Sunday, June 28, 2009

Seattle Rock n' Roll Half Marathon: Not so secret

Yesterday, I ran the Seattle Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon.  I had not planned to run a half marathon this weekend, but I needed to be in the area for my sister’s bridal shower.  I had told her I was not coming to the shower two weeks ago, teeing up the perfect opportunity to surprise her.  I only realized that the Seattle R-n-R Half was the same day as her shower about a week ago.  So, I obtained elite status from the race organizers on Wednesday, bought a plane ticket on Thursday and jumped in the race on Saturday.

I didn’t change my training at all this week in prep for the race aside from knocking a couple of miles off of my run Friday morning and doing away with a few minutes at goal marathon pace at the end of Thursday’s 10 mile run.  So, I will complete 75 miles this week instead of my planned 80 miles.  Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly fresh going into the race so I didn’t have particularly high performance expectations.  I had also been feeling pretty tired and low energy all week for some unknown reason.  I finger allergies as a culprit along with chronic dehydration despite my best attempts to drink gallons of water.  I generally find the first few weeks of heat training make me feel this way, and I had been running in 80+ degree weather for most of my runs this week.

I tried desperately to keep my secret from my sister about coming to her shower.  Well, maybe I didn’t try that hard.  I hesitated to put any mention of it in my blog, but I decided it was safe since she doesn’t read my blog.  I certainly steered clear of posting anything on Facebook until race morning when I thought she’d be too preoccupied with plans for the day to check anyone’s status.

As it turns out, my Mom initially tipped her off by being a bad liar.  My sister did not buy the stories she invented about why she couldn’t go out Friday night and about where she was when my sister tried to call her Saturday morning.  She became even more suspicious when she looked at my Facebook status and saw that someone from Sacramento asked how the weather was in response to a post I made about VIP tent heaven.  That’s when she started checking around for more information and finally, after the race, pulled up my race results.  Nice detective work, Jill. 

My Mom and I showed up at the shower to “surprise” her, and she greeted me at the door with a print out of my race results telling me that I’m not surprising anyone.  Damn.

Now, for the race report…

I would like to start by saying how well the race organizers treated the elite athletes.  I have limited experience in this class, but the stark contrast between being an elite in Serbia and being an elite in Seattle were absolutely glaring and pretty humorous.  I was put up in a great room at the Embassy Suites and roomed with another elite masters female running the full marathon.  The rooms were amazingly spacious and had an entirely separate kitchen and living area from the actual bedroom.  I had everything I needed to make breakfast, mix up a nightcap or wash my clothes right there at my fingertips!

By the time I arrived, I had missed the complimentary dinner sponsored by the race for the elite athletes, so I popped down to the hospitality suite to get my race number and instructions for the next morning.  Because I was so late in entering, I had no time to obsess over the course features though I knew it was going to be hilly.  This was Seattle after all.  Normally, I would look at the course profile, identify where the water stops were and mentally get myself ready.  I had no time for that. 

I started a new pre-race dinner tradition before Shriner’s going out for sushi the night before.  This may seem like a risky pre-race meal idea, but I came up with it after seeing just how many carbs are in a sushi roll, something like 141 grams.  There is a lot of protein as well, but it’s hard to find that many carbs in even a pasta meal.  So, I drug my Mom to sushi Friday night at a great restaurant in Tukwila and downed a beer for the extra carbolicious benefits.

I finally got to sleep at around 11:00 p.m. after getting all of my racing gear together.  The wake up call came at 3:45 a.m.  Ouch.  It turned out I roomed with someone that only needs 5 hours of sleep.  We were, however, asked to meet down in the hospitality room between 4:00 and 4:45 because the buses were leaving at 4:45 for the start, so that made 3:45 seem somewhat reasonable.  I had oatmeal in the room and a banana before heading down.  I swear I heard angels singing as I went through the doorway of the elite athlete hospitality room.  I was stunned by the plethora of food items available to us for breakfast.  There was cereal, fresh fruit, HOT WATER!, honey, peanut butter, bagels, juice, and on and on.  I wanted to eat a little bit of all of it just because I could.  I would not go into this race starved, that’s for sure!

