How is it possible that my fall marathon is just over SIX weeks away? That seems so close and between a trip to San Francisco for a good friend’s wedding, school starting, potential start of full-time work for me (more on that later), I know the next few weeks are going to fly by.
Two weeks since my last update. Lots of tough but successful runs that are getting me excited to lay it all out there in six weeks. Here are the highlights:
10 mile steady state miles – Getting comfortable at a moderate pace
First steady state run this cycle. Steady state pace is a tough one for me. It’s slower than tempo but faster than an easy run. You should feel a bit uncomfortable the whole run, but not pushing too hard. You want to get a good workout in but not feel wiped at the end. Goal pace was 7:30-7:40. I tried to stay there but found it was easier to keep pace just under 7:30 (I felt like I was actually fighting my body to keep it above 7:30), so I went with it.
The hardest part for me was jumping into that pace. I typically take a few miles to find my rhythm – my first mile is usually between 8:15-8:30 so to start at 7:30 was challenging – and the hardest mile for me. But, I finally settled in and found a good rhythm. 10 total miles – 7:26 pace. Splits: 7:29, 7:29, 7:26, 7:28, 7:26, 7:23, 7:29, 7:22, 7:26, 7:21.
8-mile tempo – Try, try again (Aug 5, Aug 6)
This was a planned 10 miler with middle 8 @ tempo 7:00-7:10. I made it 4 miles before quitting. It was hot and humid and I just felt like I was suffocating. Looking back, I probably started too fast and should have adjusted more for the temps.
I made it 4.3 miles, took a 30-45 sec breather and tried to finish. I made it to 5 and called it quits on the workout. Second failed workout in a row (previous week was 4 mile LT tempo). I was annoyed with myself for quitting again. And immediately started doubting my ability and recent gains. I had no intentions of giving the workout another try, but when I got on treadmill the next day (my husband was away for work), I decided to go for it. My legs were tired but I mentally needed this workout so fought hard for it. Splits: 7:08, 7:08, 7:08, 7:03, 7:03, 7:03, 6:58, 6:55
Two things about this. One: it’s not necessarily ideal to have run 5 tempo miles on Wednesday and then 8 more on Thursday. Not something I would recommend nor do on a regular basis. It’s a lot of stress for the body. Two: this was more about the mental aspect of running. I needed to prove to myself that I could get this workout in after two straight failed tempo workouts. And for me to remind myself that I don’t quit when things get hard. So for that reason, it was okay to do back to back hard runs. (Note: plan called for 7-8 on Friday – I did 6 and slowed it way down and then took a rest day on Sunday).
First 20 Miler – It’s not always about the pace (Aug 8)
I sometimes feel like I’m not the best at heeding my own advice. I have talked a lot over the last year about how pace is not paramount on most of my runs and how I’m learning to focus on effort. But the truth is, it’s easy to say this and believe that you are doing this when the pace you are seeing is what you want or expecting.
The reality is that for my long runs, my average pace is almost always somewhere between upper 7:40s and upper 7:50s (during warm, summer months it’s usually around 7:55-8:00). So even though I am running by effort, the pace matches the effort. Which makes it 100x easier to run by effort.
But about about those times when the effort is there but the pace just isn’t matching up? This is a struggle for me during workouts. I want to run by effort but I also want to see a certain pace.
In years past, there have been countless long runs where I quit after feeling tired early on. I didn’t want to run 16, 18, 20 miles on super tired and potentially slower-paced running legs. I often would set out and run anywhere from 5-8 miles and call it a day and try again the next day on more rested legs.
But that’s not where gains happen. Strength is achieved when you fight through those miles. And get the distance and time in on tired legs because THAT is what the last few miles of a marathon feels like.
After the back to back tempos, my legs were toast. I ran an easy paced 6 miles on Friday and then the boys and I headed up to West Point for the annual TK celebration (dinner and banquet).We stayed at the banquet until about 10pm and then it was off to bed for me and the little guys.
