Tag Archives: marathon training

Checking In 9/27/2021 after a 0.8 Mile Weekend

I took what was basically a complete rest weekend, and though it ultimately was a good idea it happened somewhat by accident.

Saturday I meant to be a full rest day, and while I did sneak to the gym and ride the spin bike for an hour while reading I did take it easy.

However, Sunday I had intended a full workout day, quality time on the treadmill and then some extra cross training. It was possibly a dubious idea because I planned to train hard Monday (today) and Tuesday, plus I felt like I needed more rest going in.

In a stroke of reverse-luck, I got to the gym around noon and realized I wasn’t wearing my Garmin watch! I had taken it off to charge and forgotten to put it back on. That rarely ever happens… in fact, I don’t think that’s happened before in Vegas.

I did go a couple minutes on the treadmill, tested some faster running which felt fine, then improvised a light strength workout that incorporated some exercises and weights I knew were hard to track on Garmin. I considered this sort-of-session a chance to work easy on some stuff I wouldn’t have generally done, plus I didn’t worry at all about the length of breaks (which I usually do when the clock’s ticking on a 20 minute workout). The light and easy workout left me feeling a bit energized, and I went home after that and relaxed for the day.

I realized in hindsight that I probably needed an easy weekend like that, after weeks and weeks of long workouts, traveling, and cramming that kind of effort into what should be a period of rest. I do feel a bit lax this morning, but in the taper sense of having had a bout of inactivity more than that I’m too tired.

Incidentally I set myself up well for some tougher workouts this week, today and tomorrow and then Thursday. Had I gone hard today, I would have had to be careful with intensity today, maybe tomorrow as well.

Now I’m thinking of finally venturing outside after work and going for some easy intervals at the park. It’ll still be hot, but not like during the summer, and worst case scenario I just need to slow down and run easy in the heat. But going 7 miles today between work break runs and easy intervals after work sounds like a good idea.

I also ate a bunch of ice cream this weekend for the first time in a long while, so maybe I should burn that off.

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Time To Taper: When It’s Too Late To Train For Your Marathon.

A good portion of you are running one of the many major marathons taking place over this next couple months: Berlin is this weekend, London next weekend, Chicago and Boston the week after that, and NYC on November 7.

As people do for these races, many of you are probably in an overthinking sense of semi-panic about getting trained and ready for these races. I’ve seen multiple accounts of people now injured ahead of these races, so I know the following advice is relevant.

Most of you are now about 2-3 weeks out from your race. This is now the time you should be tapering, not training hard or long.

Don’t forget: Your body can only gain fitness adaptions from any individual workout after about 8-14 days. Anything you do within 8-10 days of the marathon will not manifest in any training benefits until after your marathon. Any hard workouts within 8-10 days won’t do anything other than tire you out and possibly get you injured.

Many argue for tapering within 3 weeks of a marathon, but I’m with Jonathan Savage on the ideal taper being 2 weeks, with a gradually reduced volume of running at mostly your goal marathon-pace, e.g. instead of a workout of track repeats you’re generally better off doing a few miles at marathon pace and calling it a day. So anyone 3 weeks out at least has through this weekend to train long or hard before they need to wind it down.

At the same time, a lot of injuries happen within the month before a race because runners, generally knowing this truth, do the equivalent of cramming for a final exam, trying to jam in as much training as possible feeling they didn’t do enough the previous couple months. They overtrain within the last 4-6 weeks ahead of their taper, and then get hurt.

It’s a risk I clearly recognize with my own training for Indy in November, and one I have to balance against restoring training volume and best getting ready for that race. Granted, like NYC runners, my race is farther down the road, and I should be reaching peak volume anyway with my taper ideally happening in late October.

But those of you running Boston, London, and Chicago should be in your taper phase, and at this point any hard workouts are unlikely to significantly benefit you. The time to get the work done has passed. You’re either going to be ready or you’re not, no hard training you do from now to then will do much of anything at all to change that, and any long runs or hard work you do in the interim is more likely to burn you out, injure you, or otherwise leave you at less than your best condition for the race.