All memories of the spread at the hospitality suite disappeared once I entered the land of milk and honey at the VIP area adjacent to the start.  Tables with white linen tablecloths were set up in regular intervals in front of a tent filled with baked goods, coffee, an assortment of teas, fruit, fruit juice, energy bars, cereals, Cytomax, etc.  As a centerpiece on each table was a glass vase filled with freshly cut flowers.  My roommate pointed out that the inside of the vase was lined with a banana leaf, giving the vase a lovely green hue.  Come on! A frickin’ banana leaf?  This was a class act right here.  We had our own honey buckets (the Northwest term for portable toilets) and a changing tent for both men and women.  Honestly, I didn’t want to leave this cozy little cove of delight to pound the streets of Seattle.  Then, they kicked me out of Eden.

I found it inspiring to toe the line with some of the best female masters marathon runners in the nation; Susan Loken, Amy Manson, and Christine Glockenmeier (my roommate).  I will face some of these women in October in Twin Cities.  From what I understand, the race start began in waves since the course had some seriously narrow spots that would not accommodate a large pack of runners.  So, with the gun, the elite contingent was off! 

The first mile started off uphill gaining about 50-70 feet and my first mile split was 6:12.  I felt like I had gone out under control even though I probably could have taken it slower given that hill.  The next couple of miles rolled up and down through neighborhood streets thinly lined with cheering crowds.  I did remember that there would be a good hill around mile 5 and it lasted the entire mile gaining about 150-200 feet total.  That’s a good hill!  My pace slowed in that mile to 6:41.  The next mile had a good downhill run that brought my pace down to 5:58.  The next couple of miles rolled along Lake Washington and this was truly the best part of the run.  Aside from the beauty of this tree-lined section, I locked on to a pack of marathon dudes at this point and got to feed off of their energy and rhythm before dropping them after a mile or so. 

The hills came again around miles 9 and 10 where we gained another 100-200 feet.  The most surreal part of the race had to be the tunnel.  This was the I-90 freeway underpass and it was dark, the air was stale, the band playing at the end of the tunnel was cacophonous due to the poor acoustics, and I felt just a wee bit claustrophobic.  The rest of the run continued on I-90 heading into the city, so not particularly scenic and with absolutely no crowds to cheer.  My GPS failed completely in the tunnel, so I have only unreliable split data after mile 9.  The 10 mile marker was inside the tunnel and was most definitely short since the clock there read 1:00:45 as I ran by.  I knew I wasn’t going that fast! 

After exiting off of the freeway off ramp into the city, the crowds got wild and we continued down hill toward the finish at Qwest Stadium.  We encountered one of those screaming Seattle down hills in the last mile of the course that had me throwing on the Jake brakes and flailing my arms like crazy to keep from toppling over.  I was catching up to my nearest female competitor at the very end and could have caught her had we been running 13.25 miles.  I was happy to see a 1:22 on the clock as I approached the finish having no idea what my time would end up being at that point since I gave up on my Garmin after the tunnel.  I crossed the line and my Mom said they announced I was the first Masters female runner to finish.  The on-line results are actually messed up right now because they coded all of the elite runners as F-elite or M-elite rather than by age group and the woman listed as the first master ran a 1:27.

According to the race results, my splits at the following points were:

5k: 19:15

10k: 39:04

9 mile: 56:51  

My overall time was 1:22:34.  I needed 18 miles for the day, but there wasn’t a convenient place to run a good cool down at the finish.  So, I put it off until later that night.  Little did I know, I was going to get smacked with a migraine right before my sister’s shower and have the post-migraine haze and body shakes set in after that.  Nonetheless, I set out at 7:30 p.m. to run my 4 miles and felt better after the run.

I am happy with how the race went given where I am in my marathon training and having not tapered.  It is a little daunting to think about how I am going to run that time and tack another 1:23:25 half marathon on to the end of that in October.  I keep telling myself that I have a lot of training ahead to prepare me for that.  I will be running the San Francisco Half Marathon next month and am excited to see how much faster I can run the distance once I’m a little further along in my marathon training and have a chance to taper.

I would recommend the Seattle Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon to anyone looking for a nice hilly course with the potential for good weather.  The weather for this race was absolutely ideal.  I think it was in the 50s at the start with clear skies, little to no wind, and maybe got into the 60s by the finish.  As any Seattleite will tell you, though, this is not *normal* weather for this time of year.  We got really lucky.  

