Happy Tuesday! I’ve been a little quiet in the blogosphere this past week because I’m entering my peak weeks and just have less time. My husband finally wrapped up his big project (he worked 86 hours of overtime in four weeks!), so I’m happy to have the evenings and weekends with him again. I will likely be posting and commenting less than usual through my peak weeks of February.
Something Is Better Than Nothing
Oh, what a difference a week makes! In my last recap I had my highest mileage week ever at 44.5 miles and felt fantastic. This past week I definitely felt those miles. I was tired in a way that I’d never been before and really struggled with my Tuesday workout. On top of that, the winter weather added its own challenges. How dare it snow and be cold in mid-February!
The angel on my shoulder this training cycle–or maybe even my coach that doesn’t know she’s my coach–is Hanna from The Millennial Next Door. She writes beautifully thoughtful posts that always seem to come at the right time for me. Early last week, when I felt worn down and unmotivated and was facing a bleak weather forecast, I gave myself a good talking-to. I thought about these things:
- Well before training started, I vowed to give my I-never-skip-a-run self a break. The sky will not fall if I don’t follow my training to the letter, especially because…
- I have no big goal for my race. I’m training at a particular goal pace only because my training plan uses goal times to prescribe training paces. My only goal for the race is just to get through training to build a good base before starting marathon training this summer.
- Last fall, when I swore off time goals because they stress me out, I vowed to remember the big picture of why I run. It’s not to get faster. It’s not to train, and it’s certainly not to race. I run for many reasons that are important to me, but the gist is that I run simply because I love it. So when I cringed every time I thought of the weather forecast for last week, I didn’t want to have to mentally force myself out the door to run to have a perfect training cycle for no real reason. I didn’t want running to become a chore and to be miserable doing it.
And then I gave myself permission to do what I felt like during the week. If there was snow, I’d do what I could. If it was in the single digits, I wouldn’t make myself stay outside and freeze just to get my miles in. The Hansons’ book says “Something is better than nothing,” and that became my motto for the week. Just when I thought all this, I read Hanna’s post, Adopting a Warrior. She talks about the Worrier vs. Warrior personalities and how she’s striving to nurture her Warrior with the end goal to grow as a person through running. Reading that was just what I needed last week. Thank you, Hanna!
Cumulative Fatigue Vs. Overtraining
So, back to that worn-out feeling I’d mentioned. I consulted my Hansons’ book, aka, my training bible. I have to say, for not having a real coach to ask questions, that book is a pretty great faux coach because it answers a lot of questions I have about training. The book talks about the difference between cumulative fatigue and overtraining. Cumulative fatigue is the goal of the Hansons’ plan, with the end result to learn to run well on tired legs. You want your legs to feel tired going into your training runs so that the training mimics the last miles of the race, not the first miles when you’re feeling fresh. But how do you know the difference between the fatigue that you’re supposed to feel from training and fatigue resulting from overtraining? The book said the one thing that points to overtraining is that you aren’t hitting your paces. If you’re tired and feeling worn-out but still hitting your paces, that’s where you want to be. Well, I had trouble hitting my paces for my Tuesday workout.
As I read what to do about overtraining, it hit me: I’m not getting enough sleep. I usually only need 7 hours of sleep and thought that by increasing to 7.5 I was good. But the Hansons’ book actually recommends a base of 8 hours and increasing from there. So I made sure to increase my sleep, and guess what? I recovered quickly from feeling worn-out and was back to feeling good the rest of the week. The other thing that surely helped was less miles. Every other week in the Hanson’s plan is a slight step back as a way to prevent overtraining, and last week was one of the step-back weeks. I cut back on mileage much more because of the weather, and I think my body appreciated it. I’m back to feeling good and happy and trying not to dwell on the fact that feeling fresh and good is actually not what you should feel in this plan. Still, I took a big cut-back week in miles and missed two long runs last training cycle due to vacation, and I don’t think it ruined my training, so I’m hoping my step-back week was okay. I’m ready for what’s coming up this week!
