Weekly training recap… new mileage PR!

I haven’t done a weekly recap in a couple weeks, so let me recap LAST LAST week before I recap LAST week.

The week of Sept 19-Sept 25 was my highest weekly mileage PR ever: 66 miles. We finally had some beautiful fall weather, and I got to 66 with 6 days a week of running and double two-a-days. Rounded out the week with an 18 mile run Saturday and 12 Sunday for the first of several scheduled 30-mile weekends. Legs were tired but GOOD for the long Sunday recovery. And I had even more miles on the table for the following week and I was READY!

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Found a neat little trail behind my office building; will definitely be returning soon!

The week of Sept 26-Oct 2 was a really fantastic week of training. And ANOTHER MILEAGE PR of 70 miles! The weather wasn’t great. My legs were dead by my Thursday doubles. But I felt GREAT. So here’s the day by day:

Monday Sept 26: 6 miles
Ran Monday with my Joe to Go coffee crew. Nice and easy, chatting with folks, catching up from the weekend. This run is always really relaxed; it’s my sociable (ish; it IS pre-coffee…) recovery run.

Tuesday Sept 27: 5 miles am, 5 miles pm
Ran in the morning in dark, drizzly, humid weather which meant SLOW. But I made up for it in the afternoon when I moved my Wednesday PM run to Tuesday because the sun came out and it was a perfect evening for a run when I got off work. I romped around in the woods a bit and had one of the runs where things just flow and feel good.

Wednesday Sept 28: 10.1 miles
Decided Wednesday morning that I didn’t want to run 10 miles in the dark and gloom, so I moved my run to the evening, and since I cannot do speed work on Thursday am after a long Wednesday pm run (experience has taught me this), I did a longer speed work session Wednesday. I ended up doing 1 mile warm-up to a local park which has a .65 path around some soccer fields, then used that path to do 8 Yasso 800s aiming for a 3:20 to 3:30 800 and I clocked in at 3:22, 3:26, 3:25, 3: 24, 3:28, 3:26, 3:29 and 3:28, even against some strong 12-15 mile winds! Ran 2+ miles roundabout home and called it a night. My legs were super tired, but in a good way, the rest of the night (and most of Thursday).

Thursday Sept 29: 8 miles am, 6.4 miles pm
Eight slow, dark, windy, drizzly, gloomy morning miles. Then 6.4 miles in the wind and the damp and the dark with my Pacers Thursday group in the evening. Overall a dreary day to run, but managed to get all the miles in! Legs were better in the evening than the morning, but not by much. I was definitely feeling the cumulative fatigue that I plotted!

Friday Sept 30: REST DAY, HALLELUJAH.

Saturday Oct 1: 20 miles
20 miles a bit slower than I wanted; paced 9:22 and I wanted to pace 8:45-9:15. But I was really, really feeling the miles from the week. I decided to take a few walk breaks on hills so that I wouldn’t have to cut the run short. I’ve been testing a different fueling strategies, so I had two stops at my car, and getting going again was SO HARD. But my 16 oz Gatorade, 16 oz water and 1 gel gave me LOTS of energy for the last 2 miles when I dropped the pace to race back to the parking lot to down the rest of my giant Gatorade bottle 😉

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Sunday Oct 2: 4.6 miles am, 5.4 miles pm
I went with my Oiselle-Pacers team to the USATF-NJ 5k women’s championship, and luckily I was able to spectate and did not have to race! I did the warm up with my team, then ran the course backwards, spectating around 1 mile out, and then ran the cool down. I did some more miles when I got home from the race to get to 10 for the day and 70 for the week.

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Total miles for the week: 70.5 miles!!!

I’ve been shocked the last two weeks how good my legs (and the rest of me) feels with this mileage. My peak week during my last training cycle was 64 miles, so to do two weekly mileage PRs back to back (I mean, 136.5 miles in TWO WEEKS? That’s more than I used to run in a month not sooooo long ago!) and still feel good seems mind-boggling and totally amazing now.

