Lessons from Week One on the Injured Reserve

Week one down, 13ish to go. Thinking of this high hamstring tendinosis mandated rehab period as “shorter than a marathon training cycle!” has vastly improved my outlook on sustainable recovery. Well that and all your kind words and promises that it will “just fly by!” Don’t even care if you’re bullshitting me, it helps.

Crowd sourced merciless optimism, for the win!

I’m still kind of getting into a groove on the whole thing – setting days for PT exercises (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri (opt), Sat/or/Sun), finding alternate methods of cardio to keep me from fat-blobbing instantly, and starting to toe that magical line Dr AJ talked about that works the body juuust enough without impeding healing. The soft-plan is 1 mile a day until there is no soreness or pain the following day, and slowly building with along same guide. Kind of like the 10% rule for weekly mileage building. I ran for 15 minutes (~1.5mi) on Thursday but had some tightness Friday AM, so I took the day off from running and reset on Saturday with one pain-free mile. It’s that touch-and-go, flirt with the line, listen to your body method that I think is the hardest for recovering runners. Stepping back when it hurts, not pushing too hard when it feels good, and smartly grinding along that Goldilocks “just right” line long enough to hit 100%.


100 Day Rehab Plan Goal: Follow the blue line.

In these last seven days I have learned(/relearned) a few things:

  • Eat Like a Normal Person. Even after decreasing my mileage, I still felt the same level of hunger (or thought I did) from my 45-50 mi/wk days. Whether it’s my body or brain finally realizing we aren’t working as much or as hard as we used to, it’s nice to feel a little more stabilized in the hunger department. Farewell, Runger!
  • Walking is Fun. Not like running fun, and the endorphins aren’t quite as strong, but getting out and moving just for the purpose of moving feels good. No agenda, no expectations, just a little heart pumping.
  • Head-Clearing Exercise. I hadn’t realized how long I’d been dealing with what I’m calling “chronic on-the-run worry syndrome” until I went for a night time walk and came back clear-headed and rejuvenated. Somewhere along the training/injury continuum I stopped being able to “clear the mechanism” (name that movie reference!) and spent the whole run worrying, assessing, calculating, and never really letting go and enjoying the movement. So, thanks, Walking!

photo 4

sad about my crows feet, not the walking

  • Little Things Matter. Has my butt really gotten tighter and shaplier after one week of my ham/glute rehab exercises? Probably not, but in my mind (/warped mirror?) it has! Knowing that they’re doing their part to get me back running, while also bubbling up my pancake ass is motivation enough for me to stick to them.

(yes, I will share the exercises! Once I am good enough at them to be photographed and my butt bubbles a little more)

So on all those notes, I’m heading out for my 15 minute run! Fingers crossed no follow up pain and I can break the 2mile barrier tomorrow!

Sarah OUaL

EFF YES Friday–Narcissism & the Track

Two weeks in a row – one more and we can call EFF YES an official streak! The only current streak I have going longer than it is my oatmeal for breakfast routine, and nothing’s topping that. We’re at 2+ years, exceptions for pre-long run PBbanana toast or Picky Bar, and I don’t expect it to die anytime soon. It’s too delicious, cheap, and I can put off any life decision-makings (deciding what to feed yourself is a big one, obvs) until I’ve been properly caffeinated.

Anyway, carrying on to the three things I’m loving right now. This week’s flavors are pretty self-absorbed but so is writing about yourself online and expecting people to read it, so… joke’s on you, sorta.

1) Feeling Like a Pseudo Celebrity

lifestyle accountability show

Bite your tongue and let me feel super cool and special that Adam and Devon at LifestyleAccountability.com wanted to interview me about my “healthy living” story. In the 30 minute podcast we discuss stumbling into running after a ho-hum college softball career, dealing with burnout, who motivates me to keep grinding, and I sound really dumb talking about reading sub-elite blogs and making friends online.

Listen Here: Lifestyle Accountability Show, episode 23

  • Do I sound like you thought I would? Less nasaly, more “umm”s? Indecipherable at times? (sorry)

ps Adam & Devon have fun Canadian accents. If nothing else, tune in for that. They’re posting new podcasts every day!

