Rachel Hickey Speaks: Facing The “Spring” Break Training

Facing the Elements: "Spring" Break Training Update

Mother Nature may not believe it's spring, but the calendars certainly say so! Spring Break felt more like Winter Break; however, I definitely brought the heat with my training. I logged a total of 48.9 miles over my 10-day break, taking a day off for the Easter Holiday. While to some this mileage may not be the most impressive, for me this was monumental. My training style has always consisted of more speed and less miles, but with my endurance improving as it has (I recently lowered my 3200m PR by 41 seconds), a couple extra miles sure doesn't hurt! In fact, I whole-heartedly feel this has been the best training week of my season thus far, and I only plan on continuing the grind further. Since I haven't posted an update in some time now, here's what I can say about my progress: I'm strong, I'm healthy, and most importantly, I'm hungry for so much more.

Spring Break Training: 3/30-4/7-

Friday March 30
My workout plan for this very first day of break stated simply "5 miles OR 50 minutes". I opted for the 50 minutes, going strictly off feel. As it turns out, I felt pretty darn good that day. I ended up going 7.19 miles on the day at an average pace of 6:45/mile. From the start, I felt comfortable, smooth, and fast and continued that momentum throughout the course of the run. I still fed off the confidence high I had gained just a few days prior from my big 3200m race at Mendota. I finished the workout off with a few barefoot strides in my backyard, since the weather happened to be favorable that day. I kicked off my spring break right!
Daily Mileage: 7.19 

Saturday March 31
I woke up to very strong winds pounding against my window that morning, which in no way helped motivate me to complete my assigned hill circuit. However, after a few minutes of mental debating, I found the internal drive to get out of bed and put these hills behind me. I started with a comfortable 1.5-mile warmup to reach the location of the loop. Once there, I did 5 x .4-mile hill circuits with an extra hard, fast straight hill to top it all off. While the wind certainly did not make my workout any more enjoyable, I actually did not mind the extra challenge. I ran the same 1.5-mile route back home to top off the day and did some much needed recovery at home (20 minute foam roll).
Daily Mileage: 5.17

Sunday April 1
In my family, Easter Sunday is viewed as a universal day of rest and faith. I have never done a workout on Easter, or Christmas for that matter. I always take the day to recover and relax, and of course attend a beautiful church service at Valparaiso University, my brother's home. Time spent with family is never time wasted, and I hope everyone had a great holiday and spent time with their families!
Daily Mileage: N/A

Monday April 2
Like many other teams across the state, the Lady Cavs had a meet scheduled for the following day (Tuesday). So, my workout plan for the day was very straightforward: pre-meet preparation. I ended up only running 3.2 miles that morning. I simply just was not feeling the run that morning, and that is perfectly okay. You can't have your best day every day, so I took it in stride and moved forward with the day. I did finish off the planned workout with four extended accelerations in my neighborhood but took the rest of the day to stretch out, roll out, and recover as much as I could for the scheduled meet the following day. Little did I know that Mother Nature was going to disapprove…
Daily Mileage: 3.5

Tuesday April 3
Well, well, well… my pre-meet workout ended up being for nothing. At the last minute, our planned meet was cancelled by our AD, which made scheduling a workout for the day to be taxing. My plan originally was to get many more miles in on the day, for I was supposed to run both the mile in the 4x1600m relay and the 800m in the distance medley relay, with the usual 4x400m to bring it all together. With my typical warmups and cool downs in chillier weather, my day would have totaled over 7 miles; however, I hardly got 2 in on the day. I arranged a last minute meeting with my speed/strength coach, who gave me a lighter workout, knowing that my workout tomorrow would not be an easy one. We completed a mile warmup, agility drills to focus on speed, and 10x100m into the wind. For the 100s, we ran approximately 70-80% of the distance at 85% effort. At a certain point, we'd shift gears to an all-out sprint through the line. Add in another half-mile cool down and my day was done.
Daily Mileage: 2.5

Wednesday April 4
I woke up feeling sort of guilty for my lighter workout the day before, so I opted to do doubles today. I began my day with an easy 4.2 miles on the treadmill at an average pace of 7:19 (30-minute run). I followed that up with 30 minutes of weight lifting: 5x10 bench press @ 75lbs., 3x10 curls, 5x10 seated dips, and core. I didn't want to do anything overly taxing because my planned workout for the day was certainly not an easy one. My track workout was done later that evening, again with my speed coach before he left me for the warm temperatures of Arizona.

