Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Off season comes to an end

I have these strange thoughts swimming through my head after my 6th Park Run 5k yesterday. The last couple of months (since Desert Solstice, and really since Grenaa 6 hour race) have been more or less an off season with lots of cross country skiing mixed with swimming, yoga, strength training, with slow, long runs. No speed work. Last week, after I came to Denmark with the boys, I asked coach Ole to add speed work back. There is no snow here for skiing and it is too cold for my taste to bike long distances. 

I am really glad I had the off season, while it lasted, though. I am unijured and feel just very healthy. But my brain has sort of lost its killer instinct. I have come to realize that this, probably more than our legs and heart, is what we train when run intervals (and race). 

It can also be argued, though, that the aggressiveness one has on the track can be carried over into real life. That could be good or bad depending on the situation. But our bodies and minds should not be in fight of flight mode all the time or we will never improve. (this is also the basis of hatha yoga- sun and moon; action and rest)

Another theoretical benefit to an off season (for women) is a return to normal menstraul cycle, which in turn will help prevent osteoporosis, especially if combined with strength training. 

Before I get to the last ten days, let me describe the Park Run 5k. We (the boys and I) stayed at SR's parents' house on Friday night and they watched the kids as I headed out to Fælledparken, 15 minute's drive away. Before I left, I could hardly tear myself off the toilet and barely made it the 15 minutes to the facilities in the park! Øv. I have to be honest about this gluten-free, sugar-free diet, that with all of these vegetables, I get sick A LOT. Living in Denmark has led to at least 3-4 x/year food poisoning for me since I just think there are a lot of ground water bacteria here I have never been exposed to, but that has just been magnified and multiplied.

Anyway, of course you run anything you get a babysitter for. Especially after seeing Winforce 100k winner Per Egon Rasmussen show up with his fiancé. And he convinced Klaus Dahl. And then I ran into an MD, PhD in Ophthalmology, who had said he was a runner, Steffen (who I met at a research meeting on the small island of Femø), there he was with his friend, Troels Carlsen, who happens to be a world-renowned painter and artist. What a crowd! The race is seriously worth the no money. (yes, it is free. Stop complaining about the expensive races and show up to the free ones!)

Ok, so not your typical pictures for a race, right? I told you, my mind is elsewhere. I just wished Pia or Thea would show up. There weren't even 10 women toeing the start line. But the men were so raring to run a fast race. I'd be running with them again. 

I have absolutely no fire in my soul. Like, I have completely forgotten that feeling of needing to win or run fast. And seriously only now that I don't have it, do I realize how essential it is... really in anything you do. 

I was much more fascinated with the experience and just seeing other adults who like to run. To make a long story short, it was windy and muddy, but not so much so to justify the slow time of 19:55. 

By the way, the guy who took first for the guys had the first name of Laurie (remember Little Women??)

The above picture was taken after a really fun track workout two days earlier. 4km + 3km + 2km +1km (2 min breaks). This is the brick our apartment building is made out of. I think it has a lot of calcium in it.

In the above workout, I followed the plan of getting faster and faster, but started out too slowly. Again, maybe it's the stomach flu, but my brain is still in rest mode.

and my Garmin still in miles

Week of training as follows:

Sat: 28 km - trails (just under 6 min/km)
Sun: 22 km -trails (just under 6 min/km)
Mon: aerobics + strength training + yoga
Tues: 30 km - trails
Wed: 8 x 600 meters (2-3 min) + 200: total 5km in 18:50
Thurs (above) 4 km + 3 + 2 + 1 (2 min breaks) (always dynamic stretching before track workouts)
Fri: dance/aerobics + pilates
Sat: Park Run 5k + Bikram Yoga (ok that is the last time EVER for Bikram!... It must have been during standing bow pose that my old hip pain came back suddenly and I could still feel it last night. I had a suspicion. As I heard a girl talking about how she could barely walk after what Bikram did to her operated knee ... she was in the studio... I have really been thinking! It is a SHAME, because I love the self-calming techniques you learn! and the feeling of being completely stretched out). I really need to stick to regular hatha and hot (or not hot) vinyasa yoga. They just seem to work better for me.
Sun: 26.7 km trails in 2:39

A view from my run in Fårbakkerne (the sheep hills) on Tuesday.
Edit: I have to add the gorgeous shot over Myrup from today's (Monday's) run. Spring is coming to Denmark!

