Tag Archives: marathon training

Marathon Training Recap – Weeks 1-4

Instead of recapping my marathon training on a daily or weekly basis, I am going for the corporate-style quarterly update. I am hoping to provide some business style charts, a la:

This chart depicts my utopian training cycle where blue = pain and red = speed

Since there are 16 weeks of training there will be 4 updates. Each one will be comprised of the quarterly report (like in business, but with less corruption and pantyhose. oh, and no bogus bonuses) and a topic germane to marathon training. So check out how I have been making out and then let us all know how your training is going (marathon or any other distance/race)!

Update 1 – Weeks 1-4

Quarterly Report

Summary: Feeling really good to be back in the swing of a training plan! I incorporated some speed and tempo work this month, which was pretty great considering I had not been doing any in over a year. I am sure by the end of this cycle I will resume my normal love/hate relationship with tempo runs. But for now, it is honeymoon central! My long runs this month seemed, uh, not really long. Weeks 1 & 2 were 9-milers, week 3 was bumped because I was on vacation and it got split over 2 days and Week 4 was 11 miles, run while I was combating jet lag.  So this month’s long runs? Meh. On the plus side, my average pace is already faster than during ultra training, which helped stymie my fear that I would never run my normal pace again (yeah, I know that is dumb! the paranoid mind of a runner, what can you do?) and the runs only get longer from here, so I am looking forward to that!

Tweaks and twinges : I am in a constant battle to keep my upper hammies/butt muscles loose, which means I am always stretching, icing and foam rolling. As long as I am good about that, they stay happy. Since around our Rhode Island trip, I have also noticed some plantar fasciitis creeping in, which is something that comes and goes with me since around my college years. However, this time I am feeling pain in my heel instead of arch, so that is something new. I have been lazy about it so far, but am committing to stretching to get it sorted out (I even booked marked a stretching exercise page in my iPhone, so you know I am serious!).

Mental Runitude: Excellent! Feeling highly motivated and ready to work. This month has been pretty easy, so no sign  fatigue yet.

from go.liverfoundation.org

Topic du Quarter – NUTRITION

Nutrition is something many runners struggle with that takes a lot of time to figure out. There is so much to say about this topic and since brevity (ahem) is not my strong suit, I am going to limit my comments to long run nutrition and what works for me. For me, long runs at this point are anything over 10 or so miles. Feel free to leave questions about all aspects of nutrition in the comments section, though, as this is a tough nut to crack!

Night before: As with many thing in my running life (ok, life period) I am a creature of habit and ritual. The night before a long run almost always means a bowl of whole grain pasta, red sauce, broccoli and some sort of protein (sometimes chicken, but more and more often a soy-based one).  I eat enough so that I feel a little fuller than normal. I have a sensitive stomach and can’t handle eating too much right before I run, so I have found it easier on my digestion system to front-load rather than cramming  in calories the morning of. I also leave a glass of water on my nightstand and drink every time I wake up through the night.

Morning of:  I am jealous of the people who do the banana or bagel with honey and PB combo, as that is delicious! However, through trial and error I have realized that nuts and long runs are not BFF’s when partying it up in my duodenum. I have to stick to really bland, easy stuff. I often do my long runs first thing, and on a run of ~10-13 miles, I will eat a few large handfuls of dry cereal and maybe a ShotBlok or two beforehand.  I love me some GU Chomps and ShotBloks, but I find their chewiness hard to deal with as I run, so I rely on them pre- and post-workout.  For runs longer than 13-14 miles, I eat the cereal as well as a piece of toast or an English Muffin doused in honey and cinnamon. I drink a few sips of water, but not too much.

