Sunday, January 26, 2014

Boston Marathon Countdown: 12 Weeks

Another 2 weeks of training behind me.  These were the 2 highest mileage weeks in my career, even though I didn't hit the upper end, which was my goal. The weather has been terrible - cold, windy, and wet.  I still ran outside most days, running after work instead of before to take advantage of the sun and afternoon "warm-up" (sad that I now consider 10 degrees warm).  One day when the winds were close to 30mph I was forced inside to the treadmill and ended up getting in 10 miles and some fantastic speed work.  Who'd have thought?

Today is really the only day I fell short.  I had another long run scheduled - 16-18 miles.  The weather was once again awful - cold temps, high winds, and snow.  It didn't seem smart to be out there.  Another treadmill day.  But 16 miles on that thing?  No way!  The most I'd done was 10 and that was pushing it.  Plus I had my first case of a frostbitten toe that had resulted in a big painful blister.  I could still run on it (had done 11 the day before) but I was going to pay more attention to it with the boredom of the treadmill.  And the gym were crowded so I felt bad using one for more than an hour when people were waiting.  So I just did 8 miles.  Half of what I was supposed to do for the day.  But because this was my first experience with surface frostbite, I was also in a hurry to get to urgent care to make sure my toe wasn't going to fall off.  Don't worry.  It's not.

In these 2 weeks I started to work in some hills to prep for Boston, which I've found I need to make sure I do a lot more of in the coming weeks!  Phew, they were tough! I worked on some good ones at Kensington Metropark last Sunday during my 16-miler and again yesterday during my RUNdetroit group run when we ran up 5 levels of a parking structure.  No matter where you live, rural or urban, you too can train for Heartbreak Hill!  (wink wink!)

Here's a recap of my plan from the last 2 weeks:  

*NOTE - I don't show my cross-training days on my running plan but I also cycle 1-2 days for 50 minutes and do strength-training throughout the week.  

It looks like it's going to be another cold week.  I better learn to love the treadmill for the next couple of days while I work on winterizing my shoes!  

Happy Running!

Previous Boston Marathon Countdown Posts: 14 Weeks

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Set the Pace

On my 10-Miler today I was talking with Justin, the owner of RUNdetroit, about goal pace and training.  It is essential to have a goal pace in mind during your training and set that goal from the start.  My plan has tempo and interval runs that require me to run at marathon, 5k, or 10k pace for X number of miles.  Without knowing your pace these runs will be very difficult.  

Before today, however, I was thinking of my marathon pace in terms of my LAST marathon (7:26/mile).  Justin reminded me that I need to think about my next marathon, set a new goal pace, and train for that.  Makes sense, of course!  Even though Boston is a totally different beast (what with the hills and all), I decided to go ahead and set a goal that's faster than Detroit but hopefully attainable.  I shaved almost 9 minutes off my marathon time in 2 months, hopefully I can take off another 5 minutes from October to April.  So my Boston goal?  3:10:00.

I always use a simple pace calculator when getting ready to run/train for a race but below is one that's very cool and more advanced.  It's from Jack Daniels, who is an Olympian, coach, and exercise scientist.  What I like about this calculator is that it shows you not only the time and pace for your marathon but also for all the other race distances.  For my upcoming half marathon I already decided on a goal of 1:31:30 and what it shows is pretty close. The 5K and 10K times are nowhere near my PRs!  haha! New goals for me to strive for, I suppose.  (I'm definitely a distance runner!)

Another cool element is under the "Training" tab where it lists pace for Easy, Marathon, Threshold, Interval, and Repetition.  Next to each is a little note to click on with a description of what each type of run means.  For the type of training plan I'm currently following, this is great because the pace varies on different days or at different points in the run.  I use my Garmin to make sure I'm running the correct pace.  Remember, the only way to race faster is to train faster!  Speaking of running faster, I need to get on the speed work train once the ice melts so I'll be consulting the 400m and 200m paces for that.

One more note about this calculator is that it even has "Advanced Features" where you can input either wind, temperature, or altitude to see how that will affect your pace. How cool is that?

I highly recommend checking this out and using it for your next race!  

Do you use a pace calculator to help you set a race goal?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Boston Marathon Countdown: 14 Weeks

It's hard to believe that I've already completed 2 of my 16 weeks of Boston training.  I'll be running the Boston Marathon in less than 100 days. It's still sinking in.  I mean, one year ago I had just signed up for my first marathon and never in a million years would I have thought I'd be where I am today!  Ah, but I won't get all misty-eyed on you now. Time to talk training.

