NYC Marathon Training Highlights

13-miler

This is the first marathon training cycle since I’ve been blogging where I didn’t really blog and post updates of my weekly training. It was a busy fall and blogging was at the bottom of the priority list. So this will be a once over of the training cycle with some key workouts and breakthroughs that helped me run a PR at the NYC Marathon. (I try to post all of my runs and workouts on Instagram!)

But before I get into the training cycle, I feel it warrants a brief discussion on what I was doing over the summer. The 2-3 months after Boston were not fun (as I’ve discussed before). Each time I tried to build my mileage up or increase intensity again, I would almost immediately begin to feel drained and exhausted (which would last a week or two). I remember one run in particular – I had made it maybe 2 miles before stopping because I was out of breath and just not feeling right. I walked and ran the 1 mile back to my house and questioned if I would ever have the energy to run double digits again, let alone race a marathon. Sometime around mid-July, I started to feel like myself again and the mileage started creeping up.

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    2016 Brooklyn Mile Race Recap

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    I stumbled upon the inaugural Brooklyn Mile several weeks ago when I was searching for some shorter races to run before fall creeps in and knew that I wanted to run it. It sounded awesome – fairly local (about 45 min away), a good course and the option for my kids to run in a separate heat (if they wanted to).

    I brought it up to my husband and boys soon after – and both boys were pumped at the idea of their own special race. Kids are pretty funny – my oldest asked me how long it was. I told them it was a little longer than the race they did in Alaska but much, much shorter than the 5k my oldest and I did together in June. His response – “Oh that’s good. Because that was so hard, Mommy.” #motheroftheyear

    I finally got around to registering for the race last week and was stunned and honored when I received the email inviting me to the elite field. Local runners know just how many elite and professional runners are in the area – there are so many big named track clubs in/around NYC and I knew these ladies would be out in force for this race.

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      Current State of Running + Why I Run Marathons

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      Check out Instagram for a fun summer giveaway by Nathan Sports!——-

      I drafted so many posts the last 4-5 weeks with updates on running, but each time, I was hesitant to share the progress I had been feeling because I didn’t know if it was permanent. I didn’t want to come here and shout that I was feeling great to only feel like garbage two or three days later.

      Even now, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m finally on the road to recovery. It’s two full months since Boston – 60 days. Almost 9 weeks. I had what I guess you can call my best week of running post-Boston last week. 44 miles with a whooping 13 mile long run. I know it doesn’t sound like much, especially when Timehop reminded me this morning that I ran a 63+ mile week one year ago. BUT, it is a huge improvement for me – given how I have been feeling the last two months.

      To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% sure what caused me to feel the way I did (and still do to a lesser degree). I think it was a combination of a whole lot of things – nutrition, lack of sleep, back-to-back-to-back tough, breakthrough cycles. And so I’ve been working hard to get those things back in check. Vitamins every day. More sleep at night. Naps on the weekend. Lots of rest and recovery.

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        Boston Marathon Training – By the Numbers

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        I did this kind of post in the fall with Wineglass – and loved being able to recap and rehash the 3+ months I pushed for the marathon.

        This training cycle was a breakthrough for me – for a few different reasons. I will add that I consider the “cycle” to be from the start of the New Year until race day. I had been running fairly consistently through the New Year – but wasn’t following a training plan nor was I doing dedicated speedwork. It was more of the “I feel good today, let’s try this fun workout” or “I’ll go for 12-16 and see how I feel” for the long run. Most of my “long” runs were between 10-13 miles during the three months post-Wineglass with a few being a few miles higher (nothing over 16).

        First, it was truly the first time where I felt my race times matched my training (not Boston, but NYC Half). I had all but come to the conclusion that I am just a fast trainer. I like doing my long runs at a good pace and my tempos are fast (for me). For other runners, those paces may indicate a certain finish time in a race, but for me, they always seemed to be slower. For a long time, I was worried that I was pushing too hard in training. But then NYC Half happened and that was all the proof I needed to know that I had been training correctly (for me).