What’s even cooler is that when I decided last summer that I wanted to keep upping my mileage until I couldn’t anymore, I had 70 miles in my mind as a Holy Grail kind of goal. The first phase of working toward this 70 mile goal began last fall with a training schedule running a range of 45-60 per week with a peak of 59 miles. The second was this spring when I was running a range of 55-65 per week with a peak of 64. The third is this fall with peak weeks at 70-72 miles and a range of 60-70 miles per week. When I first decided a year+ ago that 70 was my Big Goal, it seemed like such a crazy number. And now I’ve done it, and it doesn’t even seem like my limit. My legs and my brain continue to amaze me; 3 years ago you could not convince me I’d be running this volume because it sounds crazy. And maybe it is crazy, but I’m having too much fun doing it to stop 🙂

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It’s been a while…

I’ve been pretty incommunicado on my blog since the marathon. I’ve heard rumors of  post-marathon blues/depression/funk, but I’ve never really truly felt it until this go around. While the race was fine — I wish I’d done better — I wasn’t really upset about it. I made up my mind pretty quickly to run another race on May 29: the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington. However, last week I firmly decided against it, and here’s why:

I needed a break.

Looking back, I trained hard August-November last year, then as soon as my hamstring recovered in mid-late December, I was back at it with 35-40 mile weeks, and shortly after I bumped up to 55 mile weeks in late January and never looked back. The fewest monthly miles I’ve run in the past 9 months was 110 miles, when I was injured/recovering last December. My legs need a break from training, but so does my brain.

img_2836Beautiful sunrises do help me get out the door though.

So I’ve been laying low. I’ve only been going to group runs for the last two weeks and keeping my mileage around 24-28 miles per week. It’s been hard because my heart just hasn’t been in it. I’ve been out in the middle of a run — doesn’t matter how far: 5 miles, 10 miles, whatever — and suddenly I just don’t want to be running anymore. I want to be at my desk getting work done, or in my bed taking a nap, or back home eating breakfast. After a few runs like this, I definitively crossed Vermont City off my “to do” list and decided I needed to take care of my brain before I could get back to running full steam ahead.

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Instead of running a million miles per week solo like I’m used to doing, I’ve been going to group runs — that gets me out the door at least — and I volunteered at a race last weekend instead of running it (see the lovely, neon yellow course marshal vest above!). I’m trying to reclaim my “happy running” feelings, but it’s been tough. I’m trying to be supportive of my other running friends, but my involvement on my running forum on MyFitnessPal has definitely tapered in off the last few week (sorry, MFPals!).

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Big group run of 13 x 1 mile hill repeats… we’re crazy!

I think what’s making this running funk even more difficult is the fact that I have so many major, real life stressors right now. I am meant to be finishing my thesis, but I defered my degree to September for a whole host of reasons. Primarily, because I really, truly, desperately need to focus on getting a job. I’ve been applying to jobs like a madwoman: jobs in Princeton, Philadelphia, D.C. and NYC. It’s just taking forever to hear back from anyone, so I’m in this awful “wait and see” limbo in which I can’t do anything  real world productive… like find a place to live, since my university lease ends June 30. Everytime these thoughts cross my mind while I’m running, my energy is zapped and I feel guilty for taking the time for myself when I should be working on applications. I know that’s silly, but that’s the way my brain is working right now. So I’m just trying to run enough to keep my stress level manageable.

Hopefully I’ll be back at it in 1-2 weeks with regular updates and a new zest for training, but for right now, I’m in a definite slump, and I’m just going to have to ride it out. I’ve got too much on my plate to even let myself feel bad about not running 50-60 miles a week again (yet) or for not even wanting to run most days. Plus, with all these rest days and low mileage, my legs are the peppiest they’ve been in almost a year. It feels great to get up in the morning and not hobble to my coffee maker!

I hope everyone’s spring–>summer running and/or training is going well!

Training recap: April 18-24

2 of 3 weeks of marathon taper are done!! Hooray!

