Twin Cities 2012 Marathon Training: Week 11 Recap

Thank goodness for stepback weeks! Week 12 left me fatigued and sleepy!

My 18 mile run on the previous Sunday went well when it comes to numbers. I hit my target pace consistently, but I finished it wishing that my legs would have just given me a bit more. My legs felt heavy from the beginning and they didn’t even wake up halfway through the run. So, I decided to give myself a “rest” on Monday by focusing on a strength routine that I’ve been trying (keyword: trying) to incorporate into my schedule on a regular basis.

Monday: Core/Myrtl/Lunge Routines

Tuesday: Shakeout (legs locked up after the lunge matrix I did on Monday!)

Wednesday: 6 x 800 in under 3:20 each

Thursday: REST

Friday: Tempo (2 x 2 mile at 7:05 or faster)

Saturday: REST

Sunday: 14 miles (first 7 at 8:15, second 7 at 7:50-2:00)

I suppose I’m still in ‘base building’ mode (at least that’s what Coach says) but I’m feeling a bit worn down. I was so excited at the beginning of the week when I realized I only had to run 14 on Sunday, but I went out yesterday morning kind of dreading the entire thing. My body just wouldn’t stick to the target pace. In hindsight, I suppose it’s not such a bad thing that my body wants to go faster than the long run training pace, but that’s not the point of a marathon is it? In short, I think the speed training this past spring has made me feel more comfortable going faster than slower and I have some work to do to get the endurance back 100%.

I never thought I’d say these words, but Friday’s tempo run was my favorite of the week, by FAR! It was cloudy and I knew the storm clouds were rolling in that morning. The goal was: 1 mile warmup, 2 x 2 mile at 7:05 pace, and 1 mile cooldown. My legs felt so good that I ran each tempo mile under 7:00 min/mile pace! I’d been hoping for a run in the warm rain for a few weeks and I finally got to enjoy that feeling—2 miles of a steady sprinkle and it was glorious!

I haven’t been nervous about my second marathon until today. I was thinking about what has to happen in the next 10 weeks (either in my running, professional, or personal life!) and it is a bit overwhelming to me right now. I’d like to have the energy to do it all. I need to keep reminding myself that achieving goals take a certain amount of sacrifice and I need to be willing to give up on some things in order to accomplish those that are most important to me. Bottom line: the next 10 weeks is dedicated to taking care of my body and enjoying time with people I love.

Beach Bummin’


I spent the afternoon at the beach by myself this afternoon. A good book, bottle of water, box of Cheezits. That’s all I needed. I even managed to take a quick nap while the sun hid behind the clouds.

My long run this morning was only 14 miles because it’s a step back week. It didn’t feel easy and my calves are fatigued. It was my first longer run in my New Balance 1600s so that may have something to do with it.

Next weekend I’ll be in Big Sky country (AKA Montana) with my mom and sisters. Hoping to get some scenic miles in 🙂

The Beginning: Increasing the Mileage

Last week was Week 12 leading up to the Twin Cities Marathon in October. And, surprise surprise, it was my highest mileage week of the year so far!

I have had some really great runs lately. Last weekend, I felt like a badass with a 16 mile run at 8:09 average pace. Coach told me to do a 3 min pick-up after every third mile of this run and I felt amazing. My legs didn’t want to stop and I finished the 16 mileage with energy left. After my (unexpected) strong 5k last Thursday and my long run on Saturday, I felt so strong.

And I went into this past week with a great attitude.

Monday: Easy miles

Tuesday: REST

Wednesday: Speedwork (2 x 1200 and 4 x 800)

Thursday: Easy miles

Friday: Tempo (5 tempo miles at 7:10 or faster)

Saturday: REST

Sunday: 18 miles at 8:20 average

I hit my target paces on Wednesday and Friday and enjoyed the miles on my easy days. I didn’t know how many miles I was going to run on Thursday and left my apartment thinking that I’d run 4-5. Instead, I ran 6 just because I felt good and didn’t really want to stop. (The overcast skies and the cooler temps likely had something to do with this.)

I need to work on incorporating my strength routine into my schedule. I have the tendency to squeeze my workout in where I can and then I don’t have time to do my core, lunge, or Myrtl routines. I have to get better at that.

This training cycle is already starting out lightyears beyond where I started in my training for the Chicago Marathon last year. I’m still trying to take it day by day and try not to get too ahead of myself. I know that the results won’t come immediately and that I have to continue to work hard. My 18-miler this weekend was the first really tough long run I have had in awhile. I need to be patient with myself and prepare mentally for days when I don’t feel invincible.

11 weeks to go!



Race Recap: Bastille Day 5k

5 kilometers. 3.1 miles.

Most long distance runners I know would much rather run a half marathon than a 5k. And I definitely feel the same. Call me crazy but there is something about sustaining a quick pace for 3.1 miles that seems more mentally & physically difficult than running a slower pace for 13.1 miles. Luckily, my speed training has been going really well in the past month after focusing on my half marathon time this past spring.

I ran the Bastille Day 5k last year with my boyfriend as his first official race. We ran it for fun together as his first race. The last 5k I ran was the Elvis is Alive 5k last August. That race was less than ideal, as I went out way too fast and slowed considerably a half mile from the finish line. (I suppose just like any other race, going out too fast is never the right strategy). My previous 5k PR was 23+ minutes.

This year was different. This time around, I wanted to break 21 minutes. 

