Week Three Boston Training: Not sure if I feel good or if I am just too exhausted to know how tired I am :)
Week-to-Week, this blog may seem pretty boring, but I am hopeful this will become meaningful to me (and maybe others) once I work though this training cycle and see what Dave and I can do. I am sharing the workouts we decide to do, showing where we are starting from (the bottom) and anticipating that we will create momentum all the way the leads to Dave and I having some great marathon experiences together. This is my real life training. It is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Maybe someone will be inspired. Maybe not. Maybe I will simply enjoy seeing how far I can go in a few months of training. We shall see. :)
So week three is done. Another week down and I am happy to have completed the three hard workouts on the schedule.
The plan underwent some revisions based upon how Dave and I were feeling. It is so easy to write out an entirely too ambitious plan when you are writing one for yourself. I am alway more conservative and more realistic with my athletes than I am with myself. This is because I know that I will absolutely revise the plan to set me up to succeed without self-judgment, whereas my athletes often experience a revision as an indication of failure... which is never the case.
So this week Dave and I decided:
(1) The long runs I had hoped to do were clearly too ambitious. The heat/humidity was too much for me (Dave probably too) to tolerate without any acclimation under us. And I haven't run long in a long time. So Dave and I decided we would take a few weeks to build up to 20 miles LR without any pressure to run any specific pace. After we reach 20M, we will take a rest week and then start working on Fast Finish long runs from there.
Here is the week mostly in pictures.
Tuesday Speed Alternates: For those following along, I meet Dave on Tuesdays for speed. I developed a new systematic progression for us to torture ourselves with. They won't get truly hard for a while, but right now we are laying the foundation for that hard work.
This week we ran 9M with 6M of them speed work consisting of .3M hard/ .7M Recovery. This was a bump up by .1M of the hard running from last week with a decrease of .1M of the recovery. We will repeat this on week 4 as well. During the hard run, we try to run as fast as possible. I don't have any window to target. I don't even look at the pace, I just run as hard as possible until it is time to stop.
I am happy to see that our speed is getting faster. Last week during .2's we were actually slower. Lap 13 was our last hard burst and I am so happy to see a sub-6 pace there.
I went home and did some Resistance Training. Just body-weight stuff at home.
Wednesday is my Rest Day. I just walk the dogs. I need to get in some flex work but this is always hard to feel motivated to do. I don't know why. I know it is not just me. I know many people who would rather do anything else but stretch or foam roll.
I did make green soup. This is awesome. I have been buying bags of greens faster than I can eat them (clearly I have good intentions but I buying without checking what I need). I blended a few bags of greens into chicken stock with sautéed mirepoix and some quinoa I added some Enzo olive oil and red pepper flakes at the end. This stuff is amazing.
Thursday is Hill Day. The one rule of "The Tour of Morristown" Hill Day is no one is allowed to turn down a hill. If we can go up, we choose up over down. It is like the rules of improv comedy, you are not allowed to say "no"... no matter how ridiculous the idea.
Friday is another day with Kim. We do her LR on Mondays, so Friday will be a little easier. Today was a 6M run/walk day. It was hot/humid and it slowed us down. But we got it done.
Saturday was my 16M Long Run (any way I could do it). It was so freaking hot. It "felt like" 90 degrees on my weather app but in real life it felt like I was running in Hell. At mile 12, I contemplated calling Sidney to come get me. But I decided I could get myself home even if I was slow. I knew pace didn't matter and starting my run at 11:00 am meant I was going to suffer, so I wasn't shocked it felt so bad. I lost 7 lbs on this run from dehydration it was that hot. But it got done and I know I will be better off for having done it.
Sunday is my standing 8-12M run with Alanna. We drive 45-50 minutes each way to meet to run. We don't care really what we do, we just know that if we are getting up early to meet it needs to be between 8-12. Sometimes we do more but not today!
Today I felt like I was run over by a truck. I needed to keep the pace easy. I added a lot of walking. I carried water which I rarely do but no calories. By mile 8 I was so incredibly hungry. I hit the wall hard. This is such a great sign for me. I know it means I am changing.
This is how it starts. I chase after this bonk. I want to look it in the face and tell it that I am not concerned. If I can get used to feeling this way in training, when I show up on race day, well-rested, well-fueled, well-trained, "The Wall" just doesn't exist. Today it existed and I was actually happy to run into it again. I haven't run into that wall in a long long time.
Stats and prediction for the week: Apparently STRYD believes I am getting slower. Thanks! Garmin has me the same.
I did my own calculations, which my athletes can tell you that I am quite good at. Based upon our speed work, I believe we have the speed for a 3:20... but only once our LRs are up over 20. So right now, we aren't in 3:20 shape. I hope to be by August.
Week Two is done.
