2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-8, T-7, T-6)

Three week update coming at you today. Life, family and a lot of work got in the way of the last two week’s updates. Work has been nuts. But in a really good, challenging and rewarding way. I’m filling in a good number of the responsibilities of a coworker while she is away on vacation – so the days have been packed and long. By the time I get home at the end of the day, spend some time with my boys, have dinner and put them to sleep, I’m ready for bed. I don’t even open my laptop during the week!

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And the weekends have been filled with lots of family time. My entire family came over last Sunday for an informal dinner and then this past weekend we were in NJ both days – celebrating my mom’s birthday on Saturday at my sister’s home and then taking all the kids to see the Easter Bunny at the Menlo Mall on Sunday.

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I’m at the point in training where things are clicking, the mileage and intensity feel tough but sustainable (for the short term) and I am experiencing some big fitness gains. My reaction is always to put my head down and keep working. It makes sense, right? But my coach had other plans for me two weeks ago. We skipped a long run in lieu of some extra down time. I think it worked well. I feel energized and rested the last couple of weeks and was ready to run hard for the 1 mile race. Only 4 weeks of hard training left.

Here are the highlights from the last three weeks:

Mileage:
Feb 22 – Feb 28: 67 miles over 7 runs
Feb 29 – Mar 6: 44.4 miles over 6 runs (which incl one race)
Mar 7 – Mar 13: 70.1 miles over 7 runs

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This about sums up the last 3 weeks of running!

Key Workouts

11 total miles (7:23 average) with 6 x 1600 (1 mile) repeats
Holy moly. This was a long workout. I can’t remember the last time I did 6x mile repeats in a workout.

This workout started off and I felt just plain awful. There are those days where your legs have that bounce and you know you’ve got the workout. And then there are the days like this one where your legs are dragging and you feel like the first repeat is hard.

I think the biggest improvement I’ve seen, or maybe what makes me the happiest, is that I am mentally stronger than I ever have been. I’ve had a few workouts that either don’t start out great or don’t feel great from start to finish – but I haven’t quit. I think back to previous training cycles a few years ago and I felt like it was a toss-up whether or not I was going to stop and need a pep talk or just straight up quit. The paces don’t matter as much as the effort. Or maybe the effort comes first and then the paces will follow.

Anyway, I stuck with the repeats and ended up having a pretty solid workout.

Splits: 6:25, 6:22, 6:18, 6:15, 6:11, 6:05 (6:16 average)

These were all on the treadmill – set at 1% incline and with 3:00 active recovery (roughly 9:30-10:00 pace).

21 miles @ 7:25 average
This is a faster-than normal long run for me. I ran mostly blind as I typically do for moderate paced long runs (keep watch display as current time – not GPS display). This allows me to focus more on effort and how I feel rather than what my watch is telling me. However, I can see the mile splits when they beep – sometimes I look, sometimes I don’t.

It was a really enjoyable, yet chilly (~20 degrees) long run with lots of rolling hills. There’s a route by my home that I love to run when I want to get some good hills in. Anyone that’s on the southern end of Staten Island knows the three hills along Hylan Blvd by Sea/Tottenville HS as you head south. I did two out and backs along this route and then finished up further south.

[older photo!]

[older photo!]

I’ve been asked a bit about fueling for long runs. I typically don’t eat anything before the run – simply because I’m running pretty early in the morning and for me to eat and digest something would require getting up even earlier on a Saturday. No, thank you. I also haven’t been using gels or chomps – mostly since my husband and I did a reset last month and tried to cut out sugar. My fuel for the last few long runs has been Generation UCan. I put two scoops in a 16 oz bottle of water – drink some before the run and then again in the middle (usually around miles 7/8 and 15/16). It has kept me fueled without causing any stomach issues.

Splits: 7:48, 7:43, 7:39, 7:34, 7:36, 7:38, 7:36, 7:25, 7:34, 7:26, 7:30, 7:22, 7:19, 7:24, 7:25, 7:11, 7:22, 7:22, 7:12, 6:59, 6:35
First 9 @ 7:37
Last 12 @ 7:16

Long workout – 3 x 3 tempo (14 total miles)
This was meant to be an 11-12 miler, but when coach had me skip the long run, he gave me the option of an extra mile or two warmup/cooldown to make this one a bit longer. So it was pretty close to a long tempo.

