from The Fete Blog
Hello from Flagstaff! I’m an East Coast girl at heart, but I have to say, the Southwest is really feeling comfortable these days. I adore coming to Flagstaff to live and train– and on this, my SEVENTH time training here, it’s starting to feel like home. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to live out here for a month at a time; I know other athletes don’t always have this chance, so I really try to take full advantage of my time in Flagstaff: running in as many new places as possible, trying out all the local restaurants, creating friendships with the awesome people I meet, and embracing my love for this sport every day (because let’s be honest, there are days when it is hard to get out for a run– that’s never an excuse here).
The outdoor season is lurking closer– there have already been some incredible races and Olympic A standards run this month!– and while I’m in the midst of finalizing my own racing schedule, I’m trying my best to keep it all in perspective. There is still a big chunk of time between today and the Olympic Trials; there are many races to be run, even more workouts to complete, and a bevy of everyday training that lies between me and my Olympic aspirations. I’m keeping my intentions clear, but attempting to find balance– a next-to-impossible task at times, but one I continue to focus on!
Some updates from my first two weeks up at Flagstaff:
Training: Running at altitude is hard– and that’s often an understatement. It’s one thing to slog through a longer run or hard double run day at sea level, but doing it at 7,000 feet quickly turns into a mental as well as physical battle. I’ve found focusing on a “moving meditation” really helps me push through the stretches of a challenging run where all I want to do is stop. I promise this isn’t as hippy-dippy as it sounds! Here’s what I do: when I can’t get out of my head and all I can think about is how much I’m struggling, I turn my focus to my breath. I count my breaths from 1 – 10– 1 being an inhale, 2 being an exhale, 3 an inhale, etc. I only count up to 10 and then I start all over. Usually, I’m breathing pretty hard at these points, because I’m tired and stressed. Listening to my breath always helps me slow it down and get myself in control again. I’ve done this “count to 10” technique anywhere from a handful of times to relax my run to long, 15-20 minute stretches to get me to finish a longer session. It gives me something to focus on besides how bad I’m feeling or how much more I have to go and every time I use this method, I’ve always made it through a run without stopping, crying, or breaking down! Some days, it’s just a win to make it through.
Recovery: I can’t come to Flagstaff without raving about the work of Hypo2 Chiropractic. I ADORE the brothers, Wes and AJ, behind this operation– they truly work magic. It’s not your basic chiropractor office, where you come in, get popped, and leave; instead, Wes and AJ do comprehensive treatment that incorporates chiro, ART, and physiotherapy, focusing on your entire body and biomechanics. My appointments always start with some work on a table, jump to some exercises that strengthen the mechanical problems behind the soreness I came in for, and end with a chiropractic adjustment. I trust Wes and AJ more than any other physio I’ve ever worked with because they are so smart, dedicated, and holistic. I leave with a handful of drills and stretches to do and they always work, every time.
Nutrition: This is a small change, but one I’m happy I made. I only consume one cup of coffee (usually 8-12 ounces) a day, in order to keep my caffeine tolerance decently low, but over the past few years, I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking a cup of black tea in the afternoon to get me through that mid-day slump or wake me up after a nap. The last few weeks, I’ve switched that black tea to a daily green tea. Why? Green tea has wonderful anti-inflammatory elements and it’s chock full of Good Things like antioxidants. I’m shocked this wasn’t a staple of my diet long ago!
Mental: I have two practices I’ve been consistently incorporating into my daily routine. One is meditating, which I’ve mentioned before. I use an incredible app on my phone, Headspace, and I choose a series based on what I think I need at the time. For example, during the fall I went through both the “Stress” and “Creativity” series and now I’m working on the “Balance” series. We’ll see what I need as I get closer to the Trials…
The other thing I’ve started to do is something I’ve really never mentioned on the blog: a daily devotional and journaling practice. I’ve had the goal of reading the entire Bible on my to-do list forever and have never had the dedication to actually do it. Someone recommended I journal when I read the Bible and I’ve found that keeps me consistent. It’s nothing profound; I use a “Read the Bible in 365 Days” plan on my phone’s Bible app and jot down some reactions after each reading in a journal. It’s simple, but I’m enjoying it. I think it will help me with that balance and stress-reduction I work on during meditation!
T-minus 89 days!