Week of 3/24/14 – 3/30/14: Country Music Half Training, Week 11 (the one where I run 14 miles and don’t die)

I started out this week saying, “If I can make it through this week of training, the rest is all downhill.” It was my mantra. This is because this week was the highest mileage I had planned for the entire training cycle. (We’ll ignore that the next two weeks are roughly the same mileage before I start my actual taper.) And all capped off with the farthest distance I’ve ever gone (and ever plan to go, as far as I’m concerned, unless I get hit by a crazy truck and decide to train for a full marathon): 14 miles.

week of 3/24/14 to 3/30/14

Tuesday

I decided to move my goal pace runs to Tuesdays and my easy threesy to Wednesday so that maybe my legs won’t be dead for my Thursday runs in the coming weeks. This week was a not-too-terrible two miler. I will admit that my legs were still a little sore from the weekend’s runs. (“Sore means getting stronger!” – another mantra.)

I might have had another ulterior motive, since I needed to hurry up and get downtown for a Preds game. So the shorter, faster run won out over the slightly longer and slower run.

Oh, yeah, and it had been snowing all day. Really, winter, what is your problem? Go away. No one likes you anymore. I donned the tights once more (thought I was safely into shorts and skirts weather, sigh) and headed out.

Since I was kind of in a hurry, I didn’t do much of a warmup. I jogged while I set up my watch and then did about 0.15 miles of warmup after I started the timer. I just went into beast mode after that and quickly spit out 2 miles. And by quickly, I mean I didn’t stay in my half goal pace. I went to tempo and ultimately 5k pace. Oops?

mei running in my neighbor totoro

I envision chasing chibi totoros when I run.

Wednesday

Can this count for next week’s three mile goal pace run? Because that’s what I ended up doing. I really didn’t mean to. I just started out feeling so good that, even when I saw I was 30 seconds to a minute speedier than I should have been at the end of the first mile, I still kept going at that pace and didn’t stop to walk. I’m sure this won’t catch up with me at all…

Thursday

This week’s track intervals were 1200m (that’s three laps around the track) at 5k pace with 400m (one lap) of jogging recovery, repeat four times. And, yes, I actually made it out to the group run on the track this week. My goals for this week’s intervals were the first two at 10:30 pace, the third at 10:15 pace, and the last as fast as I could muster (at least 10). Or interval times of 7:52, 7:52, 7:41, and 7:30.

We started out jogging (okay, probably everyone else was jogging…this was faster than an easy run for me) down to the track, then everyone started out by doing a one lap warmup. Except their warmup pace is apparently my 5k pace (actually they were faster…I was already last), so I just used that as my first lap since I knew they’d be waiting on me in the end anyway. The first interval was a little bumpy, since I started a little fast, so I slowed down a bit about halfway through to come in closer to goal. The second one was a little smoother, and the third was as smooth as melted chocolate (and a little faster than goal too!). My recovery intervals were all a little faster than what I thought they should be (the last one was under an 11 min/mi pace!) but I did recover well enough, so I guess that’s all that matters. I really pushed on my fourth and had a nice finishing sprint while everyone waited for me to be done.

My final times? 7:56, 7:56, 7:39, and 7:15. Woohoo!

The plus side to being the slowest and everyone waiting on you is everyone cheers and applauds when you are done.

I do think it was a little easier this week than last because of actually being on the track and being able to say to myself, “Only one more lap!” We were also fighting against 20 mph winds (and it started to sprinkle on my last interval), so my times are all the more impressive to me because of that.

Saturday

I was in a hurry on Saturday. I thought I had to be somewhere at a certain time (turns out it was canceled), so I blasted through my mileage for the day. I had planned 5 miles easy, of course, but, in an effort to speed things up, I cut it half a mile short and basically did the whole run at 5k pace with one 2 minute walk break around the 2.5 mile point. Yeah…I’m not sure I can call that my 5k pace much longer.

Sunday

Fourteen miles. 14. How do people train for full marathons? How do people run ultras? I will never know because I doubt I will ever make that attempt based on the fact that I hate long runs and think they should all die.

Despite those lovely sentiments, I had spent the whole week visualizing the run in my head. This will be fun! I am going to kill this run! 14 miles? No problem! That’s less than the distance from my house to…uh, well, not work, that’s closer. And not downtown Nashville either. Um, well, it’s definitely less than the distance from my house to Disney World! I actually, at one point, had psyched myself up for this run so much that I considered signing up for a marathon. The brain is an odd thing.