So.. I can feel what you are thinking. How can you work full time and be a "single" mom and fit in this much training?

Well, I will tell you. (isn't the number one annoying question for any athlete "what is your secret?") Other than constantly drinking baby goats' blood out of my soft flasks, there really is no secret.

But I will describe to you all how I get this to work out. The boys have a very flexible day care schedule. I wake up, work for an hour or so, take them to day care at about 10 AM, work out, pick them up at 6 PM (they are given dinner there) and then work again at night while they play after dinner and after they sleep. I don't watch tv; I don't shop for anything but groceries and brooms.

Diet and Weight update

Doesn't everyone just love reading about diets and weight? Anyway, part of the overarching off-season plan was to gain a small amount of weight through weight training and a higher protein diet (my main sources of protein: fish, eggs, soy, nuts, cheese, peas and sometimes oats) and good fats. My racing weight last fall was 111 lbs (down from 117 last summer). This winter I got up to 117 again and was down to 114 today. The no gluten, no sugar diet has made this pretty easy. The idea is the body will feel light while racing. If you stay at the same weight all the time, it is harder to build up the muscles that during race season will make you feel like you are flying when you weigh less. It is the same concept with pregnancy.

Speaking of pregnancy...

Uber Mother Runner has started a post partum running support group. I think this is a great idea since it is a hard time to avoid injury. Once those protective hormones are gone, especially the hips can get stuck in the wrong place, tendons and muscles can get torn and bones can break. It is not pretty. I am working on finding the funding and a publisher and a running during and post-pregnancy book. It will be based on individual stories and research.

I am not sure I like that the UMR group is called "the come back trail" because honestly pregnancy may be the most fun you ever have running in your life and maybe shouldn't be viewed as something to "come back" from, but something to relish.


It has been a big week! I have sent two articles in to JAMA Ophthalmology and got the vision loss among ultra runners research accepted for presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in May.

The boys

Christian has started making a lot of masks. Just ones that cover his eyes. Any super hero for any occasion. And he has developed the strangest rash around his mouth. One of the boys at his school went to the doctor with this same rash and was diagnosed with chickenpox (skoldkopper in Danish). Folks chickenpox is not limited to the perioral region (this doctor misdiagnosed). It starts at the center of the body and moves out. It was either impetigo or hand foot and mouth. Since he didn't have a fever or rash on his hands and feet, I am leaning towards impetigo. It is highly contagious. Happily it is almost gone.

Here you can see the beginning of the rash. And their favorite playtoy, right behind Christian, the razor... (I moved it!)

What a boy looks like when he doesn't want you to take a picture of his rash (this is how it looks tonight- almost gone)
Race Schedule Update

I have signed up for the Ultra Race of Champions 100k in the elite group again and have it as a major goal for 2014. The location is Copper Mountain and will take place September 6th. I regretted so much missing it last year that this year I really want to make it!

Danish Female Ultra Runner Update

1. Annette Fredskov (the 366 marathon in 365 days) just ran her first 50k in an impressive time of 4:44.

2. Maibritt Skovgaard, Denmark's 24 hour superstar, just had knee surgery because some cartilage that apparently broke loose after her awesome run in November. Recovery quickly, Maibritt!!

3. Pia Joan Sørensen will be running the Trans Grand Canaria run in March and is one of the favorites to win. Or at least one of my favorites.

Dream Shoes

In 2010, I told SR that I wanted to design minimalist shoes that had great traction for running in snow and mud. I was running in New Balance Minimus at the time and it was a mess. Now that I have run over 100km in the new S Lab Sense 3 Ultra SG shoes, I can say they are a dream come true. They have perfect traction in mud and snow and are very light on asphalt. Having only a 4mm drop and weighing only 230 grams, they easily qualify as minimalist shoes. Whatever they qualify as, they really work for me.

