Friday, June 24, 2016

Akron Marathon Training: Week 4

Training for a race is a balance between pushing hard to obtain a PR and making good choices on when to pull back to regroup.  This week of training has been about following a favorite Latin phrase of mine: tantum quantum.  Roughly translated, it means "as far as," which, when applied, recommends a person use a technique or practice as much as it is helpful.  And if it doesn't work, don't use it!  While simple, it's an effective way to make a training plan personal and apply to my own situation.

Monday-Tuesday: Cross-training - As I had decided on Sunday, I was going to spend the following days working on my strength, flexibility and recovery.  While yoga isn't the most high-energy activity, it can cause you to break a sweat!  I've also discovered areas of my body that I rarely stretch, but need to get into the habit of addressing.

Wednesday: 7 Miles Biking - In other exciting news, I finally have a bike AND a way to transport it - yay!  After taking more time than it probably should have to hook the bike rack up to the car, my wife and I headed down to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.  While not moving at an exceedingly fast pace (one of us is currently 6 months pregnant!), we followed the trail down to Point State Park to sit by the fountain for a bit.  As lunchtime approached, we decided to head back to the car, though did make a mental note to visit the Strip District for lunch on our next pedaling adventure.

Thursday: 4 Miles - Like many runners, one of the final things I do before going to bed is to look at the following day's weather forecast to figure out when it would be best to run.  In having been woken up during the night by torrential rain and thunder and knowing that a similar fate was predicted for the daylight hours, I attempted to time my workout for the two hours between storms.  I made it as far as finishing my warm-up before the rain started coming and the thunder rolling.  I was then relegated to the treadmill for the remainder of the workout.  All in all, things felt pretty good in light of my return to training.

Friday: 10 Miles - Of any type of workout, long runs are my favorite; going the distance at an easy pace just feels right.  As I warmed up for my run, my legs felt light and loose with each step being smooth.  The miles seemed to melt by as I made my way around the loop course twice.  The only thing I still need to figure out is a good energy source - tried another energy chew brand but still didn't like it.

Saturday: 6 Miles - In not feeling like hills, I chose a route that would be relaxing so I could recover from the previous day's workout.  While I was in the midst of my workout, I went past a large group of people who I assumed were hikers based on their gear.  Though I was a little confused, I did Google the place where I saw them only to discover that where I live apparently has an entire conservancy dedicated to exploring the Western PA trails.  Cool!  I may just have to join them one day.

Sunday: Speed Work - We all know how I feel about speed work.  For how much I despise it, I suck it up and get it done.  The workout began and ended with a mile at tempo pace with two 800s at 5K pace in the middle.  I guess the one benefit of speed workouts is that they don't last too long.

While the week didn't start out ideal, I'd say that things turned in my favor as training resumed.  I am sure that at some point in my running future I will make a mistake like I did last week, but I'm confident that it's possible to get back on track with a little common sense.

Happy running!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Akron Marathon Training: Week 3

Some training cycles start off great and just keep getting better.  Others, however, require a healthy dose of "It'll get better!" and "This is only one race of many!".  Week 3 of training can best be characterized as a set-back week and a reminder that the human body does have limits, regardless of how much of running is a mental game.

Monday: 6 Miles - The first run of this week started off pleasantly well.  The weather was amazing, my legs felt light, and I was changing up my routine a bit as to where I was going to run.  Things seemed to be going so great that when I looked at my watch after completing the first mile, I thought that maybe it was broken since the split was way faster than I normally run.  Not giving a whole lot of thought to it and just pushing on, I continued with negative splits until mile 5.  As I was booking it at the end of the workout, I suddenly felt a pull in the back of my leg between my heel and calf.  Ouch!  While I didn't feel or hear a pop, I could tell by the pain that it also not just a cramped muscle.  When I finally got home, I realized that I had somehow strained my Achilles, which is a first in my running career.  I immediately went for the ice pack hoping that the tenderness would subside and all would be good the next day.

Tuesday: 3 Miles - I think when a person starts running, the section of the brain that contains common sense gets lost amid speedwork split times and route locations.  When I woke up Tuesday morning, my Achilles felt tight and sore resulting in a slight change in my gait when walking.  Nevertheless, I packed my running bag since I was planning on doing my workout between various meetings.  As I started my run and progressed through it, the dull ache in the back of my leg grew more pronounced with each mile.  While the pain never reached a point where I needed to walk, going downhill was not a pleasant experience.  I made a mental note at that point to listen to my body regarding what it could handle, even after a minor injury.

Wednesday-Thursday: Rest Days - After my flub of running with an injury, I decided to take two days off.  My run from Tuesday seemed to have aggravated the tendon a bit more than I had realized.  I spent the days icing and that's about it.  A little bit of laziness also seemed to have crept in, since the small voice in the back of my head that was telling me to at least do a little bit of strength training and stretching was drowned out by Netflix.  Bad decision...

Friday: 5 Miles - In always looking for the silver lining, I can say with certainty that I really enjoyed this run for the fact that I got to do it with my brother-in-law who was visiting us for a few days.  He is currently getting ready for his first season of cross country (he's much younger than my wife), so we had a great time talking all things running.  However, outside of this experience, the workout was down-right ugly.  In looking back, I'm thinking a few things contributed to this.  First, the decision to run at 4:00pm in summer is never a good thing.  Second, I had been pushing my body way too hard.  In looking at my mileage from the previous week, including in it my warm-up and cool-down miles, I had logged 37 miles - that's 12 more miles than I had done the week before!  And third, my diet was way off.  As someone who has recently been working toward a mostly plant-based diet (though I do enjoy my meats!), the fruits and veggies were lacking during mealtime.  In some ways, I think my body shifted itself into survival mode.  I really knew the workout was bad when my wife even commented how terrible I looked at the end of the run!

