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Marathon training – week 9

I originally started this blog to help my family (and other families) make healthier food choices.  And that’s still what it will be but I’m also going to add a weekly post about my marathon training and how my food choices affect my training.  The January Real Food Challenge was set up to get me completely on track and clean up a few areas that I really needed to focus on to help me run better.  Over that month, I could really see how much little changes made a big difference.  I was running stronger and faster and just felt better.  Other than being somewhat sidelined for a bit with tendonitis in my ankle, my race times have been solid and I’ve been able to run a crazy amount of miles.  Plus, I’m pretty sure my family is getting really tired of hearing me talk about my training 🙂

So anyway, I had originally planned to run the San Francisco Marathon in June.  But because of dealing with tendonitis for most of the month of April, I decided to change to the half marathon and run another marathon.  I had no doubt that I could complete the SF marathon, but I didn’t think it would end up being representative of the rest of my training and what I think I am capable of running).  So I decided to take a girl’s weekend trip in August with several of my running friends and run the Leading Ladies Marathon in South Dakota.  From the pictures I’ve seen online of the course, it’s an absolutely beautiful course.  Plus it’s a small race with only women.  Oh, and it’s mostly a downhill race with temps that are way cooler than in Texas where I live (like 60 degrees vs 95).  I seriously couldn’t find any reason NOT to go!

I won’t go into a lot of detail about the previous training weeks but they have been pretty good.  My friend that picked this race as one of the last opportunities to qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon gave me a Runners World training plan to break 3:45.  I was just going to adjust my times up a little but because my goal is actually to run a sub-4 hour marathon.  But a strange thing happened after I started using that plan….I found that  wasn’t adjusting my times; I was actually training for a 3:45 marathon!  Interestingly, my Boston qualifying time is 3:45.  Hmmm, that’s never something I would have considered to be realistic for me.  I’m still having some self-doubts about being able to run that fast for that long but I am allowing myself to consider the possibility of it and dream a little).  But I would be absolutely thrilled to run a sub-4.  Anyway, to summarize the first 8 weeks of training, I completed every workout within the times suggested by the plan and actually feel good physically and mentally (although I’m pretty tired and hungry all the time).

On to this week:

This was a challenging week for me in many ways but looking back on it, I’m going to call it a successful week.  My training plan called for 51 miles and I ended up with 55.  This has been my highest mileage week ever, resulting in my highest monthly mileage ever (202 miles), and highest YTD (933 miles).  So I’m pretty pleased with that.  And I was extremely excited to find out that I got into the Houston Marathon through the lottery.  It’s one of my favorite races and I would be crushed if I didn’t get in!

I didn’t track my food this week but paid very close attention to it.  I had boiled eggs with raw veggies and hummus every day for breakfast.  For snacks, I typically have a banana and almonds.  I had leftovers for lunch several days at work and a potluck one day.  Even at the potluck, I made good choices (except for the banana split sundae cake which I don’t care to discuss).  The days I didn’t bring lunch, I got a huge salad from Market Street loaded with spinach and tomatoes and mushrooms and then a spinach veggie wrap from Jason’s Deli.  For dinners, I had salmon, a veggie burger salad, grilled avocado stuffed shrimp and homemade pizza.  Saturday after my long run, I had black bean tacos for brunch and a couple of bean burritos and guacamole and a beer.  And a couple of glasses of wine Friday night and Saturday night (hey, I deserved it after this week….don’t judge 🙂 ).  Overall, I’d say I ate over 90% clean.  The really challenging part of eating clean is that it takes some planning and preparation to have food ready and avoid making bad choices.

I ended up working late several days so I missed my regular body pump classes at the gym.  This week I am planning to make it to the early morning classes before work.  Again, it’s challenging to have everything ready ahead of time so I can shower at the gym after class and head to work.  But I love those classes so I’ll do what I need to do even if it means giving up my morning drink coffee and read time.  Marathon training is a sacrifice, after all.  I stayed very focused on my runs this week.  Here’s what they looked like:



6 miles of hills before work

4 easy miles on the treadmill after work (I honestly thought about skipping this but I got my running headbands that my friend Jenifer at The Linen Basket and had to test them out – the first headband that I’ve ever had that stayed in my hair while running, plus it’s super cute)


5 miles easy on the treadmill (easy at this point in training is 9:18 miles which I wouldn’t necessarily consider easy but whatever)


8 mile tempo run – this was originally scheduled for Tuesday but I switched the days because I wasn’t feeling well Tuesday – 3 miles were at an 8:00 pace and 5 at 9:15


9 miles on the treadmill because it is much too hot to run outside in the evenings.  Managed all 9 miles at the “easy” 9:18 pace (again, easy is their word, not mine)


3 miles at a negative incline on the treadmill at the gym.  I hit the easy pace but wasn’t really feeling it so my 4 miles ended up being 3.  This wasn’t an important run and I didn’t want to keep going and risk anything negative or not be prepared for my Saturday long run.


20 mile long run.  Met up with my running friends at 5 AM to try to beat the heat.  My training plan calls for long runs to be between a 9:18 and 10:52 pace but my goal is always to keep it under 10:00.  With the heat and humidity, I was happy with my overall pace of 10:12, especially considering how bad a couple of the last miles were.  But I got it done!  I know I’ll love the cooler temps in South Dakota after training in the great big outdoor sauna.  At least I had good friends running with me for 15 miles of it to make the time pass quickly!


Much needed rest day!  Surprisingly, I’m not very sore today.  I’m not sure I would say I really feel like a run but I will probably do some stretching and yoga later.  I’ll be foam rolling for sure to help with some muscle tightness but I’m feeling good and that’s very encouraging.  Think I’ll whip up a few new recipes today and get some time in the pool.  The jets in the pool actually feel really good on my leg muscles so we’ll just call the pool time “therapy” 🙂

Only 49 more days until race day!  This coming week will be pretty similar to last week workout-wise so we’ll see what I can do!  With the 4th of July holiday this week, I’ll have to stay focused on food choices and mentally preparing for next week’s 22 mile long run!  Now back to the kitchen to make some more real food recipes.

Any of you other runners have anything to share about how food affects your running performance?


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