Congrats to everyone who completed the Seattle Rock n’ Roll marathon and half.  My hat's off to those brave souls (and soles) that spanked the Western States 100 miler course this weekend.  You rock!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stemming the polypeptide: Am I eating too much protein?

After I posted my blog with the pasta recipe last week, a Facebook exchange began that turned into a discussion about protein intake.  I had been reading through Chris Carmichael’s book about nutrition for athletes (Food for Fitness) and was surprised to find his recommended protein intake for the bulk of the training season to be pretty low. I had been focusing so intently on reducing my fat intake for the last 6-8 months that it never occurred to me that I should also look at how much protein I was consuming.

As you may recall from a previous post, I take data on my daily food intake using an iPhone application called Absolute Fitness.  I often wonder, as I spend the 10-15 minutes per day that it takes to enter the data, if it is really worth it.  I was thrilled to have cause to actually use this data and decided to make an Excel spreadsheet for my analysis (and, yes, that is a slide rule in my pocket).   I was shocked to find that my protein intake for the last month and a half averaged 111 grams, which equates to 17 percent of my total calories.  It is also close to 0.9 grams per pound of body weight or 1.9 grams per kg of body weight.

So, is this too much?  According to Chris Carmichael and studies performed by others--yes.  Chris Carmichael suggests that during any part of the training cycle other than the “transition” phase (post-focus-race recovery, that is) your intake of protein should be 13-14% of your daily caloric intake.  During transition, you can bump up to 18%. 

Not being one to ever take any one person’s word as gospel, I did a little bit of poking around on the web about protein intake for runners.  This site has a nice, albeit dated summary of studies relevant to the question.  These studies found that elite male runners and other endurance-trained male athletes should strive to take in 0.9-1.4 g protein/kg of body weight.  Other studies suggest that women break down less protein during exercise than men and therefore require less protein relatively speaking in their diets than men.  Remember, mine is averaging 1.9 g/kg!

So why should I care?  First, as an athlete, I know that nutrition affects my performance.  Food is fuel, and we all know when we’re burning biodiesel.  Our emissions smell like French fries. While there is certainly debate about the appropriate ratio of carbs to fat to protein for athletes in various periods of training, the bottom line is that there are tradeoffs associated with opting for more of one over the others.

Since my fat intake has been steadily low, my nutritional tug of war is always between carbs and protein.  Carbs are the primary source of fuel for our bodies during exercise and as athletes, we think about things like carbo loading and taking in carbs during a long run or workout.  If we don’t, we suffer miserably during those long, hard workouts and races.  It took me a while to recognize that eating more protein necessarily means I eat fewer carbs.  This made me wonder about days where I had low energy and whether there was any correlation with protein vs. carb intake.  I wonder…

One other alarming factoid that I found when perusing this subject was an alleged correlation between excessive calcium leaching from the bones with higher protein intake; animal protein in particular.  I found at least one study here that seemed to corroborate this. The authors studied thousands of female nurses and found a significant correlation between fractures (in the forearm of all things) and higher dietary protein intake.  I had no idea that this was an issue and a little more web research led me to believe that perhaps it is not.  

It is irritating to me as a scientist that tenuous correlations suddenly become gospel when they happen to support your personal claim or cause.  The vegetarian community latched on to these studies and turned the correlation between animal protein intake and calcium leaching into fact on numerous websites.  The only scientific studies I was able to find that supported this "fact" were based on loose correlations and certainly could not be used to ascribe any sort of causal link between calcium leaching and protein intake.  I always advise tracking down the original studies to see what the authors actually found rather than rely on a non-scientist’s interpretation.  

I guess I’m still learning the basics here, but I may have mistaken the need for protein for recovery as a need for more protein in general.  This is not the case.  Over the next couple of months I plan to track my protein intake, making sure I’m getting it when I need it (within 30 minutes of completing a workout) but trying to keep my overall intake lower than it has been.  If you have the motivation to do so, you might just track your food intake for a few days and see where your numbers fall.  You might be surprised like me.

NEWS FLASH:  I haven't blogged at all about my training this week, which is going well, thank you.  This is because I'm gearing up to run a surprise race this weekend, though I'm not really trained for the distance.  I will, however, be rubbing elbows with some elite athletes that I really admire!  I can't say more about it, because it's a secret for now.  Look for a post on Saturday evening with a full race report!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Finally, a fast fez

The good news is that I met all of my goals for this race.  The other good news is that there isn't any bad news to report about today's Shriner's Summer Solstice Race.  This is always a very competitive event, and I think the good weather, near ideal for this time of year, brought out all of the best competitors.  I had no pre-race nerves this morning so did not need to go through the long list of excuses why I shouldn't run the race. 

