Meet Jerry S.

As part of the 3 months that I had to reflect on my injury, my training, and what I needed to change for the next time around. There's a great guy at work that keeps up on my running that I'd talk to periodically throughout the injury. He had asked me before, but began to pester me during the injury.

"Have you thought about a coach?"

Why, yes... I have. I've loosely continued to work with Dale, my college coach. That's gone well, but being that he's the head XC and track coach at GAC now, he's really swamped. I really needed a little more 1-1 time, but didn't want to admit it. Plus, I felt like I wasn't fast enough. I'm no where near Team MN, so why would anyone want to work with me? Guess I didn't want to take up someone's time if I wasn't going to be really, really fast.

I told my husband and he replied, "Chrissy and Derek L - what do they make their living from?" Coaching, I reply. "And how many really, really fast people do you think they coach?" Point being, there are a lot of people out there that work with and hire coaches, and they're not all record breaking, Olympic Team runners.

I guess I hadn't thought of it that way. So, I asked my coworker if he knew of anyone. He gave me two names: a runner from Red Wing that was 3 minutes shy of the trials about 10-15 years ago, and Jerry S, the old Red Wing high school track and XC coach (now retired).

The ex-runner couldn't commit, although he really wanted to. Onto Jerry. We met last Thursday and talked for nearly 2 hours. He's great! I'm really, really excited about working with him.

How to describe him? Pony tail, grey hair, tanned skin. He was a school teacher, and one of those rare types that didn't sleep much during the school year because he'd be correcting tests, looking for trends in the errors to see if he wasn't communicating well. Translate to a coaching plan: I think he'll be the perfect person to pick through my old training (he has my entire history) with a very fine tooth comb. He's already told me a few things about my last training cycle that I never would have found: the fact that every 3-4 weeks my training log said "unmotivated" or "sick". He said he hasn't nailed it down yet (was it a combination of workouts? Mileage?), but if anyone's going to be able to, it's him.

He retired from Red Wing in 2007 and now lives in the northern part of the metro area. Since he retired there have been a number of high schools and colleges that have asked him to come out of retirement, but he hasn't been able to make the commitment. He got my call one afternoon (I wasn't asking HIM to commit, rather just if he knew anyone that would have the time and be willing), and thought it was perfect -- he'd been thinking about coaching at some level for a little while.

He's not going to be the Dale-intense type of coach, but I don't think I need that any more. I'm pretty internally motivated and competitive :). Plus, I know I can always call Dale for a good pick-me-up (or a "get your a$$ out there and run" pep-talk :) if I needed.

So, we're going week to week now, with the goal to have a training plan picked out sometime soon. This week we agreed on targeting 40 miles, with 150-180 minutes of cross training. SOOOO nice to have someone else telling you what to do!!!!! Now I can just concentrate on running/executing the plan... not worrying about whether I'm doing the right thing/should change the plan/etc.

YEAH!! Seriously, if this is the ONLY thing (which it definitely isn't) that comes out of this injury, it was 100% worth it.




Not shabby for having run 15 times in the last 3 months! And won a Birkie entry -- guess I'll be skiing again this winter :)



Wa-hoo! Long run of the week tonight, through the cemetery. There is no flat in Red Wing -- even the cemetery, which I consider "flat" here is continually rolling small hills. No wonder I felt so strong this spring after training on this stuff!

My legs are really chaffed, but all in all, it went great. I'm going to push for 30-35 miles this week. Hu-rah!


Oh man -- lots of work to do

My 3rd "up tempo" workout last night. I decided to try a scaled down version of a the Jack Daniel's workout of the week.

It was supposed to be 5x5 minutes at tempo, which is around 6:05 pace (when I'm in shape), HR 188-193. So, I thought 3x5 of these at the perceived effort of tempo would be good. Because my 2 mile last week was in 12:30 or so, tempo for me probably isn't 6:05 yet :).

I did it just fine, but the pace I was going at were REALLY slow to hit my targeted HR zones. 6:20 mile pace for most of the time. Ug. And it didn't feel "strong, smooth, and just above comfort level" like that 6:05 usually does.

I finished the workout & felt guilty about how little I had done. Really, only 15 minutes of threshold? And 6:20 pace at that? But, you have to start somewhere -- and I want to make sure I don't re-injure anything by coming back too quickly. I'd rather be slow than injured :).

