Big Sur Marathon Training: Week Seven

Photo from Sunday's recovery run through Trexler Park.

Photo from Sunday’s recovery run through Trexler Park.

Another week down, another week closer to the starting line. Training went really well this week. It included an early morning run, speedy mile splits, yoga, a glorious long run and shorts! The weather over the weekend was absolutely gorgeous and has put me in the best mood (despite losing an hour of sleep). While this warm weather is not here to stay for very long it gave us all a taste of what’s to come: SPRING! Here is a recap of my workouts last week:

Monday: XT – Did a 50-minute yoga class at the gym at work. This class was a bit more challenging than one’s I’ve done in the past- which was a good thing. She had us doing a bunch of hip openers and twists which felt so good. Nice way to start off the week!

Tuesday: Easy 7 miles in 1:03:00 at 9:00/mile pace.

This was my longest pre-work run ever and honestly it felt great! I’m sitting in my cubicle now and I feel like I’ve already accomplished so much today! The run itself was really great too. I went out sans music because it was still kind of dark and I didn’t want to risk getting hit by a car. My splits were pretty good too which was really great. Overall, awesome run!

Mile 1 – 9:39/mile
Mile 2 – 8:59/mile
Mile 3 – 9:05/mile
Mile 4 – 9:24/mile
Mile 5 – 9:01/mile
Mile 6 – 8:52/mile
Mile 7 – 8:44/mile

Wednesday: 4-mile lunch run in 32:30 at 8:07/mile pace.

My lunch run went much better than anticipated. I thought it was going to be terrible, especially since there was supposedly a huge snowstorm coming and it decided to be super windy/rainy/snowy during my whole run. Alas, it was a great run and I don’t know where this speed is coming from on my shorter runs but I’m not complaining! My splits were:

Mile 1 – 8:35/mile
Mile 2 – 8:07/mile
Mile 3 – 8:15/mile
Mile 4 – 7:38/mile

Thursday: 7 miles total for the day, broken up into two runs.

Run 1 of 2: 5 miles in 45:16 at 8:52/mile pace. This was the first run of the day at lunchtime. I felt really good during this run and my paces were really great. I took it easy but I’m starting to notice what now feels like an easy pace is actually a lot faster than I’m used to. I had to do a total of 7 miles for the day but unfortunately for me, that’s too much for a lunch run. My splits were:

Mile 1 – 9:01/mile
Mile 2 – 8:51/mile
Mile 3 – 9:02/mile
Mile 4 – 8:51/mile
Mile 5 – 8:44/mile

Run 2 0f 2: 2 miles in 18:00 at 9:00/mile pace. This was the second run of the day, after work and on the treadmill. I took it really easy with the pace because I’ll admit, I’m afraid to run fast on the treadmill. My legs felt good though and it was a nice, easy run to wrap up the day.

30 minutes of strength training- Arms and core exercises.

Friday: Rest day- foam rolling and stretching

Saturday: 16 miles in 2:28:24 at 9:16/mile pace. (My last 16-miler was completed in 2:34:00- HUGE improvement!)

This run was absolutely AMAZING! It was a whole 6 minutes faster than my last 16-miler AND I set a half-marathon PR of 2:01 during the first 13-miles, who does that?! Seriously though, I needed this after last week’s terrible 12-mile run. I felt great the whole time, the weather was an unbelievable 55 degrees and sunny, and I think I finally got my fueling down (although I wouldn’t have minded more water). I went out a little fast to start but scaled back my pace in the middle to remain pretty consistent. Splits:

(1) 9:16

(2) 8:49

(3) 8:58

(4) 9:09

(5) 9:18

(6) 9:18

(7) 9:06

(8) 9:26

(9) 9:22

(10) 9:25

(11) 9:21

(12) 9:47 (humongous hill)

(13) 9:26

(14) 9:25

(15) 9:24

(16) 8:54

Sunday: 3.35 mile recovery run in 31:00 at 9:15/mile pace. I went for a nice recovery run through a local park with my roommate. It was just too beautiful out and instead of going on my normal running route, my roommate suggested we check out a park nearby instead. The park was PACKED with runners, cyclists, families and puppies. So fun!

Total mileage: 37 miles

See all training recaps here.

