Tag Archives: marathon training

Week in Running: 1/27/14-2/2/14

I think I sound like a broken record when I say that this week was another step up in mileage and intensity. I guess most weeks are going to be like that for awhile. And, I couldn’t be happier about that! Coming off of a great race and then some reduced training has me really motivated to work hard and put in the work for Boston! For Rocket City, I had a longer time to build up. It’s a shorter turnaround with Boston and I want to make as much progress as I can in the meantime!

Because I am training hard and very motivated to make progress before Boston, I’m trying to take my easy days and recovery as seriously as possible. I was going to try to lump all the things I do to stay on top of my recovery in this post but it was getting long fast. So another post coming on rest and recovery soon!

This week started off freezing cold, again. I was a little discouraged by last week’s short, hilly tempo in the sub-10 degree weather. This week, I had one more workout in the extreme temps but then things warmed up a bit. I am really not taking 30 degree days for granted right now! These days that almost feels balmy!

Monday: 3 miles very easy in the morning; 6 miles easy with 4x30s pick ups in the afternoon. I took the day off from work since I had worked MLK Day. I am running a 5k this Saturday and was near the course in the morning so I decided to jog the course for my morning run just to get a feel for it. Both runs this day felt good.

Tuesday: 3 miles warm up with strides, 16×1:00 on/off (start around 10k effort and ramp it up), 2 miles cool down. This was a bump from last week’s fartlek of 10×1:00 on/off. Scott told me to run this one by effort and not pay attention to the watch because of the extreme cold this day. I think it was about 12 degrees. I started around 6:20 pace on my fast sections and worked down to sub 6 pretty early on. I didn’t mean to speed up that quickly but alas. I felt smooth at first but about halfway in, I started to experience lactic acid build up in my legs. This was a really odd feeling for me because I hardly ever deal with that to this degree-even in my toughest track workouts! Towards the end of the workout, my legs were locking up by the end of each minute which made it hard to keep running fast. I finished the workout and didn’t positive split, but it made me worry just how much I had lost in my recovery from Rocket City. That day, I was curious about just how big of a role extreme cold plays in running performance and I found this article which specifically mentions lactic acid:¬†http://runneracademy.com/cold-weather-impact-on-running/. I felt a lot better after reading that. When I looked at my data later, my heart rate averaged in the upper 160s for each interval which confirmed that I really wasn’t working that hard and the perceived difficulty was due primarily to the lactic acid.

Wednesday: 3 miles very easy in the morning, 6 miles easy after work. It was 5 degrees for my morning run. That made it easy to keep to the ‘very easy’ part of my plan. I ended up getting a later start than I wanted to for my evening run. That made me a bit antsy to get it out of the way and that almost always results in the run seeming to take even longer. I was really slow for the 2nd run. The effort felt like a normal easy run effort but it was definitely slower than my usual easy run. I think I was feeling the prior day’s fartlek in my legs.

Thursday: 8 miles with 10 hill blasts; It was 9 degrees for this run and I admit to being pretty disheartened when I checked the weather that morning. I run my hill blasts entirely by effort but I could tell they were slightly slower this week, probably (hopefully) due to the cold.

Friday: 2 mile warm up with strides, 8x800m at 3:10 with 400m jog recovery, 1 mile cool down. In case anyone (dad ūüôā ) isn’t familiar with track workout lingo, that is 8 repeats of 2 times around the track (800 meters, or half a mile) with 1 time around the track (400 meters, or a quarter of a mile) as a jog recovery between each 800 meter interval. I ended up running 2:57, 3:07, 3:07, 3:06, 3:06, 3:06, 3:06, and 3:06. I clearly way overshot the effort on the first one and was able to dial it back for the last ones. 800 workouts used to be my nemesis but the last two I’ve done have been great. This felt like the first real indicator of how my fitness was doing. Since my fartlek on Tuesday and my tempo the week before were done in such extreme temps, I wasn’t sure where my fitness was. This workout felt really good and strong and I felt a bit of a confidence boost that things are heading in the right direction.

