Sunday, February 25, 2018

Training log - Week ending 2/25/18

This week was 61 miles of running, 22 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

For this marathon training cycle, I'm trying to stick to what has worked best for me - reasonably high but not excessive mileage, and a substantial volume of "controlled quality."

By "controlled" quality I mean running between marathon and 8K pace, saving the faster running for when I'm focused on shorter distances. "Reasonably high" mileage means around 60-65 miles a week on land. Certainly not inadequate, but not big mileage.

Different things work for different people, with each of us needing to strike our own balance.  While some people can run very well off of high mileage, history has proven an inverse relationship between my weekly mileage and my marathon performance if I go above the 60s.  At the same time, I run better with a higher volume of quality running, as long as I don't overdo the pace of it, and make sure that I have enough "space" between each workout.

This week, "spacing" the workouts meant that I only did two workouts, intervals on Tuesday and a long run on Saturday.  While I could have squeezed in cruise intervals on Thursday, my gut told me it would be too much too close together, so I went with two hard days.  

Since I only had the two workouts, I had hoped to extend out the Tuesday workout, maxing out the allowed reps.  That got nixed when I accidentally ran the first 2000m rep too fast, due to misunderstanding my coach's instructions (he told me to "group up" - I thought he meant to catch up with the group ahead, when he meant I should join the group behind).  I hit the brakes for the 800s, but the damage was already done, and my coach shut me down after four 800s.  I wasn't happy, but on reflection it was the right call.

Saturday's workout was 2x5 miles at marathon pace - a modification of our normal 4-3-2-1 miles at marathon pace workout.  When mapping out my training cycle for this spring, I had asked my coach if we could try the 2x5.  My reasoning was that it was the same volume of marathon-paced work (10 miles total), but fewer longer reps gave me more time to actually lock into and feel marathon pace.   When I do the 4-3-2-1, it feels like I'm never running at marathon pace for very long.  Additionally, since the duration of each rep is short, it becomes very easy to run the workout too hard, even if I'm trying not too.  Doing two segments of five miles encouraged me to find an honest and not overly optimistic rhythm.

(also, I've done the 4-3-2-1 workout for years now, and while I like it, I'm also bored with it).

Having never done the 2x5, I went into it with caution.  As it turned out, it was surprisingly easy  - it felt as easy or easier than the 4-3-2-1.  The first five was really just a one mile extension of the normal four at marathon pace.  And then the second five felt just like the controlled conclusion of a progression long run.  Had I needed to, I could have continued on longer.  All good signs, I guess.

Normally, the 4-3-2-1 workout would be proceeded by a "25x400m" workout on Wednesday (twenty-five 400m repeats at 10K pace with 100m float).  When discussing the 2x5, my coach had cautioned that he thought doing both the 25x400m and the 2x5 in the same week would be excessive.  

As I thought about it more, I also realized that the 25x400m is a grueling lactate threshold (LT) workout.  While I normally thrive on LT workouts, I entered this short marathon training cycle off of a half-marathon cycle that was focused heavily on lactate threshold - I really don't need to be hammering at that system more right now.  My sense is that the tempo workouts that precede each 20-22 mile long run are more than sufficient for LT work for me for this cycle.  So it was an easy decision to skip the 25x400s this spring.

I only have three weeks left before I start to taper.  This cycle has gone by surprisingly fast.


Monday: 5.5 very easy to yoga (9:29), yoga, and then 4.5 very easy home (9:05).  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 2000m, 4x800m in 7:32, 3:04, 3:03, 3:03, 3:04.  Also injury prevention work and 1400 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10 miles very easy (9:24) to the gym, upper body weights/core, and then another 2 miles very easy (9:21).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  Yoga and then 8.5 "miles" of pool-running in the morning; 4.5 "miles" of pool-running and f
oam rolling at night.

Friday: 7.5 miles very easy to the gym (9:13), light upper body weights, core, and DIY yoga, and then 3.5 miles very easy home (8:47) plus drills and four strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  16 miles, including 2x5 miles at marathon pace with one mile easy in between  Splits were 
34:14 (6:55/6:56/6:48/6:50/6:45 - 6:51 average) and 33:55 (6:48/6:50/6:48/6:45/6:44 - 6:47 average).  Followed with 600 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  9 "miles" pool-running, followed by foam rolling.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Training log - Week ending 2/18/18

This week was 62 miles of running, 19 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This week had some ups and downs.  I had some fatigue on Tuesday (not surprising, since I had done a hard workout that weekend) and my breathing felt slightly tight.  Then Thursday's tempo was at the correct effort, but a pace about 10-15 seconds slower than I would expect.  

