team trot blog

TROT Ambassador: Rachel Adamson

Rachel Adamson

 

What are you goals for 2016?

1)  In 2016 I hope to get stronger and faster. I've seen I can go the distance, but I want to do it faster and more efficiently.

               How long have you been running and how did you get                    into the sport? 

2)     I started running in 2010. I was 272 pounds and watched a movie about Badwater. I thought why not me? I haven't looked back since.

                Most recent race/achievement that you are proud of?

        3) I'm proud of every single run, but Rocky Raccoon 100 2015 still takes the          cake for me. It was my first attempt at 100, and I was successful. Many                  great people saw me along for that race and the training involved.

      What other outdoor pursuits or cross training                         endeavors do you participate in? 

       4) I am learning to love time on my road bike. I started riding in 2014, but             was never serious about it until a few months ago. A quad injury after                   pacing at badwater 135 this past summer helped to rekindle my interest. I           also really love lifting weights.

      Other than running and being an amazing human being,       whats your day job or what keeps you busy during the         day to day?

       5) I'm a former high school English teacher. I now homeschool my two                 children. There's nothing better than being there to witness their                             educational growth, and with our frequent travels(recreational and                       racing), it is especially sweet to just load up the camper and do lessons on           the road. 

How to Run ALL the Races - Frequently Racing Marathons and Ultras

Daniel Bucci 

Team Trot Guest Blogger

Take one look at the TROT race calendar, how can you not be excited?!?  If you want to run them all and are wondering how your body can handle that, then I have some tips for you.  Frequent racing is a topic that is near and dear to me.  Over the last few years I have become the addict, the guy that runs more weekends than not.  In 2015 I managed to race 27 weekends out of the year, and 19 of those weekends were marathons or ultras.  In 2016 I'm going for 25-30 marathons/ultras.  So, here are my thoughts and tips on how to get your body ready to run ALL the races.

1.  Build a Strong Base - This is number one because it is the most important tip.  I spent a solid year building a base for my return to racing at the 2013 Houston Marathon.  In early 2012, after a nearly 2 year break from marathon running, I decided to go for a BQ in Houston in 2013.  My body had not raced in a long time, and I knew I would need to slowly build up the miles.  I began a program in the spring that had me slowly build-up my long run distance, however this was not a traditional marathon training plan (where you peak with a 20 mile long run once or twice).  When I say build a strong base I'm basically saying get your body used to running long distances frequently.  This requires slow, steady and methodical running.  You have to get your body where the point where a 20 mile training run at long run pace feels normal and requires little recovery afterward.  Do this enough times, and your body will eventually adapt.  I've found that if you can run 20+ mile long runs for back-to-back weeks for a few months straight, you are likely ready to attempt a more frequent racing schedule.

2. Ease Into It - Running 20 marathons/ultras in a year did not happen overnight.  It was a slow steady effort.  In 2013 I ran 4 marathons (Jan, March, May, November).  In 2014 I ran 9 marathons (Jan, Feb, March, April, July, October, November, December) and last year was 15 marathons and 5 ultras (ran at least one in every month except June).  It took some practice and experimentation on how best to recover.  As you race more, your body adapts and you notice faster recovery.  The important thing is to not go from running one or two marathons or ultras a year to running 20.  While I have seen this work for some people, in general people who try this rapid increase end up with some type of injury and end up sidelined for an extended period.

3. Do Some Cross Training - Cross training is an important part of maintaining your body's flexibility and strength.  Cross training does not need to be intense.  I do some simple stretching and strength exercises 4-5 times per week for 10-20 minutes.  It's nothing special, but it keeps core muscles strong and flexible.  

4. Don't Race All the Races - While I run a number of races to compete or go for PRs, some races are run either for fun or as slightly harder effort training runs.  The best way to get used to racing is to practice racing at races.  Using races as training runs offers an awesome opportunity to practice fueling strategies and have supported runs to test out different strategies for PR attempts or attempts at longer distances.  For example, I used a 3:15 marathon pacing gig at the Grand Lake Marathon in Ohio as a final hard paced long run 2 weeks before a PR attempt in Chicago.  As it had been over 3 months since my last road marathon, this practice race was a test run of Chicago race day (on a very similar flat course).  The 3:15 pace ended up feeling like an easy effort run and was a huge confidence builder that got me mentally ready to PR in Chicago (and I did PR running a 2:52).  Recently I used a 50k to test fueling strategies and pacing for an upcoming 50 miler.  Using races for fun and/or training gets you used to getting up early and going through the race routine and help to ease race day jitters when the goal race does come around.

