For most people, Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer. But not for me! We don’t take our vacation until later in September (usually), so summer doesn’t end for us until after vacation, which is still a couple weeks away. So for me, Labor Day weekend is just a fun long weekend, make even better because my birthday falls right around it.
The weather continues to be pretty cool here in Pittsburgh, at least at 5:30 a.m. when I run, which has been awesome. I’m lucky in that I started training right after the worst of the hottest and most humid weather ended. The whole time I’ve been training, it’s only been really humid a handful of times, and never really hot. Choosing a late-November race was definition a good choice in terms of training in cooler weather!
This past week I saw yet more signs of how my fitness has improved with 80/20 training. (I’ve been mostly doing 80/20 training since the end of March but wasn’t sure where I was going to apply it to the Hansons plan I’m doing until I decided to last week). I continue to be amazed at how well my body has responded to mostly easy running. Of course, Fitzergerald’s 80/20 Running book cites tons of research showing how much performance improves with 80/20 training, but it’s hard to believe that running very easy most of the time improves performance, especially when so many experts, coaches, training plans, and articles seem to equate “quality runs” as hard efforts and “junk miles” as easy effort. Well, my body confirms all the research that Fitzgerald cites that proves them wrong. The more I do 80/20 running, the better I seem to get. I’m a believer! All that as a long intro to say this past week was awesome!
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for the NCR Marathon November 25, 2017 using a Hansons Marathon Method plan with the 80/20 method applied to it
- Days running: 6
- Miles this week: 32.1
- Time running: 7:10
- Miles this training cycle: 159.2
- Miles in August: 119.74
- Miles this year: 673.64
- Strength training: 2 sessions
Easy run: 4 miles
Easy run: 4 miles + strength training
Easy run + speed workout: 9.15 miles
This was to be the first speed workout of the Hansons’ plan, the infamous 12X400 repeats. This is the workout I love to hate. I dread it more than any other workout in the plan, even though it’s probably one of the easiest because the repeats are the shortest. I just always got hung up on having to do 12 of them. It never seemed like I needed to do that many. When I worked with Coach Melissa last year, she modified the workout to have me only do 10. I felt vindicated!
When I decided last week to start applying the 80/20 method to the plan, I had to substitute some of the hard effort with easy effort in this workout because I was also running a hard effort on Saturday. When I calculated how much hard effort I could do in this run, I found that I could only do 6 repeats, so half of the workout. While I balked at having to do 12 repeats, I was just as uneasy with the thought of only doing half. Would that be enough? Would applying the 80/20 method mess up my training? I decided to stick to my guns and just do 6 repeats, which equaled 3 miles with the recovery intervals. That meant, however, that I’d have to do 6 easy miles if I wanted to keep all the mileage in the workout. Because I get so tired after workouts, I decided to do 5 easy miles before starting the repeats and 1 mile as cool-down after.
Well, I’ve never run anything close to 5 miles and then did speedwork, so I had no idea how this would go. I actually lost some sleep over it when I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t stop worrying about how I was going to do a speed workout after running 5 miles.
I was able to sleep in almost a half-hour to make up some of that lost sleep because I was working from home and didn’t have early meetings. I’m so grateful that my company is so good about work-life balance and lets me work from home so I can run for hours beforehand! Still, I was nervous and basically forgot how to work my Garmin after having a Garmin for years–this is why I ran .15 miles extra. #runnerproblems
I started my run and just focused on getting to 5 miles. As I neared the 5-mile mark, my legs weren’t exactly tired but didn’t feel fresh either. Great. But, my Garmin beeped in that first repeat, and off I went to get to work. And…it was great!
Last year, Coach Melissa had me do the first half of my speed workouts at 10K pace and the second half at 5K pace. Because I was only doing 6 repeats, I decided to get the most bang for my buck and do them all at 5K pace. Plus, all the research that supports 80/20 training is based on polarized training. That means 80% of training should be very easy and 20% should be very hard. Moderate effort is actually the least beneficial, at least in these research studies. So, 5K pace it was.
