Chicago Marathon Training: Week Two + Heart Update

Post-race medal photo!

Post-race medal photo!

My second week of training for Chicago was jam-packed with some really exciting things that I’m happy to share (with anyone who cares)!

My Bitty Heart

First, after doing a stress echocardiogram on Monday, my cardiologist cleared me for running. For the past two months I’ve been going through some tests at the hospital to figure out the cause of my chest pain during my April half marathon. After an abnormal EKG, my primary care physician referred me to a cardiologist for further testing. I had a normal echocardiogram done which showed I have an AV conduction delay. At first my cardiologist wasn’t sure why this was showing up, as it’s usually more common in elderly people, not athletic 24-year-old women, but with further testing and the stress echo, he concluded the conduction delay was actually a result of me having a healthy runner’s heart. After reviewing blood work, he told me, “I think you should just keep running.” Yay! I haven’t had any issues with chest pain since the half in April so I think it’s safe to say I can now fully dedicate myself to training hard for Chicago.

Firecracker 4-Miler

Another bit of good news from last week is that I won my first ever age group award at a local Firecracker 4-miler on the Fourth of July! It was quite a surprise, and I will probably write another post about it since I did everything wrong leading up to the race and somehow managed setting a 5-minute 4-mile PR and came in second in my age group. Adam came in second overall and I couldn’t have been more proud of him!

Hardest Run Ever

One other thing to share is not really good but I just wanted to put it out there- I ran the hardest 8-miler of my life on Saturday. We decided to go on an adventure run through the Trexler Nature Preserve. Adam ran this a few weeks ago and he said it was tough (his average pace slowed by two minutes which is saying a lot because he’s wicked fast) but man, it felt impossible to me! It was a humbling experience but worth it for the beautiful views of Pennsylvania hills and we got to run through a river!

That’s all the news I have for now! Here’s a recap of my workouts last week:

Monday, June 30 – Rest

I had my stress echo at the hospital at 2:00 p.m. so I had to miss the yoga class at work. However, the echo included about 20-minutes of walking/running on a steep inclined treadmill.

Tuesday, July 1- 4 miles, easy + Strength Training

It was a warm and humid run out there this morning, even at 5:30 a.m.! I was happy to run in the morning before work though because any other time would have been impossible. My pace was a little slower than I would’ve liked, especially the first mile, but I think that was due to the humidity and my legs still feeling a little sore/sluggish.

Plan: 4 miles, easy (10:00/mile)
Actual: 4 miles in 35:25 at 8:51/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4
Conditions: 70 degrees, 78% humidity

Wednesday, July 2- 5 miles, hill repeats

I had to do hills today so I decided to do 5x100m hill sprints. It was a humid morning though- at 5 a.m. it was already 75 degrees with a real feel of 81. I was soaked by the time my run was done!

Plan: 5 miles, hills
Actual: 4.91 miles with 5x100m hill sprints in 43:58 at 8:57/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4
Conditions: 75 degrees, 87% humidity

Thursday, July 3- Strength Training

Oiselle “Dozen” Ab Workout + Ankle strengthening exercises

Friday, July 4- Firecracker 4-miler (+ 0.5-mile warm-up for 4.5 miles total)

Well this was a huge surprise! Adam and I registered for this race the day of and I wasn’t planning on “racing” it at all- I just wanted an excuse to wear my 4th of July themed #RUNootd. I ended up setting a 5-minute 4-miler PR, won second in my age group, and ran my fastest mile yet.

Plan: 5 miles, easy (according to my training plan)
Actual: 4 miles in 30:55 at 7:43/mile average (plus 0.5-mile warm up)
Splits: 7:48, 7:43, 8:26, 6:55

Shoes: Nike LunarGlide 6

Saturday, July 5- 7.9 miles, trails

This was arguably the hardest run of my life. I ran through Trexler Nature Preserve on trails and it was difficult. The climbs on this run were crazy and I had to walk most of the hills. It was also incredibly hot!

Plan: 5 miles, easy (according to training plan)
Actual: 8 miles, trails

Shoes: Nike Zoom Kiger trail shoes

Sunday, July 6- 11 miles, easy

My legs were absolutely dead from the race Friday and the trail run Saturday so this was a long, slow slog. Once I actually started running I felt good but I was pretty unmotivated and tired so I didn’t get out the door until much later than I would have liked.

Plan: 12 miles, easy
Actual: 11 miles in 1:45:29 at 9:35/mile average

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4

Weekly Mileage Total: 32 miles

Chicago Marathon Training: Week One

Photo from running in York Harbor, Maine with Adam. (Photo credit: Adam K.)

Photo from running in York Harbor, Maine with Adam. (Photo credit: Adam K.)

