Week 6- The last “easy” week

Almost done with week 7, so I’ve got to get this post out there! Ack- I forgot how hard it is to stay on top of posting regularly to a blog! Also pictures. Apologies if you follow me on Instagram- you’ll likely see all the same photos because a) I’m usually talking too much during a run to remember to take any while we run and b) it’s too hard to take good pictures while running. I’m super impressed with all the Instagrammers who get good shots of themselves running- I have a pop-socket and everything- this shouldn’t be that hard. Anyway, I digress- onto the recap. (Week 6 was December 18-24)

Monday-Bootcamp!

Oh man- I was really appreciating this kick in the butt workout each Monday, this was my last one before I start heading to the track at 5:30s on Monday. The way boot camp works at Rain City Fit is you show up, they tell you what to do at 4 different stations, and 4 different exercises per station. You pick a station with some partners and then you work for a minute at an exercise. Switch at the timer and go through it twice. Sometimes at the 30 second mark you have to switch arms or legs or whatever, so a timer goes off every 30 seconds. You’ve got to make your movements count! After each round, before moving on to the next station, there’s a short break to grab a sip of water. I enjoy that there’s no counting reps, just getting the work in and moving on.

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This was a deloading week off of a one rep max that I guessed was appropriate. I had a feeling that all my 1 rep maxes were a little light- so I challenged myself in week 7 of training (see that post soon!). I ran a warm-up mile and 2 cool down miles at 8 min pace.

Wednesday- Wake-Up-Wednesday

Just kidding- I slept in and got zero miles. It was not going to happen. Happily, week 6 was my last week of going easy on myself. As I’ve mentioned, I wanted to give myself some relaxed training before heading into the uber-focused, nose to the grindstone type of workouts and weeks leading up to Boston. I gave myself this last out.

Thursday- Strength

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I love a good strength workout. Yeah, this only took eight and a half minutes, but it got my heart rate up and I feel like I’m doing some solid work. I warmed up 1 mile, and cooled down 2 at 8min pace.

Friday-FLUR

I made it to what looks like will be my last FLUR of the season. I had forgotten that I scheduled boot camp in place of FLUR for each week so that I could fit in the track workouts on Monday. I had a delightful 6 miles chatting with Desiree, we moved along at a comfortable 8:12 pace. For some reason I was dreading this run, even on the drive over, but once I got started I felt great and miles smoothly passed by. This is the magic of group running.

Saturday Rise & Shine, plus a little extra for RunChatHunt

This was such an enjoyable run. Loka had set up a snowball run to get us all to the huge tree downtown for a photo by 8:15. I think my group hit the timing perfectly. Overall this morning plan went off without a hitch, 12 miles at 8 min pace. Only the hill up Freemont felt hard, and that’s a mile of running up a steep grade, so like I said when I finished it, when that hill starts to feel easy, I know I’ll be in great shape.

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That evening, I convinced John and Grant to drive and run with me around a community called Olympic Manor so I could get my final RunChatHunt scavenger hunt finds. It was the only place I could find a nativity scene in Seattle!! Not even churches I run past have them! I mean, I know I shouldn’t be shocked by this, it is Seattle. We ended up doing 3 miles at 11:30 pace, John pushed the running stroller while I hunted and stopped to take a bunch of pictures.

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Sunday-Strength

The reason I made my family go for that run with me on Saturday evening was that I had looked into the forecast and saw that it was supposed to snow 3 inches in Seattle on Sunday. Well, the forecast did not lie! I wanted to get my Sunday workout in, so instead of driving to the gym, I threw on my trail running shoes (that have a really great grip!) and ran the .8 to my gym.

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I completed a pretty relaxed workout, (though those chin-ups felt brutal) and ran home the .8 miles.

My total week 6 mileage was 28.6. A solid week of pretty easy going training. Week 7 marks 16 weeks until Boston and the time to start getting serious. Tempos, track workouts, and marathon pace miles are all ahead. I’ll continue to keep my variety in my strength workouts and make some lifting goals to go along with my running ones. Here’s to the last week of 2017!

