Tag Archives: Indianapolis Marathon

Checking In on 6/21/2021

Here’s what I’m dealing with in training right now for Indy Monumental:

My weight hasn’t moved much, though it has consistently, gradually trended slightly down dating back to early April. I’m doggedly working towards 165, my ideal racing weight from earlier, and after high watering at around 184 I’ve only gotten it to camp around 178-180, though the weekly average has steadily declined each week.

While not happy with how slowly it’s moving in light of how much dietary and exercise work I’ve had to do to keep it moving in the right direction… the results have been sustainable and positive, not just with the weight number but also my energy levels in training (not always great but largely better) and in life. My body fat has dropped from the 20-22% range back down to a consistent 19-20% range. Key for me is maintaining muscle as I lose body fat.

I’ve always struggled year over year to sleep well in summer and this summer so far has been no exception. Part of that is my tuned in circadian rhythms. The sun stays up until 8-9pm local time, and my body simply has a hard time turning down at 7-8pm. Plus, the heat is enough that my A/C simply can’t cool the room enough for me to turn down and get to sleep until later in the evening.

But I need to turn in that early for waking at 5-6am to work for me, so staying up later as a habit probably isn’t a good idea (plus, with Indy starting at 8am EDT, I need to be used to being awake and probably also training at 5am local time).

While I’m now battling being able to get to sleep (no matter how sleepy I may be), I’m sleeping through the night a lot better than I was before.

The hot Vegas summer now in full force has hit my training two-fold. First, the mornings are so warm (85-95°F, 30-35°C) that I’ve had to scale back or table some workouts. I’m now erring on the side of aerobic endurance with longer slower runs, making the quality speed workouts shorter (less than 30min), and even skipping some morning foundation runs entirely while possibly cross training later in the day to compensate. My heart rate variability, body battery and stress scores indicate the resulting breaks during the week from morning training and relentless all-day stress are helping me.

I am however still doing work break jogs. Yes, in the extreme 100+°F heat (35-45°C). These are still brief, almost never exceeding 1500m, with the lunch runs split into single kilometer jogs with a lengthy rest between. None of these efforts are harder than a maybe-light-footed jog.

The heat acclimation from this combined with the brevity of these efforts is the best of several worlds, and helps close the gap with my ability to handle the (lesser) heat in my morning workouts. If rather tired on a given afternoon, however, I’ll just walk during the break. I play these by ear but have consistently ran given the option.

And again, some days I fully schedule for rest from running, so I walk during all work breaks on these days. I have about 1-2 of these per week.

My current main goals now are to get one or more easy midweek morning runs to an hour, consistently do at least one quality speed workout per week, and either do a long run or a long cross training workout each weekend. Even if I’m not happy with the progress in my given training plan… if I consistently practice these elements each week, I’ll have at least made or maintained satisfactory progress towards fall marathon fitness.

That’s where I’m at for now. More to come as it develops.

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Next Up: The 2021 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (11/6/21)

Now official: I plan to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 6, 2021.

I wanted to run a marathon before the end of the year, before training for Vancouver in 2022. This will be it, for a few reasons.

I also wanted to take the plunge on a personally unprecedented task: Training for a marathon through the brutal Vegas summer.

After a summer and a half (I did move back in mid-summer 2019), I learned from experience that during summer the only time of day you can do a serious run workout is early in the morning before temperatures top 90-95°F. You also can’t go particularly long once the sun is up, so longer runs beyond an hour ought to begin before the sunrise (which to be fair was true in Chicago summer weather as well).

But I also previously went on walks outside during work breaks on hot summer afternoons, lasting anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes. Recently these became shorter runs, and since I keep these easy they probably won’t be much more demanding than those previous 100-110°F walks. Either way, I know what being out in this heat feels like, and am confident I can still go on short 7-10 minute work break runs to add to my volume, keep my body active, and get extra form practice.

I had considered various marathons between September and December, but Indy landed in the right spot timing wise. November allows for peak training (e.g. 20 mile run days) to take place after the weather has cooled off a bit. It’s not so late that recovery could possibly impact Vancouver training, which should begin at the end of the year. Plus, with food holidays like Thanksgiving and Xmas shortly after Indy, the extra food can help with recovery.

Also, Indy’s race day weather should be rather mild by November, in the 50-60°F range which should make Indiana’s somewhat high humidity feel good rather than terrible.

Colleagues in Chicago have run Indy with mostly amicable feedback. It’s an accessible marathon with a reasonable topography. There is a hilly section around the middle of the race but the terrain is overwise mostly flat with mild undulations. Vegas’ slanted valley topography should make that course feel easy. It’s not exactly a “starter marathon” but it’s an easier marathon to do well in before you train for a tougher marathon.

I didn’t want my first marathon back to be Vancouver in May 2022, in case my comeback training cycle didn’t go well or I made any major training mistakes (There is also a chance that circumstances could prevent me from running Vancouver AGAIN). I could apply any lessons from this cycle to training for Vancouver. Having trouble with Indy wouldn’t exactly break my heart, though obviously I intend to do well.

What’s the training plan for this race?

Mission one is base building. This is not just about adding weekly mileage but template building.

I currently plan to follow a variation of the Higdon Novice 2 Plan, doing the weekday runs in the morning while doing my work break jogs afterward. The latter will add about 15-20 miles per week to the base training volume, and for now I don’t plan to do those break runs on the weekend.

In short, the Higdon Novice 2 plan has you run Tuesday-Thursday, then do your long run Saturday and an hour of cross training on Sunday. Monday and Friday are days off. The Wednesday run is longer than the Tues/Thu runs, though shorter than the long run, and every other week the Wednesday run is done at marathon pace instead of easy pace like all the others. Obviously, the extra work break runs would be done as easy as needed and would rarely go longer than a mile each. Higdon recommends strength training Tuesday and Thursday if you already strength train, and I certainly will.

The weather and needing time to prepare for work is the key reason to keep weekday runs easy while technically not training Monday and Friday (obviously I’ll still be doing work break jogs those days and logging some miles). The later Wednesday runs reach 8 miles and could be a challenge, though the plan for Wednesday and Saturday was already to get up before sunrise (I already typically rise around 5am) and log some time before the sun is up.

Higdon Novice Marathon is an easy plan to follow if indeed you’re a novice. Though I’m certainly more advanced, I wanted the freedom to add the extra work break runs to my training volume without overtraining.

The key here with the break runs is heat acclimation. Smaller 10 minute doses of running in extreme heat will acclimate me to heat without much distress, which will help with the longer morning runs down the road, and certainly will help with racing the marathon on race day regardless of the conditions.

So right now I’m following a shell schedule version of the plan, gradually adding morning run workouts matching the schedule of the actual training plan, though at a lesser volume. The goal before July is to get accustomed to the schedule so that when I start the actual plan it’s not a big jump or change.

(As always, this could change based on evolving needs and fitness development. But the plan is to build to this schedule going into July.)

So the plan is set, and now it’s time for the long ramp to Indy in November.

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