There are some practices that just don’t go the way you want them to. Then there are some that go way better than you thought they would have… But always have your long term goals in sight because nothing matters more than staying healthy, strong and being ready to step up to the line when the gun goes off.

@cuyamacaxc once told me “you don’t make a USA team by training consistently today, you make one by having consistent ‘todays’”
Words I will never forget.

#racewalking #usatf #20k #USA #trackandfield #runnerspace #flotrack #indoornationals #50k #olympictrials #roadtorio #rio2016 #sandiego #fitness #health #stayfit #stayhealthy #staymotivated #walkstrong

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There’s a buzz in the air in Eugene. #usolympictrials it definitely feels like an Olympic trials. While I was walking around the track today, I could feel the energy level, higher than normal. And also very positive and exciting. Congrats to all of the athletes who have worked so hard and battled for a spot, to compete at this meet! The US Olympic Trials 2016 💪🇺🇸 Good luck and enjoy!! #roadtorio #jeffcohenphoto Trackandfieldimage.com #trackandfield #athlete #athletics #tracktown16 #running #teamusa #usatf#haywardfield #olympicteam #ustrials #olympictrials #nikonusa #nbcolympics #nikerunning #brooksrunning #oiselleteam #asics #adidasrunning #saucony #hokaoneone #teamusa @usatf @teamusa @tracktownusa @nbcolympics @nikerunning @runnerspace @flotrack_trackisback @runblogrun @sportsillustrated

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Yesterday was an emotional day for the WCAP Wrestling team. 2-time Olympian, SGT Spenser Mango left his shoes in the center of the mat yesterday, symbolizing the end of an era and the retirement of one of the greatest wrestlers in U.S. history. Thank you for everything you have done for the sport SGT Mango. @usawcap
#ussoldier #wrestling #usawrestling #usarmy #grecoroman #armywcap #iowa #roadtorio #freestyle #goarmy #olympictrials #teamusa #usa #fortcarson (at Asheville Mall)

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I felt like posting a new London Olympics pic today, and for whatever reason, when I connected my London hard drive, some of my older cel phone pics popped up on my screen. I saw this one and it brought me back to this fun moment. I was lying on the track for the start of the women’s 400 meters at the 2012 US Olympic trials and it just started to rain. Here is Olympic gold medalist, #SanyaRichardsRoss , before the start. I rarely take pics with my cel at track meets, but when I do, it’s usually to capture the moment that I’m experiencing for my personal memories. When I see this pic, I relive that moment, electricity in the air, on my stomach, in my rain gear, on the track with the athletes, at the Olympic trials. Love it . #tracknation #usatf Trackandfieldimage.com #jeffcohenphoto #trackandfield #athletics #running #track #trackgirl #sportsphotographer #fitness #celphonepic #haywardfield #tracktown #nikewomen #nikerunning #olympictrials #400meters #olympian #eugene #oregon #sprinter #athleticbeauty #memories #teamusa @sanyarichiross @usatf @tracktownusa

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10 mile pyramid

One of the greatest advantages of being a freelance writer/pro runner is that both jobs allow for a ton of flexibility in my day.  Weather is going to be 11 degrees with the windchill at 8 AM?  Guess I’ll write in the morning and run at 3 PM, when the temperature is going to be 40.  This is a big privilege I have that I’m making sure not to take for granted.  

Today I wanted to do some tempo work because I’ve been having a little bit of trouble with my metronome skills at marathon pace.  The pace I want to run (5:50) feels good and steady, but for some reason I either start too fast or too slow.  Since I am doing a half marathon in 10 days (Houston Half) where I will plan to tempo 5:50 pace for the first 10 miles and then race the final 5k as a “dress rehearsal” for LA, I don’t see much of a need to do two long tempos so close together.  

Instead, I chose to spice things up a little bit and do 4 miles at marathon pace on tired legs, then pick things up again.  In a way, this is a really good way to mimic race conditions.  I anticipate that women are going to go out way too hard in the first 1/3 of the race, then there will be a point where we settle in for a while, and then the pace will have to be picked up the last 10k.  So I modified my coach’s tempo suggestion to the following:

1 mile at 5:30
2 miles at 11:20 (5:40 pace)
4 miles at 23:20 (5:50 pace)
2 miles at 11:20 
1 mile at 5:30

Half mile recovery in between.  

The goal was to comfortably change gears and maintain a steady pace.  I wanted to be just tired enough that my 4 miles at marathon pace would feel a little bit rough, but not too bad that I couldn’t pick the pace back up.  

