Today I did something I rarely do – a lunchtime workout. I wanted to do a swim workout and usually that means hitting the pool after work and getting home late, or going at 6 AM and having breakfast at work. I finally figured out option 3: go during my lunch break. And take advantage of our amazing weather (clear blue skies and in the 50s) for a nice 15 minute walk each way. I am usually stuck in my building from dark til dark these days.

Winter came on Saturday but was gone 4 hours later.

Winter came on Saturday but was gone 4 hours later.


Plus I swam 1 mile for the first time – although with a couple of breaks – but I am almost done with my 6 week zero to 1 (continuous) mile swim program. And I could spy the new cardio equipment and 50m pool in the new gym that will be opening in January 2015.

Shiny new gym.

Shiny new gym.

I could get used to three day weeks! No races for me tomorrow. My body (or more specifically – my right foot) just isn’t ready – and I know that I cannot take it easy in a race situation. I’ve managed two 3 mile treadmill runs in the last week. Running is pain free but my hypochondriac injury detector has gone into overdrive.

When I started back with my 1 mile runs I was feeling little aches in weird places (shins for the first time ever and calves as usual) but these went away pretty quickly. I think that my body was just getting used to running again. So one part of me now thinks that I just need to be brave and push myself a little. To toughen up a little. But (there is always a but) I still don’t feel right. It’s hard to explain: I’m not in pain (and certainly not the rapid onset that made me make an emergency appointment with a doctor) but my foot doesn’t feel normal. I’m not sure if this is actual or imagined weakness in my foot, but I think it isn’t doing any harm to be hyper-vigilante as I start to add back the miles. So vigilant that I’m wearing my compression socks today.


I kinda feel like a superhero – wearing my superhero socks under my regular clothes!

So, like I said no race but tomorrow is a big day. I’m planning to try a short run OUTSIDE on one of my favorite trails with J and my running buddy A. I haven’t run outside since October 16th and I am so excited, especially because the weather here is meant to be unseasonably warm. Thank you Thanksgiving gods!

Seriously, if I ever move back to Ireland or the UK I am bringing Thanksgiving with me. It is just the best holiday ever. Like Christmas without all the pressure of buying gifts. I also like to think of it as practice for eating Christmas dinner which is a huge deal in Ireland (we do turkey AND ham). We will be eating delicious food and hanging out with our awesome friends.

Speaking of delicious foods……….I think enchiladas are my favorite thing ever.


These ones are black bean and sweet potato (and you know I need to have avocado and jalapenos). But I’ve been making my own sauce for a while and thought I’d share because it is ridiculously easy.

8 oz can of tomato sauce

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1-2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 chili in adobo sauce chopped (these are in cans in the Mexican section of the supermarket)

Mix everything in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 10 mins and it’s ready to pour over. I think I could happily eat this everyday.

Workout summary: 11/17 – 11/26

Mon: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Tues: AM: Yoga

PM: 1600 yds (40 mins)

Wed: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Thurs: AM Yoga

PM 1600 yds (40 mins)

Fri: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Sat: 1600 yds (40 mins)

Sun: 3 mile + full body strength

Mon: Rest!

Tues: 3 mile + leg strength/stretching

Wed: 1650 yds (1 mile!)

Happy Thanksgiving y’all! And if you live in the UK or Ireland I recommend that you take the day off work and have an early Christmas dinner!

A tentative return

Running injuries suck – I think everyone can agree with that. But one of the hardest things about an injury (at least for newish runners like myself) is knowing when it’s OK to start running again. For this I rely on my doctor’s advice (REST REST REST) and listening to my own body. I took two weeks completely off from running – but supplemented with swimming and biking which were completely pain free. After the first week my foot (diagnosed with stress response AKA if you don’t stop this will become a stress fracture) was feeling great so I decided to test it out. 1 mile on the treadmill – and it felt fine. The next day I was a little achy but this went away pretty quickly. So I kept it up – running every second day with a 5 min walking warm-up and followed by lots of stretching and foot strengthening exercises.

I bumped it up to 1.5 miles this week and my foot is still feeling good (total mileage 7.5 miles for the month). But I am freaking out about every little ache or pain – hypochondriac right here. On one hand I want to get back to running ASAP but I do not want to injure myself in the process. The day after my second comeback run my shins were feeling sore – then I remembered that I have the tightest calves in the world and need to remember to stretch them everyday. And volia – shin pain disappeared. But (there is always a but) my foot still doesn’t feel quite right. I can’t quite figure out what is wrong (and it’s definitely not the stress response issue) so I might have to rest a little more. Or at least continue with my constant body surveillance and decide for myself when an ache is really a pain.