I did, however, resolve to try out some fueling strategies during the three hours I would be pounding pavement. I looked up to see what they would be providing us during the half marathon and when so that I could mimic that during this run. (With the thought that if that didn’t work, I still had next week’s 12.5 miler to figure something else out.) Except the website doesn’t say. What the heck, people? The site doesn’t even mention how often water stations happen. Anyway, after a bit of googling I found out that last year it appeared there was possibly only one GU station on the half course, at mile 10. So I decided if I wanted to fuel earlier than that, I was going to have to bring my own.

I’ll detail this all out in a future post, but I basically just went to Fleet Feet and got a few things to try based on what the guy who works there told me. For my 14 miler, I decided to try a tri-berry flavored GU at mile 5 (roughly an hour in) and a blueberry flavored Huma at mile 10 (roughly 2 hours in).

In an attempt to see if the gels actually helped, I kept the same 5:2 intervals that I attempted last week. The first few miles were fairly uneventful with most of my running intervals done at easy pace. At mile 5, I trudged up the bridge that crosses the river from Shelby Park to the Stones River greenway and got my first taste of GU when I got there. It wasn’t bad. Mile six was pretty hilly, but I was flying by mile seven. If you recall, by mile seven last week I was practically dead, but here I was running 5k pace. Score one for the gels.

I kept 5k pace on my run intervals throughout the remainder of the run. That’s right. I actually sped up the whole run and ran the second half faster than the first. My legs didn’t even really start to feel tired (okay, they felt a little tired from the beginning because of my speedy run the day before) until about 12.5-13 miles in. That’s nuts. I ran through the 13.1 distance in 2:42:27. Considering my overall goal for the Country Music was 2:45:00, I’d say it’s time to set a new goal if I can best that in training. My final time for 14 miles? 2:54:16 or roughly the same time it took me to run 12.5 miles last weekend.

All in all, this was a HUGE confidence building week!

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Why My First Half Marathon Training Failed

I’ve been doing a lot of analyzing of my half marathon training that I started last September, so that I can make sure I don’t make the same mistakes this time around. I want to feel really strong on this half and not finish feeling like you’d have to pay me to ever run again.

  1. I ran my easy runs too hard.
    I didn’t have any specific speed days in my training plan, so all of my runs should have been run at a relatively easy rate. But six out of my first seven runs were all run at 5k speed. In fact, two weeks after starting training, I was already questioning if I was burning out or overtraining. My notes on the day I got injured state, “I started out trying to do intervals of 1 mile running, 2 mins walking, but that was exhausting me way too fast.” This led to…
  2. I skipped workouts.
    I think this was the main component that led to everything else. According to my training plan, my weekly mileage for the first 7 weeks should have been this:

    Week 1: 12 miles
    Week 2: 12.5 miles
    Week 3: 13.5 miles
    Week 4: 12 miles (recovery week)
    Week 5: 14 miles
    Week 6: 15 miles
    Week 7: 17 miles

    Instead it was this:

    Week 1: 12.3 miles (started out well!)
    Week 2: 7.8 miles
    Week 3: 10 miles
    Week 4: 8.1 miles
    Week 5: 13.7 miles
    Week 6: 10 miles
    Week 7: 11.1 miles

    I skipped workouts because I ran too hard in the beginning and because I let life get in the way.

  3. I didn’t listen to my body.
    Week 8 should have been a recovery week. I had a small ankle twinge, but I decided to do eight miles that weekend. I have no idea why. So, that week, instead of doing the 13 miles I was supposed to do, I did 16 and ended up with an injury.

    Skipping the recovery week would have been okay, but the huge jump in weekly mileage was not. Also, I definitely should have rested that ankle when it started to hurt, not after I couldn’t walk.

  4. My weekly mileage was still too low after the injury.
    After I took two weeks off, I gingerly started back running. My goal was to start at doing 12 miles my first week and then adding 2 miles to my long run until the taper week, topping out at 20 miles at Week 15. Which is not a lot for half marathon training, but I knew I wasn’t going to run the whole thing. The problem is my weekly mileage looked like this after the injury:

    Week 11: 10.7 miles
    Week 12: 11.8 miles
    Week 13: 10.9 miles
    Week 14: 12.4 miles
    Week 15: 22.8 miles

    Notice that huge jump between the last two weeks. That is bad. The only reason that didn’t adversely affect me is because that 22.8 mile week is the one that included my 12+ mile hike, which wasn’t really a run.