The first week of training went pretty well! Despite it being incredibly hot and humid I was able to get all of my runs done. I was a little disappointed to only be able to get one strength training session in but my schedule unfortunately didn’t allow for any wiggle room. I had a really great first “long” run and I was relieved because for some reason I was a little nervous. This upcoming week I’m hoping to get in more early morning runs and strength sessions than last week. Happy running!

Monday, June 23 – Yoga

XT – 45 minutes of Vinyasa Flow Yoga

A nice and easy Vinyasa Flow yoga class to kick off week one of training for the Chicago Marathon!

Tuesday, June 24 – 4.28 miles

I ran with the local running store tonight and Saucony was there wear-testing shoes. It was perfect because I’ve been thinking about adding a more cushioned shoe into my rotation for training and they were testing the Ride 7. It was much more stable than I’m used to (I typically run in the Mirage 4) but it felt good and I think it will be good for long runs and easy runs. Other than that the run was good. I went a little too fast to start, first mile ticked off at 7:59, but it was a hot one so I dialed in the pace for the rest of the run.

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4.28 miles in 37:35 at 8:46/mile pace

Shoes: Saucony Ride 7
Conditions: 85 degrees, sunny, humid

Wednesday, June 25- 4 miles

I ran up 10th Street for this workout (500 ft. elevation gain over a mile). It was the first time I ran it in months so it was pretty hard. I walked a lot but I got to the top and the downhill was so great.

Plan- 4 miles, hills
Actual- 4 miles in 36:42 (0.6-mile warmup, 1-mile up, 1-mile down, cool down)

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4
Conditions: 84 degrees (real feel 93) with 90 percent humidity

Thursday, June 26- 4 miles

I was testing out some treadmills for work today so I ran two miles on one treadmill and another two miles on the other. I was actually relieved to run indoors because the humidity has been absolutely killing me lately and unfortunately my schedule this week hasn’t allowed for early morning runs.

Plan- 4 miles, easy
Actual- 4 miles in 35:xx minutes (8:45/mile)

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4
Conditions: Air conditioned, indoors

Friday, June 27- Strength

Strength Training -

  • “The Dozen” Ab Workout
  • Ankle strengthening exercises – single leg lunges, single leg squats, hamstring curls with a stability ball
  • Arm exercises

Saturday, June 28- 4 miles

Just ran an easy shakeout run before my Sunday long run. Did an out and back near my house. It was really humid and I waited way too late to head out.

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4 miles in 35:40 at 8:55/mile

Shoes: Nike Volmero 2
Conditions: HOT

Sunday, June 29- 10 miles

This was one of the best long runs I’ve had in quite some time. My pace was extremely even, I even had enough energy to pick it up for the final two miles. I ran on the Saucon Rail Trail path because it’s incredibly flat and just about the only flat terrain around where I live. I wanted to run long on flat terrain because Chicago is going to be much flatter than anything I’m used to running. While I’m still incorporating hills into my weekly workouts, I want to also incorporate some long, flat runs as well to practice running on similar terrain as Chicago.

Plan: 10 miles at 10:00/mile pace
Actual: 10 miles in 1:33:xx at 9:18/mile
Nutrition:

  • Prerun: 1 everything bagel with butter an hour before the run, 1 cup of coffee, water.
  • During: 1 vanilla bean Gu 6 miles into the run, water
  • Postrun: 1 32oz Gatorade and Brunch with friends!

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux (still waiting for my new Saucony Ride 7s to come in)
Conditions: 63 degrees to start, humid, sunny

Mileage total: 26.28

Also, with my new Nike+ Sportswatch I’m now on Nike+.com. Add me as a friend if you’re on there too!

The Start of Chicago Marathon Training

(Source: Etsy.com although it's no longer available. Womp womp.)

(Source: Etsy.com although it’s no longer available. Womp womp.)

I love the beginning of a new training cycle.

Similar to the first day of school, a new training cycle is filled with opportunity. There are goals on the line and the hope of success at the finish. There’s also room for mistakes, meaning plenty of opportunities to learn. Sometimes you don’t feel completely prepared at the start but to me that’s the beauty of training for a marathon. You can plan for everything but then the unexpected can happen.

Yesterday marked day one of training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon. While I feel prepared in the logistical sense – I have a training plan and goals – I’m not sure my fitness is where it should be at the start of marathon training. After my failure of a spring goal race in April, I took it easy (maybe a little too easy) and I think I got a little out of shape. I spent the winter and spring training for a just-out-of-reach half marathon time goal. While I felt overly prepared going into that training cycle, I lost sight of the smaller things like taking easy runs easy, not pushing the pace too much in workouts, remembering to stretch, and more. Forgetting those things during training turned my just-out-of-reach goal into a completely out of reach goal.