I was able to get in most of my warm up before the race even though I arrived slightly behind schedule.  I use a warm up routine that I got out of Pete Pfitzinger's book "Road Racing for Serious Runners".  It starts with 1.5 miles easy jogging and then about 0.25 - 0.50 mile of cut down to lactate threshold pace.  I hold LT pace for about 2 minutes.  Then I rest and shake my legs out.  I jog a little more and then do about 5-10 strides up to but not faster than race pace.  This starts ideally 45 minutes before the gun but the strides have to be completed no sooner than 5 minutes before race start.  I started using this routine at the Run to Feed the Hungry 5k last year and it has worked well for my short races since. 

The start was an angry mob Charlie foxtrot and at least one poor runner ended up going down within seconds of the gun.  Things thinned out by the first turn, and we were off.  I wanted to hang back in the beginning to get a feel for my pacing, and I actually ran a smart first mile of 5:58.  By the second mile, I was catching up to a group of 3 women that I would end up running with the rest of the race.  This is a rare treat for competitive runners--to actually have someone else that is holding your pace to work with.  I really appreciated this!  My second mile split was another 5:58 and my third was 5:56.  This is where I became confused.  

I was pushing hard at this point trying to stay with my pack of runners and missed the 4 mile marker without realizing it.  I started to become discouraged as my legs were getting tired, my breathing was becoming labored, but I still hadn't seen the 4 mile marker.  It wasn't until we were 1/3 of a mile from the finish that I finally looked at my GPS to see that I had covered 4.6 miles already.  That explained why the girls had picked it up!  Since I didn't have a 4 mile split, I had to use the calculated split from my GPS tracking program and it showed 5:59.  With 1/3 of a mile to go I started to bring it on, turned the corner toward the finish and noticed the little speck of a finish line banner so far away.  I realized I may have kicked it in a little too early. Nonetheless, assuming the rest of my splits are accurate, I covered that last 0.97 miles in 5:44 with an overall time of 29:35. 

So, to recap my goals:  
1)  I set a new PR by 1 minute and 50 seconds;
2) Each of my mile splits was under 6:00 pace; and 
3) I beat my Valentine's 4-mile Run time equivalent by 3 seconds!  

A trifecta!  I also managed to negative split the race with the help of my fierce competitors!  I ended up 3rd in my age group and 7th overall female.  What a great day of racing.

Go Impalas!




Friday, June 19, 2009

Fastest Fez

It's the eve of the Shriner's 8k (now called the Summer Solstice Run), and I am beginning to construct my multi-tiered race goals for tomorrow morning's event.  As with the No Excuses 5k, I have never done particularly well at Shriner's.  It is usually blazing hot and I have traditionally run a marathon less than 2 months before the event.  Needless to say, I have cause to set low expectations for my performance there.  

Predicting my performance and formulating a race plan for short races is a tough exercise for me.  I have not trained for short distance speed, well, ever.  Since I started running, I have always been training for a marathon event.  Consequently, my fastest relative times are at the half marathon distance and above, and I am totally fine with that.  Some day I'll get the bug to run fast and short, but for now, I am content to keep knocking time off my marathon.

I have enjoyed the faster workouts I've done in the last two weeks.  Last week I blogged about the 1/4 mile repeats I did along the bike trail.  This week I got to actually take my workout to the track!  I had a total of 12 miles to run Tuesday, and of course, I missed my early girlie appointment yet again.  This time, I think it worked out to my advantage.  It has been warmer this week, so an evening run gave me a chance to acclimate to the heat for the race this weekend.  I ran from my house to the Sacramento State University practice track and did my strides along the way.  It was about 85 degrees or so when I started, so I knew I was going to get in some good heat training.