At first I thought the slow tempo was due to a combo of fatigue and being overdressed for unseasonably warm weather.  And then I thought some more and realized that I had been coughing a lot post-workout, and gave the asthma doctor a call.  A quick check of my breathing confirmed that values were low and my asthma was starting to flare again - apparently I didn't rest enough after getting sick last week.  Or perhaps I just would have flared anyway.

Asthma flares are like injuries - running on them just makes them worse.  But they're unlike running injuries in that rest does nothing to ease them, once you're flaring.   The only way to calm a flare is with medication, and the longer you delay hitting the meds, the more meds you need to take.

So onto another dose of prednisone.  Not what I wanted at all, but it was what it was.  At least this time we tried half my normal dose to see if that would be sufficient since I caught this one early - the less prednisone I take, the better.

My long run went very well on Saturday, though it's hard to know how much was improved breathing versus prednisone assistance.  I guess the test will be this coming week.

It's worth noting that the paces on Saturday's long run are also slightly misleading - my first 7 miles were on mild rolling hills, and then the second 7 were flat to uphill, followed by 2 miles uphill at marathon effort (7:00-ish) and 5 miles downhill at marathon effort (6:40-ish).  

So that marathon pace segment was definitely assisted, and not necessarily a good indicator of my fitness.  But it did achieve my goal of doing some MP work going uphill and then a lot of MP work downhill.  My quads were definitely a bit sore the next morning, which was exactly what I wanted - a bit of quad proofing for Boston.


Monday: 7.5 very easy to yoga (9:28), yoga, and then 1.5 very easy home (9:16) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 800, 2x1600, 800 (3:05, 6:17, 6:09, 2:57), followed by injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Massage in afternoon..

 11 miles, including a tempo workout of 4 miles in 26:37 (6:39/6:42/6:41/6:36).  Followed with 1250 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 10 miles very easy (9:19) plus drills and strides.  Later DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Saturday:  21 miles progressive, split as first 7 at 9:00, next 7 at 7:36, last 7 at 6:45.  F
ollowed with light injury prevention work and then 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  14 "miles" pool-running, followed by yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Training log - Week ending 2/11/2018

This week was 39 miles of running, 34 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Last week, I noted my fatigue from ramping up my miles.  As it turned out, a few hours after I posted that entry, my throat started hurting, and by the time I went to bed, I felt lousy.  Awful sore throat (I'm a baby about those), sinus pain, and ridiculously tired.

Yup, sick.  Nothing so dramatic as the flu; just a bad head cold.  But still of concern, since head colds often result in asthma flares.  And once my asthma flares, the only way to get it under control is with a few days of prednisone.  Prednisone is very bad for bone density, even when only taken for a few days at a high dose.  And I already have very poor bone density, hovering on the border between osteopenia and osteoporosis. 

The rule of thumb is that it's ok to run with a head cold if the symptoms are above the chest, and that's what I've always done.  But the last few times I've done that, I've ended up with an asthma flare.  So I took a different tack this time - sticking with complete bed rest or easy pool-running (timing it so that I was by myself and not exposing others) until I was no longer symptomatic.

My reasoning was that asthma is an exaggerated response by the body's immune system to stress.  Asthma flares result from viral infections because the virus triggers an immune response, and that immune response then continues to rage out of control long after the virus is gone.  So....if I could just minimize all stress on my body, perhaps my immune system would settle when the head cold eased, and not take the additional step into asthma.

And, it apparently worked.  No asthma flare.    So yay.  Disappointing in a way, because it means that I really can't run through a head cold, not even easy running.  But that's a small sacrifice if it means I avoid an asthma flare.

This was supposed to be a high mileage week - one of my peak weeks of training in a short marathon cycle.  But due to the head cold/rest my mileage ended up being pretty low.  I can't believe that it will make that much difference to my marathon in the end, as long as I don't have more weeks like this.   I'm prioritizing marathon pace specific work over mileage this cycle, and so the marathon pace workout this weekend was much more important to me than the daily mileage average.  And that went well despite a lingering bit of fatigue, so yay.