2) Being Inducted as an Official Member of “The Nest”

official oiselle

Maybe you saw these on instagram (@sarahoual)? That’s me and Christy, the woman behind putting Oiselle on hangers in stores near you, at the Santa Barbara Marathon Expo. First gig as a hired bird! I love this brand so hard, have enjoyed watching them grow, and feel so grateful to continue to grow along with them. If you have recommendations for shops in SoCal/AZ that need to have Oiselle like, yesterday, let me know! (my story from curious spectator, to groupie, to volee race team member is here. time to add another chapter, I guess)

3) Letting the Data (and DOMS) Back In

track death march

I spent all summer running sans Garmin, enjoying miles without times and just finding a rhythm. The 10k two weeks ago gave me my first “check in” on where my fitness was (higher than I expected but nowhere near it needs to be), and last week’s 10x60s on/off was a good wake up to the legs without the fear of measurements.

Great way to build a base, but now that we’re eight weeks from Carlsbad it’s time to start grinding. This means re-incorporating some of the data. Watch/numberless is great for everyday sanity, but being too anti-data in training can leave you feeling “lost” on race day. Like, “what is goal pace? what’s it feel like? can I even run that fast?” Meghan mentioned this in a comment and I felt that way a bit at Ventura, so we’re finding a balance this cycle. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a significant amount of dread leading up to my oval + data reunion yesterday:


[still in bed] in s’s head: ‘please say no please say no’


s: ‘motherfucker’

* * *

[S walking up to the track] margot: “This probably won’t go well! I feel like crap!”

s: ‘please say you just want to jog a few easy laps…’

m: “I tempo’d like, 10 miles at 7:1x two days ago, I’m probably not going to run very well.”

s: ‘oh good maybe I’ll almost be able to keep up’

s: “…you tempo’d WHAT? holy shit!”

* * *

[after 2nd 800m repeat] s: ‘no way in hell I’m running six of these’

s: “wow this sure is harder than I remember!”

[after 3rd 800] s: ‘I think I’m gonna puke’

m: “I’m kind of surprised my legs feel this good!”

s: “I think I’m gonna puke”

[after 4th 800] s: ‘four is probably enough. let’s cool down early…’

m: “Just two more! Here we go!”

s: “gdrbhgbsldkgh ok”

[after 5th 800] s: “no really I’m going to puke” (doesn’t puke)

[during last 800] s: ‘(100m in) 7 to go! (200m in) 6!… 5!… ohgod… 4!… 3!… c’monc’mon… 2!… don’tpukedon’tpukedon’tpuke… 1!!!’

* * *

And then I let Margot talk the entire first lap of cool down until the nausea subsided. And then I marinated in the post-track endorphin high all damn day. And today I can hardly walk normal. Speedwork success!

I managed 6×800 all around 3:20, and had to fight for each one. It was a smack in the face feeling held back by my lungs rather than my legs, which is how I remember the track – fighting to pick up knees rather than gasping for air. But the times are right on par with where I started Eugene and CIM training, which gives me hope that I’m not starting from too far back. (an example of using data for healthy measurements, rather than deconstructive comparisons) I’m anxious to start seeing improvements!

* * *

Lastly – so much virtual cowbelling to my pal Emily Sweats at JFK 50 miler this weekend! Run smart and hard and don’t fall down too many times. Tried sending 100 chocolate donut holes ahead of you but UPS wouldn’t accept “the finish line” as a ship-to address. Rain check.

Sarah OUaL

The Start of a New-New Training Cycle–Race for the Rescues OC 10K recap

new Evolution of a Fan Girl post up on the Oiselle Blog! check it out –>


* * * *

Yesterday kicked off what I’m considering my “official” training for the Carlsbad Half on January 19th, which if you’re not looking at a calendar, is 10 weeks away. Typically I’d like to go into a shorter cycle like this with a more solid base (weekly mileage 25+, strong core, sound diet, etc), but this time I’ve got something a little different going for me:

A fire under my ass.

That’s not a real tangible asset to catapult head-first into a plan of track workouts, hill repeats, and hard running focused on PR’ing the 13.1, but I’m letting go of some of my Type A and counting on that spark to lead my efforts. I’m getting to the point in my running where huge PRs are going to be hard to come by, and each round of hard work will (likely) be rewarded with shaving seconds, maybe minutes, from previous times.