West Point is nothing but hills. Some rolling, some long, steep climbs. I ran the first 10 on West Point, the next 7 out in Highland Falls and the last 3 back on West Point. 1650 feet of gain (and 75% of that in the first 10 miles).
It was one of those runs where you just feel tired and sore from the first step and you have to literally fight for every step. But 20 miles = 20 miles. Splits: 8:03, 8:21, 9:23 (seems off – wasn’t much of a hill for this mile), 7:34, 7:33, 8:05, 7:58, 8:19, 8:18, 7:55, 8:16, 8:01, 7:50, 8:02, 8:05, 7:46, 8:02, 7:47, 7:46, 7:36. Splits are all over the place, but it’s a good indication of how hilly the course was.
5 x mile repeats – Going outside comfort zone (Aug 12)
First mile repeats this training cycle. I am not comfortable running at these paces – mostly because I don’t typically do anything shorter than 2 mile tempo intervals. But mile repeats are a great workout because they push you outside your comfort zone and make tempos feel more manageable (and tempos make marathon pace feel easier/more sustainable).
This was a tough, challenging, mental workout – especially since I had to do it on the treadmill (husband was away for work). It’s tough to do mile repeats, but tougher when you have to interact with your 2 and 4 year old while in the middle of a repeat (most of time, I would just tell them “give mommy two minutes!” until it was recovery time!).
Focus was on starting on slower end and working down. Success. 2 miles up, 5 x mile with 400m recovery (roughly 2:25 @ 9:30 pace), 2 miles down. Mile Splits: 6:31, 6:27, 6:24, 6:22, 6:17.
Long Tempo – When everything comes together (Aug 15)
Most of my workouts are challenging and I often feel like I am barely hitting paces I hope for. But then there are those workouts where you far exceed your expectations (and feel good in the process) and walk away with confidence that the hard work and determination you’ve been putting forth is paying off.
Plan called for 4 easy, 7 @ tempo, 4 easy. After a couple of miles of warmup and progressively faster miles, I decided to jump the gun and start the tempo a mile early. I knew it was only going to get warmer out and I wanted to try to get the miles in as soon as I could.
Tempo miles intimidate me. Since starting this training cycle, my tempo long run pace has gotten faster and longer. These are challenging, uncomfortable runs but extremely satisfying – not to mention important in helping build my strength for running marathon miles faster.
Goal was to start tempo conservative and see how things felt as the miles went by. It was already 72 degrees and 62 dew point – so the air felt a bit sticky and humid. But once I started, I could tell it was going to be a good tempo. My legs had some pop and my breathing was controlled. And each successful mile added to my confidence and determination to keep pushing. Tempo Splits: 7:06, 7:06, 7:02, 6:55, 6:58, 6:45, 6:40. 6:56 average. This was my fastest long run tempo ever – and fastest miles I’ve ever seen in a long run.
After those tempo miles, the remaining miles ticked by and felt GOOD – something that ordinarily doesn’t happen after pushing hard for so many miles. But rather than fight it, I focused on heart rate. Warmup splits: 7:57, 7:37, 7:21; Last 5 splits: 7:35, 7:25, 7:19, 7:30, 7:04
Overall average pace of 7:15 – my fastest 15 miles in training. Workouts like this recharge and energize me for the workouts or long runs where I feel like I am just plodding along. Keep the faith that the hard work is paying off – even if you don’t feel or see it on a regular basis. It will come together (eventually) in one single run and make you start dreaming just a little bit bigger!
I celebrated by heading down to Atlantic City for my sister’s bachelorette party!!! Felt amazing to get a massage, have a few drinks, eat delicious food and spend fun time with my favorite ladies in the world!
The rest of my time lately has been filled with my guys. I have made a HUGE effort to cut back almost completely on social media and phone use and even blogging during the day. I’m finding I’m more patient, calm and happy when I am not connected to my phone 24/7 and I have more time to do fun things with them – like teaching them how to swim without swimmies (they both do now!).