That’s not going to happen for Chicago. In Chicago, I know I’m going to reach my goal. I’m going to train hard but not overtrain. I’m going to stretch and listen to my body and not push myself when it’s telling me to take it easy. I’m going to challenge myself in workouts. Wake up early for long midweek mileage. Eat right. Get enough sleep. At least that’s the plan for now.

More than all of these plans and goals I want to have fun with this training cycle. Training through the summer can be miserable, hard and really test the dedication of even the most determined runner. But with my last training cycle I pushed myself too hard and began resenting (even hating, sometimes) running. I don’t want that this time around.

I love the beginning of a new training cycle because of the opportunity but also the unknown. Good luck to everyone training for Chicago!

Goals for #ChiTown 2014

ChiTrainingPlan

Sub-4:00 training plan from runnersworld.com.

I feel like I’ve been thinking about a fall marathon since January. Actually, I know I have. It’s always funny to me that after finishing one race, I immediately start thinking about the next. It happened to me when I crossed the finish at my first marathon at Big Sur last year and it happened to me after Marine Corps in October.

But I needed a mental break from marathon training. I wanted to take the spring off to try to get faster by running half marathons and shorter distances. My plan almost worked and I definitely got faster, but more than that, my mental vacation was just what I needed to get excited about training for a marathon again. And, man, am I excited for Chicago!

Now, here I am, with about a month to go before training starts and I’m already setting my goals. It might seem a bit early but most of my goals for Chicago are more “habit changers” than race goals. I won’t really know my race goals until closer to October 12, but I do know there are some changes I want to make to the way I train this time around that need to be set in place before training even begins.

  1. Sub-4:00 – Ok, so here’s my one “race goal” so far. I want to cross the finish at Chicago with a 3:xx:xx on my watch. Right now I have no idea what the xx:xx part of that time is going to be, I just want to see a 3 at the beginning. My current PR is 4:07:06 which I set a Marine Corps (26 minutes faster than my first marathon) and I’ve made leaps and bounds in terms of fitness and speed since then so we’ll see what I can do in the next 20 weeks.
  2. Become a morning workout person – This is going to be crucial for training during the warm and humid summer months. I’m lucky enough to be able to run during lunch at work but during the summer a lunch run can feel more like a burden than a blessing. I’d like to try to run before work at least two times a week. This is not going to be easy because I relish the fact that I can sleep in until 7 a.m. but I need to make it happen.
  3. Stop doing so many doubles – In past training cycles I’ve broken up many of my workouts in an effort to get the miles in. For example, if my training plan says “Run 9 miles with 6×800″ I’ll probably run the 6×800 with a 1-mile warmup and cooldown during lunch and then finish up the mileage after work. This is ok every now and then but you really don’t get the benefits of the full workout. I mainly do this because I’m not speedy enough to run 9 miles during lunch but I’m hoping that by trying to get these runs done before work I’ll be able to get the whole workout in.
  4. Incorporate strength training at least three times a week – Over the winter I’ve gotten into the habit of adding more strength training into my weekly schedule. Before my races this spring I was doing IronStrength on Mondays and another strength workout on Fridays. I want to add in another mini strength workout on Wednesdays as well. Jess from Race Pace Jess made an awesome “mini workout” to add into an already packed training schedule so I’m going to try to do that.
  5. Nail down my nutrition – I need to take better note of what I’m eating pre-run and how I recover post-run. I am usually pretty good with my nutrition but I think I could get a little better and really figure out what works for me and what doesn’t.
  6. Be able to run/wear these shorts in public and not be self-conscious about it.  – I have these bootay shorts and they are meant for running but I only ever wear them around my apartment. For some reason I’m self-conscious about wearing them in public or going running in them, which is silly. So, in training for #ChiTown I want to gain enough confidence to be able to rock the spandex on a run without stressing about my butt falling out. This is my silly-but-important goal.

What kind of goals do you like to set for marathon training? Tell me about ‘em in the comments below!

Race Recap: Marine Corps Marathon

So happy at mile 18.

So happy at mile 18.

Marathon Magic

Before I ran my first marathon last April at Big Sur, one of my coworkers told me about something she called “marathon magic.” I was freaking out and anxious about the seemingly impending doom that was running 26.2 miles along Highway 1 and I told her I wasn’t feeling good and my legs felt slow and sore. She told me that come race day, undoubtedly, something called “marathon magic” would kick in and all of the pieces would fall into place.

I ended up finishing Big Sur (with some walking) in 4:33:41, not terrible for my first marathon and the challenging course. Leading up to Marine Corps last weekend I was feeling the same way. My left calf muscle had been irritable for weeks, I was starting to come down with a cold, and my hips (which had been fine all throughout training) were feeling oddly sore. I was nervous about my time goal of breaking 4:15, and even more nervous about my secret goal of breaking 4:10, and my “dream big” goal seemed completely out of reach.

But like clock work, come early Sunday morning, when I lined up with my pace group, the “marathon magic” set in. I finished Marine Corps in 4:07:06, a 26 minute, 35 second PR.