Saturday: 19 miles over a hilly route. I’m fairly certain that 19 mile runs are never going to feel like quick little jaunts but they’ve gotten better for me. I have worked hard on being patient with them which actually works to make them pass by more quickly (imagine that!). I ran through some of Nashville’s hilliest neighborhoods which was good as far as the goal of the run was concerned, but it was tough! I got rolling pretty quickly and didn’t ease into the pace like I sometimes do on long runs. The first half I stayed around the 8-8:15 range but moved into the 7:40-7:55 range for the 2nd half. A bit faster than I normally do long runs but still far enough away from marathon pace to not be overdoing it.

Sunday: 6 very easy. I was pretty proud of this run. I took it extremely easy and made sure to keep my heart rate low. My heart rate stayed in the 130s and lower 140s which is perfect for a recovery run. Because I had done a track workout followed by a hilly long run, I wanted to be smart with this run and use it as recovery and not do any more damage. I really prefer active recovery over rest days because I feel like it helps my muscles recover more quickly and I feel less stiff and sore.

Total Mileage For the Week:  73


Week in Running: 1/13/14-1/19/14

Last week is the first week I really felt like I was starting to get into the groove of training. Even though I was only sick a few days, it was a tiny little bump in the road on my way to getting back to training. This past week, I had slightly more intensity and did some faster running than I’ve done since the marathon. It felt so nice to run fast again, especially because it didn’t feel terrible and I didn’t feel totally out of shape! I’ve got a long way to go and it’s an effort to stay patient, but last week was encouraging.

Monday: 8 miles easy with 6x30s pick ups. My dad brought to my attention that I should probably explain my workout terminology a little bit better. 6x30s means I did six strides during my run of 30 seconds each. If you’re unfamiliar with strides, this is a fairly good article to read:¬†http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/add-strides-your-next-run. I usually do mine sprinkled into my run, but a lot of people do them after and sometimes I do that, too. It just depends. This run felt great. I just felt really smooth and it felt effortless and fun.

Tuesday: 10 miles easy; One thing I’ve learned over and over is how different you can feel from day to day (or even from morning to night on double days!). I felt great the day before but this run I felt flat and 10 miles felt so long.

Wednesday: 3 miles easy with strides (I did 4), 10 hill blasts, 2 miles easy; Hill blasts are short sprints at an all out, 100% effort up a short, steep hill. I shoot for about 10 seconds as hard as I can go. I focus on good form and turning my legs over. After each hill blast, I jog slowly for 2 minutes and do it again. These are new to my training this cycle, but are great for speed and fitness and will be an asset for training for Boston. I will probably switch to a steeper hill down the road but I’m enjoying getting into the groove with this workout. One thing to note is that 10 hill blasts were a lot harder than last week’s 6. Ended up with 7.75 miles for this day.

Thursday: 9 mile natural progression run; starting nice and easy and working down towards 7 effort. I LOVE progression runs. They’re my favorite. I guess it’s kind of the lazy man’s favorite workout because you get time to naturally warm up, usually they’re fairly unstructured (not always) and you can gradually speed up. I love that I start slow and feel like I’m flying by the end, but I don’t feel like I’m dying. I went a little fast on this one unintentionally, but loved getting the wheels moving again. These runs are a nice transition to harder training and more intensity. Splits were: 8:54, 8:14, 7:56, 7:37, 7:22, 7:12, 7:05, 6:56, 6:49 and last .14 was 6:16 pace (down a hill).

Friday: 6 miles very easy

Saturday: 16 miles; if feeling good I could drop it down to a steadier, 7:30 effort the last 3-4;¬†I felt really great and strong for most of this. I’ve been running a bit faster on my long runs and I am guessing it’s just because I don’t have much, if any, cumulative fatigue built up yet at this point in training. I am not intentionally picking it up but it’s hard to slow down once I’ve gotten rolling.¬†The last couple of miles were tough. My legs were tired and I wanted to be done. I really truly meant to keep the last four miles slower but had trouble putting on the brakes. Gotta get more disciplined with that. My last four miles were: 7:25, 7:28, 7:26, 7:22. This training cycle I want to be more disciplined and not run much faster than the effort or paces I’m given. An important lesson I’ve had to learn is to not race my workouts because then I have nothing to give on race day.

