Tag Archives: marathon training

Am I Still A Marathoner?

Since withdrawing from Indy I have to consider the reality that I have not run a marathon in about 2.5 years, and that my most recent effort to prepare for one has (for whatever reasons incidental or as a direct result) failed.

I can’t help but ask, when it comes to the marathon, do I even still know what I’m talking about? Have I ever?

I try to be circumspect, to realize that Corona had a substantial role in the time away (there were no marathons for about a year, and many of the ones happening since have been limited), and that this recent effort was not only an unduly difficult task in the Vegas heat, but also one I mitigated and eventually ended out of a persistent abundance of caution. Every time I ran into pain problems beyond mere soreness, it was not that I couldn’t run. I just decided it was best not to.

However, people come to this site in part for advice on preparing for races like the marathon. What does it say when I myself have not and, for whatever reasons appear that I cannot?

Even if I retain confidence in myself, context aside, I have to be realistic about how all this looks. I know for sure my principles are by and large sound. I know I can train for and run marathons to a higher ability. I know this even though I went to train this summer and it all fell flat after never really getting going.

All that said, and I’ve alluded to this in past posts, I’m not sure if and when I’ll run the next marathon. I cannot imagine I won’t ever run one again. As I’ve also mentioned, there’s at least three I want to run once (or once more) before all is said and done.

I also understand the amount of work it takes to train for one, and how any other training ambitions or goals have to take a back seat when you do. It’s very hard to compromise marathon training to allow for other things, and still be at all ready to run one. If anything would keep me away, it’s knowing what I’d need to do to be ready for one, and not being sure if I’m willing to go that deep.

I’ve thought about generally training to run long, for example maintaining year-round the fitness to run 16 miles and also race a 10K or so as desired. And then if I do decide to run a marathon, I’m not terribly far off from being ready for it. That going forward is probably better for me than planning to run a marathon and then having to build up to it over months, as people tend to do.

I’ll admit I have penciled in Vancouver for May 2022. But that said, I mentioned I have other sports and races I want to work on, and will mainly focus on those for now. If they don’t pan out, then great I can pivot and focus on Vancouver. If they do, I can make a judgment call from there. I may be able to do both, even if I’m focusing on other sports, if at least generally conditioned to run long. Or I could just say forget it for now, to one or the other.

I don’t think any of the prior writing I’ve done on marathons is wrong. Those training methods aren’t wrong or bad or not effective. I also retain full faith I can train effectively for marathons. I just want to do some other stuff for a while, and it’ll for now take a back seat.

Tagged , ,

10/17/2021- Game Over

I went out this morning for a long run, and 90 minutes later the verdict is clear: I decided to pull out of the marathon at Indy. I will not run.

I already had substantial doubts during a slow run near home that while comfortable did not feel great or provide much confidence. I felt good this morning, the fueling I was practicing was working fine, I was hydrated and it was obviously cool outside. But even after 3-4 miles I felt myself slowing, struggling, and was wondering how I was going to run 11-17 more.

Then right at the 10K mark, as the sun was beginning to rise, I felt a twinge in my right hamstring, and though it came and went I immediately shut it down. I ended the workout right there, turned for home and walked the entire way back. During the run I already was strongly considering this, but I knew at that moment I was plugging the plug on Indy. And I was completely fine with it by then.

After a couple of months of doing everything I could to try and keep marathon training going however I could with a left hamstring problem, I realize now that the closest I can get to ready is nowhere close to suitably ready to run a marathon. And, while I stopped in time and whatever’s up with my right leg is still minor and not all that painful, there’s no sense in this point in risking further damage. It had already been randomly aching for the last week, and clearly I need to give it a break because it’s not getting better.

Now I can take it easy for a few days and move along. I want to shut it down again for a bit and just let the hamstrings (including the left one that’s felt fine for a bit) heal up completely, while strength training, walking, and whatever cross training feels right.

I can’t even say I’m disappointed to not do Indy. This training cycle’s easily been the worst I’ve had to date. A marathon is typically a celebration of the training you’ve done, and to call this training cycle derailed would be generous. If it wasn’t the heat, it was an injury problem, preventing the kind of training I wanted to do to get ready.

Though I did a lot of cross training and several long runs, I don’t feel like I trained for the marathon at all beyond that. The last few couple months were a constant scramble to salvage any kind of training, rather than serious training for the marathon. I was invested in going up to this point knowing all this, and did all I could to get ready until it was clear that the answer was no. I’m basically writing off months of setbacks, and I’ll consider them all lessons. I did enjoy the road trips I took during the summer to try and get ready, even if ultimately I wasn’t ready.