Monday Motivation: Strength Will Find You

If you live on the East Coast, especially in the northeast like myself, you probably experienced the insanely beautiful weather this weekend! This weather put me in such a great mood and my 16-miler went better than I ever could have expected because of it. After a terrible long run the weekend before, my long run this weekend left me feeling strong and confident. I hope everyone has great runs this week. Happy running!

(source: Pinterest)

(source: Pinterest)

It’s My One Year Run-niversary!

Finishing the Disney Half-Marathon with a 17-minute PR.

Finishing the Disney Half-Marathon with a 17-minute PR.

Today marks my one-year run-niversary! I really don’t want this post to be all sappy and cliché about how running has changed my life and all that blah, blah, blah. But the truth is, it really has- and not just because I’m now training for a full marathon, it’s changed my whole way of life.

Literally, a year ago, I kid you not, running a mile seemed like an impossible task. I would make excuses to avoid any sort of running. My cousin would ask me to go out on a 3-mile run with her during the summer and I’d reject the offer every single time. When I look back, I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t think I could run that far, I think it was more that I was afraid and insecure about running.

When I started running, those insecurities did not go away. In fact, they took months to go away. I only ran on the treadmill, at the gym, on a very low speed. I was afraid to run outside because of passing cars, nervous my form was awkward or that I’d get to a certain point and not be able to turn around and run home. I was also afraid to run with other people because I was insecure about my pace, my breathing, and my (sometimes) lack of motivation.

But in a year’s time, all of that has gone away. Now I loathe the treadmill and will do anything to be able to run outside. I went from a run-walk a year ago, to being able to run 18 miles in a single shot today. My paces used to hover around the mid 10:00/mile speed to now the low 8:00/mile and even some 7:00/mile paces lately. All within a year.

In this past year, my running has taken me to places I never thought it would. I’ve been lucky to find support through social media and this blog, and that support is what has kept me logging all those miles. I’ve developed relationships with runners all across the country and people are now turning to me for advice, which is something that continues to humble me every day. I also went from being just a blogger to an online editor at the nation’s leading running magazine, and that’s definitely not something I take lightly.

I think a lot of times, we, as runners, can get intimidated by other more experienced runners. I know I do but I also know the effort, strength and devotion it took for me to get to where I am now with my running. When I started this journey a year ago, I never could have imagined where it would take me. But when I look back at all the amazing gifts running has given me, the one I cherish most and will continue to build on is my self-confidence. Before I started to run I was able to slap on a smile and express faux-confidence but after this year, I know how to truly be confident in my own skin.

One of the first running blogs I ever read when I started this journey a year ago was Dorothy Beal’s blog Mile Posts. Her story was very similar to mine and I admired her drive and flat-out honesty. My favorite quote from her that has kept me going this year is “I run this body.” It’s me. I’m the one who had brought my body across two half-marathon finish lines and countless shorter races throughout this year. I’m the one who brought this body to the track after work on 90-degree summer days just so I could work on my speed. I ran this body through rain, sleet, snow, humidity and wind, just so I could prove to myself that I was strong enough to do it. I run this body and I will continue to run this body until I physically cannot take another step. I’ve still got a lot to learn but so far, I can say with confidence, I’ve enjoyed this journey to fit…

Respect the Long Run – No Matter the Distance

(source: Pinterest)

(source: Pinterest)

A few months ago, before I began training for Big Sur, I was talking with my Dad about running. My Dad is a 16-time marathon veteran, a nine-time Boston Marathoner, repping a 3:09 PR. He started running during the first running boom, which he describes as the “hippie days” of running, and while he doesn’t run very often anymore, he is still a vault of knowledge when it comes to anything having to do with running.

At the time of our conversation, I was getting ready to run my first half-marathon and in the midst of dealing with a pretty bad IT Band flare-up. He told me, “Hannah, running is like riding a rollercoaster- it can get you so high to the point of feeling invincible and send you crashing down in a second.” But, he reminded me, at some point the ride levels out.

I remembered this conversation while I was running my 12-mile long run last Saturday. It was a cutback week for me and I thought to myself, “12 miles, that’s a piece of cake!” Maybe I was overzealous coming off of successful back-to-back 16, 18, and 15-mile long runs. I was climbing the roller coaster and didn’t realize I was in for a long downwind decent. All I know is that 12-miler was one of my worst long runs in a long time.