Week 5- AKA the lazy one

Running well requires consistency and focus. These are arguably the hardest parts of training for a marathon for most people, including me.

There’s also a fine line between being lazy and needing rest. You get to know this as you get to know your mind and your body better through the years. So that’s why I can say with some confidence, that week 5 of my marathon training for Boston fell into the lazy trap.

I scheduled a rest day on Monday following my race. Normally I go to Bootcamp to get a good start to the week, even though it always feels too early to be doing anything other than sleeping at 6am on a Monday. However, the momentum of waking up and getting the work done makes it easier for me to keep it going at least until Wednesday. Week 5, started off with sleeping in.

Tuesday I was able to get up early, run 1 mile on the treadmill (my typical warm-up) stretched a bit and then did this workout:

I slowly made my way through this workout and felt good enough to run my 2 mile cool down miles. I thought that this would get me on track for the week but then holiday parties hit me hard.

Wednesday I was too tired from a movie night to wake up before 5am to get to WuW, I told myself I’d go running during the day, but wasn’t able to make it happen. Thursday I was got up but after a mile and my back squat routine ( 3-3-3+ of 80% (77) 85%(80) 90% (85) 7 reps at 85lbs)  I gave up the rest of my workout to just go home and relax.

After a company holiday party Thursday night, I knew there’d be no way I’d wake up for FLUR.  Then a CrossFit gym holiday party Friday night made me feel like Rise and Shine was just not going to happen Saturday morning. At a runner friend’s party on Saturday night I chatted with one of my running partners and she let me know that she needed to get some Sunday miles in. Phew! This was also a good opportunity for me to go for some #RunChatHunt scavenger finds, so I was very thankful for her pre-planned route and her company.

A #runchathunt item, a flag of any type. We thought this one was unique and funny.

I ran 2.5 miles to her, we ran a little over 8.5 miles together, and I asked her to drop me off at my gym so I could get some of my strength work in to make the best use of my Sunday morning where I was off of parent duty.

I ran one more mile on the treadmill when I was done so that I could get to 12 for the day and push myself to run a sub 8 min mile after all that work. I was pleasantly surprised with this day’s work, though I guess after all that rest, a solid workday should feel good!

While my plan had called for 26 miles total, and I missed out of 10 of those miles, I guess I can’t call this entire week a wash now that I’ve written it all out this way. I was good about getting my strength in all week, even if it wasn’t exactly as I would have liked it. Holiday activities can really throw a wrench into training, but it’s also important to live a regular life, so I don’t regret staying out late and seeing friends. Marathon training is a long process, and each day is a small step towards hitting the next goal. Since I didn’t get too wrapped up in the “shame” of missing workouts, I’m able to move into the next week successfully and knowing what small battles I need to win to get the mileage I want to see.

Deception Pass 25K Recap

selfie before the start of Deception Pass 25K
With family in tow, I ran my second Deception Pass 25K.

The feeling of lining up to a trail race (specifically those hosted by Rainshadow Running) versus lining up to a road race is so distinctly different it’s worth mentioning for those who’ve never tried out trails. With a race director (who many know by name, hi James!) making joke apologies about bringing us optimal weather and the friendly pizza guys adjacent to the start “line” getting ready to serve delicious food when we’re done, the mood is so cheery and friendly, it makes the suffering of the climbs and the slippery slopes totally bearable.

This was my third Rainshadow Running race, I’d previously done an Orcas Island 25K, and Deception Pass 25K- 2016. So I know that these races are hard and beautiful, they never disappoint. For my first Deception Pass, I went in a little optimistic, somewhat undertrained, but pretty naive to just how hard it would be. I finished in 3:07, when I was sort of hoping to finish in 2:30, ha! This time, I knew there was a HUGE climb (though didn’t exactly remember where, so every time I went up what I deemed a big hill, I’d become disappointed because I’d think to myself, “was that the big one, naw, couldn’t have been…”) and I went in with the expectation of finishing and having fun.