My goal was to run the first 3 kilometers as close to 4:15 as possible and push the pace in the last 2 kilometers to come in just under my goal time. I managed to squeeze in a 1 mile warm-up while the 8k began and then jumped into the 5k ‘corral’. The gun went off and I went flying. (JHeath told me that he blinked and I was gone.). I was sleepy and groggy all afternoon and I really wasn’t looking forward to the race. But the start line can be pretty powerful; my legs were ready to get those 3 miles over and done with.

I looked down at my watch about a half mile in and realized I was running WAY too fast–my Garmin read 3:33/km. I spent the rest of the first mile telling myself to calm down and get closer to 4:15. At the turnaround, the field had thinned out and I felt pretty comfortable. My breathing was steady and my legs felt good. I knew that I was running a quicker pace and might be closer to 20 minutes at the finish line. It was just a matter of holding on to the pace and kicking it toward the finish if I had anything left in the tank. Less than 400 meters from the finish line, I tried to find my kick. I had been kicking it the entire race and it was hard to find that last little bit of energy. I saw the clock, crossed the line, and stopped to catch my breath.

I was really happy that I was able to tell my body to slow down enough in the first mile to make it to my goal. In the last mile I was able to pass a few gals and gained mental strength from that. I am pretty sure I earned 2nd place in my age group. (That’s silly business compared to Chicago Runner Girl’s overall female win!!! Congrats again, girl!)

Overall place: 42nd

Age group place: 2nd

Gender place: 5th

Official time: 20:38

~3 min PR

This was my first race in the New Balance RC 1600s and I couldn’t be more happy with them. I only logged 10 miles on them this past week but they felt fresh and formed to my foot nicely. I think they will be a great addition to the shoe rotation along with the Saucony Kinvaras (because I’m obsessed). I likely still need to find another shoe for a full rotation but I am happy with these two for now.

It is so relieving and refreshing to have a good race after my post-Bayshore Half temper tantrum. I needed a full 6 weeks to recharge, reassess, and prepare for this summer’s marathon training cycle. I’m happy that the rest has paid off and my head and heart are happy to be at the start line again because they definitely did not show up to compete the morning of Bayshore. For now, my racing schedule is completely wide open as Coach and I decide which races to add to the calendar. I had an amazing 16 mile long run on Saturday morning at an 8:09 average pace and I managed to make it through a full weekend of my sister’s bachelorette party festivities without crashing. I’ve been good to my body lately and now it’s rewarding me with some fun and competitive long runs and races. 🙂

[Note to self: read this post next time a run/race doesn’t go well and learn to suck it up and attack next time around!]

Bastille Day 5k Prep


Getting excited for the 5k tonight! It’s not as hot as it has been in Chicago lately and I’m feeling strong and ready for a good race. Be on the lookout for a short recap post tomorrow!

Google Said So…

So the other day, I was doing a Google Blog search for some interesting blogs written by marathoners. I typed in “marathoner” and this is what Google gave me. Somehow, I’m not that surprised!

Strength Training for Long-Distance Runners

I have never been one to hang out on a certain side of the gym. Ya know, the side with all the free weights and machines where the juice heads congregate? This puny little runner always feels inadequate next to someone about 3 x my own weight. But “strength training” has recently become a priority in terms of my running life. I am certainly not becoming buddies and forging gym relationships with the juice heads, but I think it is really important to strengthen certain muscles that are easily fatigued or weakened by running 30+ miles a week.

So, I’m focusing on a lot of calisthenic routines that are meant specifically for runners and anyone that wants to prevent common running injuries.

First, I do the lunge matrix as a warm-up.

Coach Jay Johnson has some awesome videos of the routine. The first time I did this simple routine I did 10 repetitions of each lunge and I was walking funny for the next 4 days–no kidding! It seems so simple and easy while you are doing it but you don’t really realize the amount of power you can lose from repetitively running the same kinds of workouts without using even your quadriceps. I try to do this routine a few times a week, but average twice a week and can now comfortably perform 10 reps of all 4 lunges: forward, side, diagonal (this one’s important!), and backward.

Second, I do the Myrtl routine as a cool-down.

Again, Coach Jay Johnson has a great video of this routine. And just as with the lunge matrix, this looks easier than it actually is. One focus area for me since I had a minor achilles issue last year has been hip strength. Lots of research in the past few years has demonstrated that hip strength is the cause of the majority of lower leg injuries in runners. So while this routine has a strength element, it’s mainly meant to be preventative. If you’re like me, my hips are always tight after a hard race but I feel like my stride is more powerful since adding this to my routine.

Myrtl Routine <—You can also print this PDF and stuff it in your gym bag if you need a reminder!

Third, a core routine! Gotta get that 12-pack, ya know?

I always knew that core strength is really important for runners because of the stability and form factors, but I never consciously added them to my weekly routine until about a month ago. Before, I would do my own random mixture of ab exercises that I grew up doing as part of a sports team. Last month I asked around and decided to commit to Predawn Runner’s 30-Minute Core Routine for Runners. It’s made up of 8 different exercises that you perform for at least one minute. Ideally, a long distance runner should do 3 cycles of the routine at 1 min (or more) per exercise about 3-4 times a week for 6-8 weeks to see results. I haven’t been quite that fastidious–I’ve only completed the routine 1 time per week for the last 4 weeks but I’ve already seen a difference in the strength of my core. Now that I have a ‘base’ of sorts, I plan on increasing the frequency and the duration of each exercise. I really recommend trying it out!

This PDF is also a good resource if you want some more ideas (it’s a combination of the lunge matrix ancillary work + Myrtl routine): CoachJay’s_AncillaryWork_15min

What kind of ‘strength training’ do you do? Which routines do you find the most helpful specifically for runners?