5. Listen to Your Body - Running frequent marathons and ultras requires a certain level of discipline of knowing when enough is enough.  There will be days when your body says no and you need to listen to it and rest.  There are times when I feel really good and can continue to push the training hard, and there are times where my body needs rest and I simply do some easy short runs, or take multiple days off.  When you frequently race, you will find your body does not lose fitness very fast, and you can afford to take some time off from hard training.  Most important thing is to rest when you feel you need rest.  No single day of training is worth sacrificing the greater goal.  Because of this I follow a generally unstructured training plan, and only work in a hard training day when I feel I can handle it.  Other than getting long runs in on a weekend, I'm pretty flexile on what days I do speed work, etc.  Each recovery from each race is different, after some races I feel great and can run hard a few days later.  Some races require more time.  The important thing is to listen to the body, and pay attention to the warning sings of injury of excessive fatigue.  Rest is not a four letter word, it is necessary.

6. Most of Your Runs Should Be Easy - Aside from races, I do 1 or 2 other hard training runs per month.  On weekends when I don't race, I do an easy to moderate pace long run, at a pace and distance that does not leave me feeling drained.  During the week, most of my running is done at 1:00 to 1:30 above marathon goal pace and most runs are in the 5-6 mile range (nothing too long).  Once every two weeks or so I'll do a fast tempo run to maintain speed.  Basically, your races are most of your hard runs.  By doing mostly easy/moderate running during the week, you will allow your body much needed recovery while maintaining fitness.

7. Be Willing To Compromise - What I mean by this is that you may not reach your fullest potential.  For example, if you target to run only 1 or 2 marathons per year as your A races, and you do rigorous training for these 2 races, you will probably run a better time than you will if you run marathons every two weeks.  If you are going to race frequently you may not reach your fullest potential as you need to dedicate a lot more time to recovery.  It depends on what you want.  I enjoy racing, so I race a lot.  If you are after a particularly ambitious time goal - it may be better to train more and race less so you can stick to a more structured training plan.  The one item I dislike about frequent racing is that I have lost some structure to my training - but again - be willing to compromise.

8. It's OK to miss a race - If you don't feel it, don't race it.  The great thing about frequent racing is there is always something on your calendar.  If you are feeling ill, hurt, or just aren't up for racing that weekend, then it's probably best to rest.  While I don't DNS often - it is inevitable that you will at some point when you take on a frequent racing schedule.  Last year I DNS'd one race (personal reasons), this year I had to DNS a 50k because I had the flu.  Stuff comes up in life, don't feel guilty about a single DNS.

So that's it, those are my tips.  Like any advice I give about running - I'll give you my common disclaimers.  What I wrote above works for me, it may not work for everyone.  I am of the opinion that running is a very personal sport, and different people respond differently to training.  A routine that works for me, may not work for you.  I tried to keep these tips fairly generic for that very reason, and not get into specifics on details of the workouts or exercises that I do.  Like I said, my training is generally unstructured.  What I encourage you to do is slowly experiment.  You will find something that works for you.  It won't come without some growing pains, but with focus and decent training you can run ALL the races, while still setting PRs, running longer distances, and evolving into an all around better runner.  

Training Through An Injury

Training through an Injury

From Team Trot Runner and Gust Blogger Julie Koepke

Recently, I’ve been struggling with knee pain.  It began during a 100-mile race in October 2014, escalated to the point where I took an entire month off of running in March 2015, and then crept back again in October 2015.  I was able to run through it until I did a 50-miler in November; after that, the pain was so bad that sometimes I’d go for a run and only be able to make it a half a mile.  This was especially frustrating, as I had made the Bandera 100k USATF National Championships a goal race, and was really hoping to PR and get a top-10 place in the Championships.  Fortunately, I was able to do things – other than running, for the most part – during the month or so leading up to Bandera, which led me to reaching these goals after all.

Note that just as every person is different, so too I think every injury is different.  What works well for one person won’t necessarily work well for another.  Furthermore, what works well for one person with one injury might not work well for that same person the next time they’re faced with an injury.  However, I think there is value in sharing what has worked well for someone.  I know that I enjoy trying out various methods – especially when I’m desperate; and what injured runner doesn’t feel desperate at times?  Then I keep the things that I liked and discard the things that didn’t work well.  I hope my tips can be helpful in a similar way. 

