Saturday, January 31, 2015

Let's Get it Started!

Boston is a little less than 12 weeks away as I write this! It seems so close yet I have an entire training cycle to complete before I get there. So close, yet so far away and so much hard work between point A and point B. There are a lot of methods and philosophies of training and many factors go into choosing how you will make it happen. For me, I have to find the balance between performance and reality. I have to be at work 40 hours per week, I have a 5 and a 3 year old and I have a husband that is very supportive but also happens to have a 50-70 mile per week running habit. Having a running husband is a double edged sword. He understands and will do what he can to make sure I can run. On the other hand, we both need to run and someone always needs to be watching the kids so this presents some obstacles. Lets talk plans first.

As far as a training plan, I’m going to use the Pfitzinger/Douglas method.  Their book, Advanced Marathoning, is incredibly helpful. They outline their training philosophy and provide numerous variations on their plans. For my first two marathons, I used some random plan I found on the internet. I have no idea what it was. It wasn’t horrible and, the second time around, it did lead me to a BQ, but when I signed up for Chicago in 2008, I decided it was time to take it up a notch. That’s when my husband introduced me to their book. The book outlines plans of different lengths and different weekly mileage. I chose an 18 week plan that topped out at 70 miles per week for Chicago. Not only did I PR in the marathon by 18 minutes but I also PRed in every other distance too. Even in the 5k I went from a 20:45 to a 19:42 blowing away the notion that marathon training makes you slower at shorter distances. It made me a better all-around runner and prepared me for the marathon. I later used their 12 week plan that topped out at 70 miles for the Lincoln Marathon and it was an even better fit for me. Last year, I used the Smart Coach Tool from Runner’s World’s website to train for MS Blues and it was pretty good. It has similar principles but it isn’t quite as intense. I don’t know when I’ll get to run Boston again so I am going aggressive! Pfitzinger/Douglas it is!

The plan you chose for marathon training is going to depend on several factors and is a personal decision. What works for one, may or may not work for another. The only way to find out is trial and error. This will only be my 8th marathon so I have a lot to learn still but I do feel like I have a pretty good idea what works for me. I chose a 12 week plan because the 18 week plan I did in 2008 was just too long. It mentally and physically wore on me and I seemed to get the most gains in the first half of the plan. I chose the 70 mile per week cap for several reasons. I need one true rest day per week meaning no running at all on that day. Some don’t need this but I do for both physical and mental recovery. When you start going over 70 miles per week, this gets hard to do. And I'm not going to lie. 60-70 miles per week is hard on my body. There will be times in this training that I cuss life and wonder why the hell I do this to myself. The thought of 80-90 miles per week is just too much right now. Also, time is a big factor. If I were to go over 70 miles per week, I would need to take a daily nap, do more yoga, have daily massages, etc…  With a full time job and a family, these things aren’t going to happen so 70 miles it is!

The next big thing is logistics. My husband I have gotten really good at this but it is still a big challenge. We are both schedulers by nature so that helps. We also tend to alternate our training a little bit. Since having kids, we’ve never marathon trained at the same time. If one of us is working on something big, the other is training too but not putting in as many miles. Some things will have to change now that I’m training for Boston. I’ve been running at 5 am which was really freeing up my afternoons but now that I’m having to do longer mileage, I’ll have to shift to the afternoon. There’s just no good way to get an 11-15 miler in at 5 am and still make it to work on time. I talked to my boss a few weeks ago and told her I would be leaving early Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in order to get my training in and she said that was fine. I have lots of leave and my patient schedule is usually over by 2:30 so it won’t be a big deal to cut out early a few days a week and it will really help me out. The last time I trained hard for a marathon, I was on a 4 day a week schedule working 10 hour days so I didn’t get to leave work until at least 5 pm. Most of my runs were done in the dark and I got home late. I had to be at work by 6:30 am so going before work wasn’t an option. My schedule is 7:30 to 4:00 now so I have a little bit more wiggle room. I plan to do my Thursday run in the morning still so I can free up some afternoon time for yoga-my other passion. While training for Lincoln, I hit an emotional low point and told my husband that, no matter how fast I ended up running, it wouldn’t be worth it. I of course, changed my mind later. I think the problem was being a first time mom to an 18 month old. He had just weaned a few weeks before I started training so even though my husband is a great hands on dad and had no problem taking up any slack for me, I felt really weird and guilty about it. He was also so little and my schedule was so long that I left the house before he woke up every day and if I had a long run, he might be asleep before I got home. It was tough on me. I’m in a better place now and I have a better schedule so this hopefully won’t be as hard. My husband will get most of his runs in during his lunch break and in the afternoon. Between me leaving early and daycare closing at 6 pm, we should all be able to make it happen.