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          Base Building + 17 Weeks til Boston!

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          The period in between training cycles is always a hard time for me. It’s my nature to want to keep moving forward and pushing hard to improve. But, the reality is that although some people can keep up the intensity and mileage each week of the year, neither my body nor my mind can handle it. I need a bit of a break from the routine and following a training plan.

          That’s not to say that I am not running or doing speed workouts or even running long. I am. Running makes me happy and it’s the best way for me to start the day and I’ve never been a fan of taking long periods of time off (I find I do much better with easy runs / lower mileage). Right now, it’s very unstructured. I decide what kind of speedwork I feel like doing when it’s time to start. I have a very wide range of miles I hope to hit for my long run (usually 4-6 miles). I allow myself to sleep in if I’m not feeling great, not feeling a run or if the weather is lousy. Rather than trying to get faster or run longer, my focus is more on just maintaining.

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            Unplanned Easy Week

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            Each marathon training cycle has it’s ups and downs. There are good weeks, bad weeks. Great runs, not-so-great runs. It’s all part of a normal, healthy training cycle.

            I’d like to think that I push myself pretty hard on my “on” days – intervals, tempos, long runs. I’ve been seeing some good improvement with paces, endurance and recovery times.

            But the last few weeks have been different. I have had no desire, energy or motivation to push when I reached the point in workouts where things get tough. And I’ve just quit. Gotten off the treadmill, hit “stop” on my garmin. And called it a day.

            It started the week we were in Florida during my 3×2 workout. I chalked it up to being tired from vacation and all the walking around we were doing in Disney. Then, I had a great 1 mile race that weekend and felt like I was ready to go full-force the last six weeks of Boston training. I had a solid week of training – logged the planned miles, hit the paces in workouts and felt good.

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              The Pain of Mile Repeats

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              Mile repeats were on the training plan earlier this week. In my opinion, mile repeats are the most painful speed workout. Running pretty darn hard for ~6+ minutes – with not a ton of rest (2:30) – and then doing it all over again. And again. And so on. 600s and 800s hurt – but I’m only running hard for 2+ or 3+ minutes, respectively. Mile repeats are more of a slow, painful death.

              But despite all this, I kind of love them. I find that I get almost giddy with excitement when I see them on the training calendar. I think part of my love stems from my history with them. I began doing mile repeats when I was training for the 2007 Army Ten Miler (as a member of the Fort Hood team).

              I remember the first track workout we did – 2×1600, 2×800 and 2×400. And I vividly remember my legs shaking uncontrollably by the last couple of laps – where it seemed like I was walking. My split times were not impressive and I am fairly certain I was the slowest girl on the team that morning.

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                Boston Marathon Training (T-11)

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                Photo via Twitter

                Well, apparently we have another six weeks of winter to look forward to. Way to go, Punxsutawney Phil.

                I remember saying a few weeks ago that I felt like winter had been fairly mild. Yes, we had some cold days. But we hadn’t had any snow or any days where it was just plain miserable to be out running. Well, all that changed rather quickly and last week was a another week of horrendous weather (that much of the country has been dealing with).

                I managed to run outside three times – and was forced to the treadmill the other three (once because of the blizzard and twice because of ice on the ground).

                Monday
                Planned: 8-9 miles with 6×20 sec strides
                Actual: 10 miles – no strides

                I did this run as the snow was starting to fall Monday morning – I knew that at least two days would likely be on treadmill so I wanted to save my I’m going to lose my mind cards for later in the week when it was 100% necessary.

                It was actually quite beautiful to be out while the snow was starting to fall but I opted out of the strides because the roads were pretty slushy by the time I was finishing up.

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                  Recovery + Speedwork + Honolulu Marathon

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                  Early morning miles with Jacqueline!

                  The Potomac River Run Marathon was just over three weeks ago and I just had my first real speedwork. I took a few days off from running (and any sort of physical activity) after the marathon but started back up with short, easy runs mid-week. Since then, I’ve gradually increased mileage while keeping virtually all running to a super easy pace (I didn’t wear a Garmin at all for the first two weeks of running).