Losing the fee for the marathon is no big deal. I can transfer the airfare for use on another trip (I have at least one in mind), and I am confident I can refund or defer the hotel. Explaining the cancellation of the trip to my work is as simple as the truth: I got injured and decided not to run. Most of all, I’m now saved the trouble of making a cross country trip in November, one I increasingly didn’t feel like I would enjoy (and after all, isn’t that point of doing this?).

Obviously I’m in no hurry to book the next marathon. Let’s see how I feel at the end of the year. Improving my training base once I’ve taken some time off will be my main goal, and I’d rather train until a lot closer to marathon-ready than I was should I decide to do it again. I also want to dabble in trying other stuff, and once rested I’ll have the time and energy to do it. I’ve fallen back quite a bit from what I’m used to do, and I want to focus (after a rest) on getting back to what I know I can do, at least over shorter distances.

So in sum, after tweaking and aggravating my right hamstring this morning, I decided to pull out of Indy and not run the marathon. I feel better about having done so, and look forward to resting up and doing different things the rest of the year.

Tagged ,

Checking In 10/15/2021

Yesterday I took a spur of moment work break run in the afternoon that felt okay. Then at the gym I did a full Phillips warmup, before a brief session on the elliptical and then some strength training to finish.

I wasn’t tired like Wednesday, but I did have a shorter session at the gym than usual. I ate a decent meal and, while it took some time to get to sleep, I did sleep reasonably well and feel alright today.

The gym to some extent has been a training lifesaver. Even with no treadmill much of the time, the elliptical and other cross training has provided a ton of aerobic volume.

At some point I’ll debrief on how training this summer went. Safe to say, it’s by and large been a disappointment. Never minding injury issues, I’ve been very limited in what marathon-specific training I can do, and even if I hadn’t been hurt or otherwise set back I’m not sure I could have done much more than run long.

I’ve noticed accounts from many other Vegas runners training for marathons that they’ve had a very hard time doing much more than that, even when getting up early to beat the sunrise on weekends. A lot of us were struggling with marathon training in the heat this year, and if anyone’s going to go forward with it next summer we’d all need a new edict.

Honestly, though, the final answer may just be that training through the summer for a fall marathon isn’t practical in Vegas. It’s fairly hard in most places because even without extreme heat there’s a lot of humidity. But the extreme heat here made it prohibitively difficult too often.

Even if all else was ideal I’d have still had to leave town for several of my long runs. I probably couldn’t do that every summer and I know most in Vegas simply can’t.

The flip side is that the relatively mild Vegas winter is almost perfect for training through winter for a spring marathon, whereas in other places snow and ice make it rather difficult. If I want to do Vancouver next spring, training for that would be a lot easier, and a more complete set of workouts.

I’ll have a much better idea of how I feel about the latter by the end of this year. Meanwhile, I’m in the final stage before Indy, and I still have work to do on a long run this weekend. We’ll see if I do it Saturday or Sunday (the pull of relaxing on my birthday Saturday is rather strong, but I also don’t want to put the long run at risk by pushing it back).

I have a game plan for this long run, and will probably do it close to home, plus I realize it might be a better fit to do it Sunday even though it’s a bit risky to put it off. If it all works out, though, I’ll like where I’m at with Indy a lot better than I do right now.

Tagged , ,

Checking In 10/14/2021… Ideas about future plans as well

Yesterday I went to Far Hills for some easy hill running, but my legs felt like lead pretty much out of the gate and never did improve beyond a difficult slow slog. Though the 2nd mile was a bit better, the uphill sections felt brutally tough and after a couple of circuits I looped back to the start at 2.6 miles and decided to call it there, heading to the gym and using the elliptical instead.

It looks like Tuesday’s 5.6 took more out of me than I had thought. I had eaten a big dinner Tuesday and I not only slept well but woke up yesterday feeling pretty good. But my legs simply were too tapped out to do much.

Tonight I’ll just stick to the gym, strength train, do a 10 minute warmup on the treadmill and then train on the elliptical. I’m still a bit sore and tired in the legs, and at this point I ought to focus on rest and recovery for this weekend’s long workout.

Regardless of how Indy goes next month, I’m sure that over the rest of my life I’ll want to do at least three more marathons:

  • I want to run Vancouver at least once more, whether it’s next year or some other year down the road.
  • I want to run Chicago at least once more. I’m fairly sure it won’t be next year but certainly some other year down the road. I probably will need to move on from Vegas before I can train through a summer for it.
  • I want to run the Luxembourg Night Marathon, which happens every May. A couple people I know have run it and it’s apparently quite fun running through the capital of a compact country at night. This wouldn’t happen before 2023, and I’d want to learn German and French on a high-functional level (I know a bit but not enough to be useful) before making the trip.