Not only does this mean I’m going to have to work harder to reap rewards, but I’ll also have to work smarter. Keeping my head screwed on straight, learning from the past, and staying hungry.

(metaphorically, of course, as I am a supporter of keeping the #runger fed and at bay)

This got me reflecting on the great/awful races of my past – strong finishes, lost mental battles, huge PRs, admitting defeat to injury, not taking running too seriously… Looking at what went wrong, what worked, and what I could do this go-round to improve.


Sub140 at M2B, struggling at CLE 10K, 20min PR at Eugene Marathon, after K’s finish and my DNF at CIM, goofing off with Margot at Surf City Half

I’ve come up with Rule #1, of an in-the-works Training Credo, in an attempt to set this cycle off on the right foot.

Look Forward, Not Backward.

Surface meaning: keep your eyes up, you’re passed due for a fall.

Deeper/Emo meaning: I’m sick of fearing the disappointment that comes with sizing my current self up to my old self. It’s so easy to look at the stats from last year’s 8×800 and freeze up under the pressure of trying to match them. To compare how easy 8:00 pace used to feel compared to the huff-puffing I’m doing now. To wonder how the hell I’ll ever run a 6:50 pace for 3.1 straight miles again.

So the next 10 weeks I’ll focus on my process of getting back in shape. Instead of looking at this cycle’s Week One vs another cycle’s Week One, I’m going to focus on Week Two vs Week One. Three vs Two. Measuring progress and seeing gains towards my Carlsbad goal, rather than how far I am from my Personal Best self.

I know, I know, it’s totally genius. Nobody has ever thought this way before. Total new age.

Luckily this all came to me Saturday night, right before Sunday’s Race for the Rescues 10k which I was kind of dreading. I was recalling the pain from Cleveland, imagining how tough it was going to be, picturing myself slogging through those last few miles gasping for air and praying for death. And even though logically I knew I wasn’t in shape to go for a PR, the thought of posting a “slow” time made me not want to run at all.

oiselle team singlet

don’t RACE rundies get everyone excited to run? ps got to see the new Randies this weekend – suuuuper cute. (hint hint, santa…)

But I told myself it would be a good measuring tool for this training cycle. I’d use the time as base-level data (oh come on, I can’t totally un-Type-A), and after a few weeks of hard workouts it’d be exciting to race it again to see how far I’ve come.

And guess what? Duh duh duhnnnn… it worked.



Katrina Parker from s2 of The Voice throwing down a kick ass anthem

Race for the Rescues was a great event – mostly because of all the cute dogs everywhere – but also because I let myself enjoy the race instead of stressing it. I went in without a time expectation, the only plan to run the first 5k controlled and leave enough in the tank for a hard final mile. Whatever that time amounted to would be fine with me.


more Garmin data if you’re into that sorta thing…

I ran most of mile two with a tiny little 5k’er who was dead-set on not letting me pass her. Instead of getting aggravated at her leapfrogging (shhh don’t call me a horrible person) I ran next to her and tried to help push her along. I fell into an easier coasting pace when the crowd thinned for the second lap but didn’t fret the lost time when I saw the slower split at the 4 mile marker. I smiled at the leashed dogs in the walkers crowd, rather than getting angry at them clogging up the course (the race WAS for them, afterall.) I didn’t whine about the “long” course even though my average pace at 6.2 miles would’ve been within seconds of a PR, because that wasn’t the purpose of the race. I wanted to run hard, smart, and enjoy myself, which I did.

(My pal Annette – who placed 3rd overall, btw nbd – talked to RD and he acknowledged a last-minute alteration could’ve screwed up the actual distance. The bones we throw (ha pun) for inaugural events)


lead dog must’ve run a 23-ish 5k, and a thirsty pup mid-race (from Rescue Train’s FB)

Race for the Rescues OC 10K, 11.10.13   –   :48.50

I had a great great time and am (most importantly) really looking forward to getting underway with training. Now to find a mid-season re-test race…

And if you’re wondering, yes I was able to restrain myself at the adoption parade, despite instagram leading you to think otherwise.

Sarah OUaL