Side note: In fact, the only real benefit or purpose of any long run the week before a marathon is to tap into your glycogen stores so that any subsequent carb loading will best re-load them before the race. The goal isn’t to get in a hard workout to get you ready. Most would almost be better off cross training this workout for 2-3 hours than running at all.

So unless you want to join those people who now have a sudden injury to their calf, knee, hip, ankle, etc. with 2-3 weeks until their goal race… recognize that you won’t benefit from hard/long marathon training within about 2 weeks before your race, and start wrapping things up now. You had 2-5 months to get ready, and at this point you can’t undo the past.

Any hard work from 2 weeks out until race day is much more likely to get you injured than it is to get you ready for your marathon.

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Checking In 9/22/2021

With nearly 9 miles in the books since Monday and feeling good through all of them (… well, other than fatigue, obviously!), I now feel more like myself again. And, other than the spin bike Monday, I have not been able to cross train in evenings due to various errands. I do plan to get back in the gym tonight, and all permitting try to run outside after work on Thursday and/or Friday.

Yesterday afternoon on a work break, finding that the afternoon runs once again feel rather weary, I decided set my Garmin watch to do a 45-30 run/walk split. The 45’s started easy and I consistently accelerated as much as I comfortably could before I slowed to a walk for 30.

The walks allowed some recovery but weren’t long enough for me to fully recover. They weren’t totally a VO2max interval workout but certainly felt to some degree like one. And none of these run segments were paced in any way. I just started running easy and then made a point to accelerate and push however much I wanted to, so long as I kept pushing faster or harder until the Garmin signaled to walk.

The end result was decidedly faster than my previous afternoon work break runs, without leaving me as gassed as they had before. So for now I think I will stick to the 45-30 accelerate/walk split. I won’t hold myself to any given intensity on the runs, just running them by feel, and see if this split helps me snap back into form.

Garmin says my VO2max has fallen quite a bit since returning to running, even though my training load has held steady. A lot of that is that my running obviously has been slow. I can run fast, but I’ve made a point not to, and doing so (especially on work breaks in full work clothes) is still somewhat hard. I think the subtext of all the data is clear: Run fast in brief spurts when you can, and take it easy otherwise.

Typically, Garmin scores my Training Effect on the break runs aerobically in the 1.5-2.5 range, with no discernible anaerobic activity. But this work break run scored 2.4 aerobic and 0.8 anaerobic. And it didn’t feel worse than those afternoon slogs. In fact, I felt a little better. So perhaps this is a better way to do those as long as I feel up to doing them.

I still plan to cross train in evenings, which is where I’ll mostly work on aerobic fitness, without investing needlessly in slow running. The only slow running I plan on doing right now is, obviously, my long runs… though I may extend the run walk split to fit those as well (maybe without accelerating as much, of course). I’ll mess with this split and approach going forward on breaks, and see what progress I made.

Today instead of running outside after work (it is a bit warm still) I’ll get back in the gym and cross train some more. I will see if I can run outside after work Thursday and Friday, but may go with the gym for those as well. Saturday will be a scheduled full day off, and then I want to run a steady 10K test outdoors on Sunday morning (plus I’ll cross and strength train that afternoon).

I am feeling a lot better about where I’m at than I did last week.

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Checking In 9/20/2021

Hello from Las Vegas. After morning coffee, I gassed up and drove straight back into town. I ran some morning errands, then hit the gym for an hour on the elliptical that was rather comfortable given the hours spent running yesterday. I followed that with a rowing machine session, my first swolework in about a week, and then out to finish more errands before the day was out.

I slept in this morning but feel alarmingly good… energy wise. Physically I’m still feeling beat up from the waist down after Saturday’s running. It’s all fortunately soreness: My left leg feels otherwise normal.

