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

Thursday 29 November 2012

I'll be at Western States 100- but will you SEE me???

I can hardly believe it. A few days ago, I gathered my courage and updated my CV. I wrote to Marty Hoffman, the research director of the Western States 100 miler. The main reason I contacted him was I want to get experience in the field of Physical Medicine & Rehab. The more I think about it, the more this field seems to be the right fit for me as a physician. Maybe he had a research project I could help with???

The email that ensued was beyond anything I could have dreamed of. He was starting a project about vision loss among ultra runners and it turns out my qualifications were exactly what he was looking for. How many ophthalmology MD, PhDs want to do research in ultra marathoners? It was as if he had made the whole study up on the spot to make me happy (no no, he didn't do that). He sent me a protocol draft and suddenly he is okay with me taking the lead role in the project with him as an advisor. And there is even an ultrarunner optometrist, Kim, who will be helping with the project.

So I'm going to Squaw Valley (and then to Auburn) this June! Not as a runner, but as a physician and researcher. And if you are going to be running (Amy Sproston, Ashley Nordell, OTHERS...???) I hope you participate in our project and then you can have your vision, corneas and eye pressure measured by yours truly.

The greatest part is SR is thrilled. I'm going to be spending time at UC-Davis, getting to know the people in the PM&R department and hopefully taking steps to find a residency spot. Dr. Hoffman has introduced me to the residency director and others - suddenly I have contacts! If I don't do residency there, at least I can gain experience and perhaps letters. Although SR is already salivating at the thought of living near the Sierra Nevadas.

Soon I will be posting a link to our questionnaire for all ultra runners on this website - so I hope you take time to fill it out if you have experienced visual difficulties/impairment during an ultra. Previously I had only heard of hallucinations, but I trust Dr. Hoffman when he says it is a real phenomenon that happens year after year and sometimes prohibits people from finishing.


It feels like a job, it is very hard and I love it. AND my injury seems to get better every time I run. Finally I think I am really over the hump. And it seems all of this fast-paced running (with low mileage) is forcing me into a good running position. Or at least one that doesn't exacerbate my injury.

Mon: recovery (swim + bike + core)
Tues: 55 min - 7.5 miles/12km + body vive + home yoga
Wed: 13.1 miles/21.1 km in 1:49:44 (with Nicolas Feltsen - these days I defnitely prefer company on my runs), brief bike, home yoga
Thurs: 50 min: 10.9 km/6.77 miles, CX worx, body flow

So far I have followed Ole's plan exactly.
Tomorrow is a rest day.

My legs are feeling toned and tired. I feel like if I had to run tomorrow I couldn't - and that's probably how I should feel. It may be coach Ole does indeed know what he is doing.

Løb nr. 137 - 366/365. Tracy Høeg, Nicholas Felten, Annette Fredskov, Malene Ravn
Wednesday - me, Nicolas, Annette & Malene (ever adorning the flawless hedge)

Running Form

Coach Ole looked at my video from the track and said I needed to actively lift my foot as soon as it hit the ground. He sent me some videos about pose running technique. I feel like I tend to have more of a pose running style the faster I run. Steve Q wrote a good blog post about that topic. And maybe the more years you run fast in minimal shoes/no shoes, the more likely you are to develop this technique over time.

So I'm thinking in a couple of months I'll have Triunesh Dibaba's running style. See here: (she ran barefoot as a girl in Ethiopia and I think you can tell - watch that butt kick!! Bet you'll get goosebumps!)


I don't like it right now. It has played such a central role in my life for as long as I can remember and I have no desire to listen to it. hrmph

Saturday 24 November 2012

Focus on Technique: Smart or Desperate?

At this time last Saturday, I was one unhappy lady. My entire family had come along (3 hour drive) to watch me attempt to run 70 km in 6 hours at the Grenaa 6 hour race, but my right leg was not ready. I switched shoes from the Hokas to my old New Balances after 2 hours. It helped only temporarily. The pain in my right hip was so bad that I kept looking at the indoor pool we were running around and wishing I were swimming.

Injuries are frustrating. Infuriating if you allow them to be. Especially when you can't figure out what is injured. (in my case, I still don't know if it is the knot in my calf or SI joint subluxation)

But there is a question that begs to be asked: Why do I keep getting injured? In the last year, I've been dealing with an injury around 50% of the time (various injuries - twice on the left side of my body, now on the right). That just can't be optimal for training.

Something needs to change. The first thing I'm learning from my coach is that I need to enter each running session uninjured and ready to work hard.