The weather couldn’t have been better.

blurry bridge picture from mile 10

I started off with Nicola, but quickly realized her pace was not sustainable for me so I dropped off from her and after the first two miles never saw anything in the 8:00s again. The early climbs were manageable, the first 5 miles went by without my checking my watch at all, I decided to pass up the aid station the first time I passed it. I was working with another woman who was wearing Nikes and a red pack, we kept passing each other through different portions of the trail. It was fun to catch her and then she’d tackle a hill more aggressively than I could and I’d catch her on the downhills. That was until mile 7, I stopped for a quick orange slice, and she barely paused. I was ready to let her go at that point. Miles 8 and 9 ended up being a real sufferfest for me. I think I was a little bit energy depleted and was climbing about 350 ft of elevation. I just remember thinking, wow, I didn’t feel this weak last year! My hamstrings specifically were not having it, they were burning and slightly cramping as were my ever crampy calves. Nothing debilitating luckily. But then a nice downhill appeared and you’re back on your way across the bridge and life feels beautiful again, because what is this nonsense that I get to do? I get to run a race across the beautiful Deception Pass Bridge? There is a lot of gratitude in trail racing. That is until mile 12.

The climb is pretty much straight up.

And this is the payoff:

It’s kind of a meadow… I was still climbing that last bit I think when I took this picture, but it’s not that much different on the summit I think there are spots that you can detour off of the running course to get what I can only hope is a great view.

So because I wanted to keep moving and not sightsee, I headed back down the hill quickly, so so happy that the worst of it was over.

At mile 13 I felt like I was finishing a marathon. Those last two miles were in reach, but I was going at what felt like a crawling pace, letting people pass me as soon as they caught up with me. I was still potentially going to PR at this point, so I held out hope and did my best to run when I could. It felt like I walked more this time around, but in the end, I ran a 2:56:17, a 10 min PR!

My finish line photo! Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

I went into the race with very little expectation and came out with a PR, I’ll take it!  The timing of this race, being in early December, works out pretty well in terms of giving me a good kick in the pants. It shows me what my weaknesses are (hello hamstrings) and how much training I’m going to need if I plan for a spring race. This year I went into this race with very little trail experience under my belt, in 2016 I was running trail races at least once a month, so I broke in a new pair of shoes on this race (much to the chagrin to my poor toes!) and if I’m to run it again, I think I’ll try to get better at getting more time long running on trails. Overall it was a great experience and my husband and son got some time to play in the sand on a nice day while I raced. Good times had by all.

Training Weeks 1-4 (A quick recap)

Because this training plan is abnormally long, these first three to six weeks seem a bit more insignificant than most will be. Part of my plan was to just get started and the best way for me to do that is to have a sketched out idea of what I should be doing. I don’t put a ton of pressure on myself to do it exactly as planned.

Week 1 seems like such a non-week, but I’ll share it anyway to show that you don’t have to go in with crazy gusto, especially when you plan so far out.

I planned for 10 miles, I ended up with 6. I learned that Sundays are still a little bit hard to get motivated to get running. I’m proud of myself for making it to two strength workouts in that first week.

Week 2 was more motivated and during Thanksgiving! I was feeling good.

The purple highlighted days signify that I was away from home, we were up at Whistler with family. After missing mileage on Saturday, I convinced my husband to stop in Vancouver so I could get a run on the seawall and so that my son could go to the aquarium. I think this was a brilliant plan and I’d probably do it again if we go up to Whistler a second time this season.

unflattering photo, check! It was POURING. Upon returning to the parking lot, a car drove past me and totally drenched me.

Week 3 is still even more motivated, I was actually trying to have a perfect week:

One important workout of note is from Tuesday of this week. I list out strength programming that I started. It’s the weightlifting program called the Wendler 5/3/1.I learned how to do this program during CrossFit, and because I had put my strength training on the way-back backburner I knew that I needed some serious structure to test where I am now and to work towards getting measurable results for this training cycle. My plan is to do Wendler for deadlifts (1st priority), squats (2nd priority) and shoulder presses (3rd priority). I may consider bench pressing later on. As I write this I’m in week 5 of marathon training and I’ve found that my 1 rep max that I’m using for my backsquat and my deadlift are a little light. I’ll make it through to the deload week and may test out my actual 1 rep max now that I’ve started doing these movements regularly again.