Three workouts. Speed work, Hills, Long Run. Nothing monumental. Just more work than I have been used to doing. My body is reacting to the load. I expected to feel beat up as I return to training..
Tuesday' Speed with Dave.
We repeated last week's workout (.2M Hard/.8M easy) but the weather was 25 degrees hotter and humid. We didn't meet the goal of running faster than last week but we did "good enough" work. I want to see our bursts in the low 6's, and eventually sub-6 if possible. We shall see.
We also a new route which was not a keeper. Too many intersections and uneven sidewalks slowed us down. We will return to last week's route next week.
After the speed work, I did only about 20 minutes of strength work.
Wednesday, I woke up feeling some ache on the bottom of my left foot by the heel. It felt bruised. Not like PF but more like I steeped on something hard? It wasn't horrible but it did make me not want to stand on my left foot for too long. Thank goodness Wednesday are rest days from running. Dogs got walked and then I went to work.
Last weekend, I noticed the hill repeats were still in my legs by LR day, a bit too much than I wanted to feel them. It was 85 degrees last Saturday, so the sudden heat wave slowed me down anyway.
Regardless, I made a decision to move hard hill repeats (the 16% grade climb) to the Thursday before the easy LR, not the Thursday before the hard LR (which we will do every other week to accommodate our schedules). On alternate Thursdays we will do a longer very hilly run but the grade will be less than 16% for most of the climbs. This will be easy to recover from by LR day.
Fridays are Kim's easier day. Still using Walk/Run. .
This run was 5M. Nothing was swollen so off we go. Easy pace just to be safe.
47M total with 42M of running (maybe 42.5?).
I did two strength sessions only because I wanted to rest my heel. I also failed to do any flex for no good reason.
After Blood Donation on 5/24, my RHR is now back to 49. This is good.
STRYD Predicts my Boston may be a bit faster that last week.
Garmin didn't change, except to tell me that I am "Unproductive" lol
That is all I got for this week!
Let's see what happens in a week from now.
It's time to start blogging again. Rather than focus on races only, this time I want to track my weekly training through Boston... for better or worse. :) Expect a lot of photos. This log will help me have something to reflect back on when race day comes and I need to remember how far I have come from 5/31/21 - 10/11/21. This is all for me. Follow along if you wish.
Pre-Training: To Train Solo or To Build a Team? Finding the right locations. Building the plan. Donating blood.
Last time I trained, I did it all solo. I am happy I did this. Everyone should train through at least one marathon training cycle solo. It will change a person for the better. Last time, I needed to just focus on my recovery from my sepsis surgeries in 2019, I did not commit to meeting anyone so I could make decisions as I went along that were best for me. As a result, I was so happy to run a 3:03 at Charleston 2020 before Covid shut down racing.
I was not so happy to have sustained a significant injury (osteitis pubis, which is basically the tearing away of the muscle from my pubic bone) at the end of that training cycle. This injury took me about 9-10 months to heal well enough that I don't think about it or notice any tightness when I run. During that time, I was very sedentary, lost my endurance, lost my strength, lost my fitness in every way. I have a lot of work to do.
Now is time to get back to work. After a year or more of forced isolation, I decided this time I NEED to train with the others, especially those I care most about most on this planet, who I know will be my biggest cheerleaders, my biggest motivators, my biggest fans when I need their support and encouragement, as I will be all that for them as well as they training for their own personal goals too!
At 45 years old, I have noticed for me training is starting to feel harder. Having a team of best friends to train with feels like a very powerful secret weapon.
So no matter what happens, I want to say right now how grateful I am to Sidney, Kim, Alanna, and Dave for being the best training partners I know. Without you all running by my side, I know that I would never have as great of a chance to achieve my next best races as I do when you all are there early in the morning, in the heat of the summer, in the rain, on the trails, on the hills. Whatever I end up doing in Boston (0r any race before it) it will be in a big part because of all of you and everyone else mentioned in my blog as I go along!).
Dave committed to racing out in the mountains as a last long run before Boston, where hopefully all this work he does will get him a new PR. He also agreed to meet me for the hard workouts (the hills, the speed, the fast finish long runs). But we weren't sure where to train.
We took a month before training started to explore different training destinations. We settled on road-based speed work by me one day a week and hills by him one other day per week. Hard Long Runs will happen on the route we used when we last trained together and both PR'd back then.
Kim is returning to training after her knee surgery and agreed to meet me for my General Maintenance runs were pace doesn't matter but company does!. Alanna agreed as always to help me keep the volume hight by doing my easy LRs with me whenever possible.
Sid, Yazzy, Lapis and Piper will keep me moving when I am home.
WIth this team in place, I felt excited to get to work.