Monday: Sick.  Just foam rolling

Tuesday: 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 3.5 miles very easy (9:18) to yoga, yoga, and then another 8.5 miles very easy  (8:56) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

 11 miles, including a workout of 2 miles, 1 mile in 13:03 (6:32/6:31) and 6:22 with a half-mile recovery.  Followed with 1500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: Upper body weights/core and 11 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  17 miles, including a "4-3-2-1" workout (sections of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace with one mile easy between each).  Splits were:

4 mile: 27:15 (6:50/6:48/6:50/6:47 - 6:49 pace);
3 mile: 20:22 (6:49/6:48/6:45 - 6:47 pace)
2 mile: 13:33 (6:48/6:45 - 6:47 pace)
1 mile: 6:45

followed with light injury prevention work and then 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  14 "miles" pool-running, followed by yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Training log - Week ending 2/4/18

This week was 37 miles of running, 34 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was the second week of marathon training.  I'm a bit tired despite the moderate mileage reduction in the middle of the week, and the substitution of pool-running for land-running mileage.  

I find this to be the toughest part of marathon training.  Not the tired part, but rather the judgment call about when feeling tired is acceptable, and when it's a warning sign.  When to back off and when to push through.  

Recovery is my biggest challenge as a runner - I can't train myself into exhaustion and then bounce back with a 3 week taper as others seem able to do, so I have to be mindful.  At the same time, marathon training does mean periods of being tired - especially at the beginning at the cycle (adjusting to the new load) and at the end, when I'm ready to taper.  

My general rule of thumb is that I'm OK as long as I'm not grouchy, struggling to concentrate, or having difficulty falling asleep.  Right now, none of those apply, so I'll hold the course.  If any of those do pop up, then it's time to back way off for a day or two.


In other news, just because I get a kick out of it, here's a video of our blind cat, Topaz, playing fetch.  Completely non-running related, but my blog, my rules.


Monday: Yoga and 8.5 "miles" pool-running; foam rolling at night..

Tuesday: 12 miles, including 3200 in 12:50 (6:28/6:22) and then 4x800 all in 3:02.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 7 miles very easy (9:47) followed by drills and strides and DIY yoga.  90 minute deep tissue/sports massage at night.

 Upper body weights and core plus 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday4 miles (9:02) followed by DIY yoga  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 3 mile warm-up, and then 10K race in 40:36. 5 mile cooldown and then 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  16.5 "miles" pool-running, followed by foam rolling.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Race Report: For the Love of It 10K, February 3, 2018

I ran the "For the Love of It" 10K this morning, finishing in 40:36, which was good enough for fourth woman overall.

I ran this race simply to ensure I had another race in between the Houston Half and my next planned race - the Love Run Half in Philly in late March (which will be a tune-up for the Boston Marathon).  Some people can go several months without racing and be just fine - I'm not one of them. 

I've found that I perform my best when I'm racing at least once a month: the more I race, the sharper I get.  And conversely, the longer I go between races, the harder it is to sharpen up again. I can be very fit, but not sharp, and underperform.

This is why, when I'm focusing on shorter distances, I'll do a block of training to get fit and then "coast" by spending 8-10 or more weeks mostly racing and recovering, with a few controlled interval workouts filling the gaps.  If we do this right, I improve a bit each race, and run my best performances at the end, right before I start feeling a bit fried (at which point I call it a season). 

Of course, this practice doesn't work so well for marathon training - I can't race frequently AND put in the volume of training that a marathon requires without overtraining or getting injured.  So marathon training mandates a 7-8 week period where I don't race and just put in the work.  Today was solely to squeeze in one more race before entering the heaviest part of my marathon training, which starts on Monday.  So that the gap between races would be be 7 weeks rather than 10.

Ideally, I would have raced a 5K on Saturday and then done easy paced mileage on Sunday, but I couldn't find any 5Ks that were appealing (appealing in this context means local, held on asphalt, and not a fun run).  However, the For the Love of It 10K did meet my criteria, so what the heck.  It would be a moderately hilly race, but that was a plus, since I'm training for a hilly marathon.


Race morning dawned cold - it was 14 degrees at race start, though at least it was sunny with little wind.  Another small mercy was that packet pickup was inside the high school hosting the race.

I warmed up with three miles, including about a quarter mile at a harder pace, plus some drills and strides that I continued all the way until 2 minutes before race start.  Then I lined up near my teammates Jenn and Matt.  At 8:02 (so two minutes late, and an uncomfortable two minutes at that), the race started.

Because of the bright sunshine, I was wearing sunglasses.  As if on cue, when the horn sounded, my glasses fogged up, rendering the first 15 seconds of this race even sketchier than race starts normally are. I pushed my sunglasses up onto my forehead where they would reside for the rest of the race, and then I could see. 