Today was supposed to be a scheduled day off. But I had a planned errand tonight pushed back to Tuesday night, so I’m going to make tomorrow the scheduled day off and do some light training today. Compared to yesterday my soreness feels a lot better, and some easy training will help move things along before resting tomorrow. It’ll be like a soft rest day followed by an actual rest day, helpful after the long workout this weekend.

Vegas has finally cooled off to where afternoons following work should cool to the high 80’s Fahrenheit, and I think attempting some brief post-work running sessions outdoors is worth a shot. Worst case scenario I have one brief, overheated session and I just bring training back inside the next day until further notice. But either way it will have to wait until at least Wednesday or Thursday for an attempt. (I notice there’s also a bit of wildfire haze this morning, so I guess that works out)

If I can resume workouts in the evening, that opens up my options quite a bit. If work break runs beforehand feel okay (and they’ve been feeling good since I’ve resumed them this past week), I could build back up to around 6-8 miles of interspersed easy intervals during training days. As of now I think it makes the most sense to still cross train early in the week, coming off heavier longer weekend workouts, and then work more on outdoor training later in the week as my legs bounce back, with one or two rest days in-between each week.

If I manage 4-5 weeks of consistent training this way or close to it, I think I can still be fairly ready for Indy.

One thing I really liked about this weekend’s long running is that, even though I hadn’t really done it at all in a couple months (outside of the 8+ miler I ran through Flagstaff three weeks ago), going long again was like the old adage of riding a bike: My body remembered how to do it even though I hadn’t trained anywhere close to it in a while. And yes, I stopped a lot in large part out of an abundance of caution.

But as many would tell you to fear, I wasn’t hurting and out of gas 3-6 miles in just because I hadn’t been doing 60 minute runs in a while. It took about a couple hours of running before my body really began struggling, which you’d expect even if you were well trained and had been running regularly for a while. It’s the other old adage: I listened to my body, and my body was able to handle quite a bit cold-turkey.

And it’s another good sign that, the day after, I was easily able to get back in the gym and cross train like before plus a little extra. It looks like overall I’m in good condition given I had to basically shut things down for a while.

Part of that is being patient and willing to pull back on my training, but also focusing on consistently eating good foods that foster recovery rather than inflammation. I’m not going to pretend my diet is anywhere close to perfect (hell, I had chicken fried steak Saturday night after the long run, and yes it was great), but most of the time I’ve been pounding clean protein, fresh fruit, and avoiding anything (else) fried. My supplement stack isn’t anything different other than maybe some extra Omega 3 some mornings. I always try to get Garmin’s recommended amount of water and at least get pretty close. Perhaps I’m getting more consistent sleep lately and that’s helped. But nothing I did during that recovery period was crazy-different outside of leaning heavily on cross training and being touch-and-go patient with my training.

So I’ll continue to be patient as I ramp up training, continue to listen to my body and give whatever volume and quality efforts I reasonably can going into October.

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Checking In 9/17/2021

I took yesterday off from training, and I clearly also took yesterday off from writing. I’m traveling this weekend and plan to run long before I return to Vegas.

If I don’t run on any breaks today, then tomorrow it’ll have been four days since the last time I ran. Given how little I’ve run over the last two months that’s not the end of the world. And I don’t want to needlessly get tired or sore the day before trying to run long.

The main goal is to run long this weekend and as long as I’m up to that task then I’ll be in good position for next week and beyond. My long elliptical workouts have helped keep me in the aerobic and physical shape needed to run easy for a long period.

And it’s not like I need permission to stop and rest over and over throughout the long run. I plan to slow down and relax a lot on this weekend’s running. The important thing is to cover however much distance I can and give myself that neuromuscular stimulus to recover from.

If somehow I end up in good fitness to run Indy in November (rather than barely passable fitness just to finish) I’ll have semi-accidentally stumbled upon a solid marathon training approach: Focusing on cross training for easy aerobic work, focusing more in the early going on cross training and strength training, and then transitioning more into heavier running on the back end of the training cycle. I won’t say that I’m sure it will work, but I obviously suspect that this approach could end up working out once it’s done, even if it was a circumstantial product of necessity.

