refilling my glycogen stores (The Importance of Glycogen Stores to Runners), helping my muscles recover, getting me ready for my next round. Research shows that your muscles absorb these nutrients 3 times as fast in the first 30 minutes after as compared to other times. And here is my Super Lightbulb Moment: Any progression, any improvement from my workout is gained during the recovery phase! And there is no way I'm not going to squeeze the most out of a killer track workout. RECOVERY is where the MAGIC happens. I'm preaching it. 

Now after a run or tough workout I always eat something within 30 minutes of finishing.  Usually a Picky Bar, because they are amazingcakes and formulated to have that perfect ratio of 4:1 carbs to protein that is optimal for recovery. It doesn't have to be complicated. Just 100-200 calories, mostly carbs with a bit of protein. Chocolate milk is a common recovery snack.

My own anecdotal evidence is that I'm performing and feeling better during my runs and workouts. Getting nutrition right, along with following a training plan to meet my running goals, resting on rest days seems to be working for me. 

Some reading:

Refuel to Boost Recovery

And a short video that explains it:

How Important Is Eating After A Workout?