Finish200

The Race

I got to the starting line early to get settled into my corral and be there in time to watch the Wounded Warrior Project paratroopers jump from the sky with flags attached to land at the start. It was pretty inspiring to watch them floating through the sky as someone sang the national anthem just outside of Arlington National Cemetery. (Pro tip: if you run MCM get to the start early to see all of this!)

I also wanted to get to the start early because MCM has you self-corral based on what you think you’re finishing time would be. I trained for a 4:15 but decided to line up a little closer to the 4:00 group. The start was very congested and when the howitzer went off to signal the start, it ended up being more of a slow crawl than a run. After about two miles and the first set of hills, the pack thinned out a bit.

My plan going into the race was to focus on 5-mile increments. I typically go on 5-mile runs during lunch so in my mind, breaking 26.2 miles down to 5-mile increments helped (I also fuel every 5 miles). Then I figured I’d give it my all in the last 1.2 miles to go with my mantra – Last mile, strong mile, kick it in.

I was lucky to see my parents really early on in the race around the mile 2 marker, which gave me the surge I needed in the very beginning. My boyfriend had also gone to the start but since there were so many runners, it was tough to find him in the crowd while focusing on not tripping over the runner in front of me.

Once the field thinned out, I focused on staying steady and consistent. I was trying my hardest to run even splits but between the spectators, the inspiring runners running alongside me, the military presence, and my own personal cheer squad, my paces darted around a bit. I joked after that every time I saw my parents or my boyfriend, I ran my fastest miles – I guess I got a little excited.

My cheer squad :)

My cheer squad :)

Takeaways

The race itself is all still a bit of a blur to me. I’m terrible at really breaking down races, mile by mile for recaps but there were some incredible highlights:

  • Seeing my family at the very beginning of the race and then again around mile 18/19.
  • Seeing my boyfriend at mile 10, 16 (he even ran with me a bit then!), and the finish.
  • Seeing Bart Yasso twice and having him yell my name!
  • Running the Run to Remember mile out on Hains Point in honor of fallen veterans.
  • Running alongside those running for their loved ones who have served, are active duty, or who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
  • All of the Marines who were genuinely cheering for all of us. It seemed odd because we really should be the ones cheering for them.
  • Surprising myself and running a huge PR.

The best part about my second marathon, besides my cheer squad, though was being able to run the entire 26.2 without walking and feeling like it was actually comfortable. It makes me wonder, and dream, about what I could do once I get more experience under my belt with the distance. I think the whole “marathon magic” thing happens for different reasons. At Big Sur, the marathon magic came to me because it was my first marathon. At MCM it came because I knew I had my family there cheering me on.

When my co-worker first told me about “marathon magic” I didn’t believe her. After Big Sur, I was still a little cynical about it but MCM confirmed it for me. Marathon magic is real, and I believe it.

Stats

Ran: 26.62 miles in 4:07:06 at 9:17/mile average

Splits:
(1)10:15 (2) 9:40 (3) 9:38 (4) 9:05 (5) 9:26 (6) 9:00 (7) 9:23 (8) 9:28 (9) 9:11 (10) 9:00

(11) 9:07 (12) 8:56 (13) 9:02 (14) 9:12 (15) 9:08 (16) 9:15 (17) 9:09 (18) 9:18 (19) 9:13

(20) 9:26 (21) 9:05 (22) 9:14 (23) 9:12 (24) 9:12 (25) 9:39 (26) 9:34 (27) 5:28 (for 0.60)

Marine Corps Marathon Training: Week Ten

Trying to stay consistent with strength training.

Trying to stay consistent with strength training.

Week ten of Marine Corps training presented me with a mileage PR of 44 miles. While I’ve been able to get all the miles in I feel like my legs might be starting to push back. A new pain in my left shin has me a bit concerned but I think it should subside if I take it easy on my next few runs.

As my mileage keeps increasing I’m learning the importance of post-run recovery, something I’ve almost neglected a little bit in the past.  To make sure I’m recovering properly I’m taking the five-to-ten minutes post-run to stretch out, as well as icing on a regular basis.

Monday: Yoga

Tuesday: Strength Training and 5 miles, easy

Strength Training- 50 minutes

Arms:
3×10 reps of:
Rotational Shoulder Press with 10lbs weights
Alternating Dumbell Rows with 12lbs weights
Tricep Pulls with 15lbs weights
Chest Press on Stability Ball with 10lbs weights
21s with 8lbs weights

3×15 reps Standing Side Leg Lifts
25 calf raises

Abs:
3×1:00 planks
3×0:30 side planks
3×0:45 supine planks
3×0:45 bicycles
3×0:45 bridge

Run:

It was pretty hot and humid on this run but I waited until after work in the hopes that it would be a little bit cooler. My legs were still feeling a bit sore from Sunday’s long run but once I got a mile or so into the run it felt good to be shaking them out a bit.