So here is the plan for week one:
M-Medium Long Run 11 miles
T-8 miles w/10x100m strides
W-Medium Long Run 11 miles
R-Recovery 5 miles
S-Medium Long Run 15 miles
S-Recovery 5 miles
Total mileage: 55

I’m excited that there is no hard speed work the first week. I’ve been doing tempo runs with 6 miles on tempo pace and I just did an hour long race so I’m looking forward to just putting one foot in front of the other without having to push really hard. On the other hand, two medium long runs on random weeknights will not feel like a party. I plan to check in here at least once a week with a rundown of the past weeks training and the plan for the upcoming week.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Finally Feeling Like A Runner Again

So it has been a very long time (as usual). In November 2013, just a few weeks after my last entry, I learned I was anemic. No wonder I couldn’t get back into running. All summer long I pushed myself through marathon training. The mileage went up but the times got slower and slower. I was only mildly anemic so I didn’t recognize the symptoms. I wasn’t having trouble getting out of bed or falling asleep at work but it was devastating my running. I was planning on doing MS Blues just after the first of the year in 2014. About the time the training was getting serious, I got sick. I ended up going to the doctor. My labs showed the anemia and I started an iron supplement. I had missed some critical training and wasn’t sure if it was even wise to go ahead with MS Blues. After some thought, I decided to just see how training went and I could always run it as a training run. I was feeling better and got a 17 miler and two 20 milers in, each faster than the last. As Christmas approached, my easy pace dropped from 8:45 to about 8:00. The iron supplements were doing their job. Going into the marathon, I wasn’t sure what to do. My sudden increase in speed was making it difficult to set a goal. I decided to shoot for a BQ (Boston Qualifier) which is 3:40 for me. The race was warm and windy and course had lots of hills. I ended up feeling great, even with all the climbs. I ran a 3:32 (8:07 pace) so way faster than my goal. The icing on the cake was an age group win!

The Mississippi Blues Finish Chute
I was excited to train for Go! STL since MS Blues went so much better than expected. I was excited to be healthy too and told all my running friends to get their labs checked on a regular basis! I had never done back to back marathons before and used the guidelines from the book Advanced Marathoning to guide me. They advised about 4 weeks recovery, 5 hard weeks of training and a 3 week taper. I was back at it hard in less than 2 weeks though as the 2014 Arkansas Grand Prix series started 2 weeks after MS Blues. I felt good early on but once training got going, I started feeling really over trained and sluggish. Mentally, back to back was too much for me too and I pretty much lost my training motivation.

When Go!STL came around, my head was not in the game and neither were my legs. I realized pretty early into the race that I was in trouble. I backed off big time at mile 12 and salvaged a 3:30. It wasn't pretty and I had to run walk the last few miles.

The Go!STL Finish Line

When I got home, I knew I made some mistakes but also felt like I learned some lessons. I'm probably not a good candidate for back to back marathons. Also, it doesn't take a lot to get me over trained. I decided to shift my focus and train for shorter races for a while. This would have been a good plan but I got a little impatient and didn't give myself enough time to recovery. I started in with too much mileage and decided to add plyometrics to my training in the hopes that I could get faster. 3 weeks after STL, my groin/hamstring/butt on my right side started hurting. I was planning to do a 10k that weekend so I eased up but decided to do the race anyway. There was a month long break in the Grand Prix series after the race and I felt like I needed the points. After the race, I couldn't even walk without a limp. My hip was just white hot pain everywhere except the very outside. After a week of limping, I went to the doctor, got a steroid shot and a consult for PT. I started swimming laps, doing yoga and going to PT. I had torn my right adductor tendon. I didn't get to run at all for about 6 weeks. I started up again slowly only to strain my calf muscle. I actually think this was for the best because I took another 2 weeks off and when I started again, I was pain free and have been ever since.

It was a rough time emotionally. I had such a terrible summer trying to come back from pregnancy, figured out there was a medical reason and suddenly got tons faster with a simple supplement only to crash and burn in injury. Such a frustrating roller coaster to ride. At some point in the middle of all that I decided that I would sign up for Boston. My STL time would most likely get me in and I needed a goal to get me motivated to get back into shape. I added mileage slowly. When I got up to about 25 miles per week, I did a XC 10k at 7:24 pace. Considering the injury and the time off, I was pretty happy with it. Next, I decided to train for the CASA Half Marathon. It was early in December. In the past, I’ve used half marathons and their training to rocket myself back into top form. I was really hoping it would work. I ended up getting my weekly mileage up to 43 miles and did some really great tempo runs and speed work. I run a 1:38:46 (7:33 pace). About as good as I could have expected. Just as I had hoped, my training really picked up after that race. I took it easy for about a week and then made a 15k plan that I would use to get me to the Hour Track Run for the start of the Grand Prix 2015. I also made my Boston plan. For a 12 week plan, I needed to start training on 1/26/15-exactly one day after the track run. My tempo runs and speed work leading to the track run were really good and I worked up to 53 miles per week. I went into the Track Run feeling good and had a great day.
At the One Hour Track Run
I never felt terrible and kept a good pace. I ended up the 2nd place overall female and went just under 8.6 miles at 6:59 pace. There was a crazy wind so I was pretty happy with that.

Now it is time to train for Boston! I have decided that I will actually post regularly and document my Boston training. Here's to the next 12 weeks!