Weekly Training Update: January 23-29

This past week was the highest mileage week I’ve had in YEARS.  And it’s only the beginning!  Also – I should have a “real” blog post coming your way soon, I’ve just had a lot on my plate. I’m getting my fundraiser page ready for my 57 mile charity run in November and I’m trying to figure out how I’d like to organize everything, so it is taking up a bit of my time.

Monday, January 23: I woke up this morning and it was POURING and windy.  Stared out the window for a few minutes and decided NOPE.  I made it my rest day :).
(Rest Day)

I did make some delicious veggie chili this day though!

Tuesday, January 24: I intended on heading out the door for a 5 mile run, but only made it 4.2 miles.  I ran on the Mt. Vernon Trail but was really not feeling it.  I felt groggy, my legs felt heavy and I had a headache.  I had to talk myself through each step.

But the best part of today was…I DID STRENGTHENING.  I focused on my glutes – doing lots of leg lifts and squats, but I also did some abs too! Strengthening work out lasted all of 22 minutes.
(4.2 road miles, 7:59 min/mile pace)

Wednesday, January 25: WORKOUT DAYYYYYY! I seriously love tempo workouts.  I do wish I didn’t always have to do them on the treadmill, but I KNOW if I try and run one alone outside, I won’t be able to hit my pace.  So I think going too fast on the treadmill is better than nothing.

My glutes were SO SORE this morning, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to affect my workout. I did a lot of stretching this morning to help alleviate some of the tightness.

I warmed up for 18 minutes at about 8 min/mile pace and then did 5X5 minute repeats uptempo, with 1 min rest in between.  My 5 minute repeats were anywhere between 6:40-5:50 min/mile pace.  I progressively got faster with each repeat, which I always enjoy.

After the workout I hopped outside to cool down for 20 minutes.  It was a beautiful day, sun shining and in the upper 50s…seriously, I feel like winter has been completely absent this year.

Total mileage for the day was 9.5 miles!

(18 minute warm-up, 5X5 min fast, 1 minute recovery: 7 miles, 6:54 min/mile average)
(20 minute road cool down: 2.5 miles, 7:58 min/mile pace)

Thursday, January 26: Glutes still tight today, ha! I think the tightness really shows how badly I need to start doing strengthening on a more regular basis.

I woke up with the intention of getting my run in before work, but I just couldn’t get myself out the door. I was feeling very tired and achy, so I did some writing instead and tried to stretch a little bit.

My boss let me step off the floor a little early, with the caveat I had to go out and do my run if I was going to leave.  So I got dressed at the running store and headed out for my run (I knew if I went home I would just lay on the couch and do nothing). It was very windy, and no matter which direction I turned, I felt like there always was a headwind.

I also got some really weird pains shooting down my right leg. I was wearing compression socks, trying to help with blood flow in my legs after yesterday’s workout, but I feel like they may have been causing the pain? I honestly have no idea.  My right knee felt incredibly weak (this is the knee I have arthritis in and constant joint pain) and every once and a while I would take a step and it felt like fire was shooting down my lower leg from my knee.  Dislike. But I took it easy and finished the run.

I only needed 3-5 miles, but somehow got myself turned around in Old Town and ended up going 5.8 miles.  I stretched A LOT and iced after the run.

I tried these after my run and they were actually pretty good!

Later in the night, I also did strengthening again!!! Stayed away from doing any leg work and really just focused on abs and some arm stuff.  After strengthening I stretched and rolled my legs out for a good 25 minutes.

(5.8 road miles, 8:10 min/mile pace)

Friday, January 27: So excited for this day! All week I planned on going to Fountainhead Regional Park to hit up the trails again for the first time in awhile.  My good friend joined me so I wouldn’t have to suffer alone, and I’m so happy I had her there with me on the trails.

I was a little nervous about my knee because of the pain from the day before, but I put on some supportive tights and a patella strap and decided to just go for it.


This was my first time testing out my hoka speedgoats on an actual technical trail, and I thought they faired pretty well.  I, however, really need to get out on the trails more often. I felt like I was turning my ankles constantly, and I tripped twice (the second time was about .1 miles from finishing…so frustrating!).  But even with the turning of ankles and falling, I had an amazing run.  The hills definitely challenged me, but it was so nice to be out in nature again.

(8 trail miles, 9:51 min/mile pace)


Saturday, January 28: Long run day! I decided to head to Great Falls park because most of my 50k April race will be on some of the trails in this area.  I tested out my new Nathan Vaporairess Race Vest today and it was the first time I’ve ever run with a water pack before.  IT WAS AWESOME.  I definitely need to get used to drinking on the run and having the pack on me, but it didn’t bother me once throughout my entire run.  And that’s saying something.

I really wanted to go slow today and just focus on having an enjoyable run.  My ankles were super sore from turning them so many times at Fountainhead, but the rest of my legs felt surprisingly good.

I think today was the first run where I let myself walk when I needed to (up some of the steeper hills) and stop to enjoy the beautiful park and scenery.  I know I need to get used to power walking in long trail ultra races and I feel like today was the first time I told myself it was okay to take breaks.  And I really ended up enjoying my run, even though it was long and challenging, and I was absolutely exhausted at the end.

(12.6 trail miles, 9:07 min/mile pace)

Sunday, January 29: I meant to do some strengthening and some cross training today but it never happened.  I slept A LOT last night but I woke up still feeling exhausted, which is never a good sign for me.  I ended up taking the day as another rest day, but I was definitely hustling at work a bit, so my legs got to shake out some.  I do wish I could have done that strengthening…


NOTES ON THE WEEK: I am so happy with this training week. I can’t believe I finally hit 40 miles and felt pretty good doing it.  I did notice I’m feeling a lot of fatigue after my longer runs (I can’t seem to do anything but lay on the couch afterwards) so as the mileage ramps up in a few weeks, I’m going to pay really close attention to what my body is telling me.  I don’t think the fatigue is from being out of shape, it could be the lyme and overexerting myself, but I’m going to monitor it.