Plan: 5 miles, easy
Actual: 5 miles in 43:54 at 8:46/mile
Splits:
(1) 9:31
(2) 8:43
(3) 8:37
(4) 8:48
(5) 8:12

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2
Conditions: 86 degrees, 80 percent humidity

Wednesday: Double run, 8 miles total

Run One:

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4 miles in 36:40 at 9:10/mile average pace

I ran an easy pre-workout shakeout run on the treadmill. I had 8 miles on my schedule for today with my first Yasso 800 workout. Since I couldn’t do the whole 8 miles during my normal lunch run I decided to split up the workout with 4 miles easy at lunch and 4 miles at the track after work.

Run Two:

Plan: 4 miles with 4x800m at 4:10 with 400m recovery jog

Actual:
1-mile warmup at 8:54/mile
4x800m-
(1) 3:40
(2) 3:41
(3) 3:39
(4) 3:30
With 400m in between each 800m

Shoes: Saucony Fastwitch 6
Conditions: 90 degrees, 80 percent humidity

This was my first Yasso 800 workout of Marine Corps training and it went very well! I ran them at the track and did a 1-mile warmup to begin. It was extremely hot and humid out so I wasn’t sure they were going to go well but I was pleasantly surprised.

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 8 miles with 5 miles at marathon pace

So this run went much better than expected. I’m still having a difficult time controlling my paces though and I know I really need to work on that but I felt really, really good during this whole run.

Plan: 8 miles with 5 miles at marathon pace (9:10/mile) with 1 mi warmup and 2 mi cool down
Actual: 8 miles in 1:09:46 at an average of 8:43/mile
Splits:
(1) 9:19 (2) 8:51 (3) 8:43 (4) 8:35 (5) 8:24 (6) 8:30 (7) 8:45 (8) 8:37

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 68 degrees, sunny, low humidity, a bit windy though

Saturday: 5 mile shakeout

It took me awhile to get out the door this morning but once I did I felt really good. Something has been going on with my left shin/knee though and I’m not really sure what that’s all about. I’m going to keep stretching/foam rolling/icing to see if it starts to feel back to normal again.

Plan: 5 miles, super easy
Actual: 5 miles in 44:56 at 8:59/mile average
Splits:
(1) 9:34
(2) 8:52
(3) 8:56
(4) 8:53
(5) 8:38

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 61 degrees, overcast, windy

Sunday: 18 mile long run

This long run went really well. I ran the first 10 miles with our RW Half Training Group led by Bart Yasso. We took it super easy which was really good because lately I’ve been pushing a little too hard on my long runs. After the 10 miles was done I finished the last 8 on my own. My left shin was giving me some trouble again which accounts for the crazy pacing here but overall I felt pretty good.

Plan: 18 miles, long slow distance
Actual: 18 miles in 2:54:33 at 9:39/mile average
Splits:
(1) 10:29 (2) 9:57 (3) 9:47 (4) 9:50 (5) 10:02 (6) 9:58 (7) 9:55 (8) 9:39 (9) 9:35 (10) 9:37 (11) 9:56 (12) 9:16 (13) 8:55 (14) 9:04 (15) 9:38 (16) 9:48 (17) 9:32 (18) 9:33

Shoes: Asics Kayano 19
Conditions: 50 degrees, sunny

Weekly Mileage Total: 44 miles

See all training recaps here.

The High Mileage Weeks Are Here

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 4.31.26 PMThe next few weeks of my training schedule for the Marine Corps Marathon are going to be my highest mileage weeks of my short running career. This week alone, the first of the monster weeks, will eclipse my peak week of Big Sur training by 4 miles.

For someone as new to running as I am, this can be pretty terrifying. Looking at the weeks as a whole has me literally waking up in the middle of the night in a panic. But that’s the funny thing about marathon training, just when you think you’ve hit your limit and you can’t go any further, another week goes by and you are able to go further than you ever thought. At least that’s how I’ve chosen to look at it.

My midweek runs over the next few weeks will range between 8 and 10 miles, with one easy run in between. Most of these are workouts or marathon pace runs, which to me, makes them much more enjoyable.

I’ve found the only way to get through these monster mileage weeks is to break it down and face each day as it comes. Yes, you need to plan. And yes, you need to schedule the time to get them done. But if you stare down your schedule on Monday and think, “Oh my God, I have to run an 8 mile workout on Wednesday, a 10 mile MP run on Friday, and other runs and workouts in between, as well as work and have some semblance of a social life?!” you’re going to drive yourself crazy.