Sunday: 0-6 very easy. I ended up going with six. Felt really good besides some left calf/behind the knee soreness. My boyfriend always pokes fun at me because I almost always do the max if I’m given a range. One day he asked me how many miles I was going to do and he said, almost angrily, “Are you EVER just going to do zero?” My philosophy so far with this has been, I’m going to listen to my body as much as I can. I don’t cut myself a lot of slack so I’m generally not going to take a day just because I feel lazy. But, if I feel like my body really genuinely needs me to do less miles or even zero, then I will. I’ve found that active recovery really works for me. Getting out and doing some very easy miles seems to help me recover better than not running at all.

Total Miles for the Week: 63.5

Slowly climbing in the mileage and intensity. I maxed out last training cycle at 79 miles for a Monday-Sunday week (though I went over 80 on a 7 day stretch a couple of times). It’s important that I not rush right back up to the 80 range or I could risk injury. I really enjoyed some variety in my workouts last week and am starting to feel like I’m getting back into training again.

Week in Running: 1/6/14-1/12/14

Whoops. I just (re)started this blog and I’m already behind.

I am easing back into training for Boston. At first, I panicked at the reduced mileage but I’ve come to appreciate the time. It’s given my body a chance to recuperate, I feel much fresher, and it’s a chance for a mental reset. My first week after the marathon I only ran every other day (that was tough!) and ran not quite 16 miles. The next week back, I had one rest day and ran 40.8 miles. Then, the next week I ran every day and logged 51.8 miles.

Last week, I had a minor setback as I came down with some kind of cold. I ended up only missing one day of running but it meant a few extra easy days.

Here was last week’s training:

Monday: Coach said to run 0-4 and if I had a fever at all to not run. This was the only day I took off. I felt like I was on the mend but I felt so drained. Decided my body probably needed the rest.

Tuesday: 8 easy miles; felt surprisingly good after being sick.

Wednesday: 10 miles easy with 6x30s strides; it felt really nice to get out there and run a little bit longer.

Thursday:¬†3 miles with 4x30s strides, 6xhill blasts and 3 miles cool down; it has taken me awhile to get into the groove with hill blasts. I struggled to find the right hill initially, one that was short enough and steep enough. Hill blasts are 10 seconds at 100% up a short steep hill. As someone who is more long distance minded, I’m not accustomed to running at 100% ever. It’s deeply ingrained for me to conserve! So, it’s actually been kind of fun to do these. However, I had 10 instead of 6 this week and that was significantly harder!

Friday: 8 miles easy

Saturday: 15 miles with 11.2 on the Percy Warner 11.2 (infamous for its crazy hard hills); I did the 11.2 the week before and had a bad experience. I felt okay during the run but at the end felt truly awful. Now I realize I was getting sicker that day and the sickness really took hold of me that evening. This week was much better. I ran the first 4 miles up and down Belle Meade Blvd before doing the 11.2. The hills are brutal and sometimes relentless, but I finished feeling really strong which was a nice contrast to the week before.

Sunday: 4 miles very easy

Total Mileage for the Week: 53.1

Next week maybe I’ll try to get my training up before it’s almost time to document the next week’s training!

My Marathon Playlist

One of the most motivating things I’ve found for races is a playlist with new, upbeat, fun music. I used the same playlist of 57 tracks since a half marathon in September. I’ve trained to those same tracks for every run since then. I don’t even hear the music anymore, honestly. There are only a few songs that catch my attention (Baby Come Home by Scissor Sisters being one of my faves). Most of the time it’s just background noise. When I ran said half marathon in September, I couldn’t be more surprised by how much the new playlist I put together motivated me and made the race fun. So I decided to build a marathon playlist for this race and then not use it until race day. My running music preferences are much different than my regular music listening preferences. I love oldies, super upbeat guilty pleasure mainstream pop stuff…kind of tired of rap these days (at least the popping bottles/I’m so rich variety), but some of my fave running songs make an appearance.

Because sharing is caring, I am giving y’all a glimpse at my playlist. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!!