I decided to following the Intermediate 16-Week Program from the Boston Marathon website.  It's a lot more intense than my last training plan, which was Hal Higdon Intermediate 1.  That was an 18-week plan so it was a slower build-up, incorporated cross-training, didn't talk speed work, and overall had less mileage.  I tweaked it here and there and it certainly worked out just fine, getting me 2 Boston Qualifiers in 8 weeks, but this time I wanted to up the ante a bit. In November and December I was maintaining 40 miles a week so I knew I was ready!

Here's a look at my first 2 weeks:

*NOTE - I don't show my cross-training days on my running plan but I also cycle 1-2 days for 50 minutes and do strength-training throughout the week.  

Due to running on the ice and snow, I haven't been varying my pace on the days that call for tempo and interval runs.  That's something I need to start working on.  So for now I've just been going out and getting in the miles, essentially making them all distance runs with the exception of my MLR on the weekend (which I do on Saturdays because of RUNdetroit).  Hopefully the roads will be less icy this week or next for some speed work. If not I suppose the indoor track or treadmill wouldn't kill me once a week for that.

These next two weeks are going to be challenging.  I'm looking at 50-60 mile totals for each, including some weekdays with 8-11 and 10-12.  I'll have to get up extra early in the morning to get those runs in!  Worst case I'll run doubles and do some miles before work and some after.  It isn't as ideal as getting them all in at once but it's an option.  

We'll see how these next 2 weeks go.  I'll keep you posted!

Are you training for a spring race?  Tell me about it!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year, New Goals

I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions. I know I've said this before so bear with me. Why wait until January to make some big resolution for the whole year? You can start making better choices any day of the year.  But because it IS January and many people are looking ahead to the near year and what changes it will bring, I will share my thoughts with you now.

Maybe for me I get hung up on the word resolution and how people use it as a blanket term for making a change in their life, such as "get fit" or "eat better" but they don't really break it down and think about how they are going to do that. They don't have a plan and then there's no fallback if they fall short of the plan.  It might be to work out every day starting on January 1st but if they hit a road block and miss a couple of days then it's easy to toss that resolution out the window.  

That being said, rather than thinking about a resolution, I prefer to think about goals. You can set a long-term health or fitness goal for the year or you can set smaller, more easily attainable goals if you that's better for you.  Or perhaps you set both.

My fitness goals are running-related so I look at them in smaller chunks based on races that I'm training for.  Last year I set a goal to run a marathon so when it came time to train for that, that was my focus.  This year I have Boston in April and Detroit in October, plus many other races sprinkled in-between.  Although I love to run daily, having races on the schedule helps me get out there even on days when motivation might dwindle. If you're looking for a training plan a good place to start is with one of the Hal Higdon plans.  He also has plans for 5k10k, half marathon, and marathon.  Even if you aren't training for a race you might want to use one of these plans to help motivate you or give you some structure.  I print mine out, hang it on the refrigerator, and mark down the number of miles I actually run each day, if I race, cross train, etc.  I'm currently following a 16-week Boston training plan.

I also have two long-term goals for this year:

  1. Run a faster 5K.
  2. Run a 50K trail race.

How will I accomplish these goals?  

  1. 5K - Speed work, plain and simple.  I will to devote one day a week to track workouts doing 1/4-mile repeats.  I generally don't run 5K races but I have one in February that I can hopefully use as a baseline (depending on weather).  I'll run a few more throughout the year and should see my times improve with training.  My current PR is 21:39.
  2. 50K - I'm going to do Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon in mid-August so I'll have the summer to follow a training plan.  Because it's a trail race I'll be running slower than a marathon so the added miles aren't a huge concern but I will need to get in some good long runs.  Also because it's a trail race, I'll need to drive out to some of the metroparks for my long runs instead of what I'm used to for traditional marathon training.  I've done some trail races before (Flirt with Dirt, Back to the Beach) and spent a good amount of time on the trails at GLR, so I feel fairly confident that I'll be fine no matter how I put in the miles.     
Besides running I also have a goal of cooking one new meal a week.  I've been falling back on a lot of old stand-by's (the Big Saladveggie stir-fries) and need to branch out a little more.  So my goal is to make ONE new meal a week.  Not necessarily something fancy but at least something different.

These are my goals for the year.  My S.M.A.R.T. health and fitness goals, if you will. (Sorry, I'm a teacher!  wink, wink)

What are your health and fitness goals for the new year?