Here are 3 things I did that I found helpful:

1.       Cross training

Not running is hard, and I admit that I’m not good at it.  Here is a screenshot of a few weeks of my training plan.  Notice how I should have been resting from running, but continued to stupidly aggravate the injury for weeks.

The following week, I wrote: “New plan: no running for a week.”   What a concept!  Stop doing the thing that hurts.  I continued doing cross-training activities that did not cause me knee pain, including hiking on the treadmill at maximum incline, hiking with a weight vest, swimming, strength training at the gym, yoga, and bicycling.  I also walked stairs on two separate days during this time.  On both days I did 90 flights; the second time, I wore a 20-pound weight vest.  I returned to running gradually, only when it no longer hurt at all to run, and beginning with barefoot running on a beach.  Since my goal race was January 9, this didn’t leave a lot of time for any runs at all, but at least I felt confident that I was in good shape aerobically and that I was strong from my cross-training.

2.       Reading an inspirational and useful book

During this time, I read Matt Fitzgerald’s book, How Bad Do You Want It?  In it, Fitzgerald shares the stories of certain elite athletes (runners, triathletes, and cyclists) who have cultivated mental toughness and “coping mechanisms” that have led to their successes in their sport, and suggests how the reader can be his or her own personal sports psychologist, trying out these tactics himself or herself.  Fitzgerald writes that no athlete can ever truly give 100% effort; we always hold something back.  The key is to try to push as close to that wall as possible.  He says that how far the wall is depends upon your physical ability, but how close you’re able to approach that wall depends upon mental toughness. According to Fitzgerald, an athlete coming back from injury might actually be able to perform just as well as an athlete in top physical condition if the injured athlete has greater mental toughness, and so is able to push further towards the limit.  I definitely reminded myself of this at various points throughout my race at Bandera. 

Some of the specific coping mechanisms Fitzgerald discusses felt especially powerful for me, especially the idea of “bracing yourself.”  Leading up to Bandera, I consciously “braced myself,” telling myself, “This is going to be hard.  There is going to be a lot of pain and suffering, because you are undertrained.  The knee pain will probably come back during the race.”  Fitzgerald says this strategy is effective because it lowers the perceived effort during the race.  Since I was already expecting pain, when it happened during the race, I was able to tell myself, “That’s no big deal, I knew that would happen.  I can push through it.”  I have to say, too, what really helped lower my perceived effort during this race was getting to run so much of it with my TROT teammate Matt, listening to music, and feeling gratitude – there were my effective coping mechanisms.

To me, there is benefit during a time of frustrating injury to reading any book that may inspire me to persevere through challenges. (Chrissy Wellington’s book, A Life Without Limits, and Haley Scott DeMaria’s book, What Though the Odds, are other go-to’s for me).

3.       Journaling

Last June, I started a routine of journaling before every race.  I found that this helped me sort out all my different emotions – of which I have many before a race – and eased my nervous tension, simply through identifying and acknowledging how I felt.  The night before Bandera, I did the same thing.  Here is an excerpt from my entry.  (Sorry that the writing is so messy – I was lying on my side in bed as I wrote it, not at all thinking that I might later decide to post it here for the world to see.)

The first emotion that came to mind was nervousness.  And I was right to be nervous: my body felt sore pretty early on, probably due to my lack of consistent running over the last few months.  My left knee hurt from about mile 10 on.  And running in general felt harder than it should.  But somehow having already processed this nervousness in my journaling made me calm during the race when these problems cropped up.  When something somewhat troubling happened, I’d think to myself, yep, that’s happening, but it’s okay – I expected that.  (I’m not showing the other part of my entry, where I wrote that I felt excited about the chocolate muffin I bought for my pre-race breakfast.  But it’s there.  J)

I tried other things, too, during this time, some of which were helpful, and some of which were not.  But these were the top 3 things I can look back on as directly leading me to achieving my race goals, despite not getting the amount and quality of training I would have hoped for.  I’d love to hear what has worked for you, too: what additional tips would you share?