During Run: Depending on the run and how my stomach is feeling, I vacillate on how/what I eat and drink while I run. A quick note here – it does not matter too much what you eat (GUs, chomps, homemade gels, candy, etc.) but it is very important that you eat on these longer runs. Yes, your body has lots of energy stored, but not all of it is easily accessible and as you get into runs that are hours long, your body will greatly appreciate the calories/carbs/electrolytes that you provide to it. I know some people like to tough it out sans food, but don’t be a hero here.  Food is fuel and you will have a much better run with a properly filled tank. With ultra training, I would often wait until I felt like I wanted food (sometime around the 1.5 hr mark) and eat as needed. With marathon training, though, I am actually pushing my body a little harder pace-wise and I do better on a schedule. For me that means 1/2 a GU on the 45 min mark, the second half on the 65 min mark and repeat as many times as hours I run. I am not a fan of carrying my own water on my person on long runs, so I stash it the night before on my course. Every 5 miles, there is a bottle of water waiting for me and I drink as needed (I go back and pick them up after). I have long learned that a set amount of water is silly for me – what I need varies widely depending on weather and how grouchy my stomach is that day so I just drink by feel.

Post-run: I immediately grab a large glass of ice water and add a Nuun tablet to it. I find this reduces any chance of a headache later in the day, which used to be something I would regularly have after a long run. My stomach takes awhile to settle, so I will typically spend time stretching, icing and foam rolling and then take a shower. By about an hour after I run I am ready for food, and my go-to is almost always a large bowl of cereal ( 3 types mixed together ideal!). Throughout the day, I try to drink quite a bit and eat a protein heavy dinner to help with the micro tears in my muscles.

Foods that work for me before/during runs: Any type of gel (GU just happens to be my favorite), animal crackers, watermelon with salt sprinkled on it, pretzels, Honey Stinger waffles, hard candies (including ginger flavored when nausea hits), straight shots of honey, water, diluted Gatorade.

Foods that have my stomach screaming bloody murder before/during runs: dairy products (esp yogurt), nuts, anything heavy or spicy, anything with too much fiber, sushi (that’s a “before”, not a “during”, lol), chewy candy (like Swedish fish. I had high hopes for candy as I love it so, but during runs it just makes me feel ick – but lots of people find that gummy worms, etc, work well!), salt tabs  (wanted to like these b/c they offer easy electrolytes but they give me heartburn).

If you also suffer from a persnickety stomach that has you wondering what its damage is (yup, that’s a Heathers reference), this link will help you figure out hydration and electrolytes. Scroll down and look at the  table at the bottom to help you zone in on what your issue is and how to solve it.

I could yammer on forever about this stuff, but as it is this post will take you almost as long to read as it did for me to complete Weeks 1-4, so I will shut up now 🙂

How is your training cycle treating you?

What foods do and don’t work on your runs (of any distance)?


Filed under Uncategorized

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan – Fall Marathon Training

CIR Program note: Join me live here on the blog during the early morning broadcast of the women’s Olympic marathon 6 am ET, Sunday, August 5th. I’ll be live blogging through the event and you can live comment through it and that way we can feel like we are watching it together but no one has to get out of their PJ’s. GO TEAM USA!!!!!!

Marathon training started this week! Yahoo! I am signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon , set for Sunday, November 18th. As previously noted, this is race is a favorite of mine for a number of reasons. In the spirit of my Lizzie, here is a list why:

1.  Mid-November is usually prime running weather in the Northeast. Many years have been near perfect conditions – bright sunny skies, high temps in the 50s or 60s.

2. The course is fantastic – plenty of eye candy to keep your mind occupied (Center City, Fairmount Park, Kelly Drive, Manayunk) and not too hilly, which suits this flatlander just fine (all my hill work is completed on Ocean Drive bridges. Not ideal, but it’s what I have to work with!).

3. The crowds are great. There are also quiet parts of the course, but I like that. I don’t mind slipping inside myself for periods of time and when you do once again hit a wall of spectators, it feels even more exciting. There is something wonderfully human about marathon spectating – the people who are willing to spend their day cheering on a loved one for few seconds and then hours of cheering on strangers speaks volumes of what our species is capable of. Philly does not disappoint as there is usually a group of people in the Park that dress up in 80s workout clothes and dance to songs like “Let’s Get Physical”, there are the hootin’ and hollerin’ frat boys and sorority sisters, and the people in Manayunk party like it’s 1999, despite the fact that it is 9 am.

