Posts tagged ‘marathon training’

August 27, 2014

Tired Legs

In theory this week was going to be a cut back/mini-taper before the Dirt Dash in South Carolina this Saturday.  Since it was an extra week that I added to the marathon training schedule, I planned just to wing it on workouts based on how I was feeling.  Sunday I decided on a 16-miler, which seemed long enough to be hard, but not completely leg-deadening.  Rather than doing my usual steady pace, even-split approach, I opted for a fast finish run, which I thought might get me primed for the half this week.  I started out running 10 minute miles with the Caveboy, then dropped to around 9’s after about 5 miles, and mid-to-low 8’s for the last 4.

I finished the long run feeling great, and I headed into this week flush with optimism.  I also happened to catch this article on Runners’ World this week on increasing training just before a taper, and I started getting ideas.  Monday would normally have been an off day, but instead I decided to go for broke and scheduled a strength session.  After 45 minutes with Gillian my legs and core were quivering and I was high on endorphins.  I chased that workout with an easy 5 on Tuesday, and then decided this morning to squeeze in an interval workout.  I now have two days of travel and enforced rest, and if you count the rest of today, it’s really almost 3 full days before the half.

I’m generally a worst-case-scenario type of person, but I’m feeling uncharacteristically optimistic about the Dirt Dash.  I hadn’t planned to really race hard on Saturday, but once I got the runner instructions email this week, I realized two things:

1. This race is really small.

2. It is on an access road through the woods and swamp.

The course, on I'on Swamp Road.  Not making that up.

The course, on I’on Swamp Road. Yes, that is the actual name.

For some reason, that got me really excited.  I know I’m completely in denial about the heat, humidity, and pterodactyl-sized mosquitos we will likely encounter.  Still, the idea of just running through the woods sounds like a nice change from stampeding through Central Park with 4,000 other people and being pampered every step of the way by New York Road Runners’ fabulous volunteers.  (Not that I’m knocking it.)  I know I could totally melt down in the heat, and I may have pushed myself too hard this week to recover in time.  Still, I feel like this is going to be fun.

July 21, 2014

Long Run, Now with 50% More Boroughs

Sunday was the first time in recent memory that I was nervous before a long run.  I think it was a combination of having last week’s pain still fresh in my mind, along with a somewhat sluggish easy run on Saturday morning that had me worried what Sunday’s 20 would bring.  I slept badly and dragged myself out of bed at 5:45 to feed the kitten and make breakfast.  I was thrilled to see solid cloud cover and hoped the temperature wouldn’t climb too much in the coming hours.  Thankfully, the clouds hung around and the weather stayed cool and breezy all morning.  I ended up having perfect conditions for what turned out to be a really lovely run.

Maybe it’s just the architect in me, but one thing I love about urban long runs is having the opportunity to experience whole swaths of the city in a continuous flow.  I always enjoy seeing how neighborhoods  merge into each other (or don’t), and how the urban scale changes and shifts.  I planned my route for the 20-miler around New York’s two great parks–Prospect and Central, but I was also looking forward to all the parts in between.


Prospect Park

Prospect Park


The Caveboy had decided to join me for the park portions, and we started out with the usual run up Union to Prospect.  We did only one lap this week, and it felt great to turn out into Grand Army Plaza knowing that I would not have to contend with the Mt. Prospect hill any more that day.  From there the Caveboy hopped on the train and I turned down Flatbush Ave to Atlantic, then to Court and on to the Brooklyn Bridge.


Brooklyn Bridge, (nearly) empty

Brooklyn Bridge, (nearly) empty

The combination of the early hour and the clouds seemed to be keeping the tourists at bay, and I relished the chance to run the bridge without having to constantly dodge pedestrians, bicycles, and tourists taking selfies.  Once over the bridge, I cut across Lower Manhattan to the Hudson River Greenway, taking in the view along the water.  I should note that I had mistakenly plugged my Garmin into a non-charging port on my computer the night before, so my battery died somewhere around mile 13.  I still had Map My Run going on my phone in my waist pack, but I had no real-time pace data for the second half the run.  I had a bit of a headwind along the water and by that point in the run, I really had no idea if I was running 8:15 or 10:15 miles.  Whatever it was, I was in a pretty comfortably rolling-along pace, so I just went with it and hoped I would end up in the ball park of the 9:32’s I was shooting for.