As the race sorted itself in the first half mile, I found myself behind a pack of around 8 women and men, with Jenn and another pack about 10 seconds ahead.  I tucked in and reminded myself to stay patient during the first two miles before opening up.  Over those next two miles, my pack fell apart, and I found myself alone.   I tried to keep the pack ahead of me in sight, and even to reel them in, but my legs had no spark, and soon they hit a downhill when I hit an uphill, and I lost contact. 

From there it was a lonely race - I had nobody ahead to pull me, and nobody near to drive me, and my legs were leaden.  This was both tough and fantastic.   Frequent racing means frequent practice in handling mentally challenging situations, and being totally alone at mile 4.5 of a 10K with a decent uphill ahead fit the bill.

So I dug in and toughed it out.  It wasn't pretty, but I got it done.  The last .21 of the race was on the local HS track, and so I tried to kick in my finish as if I was running a hard 400 on the track.  No dice - the legs had nothing to give.  I saw the clock ticking well over 40 as I finished, which was a bit annoying, but oh well. 

Because it was so cold, I set my Garmin to autolap, rather than manually lap at the mile markers (it's hard to hit the lap buttons with my mittens).  My autolap splits were:

Mile 1: 6:37
Mile 2: 6:34
Mile 3: 6:13
Mile 4: 6:15
Mile 5: 6:45
Mile 6: 6:32
last ".28" - 1:40

The Garmin read a bit longer than 10K, but I don't think the course was long.  Just a bit of satellite reception inaccuracy.

My official pace for the 10K was 6:33, which is amusing, because that's the same pace I ran at the Houston Half three weeks ago. 

I don't think this reflects a sudden massive drop in fitness, or poor race execution, or lack of effort.  Rather, I was very well rested (two week taper) for Houston, which was a fast course in great weather.  In contrast, I came into this race on tired legs due to a jump in weekly mileage, accompanied by hard workouts on Sunday and Tuesday, plus a 90 minute sports massage on Wednesday.  While I did cut back on my mileage some in the last three days pre-race, I was still far from rested - I need more than 3 days to truly freshen up.  Add the fatigue to a hilly course and frigid temperatures, and it's no surprise that I was way slower than my half-marathon would predict.  Which is fine - I didn't do this race as a fitness check. 

Despite (or more accurately, independent) of the time, I'm really glad I did this race.  A hilly 10K raced all out on tired legs was a good training stimulus for Boston, and having to tough it out at the end was exactly what I needed to keep me race sharp and confident. 

Other notes:

  • Due to the cold weather, I wore tights over compression shorts on my legs, and a running jacket over a longsleeve shirt over a sportsbra on top.  I was very comfortable for most of the race - possibly slightly warm by the end, but I was fine with that.  Throughout my Boston training this spring, I'm trying to overdress slightly for all my runs, including workouts and races, in hopes that I'll be somewhat prepped if Boston ends up on the warm side.  And the nice thing about running in multiple layers, especially on your legs, is how much faster you feel in shorts.
  • Since I didn't particularly care about this race, I decided to wear my Adidas Adios 3s, to see how I liked them at this distance.  I normally race 10K in the Adios 2.  Despite the fact that the Adios 2 and 3 are nominally sequential generations of the same shoe, I find them very different.  The Adios 2 is very firm and stiff, while the Adios 3 is far more soft and flexible.  As I suspected, I hated the Adios 3 for fast running - I felt like the softness and flexibility of the shoe was siphoning out what little bounce my legs had.  So now I know, and I won't race in them again.

    Why did I even try racing in the Adios 3 if I suspected I'd hate it?  Because it's getting harder and harder to find pairs of the Adios 2, which has been out of production for over two years at this point.  And many of my teammates love the Adios 3 for racing.  I've used the Adios 3 for easy runs and marathon pace work and always found the shoe to be a bit draining even at marathon pace, but I thought I might as well give it a solid test at a 10K I didn't really care about, to confirm whether I hated it for faster stuff.  Yup - hated it.  Won't race in it again.
  • It took me 25 minutes door-to-door to get to Southlakes HS.  Good to know if I do this race again.
  • Major kudoes to the race staff for getting out there this morning, and even maintaining a water station (!!!  did anyone drink from that thing?)  It is so much harder to stand still in these temperatures than it is to run.
  • Really good results from my teammates - Matt won the race on the men's side, and Jenn was second on the women's.  So yay!