“Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made.”
-PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian
One of the benefits of working under a coach is that each week my workouts, times, and distances are decided for me. In fact, each Saturday or Sunday evening Coach Mark sends me an email detailing my runs for the week. You may or may not have noticed, but my weekly mileage has been getting progressively longer, and my quality runs more challenging.
As you may recall, Tuesday evenings I meet with Coach Mark and other a few other runners for my speed session. Usually, we all run the same workout but at our own pace. However, this week I was instructed to run 2 x 2 mile tempo run in 16 minutes with a 2 minute recovery while everyone else ran 8 x 400m repeats. Not a big deal, right? Wrong! 2 mile tempo repeats are not easy, especially when it’s 88 degrees at 6:00 pm! I’m happy to report that I ran my first repeat in 15:35, and my second in 15:50. Not super fast, I know, but not bad for such a hot night!
Wednesday morning 7:30 I went right back out for an 11 miler. Again, it was hot! But I did it! Although I wasn’t fast, (I maintained an 8:30 pace) I felt satisfied that I put in my miles.
When I woke up this morning I realized that another challenging workout lay before me: 8 x 1/4 mile hill repeats with 1/4 mile downhill recovery after each. Of course, you mustn’t forget the 2 mile warm-up and 2 mile cool down. Honestly, I didn’t want to do this run today. I was tired from not having a day off since Friday, and I just felt like sleeping. Instead, I forced myself to get up and get running. At the start of my run, my legs were stiff and heavy. So, I took it slow and let my body warm-up at it’s own pace. Then, I hit the hill, and for the first time in years, I felt pretty darn good! I couldn’t believe it! Typically, I HATE running hills, but not today. What is that Tom and Bella say? Hills are my friends? Yes, HILLS ARE MY FRIENDS!
When I read PattiSue Plumer’s words I understood them perfectly. Sometimes you just have to set goals and schedules and stick to them, even if you’re tired. Eventually, you don’t stop to think about what you have to do, you just do it. Tonight I’m tired and a bit sore, but I’m ever so satisfied that I completed my challenging weekday workouts.
As a reward and in preparation for Sunday’s 1/2 marathon, I will rest for 2 whole days! That’s right, folks: no running Friday or Saturday. Ahhh, I’m looking forward to rest!
This photo was taken at my parents house two days before my son, the handsome devil to my right, was scheduled to leave for college. Don’t we look happy and healthy? WRONG! Little did we know it, but Brendan was harboring a nasty illness even as we laughed and reminisced over our coffee and dessert.
Poor B! Friday morning he awoke with a fever of 102.6, a throat covered with blisters, and a pounding headache. Now remember, he was supposed to leave this morning for college. Instead, he and I visited his doctor who said that he didn’t have strep. What a disappointment for the poor kid! Of course, there would be no freshman welcome dinner, no first dorm meeting, no free mugs and manners.
My daughter also was affected by B’s illness. Being consumed with caring for a sick boy left me little time to help her pack for her senior year. Good thing she’s an easy-going, caring girl! She left Saturday with little fanfare but lots of hugs and wishes for a wonderful senior year.
Thankfully, I took B back to his doc Saturday after my race. At this point his fever was down, but his throat was still very sore and very swollen. The doc prescribed a strong steroid and this proved to be a miracle drug for B! By Sunday morning, he was ready to head to school.
So, this evening it hit me that both of my babies were away. No one would yell, “Ma, I’m home. What’s for dinner?” No one would send me to the store 3 or 4 times because they forgot to put something on grocery list. No one would call asking if they could stay out later than I allowed.
Feeling overwhelmingly sad, I laced up my running shoes and drove to my favorite running spot. I didn’t run far, nor did I run fast. However, at some point during my 6.5 mile run I realized that running is my Prozac, it cheers me up when I’m down.
So, a lot of people ask me why I run. Tonight I can honestly say that I run because it lifts my spirits even at my saddest times.
Okay, I have a few running updates. First, my training is getting more intense, but I’m loving it. Second, I ran a 5k Saturday on a swelteringly hot, humid morning and came in 2nd in my age group! I was thrilled, even though I didn’t get a PR. I’m not going to keep going with third, etc.. Instead, I’ll get post my week and you can read it! (Sorry for the brevity, folks, but I’m TIRED from dropping off the kids at college this weekend! I’ll write about that a bit later.)
Monday, August 20 – Easy, Semi-long run – 10 miles at 8:42 pace.
Tuesday, August 21 – Speed Workout – 2.4 mile warm-up followed by 3 x 1000m run at 4:22, 4:29, 4:35 respectively with a 400m recovery jog between each repeat, 1.8 mile cool down.
Wednesday, August 22 – 1 Mile Time Trial Plus 6 x 1/4 hill repeats with downhill recovery jog. Total run = 9 miles.
Thursday, August 23 – Very Easy Day – 5 miles at an 8:48 pace.
Friday, August 24 – REST
Saturday, August 25 – 5k Race – 24:14 - 4 mile warm-up, then race. Not my fastest but not too bad for an extremely hot, humid day.