But, you know what? It wasn’t just me who had a bad long run last weekend. In fact, many of my friends training for spring races had bad weekend runs. One person, who was also on a cutback week, said it perfectly – “I didn’t respect the long run.”

I know I didn’t respect the long run last weekend and the long run knew it too. Did I have to stay up until 12:30 the night before? Was it a great idea to try to squeeze in my run before a hair appointment in the late morning? I allotted myself 45 minutes of prep time before heading out the door, was that enough to digest my cereal and coffee? The answer to all of these is probably not.

I think it’s common in marathon training, at least in my experience, to assume the shorter long runs are going to be easy. But it’s that kind of thinking that leads to being less prepared for these shorter long runs. I tend to put the 16, 18, and 20 (which I have yet to do) milers on a pedestal. But in earnest, all long runs should be put on that same pedestal.

So why was the 12-miler such a bad run? It wasn’t that I was hurting and it wasn’t that I wanted to stop, I just felt like my heart wasn’t in it. My stomach felt terrible for some reason and all I could focus on was getting back to my apartment, showering and making it to my appointment on time. But looking back on this run, maybe I was not as prepared for it as I am for longer long runs, but I will take that as a lesson learned.

A blogger friend of mine, Michele Gonzales, had a less-than-fantastic long run last weekend as well. In her blog post about it, she said, as much as she enjoys a successful long run, there’s a lot to learn from the bad ones too. Whether a run is good or bad, short or long, goal pace or easy, there’s something to learn from every run. While these ups and downs can be strenuous, they are what levels us out in the end, so we can make it to the starting line, knowing what works.

Monday Motivation: May All Your Trails…

I’m halfway through training for the Big Sur International Marathon and if I’ve learned one thing so far, it’s that training for a marathon can be lonely. I do the majority of my long runs and training runs alone and while I can find zen and peace on the long run, it can be challenging. However, in the end, when I’m standing at the starting line on April 28, I’ll take solace in knowing I did everything in my power to get there on my own. And to me, there’s no greater accomplishment than that.

(via Pinterest)

(via Pinterest)

Big Sur Marathon Training: Week Six

My fast 3-miler!

My fast 3-miler!

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through my training for Big Sur! I know it says I’m only at week six, but I picked up the training program two weeks in so I’m really at week eight. Since it’s the halfway point, this week was a cut back week in terms of mileage and long run distance. I thought this would be a much needed break, which it really was, but my long run ended up being a lot harder than I had expected it to be- and it was “only” 12 miles! I ran my runs in my new Brooks Ravenna 4s and I really like them. I was desperately in need of new shoes, and was having the ankle pain to prove it, so it was good to get in some new kicks.

Monday: XT – Today was a cross training day so I went to metabolic boot camp. It was no repeats Monday which means we did 4 circuits of 5 different exercises. I felt really good though!

Tuesday: Easy 5 miles in 46:38 minutes at 9:08/mile.

Today was my first run wearing my new Brooks Ravenna 4s and I really liked them! I maintained an easy pace- legs were a little sore after last night’s bootcamp- but overall the run was really good. It was actually kind of warm out which was a nice change!

I finally figured out how to view mile splits on my Garmin thanks to Laura, so now I’ll be posting them :)
Mile 1- 9:28/mile
Mile 2- 9:03/mile
Mile 3- 9:06/mile
Mile 4- 9:18/mile
Mile 5- 9:05/mile

Wednesday: 8 miles total for the day, split up in two different runs.

Run 1 of 2: This is the really tough hill workout I’ve been doing to prep for Big Sur. It has the same elevation gain as Big Sur’s Hurricane Point, but it’s over a mile instead of two miles- so steeper but shorter. I’m noticing some huge improvements though, not just with this workout but with my other runs as well. I hadn’t done this workout however in over 2 weeks so I wasn’t sure how it would go but it was definitely my best attempt yet! I ran more of the hill than I’ve been able to before and wasn’t as tired. Here were my splits:

Mile 1 (warmup) – 9:19
Mile 2 – 9:39
Mile 3 (hill with some walking) – 12:01
Mile 4 – 9:13
Mile 5 – 8:54
Mile 6 (.4) – 3:44

Run 2 of 2: 2.6 miles in 24:00 at 9:13/mile. This run was super easy and on the treadmill at the gym. Felt good the whole time.