S Lab Sense 3 Ultra SG: the best multi-purpose shoes I have ever owned.
Sense Ultra (Left) SG (Right). Just to be clear, Mattias' model has a lot better traction.

Shoes for Sale

And now for the shoes I don't want :-). Yet, they are super popular, I am sure someone out there does!

Let me know if you would like to buy them. Here or email: or over Facebook.
Size 40 - will ship anywhere in Denmark; other countries if you cover shipping. Only used two times.  Bought in 2012. (my lower back hurts when I run in them). Will take best offer :-).

Things that make me happy

So, before we go to sleep, the boys and I always watch a little movie on Youtube and Christian has found an amazing Russian animated series called Маша и Медведь (Masha and the bear)... yes, Olga, I am learning Russian. I am having trouble chosing one episode because there are so many good ones, but here is the one Christian and I needed to play twice:

Репетиция оркестра (which means "orchestra reharsal")

Running Songs

Black Francis is 49 years old and oh my God, he can still write a song. What an intro. What an incredible running song!

And Australian Pop; really need I say more? This is great!


Olga King said...

I am missing training (traditional one) as well right now, but I am not sure I am ready for it yet, even though I am back on (almost) schedule (just not intervals or pace). Coming back is such a drag, especially back from not being able to do anything at all! But, speaking of your life's daily schedule, does it mean you don't work during a day? Or just don't work regular hours at (another, not home) place? May be this is how those 8 hrs of sleep happen...I am out of the house 7:30 am, and 4 days out of 5 not back until 7 (if lucky) or 8 pm. Boo...The boys are totally cute. It's the Danish in them:)

Danni said...

I haven't been able to run since October so it will be a comeback for me!

kathleen said...

hm. Interesting, I had the opposite. My hip problems started during and got worse the more pregnant I was. During the last month of pregnancy, I was down to just elliptical and not being able to walk afterwards was awful. Anyway, this went away after I delivered. That was with my first, my second I ran all the way through (even doing speed work on the treadmill in the last trimester) no problems.

I am of the opinion pregnancy does not protect against these things due to relaxin and its lingering affects. But what do I know. I also wondered if hip pain has a lot to do with how you carry your bun in the oven. My son like to curl up on my right side and I have a sneaking suspicion that was the cause of my right-hip pain.

sea legs girl said...

Olga, first on the work thing. I am so lucky that I can work from our apartment. We live on the hospital grounds so I have access to their intranet and all of our retinal images and our database. It is such a great setup. I know I will miss it when it is over.

Regarding "traditional training", it would be fun, now that you are starting to feel yourself again, to try running intervals and tempos for a while instead of long runs. I think it could be really effective to get fitness (and the mindset) back.

sea legs girl said...

Danni & Kathleen -- okay really good points that of course not every woman can or does run all the way through their pregnancies for a number of reasons. I also dealt with injury after 26 weeks during my first. My point was more, people are always so focussed on these goals they have to achieve once pregnancy is over, but I really encourage women who CAN and WANT to run pregnant to just enjoy the experience while it lasts rather than looking it as something that they have to suffer through. Danni- you have no doubt been doing this with you skiing; same principle applies :-). Kathleen, yeah the major body changes do make getting injured more likely while pregnant, too. My point was more that the long-lasting, potentially permament injuries tend to come in the post-partum time, but not always!

Olga King said...

I actually run intervals every season weekly for sure. Tempos are the ones I hate, but once a month I get around:) Hard to keep the pace alone, Garmin helps though. As for long runs, last year I got away with 20M only, this year I may only make 20 once in 5 weeks as a plan if at all. I just hate it here for a long run that much, but in general, I love long runs as they allow me to check out of my life. So, yeah, traditional training rocks. Last year was good to me with it.

laclyn said...

Our bodies and performance go through changes in varying degrees during pregnancy, and our bodies and performance most definitely will go through changes postpartum. My intention with “comeback” (as in “a return”) was never meant to equate pregnant running as anything negative or lacking enjoyment. We all have highly individualized postpartum body changes that play a key role in the initial postpartum running phase. One of my hopes is that the group can help postpartum runners understand how relaxin and other pregnancy-related changes affect running performance so moms can stay injury free. :)