Sunday, August 26 – Long Run 17.1 miles – Great run! Time = 2:26:37, pace = 8:34.
Total for the Week = 54 miles
Total for the Year = 1217.20 miles
I recently received an email from Complete Running titled “10 Mistakes to avoid on marathon race day” and I thought that it was a pretty comprehensive list. After reviewing the list, I realized that I’ve made many of these mistakes in some of my last marathons.
I thought those of you training for a 1/2 marathon, marathon, 30K, or ultra marathon might benefit from my paraphrased version of this list. (Okay, I’ve changed several of the points entirely!)
10 Mistakes to avoid on marathon race day
1. Eating anything for your pre-race breakfast you haven’t eaten previously before a long run.
2. Arriving to the race with less than an hour to spare.
3. Wearing any clothing in the race that you have not run over 13 miles in. (Yup, that means no beautifully coordinated, brand new outfits! Been there, done that, BIG mistake!)
4. Starting without double knotting your shoe laces. (Or, putting a lubricant product on your feet in hopes of not blistering. I actually did this before a marathon without ever having tried it, and my feet were such a mess when I finished that I had to wear slippers to work for a week!)
5. Vowing to run the entire race with your running partner. Trust me, it usually doesn’t work!
6. Eating too little the day before the marathon. Okay people, (and I’m probably talking to ladies here) this is no time to watch your carb intake. Wolf down those bagels and that pasta (careful with the sauce, though) and enjoy every bite! Your body will thank you at mile 22.
7. Sight-seeing the day before your race. Again, I did this in Washington, D.C. the day before the Marine Corp Marathon and I was exhausted the next day.
8. Drinking an electrolite-replenishing drink other than what you drank during your long runs. Find out well in advance of your marathon what they serve on the course and try it out during your long runs. It’s important to know if your system will be able to digest the beverage easily or if it will make you sick.
9. Forgetting to carry GU, Power Bars, or some other form of nurishment with you while you run the marathon. AND do bring at least one extra GU pack, etc. You never know if you’ll need it!
10. Waiting too long to drink during the race. My coach recommends drinking every 2 to 3 miles small amounts of liquid. This is one of those things with which you have to experiment. The point is, have a plan for drinking!
If you have anything to add to the list, I’d love your suggestions! Happy running!
Good golly! We’re more than half way through August! (This is about the time panic begins to settle in the pit of my stomach due to the anticipation of the “S” word - school, that is.) But this year I’m bound and determined to enjoy every last minute of vacation and not get too worked up over…you-know-what. (I’ve forbidden myself from uttering the word until August 25.)
As I reflect upon this past week of training, I’m pleased. I’m pleased that I’m sticking to my plans. I’m pleased that I’m getting stronger. I’m pleased that I’m meeting new people. I’m pleased that I’m remembering to incorporate stretching into each workout. The following represents my week of running for August 13 – 19, 2007.
August 13, 2007 – Easy semi-long run – 9.2 miles. (Forgot my GPS and watch; therefore, I don’t know my pace.)
August 14, 2007 – Speed Session- 6.80 miles total. Warm-up = 2.0, Speed work = 4 x 800m with 200m recovery between each, Cool down = 1.8.
August 15, 2007 – Easy semi-long run – 7.2 miles total
August 16, 2007 – Tempo Run – 6.0 miles total. Warm-up = 2.0, 3 x 1 mile with 1 minutes recovery between each at 7:40, 7:25, and 7:50, respectively. Cool-down = 1.0 miles.
August 17, 2007 – REST!
August 18, 2007 – Long Run – 19.3 miles in 2:49:31, 8:47 pace. Nice route, although I hadn’t anticipated it being this long.
August 19, 2007 – REST!
Total Miles Run for the Week = 48.7
Total Miles Run Year to Date = 1,163.20
Before I closed my eyes Friday night, I had every intention of running with my new group of friends at Fleet Feet Saturday morning. In fact, I was excited about it! This would be the first time in several months that I actually ran a long run with another human being, instead of just my ipod.
We were planning to start our run at 7:00 am sharp, and our coach, Mark, had maps of varying lengths already for us. YES! This would eliminate my need to focus on my beloved GPS and just enjoy the company of others. Imagine my disappointment when I woke up at 6:35 Saturday morning and realized that there was no way I could make it to Fleet Feet by 7:00 to run with my new partners!
What will I do? Now, if you’ve been reading my blog you’ve probably figured out that I’m a pretty scheduled person, and this really threw a monkey wrench in my plan! I looked on the Fleet Feet website to see if I could find a route that was about 17 miles long. Lucky for me, the FF folks had detailed an 18 mile route that was easy to remember; so I drove to the store and set off on my run with my ipod and GPS accompanying me.
What a great route! The first 8.5 – 9 miles consisted of rolling hills, nothing too steep, and the remaining miles were flat and scenic. Just one problem, however: this was NOT 18 miles; it was 19.3! Coach Mark’s instructions were to run 17 miles with the last 4 miles at marathon goal pace (8:50 per mile). Instead, I ended up running 19.3 miles at an average of 8:47 per mile for the entire run!