But workouts are still happening.

Sat: 1.5 mile run + strength session at gym

Sun: Swim (1500 yds) + yoga (first class in 4 weeks!)

Mon: 1.5 mile run + strength

Tues: Swim (1500 yds)

Wed: 1.5 mile run + strength

So lots of swimming (I’m about 2/3 of the way thru my 0 – 1 mile swim program) and lots of core + leg work. I’m actually feeling pretty good and like I haven’t lost that much fitness. Also, today was the first time since the marathon where I’ve gotten up before 6 AM to workout. Of course, I did pick the coldest day of the year to do that. But it seems like I’ve suddenly got my energy and motivation mojo back. And if you live with me that means baked goods.

Chocolate chip zucchini bread and pumpkin granola AKA breakfast this week.

Chocolate chip zucchini bread and pumpkin granola AKA breakfast this week.

AAnd some non- homemade treats.

I did use the dough to make the cookies and it was amazing. Fresh made cookies need to be eaten with ice cream.

I did use the dough to make the cookies and it was amazing. Fresh made cookies need to be eaten with ice cream.

And because John was out of town all last week (and I was somehow way more busy than usual hence my complete lack of posting) I managed to catch up on my new favorite shows – How to Get Away With Murder and the Mindy Project.


It seems like today is our first real taste of winter out here in SLC – I am currently wearing a million layers to stay warm – but we were treated to some beautiful sunsets last week. Luckily for me my offside is west facing and I get to take in the view before I leave for home (in the dark).

From work last week.

From work last week.

On the way to yoga on Sunday.

On the way to yoga on Sunday.

Any tips for returning from injury?

Check-in and check-up

Can you believe that I’m a quarter way through my marathon training plan? 4.5 weeks done. And so far so good. Although it looks like sh*t is going to get real in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday started with a 6 mile pace run. What I learned from this is that I am a terrible judge of my own pace and that I can’t math. Somehow I figured my first mile was 8.15 (I was aiming for around 8-8.05 min/mile) (Spoiler: my first mile was actually 7.12 min) so I decided I needed to pick up the pace a little for the next two miles (7.35 and 7.27). That’s when I figured I needed to slow the hell down. My last three miles were at a more reasonable pace (7.46, 7.53 and 8.06). D’oh! I definitely need to work on even splits. Overall 6.15 miles at 7.41 min/mile average – and a great way to ensure some tired legs for my long run on Sunday.

Breakfast turned into a berry fest – raspberries and Greek yogurt, strawberry/banana smoothie and blueberry scones.


We had plans to bike downtown to the Utah Arts festival in the evening so we fueled up on grilled cheese and roasted broccoli pasta salad.


The festival was by the City and County building. And you got $2 if you rode your bike and left it with the bike valet.


We checked out some bands, drank some beer, ate some ice cream and browsed the artists’ booth. We also saw a really cool performance by the local ballet company.


Afterwards we decided to hit up a local bar. That’s two Saturday bar trips in a row. I was telling J that we are now party animals. Party animals that are home by 9.30 PM!

IMG_0872 IMG_0871

Then a quick bike trip home (and uphill) to catch up with Game of Thrones.

Sunday was my scheduled long run: 12 miles. I have only ran this distance twice before in training, and it kinda felt like the first real long run of marathon training. My plan was to start slow and finish strong. And it felt pretty good. I took a Gu at mile 6 and by the end felt like I could have kept going for even longer. Plus my miles 8-11 were all in the 8.25-8.35 range. The only downer is that my Garmin doesn’t take into account time spent waiting for traffic lights – and by my calculation this was at least 5 minutes over the course of the whole run.  Oh well – Garmin says 9.07 min/mile, I say 8.47 min/mile.

That run brought my weekly total to 31.85 miles which I think is my biggest week ever. And my June total to 115.6 miles – my second highest month ever.

I had made it a goal at the start of the year to run 1000 miles in 2014. So at the halfway mark I’m at 555.65 miles – on target! Woohoo!

Monday was an after work yoga class. Tuesday an easy 4 miler (8.49 min/mile). And this morning – 7 miles (my longest midweek run ever) at 8.42 min/mile. This run felt sluggish. One of those runs where you feel like you are really pushing the pace until you look down at your watch………….and not so much. For some reason, it took me about 4 miles to properly warm up and  then it felt great.

The other big event this week was my visit to the physiotherapist. I wanted her opinion on my right knee pain and left foot pain (both of which flared up in the last 2 miles of my long run) and to get the go-ahead to continue with marathon training.