Instead, take it day by day and figure out a time for each day to get your run done. For example, this is what my week looks like this week (different paces though):

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 9.30.13 AM

On Wednesday, I had an 8-mile run with 4x800m in between. I knew I couldn’t get the workout done during lunch, but I also knew I wanted to do the 800s on a track. So since I only had to do 4x800m (2 miles) I decided to split up the run- run 4 miles, easy at lunch and 4 miles (1 mile warm-up, 4x800m, 1 mile cool down) on the track after work. I’m still getting the benefit of the speedwork but not stressing out over setting aside a huge block of time.

I recently read a great blog post by Jason Fitzgerald on time management. He argues that if something is important enough you will set aside the time to get it done. You will not “make” the time, because you can’t just “make” time appear out of nowhere. But if it’s important, like eating, sleeping, working, spending time with family and friends, or in this case, training for a marathon, you will set aside the time to get it done.

So, how am I planning on fitting in these high mileage midweek runs in the coming weeks? Here are my tips for marathon training time management:

  • Make it a priority – Training for Marine Corps is very important to me so I wil make it a priority and set aside the time to get my training done.
  • Take it day-by-day – I will take it day-by-day but try to schedule my week to fit in my runs and workouts.
  • Run doubles – If I have to, I will split up my higher mileage runs into a double. I’ll still reap the benefits of the workout and get the mileage in.
  • Something is better than nothing – If I honestly can’t set aside enough time for a run, I will try to get whatever I can done. If it’s an 8-mile run but I only have time for 6 miles, I’ll run the 6 miles.
  • Don’t sweat it – If I really had a hard day at work, or I’m feeling extremely tired or sore, and I have to miss a run, it’s not the end of the world. Giving your body enough time to rest and recover is almost as important as getting all of the training runs done. If your body is telling you it needs a break, it probably really needs a break.

I’m not going to lie, training for a marathon is a ginormous time commitment. You sacrifice some things like going out on a Saturday night so you can have the time to do your long run (not hungover) on Sunday morning. The monster training weeks come for everyone but if you plan them out right, they are totally doable. You just need to, in a sense, brace yourself and prepare for the runs. They will get done and you’ll be much more prepared for when race day comes.

Are you training for a maraton or half-marathon? How do you manage to fit in all of your runs with work and personal life? Share your comments below!

Marine Corps Marathon Training: Week Nine

Why you startedIt’s been a couple weeks since I last posted about my training for Marine Corps. One excuse for this is the last two weeks of training were kind of messed up due to running Hood to Coast and a surprise thunderstorm that completely ruined one of my long runs. But the real reason for not posting was I wasn’t really feeling all that into my training. Everything has been going well, I’m hitting my paces (even my new paces) and I’ve been following my schedule but for some reason I just wasn’t that excited. However, last week’s training went extremely well, I had a fantastic long run, and I’m starting to feel much more confident in my training.

Everyone hits that point in marathon training where you just feel tired and you start to question why you’re spending so much time and energy on training but you always have to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me, I’m running Marine Corps to better my marathon time and to experience a race I’ve heard so many great things about already. I also want to prove that I can get better at this whole marathoning thing and MCM will be the perfect place to make that happen. Besides, there really is something addicting about running 26.2 miles!

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy

Last run at home around my town. I took it really easy because the heat and humidity is absolutely killing me. Felt pretty good though.

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4 miles in 35:21 (8:47/mile)
Splits: 
(1) 9:13
(2) 8:45
(3) 8:35
(4) 8:40

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 80 degrees, 60 percent humidity

Wednesday: 6 mile tempo

This was my first tempo ever and I have to say I was pretty proud of it. Since I changed my time goal for MCM I wasn’t quite sure what my tempo pace should be. According to my old plan (marathon goal pace of 9:47/mile) my tempo pace should have been a 9:05/mile. However, now that my goal MP is 9:05/mile, obviously my tempo would be faster. I decided to shoot for 8:40/mile and see how I felt.

Plan: 6 miles with 3 miles at tempo pace (8:40/mile)
Actual: 6 miles with 3 miles at tempo (8:20/mile)
Splits: 
1.5 mile warmup at 9:30/mile pace
3 tempo miles in 25 minutes (8:20/mile pace)
1.5 mile cool down at 9:30/mile pace

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Core Strength-

3×1:00 planks
2×0:30 side planks
3×0:45 supine planks
4×25 crunches
3×0:45 bridges

Thursday: 45 min. Strength Training

I’m vowing to get back into the swing of strength training so I made up my own workout.

