Friday, March 24, 2017

A big training recap! And questions for my readers too...

I think I have been promising my readers a training overview for about three years. Maybe 4. Who's counting.
Since I KNOW all three of you are just dying to know how it's done, here it is: My amazing workout routine. Or: How I continue to lock down my middle of the pack success!

Believe it or not, at this point I am close to being done with this training cycle. I only have about 10 more days of hard training before tapering begins!
(I just had to check my calendar to see if that is really true. It is.)

This cycle has felt fast, and it has felt good! After the arduous torture that came with Summer training last year for Hartford, most of my workouts to this point have had a much better feeling.
*except for the first 2 weeks, when a 9:30 pace felt like a flat out sprint, WOOF*

Yes, this time around has been a little different. I started off in the worst running shape I have been in, in years. (this was due to a SERIOUS case of the blahs after Hartford, and then the November Disney races. I was done. Over it. FRIED.)

So, I did what any normal person would have done this past winter. I took time off. I ran about 15 miles a week (on good weeks) became even more lazy because I was on a break, my legs were miserable because they actually like to run, and I certainly felt more gross post break than I had before. GROSS. UGH. Lazy does not suit me.

Due to the hot mess outlined above, I reached the conclusion that I needed to make my marathon training fun enough so that I never again quit all forms of movement post race.

I also gave myself 15 weeks to train, so that I could slowly increase my mileage and avoid breaking both my legs, my feet and possibly my rapidly aging hips. Gotta stay healthy, yo.

So what has been different this time?
(well, for starters cold weather training is just better for me than heat training. the end.)
-We have had plenty of cold weather.
-I will only complete 2 weeks at or above 50 miles during this cycle.
-I will only run one 20 miler....
-I decided, that if any run made me feel as crappy as MANY of my pre Hartford runs did, that I would STOP the workout. Thus far, no issues have caused me to pull the plug.
-I have been lucky to have a wonderful variety of long runs- different scenery, using races as training runs, having Eric along for some miles. All these things have kept the burnout at bay.
-Oh! I took a cutback week at a good time (a few weeks ago) A wise move that has kept me from counting down the days until taper. Until today when I had to count, for this blog.

What do my actual training runs consist of?
(if you don't run, this is about to GET SO BORING!! FLEE!)

MY SLOWWWWW DAY: The NUMBER ONE thing that people ask me in utter disbelief about, is my recovery run pace. Yes, I shoot for a 10 minute mile pace when I am recovering. I usually come pretty close to this, and I am not at all worried if I accidentally run some miles even slower.
ELITE level runners, on recovery days, run up to THREE minutes slower than their goal race pace.
And it it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me. (about to get preachy for a hot minute) Sorry kids, not to be an armchair QB, but if your race pace is an 8:00 then your recovery pace is most CERTAINLY not an 8:02.

I WIN at recovery runs.

My FASTTTTTTTT DAY!!!!!: Over the years I have structured up my speed work. Believe it or not, I really enjoy a good workout. The additional pressure that having specific goal paces can be unnerving, but it is god motivation!
Th one thing I have noticed over this training cycle, is a clear improvement in the return of some semblance of speed. (thank the lord)
I am not a gazelle. But I can chug along.

My go-to workouts, once my fitness is no longer at lumbering-along-dying levels, are mile repeats and 2 mile repeats. I shoot for juuuuust under marathon pace (which, in my head is always 8:00. Aren't I little miss optimistic!!!) Last year, I was running mile repeats soooo fast at like a 7:10 pace, and I LITERALLY felt like the fastest person ever. (I'm not that fast now.)
Anyway. I take about a quarter mile or less recovery between each repeat, at a snails pace (but at a moving pace.)
Prior to Hartford I did a workout of 3x3 mile reps- and while I am sure it contributed to my marathon success, I decided that it wasn't critical to complete this time.
Why? Because, to run a 3:40 marathon you just don't need that kind of whoop ass in your life.

A pretty standard 3x2 mile repeat day, at a standard pace

My LONG and HARD day, heh heh: My long runs are pretty boring on paper.
I run at least a minute slower than my MP goal (I'm perfectly fine with anything from upper 8:50's to 9:15's- faster means I am super fit, or stupid, and slower means it was HOT, early in a cycle, or there was trouble of some sort.) My number one goal is to get through the hours without some sort of GI disaster.... Thus far, things on that front have been fairly quiet WHICH IS AMAZING.