Olympic Marathon Trials
One more thing before I get to the weekly recap–the Olympic Marathon Trials! I missed the mens’ finish but got to see the womens’ finish. I was rooting for Desi Linden, who trains with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. The Hansons’ book shows you what the elite schedules and workouts are like, and it’s pretty cool to know that those training for the Olympics are using the same training method as I am. Desi ran such a smart race, and I loved seeing her surge forward from third to second at the end! After the trials, I looked up the full list of finishers and was delighted to see that Melissa Johnson-White, a Hansons’ coach I consulted with last training cycle and who I hope to be my coach for my full marathon, finished in 15th place! I was so excited!
Week at a Glance
- Days running: 5
- Miles this week: 27.5 miles
- Miles this training cycle: 367.97
- Miles this month: 72
- Miles this year: 236.75
- Time running: 5 hours, 49 minutes
- Strength training sessions: 4
- Yoga sessions: 1
- Stretching: 6 days
- Foam rolling: 4 days
Easy run: 6.01 miles | 1:20:20 | 13:21 pace (31 degrees feels like 27)
Last recapI mentioned that I was using a secret weapon to run better and last week I revealed it was spirulina powder. This run was an experiment where I didn’t take spirulina before running, and my pace was a full minute slower! I was very tired on this run.
In the evening I did 12 minutes of body weight exercises–push-ups, glute bridges, regular and side planks, clamshells, and fitness band x walk for hips.
Strength workout | 7.5 miles | 1:33 (33 degrees and snowing)
This was an odd workout! A winter weather advisory had warned us in Pittsburgh that we’d be getting 4-6 inches of snow, so I fully expected to have to run in massive amounts of snow. But when I woke up, there was nothing! It was snowing, but it was warm at 33 and was just a wet snow and not sticking to the ground. I had no excuse to not have a great workout, right? Well… I just did NOT want to do this run. I made sure to get a full 7.5 hours of sleep, which meant going to bed at 8:30, but I now realize that wasn’t enough. I’ve read that the more you run, the more sleep you need, and I can see that. I didn’t wake up super tired, but my mind was begging me to bag the run. Oh, it was tempting. But I headed out anyway. The week before I learned that my body is clearly telling me it needs more warm-up before I start speed work, so I planned to run at least a 1.5-mile warm-up instead of my typical 1 mile. But after 1.5 miles I felt like I needed more so decided to make it 2, and then I had to make an emergency stop back at my house to use the bathroom. So, after a 2.5-mile warm-up, I started my 2 X 2-mile repeats. The schedule called for 3 x 2-mile repeats, but I knew I wouldn’t have time for that with such a long warm-up. My target pace for these repeats is 10:30, 10 seconds faster than my race pace. Well, my body decided it didn’t want to run that pace, and my mind decided it didn’t want to push my body. I was too exhausted to care. I was seeing my slower paces on my Garmin and simultaneously thinking about how much I’d rather be in a spin class, about not training through the winter next year, about quitting training altogether and not running the race. I cringed at my slow splits when they showed up on my Garmin (11:06, 10:41, 10:47, 10:41), but I just didn’t do anything about it. I did, however, make sure to complete the workout. Afterward I was really disappointed with myself. Sure, this was the 6th consecutive day of running for me and I was coming off of my highest mileage week ever, but I know I just wasn’t even trying–my low heart rate confirmed that. Still, my goal for the second half of this training is not to beat myself up when my runs don’t go perfectly. So I took away some positives–I still got in 7.5 out of the 9 scheduled miles and some semblance of speedwork on a weekday before work.
Rest day! Oh, did I need this! I got a blessed 8.5 hours of sleep and felt really good when I woke up. I did 23 minutes of strength training with weights in the morning and 20 minutes of yin yoga in the evening.