Monday, April 18: 6 miles
Nice and easy run with my Monday morning coffee crew. Legs were feeling good and the weather was nice. Great start to the week!
Core work: single leg balances, single leg calf raises, single leg squats, reg squats, lunges and bridges (regular, single leg and extended)

Tuesday, April 19: 0 miles
Just core work today! Sit-ups, leg raises, scissors, bicycles, clamshell extensions, planks and push-ups, plus some foam rolling.

Wednesday, April 20: 8 miles
Woke up to a HUGE calf cramp in my right calf. It released fairly quickly once I hopped out of bed, but the tenderness persisted until Saturday. This happens every taper. It’s no fun.
Cramp or not, I still did my run as planned: 2 miles warm-up then four mile at marathon pace (7:50, 7:45, 7:40 and 7:50), then two easy miles to cool down. Had lots of roving aches — typical taper — but overall felt good. The coolest thing was that I realized that I’ve totally nailed sliding into marathon pace. I just think “Cruise speed!” and I’m down in the 7:40s-7:50s. I’ve done a good job training these paces, and I hope it serves me well on race day!

Thursday, April 21: 6.4 miles
Fun group run with my Pacers store group! Pretty warm and didn’t hydrate well plus spent the afternoon sipping coffee instead of water… so though I was running fast, it did not feel great in my heart-chest-space. Made a note in my training log to “HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE” since I’m awful at it anyway. Gotta get my hydrate on pre-‘thon!

Friday, April 22: 0 miles
More core work! Sit-ups, bicycles, Russian twists, modified Supermans (just glute activation), lunges, squats, pushups, bridges (regular, single leg, and extended), plus some foam rolling.

Saturday, April 23: 6 miles
Started my run at 8 am and it was 63* and 80% humidity. Gross! Plus my legs were stiff from taper + rest day, so I spent the first five miles battling stiffness and trying to get my body how to remember how to deal with humidity. Not a great run, but at least my calf wasn’t sore from Wednesday’s cramp anymore!

Sunday, April 24: 10 miles
If Saturday’s run was awful, Sunday’s was great! Some folks from my Princeton running group met up with some NY Harriers members and we did a nice 10 miler on the towpath in Stockton, NJ (followed by some amazing doughnuts and BBQ and fried chicken!). I was in a good pack with 5 guys, chatting and yammering on and on at an 8:07 pace til we turned around. Ended up pacing 8:02 overall. Decided to label this my “tempo run” for the week so I can skip my Wednesday speedwork. It was confidence boosting to know that I was able to run and chat at race pace (almost all our splits the second half were sub-8). That means that when I’m focused and NOT talking next Sunday, I should be in good shape to hit 7:40s-7:50s when I decide to push the pace!

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Beautiful day for a run!

Total: 36.4 miles

Overall, this was a great week of tapering. I felt pretty good the whole time — other than the calf cramp achiness. And here’s something new: NOTHING HURTS! My last three marathons, I’ve nursed injures in the week(s) leading up to the marathon: IT band pain before Baltimore, a stiff heel/calf before Minneapolis, and a strained hamstring before Philly. This time: Nothing! I feel great! So now I’ve just got to stay healthy and keep my legs happy. I am anxious and excited for race day to get here. For once, I don’t fear my body failing on me. Just gotta keep my brain in the game!

Training Recap: April 11-17

Last week was a pretty great week of training. Recap, please!

Monday, April 11: 6 miles
6 easy miles in the morning with my Joe to Go morning-coffee-run crew. Still a bit stiff from running 22 two days before, but felt ok after a few miles to loosen up. I did blow off my core work though. Oops.

Tuesday, April 12: 0 miles
Tuesday corework! Sit-ups, leg raises, scissors, bicycles, clamshell extensions and pushups.

Wednesday, April 13: 10 miles
No more Wednesday doubles! I wanted to do an easy 10 in the middle of the day (about 2:30 pm) but my legs had other ideas. Ended up running a hilly route at marathon pace (7:53 pace overall), and my last 6 miles — which were pretty flat — were all 7:41-7:48, and it felt… well, not EASY, but not HARD either. A comfortable push. It got me excited for May 1, for sure.