Thursday: “easy” 3-mile run in 24:30 at 8:09/mile.

Ask me where these paces came from and I honestly could not tell you- I guess I just felt like running really fast? I know it was just a 3-mile run (that’s all my training plan called for on Thursday) but my paces were my fastest ever. Here are my splits:

Mile 1 – 8:27/mile
Mile 2 – 8:16/mile
Mile 3 – 7:48/mile (yeah, that happened)

Also, I went to a 45 minute gentle flow yoga class after work. I’ve been trying to incorporate much more yoga into my training and so far it’s definitely helping.

Friday: REST DAY!

Saturday: 12 miles, long, slow distance. 12.35 miles in 1:58 at 9:33/mile. I felt kind of sick to my stomach during this whole run. I think I might not have given myself enough time between breakfast and when I left for my run but I just felt gross. Also, I went to bed way too late last night and was really tired. My splits were less than impressive and I had to walk a few times. Why does it seem like the shorter long runs are harder than the long, long runs?
(1) 9:44
(2) 9:08
(3) 9:18
(4) 9:32
(5) 9:25
(6) 9:35
(7) 9:31
(8) 9:52
(9) 9:48
(10) 10:18 – eek!
(11) 10:09 – eek #2!
(12) 9:16
(13) 3:09

Also, I did a 10 minute post-run yoga workout by lululemon.

Sunday: easy 3-mile shakeout in 29:00 at 9:39/mile. I ran with my friend Cassie and although it was pretty cold at first, we warmed up quickly and had a great run.

I finished the day with a short post-run yoga sequence.

Total mileage: 31 miles

See all training recaps here.

Knowing When to Alter Your Training Plan

Pre quote

(Source: Pinterest)

I’m almost halfway through training for the Big Sur International Marathon and I am thankful to say (knock on wood) I haven’t had any issues with my training, my long runs, my paces or anything else for that matter. However, I’ve been following the RW Challenge First-Timers marathon training plan and while my long runs have been really great, there was one thing about the plan that scared me to death- three 20-mile long runs.

I know a lot of marathoners and have followed their training on their blogs, on twitter and on Daily Mile, and I never knew one who did three 20-milers for their first marathon. Many of them did two 20-milers and some did only one, but I never saw three. When I looked down at my training plan last week and talked about the impending first 20-miler on group lunch runs, I kept hearing the same advice- don’t do it.

I’ve only been running for a year (not even- my runniversary is March 8!) and while I’ve done two half-marathons, with a PR of 2:02, and countless shorter distance races, I’m not the most experienced runner. I’ve also had some overtraining-related injuries in the past while training for half-marathons and this is the first training cycle I haven’t experienced an IT band flare-up or Runner’s Knee resurgence (again, knock on wood).

While on the whole I think I’m getting a lot stronger, I’ve been handling the mileage well, and I’ve been eating healthy, I didn’t think doing three 20-milers would be the right idea for me. I honestly think I could have handled three 20-milers but the stress of seeing those three long, slow distance runs on my schedule, was more than enough to push me over the edge. Also, I want to make it to the starting line in Carmel healthy and energized, not burnt out and weak.

So, after consulting with some of my co-workers here at Runner’s World, Meghan offered me the best plan. The plan really only change two of my weekend long runs- last weekend went from 20 miles to 15, and a weekend in April changes from 18 to 14. Our Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso, made the plan for her when she was training for a marathon (she’s done 10!) and I thought it looked like it would work for me.

Looking at my training schedule now, it still resembles the First-Timers plan but with two minor modifications, so now it’s the Hannah McGoldrick plan. Whether your training for a marathon, a half-marathon or your first 5-K, it’s easy to become highly dependent on a plan- I’m 100 percent guilty of this. While I fully support following training plans, it’s more important to listen to what your body is telling you. It doesn’t mean you’re doubting yourself, it means you’re training smart. Plans are never a one-size-fits all so make the changes you need to make to get to the starting line healthy and ready to race.