So, how am I remedying this with my current training plan? First of all, I have only missed one run and that was a speed workout that I skipped because I was listening to my body and not doing a hard workout when it felt like an injury might be coming on.

I have been monitoring my pace to make sure that I’m staying within specific zones for each run. Easy runs should, obviously, be slower than my speed days.

I have a weekly mileage goal that I have to hit each week in order to make progress. I enter it into Strava every Monday morning. I calculate it by adding up the mileage in my plan (I don’t include the mileage from my Tuesday strides because I won’t always do those), subtract half a mile to make sure I’m not pushing myself when my body says to take it easy, and then round down to the nearest whole number.

I’m halfway through week 3 of this plan and so far staying strong!

Yet another half marathon training plan!

After the WDW Half on Saturday(!!), the real half training starts! (I may die.) Every year, the East Nasty community does training for the Country Music Half, so I decided this would be a good way to incorporate some of my runs! At first, I planned on doing at least two runs a week with the group, including the long run each week. However, they want you to be able to run 5 miles without walking from the start, which I just can’t do right now (sigh!). So I’m going to do the speed workouts on Thursday nights (marked as 3rd runs below) with them and then maybe a few others, depending on how well I’m progressing. (So, please, no one invite me to do anything on a Thursday night in the next few months. I am easily swayed.)

I also plan on doing at least two runs on my own each week, with the first one usually including strides at the end. Plus I have the Hot Chocolate 15k coming up in February, so that will act as my long run for that week.

My goals for the Country Music Half:

  1. Finish!
  2. Get a PR.
  3. Try my hardest to do it without walking (except through water stops).

All runs are easy runs, unless designated otherwise. Pace times are listed below (and may be very optimistic because I know that’s not my current 5k pace).

Week 1st Run* 2nd Run 3rd Run** 4th Run Long Run
1.13-1.19 rest rest 6x short hill 5mi 5.5mi
1.20-1.26 3mi rest 8x short hill 5mi 6mi
1.27-2.02 3mi rest 2×10 min tempo 5mi 7.5mi
2.03-2.09 3mi rest 20 min tempo 5mi 9mi
2.10-2.16 3mi rest 5x long hill rest Hot Chocolate 15k
2.17-2.23 3mi rest 5x long hill 5mi 8mi
2.24-3.02 3mi rest 30 min tempo 5mi 9.5mi
3.03-3.09 3mi rest 30 min tempo 5mi 11mi
3.10-3.16 3mi rest 6x (800m 5k pace / 400m jog) 5mi 11mi
3.17-3.23 3mi 1mi goal pace 5x (1000m 5k pace / 400m jog) 5mi 12.5mi
3.24-3.30 3mi 2mi goal pace 4x (1200m 5k pace / 400m jog) 5mi 14mi
3.31-4.06 3mi 3mi goal pace 3x (1600m 5k pace / 400m jog) 5mi 12.5mi
4.07-4.13 3mi 4mi goal pace 3x2mi intervals 5mi 15k progressive
4.14-4.20 2mi 5mi goal pace 3mi goal pace 5mi 5mi
4.21-4.27 2mi rest 3mi rest Half marathon!

* 1st Runs will usually incorporate 8 strides at the end.
** 3rd Runs will be done with the East Nasty Half Marathon Training Group.

Pace Times:
Strides: 9:45-10:15 min/mi
5k pace: 10:15-10:45 min/mi
Tempo: 10:45-11:15 min/mi
Goal pace: 11:15-11:45 min/mi
Easy: 12:00-12:30 min/mi
Jog: 13:00+ min/mi

Restructuring the training plan…

My ankle is feeling a lot better, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to run on it by the weekend! With this in mind, I went ahead and restructured the remaining 7.5 weeks of my training plan.

The first thing I did was cut down on the weekday runs. Previously I was running between 9-13 miles during the week. However, with the way my schedule kept falling, I kept missing them, and the weeks when I could do all of them meant that I was increasing my mileage too much and possibly overtraining. So now weekday runs are kept to two 30 minute runs a week (approximately 5-6 miles) and one 30 minute walk.

