Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Week 7

At the end of last week's training cycle, I felt just plain exhausted.  Even with the mini-tapers every few weeks, I couldn't seem to recover enough to feel refreshed.  Well, it would seem that I need to work on my reading skills.  In revisiting the instructions for my training plan, I seemed to have misunderstood the term "cross-training."  If I had taken time to read the fine print and not assumed what was intended (we all know what assuming does!), HIIT workouts would not have been on the docket, but instead some easy walking and stretching.  I was basically adding a sixth day of hard training, when I should have been resting up and healing.  Lesson learned!  I have a feeling this week will go much better.

Monday: 4 Miles - As part of my commitment to taking my easy days a little easier, I set a goal of not letting my heart rate exceed 140 beats per minute (bpm).  While this task becomes slightly tricky when hills are involved, I was able to perform it with a decent amount of success.  Even better, my legs felt fresh and ready to tackle the remaining miles for the week.

Tuesday: Rest Day

Wednesday: 8 Miles - Reigning in the pace for four miles was fairly manageable, but accomplishing the task over twice the distance requires a special level of discipline.  Going into this workout, I knew that I had to accept the fact that the run would take me longer that I had become accustomed to.  I had to also practice ignoring the pace/mile numerals.  While the bpm rose slightly above the goal due to the hills, the vast majority of the run remained on the mark.

Thursday: 4 Miles - For how challenging it can be to maintain a particular heart rate during road runs, the treadmill amazingly simplifies the process.  Once I determined what pace I needed to hold to stay below 140, I just settled in for the long haul.  All that said, in exchange for the ease of meeting my bpm goal, there was a good bit of monotony just moving at the same speed the entire time.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 16 Miles - With each week, the long run wins hands-down as my favorite workout; today was not exception,  Even with making a wrong turn leading to a little more hill work than intended, these miles just flew by.  And as always, I got the opportunity learn a little more about another member of the running group.

Sunday: 8 Miles - On occasion, the adventurous spirit strikes me and I try out a new trail or park.  With the weather being absolutely gorgeous, I headed to a nearby rail-trail that was mentioned yesterday during the group run.  To my excited surprise, this path managed to combine both a flat terrain and scenic views.  I was able to do really well keeping marathon pace while taking in the sights and sounds.  I will definitely be revisiting this path soon!

Between slowing the pace of my weekly runs and performing the correct type of cross-training, I feel significantly better.  My body knew I was being stupid and all it took was listening to it to get things back on track.  Going into this next week of training, I'm feel that I have a better handle on what I need to be doing so I'm ready for May 7th as it quickly approaches.

Happy running!

Thinking of signing up for the Pittsburgh Marathon?  There's still time!  Use discount code FOX17 to save $10 on either the half or full registration.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Week 6

As a whole, the workouts this week went well, though not necessarily according to plan.  I found myself having to shuffle around distances and days as well as incorporating some unique methods so I could accomplish the necessary miles.

Monday: 3 Miles - Looking outside, the weather today was definitely not the traditional snowy/rainy/cold February day we're use to.  Instead, the sun was shining and the temperature was just right for a good workout.  And while I would love to say I took advantage of this warm day, meetings kept me inside until the sun set.  The treadmill and I, once more, spent quality time together as we tackled these miles.

Tuesday: Rest Day

Wednesday: 3 Miles - According to my training plan, today's run should have been 7 miles.  Well, as you can see, that is not exactly what happened.  The wife had some obligations at work tonight making for a daddy-daughter evening at home.  The original plan was to head to a nearby park with the jogging stroller, since the weather earlier in the day was decent.  However, by the time I picked up the little one and reached home, the cold winds had picked up and the drizzle began.  There went that idea!  As a back-up, I figured I could get in the miles while the peanut was taking her afternoon nap.  After several attempts to put her in her crib, it became extremely apparent that someone just needed an evening of snuggles.  Before heading to bed, I was able to get in a few quality miles.