So after a detailed description of all my running aches and pains and a hands-on examination of my legs, she came to a couple of conclusions.

1. My right leg is significantly weaker than my left leg in terms of muscle strength, muscle mass and stability.

2. This means that my muscles aren’t strong enough to keep my knee pad in its correct place when I run long distances. This makes my knee hurt……..

3. I then compensate by using my left leg more making my foot hurt because I have crazy tight calves.

The good news is that if I work on strengthening my right leg all my problems should go away. So plenty of single leg work and keep doing yoga.

And I can continue to run if the pain is not getting any worse (this is exactly what I wanted to hear!). Interestingly, she said that if my knee starts to hurt when running, I should focus on engaging all my leg muscles in that leg and concentrate on using that leg more. So that’s what I did on this morning’s 7 miler – and it felt so much better. I have 5 weeks until the next appointment and she seemed pretty optimistic that I should be able to fix everything and run pain-free in the not too distant future.

Bonus: she taped my knee-cap so all my coworkers think I’m a crazy, badass runner. Or just a crazy, constantly injured runner.

Now, I just have another day and a half of work to get through before J and I head off to Nevada for a much needed camping trip. I’ll be throwing in my trail shoes and seeing what I can find!

Lesson learned…………

First of all, thank you to everyone who posted such kind, thoughtful and helpful comments on my last post. As if I didn’t know before, but the blogging world rocks. And I am feeling almost back to normal.

So, one of the factors  that has been contributing to my down days is another injury. Yes – another new injury to add to the list. I first felt a soreness in on the top of my foot last Monday. Being the optimist (or denialist) that I am, I assumed it would just disappear. So I did my normal recovery run on Monday, a slow 5 miler on Wednesday and a trail run on Thursday. But surprise(!) it did not go away. Ugh!

I rested on Friday and decided to skip out on Saturday too. Instead I spent the morning making carrot cake to celebrate J’s birthday. (Good decision!). We spent the rest of the day biking about 20 miles between some of the local breweries in town. Fun day and no foot pain. Foolishly (in hindsight), I thought I was good to go for my 10 miler on Sunday.

So here are some things I learned after this 10 mile run:

1. Running hungover is never fun. I guess 5 beers in a day is my limit. My ancestors would be ashamed.

2. Running after biking 20ish miles is a bad idea. I am not a triathlete. The last time I biked was 9 months ago.

3. My water bottle sucks. After about a minute it was leaking all over my hand. There is obviously some mysterious (to me at least) hole somewhere because my hand was covered in orange Nuun.

4. Some runs just suck. This was one of them. From the first step I wanted it to be over.

5. My body is stronger than my mind. My brain wanted to quit. My legs – they were good to go.

By the time I finished I was sore and threw myself a little pity party. I also decided that I needed a running hiatus for the next week to see if I could feel normal again. Luckily I can still use the ellipitical. Yay for my least favorite way to work out. Thank God for Yurbuds and podcasts. Time to heal!


Let’s talk about DOMS

April finished with a 5.3 mile run after work bringing my total mileage for the month to 108 miles and my second 100+ mile in a row.

Still having some knee problems but slowly improving but a new issue (does it ever end?) is my left foot which has been a little painful since Monday. I’ve loosened up all my shoes and iced my foot. I’ll rest tomorrow and see if anything improves.

I ran at a local park that has a wood chip trail hoping a softer surface might help a little. What did help was the weather – 60F and sunny. The first time I got to wear a tank top this year. You know – sun’s out gun’s out! Although, while I was waiting at traffic lights a lady ran by wearing running tights and a fleece vest. I guess everyone feels the heat differently.


Today was a repeat of the weather and a beautiful 3.85 mile run on the trails by work. 65F and perfect.


Both of these runs were tough and I can blame that on DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The squats I did earlier this week (and the first ones in about 5 months) were to blame. OMG – so sore and tender. But sore in my glute medius which is the muscle I need to strengthen the most. So even though I’ve been suffering most of the week it looks as though they are going to be on my workout schedule in the future.

Day 57 – Deciding to be positive

Yesterday’s long run was a little like a tale of two runs. The best of times – finally getting a LONG long run in – and the worst of times – hello glut medius (again!).

I woke up today and before I knew what I was doing I headed out for a slow 4.5 mile run. I try to be as gentle as possible on Mondays so I actually get my but out the door. And it was not good. In fact I would say my worst run in a while. My butt was still a little sore and my knee pain also decided to make a comeback. To top it off I managed to fall yet again (that’s the third time this year and I can only blame one on ice). I didn’t hurt myself – must be getting the hang of safe landings by now – and it kinda jolted me awake. 4.55 miles at 9.19 min/mile.


