Chippewa Moraine 50K Training: Week 10

Marking time.

Monday: 8.6 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Tuesday: 7 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Wednesday: 4.6 mi, treadmill hill workout
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6.5 mi, treadmill
Saturday: 10.2 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Sunday: 8 mi, road (Minnesota Point)
Total: 45 mi

After a few weeks of lower mileage, I picked things up again this week. I only had two treadmill runs, too! That was pleasant. Somehow I didn’t even remember that – I thought it was yet another week of the treadmill grind.

Since it snowed a lot last weekend and then we had a few warmer days with below-freezing nights, I knew I was going to be limited in spots to run. Sidewalk shoveling is iffy (I’m guilty of this myself) and drainage is poor, and I figured many trails would either be skating rinks or unpacked, so I stuck with the safest options.

The Lakewalk itself is a lake in spots, which was slightly annoying. I had to detour onto the gritty snow on the sides a few times, which was fine but took a bit out of my legs. Tuesday, it turned out that there was a Grandma’s Marathon training group out as well, so I ended up “banditing” part of their training run (I went past their turnaround point, so they were all gone by the time I turned around #humblebrag). I filed that away in my memory for this week, since that was a significantly larger group of people than I prefer to encounter during training.

Wednesday was my grandmother’s 92nd birthday, so I visited her for an hour or so pre-workout. I considered making that my rest day, but since I was driving to and from the Twin Cities on Thursday for work, I just did a short workout after my visit. That kind of makes me sound like I sacrificed time with my grandparents for a workout, but we had a great visit and I am there at least twice a week, so I’m not a completely awful person.

Both Saturday and Sunday, I started my workouts significantly later than I needed to, for no reason. I find myself stalling and finding all kinds of distractions and excuses not to start my run, and then I get in my head about it. “You ate breakfast/lunch like you were going to run 10 miles, now you have to.” “But it’s cold.” “But I’m going to be done late.” “But I am enjoying watching this movie.” “Maybe I can just do 6 miles.” “Maybe I’ll just run on the treadmill even though I have the opportunity to run outside.” “What if the route is snowy/icy/impassable?” “I don’t wanna put on all that gear.” “I’m so slow, this will take forever.” “I have to pee for the 10th time.”

I really admire people who just get out there and run. I also admire me because I do get out there and run, eventually. It is hard, for no reasons other than ones I invent for myself, but I do still have to grapple with those reasons. I’d like to think that I’m not going to be quite so neurotic about running once the weather clears up, but I can’t say for sure. I guess eventually it’ll be warm and I’ll find out.


Chippewa Moraine 50K Training: Weeks 7-9

I’m in survival mode right now, which has resulted in a lot of treadmill running and not much other stuff. I’m moving in a couple weeks and have a lot of other stuff to take care of on top of training.

Monday (2/5): 7.9 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6 mi, treadmill hill workout
Wednesday: 5.6 mi, treadmill
Thursday: 8.1 mi, treadmill
Friday: rest
Saturday: 8.4 mi, trail (Hartley)
Sunday: 16.1 mi, trail (Munger)
Total: 52.1 mi

Ever have a training run that feels as amazing as a race? That was me on that 16.1 mile run on the Munger trail. I was flying at the end, even after suffering through some bitterly cold winds in the last 5 miles.

Monday (2/12): 6.2 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 6.2 mi, pavement (Lakewalk), fartlek
Thursday: 7 mi, road (Minnesota Point)
Friday: rest (I closed on my house this day!)
Saturday: 8.7 mi, trail (Hartley)
Sunday: 8.3 (3.1 & 5.2) mi, treadmill
Total: 36.4 mi

This was a planned cutback week, although I intended to run more on Sunday. I planned to run outside on Sunday (or do a split indoor/outdoor), but then decided against it due to the snow (it snowed Sunday-Tuesday), and then I ended up with a shorter run than planned since my stomach was acting up a bit. The weather was fairly balmy Wednesday and Thursday, so I was able to get outside and run. I’ve been carrying a head lamp in my pocket and putting it on if needed, but it’s so pleasant to have more daylight.