Last week's long run. Decent hills, decent pace.

BITCH HILL: My hill work is, well, hilly. I like hill day, even though it is tough, because I always notice the benefits once the work has been put in.
Prior to Boston I make sure to run like a TOTAL MANIAC on the downhills, coat flapping in the breeze, complete chaos, to make sure my quads are so super strong for race day.
Inside info: THEY WILL NOT BEEEEEEEEEEEE. (I swear, nothing I have ever done prior to Boston has kept me from feeling like a bit of an asshole around mile 20. All gimpy like I've never run a hill, or anything in my life. WHAT.)

Bitch Hill 

That other day that nobody cares about because boring: That's about it. I toss in one other run that is usually a bit of this and that, and there you have it. I skip about and play a little Pokemon (or, I do a little speed play, or cruise around town and snoop on the neighbors, the usual.)

The other question that I get a lot, and that I find hard to accurately answer is: how do I decide what my race pace will be on Marathon day?
To which I reply, with hysteria: WHO CAN EVER KNOW!!!!!

But really. Multi part answer.

For my fall marathon I am always looking to Boston Qualify, by at least 5 minutes faster than I need to for a nice buffer. I base my training paces around an 8:10 pace or so. Then I pray to the sweet baby Geezes and know that it might be out of my hands anyway, if the weather is suddenly 89.

For my Spring marathon (which is always Boston, evidently) I try to nail down how fit I am sometime between Hampton (Early March) and Eastern States (late March.) I use Eastern states as a final long run, with some tempo thrown in if I am fit enough.
I think I ran the damn thing at an 8:10 pace last year, or something truly ridiculous. That's when I knew I was in shape to crush the every loving crap out of Boston. (then it was 900 degrees and I adjusted, accordingly.)
So, we shall see how it goes at ES this Sunday, I am in the process of catching a cold so that will be a terrific excuse if things don't go all that well! As of right now, unless the weather on Marathon Monday is one bazillion degrees I feel fit enough to run a 3:40. (I feel like I have become fairly good at guessing, so this is probably pretty accurate!) (If it is 80 then, nope.)
Eric predicts a 3:42 finish, and he says this is "weather related" and because "Boston is HARD." (it is.)
(FYI by best Boston was, I believe 3:31 and my worst was 3:54 because I ran like a douche canoe.)

So, if anyone AT ALL has made it this far, I have questions for you!
-Have you ever run Boston and do you think it is HARD (IT IS SHUT UP!)
-What is your go-to workout, that you think helps you more than ANY other?
-How do you go about predicting your race finish times? Logic and reason? Magic 8 ball?


  1. This is an awesome post - I really enjoyed this peek into your training. Your marathon consistency is very impressive to me. One of my big goals is to really slow down my recovery days..then I get out there..and I'm like "crap, I have so much shit to do, I gotta get this over with...I'll just go a little faster..."..and 6 miles later I've gone a minute faster per mile than I had hoped to. Fail. I will keep trying.

    Also..fantastic use of "douche canoe"...might be one of my new faves.

    And..yes, Boston is WAY hard. I've never had quad issues before, but after cresting Heartbreak last year, I took one step going down and both my quads were on FIRE. I've never felt that before in my life and had to laugh at it, and cry, at the same time!

    1. Thanks Jamie! I don't claim to be an expert, but someone who IS an expert once told me "if you can't run your recovery days SLOW, than you are better off taking a rest day!" I really took those words of wisdom to heart, especially since, at that time, I was dealing with injuries. (Not to give ALL the cred to the slow days.... but I have been quite healthy since!!)
      I can completely relate to that first stem down Heartbreak... It's such a slap in the face!!

  2. Ran Boston twice back in the dark ages (1979, 1980): No fueling, compression gear, etc.
    It's great you are doing long intervals. Do you ever substitute a tempo run for an interval day?

    1. Yes I do! I have actually had several very successful tempos during this cycle. I tend to use my "lead up" races as tempo days- having people to chase motivates me to put in a good effort for more miles than I'd care to do on my own :-)