The other thing of note in week three was how fast I ran my long run on Saturday. I didn’t intend on running an average of 7:45s but it felt good. I started off in the low to mid 8 min miles and picked it up on the second half of the run. I’m happy I took an unscheduled rest day the next day and though I do plan to work through tired muscles later in the season.

Finally week 4. 

Not too much to say here. I got work in. I knew I was “racing” Deception Pass, but decided that I’d try to have a normal type of training week instead of taking it too easy on myself leading up to the race. 32 miles in a week is a good amount for me. I’ll do a race-recap for my next post. The short story is that it was beautiful and hard, and I did better than last year.

I’m enjoying prioritizing the strength training each week, though I know I need to get better at planning it out in advance. Wendler is easy to follow, so that piece is always done first, I then try to keep a variety of other exercises. I’m inspired by a couple of athletes who post some of their strength training on instagram, Julia Webb, Alysia Montaño, Kate Grace among some regular mortals as well. As I work through this training cycle I want to stay accountable for getting the miles I need in, figure out nutrition a little better and get stronger. So far the miles and the strength are moving, I need to start scheduling massages at least once a month and work on my nutrition. 4 weeks down, 18 more to go!

Steps to Creating my Own Training Plan

Planning to plan, that’s where it begins. Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but for me, the only way to start a new running season or training cycle (I use the terms interchangeably) is to plan it. After working on building mileage and some speed this summer, I took a short break to re-set, and recharge. I’m now back into marathon training mode, so a couple of weeks ago I decided to create a 22-week training plan for myself. This is how I went about it.

How I go about creating a plan

I first take a look at my last training cycle and see how it could improve. I dig deep into mileage, splits and see what’s lacking.

I then highlight weeks when I’m away from home. It’s rare that I’ll take on a spur of the moment trip, so I have a good idea of when I’m out of town so I can pack in miles early in a week if I think it will be too hard to train while on the road. Ideally, I carve out time during a trip to complete my mileage.

I work both forwards and backward. Once I count out the weeks to the goal race I throw in some potential tune-up races or test races so I have a good measure of my fitness and can turn my racing brain on. I fill in my “hell week” where I know I’ll be peaking and then schedule my taper.

I make special note of my 20milers to make sure they stand out and I don’t miss them. I usually only run 2-3 20milers in any one training cycle. I currently like to keep low mileage. I averaged 25 miles a week when I ran a 3:25 marathon. For my last Boston (the one where I crashed and burned) I averaged 14. SO, that tells me that I certainly can’t eek by on super low mileage but I can succeed with an amount that would typically seem very low. For this current road to Boston, I’m looking at 30-35 miles for my average, topping out at 50 miles in week 19 of my 22-week plan.

From here I sketch out a plan that feels right. I create hard weeks and easy weeks. This time around, I am planning my own strength training versus leaving it to the whim of my CrossFit gym and cherry picking. My goal is to get to my strength gym three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays) and go to a class once a week (be it CrossFit or a bootcamp).

Finally, I give myself a grace period. When I first started thinking about Boston, I figured I could take a long-ish fall break and start training in January. Because of some non-serious races I scheduled awhile ago, it won’t work out that way, so I’ve decided these first 4-6 weeks of training have some leeway. Once I hit week 7 (which will be 16 weeks until Boston) I’ll need to be more closely buckled down into the plan. These first few weeks I’m playing with the plan, doing research on strength training and reconfiguring miles as I feel appropriate. I’ll  be tagging along with Wednesday tempos and track Mondays with SGLRG, and I’ve given a rough estimate to some of those miles but will need to tweak it as I see their plan.

Nothing can go worse than last year’s training cycle (see 14 mile average…) so now that I have that mistake behind me, and I’m feeling fresh from a light summer of moderate mileage I know I can tackle this plan. Stay tuned for weekly re-caps as I work my way through it!

*Important side note. While I am RRCA Certified and have my CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 Trainer Certificates I’m using my own experience, weaknesses, and strengths to make this plan. I am essentially self-coaching. I will publish this to give you a look at how I do it, but in no way recommend that you follow this exact plan.*