Next, since I haven’t been running, and I want to ease back into it to avoid reinjury, I had to cut the mileage on my long runs coming up and ramp them back up to an appropriate distance. This has me starting at 2 miles (if I feel I can run by this weekend) and upping the distance 2 miles until I hit a max of 12 miles. Then I get one recovery week before the half marathon.

Week 1st Run 2nd Run 3rd Run Walk Long Run
11.18-11.24 rest rest rest 30 mins 2 miles
11.25-12.01 30 mins 30 mins rest 30 mins 4 miles
12.02-12.08 30 mins 30 mins rest 30 mins 6 miles
12.09-12.15 30 mins 30 mins rest 30 mins 8 miles
12.16-12.22 30 mins 30 mins rest 30 mins 10 miles
12.23-12.29 30 mins 30 mins rest 30 mins 12 miles
12.30-01.05 30 mins 30 mins rest 30 mins 5 miles
01.06-01.12 30 mins 30 mins rest 30 mins 13.1 miles!

I always knew that I would be taking this half marathon pretty easy, so all the hardcore training didn’t really make any sense and was just making me burn out. The real half training will start after the Disney half, when I start training for the Country Music half, where my goal is to run the whole thing without walking. But for now, it doesn’t make any sense when I plan on doing some walking and stopping for photos along the course.

Week of 9/30/13 – 10/6/13: WDW Half Training, Week 3

October is a busy month for me, so I know that I’m not going to be completing every single run that’s on my training plan. And I know that I’m not planning on running the entire half marathon (yes, I will be stopping to take photos the whole time), so it’s okay that I walk a bit on my long runs. Still, these things frustrate me.

week of 9/30/13 to 10/6/13

My first run this week was on Tuesday. This was the first week that my weekday runs went up to 3.5 miles. I headed out to the greenway right after work (and when I finished, the sun was setting, thus reminding me that I’m going to be embracing the treadmill for these runs in a couple weeks). I ran steady but probably too fast for the first mile, but the whole time my mind was telling me I was tired and that I should walk. Sometimes I hate what a mind game running is! So I gave in on the second mile and walked most of the uphills. In fact, I was probably walking more than running for that mile.

At some point in the third mile, I decided to try a technique that I had read in my latest library book, “The Runner’s Guide to Yoga”. It discusses using meditation as you run, either by dedications or counting. It says,

You can also use the motion of running as a count of its own. Count your steps to 10 over and over or count down from 50…Or use a mantra, syncing it with the sound of your footfalls and breath.

I started counting up to 50, syncing with my breaths: odd numbers on exhales and even numbers on inhales. When I reached 50, I would evaluate how I felt and either walk or start over from 1. This helped greatly in taking my thoughts out of that “this sucks” mindset. I would usually do two sets of 50 counts, then walk for a count of 25. This helped me finish out the 3.5 miles without being completely grumpy.

The next day, psyched about how much the meditation actually helped, set out for my two mile run. I went ahead and just started with the meditation, not even waiting for my brain to go off track. This was a bad idea. I got really, really tired of counting to 50, so that keeping myself counting in itself became a mind game. Despite that I know I can run two miles straight with no problems, I ended up walking twice: once at the halfway point and then again a couple of minutes later.

Thursday and Friday were both out for running, since I went to concerts both nights. Then Saturday, I was second shooting a wedding and was gone from 10am to 11pm. With all that going on, I didn’t have time to fit in my other 3.5 mile run. (I considered doing it one morning, but I knew I was going to be on my feet a lot already, so just decided to forgo it.) I was a little scared then for my long run on Sunday, after having been on my feet for 12 hours the day before and standing at concerts the previous two nights. I set out on my 4.5 mile with some apprehension.

I made it through the first two miles with no walking with a little help from meditation. By that point, I was on an enormous uphill road. I ended up walking half a mile up that hill. And then something wonderful happened. It started to rain. I started to run and ran the last two miles with only one brief uphill walking break. I love rain! It also reminds me that I need to get a hat because sweat + rain = eyes burning.

This week is a recovery week, which I definitely am excited about. I have two more concerts this week, a wedding, and then the Color Run on Sunday!