Training Update: Good Intentions

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Prior to our trip to Alaska, I hadn’t taken a day off from running in weeks. My new coach has me running seven days a week right now – often one long run, one or two workouts and the remainder easy/recovery runs (8 miles each)- with one of those being lower mileage (5-6 miles). It’s definitely out of my comfort zone and I’ve always been a big proponent of having one full rest day, but I’ve put my faith in my experienced coach and will follow what he prescribes.

It’s been a while (= weeks) since I’ve given any type of training updates, so before I get into my running in Alaska, let me rewind a bit more.

Week Prior to Vacation: 7 runs, 2 workouts, 59 miles

  • Workout #1: 10 miles w/ 5x mile repeats with 1/4 mile recovery (roughly 2:15-2:30). Splits: 6:35, 6:33, 6:34, 6:37, 6:39. Positive splits were the name of the game. It was 81 degrees + 62 dew point = 143 suck factor. I knew I should adjust the target paces but my body doesn’t always follow what my mind thinks. I started too fast and paid for it by the end.
  • Workout #2: 15 miles. 7:35 average pace with 600 ft of elevation gain. I’ve mentioned recently how I’m trying to focus on taking harder routes (more hills) in training to help me become a stronger runner. After my normal 1.5 miles out and back (I run south to the end of the island), I decided to run north 6 miles – a route that I often shy away from b/c of some of the big hills. I was surprised to see the splits I was hitting on the way out and when I turned around, realized I had a pretty strong tailwind, so despite feeling like I was taking it easier, my paces began to drop. This was a great run for me and I walked away feeling like I was starting to get my legs back. Splits: 7:58, 7:48, 7:46, 7:43, 7:47, 7:39, 7:40, 7:35, 7:39, 7:30, 7:35, 7:29, 7:25, 7:17, 6:59. 

Two weeks ago: 6 runs, 2 workouts (1 missed workout), 59 miles

  • Workout #1: 9 miles with 10 x 400m hill repeats. Coach wanted me to find a hill with 3-5% slope. I have never done hill repeats outside before so ran to the biggest and longest hill I could think of – it’s just about 1/4 mile long. I began the repeats. By the 3rd one, my legs were shot and the splits I had planned on trying to hit were a distance memory. As it turns out, the hill was a 9% grade – soway steeper than planned! I don’t remember the last time my legs burned so much during a run!

    photo (5)

    Old picture of the hill I used for repeats

  • Workout #2 – 16 miles (below)

I had a lot of good intentions during our vacation, but I didn’t want running to be the most important thing I did while we were gone and therefore, there were a couple of missed days of running.  On our travel day out to Alaska, we had an early wakeup (4am) in order to make our 7am flight. I very briefly thought about waking up at 2am to get my 8 miles in but logic and my husband telling me I was crazy won out and I planned to run after we arrived in Alaska. After 18+ hours of travel, we arrived at my in-laws home just after 6pm (10pm east-coast time) and the LAST thing I wanted to do was head out and run. I hadn’t seen my in-laws since January and realized it would be quite rude to leave to run.  So I chalked it up to an unplanned rest day.

The next six days of running were on the bikepath that paralleled the highway by my in-laws home. It was the safest option for me while we were at Nancy Lake.  It was also the hilliest option – there was literally no stretch of flat road in either direction (north or south). I was either running on rolling hills or running up or down some pretty good climbs (the longest was about 2/3 of a mile long). I had a tough time with my garmin keeping a signal and after a couple of days, just stopped wearing it and used the mile markers on the side of the road to determine distance/pace (I ran with my phone for safety). The days looked like this:

  • Wednesday: OFF
  • Thursday: 8.5 milesphoto (62)
  • Friday: 8 miles with 4 “fast” in the middle. This was supposed to be a tempo run but the combination of still feeling jet lagged + the hilly route, my coach and I decided to just do some faster running instead. The splits for those were all between 7:15-7:30.
  • Saturday: 10 miles
  • Sunday: 16 miles. One of the toughest runs I have done in a long time. There was close to 2,000 feet of gain over the 16 miles. After three days of hill running, my legs were toast by mile 12/ (63)
  • Monday: 6 mile recovery run with my husband
  • Tuesday: 8 miles (~7:50 pace). First time where I felt in control of the hills and strong for the whole run

On Tuesday morning, we traveled north 3+ hours to Denali National Park and stayed until Thursday afternoon. I assumed that the lodge we were staying in would have a gym with a treadmill which would allow me to do my first real speed workout in two weeks. Bad assumption. There was no such gym. The lodge was along the highway and there were no running or biking paths – and so the only option was the trails in the park and I just didn’t feel comfortable or safe enough to do that on my own. So two more days of missed running.