Tempo run: 5.5 miles | 1:04:16 (12 degrees feels like -5)
I made sure to get a little over 8 hours of sleep again and woke up feeling pretty good. Unfortunately, it was 12 degrees, feels like -5. But I didn’t worry about it! I went through my morning routine to get ready and just thought I’d do what I could. I had 5 miles at goal pace 10:40 on the schedule, so with warm-up and cool-down should have done 7. But that would have me out in the frigid temps well over an hour in sweaty clothes. I decided I’d see where the run took me. I started with a 1.5-mile warm-up on the snow-dusted trail. There were only a few patches of ice that I easily avoided, so I knew I could try running at race pace. During the first mile at race pace, I felt good (10:36). The second mile I still felt good (10:42). I’d warmed up and wasn’t even cold except for my feet, which started to go numb, so I need to remember to wear a second sock layer. Third mile–paces still feeling good (10:39), but my toes were beginning to feel like they would fall off. And when I tried to sip from my water bottle, I realized the nozzle was frozen and the water inside was slush. So I called it at 3.5 miles (10:41) and then did a half-mile cool-down. Again, I was not about to feel guilty for getting some good miles in at race pace when it felt like -5 degrees, so I was pretty happy with this run.
Easy run: 4.5 miles | 58:58 | 13:07 pace (11 degrees)
It was just as frigid as the morning before, even though there wasn’t the wind chill to deal with. Again, even with two layers of socks, my feet went numb and my fingers in a liner glove and heavy ski gloves froze. I think being out for an hour is pretty much my max when it’s super cold like this.
All week the Saturday forecast weighed heavily in my thoughts, with a high for the day of only 11 degrees and a wind chill advisory making temps feel well below zero. I had a 10-mile long run scheduled and knew from the past two days that I wouldn’t be able to safely run for more than an hour at a time. I considered doing two five-mile runs so I didn’t have to be outside for too long all at once. But this was the first weekend in more than a month that I could spend with my husband since he’s been working so much overtime, and we had things to do and places to go and I just couldn’t devote too much time to running. I made the difficult decision to skip my run altogether. Instead, I put on shorts and a tank and did a 30-minute strength routine with cardio segments (lots of squat jumps, burpees, and mountain climbers) at home. Oh, I loved this workout so much! I loved getting sweaty in shorts and a tank and to wrap up a great workout in just 3o minutes.
Well, after all that–it never felt that cold! Granted, I only took the dog on short walks and wasn’t outside for very long, but I swear it felt more like 32 degrees than 11 degrees. Stupid weather!
That night my husband and I went to our friends’ 9th annual Bad Sweater Party. They’ve had this party since before bad sweaters were a thing, and it’s not a Christmas-specific theme. It was fun as always! I usually don’t talk about running, but because we were talking about the cold mornings, it came up. I was dying in laughter at the reaction non-runners have when they find out you’re out running for an hour (“All at once?!”) in the early mornings when it’s super cold, and that you run over 2 hours every Saturday (“You’re crazy!!!”). Ha!
Easy run: 4 miles | 52:04 | 13:01 pace (9 degrees)
It was sooooo tempting to skip Sunday’s run. I really wanted to put shorts and a tank on again and do another strength/cardio workout inside. But I knew I was on a slippery slope, and if I didn’t run that day I might not run again until Spring comes. The wind chill advisory lifted at 9 a.m., so I headed out later, after 10. It said it was 9 degrees, but it was sunny and no wind, and again I swear it felt like 32. I felt very rested and good on this run, though I went a little slow since there was about an inch of snow on the trail and I was sore from Saturday’s workout, but I still wanted to cut it a bit short since it was Valentine’s Day and I promised my husband brunch. I made dark chocolate pancakes with peanut butter and raspberry jam that were so good!
In the afternoon we took Django on a walk in the park near us. It didn’t feel too bad at first, but it definitely felt colder the longer we were out, so we kept it pretty short. It’s been so long since the three of us went for a walk together because of my husband working weekends, so even though it was cold I loved this walk.
In the evening I did 8 minutes of core work.
This next month will be the toughest on my plan, with 40+mile weeks (assuming the weather doesn’t derail that). I know strength work can fall off when I’m running that much. But I’ve been doing so well with strength and just really enjoying it, so my goal is to keep it up as much as I can.
Finally, if you didn’t see yesterday’s post, I’m giving away a vegan cookbook!