Thursday: 7 Miles - Woke up this morning to a mixed bag of mounts of fresh snow (boo!) and a school cancellation notification (surprise!).  What followed was one of those days where things just worked - a big contrast from the night before.  Since I was going to be home, there was no point in sending the little one to daycare.  The morning was full of adorable giggles and smiles that I wouldn't trade for the world.  Once the yawning and eye-rubbing started, nap time and my workout concurrently commenced.  I was able to warm up and get about a mile in before the peanut woke up.  Knowing that it usually takes her a bit to shift gears from grogginess to giggles, I moved her from crib to rocking chair, which I set up right next to the treadmill so she would watch me.  Man was she a trooper!  I was able to get in the full planned distance for the day and stretch with only the slightest bit of restlessness toward the end.  I think this is proof that there's a runner in her!

Friday: HIIT Workout - For cross-training today, and apparently being an absolute glutton for punishment, I revisited the high-intensity workout from last Friday. Though a smidgen easier, every cell in my body still ached when I finished.  I'm really looking forward to when the pay-off rolls around...

Saturday: 10 Miles - One of the aspects that I have loved so much about my group runs is that, for how small our running community is, I find that I run along-side someone different each week.  We get to know each other a little better and there is a connection made that extends beyond just running.  It's amazing how much running opens up even the biggest introverts like myself.

Sunday: 7 Miles - To finish up the week, I was once again tasked with hitting race pace.  What has been making this workout particularly challenging is the hilly terrain along most of the routes I follow.  I've resorted to just having my average pace be my goal rather than each individual mile.  I figure, in a race, its what time the clock reads when you cross the finish line that matters.

As this week of training wrapped up, I could tell my body was taking a beating.  To be honest, the thought of keeping up this intensity for another 12 weeks is a little unnerving.  I may need to revise the training plan so burnout and injury are avoided before its too late.

Happy running!

Thinking of signing up for the Pittsburgh Marathon?  There's still time!  Use discount code FOX17 to save $10 on either the half or full registration.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Week 5

Going into this week, I approached it with an open mind to try new things.  I know there are parts of my training that, setting my ego aside, I need to change.  I have neither mastered the marathon or the training leading up to it meaning I have a lot to still learn about the process.  

Monday: 3 Miles - On occasion, the little one falls asleep in the car between daycare and home allowing the Mrs. and I to both exercise at the same time.  Thus, with the baby monitor in tow, we headed to the basement where the wife started up her workout video while I jumped on the treadmill.  To our surprise, we were both able to finish our workouts before the peanut woke up.  Now if only things ran this smoothly every day.

Tuesday: Rest Day

Wednesday: 7 Miles - One of the most common training tips emphasized within the running community is to take easy runs easy and hard runs hard.  As someone who has fallen into the trap of practiced the complete opposite, I resolved that today's workout would be different.  As I started my run, I let my body dictate the relaxed pace with no concern for the numbers my Garmin was broadcasting.  It was nice to finish the run and not feel like I just attempted a 5K PR.

Thursday: 3 Miles - Maybe because I had taken the previous day so easy, my legs felt fresh for today's miles.  I trotted along enjoying the run following my usual out-and-back.  As I was wrapping up this workout, I began to give thought to what I could do the next day knowing that "cross-training" was on the queue.

Friday: HIIT Workout - After hearing on several podcasts recently about the benefits for runners of performing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, I jumped on the bandwagon for a very eye-opening experience.  While I had heard of some of the exercises like burpees and and high-knees, others completely eluded me and my ability level.  How exactly am I to do a side plank while also extending my arm and leg in order to touch them?!  I'm pretty sure the last time I saw that move was in Cirque du Soleil.  Nevertheless, I'm sure I'll be revisiting this type of cross-training in the weeks to come.

Saturday: 14 Miles - After the disappointment of bailing last week on hitting the roads with Up-N-Running, I was grateful that today was different.  While this was only my second run with the group, one of the things I love about this community is just how organic it feels.  When we set out, we don't separate by pace groups or ability levels; everyone just runs.  When we reach the various aid stations along the route, we regroup before heading on for the next few miles.  This easy atmosphere takes a lot of the pressure out of the workout while adding in a good dose of non-running related conversation.  As always, I'm looking forward to next Saturday already.