It wasn’t a total wash since we did some serious hiking those two days. Eachday was about 4 hours of hiking – and both had some good climbing (2nd day was almost to the top of Mt Healy – about 4,000 feet of climbing) – and with my youngest son on my back. So although I didn’t run, I still got some great cross training.

photo (66)

We returned from Denali and I managed to get back into a rhythm for a few day:

  • Friday: 8 miles
  • Saturday: 8 miles
  • Sunday: 13 miles – this was my “long” run for the week and so I went a bit faster/harder than a normal easy run. I averaged about 7:50 for the whole run with the last 6 miles closer to (64)
  • Monday: 10 miles

Tuesday was planned speed work but I skipped the next two days due to some hip pain that had developed after walking around Monday afternoon. I was carrying my youngest a lot more than I normally do (on my right hip – which is where the pain developed) so I stretched and let it rest for a few days. This coincided with our return from Alaska – so lots of sitting down on the plane and car.

Overall, I am pretty happy with how running went while we were on vacation. I didn’t follow my training plan perfectly and there were some bumps along the way, but I managed to get a few key workouts in (long runs) without it taking away from time with my family or from me from doing the fun things we had planned.

How do you juggle being on vacation and running? 


I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    13 thoughts on “Training Update: Good Intentions

    1. This post is so great! We came back from our 9 day Alaska trip and I didn’t go for a single run while we were away. I was super bummed and made a few attempts but got scared away by all the bear warnings and fresh prints! Not running was especially disheartening since I am in the middle of marathon training but staying in campgrounds every night (we were in an RV) made it extremely difficult to find a safe running route. It’s so tough to find the right time to run on vacation especially when you are with a group of non-runners so I just let it go. It took a couple weeks to get back to where I was before the trip but more importantly 9 days off wasn’t the end of the world and I still bounced back. I hear you, running on family vacations is tough but that family time/relax time is totally worth it! :)
      Lauren @Wanderlust On The Run recently posted..Finally! And grabbing this year by the horns.My Profile

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    3. I’d love to have a REAL vacation!!!! mostly I just take RUn-cations. I’m a fan of the no rest day plans, but one of my days each week is very very lite like “run 2 miles easy” type day. Of course lately, being hurt, every day is an easy day…
      Holly recently posted..Comedy of Injury errors.My Profile

    4. Wow! I’m feeling pumped up and inspired reading your workouts! I’m going to be working on a marathon training plan for myself for philly and need the inspiration :) It must have been amazing to run in alaska! I think a no pressure attitude is the key to enjoyable vacation running. Unless you happen to be a month away from a goal marathon or something :)
      Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted..5 Excuse-Proof Reasons To Quit Calorie-Free Sweeteners Right NowMy Profile

    5. Juggling vacation (especially with little ones) and running can be so tough. You did amazingly though! And those hilly runs are totally going to help you in the long run. Nice work Michele!
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..A Second ChanceMy Profile

    6. What a training schedule you did during your holiday, good job.
      My holiday hasn’t yet begun, but I will train and workout as I usually do, except I have to skip the gym.

    7. I just do the best i can and let it go when i cant get a run or workout in…i run 3x a week, bike 2 and cross train other days with plyo, weights and yoga:) So i often try to find a yoga class hubby and i can do together and i choose more HIIT/plyo intesne stuff thats shorter than my normal hour workout…LOVE purelytwins for this…when i was in NYC my Aunt in law spins so i got out to one of her spin classes. Which was perfect since i was training for my first Duathalon at the time.