I chose to do the workout on the 10k road loop at Eagle Creek State Park which is HILLY.  Like, I literally just told someone the other day that I always forget how hilly it is, and, yup, I forgot how hilly it was.  In some ways, I regretted this decision because I think it hurt me in my quest for even pacing (lots of ups that slow you down, lots of downs that speed you up…those hills ain’t gradual).  I reminded myself, though, that the number one goal is to get in a good workout, not have the perfect splits to write in my log.  

1 mile at 5:30 (5:33)  
This mile was definitely a shake-out-the-cobwebs, and had more climbing than descending.  Was definitely regretting having chosen Eagle Creek over, say, the Monon.  

2 miles at 11:20 (11:19; 5:43, 5:36)
I don’t remember anything specific about this one, except that there was a large uphill portion in the first mile that skewed that split a little bit.  Still feeling good, telling myself that after the 4 mile portion, I’ll be 70% done!

4 miles at 23:20 (22:50; 5:48, 5:40, 5:47, 5:35)
sigh.  I opted to check my watch every ½ mile here, and was really happy with the 5:48.  I felt good, breathing felt good, pace felt good.  Next mile, there was a decent downhill, so I didn’t think too much of the 5:40, but definitely reined myself in a little.  I took a gel (salted watermelon GU) here.  I was happy with the 5:47.  I was a little too fast at the 3.5 mile mark, but didn’t think I was on pace for 5:35.  The last mile was completely flat and finished near the front parking lot.  

Here’s a fun story.  I had anticipated being near my car at the end of the 4 miler, so I set out my (clear) water bottle which had lemon lime nuun.  The nuun was extremely yellow, and as I was setting it on the ground, I thought dang, someone is totally going think my water bottle got peed in.  When I got to my car, I was extremely confused to see that my water bottle was no longer yellow, but clear.  I sniffed it, and it no longer smelled like nuun.  Soooo someone drank my nuun and replaced it?  Quite confused.  I took a couple sips of the mystery liquid since I was super thirsty post-gel, but decided against having any more than that.  

2 miles at 11:20 (11:17; 5:37, 5:40).  It was nice to get back on pace!  I actually can’t believe that I ran a 5:37 for that first one, because I’m silly and ran down the wrong road to the beach, which is probably one of the largest hills out there.  Once I got down to the beach and realized I had to turn around I was super bummed.  The 5:40 was totally flat, though, and made me feel better about my pacing :) 

1 mile at 5:30 (5:32).  Dude.  Every fiber of my instinct was telling me Just do your ½ mile recovery and then TURN AROUND AND RUN BACK TOWARDS THE CAR, but every part of my brain was like no, that’s boring.  you just ran that stretch.  it’s all flat and lame and you’ve passed those people like ten times.  do the hills, it will be fun.  So, I did the hills for my last mile.  The first ¼ was downhill and I ran a 77.  The next ¼ was uphill and a 1:32.  The final half mile was rolling hills and 2:41 for the last half mile.  

Overall thoughts:  This was a good workout.  The irrational side of me is a little bummed that I didn’t accomplish what I specifically set out to do (be a metronome), but I can’t overlook the fact that I hit my paces (and then some) at a place I didn’t fully respect (me pre-workout: pshhhhhh Eagle Creek will be an easy-ish place to go).  My 4 miles at marathon pace felt the way marathon pace feels midway through the race…no longer super easy, but not in oxygen debt, either.  I would love to have something to compare this workout to, but this is my first time attempting this particular set of tempos.  

I’m looking forward to Houston.  I think I will get a good indicator of my fitness level.  I think there will be some fast ladies in the race gunning for a good time, so I’m looking forward to being able to work on holding myself back and running my race, since I know I will have to do that at the Trials (or, at least, I can only imagine that women will go out like bats out of hell in LA).  

Recovery day tomorrow!  

Olympic Trials: Round One

Tomorrow’s a big day: Olympic Trials 400 meter hurdles prelims. My second time competing for one of three spots on the Olympic team. Last time around I took 4th, missing a trip to Beijing by a couple hundredths of a second. Damn, the amount of work I do for an event that lasts less than a minute and can be decided in less than a blink of an eye is insane. My head spins every time I think about what I wish I did better or worked harder on. Still, I work my ass off and take pride in knowing that no one outworks me.

That’s what I’ll be thinking about when the gun goes off tomorrow. The first round is the easiest, but always the most stressful. Maybe it’s because it marks the beginning of such a monumental event. Or maybe it’s just because it would be so embarrassing to be cut during the very first round. 

Either way, it’s huge. But the enormity of it all hasn’t hit me yet. It’ll hit me at 3:30 tomorrow. Then, it’ll be time for me to put on my uniform, take a few sips of water, and head over to the track. Time will seem to slow down and my palms will start to sweat around 5:45 - 15 minutes before the race starts. But when I get in the blocks, I’ll be thinking about one thing: let’s go to London.

