My Olympic Dream || Week 5

What do you think of our all-black race kits for indoors? Photo via Runnerspace

from The Fête Blog

Where is the time going? Here we are– exactly 5 months away from the first round of the Olympic Trials steeplechase! January FLEW by; it felt like I blinked and all the work we put in blended together and was over before I knew it. I missed you last week, but between the extended stay in New York City for New Balance Games and travel, appearances, and pre-race for the Camel City Games in Winston-Salem, I fell way behind in my posting. Oh, the hard life of a runner in race season!

In all seriousness, January did fly by and I’m a little stunned at where we are in the year: I’m fitter than I’ve ever been at this time of the year, based on the workouts we’re doing, the races I’ve been running, and the composition of my body (we do DXA scans at different points of the year and just got screened yesterday for things like body fat percentage, bone density, and BMI) and I’m in a two week block of training before my last indoor race. Weren’t we just going up to altitude for the fall? We’re already booking tickets and prepping for the spring trip!

With all that in mind, here are some updates from the past two weeks:

Training: Ebbs and flows ya’ll, ebbs and flows. The travel and races over the last two weeks wore on me more than I realized– so this week, I’ve been really making an effort to have perfect training sessions… and then take a step back between practices. When I returned from Winston-Salem (where I ran a mile in 4:28.4, a personal best for both indoor and outdoor miles), Coach said, “20 days of perfect training” before my final and most important indoor race– a 3k in Glasgow, Scotland on February 20. While everything has been great this week, I’ve been a little “out of it”– just a little lethargic, not as energized or fired up as I can be for training. And that’s okay; I think this is my body’s way of reminding me to be gentle with myself when I can, because it knows it has to be ON at the right times. This week is not the week to be firing from all cylinders, so while I’m hitting the times and doing all the reps and working hard when it’s time to train, I’m also moving slow, not pressuring myself to be productive, and really babying my body with recovery drills and self-care.

Racing at the Armory! Photo via Runnerspace

Racing at the Armory! Photo via Runnerspace

Nutrition: Ah, food. Have I ever told you I love food? Good food and drink is right at the top of my “best things in life” list. As I’ve written about before, I’ve had an interesting relationship with weight and racing— I was heavier than I’d ever been during my best track season ever last summer– and the experience left me both inspired to ignore the numbers on the scale and determined to clean up my diet (something I’d always refused to do).

We just did our third DXA scan since September. In September, I was the fittest I’d ever been during outdoor track– just home from Worlds and about to head to Brussels for my final steeple of the year. I was strong and confident and felt really good about my body. So the number we got then was a great baseline for future tests. We retested in October, right when I finished up my downtime– so I knew my percentages would be higher, because I hadn’t been training. It was nothing alarming, but my body fat was up slightly. During our November-December altitude trip and the month of January, I cut out sweets (there might have been one or two slip-ups, but nothing major) and had 1-2 glasses of wine on maybe 5 occasions. Other than that, I’ve been working on eating more grains, fiber, protein, and fresh fruits and veggies, working to find the most filling and delicious healthy recipes and meals to make up for my lack of desserts. So this time around, I was expecting to be back to my September range.

I went into the test confident with my fitness because the last two races I’ve run have been personal bests and because training is going really smoothly. I was surprised– my body fat percentage actually dropped more than I expected (surprised because my weight hasn’t dropped tremendously and I’m extremely regular with my period despite taking no birth control). Now, that’s great, because studies have shown a low body fat percentage is a big part of elite distance running; it’s also good to know that cleaning up my diet has really made a positive impact. But the really nice thing is realizing that healthy living, running success, and moderate enjoyment of good food and drink do intersect— so pass me a glass of wine please!

Recovery: It’s important to trust your coach, but you have to trust your support team just as much, if not more, with the care of your body. I’m so thankful to have found a crew of physios to work with me week in and week out– because this is NOT the year to get injured. I’ve been very lucky these past two years to avoid any major injuries, but I’m not perfect; there are always going to be aches and pains that pop up when you’re training this hard. For an elite athlete, finding the right people to keep your body healthy might be tied with finding the right person to write your training! For example, I’ve recently had some aches in places that have never really ached before; thankfully, I pointed it out to both my massage therapist and chiropractor and they were able to get in to the problem, give me immediate relief AND find strategies for keeping the soreness at bay. If I didn’t get treatment regularly or if these physios didn’t know my body as well, we probably wouldn’t have caught it until it was much more advanced.

Mental: I’m going to be blunt here: social media has made this Olympic year even more fraught with anxiety and nerves than it probably should. Why? Because thanks to social media, our competitors are always front of mind. There’s a reason you’ll see some big name athletes go on a social media hiatus during the peak of their season– they don’t want to get distracted by what other people are doing. That’s such a huge part of my mindset this year– I CANNOT control anyone else but me. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I have to be totally engaged with MY journey and trust that the decisions Coach and I are making are the right ones to earn me a spot on that Olympic team.

So seeing the workouts or the race results or the ultra positive, inspiring, badass posts my competition is sharing… those things are either going to consume me, mentally, or I have to find a way to ignore them. Losing out because of mental weakness or anxiety about competitors or stress about “if I’m doing enough” is the worst way to lose– so I’m determined not to let it happen to me.

151 days to go! 

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