But in terms of stretch goals, bucket lists, however you put it, that’s honestly it. I don’t have any real interest in any others. I’m ambivalent about how much more energy I want to funnel into marathon training as a general practice. Maybe that will change in a while.

But a summer of training in Vegas has shown me that conventional marathon training in Vegas is probably too difficult for my circumstances. The injury thing might have been a blessing in disguise, as the seven derailed weeks prevented me from running all that much. The trips out of state to run in cooler climates helped for sure, as did the little work break runs in high heat. But even if I were 100% any other needed quality training (tempo runs, speedwork) was simply too much to ask in the Vegas heat, or through the pounding of using a treadmill.

Some of the issue was my weight having gotten to 175-180 lbs (the 80kg range), and that my prior training worked while I was at 160-170 lbs. The extra pounding probably created problems that wouldn’t have happened at 165 lb. Getting away from high volume endurance training for a bit can allow me to eat a lighter diet and slim down a bit more.

Even now, my natural eating patterns are more conducive to 2000-2500 calories per day, great for fat loss and intermittent fasting, but bad for meeting the calorie needs of marathon training. I’ve had to do a bunch of extra eating to cover the calorie and recovery needs of endurance training.

As of now, I want to focus on other training following Indy, and am not in a hurry to get back to long slower endurance workouts for marathons.

After recovering from Indy I plan to restrict my marathon training to a long run every couple weeks or so, just to maintain the endurance fitness built for Indy. Then, if/when I plan to run a marathon, it’s not a huge, long project to get trained for it.

Any other training would be sport-specific training. Any other running would be easy intervals for overall fitness, tailored when applicable to any other distances I’m planning to race. And I wouldn’t need to do them or endurance train every day. I could wake up, feel sore, and just decide to rest that day, almost any day.

23 days to Indy. This weekend remains a key workout, so the next couple days will be easier to ensure I’m loaded up for that long run.

Tagged , ,

Checking In 10/13/2021

Yesterday I ran a bit over 9K near my gym. The weather had improved after Monday’s high winds and heavy pollution in Vegas.

Along with wanting to finish near the gym and be able to stretch etc, the roads and trails allow for mostly clear running over a few miles, giving me what I could find from some other locales but with the added benefit of my gym being right there when I’m done. I went inside and strength trained 20 minutes before stretching and heading home.

This was a fairly strong steady run and I didn’t have much trouble maintaining pace for close to an hour. It obviously helps that Vegas has cooled significantly down, and that along with sunset shadows it was only 63°F during the run. We have reached fall and it looks like the cooler weather is here to stay, meaning I can now comfortably run outside once again. The timing couldn’t be much better as I’m now in peak training.

On Monday I had done some work break running, and after work the wind and dust forced me inside to use the treadmill for a bit. The settings gave me some uncanny problems during 3.5 fitful miles of (what should have been) easy intervals. Once my right hamstring started to struggle a bit, I quickly shut it down before any pain could rear its head and switched to the elliptical for about 20 minutes.

Even now I feel just a bit tired and a bit sore. It probably helped that I decided not to run on work breaks yesterday, opting instead to just walk and focus any running on the one evening workout. I even spent one work break grabbing something to eat, which I need now that I’m burning 3000+ calories per day. Yesterday needed about 3400 after Monday needed 3800, that a product of having run on work breaks.

Today is more of the same: An extended run after work, and possibly some extra work in the gym after that. I may take today’s run to a park and neighborhood, though, which would eliminate the gym component, though I’ll still want to stretch afterward. Either way, I won’t run during work breaks, and will just walk and eat instead.

Not running on the treadmill definitely felt a lot better on my legs. I now firmly believe the treadmill running was a key source of my injury problems this summer, and that running outside allows the downward force into my legs to propel forward instead of just going back through the legs as they do on the mill. So I’ll keep things outside as much as I can going forward.

If during this workweek my legs get too sore or tired I’ll just move back to the elliptical for aerobic training and give them a chance to bounce back. It’ll be key to be able to run long Saturday or Sunday, so Friday will likely be an easy day, even though I intend to train that day no matter what. If I have to take Saturday off, that’s fine, but then I run long Sunday morning.

Either way, mentally and energy-wise I’m feeling pretty good, which is a good sign in the middle of what needs to be a very tough training week. Indy is in 24 days. Right now, as trained to-date, finishing is possible. But if the next 10 days goes well, my estimates should improve dramatically.

Tagged , ,

Checking In 10/11/2021

I pretty much took the weekend off, after all.

On Saturday, I had to take my car in for service and some other errands. By the time I returned home I was actually fairly exhausted, a good deal more than usual. I also still had the same lingering hamstring soreness from earlier that week. I decided not to train and just took it easy. In fact, I turned in rather early, with the sunset. And that was around 6:45pm.

