Marathon Training Review: Weeks 1-3

A few weeks ago I decided to switch over from my 3x/week running plan to a more intense 5 day running plan, Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2. The first week went fantastic!  I only missed one short run and was able to stay on track for my other longer runs.

I was also killing those runs!  My 10 miler was a new PR and my shorter runs were getting more speedy.

Hal Higdon Intermidiate 2 Training Schedule

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Sadly, week 2 is when I began to slack.  It was mainly because I was completely and utterly wiped out.  We shot a double wedding that weekend and after two 12 hour days of shooting the last thing I wanted to do on my first day off was go out and run 11 miles.  Let’s not forget to mention that I could also feel myself getting sick.  I know my body and know that I made a wise choice in staying in that day.

My cold was very mild and passed quickly and I was able to get back on track in week 3, BUT I still missed two of the longer runs.  We were out of town that weekend shooting in Buffalo and I wasn’t about to get up early and run 6 miles in an unfamiliar city.  The following day I was far too exhausted from the 12 hour day of shooting so I decided to skip yet another long run.

I know this is bad.

They say to never skip a long run.  They say that if you’re going to miss any runs try to make it those short ones.  But, we’re still fairly early on in the training and I think I will be okay.  You see, I always have the Intermediate 1 plan to fall back on.  When I look at that schedule and think about my current fitness level I know that I am well ahead of the curve.

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I only opted for the higher schedule to begin with because my longest training run from my prior 28 week plan was 9+ miles.  I knew that my body was already fully capable of going the 10 mile distance and saw no problem with the increased mileage.

So far, the training has been going well.  I don’t feel like it’s burning me out and I don’t feel like it’s too much too soon.  The only conflict I have had been due to a ridiculously busy schedule and illness.

It will get better now that wedding season is dying down and I do plan to work hard to stay on track for week 4.  It’s my goal to have a full week of training under me for this coming week.  So far, I am doing my best to stay on track and plan to do the same for the weekend.  It’s not always easy finding the time or getting up early, but I know it’s going to be a necessity.  I want to push myself harder so that I can PR this next marathon and even hope to run a half at the end of this month (10/19) so I can PR that distance as well.

I can feel both my mind and body getting stronger and know that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. How are your training plans going?  Have you ever change things up during training?  What plan are you following?

Race Recap: Twilight 5K-Ithaca, NY 6/11/14

A week and a half ago, I completed my first Twilight 5K in Ithaca.  It’s one of those summer races I have been meaning to do for a while now (hello cheap entry fee) and I finally bit the bullet and signed up.  I was feeling pretty good going into the race and was really hoping for a PR.  In some ways I did PR, because my time was shorter than my fastest racing 5K, but the distance was shorter that my last PR 5K (3.17 miles).

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In retrospect, I think I could have come close to hitting my PR goal if I hadn’t been so fixated on getting Runkeeper to work in my first quarter mile of the race.  It was an easy flat course and along a path I’ve run on many a time during my marathon training.  One thing I realized is that I really need to learn how to not place myself at the head of the pack!  I know I am not a fast runner so why do I put myself through the frustration of being passed by a million people?!  I hate the feeling of being passed.  It’s especially frustrating when said passers try to be encouraging.  I mean c’mon, we all know what you’re rely thinking.

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source:  http://theoatmeal.com/

Perhaps if I started in the back or middle of the pack I could for once gain the pleasure of passing someone by.  Alas, maybe someday I will learn!  Or maybe someday I will be a faster runner and it won’t bother me so much.

Overall, I think I did fairly well.  My pace was only 12secs off of my PR pace so it wasn’t like I completely flopped.  I look forward to more summer races and hope to work up my speed as I learn more about HR training and incorporating speed work.

Running With Your Heart

Let me tell you a little (well not so little) secret about how I pace myself during my longer runs.

I listen to my heart.

man-running-heart-rate-beatPhoto courtesy of iStockphoto, Eraxion

Marathon training taught me a valuable lesson on how listening to your body plays an important role on your overall health and performance.

As a competitive athlete, I was always trained to go at a “balls to the walls”, all out, heart pounding intensity.  For me this doesn’t mesh well with long distance running.  I learned this on my first 15 mile run.

I was running much slower than my normal pace due to the crazy October heat (yeah it was 86 and humid in October last fall) and still felt like I was dying.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  That wasn’t until I looked down at my HR monitor and it read 195!  I was at my max HR and moving so slow (15 min mile + slow), it didn’t make sense.  I was only 6 miles in and I was ready to cry out of frustration.  I ended up switching to run/walk intervals for the remainder of the run.  I wasn’t happy about it, but I wanted and needed to get my HR back down under 170 BPM to save myself from overheating. 
It was the first time that I really listened to my heart and learned the importance of doing so.  Had I kept pushing myself to reach a certain pace, I could have found myself collapsing due to heat stroke.  I know HR training isn’t for everyone, but for me it really does help. It tells me when I need to slow down (something that can be a struggle for me) and lets me know when I have more energy to speed up.

I know, it’s not a perfect science.  Our bodies can act differently under varied circumstances and small things (lack of sleep, caffeine, weather) can account for an increased HR during training.  Regardless, for me I feel like it’s a useful tool and I think I will work on putting more focus into it over the next couple of months.

I found this useful chart (based on my Max HR and resting HR) and do find that it correlates  with how I perform on my longer runs.  If you’re interested in learning what ranges work for you hop on over to Running For Fitness to create your own guide.

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I’m really excited to see how my running will change once I reincorporate HR training into my routine.  I am eager to see what my sprints look like and look forward to reaching new running goals as the weather warms up.

How do you train?  Do you listen to your body (or heart) and let it guide you?  Do you push yourself to meet a certain pace?  Do you shoot for distance or time?

Interested in learning more about heart rate training?  Visit Competitor for, “Running 101:  Training With A Heart Rate Monitor”, or “Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners”

Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners
Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2014/02/training/get-in-the-zone_66832#P5xFMLz0pCOcGrZf.9
Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners
Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2014/02/training/get-in-the-zone_66832#P5xFMLz0pCOcGrZf.99