Sunday: 7 Miles - We have all done it - set out on a run only to get the "Low Battery" message popping up on the watch face.  Even worse, mine displayed that after the first mile.  Whoops!  Knowing that my watch was about to become nothing more than a piece of jewelry, I resorted to an old runner's trick from the time of antiquity; I ran until I got to where I thought was half way, turned around and headed back.  And you know what, the world didn't end!  Of course, as soon as I got into the house I headed straight for the charging station to prevent such an atrocity from happening again.

With this week being the first in which I legitimately cross-trained, my legs felt worn and tired by the end.  The soreness from the HIIT workout persisted long after I thought it should have faded leading me to believe I either pushed way too hard or this is what true total body training is all about.  I guess I'll know the verdict soon enough.

Happy running!

Thinking of signing up for the Pittsburgh Marathon?  There's still time!  Use discount code FOX17 to save $10 on either the half or full registration.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Week 4

After last week's mini taper, it felt good to get back to the mileage building. At the same time, knowing that every few weeks will repeat this pattern of rest helps reassure me that when race day arrives I will be ready to run strong on fresh legs.

Monday: 3 Miles - With the rain/snow/sleet mix that pummeled anyone daring to venture outside, the treadmill served as my running savior once again.  As a bonus, my wife and little one joined me in the basement so we could catch up on our day and be amused by my daughter's fascination with her father moving but not actually going anywhere.  It's the little things that add joy to life.

Tuesday: Rest Day

Wednesday: 6 Miles - One of my goals for this training cycles is to learn how to run hills, especially down them.  While I have a pretty decent ability to glide up the inclines, I find that going the other way is just one out-of-control loud stomp after another.  Since the route I ran today had some pretty decent grades, I really focused on light, quick steps without letting my legs get away from me.  I'd rate myself at being about 50% successful, with the steeper hills still being a problem.

Thursday: 3 Miles - I've made the decision today that, going forward, if the distance is short enough, I'll default to using the treadmill.  This way, if the peanut wakes up early from her nap, my wife doesn't have to be the only one to get her.  Hitting stop on the console at the sound of the banshee wail and just picking where I left off when the little one goes to bed is an adjustment that I've found comes with being a parent.  Having to take a break like this will in no way be the bane of obtaining a PR.

Friday: 6 Miles - Like last Friday, today's miles were to be completed at race pace.  After a good bit of searching, I found myself checking out the Runner's World Race Time Predictor, which had recently been updated with new algorithms.  After entering my data, it kicked back a number that seemed more reliable, but extremely different than my previous marathon pace: 8:14/mile.  That's almost thirty seconds slower than my last goal!  But, considering how badly I crashed and burned at Akron, I figured going conservative wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  In truth, running at this pace fell within that "uncomfortable but doable" descriptor that every marathon training guide speaks of.  Pending the acquisition of the speed of the Flash (just need lightning, some chemicals, and, you know, the Speed Force), I'll be using this as my goal pace for May.

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: 13 Miles - If you remember from last week, I was super excited to be joining up with Up-N-Running for my weekly long runs.  This was the plan until my stomach decided to revolt Friday night.  Even into Saturday, while I didn't necessarily feel sick, I still didn't feel quite like myself.  By today I was finally back to normal enough to get in these miles.  I gave special attention to keeping my pace nice and easy as I got over the disappointment of missing out on the group run figuring there would be many more weeks to partake in the camaraderie.

With the conclusion of this week, the first month of training is coming to a close.  Between the crazy swings in weather to adjusting to training with an infant in the house, the past four weeks have added a good bit of variety to my routine.  And as someone who can be driven to boredom by monotony, I'm going to look at the constant unpredictability as a bonus.

Happy running!

Thinking of signing up for the Pittsburgh Marathon?  There's still time!  Use discount code FOX17 to save $10 on either the half or full registration.