Thursday, April 14: 8 miles am, 6.4 miles pm
My last day of doubles! The morning run was super slow. The problem with running hard at 2:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday means that my legs are still poo by the time I run again at 6 am the next day. It was a slog, but my evening run more than made up for it. My legs felt recovered and it showed in my pace. In the morning, I paced 9:10 and in the evening with my running group I paced 8:03, and that felt loads easier than the morning run.

Friday, April 15: 0 miles
Just core work! Sit-ups, bicycles, Russian twists, lunges, squats, push-ups, planks and a variety of bridges. Good to get back into doing core work more regularly; I could tell that it was lacking because my hips were feeling pretty loosey-goosey.

Saturday, April 16: 10.75 miles + 6k race (3.75 miles) = 14.5 miles
As I wrote about in my River Horse 6k write-up, I ran with a teammate from Princeton to the River Horse Brewery in Ewing, NJ for the innaugural River Horse 6k race. It was a good workout. We kept to an easy, conversational pace on the long miles down there, and then I hit my goal pace of between 10k and HM pace at the race as a “fast finish.”

Sunday, April 17: 7.1 miles
Took it nice and easy. I was a little bit sore in the hips from the day before, but by the end of the run I felt like I’d shaken it off. I’ve been noticing at the end of long runs or hard runs that the muscles on the outside of my hips seem to be the most sore… any tips on how to strengthen there, O Wise Blog Readers?

Total Miles: 52 miles

This is the last week with doubles, and the last week above 50 (or even 40!) miles. Even though this was still above 50, it felt like a breeze just taking out one midweek run and having a few less miles to run for my long run. I’m both excited and nervous about the true taper (39 miles this upcoming week and 19 miles leading up to the marathon); I’m excited for all the extra time for sleeping I’m gonna have, but nervous about having too much time on my hands to fret about my marathon. But I’ve been loving this “fresh legs” feeling. It’s not until you start to cutback that you realize just how normal fatigued legs had felt!

Pre-taper madness training reflections

I want to do a brief glance back at my last 12 weeks of training, and I want to do it before the taper madness hits and I start doubting all the hard work I put into this cycle. Right now, I’m feeling confident but I know in two weeks I’ll be rapidly vacillating between “YES I CAN!” and “No, you can’t!” So let’s look at some numbers, shall we?

In the last 12 weeks of my 14 week training plan, I have run:
675.5 miles
56.3 miles per week on average
9 blocks of back to back doubles on Wednesdays and Thursdays
22 miles as my longest run
1:40:13 as my new fastest half-marathon time
21:55 as my new fastest 5k time

And for funsies: For 11 of those 12 weeks, I ran between 52 and 64 miles. For 9 of those, my mileage was concentrated between 58 and 62 — talk about consistency, huh? Now I’m looking at the last two weeks of my training schedule and realizing that the taper is real, and it is here, and I must do it. Oh boy. Dropping from 52 miles this week to 39 next week and just 19 in the days leading up to the marathon. Running is a big mood stabilizer for me, so who knows what kind of crazy person I’ll turn into before race day!

This is the most time and the highest mileage I have put into a training cycle ever, by far, hands down. I’ve seen huge improvements in my speed and strength in races and also my overall confidence as a runner. I could not have imagined this kind of progress when I decided 2 years ago to sign up for my first marathon. Sometimes I look at my race and training times and can’t believe that I’m the one running them. Something definitely clicked last year after I ran Minneapolis, and it’s been a really fun but surreal experience to see so much progress since last May.

And as another perk, I now weigh less than I did during my last two years of college and I am almost exactly 20 lbs lighter than I was when I graduated in 2013. I initially started marathon training as a way to get slimmer before moving to Princeton, and my body has changed a lot in the last two years. I’m definitely happier with my reflection, but also am often in awe of the things I’ve pushed this little ol’ body of mine to do.

