A Day in the Life


I don’t know about you, but I’m always curious about what everyone else out there is doing in terms of training and nutrition. While I’m pretty sure there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer that works for everyone, I guess I’m hoping that by reading what they’re doing I might pick up some nuggets along the way that will work for me.

As my running progresses, I continually experiment with various approaches to see what seems to yield the best results. Nothing I do is set in stone. That said, in the hopes it may be of some use or interest to you, here are some of the things that have been working for me lately.

  1. Training. (many thanks to my coaches for giving me permission to share)

My mileage varies significantly depending on where I am in the training cycle. The ramp up to Boston has been shorter than ideal as I was only able to get in about three weeks of actual training. I had to recover from Way Too Cool, plus this week is full-on taper.

I peaked at 95 miles for one of the weeks during this cycle, which is a lot for me. I’m usually more like 65-70 mpw for maintenance weeks, peaking around 80-85 mpw for trail races. However, unlike many runners, I find the road training takes somewhat less of a toll on my body than the same distance on trail, so my recovery from these runs is fairly quick. (The trails I tend to run on are basically running straight up a small mountain and then straight back down, which can be kinda hard on the hammies and quads).

Here are some of the key workouts I ran during this training cycle. All workouts were on a gently rolling road loop, unless otherwise noted (all of 1.6 miles long — hello, boring! — but it’s pretty much the only flattish spot in Temecula). The mileage given doesn’t include warm up or cool down:

  • Paced runs of between 10-20 miles @ anywhere from 6:17 – 7:00 pace
  • 8 x 800 @ 2:42 + 6 x 200m strides (done on treadmill due to travelling to England for a family matter and in a frankly sh*te place to run outside)
  • 2 x 4 miles @ 6:07
  • 4 x 2 miles @ 5:54
Broke out the racing flats for a couple of the faster workouts: wheee!

Broke out the racing flats for a couple of the faster workouts: wheee!

All non-workout days were run easy, which is anywhere from a 7:35 – 8:15 pace for me, on hilly roads or gentle trail. Many of these easy runs include a short set of 100m strides to keep my legs feeling zippy.

Where do these workouts leave me for Boston? If I had another 4-6 weeks, I really think I’d have a shot at pulling off an Olympic Trials qualifier at the new sub-2:43 requirement (yes, I am British, but I applied for US citizenship about a month ago). However, I don’t have the luxury of more time. As a result, instead of risking a race-day disaster by going out too hard and dying in the last miles of the race, I’ve decided to try a more conservative approach, aiming for a time around 2:45. I’ll likely attempt that OT qualifier in the fall, perhaps at the Chicago Marathon.

I take significant time off from running after major races. Really the first week back following anything from the marathon up is pretty low key, with no running at all for at least three to four days, and then transitioning back quite slowly after that. Since I’m not able to sit still for long, though, I’ll often do a gentle spin on the stationary bike or half an hour of easy work on the elliptical in the days after a race just to keep the blood flowing and my mental state hovering somewhere near normal.

  1. Strength.

I’m an enormous believer in strength and core work. I spend 2-2.5 hours per week on strength training, mostly body weight exercises. Most of it comes from articles on Runner’s World or Competitor or from a Matt Fitzgerald book I like called Brain Training For Runners. I try to work one routine for about six weeks, then either make each exercise much harder or ditch it and rotate in something totally new. I always keep in some form of planks and side planks though and focus on exercises that target the glutes and hamstrings (which can otherwise be problem areas for many runners). This stuff is key for injury prevention.

Some suggested exercises:

I also throw in some easy elliptical sessions after many workouts or long run days, for up to an hour. It’s ridiculously boring, but helps maintain/develop endurance and keeps me moving instead of sitting, without the pounding of running.

  1. Recovery.

Sleep. We wake up early in this house. The boys are bouncing off the walls most mornings by about 5:30am. My husband and I hide under the covers for as long as we can before they start jumping on the bed and demanding ‘warm milkies,’ but let’s just say patience is not their strong point. This means when the day is done and the clock hits 8:30pm, I force myself to make my way upstairs most nights. Yep, it’s an exciting, all-out party around here :). Seriously though, don’t underestimate the restorative power of sleep in injury prevention and its role running progress. Get your zzzz’s people!