Monday (2/19): 7.9 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 8.3 (2.7 & 5.6) mi, treadmill
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 5.6 mi, treadmill
Friday: 8.1 mi, treadmill
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 2.5 mi, treadmill
Total: 32.4 mi

This last week ended up being an unintentional cutback week. I knew that due to snow, we’d have to make a weekend trip down to check on our new house and to shovel the sidewalks there, so I tried to front-load my week as much as I could. Wednesday I had dinner with friends, so I knew that would be a rest day. Thursday was brutal. I’d stayed up extremely late watching USA win the gold in women’s hockey, and couldn’t fall asleep after due to the adrenaline and excitement. I slept poorly and was a zombie at work all day, but I still managed to get in a workout. Hooray for me. Friday I stayed up even later watching USA win the gold in curling, and there was no chance for a workout the next morning. Saturday I drove down to shovel the sidewalks at our new house, and then got a few things done there. I stayed overnight due to the weather, shoveled again at the new house, did a few other things to prep for the move, then drove back to Duluth to shovel at our current place. I was glad to get any miles in at all on Sunday.

Other than shoveling, I haven’t been doing much strength. Maybe some push-ups or planks here and there. I need to get back into that, but at the same time, I’m in survival mode, so I’m trying not to wear myself down. Since I’m a master procrastinator, what I should do is start my strength routine while I’m in procrastination mode (specifically on the weekends), instead of waiting til after the workout is done, when it’s dinner time, or when I get home from a run and I’m chilly from wearing damp, sweaty clothes. I am dreaming of the balmy spring days just around the corner, when the temperature doesn’t sap my energy.

Now that the Olympics are over (I devoured as much Olympics content as I could, sometimes watching a TV feed of one event and a stream of another), I have a bit more flexibility with my running. And maybe I need to wax up my cross-country skis and get out on the trails in this fresh snow…

UMD women’s hockey is also done for the season, so that frees up a little more of my time. Trying to get a run in before an afternoon hockey game was kind of a pain in the butt. Ugh, the amount of time and mental energy I expend procrastinating my runs is really starting to add up. Sometimes I spend more time procrastinating than the actual run takes. It’s a vicious cycle that I need to find a way to escape. It’s extra vicious in winter, so I know it’ll resolve itself in a few weeks, but avoiding that entirely next winter would be nice. Maybe next winter I’ll be so much faster that my runs won’t seem so onerous. Hahahahahaha.

Great news, though: I signed up for FANS 24 hour again. Game on. Never mind that I’m in a mental mindset right now where I can’t imagine racing – that’ll pass. At least, it had better pass, as I have a race (Hot Dash 10 mi) in less than a month!

Chippewa Moraine 50K Training: Week 6

I finally chose a race! Since Zumbro 50 filled under my nose (the Ultrasignup notification didn’t work correctly, probably due to user error), I had to pick another race. I thought about doing Trail Mix, but the cutoff is 8 hours (and the 4th loop has to be started before 6 hours elapsed), which is faster than my current PR. Of course, I signed up for Chippewa Moraine last year knowing that the cutoff was faster than my 50K PR at the time, but I decided not to risk it 2 years in a row. Also, I like the out-and-back nature of CM50K better than 4 loops at Trail Mix, and I really enjoyed the Ice Age Trail. I’m looking forward to a big improvement in time this year – provided I can keep the sweat and sunscreen out of my eyes.

Monday: 7 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6 mi, treadmill hill workout
Wednesday: 6.5 mi, treadmill
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.6 mi, treadmill speed workout (10 x 0.25 mi)
Saturday: 11.2 mi, treadmill (split into 8 mi and 3.2 mi)
Sunday: 13.8 mi, trail/road/treadmill (7.5 on the snowy Lakewalk & London Road, 6.3 treadmill)
Total: 50.1

Holy crap last week sucked. I am so bored of the treadmill. It’s really hard to get motivated to get on it after I get home from work… then I end up working out later than planned due to my procrastination, so then I have no time to do strength training before dinner… whoops. But that’s how January and February work. I endure, and no more.

I thought I was going to make this week a cutback week, and I didn’t! I’m glad of it. I didn’t do a long run, but instead did 2 medium-mileage days back to back on the weekend. It’s not quite the same when the runs are split up, but 1. the treadmill only runs for 99:59 at a time and 2. who cares? I still need to do some long runs, but those are going to have to wait until it’s warmer. I’ve got more time now that I’m doing a later race, and I am running a shorter ultra, so I won’t have to worry as much about not getting long enough long runs for a 50 miler.

I managed to get out on Sunday. I was planning to run outside on Saturday, too, but it was snowing and 10F so I decided against it. Sunday was even colder, but it wasn’t snowing, and I didn’t realize it was windy until it was too late. It was rough, running into the wind on the way back. My poor face. It was worth it just to mix things up, especially since this upcoming week doesn’t look any better.