At the end of the day, I was incredibly grateful to have him there for this one, because it was a doozy!! AND I happened to pick the windiest day of break to do timed intervals… real smart, Rachel. My coach wanted me to do the following workout: a 1 mile warmup (of course), a 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400 all at 5-minute mile pace, and another mile of cool down. Considering the wind factor, my marks were fairly spot on! The "goal" paces were a 1:15 for the 400s, 2:30 for the 800s, and a 3:45 for the 1200. My marks were: 1:10, 2:31, 4:05, 2:35, 1:12, with a walking lap of recovery in between each interval. While I didn't quite hit every spot on the nose, I had quite a few positive takeaways from the workout: 1. I physically recovered very quickly between the intervals 2. The effort was there: you seriously CANNOT underestimate the power of that wind! 3. I left knowing I gave everything I had that day 4. I never once gave up No one technically forced me to do this workout, while it was in my plan. I CHOSE to do it, and at the end of the day, that's what will make a difference come May. Always choose to complete your workouts, no matter how much you're dreading them.
Daily Mileage: 9.5

Thursday April 5
Today was a fun-filled day of recovery--and WOW did I need that! I completely underestimated how sore I was going to be following that monster track session yesterday. So I called up my friend to help me survive a 9-mile recovery run. She willingly biked alongside me as a ran for over an hour (veryyyy comfortable pace) and chatted with me about various and mostly pointless things. I tend to find these runs the most enjoyable, as good friends make everything better! I can honestly say 9.06 miles goes by rather quickly when you've got a buddy to do it with!
Daily Mileage: 9.06

Friday April 6
Mentally, Friday was nothing short of a struggle. By this point, I was so sick of the weather, and as a result, I procrastinated my run until almost 7pm! I ended up resorting to more dreadmill miles to avoid the bitter cold winds that awaited me outside. Once I ran, I felt great! My mind was completely cleared of any nagging thoughts, and physically I felt very strong. 5.25 miles at an average of 7:10 (6:40 final 1.5 miles). I also got off the treadmill and did a few extra sprints on the small indoor "track" at the gym just because mu legs felt so strong and my stride so smooth. While it may have been difficult to get moving, once I ran I certainly did not regret it. I know for a fact I'm addicted to running because it truly turns your whole day around! I just can't seem to get that kind of joy out of anything else. Oh, also, run with some quality music every now and then! I had only planned on doing 3-4 miles that day, but my tunes kept me going for another 1.25! All in all, a very solid day!
Daily Mileage: 5.25

Saturday April 7
Today marks my final day of spring break training, for Sundays always seem to be my recovery days. I opted to do a short, intense workout instead of shooting for higher mileage today. Again, I succumbed to the dread mill (I admit my weakness!), but I still managed to put another quality workout in my legs. I did an intense 3 miles at an average pace of 6:30, progressing gradually from a 7-minute pace to a 6-minute pace. I completed the 3 miles in exactly 19:30, which makes me long for cross country season again. If I can comfortably crank out a 19:30 in practice, I'm confident that there's so much more in me for cross! I guess we will just have to wait until I'm a Redbird to see what I got on the grass! I also decided to lift legs today, even though they were still pretty sore from Wednesday's workout. I haven't done legs in the longest time, so I knew I needed to do them. I completed 100 reps of both hip adductors and abductors, 100 reps of leg presses at 195lbs., and a set of walking lunges with 20lbs. weights in each hand. By the end of the workout, my body knew it needed a break, but I thoroughly enjoy that feeling of fatigue at the end of a workout. I know that I put in a series of quality workouts over break, and my body will thank me for it later in May, I just know it!
Daily Mileage: 3.1

I chose to look at everything from a very optimistic viewpoint this week, and it has truly paid off for me. I am extremely confident and ready to race! I am also just overall happier with where I am and where I'm going, which truly speaks volumes for me after the mental struggles I faced most of last spring. With a positive mindset, anything is achievable, and I am learning that as I go. Next up, I will be competing this Friday (4/13) at the Fricke ABC Invite in Ottawa with my team, and I have never been more excited to race! Hopefully this time, Mother Nature allows the meet to go on!