Nutrition. Find what works for you, but I believe you’re kidding yourself if your diet is full of crud and you think you’re optimizing your training. You’re just not. Period. You can probably get away with eating junk for a while if you’re in your early twenties, but since I haven’t seen that decade for some time, I do what I can to reduce inflammation, promote recovery, and provide my body the nutrients it needs to thrive. Eating well is also fantastically effective at staving off the petri-dish of colds and other errrgh!-wow-really? infections my kids bring home from school on a regular basis. The only daily supplements I take are Blood Builder iron pills (**but only under doctor supervision** — says the lawyer in me), Magnesium/calcium and Vitamin D. On the latter, yes, we live in California, but I use lots of sunscreen because I live in the desert (yay: Western States training! boo: everything else).

A typical day would be, something (loosely) like, as follows:

6:45am                 Black tea with splash of milk (Sometimes 2 cups. Depends how naughty kids are)

8:00am                 Ezikiel brand English Muffin with Kolat brand Blueberry Cinnamon Walnut butter, sometimes with a small smear of Manuka Honey

9:30am                 Pre-run: coffee with agave sweetener and unsweetened soy milk. Small fruit snack such as apple and satsuma, or if really hungry a packet of Think Thin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal – Original Sprouted Grains, with a little sugar. (Or, sometimes, chocolate.)

10:45am               Run

12:30pm               Post run: if run was over 1.5 hours or included a hard workout, I’ll have a recovery drink or bar, or both after workouts lasting 3 hours+. Otherwise, no additional calories before lunch. Lunch is a bowl of Nature’s Path Blueberry Cinnamon Flax cereal with vanilla almond milk, hemp seeds, some nuts/seeds (almonds or walnut or sunflower etc) and a ton of organic berries, usually strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries — from frozen if out of season

1pm                       Gym for core/strength + sometimes, elliptical

2:45pm                 Snack: can be anything from leftovers to edamame to steamed broccoli or roasted sweet potatoes

4pm                       Second afternoon snack: small, often veggies and hummus

7pm                       Glass+ of wine or beer to celebrate kids going to bed (I super-love my kids. They are totally freakin awesome. If you so much as twitch otherwise I will kick your motherloving a$$. But, h*ll yes with the bedtime)

7:30pm                 Enormous salad with lettuce, half an avocado, extra virgin olive oil based dressing or oil-free miso dressing, sprouts, roasted beets, radishes, red pepper, arugula + two hard boiled eggs, or 4 oz oven baked salmon or other fish or vegetarian protein source

Typical shopping cart (really!)

Typical shopping cart (REALLY! Oh, ok, except for the kid’s stuff.)

Some dinner ideas. We try to minimize the carbs at night, often just sticking with veggies + protein and no grains. But not always.

Some dinner ideas. We try to minimize the carbs at night, often just sticking with veggies + protein and no grains. But not always.

Beans, green beans, mushrooms and quinoa with a side salad.

Beans, green beans, mushrooms and quinoa with a side salad. Note: I made this. My husband would freak. He does most of the cooking and darn it, this isn’t nearly pretty enough. I know need some cilantro or something to make this look nice. But, yeah, I also took this photo. And I was hungry.

Dinner 3

Salmon and veggies with quinoa. Again, I made this. My husband’s stuff is much prettier looking (and frankly, better tasting. But equally as healthy).

I also drink multiple cups of tea per day. Probably about 100oz or more of tea! Anything from black tea, green tea, yerba mate, chai tea (yep, all caffeinated) to red rooibos tea, decaf black tea, and nighty-night tea (not caffeinated). I drink no caffeinated tea or other caffeinated beverages after about 3pm.

The above notwithstanding, try as I might — and with the absolute best of intentions — I’m no saint. Conveniently left out of the list is that when my husband takes the boys out for donuts and there’s half of one sitting around at home afterwards, it doesn’t last long. When Christmas comes around, I eat my share of cookies. I’m still trying decide what to do with all of the Easter candy that has ended up in our house. Until I make that decision though, it’s entirely possible I might be eating some-a-lot of that. You get the idea. I try to keep this stuff out of the house, but darn it, it just seems to find its way in!

Anyway, all rambling aside, I hope this was helpful in some capacity! I’d love to hear from you if you have something that has been a success for you.