I’m interested to see how a higher mileage training cycle will affect me at CM50K. Of course, I still have several weeks to go, so a lot could happen, but I decided not to cut back my mileage to the low 40s (what I typically strive for in a 50K training cycle) despite changing my goal race distance. I hope this leads to an improved time! Also, I want to celebrate making it through the entire month of January without an unplanned rest day and without illness! (Knock on wood!) The previous 2 years, I have spent several days out with illness in January and/or February, so now I just need to stay healthy through February!

Racing Update

I still haven’t committed to a spring ultra yet, mostly due to cowardice (but also partially due to frugality), but I have signed up for a couple less daunting races.

In March, I am running the Hot Dash 10 Mile again. I don’t know if I’ll do it again after this year because it’s fairly expensive, but I do really like the race. It’s hard. The hills are really tough. I am hoping it’ll be a little bit warmer this year (last year it was like 33F); if not, I will dress a little more warmly than I did last year. Although I did feel fine while running the race, so maybe I just need to have a drop bag? I’m hoping I’ll be able to run faster than last year but not really sure what that will look like right now.

In May, I’ll be back in Lutsen for my 3rd straight Superior Spring 25K (here are my 2016 and 2017 RRs). I’ve already signed up to volunteer, and reserved my hotel room. I’m looking forward to running under 4 hours there this time around – I got so close last year. I feel compelled to return to this race after last year’s tragedy, to support the race staff and any runners who provided medical aid, and to honor the runner who passed away.

In September, I’ll be running the Moose Mountain Marathon again. I had to miss the race last year since I was in Maine, so I’m excited to get back. My hope is to volunteer at an aid station on the drive up Friday, and then work packet pickup, but I’m not sure how things will work out travel-wise. I’m signed up for at least the packet pickup shift. I’m really looking forward to this event – volunteering at this race sparked my love of trail running. Obviously I’m hoping to complete the event faster than I did in 2016, but I’ll leave any more specific goal setting for the fall.

I’m interested in an ultra at the end of February, but I’m not sure. It’s in Iron Mountain, MI, which is quite a drive, and there aren’t very many participants, so I feel like it would be very weird for me to run it. I don’t know if I’m comfortable with forcing volunteers to stay out there for 8 hours or so to support only me. Also who knows what the weather will be like? I don’t want to run in -10F conditions. On the other hand, it would be a good chance to get in a nice long long run before Zumbro (and would be a good bellwether for my performance at Zumbro), without having to deal with all the logistics myself. Update: Zumbro 50 is full! So the decision has been made for me.

TBD Spring Ultra Training: Weeks 3-6

I’m still out there running, I just haven’t found it very inspiring.

Week 3
Monday (1/1):
 5.1 mi, treadmill, skating
Tuesday: 5.6 mi, treadmill hill workout
Wednesday: 6.6 mi, treadmill
Thursday: 6 mi, treadmill
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6.2 mi, road (Minnesota Point)
Sunday: 13.1 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Total: 42.6 mi

It was really cold for most of the week, so I slogged away on the treadmill. I was so happy I practically cried when I was able to run outside. I think I did a bit of strength training that week but can’t remember. I haven’t been doing a great job of strength training lately – typical me.

Monday (1/8): 5.4 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Tuesday: 7.1 mi, road & paved trail (Lakewalk and Minnesota Point)
Wednesday: rest (travel)
Thursday: 2.5 mi, treadmill hill workout
Friday: 6.3 mi, treadmill
Saturday: 8.6 mi, treadmill (split into 5.1 mi & 3.5 mi)
Sunday: 13.1 mi, trail (8, Hartley) and treadmill (5.1)
Total: 43 mi

This week was a bit odd. Thursday’s treadmill workout was going along smoothly (I was doing hills starting at I think 5% grade), and then the treadmill completely shut off. I thought I’d broken it. It turned out the power cord just got pinched under the treadmill deck. That was a relief. I thought I’d killed it by trying to run it at a 7% grade, which would have been very annoying since it’s designed to operate there.

Saturday I intended to run outside for the second half of my workout, but when I went downstairs to get on the treadmill, I found the breaker had been tripped. After fixing that, we realized that the breaker had been tripped by the furnace, which was not operating properly. Running outside in frigid temps, then returning to a house without a functioning furnace, seemed like a stupid idea.

Trying to get 8 miles at Hartley in winter is a giant pain in the butt, FYI. I do not recommend it.