Read more of Julie’s blogs at http://runningasprayer.blogspot.com/

Recalculating: When to adjust your race day expectations


Recalculating: When to Adjust Your Race Day Expectations by Team TROT runner Lauren Ross

 

I wanted to race well so badly. I’d had a full month of running since I was injured, and a few really quick efforts that felt good. I’d been sick the week before, but could breathe through my nose again! Everything was totally shaping up. Race day morning was 20 degrees warmer than it had been and nearly full humidity, but I’d run through the Houston summer – this was nothing! Right?

Wrong. Mile 1 was a blur. Mile 2 was slower, but I felt okay. Mile 3…ehhh…at least I was still second. By 5 miles in, my race was clearly no longer a race. I couldn’t put my finger on it either: my legs felt heavy but they weren’t screaming, my lungs felt tight but I’d breathed harder before. Something just wasn’t right. I stopped to walk and felt dizzy. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the upper respiratory infection that hadn’t quite cleared, but I really thought it wouldn’t be this way. The difference between what I had imagined happening and what actually happened during the half at Brazos Bend 100 was so different that I let it get the best of me for a few minutes and felt pretty rotten. Luckily, the other runners out there reminded me it’s all for fun, so I chilled out and enjoyed the scenery and camaraderie for the remaining miles.

So what did I do wrong?

I failed to adjust my expectations going into the race. As runners, we want every race to be perfect. We put in the work, and we want the outcome to reflect that. Makes sense. Unfortunately, we can’t control every detail. While it doesn’t take everything going perfectly to have a great race, many factors impact your ability to run your best. Being realistic about this is key when it comes to modifying your race strategy.

The week leading up to the race, be honest with yourself. Consider all variables to determine how to attack the course. Slowing down a little bit (or a lot!) or changing your goal from one based on performance to “get as many high fives as possible” is sometimes a good idea. I am normally too stubborn to admit when I’m not in a position to have a good race. While this optimism can be a good thing, it can also lead to a little bit of mid-race soul crushing, which can in turn lead to silly things like thoughts of DNFs even when I’m totally capable of finishing. A better method is to go into the race knowing that I need to change my game plan, run it a little bit slower and keep those spirits up the whole time!

Now, before I get down to it, let me be clear that I’m not advising you to come up with excuses for why you shouldn’t run your hardest. Truly racing is a scary thing – to toe the line between going really fast and blowing up is enough to make anyone hesitate. There is physical discomfort to deal with, but that is not cause to hold back. The reasons listed below are things that are out of your control – your ability to deal with the pain of exertion is not one of them.

1.       Sickness – While Tracie Akerheilm may be able to bust out a 1:33 half with bronchitis (beastly performance, Tracie!), I’m tellin ya it’s not for everyone! When you’re sick, everything is going to suffer. Your body is focused not on performance, but on healing. If you do decide to run, know that you’ve got to slow it down.

2.       Weather – Maybe you’re in hot and humid Houston. Maybe you’re up North with ice and snow covering the trails. Maybe it’s super windy. While you’ve still gotta give it your full effort, that effort will not get you to the finish as fast as it would if conditions were great. Don’t worry about being off your anticipated paces, just keep on crushing.

3.       Injury – If you’re injured, go take care of yourself! But if you’ve just come back from injury, that’s something to consider too. With a few months of training behind you, you’re in a very different place than you were at your pre-injury peak. That’s okay! You will definitely get back there, but in the meantime don’t try to pick up right where you left off. Be conservative with your expectations and measure yourself against your post-injury workouts.

4.       Other life stuff – Stress is a real thing with both psychological and physiological consequences. If you’re planning a wedding, working long hours, moving, dealing with a loss in the family, having relationship issues, or any other stressful life event leading up to your race, you’re likely not at your physical or mental peak. It’s really tough to quantify the effect of these stressors, so keep that A-goal in mind, but also have a B-goal and a C-goal, and listen to how you’re feeling on race day.

5.       Lack of sleep – Sleep is when your body recovers from training. If you haven’t been sleeping well leading up to a race, you may be less ready for it than your training indicates. Sometimes we are in control of our sleep and sometimes we aren’t. Work and social obligations, kids, colds, the neighbor’s crazy dog…there are a bunch of things that could get in the way. While it’s frustrating to admit that these factors have compromised something as crucial as your sleep, be conscious of it going into race day.

Consider these factors leading up to your next race, and stay positive! You’ll never find a better atmosphere than in the trail running community, and that’s really what we’re all here for.