Obviously I don’t want to go too hard and try to make up for lost time. That’s not possible and you’ll only burn yourself out and get hurt doing that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t train seriously for 5-6 weeks and make substantial progress to get in marathon shape. All is clearly not lost yet.

So, busy day today ahead of travel, and I’ll probably turn in a bit later than I’d like. But now that it’s cooling off it’ll be rather cool at altitude anyway (even cold if I’m early enough), so starting a long run late in the morning isn’t going to be a problem. My biggest concern will be suitable shade from the sun.

More to come once I’m on location….

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Why It’s A Good Idea For Ian Butler To Get Up At 4am To Marathon Train Instead of Running After Work

The Let’s Run Message Board is not a particularly healthy place for content, I’ll admit. But I’m on there last night reading, and someone started a thread about elite marathoner Ian Butler, who has a full time job as a school teacher but can run a 2:09 marathon, is training for the upcoming Chicago Marathon, and posted video of himself getting up at 4am to train in the dark.

Someone responded that they found little sense in Butler waking up so early to train when he could just train after work in the evening instead.

“I will never understand why some runners insist on running before the crack of dawn instead of in the afternoon or evening. School probably gets out around 3. There is plenty of time to do the workout later. It’s not Florida or Arizona so it won’t be that hot. Is getting to bed at 7 and waking up at 4 really a better option?”

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Checking In 9/15/2021

My energy levels are like a phugoid cycle this week. Yesterday despite good sleep I was exhausted. I took it easy on work breaks and didn’t train yesterday (though I couldn’t anyway due to stuff I needed to get done after work).

I slept well again, and today now I once again feel pretty good, just like Monday. This could be subliminal communication from my body telling me to go hard/easy on my weekly training right now. Or maybe it was the end result of back to back tough training days, during another hot weekend, while also having a lot of other business to attend to.

In any case, I’m going train today like I did on that hard Monday. Tomorrow is a scheduled day off from training, plus Friday is a travel day with no training before Saturday’s long workout. The rest of this week should be a little easier outside of training, so it’s not as big a deal if I wake up exhausted tomorrow morning.

Today I woke up with no pain at all, compared to the last few days where I was pain-free at work but did wake up with a bit of pain. I finally feel normal again after (and yes I keep specific track of this) 51 days of dealing with the hamstring issue. Never at any point was it as bad as when I strained it in 2019. For the most part, I could run, but it was a lingering pain that at times increased as I ran, and at times would go away if I ran a certain way.

If anything, it forced me to re-balance my running technique, to utilize my other lower body muscles in a balanced fashion, and it compelled me to stretch more (dynamically and statically) before and after workouts, sometimes even during. I definitely notice and feel my gluteus medius more engaged in runs than before. While not dominant, my quads are more engaged and I don’t feel my energy bottling up and landing in my hip joint during steps as it did before (which is probably a contributing factor to the hamstring problem). Forefoot running feels a lot more comfortable now.

It made me better emphasize recovery between workouts and on rest days, making sure to eat recovery-friendly foods, take key foods and vitamin supplements more consistently. I’m eating more fruit than before, cleaner protein more often, once again taking wild fish oil, making sure to get enough water every day (this was always a come-and-go habit), avoiding any processed sugar as much as possible. All of this helps reduce inflammation and I’m sure that’s helped with progress and recovery.

I also made sure to find training modes that didn’t hurt or aggravate my hamstring or groin, and made sure to hit them however hard I could, consistently circulating blood through the affected areas and driving recovery and growth however much I could, not to mention making to aerobically train and progress as much as I could and stay however fit I could.

Every issue and setback can be a blessing in disguise when it forces you to be more disciplined.

While I lost the chance to progress on my marathon training, and once again in a marathon training cycle ended up for circumstantial reasons with a big barren gap of light intensity and volume between blocks of high volume… what I ended up doing in the interim was probably best for me in the long run, regardless of how it benefitted training for Indy.

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