Don't judge me, Dad

Don’t judge me, Dad


Marathon Training (and oh yeah… I suck at blogging)

I’ve been wanting to post and wanting to post and totally intending to post…and then…nothing. It’s daunting. I want this to be a legit blog and I want a place to talk about running. But then I think about the less fun parts of that, like feeling pressure to add a bunch of pictures to posts, because god forbid people just read a big long section of text. Gotta add pictures to keep things interesting.

This one time I saw a hawk on my run.

This one time I saw a hawk on my run.

Anyway, but here we are. Less than a week from my first marathon. And there’s a lot I want to say about it! So here we go!

It was a really cool hawk.

It was a really cool hawk.

The last time I posted was a race recap in…November. Yikes. At my own defense, my man friend came home shortly after that and since he’s frequently out on the road for long stretches at a time, I’ve been spending as much time with him as I can before he jets off again next month (for 6 weeks!! Ahhhh!).

Marathon training has been… a lot of things. Exhausting. Renewing. Discouraging. Encouraging. Overwhelming. Affirming. It’s had its ups and downs. But here we are, less than a week away and I just feel so ready. I feel prepared and confident. I remember months ago being legitimately scared about the race. I had read too many running blogs and too many horror stories. It’s amazing how few marathon recaps you can find where it actually sounds like an enjoyable and fulfilling experience (I mean, yes, you’re running 26.2 miles, but there has to be some enjoyment or what’s the point?). I read about someone’s kidneys shutting down once because they didn’t properly fuel/hydrate and that about scarred me for life.

I think I'd like to keep my kidneys functioning properly, thanks

I think I’d like to keep my kidneys functioning properly, thanks

At first, the long runs were getting to me. I faced almost every Saturday with fear at the beginning because the long runs were mentally AND, of course, physically challenging. It seemed like the first few miles of every long run were just misery. I think it was the knowledge that I still had so far to go in those beginning miles. It was just getting to me. I managed to find my way out of that, though, and by the end of marathon training, my long runs are my best and absolutely most motivating/rejuvenating/affirming runs. What helped? Well, a couple of things stick out in my head:


  • I remember reading once about how much harder marathons are than half marathons and feeling a bit indignant internally because, hello, running 13.1 miles is no joke. But here’s the thing: marathons ARE a lot harder than half marathons in some obvious ways. Like, you know, distance and endurance and mental toughness. Half marathons are a great balance, in my opinion, because you can really focus on both endurance and speed. The speed thing is harder for the marathon because it’s a whole new pacing strategy and the increased mileage wears the body down much more.
  • I honestly just had to keep trucking through. That’s the hard part-it would be easy to quit (except I’m an extreme type A perfectionist so quitting is not something I generally let myself do) during those first few weeks where the long runs are building. It’s an adjustment. You’re building your base. You’re getting your body used to it. Sometimes it kind of sucks. Stick it out. If you keep plugging away and getting your weekly mileage in too, it will pay off.

Let go of the numbers

  • Then, I got a Garmin watch. This was a blessing for many reasons-it’ll give me an easy way to pace myself during the marathon (instead of craning my neck trying to see the numbers on the Nike+ app on my phone, not so conveniently strapped to my arm). It also gave me a chance to do heart rate training and really take those recovery runs seriously.
  • However, the Garmin watch led to a bit of numbers obsessing. Particularly¬†because every single run on the Garmin was shorter than Nike+. I felt deceived! I felt ashamed! I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was! Shit!
  • A few weeks ago, I turned off the voice feedback on my Nike+ app. I had thought I’d do it just for one particular workout that I was struggling with mentally (12 miles on a Wednesday morning before work is intense and tough to prepare for mentally). I haven’t turned it back on since. When I feel like knowing my pace, I can look at my watch. But it’s given me such freedom and I think it’s made a big difference in the last few weeks of marathon training.
  • Moral of the story is: if this is your first marathon or even if it’s not but you find yourself discouraged: let go of the numbers. Give yourself a break. You’re training for a f**ing marathon, okay? You kick ass. Whether you run a 12 minute mile or a 5 minute mile (asshole…just kidding…), you still kick ass. 26.2 miles is NO freaking joke.