Abs:
3 x 1:00 planks
3 x 0:30 side planks
3 x 0:45 supine planks
3 x 0:45 bicycles
3 x 0:45 bridge

Legs:
3 x 0:45 Stability Ball Jackknife
3 x 0:45 Stability Ball Hip Extensions
3 X 15 (each leg) Standing Side Leg Lift

Arms: 3 x 10 of all
Rotational Shoulder Press
Alternating Dumbbell Rows
Tricep Pulls
Chest Press on Stability Ball

3 x 21s- 7 x forearm lifts, 7 x bicep curls, 7 x overhead press

Friday: 6 miles with 4 miles at Marathon Pace (9:05-9:10/mile)

It was incredibly beautiful outside today so I was finally able to run during lunch again. I went running with my roommate and told her I had to run 6 miles with 4 miles at marathon pace (9:05-9:10/mile). Well, we ran one of the miles at MP but the rest were faster.

Plan: 6 miles with 4 miles at MP (9:05-9:10/mile)
Actual: 6 miles in 53:08 at 8:51/mile average
Splits: 
(1) 8:55
(2) 8:38
(3) 8:55
(4) 9:09
(5) 8:48
(6) 8:43

Shoes: Asics Kayano 19
Conditions: PERFECT

Saturday: 4 miles, easy

I felt AMAZING on this run which was really surprising because I may have had one too many beers last night. My legs felt so fresh and I just felt like flying. I was supposed to run super easy to shakeout before tomorrow’s long run but I just decided to go with it.

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4.04 miles in 33:46 @ 8:21/mile
Splits: 
(1) 9:14/mile
(2) 8:14/mile
(3) 8:15/mile
(4) 7:44/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 73 degrees, sunny, 42 percent humidity

Sunday: 16 miles with 2 miles fast finish

This was my first actual long run in two weeks due to scheduling/racing/surprise thunderstorms. I was pretty nervous it wasn’t going to go well but I think this was the best long run I’ve had in my MCM training cycle. I felt really great the whole time, my fueling was on point, and my breathing was good. My paces look a little all over the place but that’s because this is an extremely hilly route I run. I decided to try for a 2-mile fast finish and nailed it. So happy!

Plan: 16 miles LSD
Actual: 16 miles in 2:30:25 at 9:24/mile average pace
Splits: 
(1) 9:50 (2) 9:11 (3) 9:25 (4) 9:37 (5) 9:47 (6) 9:48 (7) 9:29 (8) 9:17 (9) 9:37 (10) 9:25 (11) 9:19 (12) 9:32 (13) 9:33 (14) 9:17 (15) 8:54 (16) 8:21

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: Started off kind of cool, 68 degrees and overcast but warmed up to 75 degrees with 66 percent humidity and full sun by the end.

Weekly mileage total: 36 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.

On Running Faster than Marathon Pace

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

I have a confession to make. A run confession. I think I’m selling myself short with my training for Marine Corps.

Let me explain. In the year and a half that I’ve been running, I’ve never once set a time goal for a race, and I’ve especially never set a time goal for a marathon. I mean with a marathon, there are 26.2 miles of opportunities to make a mistake that could completely sabotage any time goal you had at the starting line. Not only that, there are 16 to 18 weeks of training to make mistakes that could prevent you from even getting to that starting line. So yes, the marathon is an intimidating distance and honestly, setting a time goal has me freaking out a bit. Ok, a lot.

I ran my first marathon at Big Sur this past April, just over a year after I ran my first mile. I ran a very conservative (i.e. slow) 4:33. I went out very slow because I knew the hills that were ahead of me were going to be tough but thanks to my by-the-book training I was more than prepared for Highway 1’s hardest inclines.

When it came time to pick a training plan for the Marine Corps Marathon I wanted to set a time goal. I knew I would be able to beat my Big Sur time but I wasn’t sure by how much. Based on some advice from coworkers, I thought breaking 4:15 would be reasonable- that’s a 9:44/mile marathon pace.

I’m five weeks into the training plan and have been running all of my training runs much faster than the prescribed pace. I know this is generally a major no-no in marathon training but it isn’t feeling hard. When my plan tells me to run 4 miles easy at 10:34/mile pace and I go out and run 4 miles at 8:45/mile pace and it feels easy I don’t think I should have to scale it back.

According to my training plan I should be running my long runs at 10:40-12:10/mile pace, which to me feels more than painfully slow. I tend to average between 9:20-9:30/mile pace for long runs and that feels good.

So what does this mean? Do I need to readjust my race goals? Should I stick to following the paces on my plan? Or should I stick to my faster paces that feel comfortable and hope I don’t hit the wall on race day?

The reason I didn’t set a harder goal in the first place is because I was scared. I considered setting a goal of breaking or going just over 4 hours but then I came to the realization that would be a 33-minute PR, which is huge. I’m very new to marathoning and I still consider myself a beginner runner, but when I look down at the paces on my Garmin I realize, I am getting better. I’m getting faster.

I’ve decided to continue with this plan by following the mileage and most of the workouts but going with the paces that feel comfortable to me. If that means I’m running my easy runs at 8:45/mile instead of 10:32/mile so be it.

As far as any new time goals, I may just keep that one to myself for now!