Hudson River Greenway

Hudson River Greenway

Pretty as it was, the 5 miles along the Greenway were probably the most monotonous of the whole run, and I was grateful that I had a friend to meet me at 65th Street, where we turned east and headed for Central Park.  The Caveboy was waiting for us there and provided fresher legs for pacing.  My route had us looping around the south end of the park, then up the east side, around to the west, and ending around 86th Street, near my friend’s apartment.  I figured that if I could get through the Harlem Hills at mile 18 or so, it would be a good sign, training-wise.  The Caveboy set out at what seemed like a pretty good clip, though again, I couldn’t tell how much my perception of pace was being colored by fatigue at that point.  Overall, I felt really good, though–definitely better than last week’s 18 or my first 20-miler.

Central Park

Central Park

The time in the park went by much quicker than I expected, and before I knew it, the hills were upon us.  I managed the first two climbs without too much trouble, and really only dragged on the final hill, which at least set up a nice downhill finish.  My friend rallied me for a final kick at the end, after which I happily laid down on a bumpy, acorn-strewn patch of dirt under an oak tree and put my feet up.


June 8, 2014

Week 1

Week 1 of marathon training is in the books, and any concerns I had about losing fitness on the cross training have been thoroughly dispelled.  In fact, this week pretty thoroughly kicked my ass.  Tuesday was intervals, which is usually my favorite workout.  After years of running track, I still think of myself as a sprinter, and banging out 400 repeats and ladders is really the only venue in which I can hang with the big kids.  This week I had 3×1600’s on the schedule, though, which I’ve always felt are just an exercise in pain.  The gym was pretty warm, which didn’t help, and I had to work really hard to get through the repeats at pace.  It was a little intimidating to start the training cycle fighting that hard for a workout, but it was a good opportunity to practice staying focused and pushing through.

Wednesday was my first day of cross-training, and I opted for the rowing workout.  I read this article about the benefits of rowing for runners, so at 6:30 AM I ventured into the corner time forgot in the cardio rooom at the gym and dusted off the erg.  I’m still trying to figure out the appropriate level of effort for the cross-train workouts, but in the 25-minute session I felt like my arms and core got a decent session, through cardio-wise it felt pretty easy.

Thursday was a 2/2/2 tempo with 2 miles easy, 2 at 7:54’s and the last 2 easy.  That run was surprisingly comfortable and I had to admit that my legs felt much fresher than they usually did at that point in the week.  I had an early meeting at work on Friday, so I punted the second XT session to Saturday, which may have been ill-advised.  I did 30 minutes on a spin bike, with the middle 10 at a “tempo” effort.  I should probably take a spin class to understand the theory a little better, because again, I was unsure exactly what the resistance to speed relationship was really supposed to be.  I ended up overdoing it a bit and really hammered my legs, so I’m chalking that one up to experience.

Today I had a 13-mile long run on the schedule, and I knew I was in trouble when I got up at 6:15 and it was already 70 degrees.  By the time we got out and moving, it was close 80 and bright sun.  I’ve never been a great heat runner, but I felt good starting out and took the climb up to Prospect Park at a quick pace.  My legs felt a bit heavy from the bike on some of the hills, but overall the first lap of the park went quickly and I held about an 8:45 pace, well ahead of the 9:17’s on the schedule.  On the second lap I really started noticing the temperature coming up and tried to stay in the shade where possible.  When I made it to the top of the hill at the end of the second lap, I decided to reverse direction for the third, which would give my legs a bit of a break with a long stretch of downhill and a longer and more gradual climb at the end.  By this point it was clear that I had gone out way too fast and probably pushed my heart rate too high trying to hold onto the pace on the second lap.  Despite how much it was sucking, I was still having trouble keeping the pace down, so I started taking 30-second walk breaks every mile or so to even it out and push fluids.  I finally made it back to the park entrance and was grateful that the last mile and half home would be mostly downhill. It was still largely an act of willpower getting through them, though, and I felt completely wrung out when I finished.  In the end, I averaged exactly the 9:17’s I was supposed to, but it was not a fun way to get there.  This was far and away the hardest long run I’ve done in recent memory, including the 15-miler I did a few months ago while jet-lagged and in the throes of a terrible head cold.

As tough as it was, I think this week was exactly what I needed.  Coming off the Brooklyn Half I was feeling 100% ready for what was coming.  This week I was reminded that ready or not, this is still going to be hard.