Reminded me how much work I have to do. I have a 5k on Sunday that should be interesting. Goal is sub 20, but in my mind I'm hoping for sub 19:30. Possible on just a handful of runs, no base, and no speed work? We'll see!!!


Planning in process...

Researching and writing out a training plan is pretty time consuming. I haven't quite committed yet, but I'm thinking about switching over my plan to Jack Daniel's. The old plan was out of "Advanced Marathoning". I've mapped out Jack's medium difficulty training plan. Figured it wouldn't be smart to make a training philosophy change AND attempt the "Elite Program" at the same time :). Trying to be smart about this!

Here are the main changes:
- Much more "tempo" work than was in my last plan. And it's not simply 4 miles at tempo like the old plan. Examples of the new tempo workouts are: 2 miles easy, then 5x5-6 min tempo with 1 min rest + 1 hour easy (so tempo within a longer run). Another example: 2 miles easy, 2x(15 minutes tempo with 3 minute rests), 10-12 minutes at tempo, 2 miles easy.

- Long runs almost always have some sort of tempo pace run in them. A typical long run is: 2 miles easy, 2x10min at tempo with 2 min rest, 10 miles easy, 15-10 miles tempo. The other plan just had long runs, with 2-3 of the long runs (over the course of 4 months) having 8-12 miles of marathon pace at the end. This is a pretty big change.

-Faster tempo on the easy runs (7:31-7:43). I think the last plan had them at 8 minutes, 8:20 if it was a recovery day after a really hard workout. I almost always went 7:50ish to 8, but still... 7:30s-7:40s on a recovery day will be much faster than I'm used to.

-He doesn't spell out each day for you. I sort of liked that in the old plan. Instead, he just gives target mileage based on your max. He gives you the quality workouts of the week and you fill in the rest. (The one downfall of the other plan is that it never had a scheduled day off... so I felt like I had to push myself each week to go longer without a rest day. So maybe it's best without them mapped out -- no pressure -- now I can feel good about scheduling in a day off a week (I'll probably work up to 1 day off every 10 days or so).

My personal changes:
- Strength workout 2-3 times per week. I'm going to write out a schedule, so I don't have to guess. Then it's usually quicker to get done (I'm not wandering around in between exercises wondering what to do), and I'm more likely to do it if it's written down.
-Nutrition: I need to do better here. I eat way too much chocolate and Jack's pizza. Chocolate because I love it, and pizza for supper because we're too lazy to cook. Not acceptable. I'd also like to have a goal racing weight. This is a sensitive topic, but I know I've always carried around a lot more than the other elites I race against. You can usually pick me out of a line-up: which one of these doesn't belong? :) Nothing major, but I think slimming down 5 pounds from my previous racing weight would be a good thing.
-Plyos: Adding in some quickness drills. Need to do more research here.
-Trail running: Need to do more of this! It makes you really strong, and it's a really fun way to switch up the training. Right now I'm thinking one run a week on the trails. Plus, gets me off of the pavement and using different muscles.
-Cross training: skiing (probably mostly double pole) and the spin bike.

Anything I'm missing?

In my mind, the training plan changes are pretty significant. I've really liked the old plan, but it's also "broken" me twice. I'm not sure what about it does that... probably pushing me to take fewer and fewer days off, trying to push mileage more than I should. But really I think what broke me was not doing all of the little things: strength, stretching, cross training, getting off the pavement (I always wanted to know how far/how fast I had gone -- now I realize that doesn't matter. Just put in the time & you'll get strong. Forget the watch sometimes).

So -- with that in mind, should I just work on those little changes/things, and the old plan will do just fine? I did see a HUGE improvement (almost overnight... within 3 weeks of using that plan, even my 5k times dropped significantly) and I actually really like the philosophy: run easy on the easy/long days, save yourself for the long tempos and hard repeats.

But now might be the time to try something different.

So, a week to think about it. Any thoughts, anyone?


6.5 MILES!!!!

I had a smile on my face the entire time!! :)


12:34 2 mile

Getting better. This one was a little tougher. Last time I did this I had done it after a day of cross training. I think that made it a little easier. Today was done after yesterday's "long run" of 5 miles. My legs honestly had no strength left in them the last mile tonight. C'mon - turn over! You can do it! But... the good news is that I am getting stronger (total of 9 miles yesterday and today) and slightly faster. Yeah.