I got to the track and had to share the two narrow lanes with about 30 other runners.  For the most part, they were courteous and jogged in the second lane when not going fast, but I felt like I was in lane 2 most of the workout.  The workout was 8 x 600m cutdown style.  So, the first 200m was run at 10k effort, then 300m (without rest) at 5k effort, and the last 100m faster but in control.  The rest was a 2 minute jog.  I had no idea what to shoot for in this workout in terms of splits.  This was further complicated by the fact that every watch/GPS unit I tried on before leaving home was dead except a fancy little Nike number that gave me a blank screen every time I pressed a button.  So, I had a semi-functional split watch as my only measuring tool.  The horror!

I started out with a 39 second 200, and immediately knew that I was starting too hot.  I slowed to 40 for the next 200m split and then kicked it in for a 1:57 600m.  This felt too fast, but I couldn't calculate what the pace was on the fly.  I now realize it was under 5:15 pace.  I started to really concentrate on effort and became a lot more consistent.  My 8, 600m splits looked like this:

1 - 1:57
2 - 2:01
3 - 2:03
4 - 2:06
5 - 2:05
6 - 2:04
7 - 2:04
8 - 2:04

Those last 3 repeats were metronome like.  I felt totally dialed in and also felt like I could have done more when I had finished.  I did have another 4.5 miles ahead of me after this, and ended up closer to 14 miles total for the evening.  I felt great after this workout; like I had some speed in my marathon legs.

So, back to my race goals for Shriner's.  My safe goal is to PR.  My PR is from 2 years ago and is 31:25.  I'm pretty sure that one is coming down.  Ratcheting down from there, my next goal is to run under 6:00 min/mile pace for each split with an average pace below 6:00 min/mile as a close second.  Finally, if the summer sun is truly aligned with my 7 chakras, I would like to run a time equivalent to my Valentine's Run performance at the beginning of the last training cycle.  That would end up being around a 29:36 or so.  I could, of course, run faster since my half marathon PR predicts a 28:30ish 8k.  I guess if I were actually training for this race, I could achieve that mark, but for now I'm looking to at least PR.

Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow and especially those ultra runners taking on the Western States 100 miler next weekend!    Race hard!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A recipe for success

I was happy to find that my normal energy level returned for my workouts in the second half of this week.  After my hill workout Thursday evening I had a couple of easy days and did my long run late this morning.  I've been enjoying sleeping in just a little too much I think and have reverted to my old late morning and late afternoon running routine.  I vow to become an early girlie again this next week!

My long run today started with a 5 mile warm up followed by a set of the Everest Hill Drills then 10 minutes at marathon effort followed, without rest, by 15 minutes at half marathon effort.   It was warm by the time I started this 25 minute sequence, but it felt good to run 6:21 pace for marathon and 6:05 for half marathon effort.

After that, I got a 5-minute jog rest and then started a sequence of 10 x 100m strides at increasing speed starting with 10k effort for the first few reps and finishing with 3k effort for the penultimate and final reps.  After that, I hopped on a treadmill for 5 x 2 minute hill repeats @ 3k effort and FINALLY a 5k-effort, uphill final 5 minutes.  This added up to 16 total miles and put my weekly mileage at 74+.  It felt good to get back into the funkadelic 70s, and I sang Free Bird in tribute all the way home. 

Let's start the food-related portion of this blog with a fact.  I am not known for my culinary prowess.  Ask any of my friends.  It's not that I can't cook.  It's more that I don't enjoy it enough to make it a priority.  So, I'm always looking for meal options that fit a few simple criteria:
1) little to no prep time;
2) low fat;
3) tasty.

I am a fan of Trader Joe's and have a series of regular items I pick up there (mostly frozen meals) for lunch and dinner.  Lately, I've been getting a little tired of the few items I have been able to find that meet my criteria, particularly the low fat standard.  So, I decided I would try to find a couple more quality meals to add to my standard 3 meal rotation.  The Dissin' Genius was thrilled with this prospect, not that he ever complains about my cooking.

I have also been looking in various places for information about nutrition and found Chris Carmichael's book Food for Fitness on my bookshelf.  I cracked it open and found a few recipes in the back of the book that looked worthwhile.  I tried one of these last night and was absolutely delighted with it.  So, I'm copying it here along with how I prepared it. I've also included all of the gory nutritional details which I calculated myself from the ingredients I used.  It took all of 20 minutes to prepare and probably cost less than $15 in ingredients, all of which came from Trader Joe's.