4. The race has become more popular in the years that I have been participating (almost doubling in size!) but the race director has done a really good job of growing it smartly. It is very well organized, from the bib pick-up, to the bag drop in UPS trucks, to the corral start (hurray for running with people at your same pace and not being hemmed in!), to the finish line, where despite there being tens of thousands of people, you don’t feel like you have to walk forever to reunite with yours (I’m looking at you, Chicago).

But to enjoy all those things, I first have to make it to the start line.  This can be easier said than done – most marathon training plans are ~16 weeks and an awful lot can happen to derail your plans in 4 months. Family emergencies, injuries, unexpected life events and sometime just a lack of motivation can all conspire against you.  I am among the runners of the world that is very goal driven and wild horses couldn’t drag me away from a plan once I have committed to it. It’s a blessing and a curse (just ask  GD or Lil Sis what a joy I can be because it’s not just race plans that I have a hard time of letting go of once I have my mind set on something!), but for marathon training it’s a blessing. Unless I lose a limb, I’ll be there… and even that is questionable, cause I am kinda a little in love with the Flex-Foot Cheetah and would definitely hop on that carbon fiber train.

I thumbed through a fair number of training plans trying to decide which to try this time around. I want to PR so I needed a plan to help me achieve that. My current PR is 3:57:59 (Garmy said I hit 26.2 at 3:55:xx but that’s not official). This number drives me crazy. Crawl the walls, strap me in a straightjacket and videotape me crying about leaving Britney Spears alone bat-shit crazy! Yes, I am proud of it and worked hard for it… but according to running calculators like this one, my times at other distances would suggest a much faster marathon.  These potential marathon times that the calculator so casually presents to me are the digits I obsess over. “What if, what if, what if?” each footfall during training seems to say.

I will be using the intermediate plan (see below) I found in Runner’s World a few months ago, with some Kashi tweaks. I will try to do as much hill training as South Jersey allows and round it out with more speedwork than is called for to make up the difference. I prefer to have Mondays and Fridays off,  so I will follow a Tuesday (speedwork or hills), Wednesday (easy), Thursday (tempo or some MP mixed with easy), Saturday (long run) and Sunday (easy) schedule.  I will add more tempo work to Thursday workouts than is called for, since I really feel it was the tortuous tempo runs that helped me run my fastest half-marathon.  I will probably add a few more miles in the early weeks, since I am regularly running more than 30 miles right now and I hate going backwards (but I will do this by feel since the speedwork and tempos I will be doing incorporates faster paces than I have run in some time, so it will be critical to make sure my body feels fresh and lower mileage may be the answer to that).  I really love that this plan has multiple 20 (or 22) milers, I think that is going to be perfect for building for mental toughness and confidence. I am also excited to see how the foundation I laid during ultra-running training will translate to this cycle.

Among the many running rituals I engage in is this one – I must have a handwritten plan that hangs on my fridge (I then log the outcomes of all these runs in Excel. Sounds obsessive, but it is an incredible training tool that most running nuts use – whether it is in Excel, on Training Peaks, or through their Garmins, those numbers are the key to cracking your running code). I like standing in front of it, looking at the weeks of running to come and picturing what those long runs are going to be like (as much as I appreciate what tempo runs do for me, nothing will ever touch my love of going  long).

I have much more to say about marathon training, but for Pete’s sake, we have 4 months! I’ll shut my trap for now and just look forward to all the training tales we will share as we enter the fall race season together!

What training plans do you follow?

Do you change them up, or follow to the tee?

What is your favorite part of training?

See ya Sunday!! Go Desi (provided she starts, hoping so!), Shalane and Kara!


Filed under Uncategorized