Yesterday, Sunday, I rode long on the spin bike, about 105 minutes, but otherwise nothing else. Again, I took it easy, outside of going to the store and doing laundry.

Today I feel like a weird ball of energy… maybe this is what it feels like to have energy and not be tired? I do get so used to being tired and exhausted from training and life that perhaps I mistake having energy for being jittery? I haven’t had coffee yet. I slept reasonably well last night, and though I didn’t sleep much Friday night I definitely slept well Saturday night.

In any case, I also don’t have hamstring soreness this morning. Two days off allowed that to dissipate. I will slowly ramp today back into training, as we’re now into peak week… maybe peak fortnight, depending on how much I can handle next week as well. That will be the last week of intense training, as I’ll then have two weeks to Indy and will begin to taper.

I didn’t watch Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, and of course I’ll be working today so I won’t be watching Boston. Is it exciting, or do I have any feelings of missing out? Not really. It’s great to see people chasing their victory laps. But I’ve had mine, and hopefully will complete one of my own next month.

I don’t get the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out) much at all these days. I feel comfortable mentally about where I’m at, even if I’m not yet where I want to be. I can continue working where I’m at on where I want to go, without seeing someone else’s victory lap and feeling bad, antsy, FOMO, etc. Good for them, and I still feel good about where I am.

I ran Chicago three years ago (the dreaded Hiccups Marathon), and do want to run it again someday (even if I find the massive Chicago crowds annoying). I like the course and experience, and much like Vancouver 2019 I want the next time around to go right and be able to run that marathon out on my terms. It’ll also be good to see some of my old Chicago people once again. It may not be next year, but at some point I’ll run it again.

Boston? Maybe in the (admittedly unlikely) event I qualify, sure. But otherwise, I’m not interested. It’s a pedestal marathon for many, but I don’t think nearly as much of it as others.

As for more accessible marathons… Vancouver 2022 remains a possibility. I had actually considered not running another marathon for at least a year or two, and focus on training for other distances.

But after all the problems I’ve had with the Indy training cycle, I want to take a month or two off from hard training and then it’d be nice to take advantage of the Vegas winter conditions (actually ideal for marathon training) and get it right this time. Vancouver, presuming they hold the race (I think we’ll be out of the Coronawoods by then and they’ll do it), would be an ideal end goal.

That’s not to say I couldn’t still focus on those other events, and maybe just restrict my Vancouver training to a long run every week or two, and a longer tempo/pace run every week or two. Any other training would still benefit my marathon fitness, should I decide to run it next May. As long as I did a marathon-specific run every week, I could still maintain and improve that long fitness to some degree.

That’s to be figured out down the road, though. For now I still need to get ready for Indy, and this week of wall to wall training is all about that.

Tagged , , ,

Checking In 10/8/2021

Even after sneaking over to the gym and riding the spin bike easy for half an hour, yesterday was a fairly restful day. The laundry I was going to do could wait until the weekend.

Garmin logs your stress according to restful periods, low stress, medium stress, high stress. Usually, I only log about 6-8 hours total restful time (which includes sleep), and bear in mind stress comes not just from your daily living and recovery following exercise, but from digesting food.

However, yesterday I logged over 10 restful hours. I don’t think that’s a record, but it’s probably close. So, even with meals and the workday, even not being able to get to sleep for some reason until close to 11pm, I had a fairly restful day. After some initial grogginess this morning after waking up a bit late (6am), I feel pretty good, and my body battery started at 89, which for me lately is fairly good as I’ve been averaging in the 50’s. I had been feeling fairly tired the last couple days, so it’s great to feel substantially better.

I decided to ride the restful wave and not run this morning before work, even though the conditions (60-65°F, 50% humidity, overcast following rain overnight) are basically perfect for a run. That’ll reduce projected training volume a little bit, but at this point I’m aiming for this to be a down week.

My hamstrings have had for a couple days this slight lingering ache, which I vastly prefer to being injured. For the next couple days I’m going to err training on the side of caution and see if I can heal all the way up going into next week’s gauntlet. I still have some long cross training planned, but I’ll play running by ear.

I switched up my supplements after running out of my usual Cal-Mag Citrate. I went with a generic magnesium glycinate standalone plus a Calcium Citrate and D3 supplement from Sprouts, and I’ll stick with that for the next month or two before deciding to stick with it or switch back.

Tonight after some quick errands (a running theme this week) I’ll do some cross training at the gym, and tomorrow I have to take my car in for service, which will either break up tomorrow’s training into smaller portions or push it all back to the afternoon.

Tagged ,