What do you think I should do? Re-adjust my time goal or stick to this one and see what happens race day?

Marine Corps Marathon Training Week Five

LVRR 5K 2This was another busy week of training but it went well. I went back to boot camp on Monday night for strength training- I hadn’t been in a few weeks due to scheduling conflicts- but it felt good to be back. The only problem is the session left me with dead legs for practically the whole week. It didn’t help that I had a high mileage week last week too and decided to run a 5K Wednesday night but my legs were thankful for the full rest day on Thursday

Monday: XT

Vinyasa flow yoga class- 45 minutes

  • Was able to do a full backbend. Yay!

Boot camp- 40 minutes

  • Did four circuits of no repeat exercises

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy

My legs were absolute DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) city after yesterday’s double strength training workout. I went on the run with my roommate who was also really sore from yesterday’s workout too so we decided to take it super easy. Then, the route we took had us go straight through Musikfest (a week-long outdoor music festival in Bethlehem) and there were so many people we had to dodge for about 1.5 miles. But it was good, we needed to take it easy.

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4 miles in 37:40 at 9:25/mile pace
Splits:
(1) 9:42/mile
(2) 9:24/mile
(3) 9:00/mile
(4) 9:24/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 70 degrees, overcast

Wednesday: Double run day, 6 miles total

Run 1- 3 miles easy

Went for my first run of the day at lunch. I had 6 miles total on the schedule today but I wanted to run the free 5K in the parkway at night so I decided to split up my miles. My legs were still pretty tired from Monday’s strength training (pathetic, I know) so I may have to re-think doing a double strength training day going forward.

Plan: 3 miles, easy
Actual: 3 miles in 24:48 at 8:16/mile (kind of too fast)
Splits:
(1) 8:58/mile
(2) 8:10/mile
(3) 7:40/mile

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2 (not loving these)

Run 2- 3.1 miles at the Lehigh Valley Road Runners Summer Series 5K

I ran the Lehigh Valley Road Runners free 5K in the Parkway and felt really good. I went to this with the intention of not racing AT ALL and trying to just jog it, maybe 9:20/mile pace. Well, that didn’t happen. I ended up going faster than intended but definitely still not racing. I had more in the tank for sure at the end but I had a lot of fun. Just a fun little Wednesday night race!

Plan: 3 miles, super easy
Actual: 3.1 miles in 26:04 at 8:24/mile pace
Splits:
(1) 8:22/mile
(2) 8:24/mile
(3) 8:34/mile

Shoes: Saucony Fastwitch 6

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 6 miles with 2 miles at Marathon Pace

I was really happy with the results of my first marathon pace run. I was supposed to do 6 miles with 2 miles at marathon pace, which for the break-4:15 plan is 9:44/mile. Well, my paces lately have been much faster than the paces my plan has been calling for so I decided to make some adjustments.

Plan: 6 miles with 2 miles at marathon pace (9:44/mile)
Actual: 6 miles with 2.4 miles at “marathon pace” (8:41/mile)
Splits:
20 min warmup at 9:13/mile pace, roughly 2.06 miles
20 min at marathon pace, 8:41/mile, roughly 2.40 miles
15 min cool down at 9:13/mile pace, roughly 1.6 miles

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: indoors, I did this workout on the treadmill so I would have better control over my paces.

Saturday: 4 miles, easy

I was helping to cover Worlds for Runner’s World all morning so I didn’t get out to do my run until the early evening. I felt pretty good but it was extremely hot out. The sun was strong but it wasn’t as humid as it has been.

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4 miles in 35:01 at 8:45/mile pace
Splits:
(1) 9:18/mile
(2) 8:35/mile
(3) 8:50/mile
(4) 8:17/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Sunday: 16 miles, long slow distance

Today’s long run was a lesson in pacing. I did the first 10 miles of my long run with a group training for our Runner’s World Half. I felt pretty good but was very tired because we started early. We did the run on a rail trail and I was running with one of my coworkers who set a much faster pace than I’m used to for long runs and it showed toward the end of my run where my pace slowed drastically. I was kind of disappointed in myself during this run. I’m usually much better at holding a steady pace so maybe I’m better off doing long runs solo. After doing 10 with the group I added on with four of my coworkers to get the 16. I was completely cooked at the end.

Plan: 16 miles, long slow distance (10:40-11:30/mile pace according to my plan)
Actual: 15.6 miles in 2:25:37 at 9:20/mile pace
Splits:
(1) 8:55 (2) 8:47 (3) 9:03 (4) 8:58 (5) 9:22 (6) 9:22 (7) 9:28 (8) 9:16 (9) 9:31 (10) 9:46 (11) 9:48 (12) 10:03 (13) 9:06 (14) 9:28 (15) 9:31 (16) 5:11 (for 0.60)

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Weekly mileage: 36 miles

See all training recaps here.