Fall at mile 2 – exactly where I fell a month ago. At least I’m consistent.

I was feeling a little down – worrying that all my pain-free running was over. That my injury was back. That I was doing to much too fast. That I was hurting too much after my 10 miler.

But as the day went on I felt better. My glut was fine all day and my knee was improving. I did my PT exercises and used my foam roller. And I decided that I was panicking and assuming the worst.

I decided that I needed to think positively. I’ve just done that longest run in almost a year so I shouldn’t be too surprised that I’m feeling it today. I’m seeing my PT this week so I can get a professional opinion about increasing mileage. No need to panic! I let myself be miserable for 24 hours but that’s it. Done!

On a side note it’s lucky that I do run in the dark because I run in outfits like this.


Plus I’m 2/3 of the way through my racing plan so even if I have to dial down the mileage I know I can finish my half marathon.


March mileage: 87.55 miles/140.9 KM

Day 29 – Bah Mondays!

Week 5 of half marathon training begins. And what a dubious start. After my longest run since October 2013 on Sunday I started with a 4 mile recovery run at 9.19 min/mile pace. Nice and slow. I thought after my downhill running adventure that I might be sore on this run and after about two miles I noticed knee twinges and quad pain. But I guess I was still sleep-running as it didn’t seem that bad.

As the day wore on the quad pain got more intense. I had forgotten that my legs are not used to downhill running. Yikes! I felt that today my eyes never really opened at all and I was zombieing (new verb) my way through work. As luck would have it (or not) this was a crazy busy day and I got just about 30 mins break to have lunch in a 9 hour day. I spent 20 mins of this break icing my knee – it seemed a little swollen – and lucky for me I work in a lab with an ice machine. So I’ve got that going for me.

Last night we made pear and gorgonzola pizzas for dinner with a Greek salad. What can I say it was almost 60 F and it felt like summer.


My tolerance for blue cheese is pretty low and I just couldn’t manage to eat the leftovers I brought for lunch. This did not help my energy levels. I think I might have to start eating more than normal – I’ve lost 4 lbs in the first 4 weeks of training which isn’t good. I had extra snacks yesterday while I watched J make more homebrew.


Carrots and hummus. Yum!

So 4 weeks are done – that’s one third of the way through. Still loving it most of the time but the last three runs have been a bit of a roller coaster of feeling crappy followed by awesome followed by crappy again. Perfect timing for a rest day. And a check-up with the physiotherapist.

Weekly recap:

5 runs

Total mileage: 22.80 miles

Longest run of the year: 8.40 miles

Two strength workouts

Two yoga classes

Two trips to the climbing gym

Why can’t every week be a four day week?

Day 24 – Loving the Outdoors

I have to confess that before I moved to Utah I was very much an indoors girl. Growing up and in college I didn’t exercise a ton. And definitely didn’t venture into the great outdoors. Moving to Scotland improved this a little bit – I started running (although pretty infrequently), going to the gym and doing a regular exercise class. I even got my first pair of waterproof hiking boots and hiked up Ben Nevis – the tallest mountain in Britain.

Then I moved to Utah. Utah is full of two kinds of people – Mormons and outdoor enthusiasts. Everyone I met here did something – skiing, road biking, trail running, climbing, canyoneering, every possible outdoor activity you could think of. About a month after we moved here we got tickets to the Banff Mountain Film Festival. This hits Salt Lake in February every year and shows badass people doing crazy shit in the mountains. This is where I found myself last night watching movies about BASE jumping, climbing in Antarctica, kayaking over waterfalls in Mexico, mountain biking in Washington state and naked skiing. It was pretty fun.


Plus they were giving out free mini-Clif bars and coffee samples!

I would recommend this film night to anyone. I spent most of the time thinking “These people are crazy” and “I could never do that” but at the same time feeling an intense longing to get out and be back in nature. These movies showcase the amazing wealth of nature that is just waiting for us to explore. Lucky for me, I live in one of the best places in the world to get out and do stuff. And I have definitely become a fully fledged outdoors girl.


Here I am canyoneering in Capital Reef National Park.


Backpacking with friends in southern Utah.


My first snowshoe-yurt trip in the Uintas. 2013 was fun!

I also ran this morning. 3.52 miles at 8.39 min/mile pace. It was a slight variation of my normal route at medium pace but it felt so much harder and a little hillier. When I checked my Garmin I had gained 148 ft over my run instead of the usual 96 ft – no wonder it kicked my butt. And another plus, my knee was sore for about 2 mins and then I didin’t notice it for the rest of my run – too busy wondering why everything was so hard. I’m hoping I’ll be fully recovered by next week and I won’t have to talk about my knee any more.