My question to you long distance runners is this: How often do you drink on your long runs? Mark suggests drinking every 2 to 3 miles, others say every hour, but I’m wondering what YOU do.
Coach Mark’s instructions for my 6 mile tempo run were clear and concise. After a 1.5 to 2 mile warm-up, run 3 x 1 mile repeats at an 8:00 pace with a 1 minute recovery jog in between each repeat, cool down for 1 to 1.5 miles. Try to keep your mile repeats as close to an 8:00 pace as possible.
No problem, I thought! This run will be a snap (just snapped my fingers)! Well, I’m here to testify to the fact that this was not at all an easy thing to do. Of course, the warm-up and cool down were a piece of cake as it wasn’t necessary to keep a steady, even pace. But the tempo part? Whoa!!
You’re probably thinking, “What’s so hard about keeping an 8:00 pace?” Well, for me it’s keeping an even, steady speed that presents a challenge. Try as I might I just couldn’t stick to an even tempo (I know this because I watch my GPS); my tendency is to run much faster and in spurts. At one point during my second repeat, I looked at my GPS and saw that I was running a 6:45 pace! No wonder I was breathing hard! For each mile repeat I averaged 7:40, 7:25, and 7:50, respectively. Again, I didn’t follow my coach’s instructions!
Honestly, it’s damn hard to find your tempo when running; which got me thinking about the challenge of finding your tempo in life. (There’s always a metaphor, isn’t there?) I am currently at a crossroads in my life as my youngest child will leave the nest in 7 days and embark on a new chapter in his life: The College Years. My entire life has been devoted to my children and the children I teach. Oh yes, I’ve always been a runner, but I’ve always run when it didn’t interfere with anyone else’s schedule. (I was the mom who brought her running shoes to her children’s sports practices to sneak in a run.)
So, now I’m faced with the challenge of finding my own tempo, both in and out of my running shoes. Sounds like an easy task, but it’s really much more complicated than at first glance!
“Dead tired. Dog tired. Sore as hell.” -from Laura Mykytok’s training diary.
Laura, I know exactly how you feel. Those three short sentences speak to how I felt when I struggled to open my eyes at 6:00 this morning. Having slept very poorly all night (could it have been the three enormous bowls of Cap’n Crunch I wolfed down at 10:30 last night?), combined with the Tuesday’s tough speedwork, I woke up tired and sore. I couldn’t even consider running until 8:00 and then I still waited around.
Wednesday’s are designated as “easy” days of semi-long distances run at a comfortable pace. As soon as I began this easy run, I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy. I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling: tight quads, tight calves, certain you weigh at least 300 lbs. Quickly, I decided that today’s semi-long run would only be 7.2 and that motivated me to run a little faster. When I reached the 3.6 mark, I looked at my GPS (I know, I should’ve left it home!) and saw that I was running an average pace of 8:48. “Oh no!” screamed my brain. “That’s just pathetic! You’d better start moving those legs of yours!”
So, that’s just what I did to the tune of an average pace of 7:50. Stupid, stupid stupid!!! Easy days should be, well, EASY!!! I don’t believe that anyone benefits from to challenging days in a row. When you run consecutive days hard, you set yourself up for injury. Plus, I probably zapped a lot of energy that I will most definitely need for my 6 miles of tempo running tomorrow.
So, what did I learn? LEAVE THE WATCH HOME ON EASY DAYS AND LET YOUR BODY SET THE TEMPO!!
Tonight’s speed session with Coach Mark was so good for me for so many reasons. Instead of writing long paragraphs, I think I’ll just make a list (hey, I’m tired!).
- Focus, Focus, Focus!!! Knowing that I must reach a goal time with each 800 forces me to focus my energy on my form, leg turnover, etc.
- Pace, Pace, Pace!!! I’m beginning to understand what a 7:30, 8:00, etc. pace feels like to my body. This is critical to my goal of qualifying for Boston. In my previous marathon trainings, I only concentrated on mileage. At the actual races, I almost always ran the first half too quickly (not knowing how to judge pace), and quite literally fell apart during the last 10k.
- Socializing Socializing, Socializing!!! Until recently, and for the past couple of years, I’ve only trained alone. Yes, I’ve asked others to run but haven’t found anyone who really wanted to run with me. Tonight, a few of the men and two ladies told me that they were happy to see me back for a second week! I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.
- Facing My Fears, Fears, Fears!!! What fears, you ask? Well, the fear of running poorly in front of some really fine runners. The fear of talking to these same awesome runners. The fear looking like an idiot in front of so many people. Facing these fears head-on is really helping me to build a healthy self-confidence, something that was frowned on in my strict Irish-Catholic home.
- I Did It, I Did It, I Did It!!! After warming up for 2 miles, I began my 800m repeats. I ran my first 800 in 3:30 (too fast!), my second in 3:43 (ahh! just right), my third in 3:44 (nice and steady), and my last in 3:45 (phew! glad that’s done). Finished off the workout chatting and running with my new friends, Kathy and Jen, for another 1.80 miles.
All I can say is I’m looking forward to next Tuesday!