I built our plan to start on May 31. I wrote some new workouts that will be challenging yet exciting! I want to get us off the track. Our speed will take place on the roads. We will use a systematic progression to alternate bursts of speed with recovery running. We will slowly grow the speed duration while shortening the recovery.
I want to spend time running repeats on the steepest hill we can find, because our mountain race will require a LOT of downhill tolerance. I want to alternating those repeats with a medium length run on a very hilly course.
Once we found our optimal locations, both Dave and I were excited to start. But we decided to wait until 2 week after his 6-Day race to give him some time to recovery from running 356 miles in less than a week.
The last thing we did during our Pre-Training phase was donate blood. Blood donation is important and very necessary to save lives. There is not a lot of scientific evidence about the impact of blood duration on endurance athletes. Most of it says "Don't do it when in training because you will lost 2-4 weeks time to train hard."
Available research has identified a 2-4 week period of time when training hard will feel horrible due to low RBC. It takes 2-6 weeks for the body to replace those RBC. But after RBC have been regenerated, they will last 120 days. 1-1.5 months after blood donation performance should feel much easier.
I am not sure if training hard during that 2-4 week low RBC window will do anything to stimulate a super-compensation of RBC in a way. That would be helpful to us as runners but there is nothing in the research that shows this is possible. If it happens then that will be a bonus for us. If it doesn't happen and we get back to our RBC in 4 weeks, training should feel a million time better by then compared to what we are putting ourselves thought during weeks 1-4. I think just that shift will help with motivation to train hard. Regardless of the impact on training, we still each saved 3 lives before we got so deeply immersed into training that we missed any window to donate.
It has been almost 2 weeks since we donated. I noticed that one week after blood donation, my RHR rose from 48 bpm pre-donation all the way to 60 bmp on 5/31. But on 6/5, less than two weeks later, my RHR reverted back to 48 bmp. Running fast and running hills felt terrible when my RHR was 60 bmp. I have no evidence that I felt better when it lowered back to 48 bpm because the weather change during that time was extreme (from 40-50 degree runs to 75-85 degree runs). I have felt horrible running due to the heat after my return to 48 RHR. Give me a cooler morning and then I can make a better assessment. :)
Tuesday I met Dave for "speed" but I wasn't sure how we would do since we both felt sluggish after he blood donation. We decided to run 6M of .2M repeats as fast as we could comfortably hold with a .8M jog recovery. Our speed pace was 6:14-6:30 pace. That is fine for week one.
Thursday, Dave and I ran our hills repeats through a significant storm. The rain was so hard that we got splashed from head to toe by a car driving though a huge puddle and it didn't impact how wet we were at all
My data doesn't reflect the amount of work we did out there. But my butt and quads knew it. :) The work here was 7 x .1M 16% hill repeats. Maybe next time we run this my watch will get me some real elevation gain data? I hope.
My Saturday LR was supposed to be a Alternating Fast Finish LR with Dave but he had to be in PA and the heat was entirely too much for me to tolerate. I was solo for this run and just decided to get the mileage due to the heat crushing my soul. I needed walk breaks to get through it but I am grateful I got the mileage. I drank 50+ ounces of fluid and still came home exactly 4 lbs lighter. It took a lot out of me to get this done.
I tried a new energy drink mix, Roctane Summit Tea. I like Roctane anything because of the added amino acids. This was tolerable. I do think I prefer Optimal Nutrition Fruit Punch ProBCAA better than the last of this, but the BCAA have only 10 calories. I wanted something for energy today and this did the job.
Sunday with Alanna ended the week. The heat was tough. 75-85 degree for this and I felt beat up from the LR yesterday. I have mixed feeling about this. I miss being so fit that I could run 20 in one day not over one weekend. But I am excited to see how my fitness grows over the next few months.
Race Performance Predictions:
Just for fun I am tracking what STRYD and Garmin predicts for my marathon time. This is what I got this week.
Dave and I are also keeping an email chain going entitled Training Topics: There we are discussing any training related.
This week we discussed taking iron to supplement our RBC development since we gave blood.
We discussed Walking as "deliberate practice" for Good Running Form and identified keep elements to efficient form that we want to reinforce when running and walking as much as possible.
We discussed eating more protein during training and what types of protein we prefer.
Add some dogs walks, a short run with Yazzy, lunch time walks and my mileage was 55,1 Miles moving with 48.0 Running.
I did two strength sessions and one flex session as of now for the week. That might change.
I am tracking my body composition during this journey. At the start of the week, I was 126.2 lbs (23.1% body fat, 30.1% muscle, and 57% Water) at the start of the week and 122.8 (22.3% body fat, 30.5% muscle, and 57.6% water) by the end.
That's all for the week. I look forward to documenting how next week goes for my reflection come October.
Shannon McGinn, MS, MA, JD, EdS.