                  The mileage looked like this:
                  – 1 week post-marathon: 4 days of running – 22 miles
                  – 2 weeks post-marathon: 6 days of running – 47.5 miles (including 10 miles with 10 x 1:00 on, 1:00 off -> no set pace)
                  – 3 weeks post-marathon: 6 days of running – 47 miles (including 8 miler with 4 mile progression -> no set pace)

                  I think there are multiple ways to recover from a goal race. I used to be of the mindset that I HAD to take an entire week off from running after a marathon and a few days off after a half marathon. My coach is of a different mindset, and believes in more of an active recovery. It was a change for me to run the day after a half marathon – even when I was a bit sore. But a short 3-4 miler and then a string of easy runs can work just as good, if not better, than complete rest.

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                    New Fall Marathon + How To Run A Faster Marathon

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                    So not so great news to share…I have deferred my entry for the Wineglass Marathon until next year. Life, family and circumstances sometimes get in the way of our big plans and goals and as much as I was looking forward to racing in a few short weeks, ultimately, it really was the best decision for me, my training and my family. (Not trying to be vague but also not sharing all the details here.)

                    I hope to still race a marathon sometime in November – just haven’t registered for one yet. My short-list (right now) includes: Philly, Richmond and Potomac River Run. Have you raced any of these? Thoughts?

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                    I wanted to share my thoughts on how to run a faster marathon. Let me preface this all by saying that after taking a considerable amount of time off from my first to second marathons, I’ve mostly stayed at the same finish time (I’m working on improving that time right now and will obviously update this as necessary when I do!).

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                      Marathon Recovery + Descending Ladder

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                      Truth: I am not the best with marathon recovery. Maybe because it’s usually the end of a training cycle so the need to recover well to get back into training is low…meaning: recovery is not the most important thing. I tend to stay pretty sedentary, drink too little water and do zero stretching/rolling. This time was different. I have upcoming racing plans (lots to share about the rest of 2014 – won’t share right now since it kind of lends itself to a full post) so there was/is a need to recover and recover WELL. I am by no means saying that I am an expert in marathon recovery. But I think what I did have worked for me. I am 11 days post marathon and my legs feel fresh, my energy is high and my desire to train hard is stronger than it’s been in months. All good things. Especially given how beat up my quads felt after the marathon (which I think was from all the downhill running). Here’s what I did: Sunday (race day):

                      • Vega Recovery: After a quick walk through of the Asics post-race tent, I got my checked bag, grabbed my Vega Recovery drink mix and downed it with 16 oz of water. I started using the recovery accelerator during my fall marathon training cycle and loved it and have continued to use it after almost every run. I feel like it works. From the Vega website:

                      The first all-natural, plant-based recovery drink mix specifically developed to address all six key elements of post-workout recovery: muscle glycogen replenishment, muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis, hormonal support, soft-tissue repair, immune system support, inflammation reduction and rehydration.

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                        Less Black and White Workouts

                        I’ve always been a big fan of workouts during marathon training where it’s easy to track progress: set intervals (400, 800, 1600), set distance and pace tempo runs, even wave tempos (odd miles at a fast pace, even miles at a pace about a minute slower). From week to week, my goal is either to increase the duration, distance or speed. These are black and white workouts that are easy to track improvements as well as predict race times.

                        I’ve tried to relax a bit more this training cycle. After Philly, I looked at my training from the fall – and more importantly, at my approach to my training. I think having these black and white workouts numerous times a week may have been too much for me mentally. I tend to get so wrapped around a certain pace in workouts, that if things aren’t feeling great or I don’t hit the paces, I view the workout as a failure. I also have the tendency to push harder than I should in training because it’s pretty awesome to see splits drop from week to week. And I also know that I got so wrapped around what the predictors predicted for my race time, that I think I overshot my ability. (I was working at near race effort for some of the workouts.)

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