Monday (1/15): 6 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: rest (travel)
Wednesday: 6 mi, treadmill
Thursday: 8.1 mi, road (Minnesota Point)
Friday: 4.2 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk), fartlek workout
Saturday: 8.7 mi, trail (Bagley & Hartley)
Sunday: 15.2 mi, road/trail (Minnesota Point & Lakewalk)
Total: 48.1 mi

I realized that if I am planning on running 50 miles in a day this spring (I’m still mentally committed to Zumbro, just not financially committed yet!), I had better start running 50 miles in a week. That’s hard to do with so many treadmill miles due to weather, but I’m getting closer.

My fartlek workout confirmed that I have no speed in my legs right now. Yikes. I did get done with plenty of time to get dinner before the men’s hockey game though. Friday and Saturday were both really nice days, temperature-wise. I think Saturday it might have even gotten up to 40F!

The 15 mile run went well, overall. I ran 9 miles (up and down Minnesota Point), stopped at my car for a few minutes and ate & drank (I kept my watch running), and then continued for the next 6 on the Lakewalk. When it’s cold, that works better than carrying a water bottle and gels with me, since both tend to solidify. After I got going again, I was cold for a little while due to my damp gloves and hoodie, but I did manage to warm up again once I was out of the worst of the wind and settled into a rhythm.

Monday: 6.3 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 4.6 mi, treadmill hill workout
Wednesday: 7 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Thursday: rest (travel)
Friday: 10.2 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Saturday: 6.2 mi, trail (Western Waterfront)
Sunday: 15.1 mi, trail & road (Munger Trail and Hwy 210)
Total: 49.5

I meant to do 51 miles this past week but I failed. I’m getting a little mentally worn down lately due to the weather and the lack of sunlight in the evenings (it’s getting better, but I am tired of running in the dark). I’ve been slacking on strength workouts as I’m either too cold to do them when I’m done running outside, or I’m starting my treadmill workouts so late that it’s dinnertime when I’m done running.

Friday’s workout was a welcome change. I’d worked a long day on Thursday (including travel), so I was able to start my workout early, and I switched up my 10 mile day (originally that was going to be Saturday). It was around 45F when I started and it felt so incredibly easy. I finished under a 12 minute pace, which was surprising since it felt so effortless. I did push a little at the end because I was happy to be running a double digit run at a sub-12 minute pace; usually that’s something I can only do in the spring and fall. I can’t run fast in the winter, due to the cumbersome layers and the wind and the terrain. The Lakewalk was mostly clear and I had light layers on so I felt weightless. I did have to stop after only a mile of running in order to go pee at the Super One, and I stopped my watch when I was inside the store, but I am still claiming that overall pace! It was only one mile in, it’s not like I took a break halfway.

Saturday’s workout was ok. It wasn’t as much fun, and I was reduced to a walk a couple times due to ice on the trail, but I got through it. I realized that I needed to reduce my planned mileage (7 mi) because I was going to be over my weekly goal of 51 miles, once I added in the planned 17 miles for Sunday. Well, spoiler alert, Sunday’s run was the opposite of Friday’s: cold, with soft-ish snow on the trail, and labored. I ran 11 miles on the Munger Trail before I stopped for a few minutes to eat and drink (I did not stop my watch for this!), switched out my gloves, and intended to run another 6 miles on the road. I realized 2 miles down the road that it wasn’t going to happen. I was too beat up from the snowy running, the sun was going down and I had a headlamp but no safety vest, I was bleeding (just a small spot under my nose that got irritated from the cold temps and the snot), I had menstrual cramps, and I was overall just miserable and grumpy. I’m not super thrilled about missing those extra 2 miles, since this upcoming week is likely to be a cutback week due to cold temps (I do NOT know how I can get in a 17 miler this weekend with temps in the single digits – it just seems to be too much of a toll on me mentally), but I also know it’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.

I’ve still got my eyes on the prize with Zumbro, but it is sometimes hard to fathom it. January is almost over, which helps, and we’ve had some nice days, which also helps, but I’m getting to the point where I’m tired of being cold all the time. I had to walk about half a mile to a meeting this morning and it was 0F, maybe, and I haven’t recovered yet! And now I get to go home, turn on the treadmill, and try to grind out some miles. It’s tough to see the big picture when I’m dragging after 15 miles, or when 7 miles feels like an eternity, but I also know a race is different. It’s unlikely to be as cold (although the year I did Zumbro it was in the teens overnight), and I’ll have aid stations with warm food, and the sun will be out longer, but it’s still a staggering prospect when I’m struggling at significantly shorter distances. The silver lining is that my legs are feeling great, I don’t have much soreness the following day after a long run, and I’m still able to function in the evenings after completing the longer runs. Physically, I’m doing well. Mentally — well, let’s just try to finish out January and February.

