Saturday, July 23, 2011

Marathon 2 Training So Far - 16 Miles

I really need to stop slacking off and post on this blog regularly because I should be documenting my 2nd (and 3rd) marathon as much as the first. Yes, I've been there and done that, but this time I'm working much harder towards a time goal instead of just getting through it. It's going swimmingly and I'm feeling great. I've even already registered for the 2 races (Space Coast and BCM) months in advanced, and that's unheard of for me. My end of year stats for races run won't be as impressive as last year, but this year is about quality (speed), not just quantity. I'm ready to realize my full potential! :)

What's Different This Time

I'm still running 3 times a week, but now every run has a purpose. I previously focused on the long runs and just ran 3 miles twice a week at whatever pace felt good and easy. This time I'm running with my group on Tuesdays and Thursdays too, and the consistency and variety of workouts it's making a huge difference. My body is constantly having to adapt to a new workout, and I can certainly feel a difference in my running.
  • Tuesdays: we alternate between practicing race pace, pushing the pace by 30s, hills, and easy runs. Including the warm up, I usually run 4-5 miles on each of these runs.
  • Thursdays: we meet at the track and do different speed intervals each week, including 400s, 800s, and Ladders. I'm loving all this variety because neither my brain nor my muscles get bored, specially when I'm getting up by 4 am 2-3 times a week.
  • Warm Ups: I've found running a slow warm up mile before these workout to be invaluable. It helps wake me and my body up, and then my muscles are loose and ready to work hard. I usually do this on my own on both days, then run the workout with my group. I don't warm up separately before long runs, but I try to run the first miles slower than the last and it works wonders.
  • Cross Training:  I've been too busy getting into the routine of running early three times a week that cross training has suffered a bit. I mostly do yoga and this week I started with core and upper body work. I need to add some easy cycling to the mix because it helps keep my knees strong, but I've yet to make time for it. 
Listening to my Body

This isn't really something new, I've always been on the conservative side of training and always listen to my body, but now it's like I've fine-tuned the frequency and have an amplifier to let me hear a pin drop. Since I know I'm asking a lot more from my body, I'm taking good care of it. I'm trying to do yoga regularly, or stretch as much as I can after each run, even if it's for a minute or two. I don't have much time after the mid-week runs, but I do what I can and do yoga at least 2 times a week and at the first sign of any persistent aches or twinges, specially on my back, knees or hips. I'm also getting massages every month or two, and plan to schedule one the Sunday after each remaining long run starting tomorrow! :)

Summary of Weeks 1 - 8

I'm going to start posting my progress and highlighting key workouts (such as long runs) on this blog every week to help me document this process. You can read the workout specifics as I do them on dailymile too. I don't want to backtrack too much, so below is a summary of the first 8 weeks followed by details of some key workouts. With the extra running during the week, and a slightly more aggressive long run schedule, I'm averaging well over 15-20 miles per week, and that's only going to go up as I build up to a 29 miles LSD.

week 1 = 8 (on cruise)
week 2 = 13 (8 mile LSD)
week 3 = 14 
week 4 = 19 (10 mile LSD)
week 5 = 16
week 6 = 21 (14 mile LSD)
week 7 = 17 (6 miles - repeats)
week 8 = 25 (16 mile LSD)

Mile Repeats

Another new thing this cycle is doing mile repeats on Saturdays when we're not doing our longest runs. I did my first last Saturday. They were challenging with the heat, but kind of fun (runners are masochists). Based on my predicted race pace base on my 8:24 magic mile, my goal for mile repeats was 10:30 per mile (30s faster than race pace). We had 6 on the schedule, but since it was the first time most of us were doing them, we ran the first one slow to warm up, did 4 repeats fast (include the last without our usual walk breaks), then ran the last mile slow as a cool down. More details on dailymile. These will build over the next weeks to culminate in 14 repeats 2 weeks before the race. 

14 mile run

It was super humid this morning, even when we started at 4:30 am. 3 of us went out for 6 miles using 1/1 intervals since we were running longer (by 4 miles), and boy am I glad we started slow. Even at an average speed of 14 m/m, we were struggling due to the humidity. We picked up the rest of the group at 6 am and went out for another 6 miles at 2/1 intervals. Then 3 of us ran an extra 2 miles for a total of 14 for Kerrie and I. Other than being a little out of breath, I felt good the whole run. Maybe the enduralytes helped.

16 mile run today

I can't believe I'm already running 16 miles! I'm super thrilled with this run, specially with this heat, and I love my group to pieces for helping the time fly. Kirsty and I started slow with more walk breaks, and it made a huge difference. I'm beyond amazed that my average pace was a minute per mile faster than the last time I ran 16 miles in Nov '09. What's even more amazing is that I finished strong with my last mile being among the fastest (first 13:20, last 11:51)! Don't get me wrong, it hurt and I'm sore as hell, but it's a good hurt. I felt a bit fatigued and sore at the end, but I felt like I was running strong, and I didn't really feel like I was pushing that hard physically, just mentally. I was a sweaty dripping mess when I finished, but felt great at what I had accomplished before 9 am. I gotta bring the enduralytes next time. I think they make a difference, but I drank some gatorade today since I was sweating so much. 

So that's me so far. Stay tuned to see how I do in the coming weeks :) How's everyone else doing with their training?
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