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes  and White Beans

Makes 5 servings (CC says 4 servings, but I've given the nutrition for 1/5th of the total meal)
  • 16 ounces penne pasta (the recipe actually calls for 8, but I doubled it and found it delightfully pastalicious)
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes with basil (I used 2 Trader Joe's 17.6 oz. starter sauce packages that come in a tetrapak--you find them with the tomato sauces.   I also added some Italian spices)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can white kidney beans (aka cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1.  Cook penne for 8-10 minutes until desired doneness.  Drain.
2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and beans in a large skillet.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Remove skillet from heat and add spinach letting spinach wilt, stirring constantly.
4. Serve sauce over pasta and sprinkle some feta on top.

Nutritional deets (for a serving that equals 1/5th of the meal (not including the feta):
Calories: 497
Total fat: 3 g
Sat fat: 0 g
cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 553 mg
Carbs:  97 g
Fiber: 15 g
Sugars:  10 g
Protein: 18 g

And, it actually tasted amazing!  Guten apetit!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The penultimate rep

Am I mental?  I often ask this question in relation to what keeps me motivated during a hard workout.  I’m pretty sure most runners play mind games with themselves to stay focused when things get tough in a workout or race or to focus the attention away from the pain they are feeling.  I read that Kara Goucher likes to use the power word “fighter” during track competitions and “courage” during a marathon.  I did a little searching and found a Runner's World article that documents the mantras of other world-class runners:

  • Gabriel Jennings:  He memorized the Declaration of Independence. "During a run, I'd just repeat it.”
  • Bill Rodgers: "I turned to my running buddy and I shouted, 'Relentless!' I ran my best time of the year."
  •  Deena Kastor:  "Before I won the Chicago Marathon in 2005, my coach, Terrence Mahon, said, 'Today, define yourself.' This was so powerful; the entire race I repeated, 'Define yourself.' I've also used 'Go faster' and 'Push harder.'"
  • Alan Culpepper:  "I say things like 'Stay focused,' 'Run hard,' and 'Make yourself breathe.'" He pushes through a struggle with "The pain won't get any worse, you can handle it."
  • Frank Shorter: "At certain hard points in a race, I joke with myself and think, They [the other runners] can't be feeling that much better than I am right now."

About a year or so ago, I became reacquainted with the word penultimate.  I had heard people use the term as if it meant pinnacle or epitome.  That is not what it means.  It means second to last.  While this may not seem like an inspiring “power” word as it relates to your place in a race, I have found it very motivating during workouts.

I have had trouble all week getting motivated to do my workouts due to a very low energy level.  I failed to make my early girlie appointment for Monday's workout, so I was finishing a 10-miler (which included hill plyometrics and sprints) at 8 p.m. Monday evening.  I had a two-a-day workout scheduled for Tuesday with the morning workout set for 11 miles with hill repeats and strides. 

Once again, I was in no shape to roll out of bed and run Tuesday morning, so I did my not-so-easy evening workout in the morning.  I had 5 miles total with 15 minutes at marathon effort.  My coach told me to “ditch the Garmin” for this workout and just run at marathon effort.  I tried.  At least I didn’t program my Garmin for the workout.  Baby steps.  I ended up running those 15 minutes at 6:18 pace starting out slower and speeding up at the end when I felt better.  Did it feel like marathon effort?  Sort of J.

So, Tuesday night I was facing my hill repeats, and I decided to take on the ¼ mile William Pond Park Bridge again.  This workout was a total of 11 miles with 10 total strides and 10 x 75 second hill repeats at 1 mile to 3k effort with easy jog down rests.  The whole warm up, I was dreading those hills.  How in the world was I going to do 10 repeats on that hill with tired legs and an equally tired body? 

Enter the word penultimate.  This word is what motivates me in my workouts right now because, I, well, like saying it and find it exciting to actually do the penultimate rep in a workout.  So, I start the workout, far, far away from the penultimate rep, and it is difficult and painful.  Around the time I get to rep number 5, I start thinking about the penultimate rep and how close I’m getting to it.  I start counting down: 3 reps until the penultimate rep, 2 reps, 1 rep.  Then, I hit the actual penultimate rep and am magically no longer thinking about the pain.  I instead focus on keeping good form for the penultimate and then the final rep. 

Am I mental?  Maybe, but at least I can use big words.  I’m trying to figure out how to fit the words “phenotypic plasticity” into my workouts next week to spice things up a bit.