Today I raced for the 3rd week in a row. My coach has been evaluating my weekly progress and for the last 3 weeks, on Wednesday or Thursday he’s asked me to race that weekend, which has been awesome. I absolutely love the rush of lining up to race, especially at these small 5k’s where I know a bunch of other people racing.
Three weeks ago I hit 18:58 in a race that had snow, hills and stairs (yes this actually happened) and came in 2nd overall. Last week I hit 18:12 (30 second PR) in a flat course along the Charles, good for 4th place out of 800. Today’s race was on the same course, and I finally hit my goal of sub 18 with a 17:56… less than 4 seconds to spare.
I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and hearing advice from pro runners about motivation. It’s not supposed to be easy. Otherwise, everyone would do it. At about mile 1.5 I had the urge to back off my 5:45 pace. I reminded myself of the quote to the right from Shalane Flanagan. This race wasn’t supposed to be my goal race, but I knew that a sub 5:47 average pace would give me a sub 18 5k. If I kept pushing at/around the same effort, I’d PR for sure, and potentially even hit my goal two weeks early.
I worked to catch up to the runner ahead of me, and then promised myself I’d stay in front of him for the rest of the race. I did, and my last .1 mile came in at a 5:07 pace… A full sprint with everything I had left. I crossed the finish line in 17:56 (5:47/mile) and since then I’ve been on cloud 9.
When I started working with my coach (Steven) about a year ago, I was hovering around a 25 minute 5k and a 2 hour half marathon. I’ve cut over 7 minutes off the 5k, and 32 minutes off the half. I could not have made anywhere close to this progress without him, while also avoiding injury. Steven’s training plans adapt based on my training, and if I’m in a good place, he’ll send me out to race, which is always a confidence boost.
I’ve PR’d by 30 seconds and then 16 additional seconds in the last two weeks, in a race that only lasts about 18 minutes. That’s huge. It’s not just training alone though. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I just started working at InsideTracker, a company that provides nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to optimize performance based on blood analysis of up to 30 nutrient and hormone levels.
One of the markers that needed improvement was creatine kinase, a key indicator of muscle health and recovery. I’ve added a CoQ10 supplement every day for the last 3 weeks after breakfast, and have been going to bed about 45 minutes earlier. In addition, I’ve increased both my fat and protein consumption, which has not only helped with muscle recovery, but has seemed to fix my ravenous hunger that has been a result of the increased weekly mileage. (Had been at 35-40 range, last 3 weeks have been 43-47) I also stopped doing my post-run core work outside and now do it inside, as seen in the recommendation to the left.
I’ve also added a Vitamin D supplement, since my test showed that my Vitamin D levels were very low. The system also recommends the top 5 foods that will make the biggest impact (based on the markers that need improvement) and as a result I’ve been eating a lot more avocado (1/2-2/3 per day), chia (1-2 servings/daily) and raspberries, which conveniently have been on sale at Whole Foods recently.
I had stopped drinking cherry juice a few weeks ago simply because I had run out of it, but I restocked last week and that’s definitely also been helping with my sleep quality, which improves the CK level.
All of this is to say that I think I’ve found the sweet spot from a training perspective. As Chris said this afternoon, Training = Workout + Recovery.
Your training is only as good as your recovery, and the food your eating throughout the day has such an impact. Couple that with a professionally created training program, and anything is possible.