9 hard miles is a physical challenge, but this workout also is mentally challenging. The best way to approach a workout like this is to break it up into pieces. I first focus on pieces of each set – shorter, even, than a mile. 3 minutes is roughly 1/7 of the first set. Then a mile, then 1/2 done, etc. If you think about how many more miles at goal pace you have to run, it will be easy to quit because you are already tired and the thought of that many more miles is not fun. Once the first set is over, focus on recovery. Enjoy those short 3:00 minutes of heaven before the next long set begins.

I did this workout on the treadmill. My husband was away for work most of the week so it had to happen early and inside. My goal was to finish each individual set faster than it started while also increasing the pace as the sets went on:

Splits: (6:53, 6:53, 6:48), (6:48, 6:48, 6:44), (6:44, 6:44, 6:39)

1 mile race: 5:28 (see race recap)

10 miles with 5 progression tempo
This was an amazing workout. I love progression runs.

They teach you so much body and pace control.

You have to learn how to read your body and not pick up the pace too soon otherwise you won’t be able to continually speed up.

It also teaches you to stay patient. Hold back a bit when the workout begins so you have some left in the tank at the end.

And it teaches you how to finish hard and drop the hammer when you want.

Goal was to start around 6:55 and end in the 6:25-6:30 range. Those numbers scared me. A lot. I think back to two years ago when my tempo pace (on the road) was around 7:05-7:10. Now, I’m ending workouts faster than I raced a 5k two years ago.

Splits: 6:49, 6:44, 6:38, 6:36, 6:26 (6:39 average).

Here’s how the workout went. 1st mile: felt okay. Always takes me a bit to find that groove. Miles 2-3: hard but sustainable. Legs felt good and I was holding back. Mile 4: “I hate my life. This is so hard. I want to quit.” That 2nd to last mile is always the toughest for me. Mile 5: “Everything hurts but the finish is so close. JUST KEEP PUSHING.”

 

22 miles @ 7:34 average
Planned for this run early on Saturday. But since my kids didn’t have soccer and my oldest woke up as I was getting ready, I decided to push it back a bit and enjoy a relaxing morning with him on the couch. Coffee, chocolate milk and “Go Fish”.

By 7:30, it was time to go. I felt awful. I did a strength workout (lots of lunges, squats, step ups) Thursday evening. I knew I would feel it on Saturday but finding time to do these workouts is rare these days, so I opted for the workout + painful long run.

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It was a moderate-effort run but my legs and hips were sore, so it just felt uncomfortable and my stride felt tight and restricted. It ended up being a solid run and I finished with some negative splits.

Splits: 7:56, 7:50, 7:46, 7:39, 7:44, 7:40, 7:41, 7:33, 7:40, 7:30, 7:35, 7:37, 7:30, 7:28, 7:32, 7:22, 7:36, 7:22, 7:31, 7:29, 7:19, 6:57

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Hope your Monday is off to a great start! =)

 

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    9 thoughts on “2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-8, T-7, T-6)

    1. So awesome to see how your training is going so well! Its fascinating that you’re also doing the long runs on Ucan alone. Do you stop at your house to drink from the bottle twice? Or carry some and then drop it off, and then pick it up and drink it again? I use UCAN too, and have made homemade gels to use during a race which is nice because you can add extra salt to the UCAN!

    2. You are such an amazing runner. I too am in awe of you as others have stated. And BTW – your mom is beautiful!!

    3. Thank you for posting! Your workouts are an inspiration for me, and I’m always fascinated to see how you fit everything in with such a busy life. Have a great week!

    4. You are such an inspiration as a runner!! Wishing you all the best in your final few weeks of tough training. You’re going to crush it in Boston!!

    5. EEEEP!!! You are on fire Michele, I couldn’t be happier for you! Also, I can’t believe Boston is so soon- taper will be here before we know it. The good thing is though…that means I get to see you in Boston in a few weeks!
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