My old philosophy was end each session barely able to hobble home. The obvious problem was the more weeks I trained, the more wore down I became.

Last week I only ran twice and I just worked on technique. I have been reading Julian Goater's "The Art of Running Faster" and have focussed on:

-shifting my weight forward
- increasing my cadence
- jumping rope
- running up sand dunes

All of these things will land you on the front of your feet.

And did you ever think about how many steps you take a minute? Turns out the top 150 finishers at one New York Marathon all ran somewhere between 184 and 188 steps per minute.

On one of my runs last week, I would run 1 minute at marathon pace and ran between 183 and 187 steps, but this was with focussing on a fast turnover. You should try it sometime. It is fun.

The schedule Ole has devised for me this coming week is in preparation for the Bandera 100k January 12th. And in taking my recovering leg into consideration
(I am also supposed to jump rope before and/or after most of my sessions)

Mon: recovery
Tues: 40-60 min at 4:20-4:45 min/km
Wed: 45-60 min at 4:20- 4:45 min/km focus on high cadence
Thurs: 20-22 km at 4:45-5:15 min/km
Fri: No training
Sat: 45 min at 4:30-5 min/km; 200 m x 6 at 36-40 sec 2 min. pause. (wow! that seems like a LONG pause)
Sun: 10k trail race (at Herlufsholm)

He also asked me to send him a video of myself running. SR took this today. That is Christian panting in the background (I think). Do I appear to be limping?

I'm excited to get some video feedback from Ole (and you guys!).

So the focus right now is two fold:

1. Better technique
2. Train less, but more intense

My last resort is moving our family to Copenhagen to practice Bikram Yoga on a daily basis because that is the only thing that really seems to help my right leg. (I learned from the owner that the Copenhagen Ballet has now experienced the benefits of Bikram and the whole troupe is practicing there to prevent and treat injuries. Cool stuff.)

Further notes on the gluten free diet:

So step-daughter Natali has been having stomach issues for months that have kept her home from school. I was ready to call and make a doctor appointment when I made the suggestion she just try the gluten free diet, just for a week. Well, she tried it and is so happy. After the first day, her stomach cramping was gone and it hasn't come back. As a bonus to her, her acne is also gone. The latter had also really bothered her, so she has no interest in eating gluten again. Ok, besides the fact that she misses her rygbrød (danish rye bread) when all of her friends eat it for lunch.

Count me amazed: either gluten/the things one eats with it are generally unhealthy OR we have two gluten intolerant gals in the family.

Finally, congrats to Katie and Ana-Maria on both running amazing sub 19 5k times. They are both getting faster and faster and are so fun to follow. I didn't even know they lived close enough to each other to run the same race. Great to have inspiration. And to see the effects of structured training.

Monday 12 November 2012

Sub 3:00, the coach, the plan

I'm not the type of person who takes the time to look back and appreciate achievements. I'm always immediately on to the next thing. Yet I found myself saying out loud "I have run 7 PRs in 5 distances in 2 months". And it was entirely true. So something went right. I just can't figure out what. Yet it still didn't go as well as I wanted.

My biggest goal: the marathon, was run on an injured leg, in terrible weather and I got lost. But it was a good season, yet I know I can do a lot better if I stop doing whatever I feel like and train exactly right for exactly a marathon. (as Bikram would say "exactly head to exactly knee" - sorry).

I need a goal. It did not take me long to figure out that would be a sub 3 hour marathon. But how will I accomplish this? (I have to admit I have never run a book about running training and I have never run according to any sort of plan besides the (often good) suggestions of my husband.).

I skipped over all of the available reading material and lept to one of the most well-known coaches of elite runners and triathletes in Denmark: Ole Stougaard. Here is the coaching company (Multitesta) he owns. I asked him two years ago if he would coach me and he said no. This time he said yes. Maybe it was because I had better running times. Or maybe it was my specific goal. I was beyond thrilled when he said yes. Not only because I think he will make me faster but because I can write about it here. And because maybe it will help me better understand running and physiology and how to become a coach myself. I sent him my training schedule from the last two weeks:

Søn: yoga, opvarmning, 5k tempo på 19.34
Man: mave, baller, lår + 1.5 timer cykle (udenfor) + 2km svømning
Tirsdag: 30 km løb
Onsdag: 2 timer cykle, 1.5 timer Bikram Yoga
Torsdag: opvarmning, 6 x 1.5 km løb intervaller (på gennemsnit 6.15) meget koldt og blæsende, dårlig dag
Fredag: spinning + mave, ryg
Lørdag: 43 km løb
Søn: 1.5 timer cykel og 1 time svømning med HG Tri Club
Man: 1.5 timer cykel, mave, baller lår, 40 min svømning med teknik arbejde
Tirs: 5 timers løb på trail langsomt (? distance)
Onsdag: 2 timer cykel, interval svømning 50 meter (på ca. 55 sek - ja jeg er langsom)
Torsdag: opvarmning + 6 x 1,5 km løb på gennemsnit 6.10, Bikram yoga
Fredag: 45 min spinning, 1 time mave, baller, lår
Lørdag  - skulle have løbet 12 km tempo men var oppe næsten hele natten med opkastning og dårlig mave :(. Det bliver så til en hviledag.
Søn: 42 km løb

Didn't quite get that? Here is google translate's version of what I wrote:

Sun: yoga, heating, 5k pace at 19.34
Man: abdomen, buttocks, thighs + 1.5 hours cycling (outside) + 2km swimming
Tuesday: 30 km run
Wednesday: 2 hours cycling, 1.5 hours Bikram Yoga
Thursday: heating, 6 x 1.5 km run intervals (on average 6.15) very cold and windy, bad day
Friday: spinning + stomach, back
Saturday: 44 km run
Sun: 1.5 hours bike and 1 hour swimming with HG Tri Club
Man: 1.5 hours cycling, stomach, buttocks thighs, 40 minutes swimming with engineering work
Tirs: 5 hour races on the trail slowly (? Distance)
Wednesday: 2 hours cycling, interval swimming 50 meters (approx. 55 seconds - yes I'm slow)
Thursday: heating + 6 x 1.5 km run on average 6.10, Bikram yoga
Friday: 45 minutes spinning, 1 hour stomach, buttocks, thighs
Saturday - should have over 12 km pace but was up almost all night with vomiting and stomach upset: (., It then becomes a day of rest.
Sun: 42 km run

Now he knows me :). After a few more emails, he said based on the 40:06 10k two days after a marathon, he predicts I have the potential to run a 2:50 marathon. This was a bit of a shocker. It immediately made me think - well then what is SR's potential??!! And so many other readers of this blog??

So what is the plan exactly? Well, I don't know. I have a 6 hour and 100k race coming up first as part of my "off season". He's going to help me train for the 100k in January, but then all focus goes to the marathon. I had indicated I was interested in becoming a faster cyclist as well, but he says I need to focus on running all spring to make my dream become a reality.

In other news:

The knot in my calf is not entirely gone. And after all of the yoga and stretching I've done, I've now stretched that leg so much that it appears a lot longer (it's the hip that is pulled out of alignment, though). I've gotten myself into a fine mess. But the initial insult was running so many miles in minimal trail shoes on roads. To mitigate this, I'm trying these Hokas. They just arrived in the mail today from La France. They are extremely comfortable and make me as tall as SR.

Good thing our apartment is full of gleaming white backgrounds for perfect pictures.

Ideal racing weight

So happy to be back down to 105-106 lbs. Exactly where I want to be. It took tons of running miles and lots of salad with eggs and fish, but I did it! As Christian said "Mom, you like salad and Dad likes food." As the weight went down, interval times improved accordingly. A woman at the pool called me "spinkel" today and it immediately became my favorite Danish adjective.


Still eating gluten free and never ever ever wanting to go back. Went to get tested and there was over an hour wait at the lab. Free health care is not always fast health care. I'll go back another day.

Bikram Yoga Study

Wow. Everything is falling into place. We have the world's leading expert from Fort Collins, CO in as a co-investigator in our project and the studio here is making wonderful offers to help our target patient group. After years of wanting to study running in pregnancy and it just never coming together, I can't help but feeling this new project is somehow my destiny. More later of course.

Proof that I am a mom

People who read this blog probably wonder why I write about myself all the time and not my kids. Well, you'd probably lose interest fast. Moms are experts at bragging about their extremely talented kids.

But just so you know that I am indeed a mom and have those exact same feelings of pride and joy when I see my little boys accomplish something, I am going to subject you to ... momism. 

What I found on the counter when I got back from my run. I didn't expect Christian would do this at 4 ½, but for all I know he should have been doing this at 3½. The most important part is he LOVES writing now!

Christian ran his first kid race. 3.3 km.

He had such a great time and I was beaming with pride!!! Oh, my boy loves to run. Time? about 37 minutes for 3.3km. This must give a marathon potential of  sub 7 hours!


 Questions of the day:

1. Which is healthier: cheese or chocolate?

2. Training for which running distance gives the best female body?

3. What color is the number 5?  (don't say black because that is the color of this font!, thank you)