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Marathon Training: Week 3 – It’s getting intense

I can’t really think of another word to describe this week other than intense.  But that’s how this week was supposed to be.  The basic structure of my training plan is 4 week blocks with 2 build up weeks, 1 intense week, and a cutback/recovery week.  Rinse and repeat 3 times, then run a marathon.  So this week was the intense week.  And it did not disappoint!


Here is what the schedule looked like:

Monday:  7 miles easy

Tuesday:  Rest or cross train

Wednesday:  6 miles speed work

Thursday: 7 miles marathon pace/hilly

Friday:  4 miles easy

Saturday:  16 miles intense

Sunday: 4 miles easy

And here is reality:

Monday:  I was off work for Columbus day today and had planned to sleep in and meet my training buddies for 6 miles.  By sleeping in, I mean that we were starting at 6 AM instead of 5 AM.  And yes, I do find it a little odd that I consider that sleeping in.  But unfortunately, it was raining pretty hard that morning so we weren’t able to go.  It’s not that I have a problem running in the rain or anything, it’s just that it’s pretty dark and even with headlamps it’s hard to tell if a puddle is just water or slippery mud.  So we decided that we’d rather not risk an injury and cancelled.  That meant it was going to be a treadmill day for me.  I didn’t bother to check my schedule to see how many miles I needed to run so I assumed it was the standard 6.  Oops!  Guess I’ll make that mile up on Wednesday.

Tuesday:  I debated taking today as a rest day or going to Body Combat at the gym.  Some days it’s pretty easy to talk myself out of going to the gym.  But I decided to save my rest day for a time when I would really need it and chose the gym.  I’m always glad that I went.  Something about all the punching and kicking of combat that really releases a lot of stress (in a different way than running does).

Wednesday:  My usual speed work partner is taking a week off to deal with a calf injury so we weren’t going to meet at our usual 5 AM so I decided to save it for after work.  As it turned out, it was raining pretty heavily that morning so we wouldn’t have been able to go anyway but I missed that time with her.  I ended up doing a treadmill speed work out on the treadmill.  A few years ago, I bought a program for my phone that takes you through a ladder style workout for 30 minutes so I did that twice.  Since I knew I was doing a pace/hilly run in the morning, I did this run as intervals and not an all-out speed work out.  It was challenging but not so much that I needed additional rest time before a hard workout.  For those of you who are tracking my miles to make sure I hit all my workouts (I know who you are :)), I also added the mile that I missed on Monday.  So now I am perfectly on track with the schedule.

Thursday:  Today I met Monica at 5 AM to knock out 7 miles at marathon pace.  The temperature had dropped quite a bit and it was in the low 50s.  Apparently, that’s just what I needed.  We had an amazing run and hit every mile way below race pace.  Even with all the hills, we nailed it!  I took away a couple of things from this run: 1) hills are not as difficult when you don’t see them so running in the dark is a good thing,  2) it’s always better to run with a friend, and 3) we stink at pacing and slowing down.  We finished 7 miles in 59 minutes.  Perfect way to start the day!

Friday:  I seem to have a procrastination problem with the short runs.  After all, it’s “just” 4 miles.  Well, I didn’t get this one done until very late in the day but I got it done and actually ran easier.  Which, by the way, is much easier to do when NOT running with friends 🙂

Saturday:  I’ve known this “intense” 16-miler was coming and it intimidated me for some reason.  During our Thursday run, Monica and I discussed our intentions for this run and decided we would run a couple miles at 9:15 followed by a recovery mile around a 9:30 pace.  Monica specified the times and my goal was to have our last miles still be at those paces and finish strong.  We normally put in a lot of miles on long runs but we’re usually quite flexible and conversational, stopping for water or to walk or whatever.  So the focused, intense run with no walking and a steady pace had me a little scared.  I was also trying out Generation UCAN as a new fueling option so that added to the uncertainty of this run.  We ran the first 3 miles with someone faster than we are and those miles were faster than planned by quite a bit (8:40, 8:50, 8:32).  Oops…pacing fail!  Well, obviously we’ll slow down.  The next 5 miles were pretty close to that too (8:46, 8:51, 9:00, 9:08, 8:55).  At least we got a little closer to a 9 min pace.  We took a quick break at 8 to pick up another runner and refuel (more UCAN for me).  The next 8 miles seemed to fly by…it was perfect running weather in every way!  Our splits were 8:57, 8:52, 9:01, 9:32, 8:53, 9:05, 8:57, and 8:35).  We actually managed to hit a recovery mile right on pace.  Our last miles were really close to the early ones and we even managed to make our last mile one of the fastest.  Success!  We ended up finishing 16 miles in 2 hours 22 minutes with an average pace of 8:55.  We decided that our future intense runs will be called the “No Excuses Run”.  Hey, we did it once and survived…there’s no excuse to not do it again, right?!?  We even managed to pose for a picture after the run:

photo (2)

Sunday:   I really like to sleep in Sunday mornings.  Not really late, just not setting an alarm.  I woke up at 7:30 and had some very peaceful time to myself with a cup of coffee and The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life (yes, I read about running a lot too).  As awesome as that was, I get lazy and unmotivated to get my run done and say I’ll do it soon.  Lucky for me, one of my friends posted on Facebook that she should have run earlier.  Since she clearly wanted to run and I needed to run, it seemed like a good idea to run together.  So she came right over and we got 4 miles knocked out!  I appreciated the motivation to get out and get it done and enjoyed the company, since this wasn’t someone I usually run with.  And even better, she helped me keep my pace easy, which I really stink at on my own (and with a certain someone else that I will not name here).  This run finished out my intense week with 44 miles total and made it a huge success!  I am so thankful to have completed this week with solid runs and I am looking forward to a true cutback week next week!

I managed to eat 90% plus clean.  I enjoyed some wine this week and went to a baby shower and had a delicious piece of cake.  I realize that I can’t always control what is in the foods I eat, but I make a good effort while still enjoying life.  And that’s good enough for me!

I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming week and running fewer miles.  It’s still early in training but I am very pleased with where I am right now.  I’ll be running a 5K next weekend and I’m eager to see how my training translates into a short distance race.

What are your fitness and/or food plans and goals this week?


One comment on “Marathon Training: Week 3 – It’s getting intense

  1. […] mentioned in last week’s recap that I was really looking forward to this week since it was a cutback week.  The reduced mileage […]

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