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.
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Shannon McGinn, JD, MS, MA, EDS, NBC-HWC, ATR-BC, LPAT.