Finding myself the hard way

I’ll be brutally honest here: I SUCKED in my race today.  There’s no way around it or better way to say it – I tanked a 5k I should have never signed up for in the first place.

I could give you a million excuses as to what went wrong: my shin felt like it was going to explode, I’ve been extra fatigued/sick lately, I haven’t raced since April, I went out too fast…but I’m not one for putting weight in my excuses.  I was exactly on pace for my first two miles (6:07 and 6:15 downhill) but once I hit the flatlands I let the dull ache in my shin rattle my mind.  The “what-ifs” flooded in, the “I can’ts” screamed louder than I expected. I’ve ran multiple 5ks in my past few weeks of training at 19:30 pace and done half mile repeats at 6 min/mile pace, so I know my pace wasn’t the problem.  My head just wasn’t in it.  It’s just fucking three miles, I tried telling myself but it didn’t matter.  As soon as the pain came creeping in I used it as my scapegoat.

I know how to run through pain.  If there’s one thing I’m good at it’s staying mentally strong when the rest of my body is whining and crying for reprieve. I’ve been doing it for 16 years and I’ll continue to do it until I cannot any longer.  There’s not a day my right knee doesn’t ache and remind me of the early arthritis there, the thin white scar from surgery always smirking up at me challengingly and knowingly.

What happened today had nothing to do with being out of shape – my heart was never in it.

It was a beautiful morning for racing.  Despite the humidity it was in the 60s and the gray sky stayed overcast – a perfect autumn morning.  I warmed up and felt good despite the shin pain.  I kept to myself as I always do and pushed away any doubts.  It was my first time racing in my uniform and it stressed me out.  The need to prove myself filled me entirely.  I took all the fun out of racing because of the uniform I had on my body, and I knew it in the moment.  I knew right then, ten minutes before the gun, my heart wasn’t in the race and I didn’t want to be there.

Over the years I’ve learned I’m not a short race kind of person, but I guess I haven’t learned my lesson yet.  I have no speed and I lack those fast-twitch muscles essential for kicking.  I do strides, tempo workouts, intervals, but ALAS – nothing.  I build strength over distance and I’m most successful when the race is  AT LEAST a 10k (and even that’s still too short).  I trust myself  with long distance running.  When I was training for my first marathon it didn’t matter I was only running four times a week and less than 30 miles a week.  I did hard bike workouts and always hit my long run.  I wasn’t surprised when I qualified for Boston Marathon off my first marathon attempt, and it’s because it didn’t matter I was low mileage – it’s because I believed with my heart I could do it, so I did.  It was that simple.  I never doubted myself finishing for one moment.

But today the first mile felt like an eternity.  I thought about dropping out.  As my feet slapped the pavement I wondered what in the hell I was doing in a 5k with a bunch of fast racers who actually trained for this?  I felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself in that last mile, but as I stopped to walk 2.5 miles in (absolutely loathing myself) I also learned what I really want these days.

My competitive edge is gone.  It’s been gone for awhile now, but I certainly realized it out on the course today.  I don’t care when someone passes me – it doesn’t motivate me, it doesn’t propel me to go faster.  What I care most about these days is having fun and enjoying my running, especially when I don’t know how many years I have left (I know I will have a knee replacement in my future – just hopefully not any time soon).  I care about getting healthy again.  I care about trying to enjoy every little moment in life.  Racing in uniform, I put too much pressure on myself to succeed because I was afraid of letting others down.  But after this morning it’s clear to me I need to stop caring about what I think everyone else is thinking, because all I do is forget myself in the process.

Lately, the woods have been calling.  I fantasize about running beautiful trails in the mountains, losing myself on dirt paths through the forest and climbing to new heights both literally and physically.  In high school and college I didn’t just love cross country because I loved competitive running (although I did then), but I also loved letting go and becoming one with nature, losing myself in the surrounding trees.  With each foot fall I’d pound out a little bit of my anger and fear, and I was never afraid to chase my dreams through the hills, fields and foliage.  Nature makes me feel strong.  Nature fills the emptiness inside of me even running can’t fill.  When I combine the two I feel invincible.

I won’t say I completely regret today’s race (90% regret) because without failure, I can’t learn more about myself.  This morning I put on a bracelet my father gave me when I broke 20:00 minutes in a 5k for the first time back when I was in middle school.  I hoped it could bring some sort of luck, spirit and competitive edge back to me.  I watched it jingle on my wrist during the race but it didn’t inspire me to go faster.  Back then, breaking 20 was exactly what I wanted.  And as much as I wanted it this morning I didn’t have the heart to actually go after it.

Big changes are coming my way.  Maybe I’ll find out what’s going on with my health (I’m in the middle of being tested more extensively for Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases after I found some abnormal flags on blood work from last year) and maybe I won’t but I’m going to make changes now.  I’m following my heart and going to be looking into trail racing.  I plan on competing in an ultra Ragnar Relay next year and perhaps even a 50 miler on my own.  I’m going to start eating a more plant-based diet to try and bring the inflammation down in my body and see if it can help not only my dismal health but my running as well.

I’m always afraid to talk about my dreams and aspirations because I’m afraid of failure.  Because I don’t believe in myself.  But I’m going to believe I can do this because it’s what my heart is screaming for me to do, and has been for awhile.  I’m going to believe I can do this because if I let my fear of failing and what others think of me shape my life, than I’ll never really live.

And all it took was a shitty 5k this morning for me to realize it.

the bracelet says “sub 20 award” 

© Allison Donaghy 2016 All Rights Reserved