In 2 weeks, I am going to run the New Jersey Marathon and try to qualify for Boston — and hopefully blow that BQ 3:35 out of the water by going sub-3:30. This will be only the second time I’ve gone into a marathon planning to race rather than just survive. Last fall in Philly, that didn’t work out for me due to injury, and that crash-and-burn replays in my mind whenever I think about how I want to approach race day at NJM. I have a feeling that this taper is going to be a lot of me reminding those nagging voices in my head that Philly was a BAD day, and NJM is going to be a GOOD one, because I’ve worked hard and stayed healthy and I’m even stronger now than I was six months ago.

In the meantime, I am going to continue to procrastinate on my real-life work and stalk the Boston Marathon tag on Instagram. I’m so excited for the race tomorrow and all my friends who are running! And I think I’m extra excited knowing that next year that finish line might be mine too, if all goes well in two weeks… 🙂 Happy Marathon Monday eve, Boston runners!

Training recap: April 4-10

Last week was a great training week! Let’s recaaaaaap!

Monday, April 4: 3 miles easy
After my hard race the day before (see the Caesar Rodney race recap!), my running buddy and I decided to join our Monday morning group at 6:30 instead of 6, which meant 3 miles instead of 6 big ones. Which we were totally fine with after nabbing huge and leg-tiring PRs one day earlier!

Tuesday, April 5: Rest day
And skipped my core work…… oops.

Wednesday: April 6: 10 miles am / 6 miles pm
10 miles in the morning were frigid! It’s so disheartening to wear your winter fleece-lined leggings in early April. But then my afternoon run was nice and warm and my legs got to breathe in some shorts, so it was all good. Both runs rated 🙂 in my log.

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The afternoon run was beyond gorgeous. Light breeze, barely a cloud in the sky.

Thursday, April 7: 7 miles am / 6 miles pm
Speedwork outside in the morning, but a misaligned hip made it a bit difficult. Ended up pacing decently and getting in a really fast final mile (thank you, down-hill mile!). Evening running with my Pacers group was great, and the hip was feeling much better!

Friday, April 8: Rest day
… and skipped my core work again. I think I know why my hips were all wonky!

Saturday, April 9: 22 miles long run
I decided to do my long run on Saturday instead of my usual Sunday so I could tag along with two running buddies on a point-to-point from just outside Princeton to New Brunswick on the tow path (see map).

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It was a long haul, but it was good company, we managed to out-run the rain, and then we got burritos! It took ages to catch a train back down to Princeton, and I have taken few hot showers in my life that were more appreciated than this one!

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And we stumbled across a Revolutionary War reenactment! It was worth a quick stop.

I got to try some new things on this run: Nuun Energy (lemon-lime flavor) and salt stick caps. I actual like the Nuun Active LL flavor better, but I’ll probably use an Energy one for my race because, you know… every bit of caffeine helps! But I’ve got to say, despite their huge size, the salt stick caps really helped. I usually get awful foot cramps after long runs and sometimes headaches. I took two caps (one at 7-8 miles, one at ~16 miles) and I had ZERO foot cramps post-run and no headache. I’ll definitely be taking 2-3 with me for race day.

Sunday, April 10: 10 miles recovery run
Not gonna lie… it was cold on Sunday morning, so I went to the treadmill and got this one done while watching a childhood favorite on HBO Go: Casper. It was a pretty good running movie — not too much to think about, but entertaining enough to keep my mind occupied. Running on the treadmill kept me going nice and slow, which is just what my legs needed after the long one from the day before. I also got to try out some compression calf sleeves and I liked them! I need to try a longer run in them before I decide if they are marathon-worthy, but I’m leaning toward yes.

Plus, this delicious pancake brunch rounded out my Sunday and training week… ushering in the 3-week tapering period. Totally worth the food coma I was in for most of the afternoon!

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Total miles: 64! A new weekly mileage PR and my peak week for this training cycle!