Last December, I tried to do this exact workout, and running at 5K pace felt like I was dying. I could not do all of them and got so zapped that I couldn’t even do jog recoveries or cool-down and had to walk. (That workout was the result of a many-month burnout and slump that led to me trying 80/20 training.) In this workout, I was able to hit those 5K paces with ease. It was hard, definitely. But I didn’t feel like I was dying. I seemed to have much better control of my breathing–always a problem for me–and was able to keep pushing. All of that after not running at 5K pace since May!
I can’t tell you how good this felt and what a confidence booster that I’m where I need to be in training. But wait! There’s more! I’ve said that my big challenge with doing hard workouts is that I feel completed exhausted for not just the rest of the day but even the next day or more. Hard workouts just suck every ounce of energy out of me.
Sure, my legs and feet were a little sore after this workout, and I felt a bit creaky (hello, getting older!). But I wasn’t zapped. Later in the evening I actually felt normal and stayed up even a little later than I usually do. Usually the evening after I do a hard morning workout I can barely keep my eyes open much past dinner. But on this night, I felt fine–certainly not like I’d run more than 9 miles with some hard effort before work. And then…
Rest day + strength training
…I had no fatigue the next day! Like, none! I actually could have run on this day and didn’t feel like I even needed a rest day. This has never happened to me after a hard workout. If I have a recovery run after a hard workout, usually I’m exhausted. Clearly, I’m beyond thrilled with my decision to apply the 80/20 method to my training. I’ve never felt so good after a long and/or difficult workout.
This was a rest day, but in the evening I did strength training.
Easy run: 4 miles
It was just 52 degrees, so out came the long sleeves! I’m going to sweat no matter what I wear, so I was happy to have my arms covered because there was a very cool breeze from the river. I think I need to invest in arm warmers. My hands and arms are the first to get chilly.
My husband and I both took the afternoon off work. We met for lunch Downtown and then spent the afternoon relaxing on the patio.
Saturday, September 2
Tempo run: 7 miles
My 44th birthday! I was so excited that my birthday fell on the Saturday of the holiday weekend this year.
This was the first week in my training plan where the Saturday run alternated to a tempo run at marathon pace instead of a traditional long run. I ran 2 miles warm-up then met Jamie to run 4 miles at marathon pace, then we did 1 mile cool-down. I was a little worried about how marathon pace would feel, but I felt great. We were relaxed and chatting the whole time. Two of the miles were exactly on pace, 1 was 10 seconds slower than goal pace, and the last was 15 seconds faster than goal pace. So the average was pretty much exactly on pace, and I had no problems with the pace. The only bad thing about this run was that it poured. There wasn’t rain in the forecast, and neither of us were prepared. It was a heavy and cold rain for our last 3 miles. We were both freezing! Jamie came back to my house, we changed, and then I made vegan dark chocolate pancakes that we topped with peanut butter and blueberry preserves. Delicious!
It looked like the rain might hold off in the afternoon, so we decided to drive out to try a hike in West Virginia. We made a quick stop to see the world’s largest teapot in Chester, WV.
By the time we made it to the park, it was raining. We did go on a very quick walk, but it just wasn’t pleasant so we headed back. But hey, at least I can say that for my birthday I saw the world’s largest teapot, and my guess is not many other people can say the same!
We came back, relaxed, then went to the Strip District, which is near our house, for dinner at Kaya. It was still really cool, and I loved wearing a fall outfit.
My dinner was delicious. We had corn and lentil beignets as an appetizer.
For my entrée, I had tempura avocado banh mi tacos. That’s right–tempura avocado! Whoever thought of such a thing is a genius. So good!
Overall, it was an awesome birthday from beginning to end!
Easy run: 4 miles
This was my first day to make Sunday a 6th day of running instead of a rest day. I’d planned on doing a trail run, but because it rained so much the day before, I decided to just run on the trail near me. It was very overcast but no rain, so really pleasant.
Overall I’m feeling great and ready for week 7!