Looking Back at 2017

It’s the new year, and that means I can arbitrarily look at a 365 day snapshot of my training and assess it. I looked back on 2016 around this time last year, believe it or not.

In 2017, I ran 1706 miles in 234 days, at an average pace of 14:06. That’s a pretty big improvement over 2016’s 1537 miles in 228 days, at an average pace of 16:38. In 9 of 12 months, I ran more miles than I did in the corresponding month in 2016. The big outlier there was June, when I took a bunch of time off after FANS, and therefore ran 83 fewer miles than I had in 2016. I’ve probably run more road workouts than I did 2016, which accounts for some of the increase in the overall pace, but I’m also just faster. Hooray!

I took 131 rest days this year, only 5 fewer than I did in 2016. One of my goals for 2017 was to reduce my rest days a lot, and to minimize unplanned extended breaks, and I don’t really think I succeeded at that, although I did take several planned breaks that were longer (my vacation to the East Coast, my 2 week break in early December), so maybe I succeeded a little bit. I’m definitely going to try to sprinkle more planned breaks into my training in 2018, for sure.

I raced 13 times, including one race I didn’t finish and one race that felt like I didn’t finish, and I had one race I didn’t start (I think, maybe there was another one). I didn’t solve my Race Eve sleeping problems. I bought a new treadmill and several new pairs of shoes. I failed to track my running-related spending, as I’d planned.

I set a goal to run more miles than 2016, hopefully 2000. I didn’t run 2000, but I’m not really concerned about that. Maybe I’ll make it in 2018. Maybe I won’t, but I do want to best my 2017 total.

Looking ahead to 2018, I will leave my more specific goals for each season, so I won’t have any performance-related goals until March. My year long goals are usually more abstract, more philosophical, nothing that can be achieved in a single day. Of course I already mentioned continuing to take deliberate rest breaks and to run more miles than I did in 2017. I hope to hit the 1000 mile mark sooner than I did in ’17 (31 July).

I want to go outside every day, with intention. Of course the word intention sounds like very “woo woo” self help planner culture b.s., but I don’t know how else to put it concisely. I want to go outside for the purpose of spending time outside, not just as a means to get in my car and go to work. Even if it’s just a couple minutes outside in the yard with my cats. Naturally, outdoor running will fulfill this goal, too.

I need to turn strength training into a habit. That doesn’t mean an intense lifting program several day a week, but I need to stop going weeks on end without doing so much as a push-up. I’ve said “I should do more strength training” in far too many race reports. It’s time to really work on my core and leg strength in a committed way.

I do want to try tracking my spending again. That doesn’t sound very forceful, but I’d like to get a better handle on what this pastime costs me.

I want to spend more time with other runners, whether that’s more volunteer time, or actually participating in a group run, or joining a running gym (which I am considering doing in a few months). I need more running friends, more familiar faces at the starting line and the finish line.

I’ve got other, more interesting things in mind for each season, but I never really know too far in advance where my running journey is going to take me, and I like it that way.

TBD Spring Ultra Training: Week 2

It’s cold and miserable. I took a whole week off, hoping to run outside every day, and ended up on the treadmill most days. Blah.

Monday: rest (holiday!)
Tuesday: 8 mi, split treadmill (3.9 mi and 4.1 mi), strength
Wednesday: 7.2 mi, split treadmill (4.2 mi and 3.0 mi), strength
Thursday: 8.8 mi, treadmill (4.2 mi) and Lakewalk (4.6 mi)
Friday: 6.1 mi, trail (Bagley)
Saturday: 5.5 mi, treadmill, strength
Sunday: 4.2 mi, treadmill, strength
Total: 40 mi

Okay, I fully realize that split up runs are not equal to the sum of their parts, but it’s what I had to do to mentally get through the week of workouts. Ugh. I was lucky to get out even twice, it was so cold. Christmas Eve, the temperature started to drop, and most of this whole week was spent below 0 Fahrenheit. I almost wish I’d gone back to work on Wednesday and not wasted the vacation days, but I’d have to use them in the next few months anyway.

But when I did get outside, it was gorgeous.



Love Minus Zero Fahrenheit/No Limit #northcountry #trailrunning #conservationofmomentum #onlyinmn

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I love this place, and then I hate it. It’s hard.