Day 11- Dealing with frustration

Yesterday I stayed a little later in work to make up for the time spend getting tortured at my PT’s office that morning. I was so hungry when I got home – I needed something fast! Salmon to the rescue – with teriyaki and oyster sauce, egg noodles and stir-fried veggies. Less than 30 mins fridge to belly. My kind of meal.


Some snow had been forecast last night but when I got up the sidewalks were clear and I decided to take advantage and do my 30 min run before the next storm hit. Today was an easy day. And it felt easy. I have a heart monitor with the Garmin but it’s still in its original plastic. I prefer to run by feel and today was a “don’t get out of breath at all” run. 3.6 miles at 9.03 min/mile pace.

Yesterday I was looking up my race paces using the McMillan calculator. My easy pace should be anywhere from 8.10-9.11 min/mile so right now I’m at the top end of that. And slower than I want to be right now. So this morning I had a little conversation with myself about why I shouldn’t let this bother me.

1. You’re coming back from injury you idiot! You need to take it easy.

2. You’re trying to change your running form and make it more efficient. This is mentally exhausting – thinking about where your foot is at every step, whether your pelvis is tucked in and how your glutes are doing.

3. It’s winter. It’s icy. You’ve already got a bruise on your elbow from one fall so chill out.

4. Easy days should be easy. That’s the point. They allow you to make the hard days really hard.

5. The greatest accomplishment you can have with this half-marathon schedule is to make it to the starting line in one piece. That is goal number one. Plus this course is not a PR course. Save that for later in the year.

6. Put in the miles. The speed will come.

7. Don’t sacrifice all your running goals for the year for the sake of a few fast runs in February.

I decided that I’m not going to be frustrated but thankful that I CAN run again.

After my run I came home to some home-cooked soda bread (made by J). It’s a yeast-free Irish style bread. I love it with butter and a ton of jam in the morning or with smoked salmon if I’m feeling fancy.


Trying to decide if I want to yoga tonight………..I think my body wants to but I kinda want to watch Sherlock with a glass of wine. Decisions, decisions……….

Day 10 – back at the PT

Last night I continued my quest to eat as much Mexican food as possible. More quesadillas. This time with zucchini-tomato-cilantro-green onion and a side of avocado. Yum.


I guess I should also mention that although I’ve been referring to J as my boyfriend, technically he is my fiance. We’re not doing the big ring-big wedding thing – after 8.5 years we just want a courthouse and some good food afterward. Friday 12th September 2014 – put it in your diaries. We have been reading through this book thought – I guess to make sure we are on the same page for all of the important life decisions. And so far so good.


Reading this has made me appreciate our relationship and also helped me understand why the divorce rate is so high. Holy crap some of the questions seriously made my scared for humanity. Example: (In the section on pets – yes she covers everything) Do you hate your partner’s pets and secretly leave windows and doors open so that they will run away? Yikes! What kind of person would do this? How could you be engaged to someone and planning to spend your life together without checking if they are a crazy person? Mind-blowing!

Back to training. Today is Day 10 and luckily the sidewalks were clear after yesterday’s snow. I decided to run to the local park and see how a tempo run would feel. I wanted to take it easy and check everything out and make sure that I was pain free. I did a 10 min warm up followed by 10 min at 10 K pace and a 10 min cool down. No pain! Felt good – only took about a mile for my face and fingers to warm up. The tempo section felt comfortably hard, although I felt if I pushed it I could’ve gone faster or further.

3.5 miles at 8.27 min/mile pace (average)

10 min tempo run at 7.20 min/mile pace

This is my fastest mile since August 2013! One of my goals this year is to break 7.00 min for a mile. Very happy. Now I just have to add time to the tempo section and see what I can do.

Before work I headed to the PT for a follow up from last week. At least they have a pretty view from the waiting area.


The session started with a “massage”. Oh my God it hurt so bad. This time they used special metal devices (relics of the Spanish inquisition I believe). Then I got another set of exercises and stretches to add to my collection. My glutes are still weak and my left side is still way worse than my right. My running form is a little improved but still have to work on my form. No touching knees. Tuck my pelvis. Stand tall. Elbows in. Next time we’ll also try and make my landing more midfoot and less heel. It was a lot to take in but my PT high-fived me on the way out and said I can still run so I’m counting it as a win. More next week. Plus he was wearing a pair of Altras so I knew if was legit!