So, following along that same path, I was discouraged for awhile during marathon training. I thought I was losing speed. I actually felt sometimes like I was somehow losing fitness despite running 50+ miles a week, every week. That was complete and utter bullshit and if I had really let myself off the hook and thought about it more, I would’ve come to this conclusion: I was running 5 days a week, over 50 miles a week. I was also continuing my strength training routine of 2 days a week, an hour each time. I was putting enormous amounts of stress on my body and not always (ever) getting 8 hours of sleep at night (hard to do that when you’re waking at 5 to go running!). My body needed to ease off the speed and just adjust to the increased load. Of course I slowed down! Of course.

This photo is in no way relevant but I took this picture in December at the park where I do my speed work and couldn't stop laughing at this bald spot on this tree. I went and inspected it closely and it seriously had no lights there. They weren't out. They just weren't there.

This photo is in no way relevant but I took this picture in December at the park where I do my speed work and couldn’t stop laughing at this bald spot on this tree. I went and inspected it closely and it seriously had no lights there. They weren’t out. They just weren’t there.

Since turning off the voice feedback AND starting taper, my speed has come back. All of a sudden, all at once. A month ago, a 7:30 pace was feeling HARD. It was tough to sustain. I’m back to feeling like that’s a more comfortable zone for me. Hallelujah!

Took this pic on a run pre-Christmas. Really beautiful Christmas decorating. A+++

Took this pic on a run pre-Christmas. Really beautiful Christmas decorating. A+++

My long runs have vastly improved. After struggling with the long runs, I finally got a place where I was enjoying them and feeling mentally strong. Then, the weekly mileage started to get me down. A typical week might look something like this during the peak of training:

Monday: Run 8 miles before work
1 mile on treadmill before Sculpt
Sculpt (1 hour total body strength training class…intense)

Tuesday: Recovery run, usually 5-7 miles

Wednesday: Medium long run of the week, usually 11-12 miles

Thursday: Speed work, usually 6-8 miles, before work
1 mile on treadmill before Sculpt

Saturday: Long run (shortest was 12 on a recovery week, longest was 22)

I was running so many miles during the week and so many days in a row that I was just totally exhausted. I like to run first thing in the morning but waking up early enough to fit the longer runs in meant I wasn’t getting enough sleep. And I was stubbornly sticking to Friday as a rest day although it probably would’ve been smarter to switch the rest day around to break some of that up.

Pre-22 miler. Seriously nervous. Thinking, 'wait why do people do this again?'

Really f-ing nervous about running 22 miles. Thinking, ‘wait why do people do this again?’ (yes I wear the same thing pretty much on every long run)

Anyway-eventually it all started to fall into place. If you read much about marathon training, you’ve probably seen people say that when you finally feel like you’re hitting your stride and you can handle it all, it’s time to taper. That definitely happened to me. It was all clicking and then it was time to cut back.

This was kind of my Everest but I did it!!

This was kind of my Everest but I did it!! Don’t stalk me, please.

It’s been a seemingly long journey. I’ve worked my ass off. It’s been incredibly difficult but so so affirming. The last several long runs I did were so great for my confidence. I coached myself through them. Gave myself pep talks. “This is a journey. You’re gonna be running for 3 hours. There’s no way around that. Might as well chill.” Every long run is almost like a little journey itself, as corny as that sounds. It has its own ups and downs. I started to recognize that. Before, I’d panic when I hit a bad spot. I’d freak out and worry the rest of the run was going to suck and “oh god, I have 10 miles to go, can I handle the suck for 10 more miles?” I started to tell myself, “this is a bad patch. You’ll get through it. You always do.” And you know what? It worked!

So here we are. Less than a week until the race. I thought I’d be terrified. But I feel so ready! I’m excited! I want to call myself a marathoner! Of course, I’m trying to remind myself it’s still 26.2 miles. The furthest I’ve gone is 22. Those last 4 miles will be uncharted territory. I have to be smart. I need to pace well. Not go out too fast. Hydrate enough. Fuel properly. There are a lot of variables to consider. But after months of trials and setbacks and triumphs, it’s almost time. I kind of can’t believe it’s almost really here. I’ll let y’all know how it goes…

Got this Oiselle Rogas shorts for the marathon that all you peeps are talking up...don't let me down!

Got these Oiselle Roga shorts for the marathon that all you peeps are talking up…don’t let me down!