Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer has arrived

It's amazing what a difference a week can make in the weather around here. Last Saturday (the 10th), I finished my 10 mile long run as the temp hit 73. Not exactly comfortable with the sun out, but it didn't feel unbearable at all. I had a pretty good negative split on my out-and-back route and my heartrate averaged 138. I was pleased with the effort. This week when I finished my 10.4 mile run, it had hit 83 degrees, and yet still kept my heartrate at 137 average with a negative split. But it was decidedly warmer out, that's for sure. The summer arrived!

Yay for patient running partners and metal dinosaurs
Not sad about my run or the fact that I cool down in my pool.
Sad about the weather!

What's weird for me right now is throwing pace out the window on these long, slow runs. For so many years I was obsessed with my pace and felt that I needed to be hitting certain long run paces while marathon training to convince myself I could finish a marathon and not embarrass myself. With the exception of one training cycle back in 2012, I never had a lofty time goal in a marathon. That marathon didn't go as planned, but that had to do with the 80 degree temps and not my fitness. Had it been 40 degrees out I actually do think I would have broken 4 hours like I had trained to do. My other time goals over the years have been much more conservative. Basically I was in it more for fun (yes, I called marathons fun). There's not really anything wrong with that, and many people enjoy the journey and don't give a crap about the time on the clock. This attitude usually translated to running my long runs faster than my marathons. By the time I got to the start line, I was in great shape, but held back time and time again. In some cases I think I had trained too hard and just wasn't ready for the 26.2 mile distance. I could overanalyze it to death if I wanted.

I will say that I did get my half marathon training right way more often than my marathon training. I could toe the line at a half marathon and hit my goals and run very well, and usually faster than my long runs were ever ran (this is the way it's supposed to be done).

Well, I don't want that kind of crap anymore. It's time to run a marathon like I can run a half marathon.

So last week my long run was at 10:08 pace average. I used to rarely run my long runs over 10 minute pace (and yet only two of my marathons have been run at under 10 min pace). That was pretty dumb. There's absolutely nothing wrong with running this pace when your Boston-qualifying marathon pace goal is 8:58. It's actually perfectly fine, especially since I kept my heartrate exactly where I needed it to be. As I get closer to my goal race in December, and the weather cools off, my long runs will speed up naturally. I'll be fitter, the weather will be more conducive to what is comfortable to me, and I can inch closer to a 9:30 pace without overtaxing my body. Right now? I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

This week I ran 10:15 pace in 10.4 miles. It's not much slower than last week considering it was 10 degrees warmer. My heartrate tells the tale....I didn't push myself harder despite the heat, but I didn't lose too much pace. So just like with last week's long run, this week's makes me very pleased. But again, I can't lie when I say it's weird for me to be running over 10 minute pace on these long runs.

There's a time and place for race pace and faster runs. Long run weekend is not one of those, especially in this part of my training cycle and in the summer. I'm building up my base so my body is ready for more mileage. I added a fourth day to my running last week, and I have 4 weeks until the difficult training technically starts. As I get deep into training, some of my long runs will incorporate race pace miles, but usually no more than 30% of the run, and the rest of the miles will be at long run pace. Speed will happen during interval runs, tempo runs, races, track nights, and runs like those, but in order to properly prepare oneself for the rigors of the volume of marathon training, you have to allow yourself the luxury of recovery miles and long, slow miles. If I ran 8:58 pace day in and day out, at 40 or 50+ miles per week, I would be depleted on race day.

I have to be deliberate, I have to monitor my heart rate so I can track my effort and adjust as necessary, I have to respect the weather, and I have to take care of myself. I want this goal so badly and there's just no reason why I can't hit it (for the love of God, don't let it be hot on race day!).

I follow a lot of runners on Instagram (and check out a few popular ones) to see how they train. To be honest, so many of them make me CRINGE. Day in, day out they are running goal pace for every run, including long runs, and getting praised for being "so fast, so inspirational, so amazing." They complain about every run being "SO HARD." And then for many of them, they blow up on race day or (like me) their marathon times don't match up to their training. I know "slow" runs don't make you look as badass and that you want as many "likes" as you can get, but it's not worth it. If every run is done at race pace, and every run is hard, and there are no recovery miles in there, of course your body will blow up. Then I find the super fast runners who sometimes run their long runs at MY pace, yet hit super fast times in their marathons and I soak it all in. That's what I want. I want to be SMART about my training, I want to be done with my long runs and feel GREAT. I want to arrive at the start line in Pass Christian, Mississippi, and feel like I can fly because I threw down 50 mile running weeks exactly like I needed to to be successful.

That means that I'll see 10+ min pace on my watch and I can't bitch about it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


It's getting warmer out, folks. Summer in Texas is just around the corner. Oh, boy.

Tuesday morning interval workouts have been warm, but not unbearable. The humidity has been sky high (yesterday it was 98% at 5:30am), but I can't complain too much when the temp is hovering at 70 degrees instead of the usual summer 80 degree morning temp.

Can I just say the last two weeks' interval workouts have been FANTASTIC?! Neither have been easy...not at all in the least, no freaking way. But overall, I feel like I nailed the workouts and am seeing improvements.

Last week our workout was 6x5 minute intervals at mid-to-short progressive tempo pace with 1 minute recovery (oh that goes by so fast), with warm up and cool down of about 25 minutes total. With the exception of the uphill interval (I loathe that section of our trail), I ran each interval very strong and was faster than my goal pace. It got a bit warm but I never felt like my lungs were compromised during the intervals. My heartrate was getting pretty high, up to 169, and it didn't really go much below 150 during the short 1 minute recoveries, so it was an effort run for all 35 minutes of the intervals/rests.

This week we ran 3x9 minute intervals (progressive from long tempo to short tempo) with 3 minute recovery at easy pace, with about 25 minutes total of warm up and cool down. Again, I felt great during each interval and nailed my paces. Even the last interval didn't feel exceptionally difficult, and it was my fastest of the three.

Our coach Christine reminded us after the workout yesterday that if we are hitting our tempo/interval paces in these warmer, humid runs then we are definitely seeing fitness improvements. Normally we slow down a bit during the summer months, but I haven't slowed down yet. It's probably time for me to do another 5K time trial (although that's pretty painful during the summer).

I know this means that all the work I'm putting in with regards to my nutrition and consistency and effort is paying off. My head is telling me I can do it and my body is responding. Huge boost for my mental game, that's for sure. Knowing my body is stronger and my lungs are working better than usual tells me that no matter what crazy workout Christine gives us, I can do it. This also means she's probably getting wise to me and will make me run faster.

I'm going to need to add a fourth running day into my schedule soon. My marathon training technically starts mid-July and I want to build up more of a base. I'm only running about 20 miles per week right now and I need to increase that very soon. Before long I'll be running 45-50 miles per week and I need to be completely prepared for that nonsense!

I'm still the world's worst triathlete and haven't even given much thought to when I'll do another one, but I'm just having so much fun with this running thing and enjoying seeing my body transform into something I can truly be proud of.

Oh...and yes, I'm still doing an Ironman.