I have to say, I really wanted to stop and walk at 1.5 miles. I wasn't feeling great. But then I thought about it: Then I'd have to post that on my blog. Only 2 workouts into the new training cycle and I'm thinking about giving up? Pathetic. Has this time off made me soft? So, thanks to those of you that are reading this. Keeps me going & keeps me honest :)


Steady Progress

I'm now up to 4-5 miles on a consistent basis, usually around 7:45-7:50 pace. YEAH!! I'm still cross training a bit -- trying to run two days in a row, then one day cross training.

LOVE it! Still have to be careful & stick to a steady plan, but I'm hopeful that this means in the next couple weeks I can plot out a good plan to make a good attempt at a 2:50 at Chicago :)

I love making plans :) Can't wait!


Two miles hard: 6:45 and 6:08

My first "hard" day back. I didn't have much time to run on Saturday, so decided to make the most out of the time I had.

I tried to put in a 2 mile all-out effort. It started out slower & gradually picked it up -- first mile was 6:45 (I think I started out the first 1/4 or so at 7:30ish pace). Continuing on the 2nd mile, 6:08. WOW. My lungs, although strong, couldn't take in enough air. My body acted like it had no idea what I was trying to make it do. I wasn't completely worn out, but you have this weird "every little muscle is tired" sort of feeling afterwards. Ahh, the joys of getting back in shape.

So I know this is pathetic, but my first hard 2 mile effort was done in 12:53. I couldn't have gone any faster. I think that's the slowest 2 mile I've done in the last 5, maybe even 10, years. WOW, lots of work to do! At least I'm to the point where I can do a little hard work (and I'm up to 4.5-5 miles on a long day!!!!), so hopefully the fitness comes back quick!!!!

Want to take a gamble at what sort of 5K time I can run on the 27th this month? Less than 2 weeks to go...


First Vakava practice... WOW

So I've done a little double polling lately as cross training (doesn't use the hip muscles much). I'm not great at it, which is why it's good to show up at practice with coaching help once a week. Tonight was my first Vakava practice -- I hadn't gone yet this summer because my hip couldn't have handled it.

I generally expect to get my butt kicked at Vakava practice. But tonight's practice totally killed me. TOTALLY. I reached that "my arms/abs can't work anymore" point at about 50 minutes. Too bad practice was nearly 1 hour 50 minutes long. Honestly, I'm trying to work on my technique (my double pole needs a lot of work), but my body can't even handle moving the "wrong" way. At 1:15, I'm pretty sure I had some sort of wide-eyed "survival" look on my face. Ha!

My HR was comically high tonight as well. As I've said, my HR for threshold type effort is around 180, maybe around 185. 1 hr 30 into the workout, my average was 183. !!! Seriously, think about this: we do stop for technique instruction, to talk about the next set of repeats, etc. And I was AVERAGING 183. On one of the times that we were just skiing "with good form" up a gradual hill I looked down at my watch: 199 ?!?! Seriously. It's one thing to be working this hard and be near the front. But I'm honestly the last person... by a LOT. What's wrong with this picture? :)

So when we were finally going to "cool down" back to the vehicles, I honestly just gave up. I couldn't move. I made sure I was far enough behind not to be seen & skated up the hills, using as little upper body strength as I could. :) Dave's going to read this and scold me, but I honestly had nothing left. :) Total average for the 1:50 workout: 180.

So, good to get a good butt kicking! Motivates me to work on my strength even more & doing more specific strength stuff on skis.


7:30 miles felt GREAT!

Just under 4 miles last night at about 7:30 pace, and it felt great! I'm getting more efficient with my running (vs. a couple weeks ago where you feel awkward, your legs don't really remember how to move right, etc) & getting stronger. I think the biking has really helped the lungs too -- I wasn't breathing or working hard out there. I was surprised at how well last night went, for how little running I've done.

I still have a little trouble when I'm going downhill (I think that bothers the hip/leg joint), but I can tell immediately when I need to stop/stretch/get adjusted. Right now I'm also being really picky -- I want to completely get over this so I don't have to be cautious about it when I ramp up training for Chicago.

So, looks like I'm well on my way! YEAH!!! Now time to sketch out a tentative training plan for the summer (how fun!) & set my sights on Chicago!


Great workout on the bike! Hope some of this will transfer to the roads!