Man I can’t wait for that gun to go off.

Anatomy of a 100 mile week

A couple months ago, I wrote down a list of goals for myself to accomplish each month between now and October 2016.  Every week, I take a look at those goals and evaluate whether I am on track.  

Obviously, for October, my goal was to qualify for the Trials.  

For November, I wanted to run a sub 35:00 10k at the Turkey Trot, and even though I was a little off (35:19), I still considered this effort to be a “win,” given the weather conditions that day.  

Today, I accomplished my December goal, which was to hit a 100 mile week.  I care less about my Monday to Sunday mileage than I do about my overall 7 day mileage, for anyone who is wondering how I could have a 100 mile week on a Tuesday.  I think it’s important to not be too constrained by trying to fit in mileage in a given time frame.  For instance. I initially planned my first 100 of this training cycle to be hit in the time frame from 12/6 - 12/13, but the rest day I took on 12/6 was 100% necessary.  Therefore, instead of trying to cram 100 miles into 6 days, I ran 88 miles from Tuesday - Sunday, knowing that I typically hit 10 on Mondays, giving me 98 for that 7 day stretch.  Today, I ran 14.1 miles, which makes my previous 7 day total 100.2 (a new mileage PR!)  

I am constantly asked about mileage, how many days a week I run, what my workouts look like, and how often I eat.  Interestingly, one of the top questions I am asked is whether I have ever run 100 miles in one week.  I think for non runners, a 100 mile week is just as tangible to think about as a 4:00 mile.  So, what does it look like to run 100 miles?  I will admit, I probably ran more doubles the past 7 days than I typically would, but that came from trying to fit 88 miles in over 6 days.  

AM:  2.5 miles (this was the day I had the terrible cramps and had to stop my run early)
PM:  9.7 miles/ 1:09:40

AM:  5 miles on trails + drills
PM:  11 miles total; 2 mile warm up, 3 x 2 miles with 800 m recover, 2 mile cool down
home: lower body strength session

AM:  7 mile recovery run at Eagle Creek Park
PM:  6.5 mile holiday light run with Volée teammate
home:  core

AM:  8 miles on Tow Path ~58 min
PM:  3.5 miles with Sadie + 8 strides

AM:  2 mile warm up, 13.1 mile race, 3 mile cool down
PM:  2 mile shake out 
PM:  Christmas party that involved me drinking a bomber of New Belgium’s Le Terroir and feeling pretttyyyyyyyy good

AM:  14.5 in 1:50:18 with friends

AM:  10 miles in a windy hail storm in 77 mins

*woke up after 12 hrs of sleep with a sore throat, so I scrapped my workout plans (for the record, I don’t think this is high-mileage related)
AM:  easy 6 with Dave
PM:  8 on the tow path with running buddy in ~59 mins

I wish I could remember everything that I ate this week, because I commonly get asked how much food it takes to sustain my running.  A Volée teammate recently suggested it would be really interesting to know what elites really eat, besides the food that is instagrammed and listed in Runner’s World articles.  A few days ago, I stumbled upon this article written by a Haute Volée teammate and lol’d at its accuracy (the article is 7 myths about elite runners).  

The first myth is that we eat immaculately clean and healthy all the time.  THIS IS SO TRUE.  Yes, I eat  healthy most of the time.  My breakfasts this week have typically consisted of different types of cereals (puffed millet, puffed kamut, and Kashi whole wheat biscuits) mixed with toppings such as coconut, pecans, and bananas.  One day I made a breakfast sandwich with toasted (white) bread, cheese, and a fried egg.  Another day I added peanut butter and banana to cooked amaranth.  

Lunches are usually leftovers from the previous night, and typically involve copious amounts of bread and hummus, or, quesadillas, or “mini pizzas” where I take corn tortillas and add marinara, mozzarella cheese, and whatever veggies are in the fridge and bake them for a few minutes.  

Snacks are Picky Bars, plain yogurt with whatever toppings I have, dates, Lara Bars, handfuls of chocolate chips, homemade cookies (Dave’s pretty good at baking), fruit, or bananas with almond butter

The dinners I remember eating this week were grass-fed sirloin steak (twice) with either bamboo rice or amaranth and roasted veggies; Coho salmon with rice and roasted veggies, chicken topped with mozzarella and spinach, as well as roasted broccoli, pepper, onion, and garlic; pizza; and gnocchi with roasted veggies.  Right now, I am waiting for chicken & rice soup to cook, to hopefully help my sore throat.  