Saturday: 4 Miles - My hope for this workout was to redeem myself from the mess of the day before.  While I did do better, my Achilles was really starting to hurt and my legs were swinging all over the place.  You could say I supplemented this workout with cross-training - the lawn really need cut and rain was in the forecast so out the mower came!

Sunday: Rest Day - My plan for this day was going to go one of two ways - either a run or recovery.  After some consultation with my body, taking a little bit of time off was in order.  I figured that until I let my muscles recover and my Achilles fully heal, I was making myself more prone to injury and also wasn't allowing those parts of me that were hurting to get any better.  I did make a commitment though that unlike earlier in the week, I would spend time each of the next four days doing the following: icing, foam rolling, yoga, and strength training.  While not the same as a run, I've come to appreciate the value of each of these secondary aspects of running.

At this point, a part of me keeps thinking, "Only 15 weeks until the big race!  That's like three months and I'm so unprepared!"  I think this panic is what led me to push too hard these past two weeks.  I've since come to terms with the fact that there is still time between now and the marathon, and that I'm in better shape now that I have been in a long time.  I also need to give myself a daily reminder that the reason I run is because I enjoy it, regardless of what time is on the watch or if I meet a goal.

Happy running!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Akron Marathon Training: Week 1/2

Hard to believe that at this point one month ago, I was in recovery mode after having finished the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.  It was also at that time that I had the crazy idea to sign up for the Akron Marathon.  After giving myself a few weeks of easy runs, I jumped into training.  Now, if you notice the title of this post, I'm combining my first and second week of training together.  The reasoning is fairly simple - my body needed a break a few days into Week 1.  I really didn't give my muscles the time I should have after the half and could feel some new nagging pain cropping up.  By Week 2 I felt more like myself and the workouts were under way!

Week 1
Monday: 7 Miles - First day of training - yay!  Or I would be excited if the run didn't start out so badly.  When I began the workout, things just didn't want to move and only got progressively worse.  I had to stop a little past the first mile to retie my shoes (my feet felt like they were losing circulation) as well as do some stretching.  While most sane people would have cut things short, I was determined to make it to the goal distance.  In easing back the pace, my perseverance was rewarded as each mile got easier.  As I finished mile 7, I felt a little more like myself.

Tuesday: Rest Day

Wednesday: Speed Work - I'm pretty sure the last time I did a speed workout was in college when running cross country.  I was quickly reminded how much I despised these types of workouts.  After a significant amount of tinkering with my Garmin to try and figure how to time the workouts all as one workout (I did eventually get it!), I pushed through the intervals: 800 at 10K pace, 2x400 at 5K pace, 4x200 at 5K pace, 2x400 at 5K pace, and 800 at 10K pace.  I survived, but not without feeling some odd stretching and pulling from the areas in my inner lower legs.

Thursday - Sunday: Rest Days - After the speed work, my legs weren't recovering like they should have.  After much thought and knowing I still had 17 more weeks of training until the marathon, I decided to spend a few days doing yoga and icing.  By Sunday evening, I was back to normal and ready to tackle Week 2 of the training plan.

Week 2
Monday: 7 Miles - After the break, I was set to hit the road and redeem myself after the struggle of the previous week.  While this run was little toasty, I maintained my negative splits as well as achieved my goal average pace of 8:25/mile.  I was reminded though how much heat pavement retains and pours back out - so hot!  I really should have hydrated better before this workout....

Tuesday: 8 Miles - I headed over to a local park that I knew would provide shade for the majority of the run.  I'm glad I did!  With temps in the 80's plus humidity, anything that could keep me cool I was game for.  Only problem was I didn't exactly budget my time well and was running late to the meeting I had in the evening - whoops!

Wednesday: 5 Miles - So there are foods you should eat before a run and foods you shouldn't.  This workout was a wonderful reminder in how nutrition can impact exercise.  After eating whole-grain pasta with mushroom meat sauce, broccoli, and a cupcake, I headed out.  Before even finishing my warm-up, I could already feel my stomach protesting.  Somehow, I was able to keep dinner down and finish the workout, albeit in significant pain and suffering.  Lesson learned!

Thursday: Speed Work - While some speed work is a little challenging to remember because of the changes in speed and distance with each interval, that was not the case with this workout.  Plain and simple, I was challenged to do 5x800 repeats after a 1 mile tempo run.  The run definitely took a toll, but I'm hoping to see dividends from it in the near future.

Friday: Cross-Training

Saturday: Speed Work - The last workout for the week was another speed session.  In having a local high school track that is open to the public, I got dressed and headed off to it ready to do my ladder workout.  Sadly, when I pulled, I noticed I sign on the entrance gate that the track would be, "Closed Until Further Notice."  Seriously?!  After brooding in my disappointment for a very short time, I made my way to the park down the road and adjusted accordingly.  Besides the sheer number of geese that populated the area, I got in a good run while making a mental note to spread my speed workouts a few more days apart.

Sunday: Rest Day

While 16 weeks seems so far away, I know that the summer months are going to fly by.  Between training runs, prepping for our first child, and planning for the next school year, September will be here before we know it!

Happy running!