What a great bike today!! 20 minute warm up and then 40 minutes at threshold (average HR 183).

Originally I was going to do 2x15 minutes at threshold (previous threshold workout on the bike was 2x12 minutes, average HR 176, 180 during those sessions -- and that was pretty hard, I remember). At 12 minutes, I thought to myself: I can do 20. Yeah, that sounds good. This is a lot easier than it was last time.

At 20 minutes, I tell my husband who's in the workout room with me that I'm going to go 30. Why does this feel so much easier?

At 25, I tell him that I don't mean to speak too soon, but I think I could go 40 minutes. He looks at me weirdly. Are you sure you're going at threshold level, he asks me? I don't know... my HR is now right about 183-185, but I feel great. Breathing a little bit, but not much. If I was going by feel, guess I'd be going harder?

So, ended up going 40 minutes. Wow! It felt great, no joke. Question of the day becomes: should you train by HR (by the levels that I know are generally my zones) or train more by feel? Sitting here after the workout, I'm wondering if I shouldn't have gone harder... but then I don't know if I would have been able to go as long?? Argh, either way, it was a GREAT workout. I've become (somewhat) a biker!

Also, I'm wondering how any of this will transfer to the roads. The Musky Festival 5k (a race at the inlaw's cabin I've done every June) is the last weekend in June, and I'd really like to think I could run it. Wouldn't it be fun to race it?!? Guess we'll see how these hours/work on the bike transfer to lung/leg strength on the road!


Getting better!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while! Nate and I were on vacation this past week up to the cabin. How wonderful! Beautiful weather, plenty of great food, and plenty of time to unwind.

I'm beginning to heal. It's a wonderful feeling. I'm able to cross train a lot, and I took advantage of that at the cabin. My goal was to be doing "something" for about 1:30 each day. Accomplished (on average), and it felt great! I feel like I'm starting to regain "fitness", the legs and core getting stronger. I spent a lot of time double polling and biking. I don't have a bike, so borrowed one of the old ones at the cabin :). Also borrowing the father in law's old golf gloves because they looked like they had some padding on the palms. Ha, I'm sure I looked great out there on the roads! Looking like a serious athlete, no doubt. I had a bike EXACTLY like this growing up. Must have been "the" bike to get when you were in 4th grade. They actually still sell them at Wal-Mart, $74. In case you want to join the Roadmaster club with me. I'm taking applications. Except now they're a light blue. Too bad, that green is a pretty cool color.

All I needed to do was maintain an average HR on specific days, so I didn't really care what I looked like doing it. The only thing is that these bikes aren't really meant to be ridden very long -- the seat definitely suggest that you sit VERY upright. So, my butt was a little sore, but oh well. Totally worth it :).
On one of my long, easy rides I calculated my average speed after the workout: 16 mph. No idea what that means. But I thought I'd post that here in case someday I get into biking and can compare it to something. Purpose of that workout was a base-building workout, so it ended up being 1:25 with an average 163 HR.

I've been doing all of my biking training with the HR monitor. Trying to target specific levels. Yesterday I went for an hour and a half on our home spin bike, very easy (av. HR 155). Today my goal is to do an hour, with 25 minutes of it at threshold & might throw a couple of pick ups in the middle/end as well.

Running has been going better as well -- I'm up to about 20 minutes of running now! Tuesday was the breakthrough day. I headed out for a run with Nate and the dog. We went about 7 minutes and I stopped to stretch. The hip doesn't hurt anymore, but I often have a feeling that something still isn't right. Today the hip just felt tight & felt like the femur bone was a little too far into the hip joint (if that makes sense?). I was going to pack it in (if it's not right, don't do anything!, per the coaches advice), but decided to try it out after stretching. So glad I did -- what a great feeling! No pain and no discomfort. Weird. I feel like there isn't any power in the leg (or either leg, for that matter), but that's it! It was the greatest feeling -- to breathe in the 65 degree air, start to sweat, no pain. Ahhh. I love RUNNING!

Since then I've been around 15-20 minutes. I'm taking today off from running (tomorrow as well) and going to concentrate on biking. I think it's a good idea to stress it for 2-3 days, then take 2-3 days off. Hope next cycle I can run for 3-4 and take 1-2 off... or increase the amount of time... or a combo of increasing both days/time. Wouldn't that be WONDERFUL?

Looking pretty good on the Roadmaster, eh? I know you're all jealous.