But, what do I eat that someone may not label as “clean” or “healthy”?  Lots of chocolate.  Handfuls of chocolate chips, or I’ll pick up a soy-free chocolate bar when it’s on sale.  I love green tea ice cream.  Cookies…like Dave’s peanut butter bars or the sugar cookies he just baked.  Lots of frozen yogurt with speculoos (cookie butter) and cookies mixed in.  Cheese.  Beer.  Mac ‘n Cheese.  Non-whole wheat foods.  If I’m within a couple weeks of my goal race, I typically cut these foods out, but, any other time, what some people would assume are “cheat” foods are definitely a part of my diet.  

The other myth I laughed at is that we train early.  Nope.  At least, I don’t.  90% of the time, I don’t set an alarm.  I let my body tell me how much sleep it needs.  I wake up anywhere between 7 and 10 AM and usually write an article or two while sipping green or black tea, allowing my body to loosen up and rehydrate for my first run.  

I also don’t run fast every single day.  In fact, I probably only run “fast” 3 - 4 days per week.  Part of that is because I am upping my mileage (I anticipate that my 3rd or 4th 100 mile week will be faster than my 1st one), but I also give myself time to recover.  Some days, my first mile is over 8:30 pace.  

I definitely go through pain and suffering during races.  I’ll admit that the pain is different than it was when I first started running marathons, but it’s definitely there.  Even races that aren’t all-out can be painful.  Case in point, the last 400 m of my half on Saturday:

Another myth that can be debunked in the grand scheme of a 100 mile week:  that we have no social lives.  Not true!  (kind of).  I actually did a few social things week, like go to a local, hand made holiday market, and a Christmas party!  But yeah, for the most part my social life consists of going for runs with friends and trips into the real world for groceries.  

Now that my first 100 mile week is down, what’s next on my list?  There was always a myth in college about a few guys who had done a handful of 100 mile + 100 beer weeks.  Maybe I can aim for 100 miles + 100 sips of beer :)

Olympic Trials 2012: My Experience in Omaha

You have to give yourself a place to start and then dream big- that’s the only way to get where you want to go.

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.

Go for it… don’t be afraid of mistakes or defeats; they are the building blocks for all your successes.

Where to start…. I feel so honored to have been able to compete with the best swimmers in the nation and swim at such an AMAZING pool. Trials is definitely unlike any other USA National meet. There are over 14,000 spectators cheering their hearts out for you and the atmosphere is intense and electrifying. Omaha really puts on a huge show, with light tricks, poolside flames, etc. The first couple times when you walk out and see all these bright lights shining on you and on the pool can be a little intimidating. On the first day, I felt like I was going to be sick because I was so nervous. But I learned to stay calm by just reminding myself that I have swum this race a hundred times before, and it was a 50m pool just like the ones I’m used to back home. I really felt the energy of the crowd and used it to control my nerves and swim faster. I just wanted to go out there, have fun, see how fast I could go compared to the other girls, give it my all, and finish with nothing left. Trials is a very emotional meet for all the swimmers. It is heartbreaking to watch people finish third and just miss making the Olympic team, while at the same time you are extremely happy seeing people’s dreams come true. One of the most memorable moments I had at trials was watching my good friend Lia Neal, who I went on a USA trip to Peru with, make the team and become a first time Olympian. I remember getting goosebumps while watching her race and felt my heart rate go up because I was jumping up and down. I screamed when I saw that she touched the wall at 4th place and qualified for the 4x100 freestyle relay. Immediately, I went down to the warm-down area to congratulate her, and there were at least 20-30 other people there to see her. It was so awesome to see all of her club teammates, her coach, and her friends from other teams supporting her. I know she deserved that spot, and I was so proud of her because she is only 17, second youngest swimmer on the Olympic team. I almost started crying when I saw she was been crying (tears of joy, of course) because I was so happy and excited for her. It was one of my favorite moments during Trials, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the meet, even though I had some failures. Being at this meet really motivated me to go back home and train for the 2016 trials. I made a long-term goal of making the 2016 Olympic team and competing in Rio. Swimming is my passion. I believe that dreams really can come true if you are willing to pay the price and work for it. I want to see how far swimming will take me and whether or not I make the next Olympics I will make the best out of swimming and have fun along the journey.

#AmberCampbell winning the hammer throw at the 2016 US Olympic Trials. #athlete #Jeffcohenphoto Trackandfieldimage.com #hammertime #trackandfield #athletics #usatf #hammerthrow #thrower #olympian #trackgirl #olympictrials #riobound #nike #roadtorio @usahammerhottie @usatf @tracktownusa @nikewomen

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