I’m four weeks into marathon training and don’t feel like I’ve even begun. I’m running less weekly miles than I was in my off-season. While others in marathon training are already on 14-mile long runs, I haven’t even started long runs yet. Or speedwork. Or race pace runs. Gah!
But I know from my past experience that the Hanson’s method builds you up gradually. That gradual build-up not only helped keep me free of injuries but also eased me into the hard parts of training so well that running 9-milers before work ain’t no thang. So I’m keeping the faith that this gradual build-up will have the same benefits this time around.
The base-building segment of my training with just easy runs is coming to an end, so I thought I’d do a check-in on how things are going.
Base-Building Segment Check-In
The Physical Aspect
Great! You might be thinking that since I’ve only been doing short, easy runs, if I weren’t feeling great something would be wrong! But I want to give perspective. I’m the runner who loathes hot weather and loves cold weather. This is a ridiculously hot summer, so I should actually not be doing great. But I am! The heat and humidity are just not bothering me like they usually do. I never check my pace while I’m running easy runs and am always surprised to see that I’m almost always at the fast end of my easy pace range. On many runs I do accidental progression runs, with each mile getting a bit faster until I end around my long run pace, all while feeling very easy. I’m sure that doing only shorter, easy runs helps. I also know that running in the early morning before the sun rises and sticking to shady routes on the weekends has helped tremendously. Given all the hot weather elements, it’s the sun over heat and humidity that affects me most. Once I start longer and more difficult runs I’m sure the hot weather will be a bigger issue, but I’m grateful that it hasn’t been so far.
Also, no injuries! I’m not injury-prone and have never had a major injury. So while it’s no surprise that I have no injuries, injury prevention is one of my top priorities. I’ve been doing foam rolling as part of my strength training routine three times a week, but I’ll be increasing that to near-daily foam rolling when my mileage increases.
The Mental Aspect
Great! I’m still highly motivated and enthusiastic about getting out for my runs. I’m about to start the next segment of my training where I’ll add in workouts and am so excited! I started out training with the mantra Believe, and every day reinforce my positive attitude. On my runs I frequently visualize being successful at different parts of the race–being calm and confident in the beginning miles, pushing instead of quitting when I get tired, laughing and having fun with my running buddy Jamie who will be running the second half with me, but, mostly, crossing the finish line with a smile on my face and feeling proud. I believe I can do it!
Great! I LOVE the strength training plan I’m doing! It’s through my subscription with Hanson’s Coaching Services and was created by personal trainer Nikki Humphrey, Luke Humphrey’s (author of the Hanson’s Method books) wife. It’s 18 weeks and designed to be done with an 18-week marathon plan. It starts and ends with foam rolling and stretching, with strength exercises in the middle. Each week there’s a different goal to support training (to increase stability, for example), and each of the three weekly workouts are different. So each workout I’m doing different foam rolling, stretching, and strength training. I love the variety! I like strength training but can get bored doing the same thing over and over, so this plan is really awesome. And because I’m usually trying new exercises, the sessions, which take 40-45 minutes, fly by.
Good. I cut out candy, chips, and other junk from my diet, which is great. And I’m still eating tons of fruits and veggies because, well, I’m vegan! Plus, it’s summer, so all I want to eat now are all the summer fruits and veggies. But I do need to start adding in more high-quality carbs like sweet potatoes and whole grains, so I need to work on that.
Great! I know from my last training cycle how important sleep was. If I didn’t get enough sleep, my runs would suffer and I’d feel like crap. Luckily, I rarely have problems sleeping, and when I start training my body pretty much demands sleep. Since I’m still doing shorter runs I’m getting up between 4:30-4:45 a.m. easily. Getting to bed by 8:30 is the hard part, and I admit I’ve been going to bed later, between 9-9:30. While getting 7 hours of sleep works for me now, I know that my body will need 8-9 to handle the higher training volume coming up.
So overall, I’m off to a great start. This next week includes my first two workouts. While they’re not as intense as the workouts coming up, they’ll serve as an ice breaker to transition me from easy running to the harder part of training. I’m excited!
One other interesting note. I was watching a podcast from Luke Humphrey this week on recovery. He cited a study that showed that the fewer miles that runners ran in training, the more they slowed down at the end of the marathon AND the more muscle damage they had than runners who ran higher mileage. Of course that scared me because I’m running such low mileage now! I reached out to my coach about it, and she assured me I’d be running higher mileage soon enough. She’s taking the build-up slow to make sure I’m handling training well and to reduce the chance for injuries.
Here’s how the week went down.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for small, local, rails-to-trails Indiana Veteran’s Marathon near Pittsburgh on November 6 using a version of the Hanson’s Marathon Method beginner plan customized by a Hanson’s coach
- Days running: 5
- Miles this week: 21
- Time running this week: 4:29
- Miles this training cycle: 67
- Miles this month: 74.2
- Miles this year: 977.34
- Strength training sessions: 3
Strength training, foam rolling, and stretching: 40 minutes
The goal of this week’s strength training I’m doing through my Hanson’s Coaching Services subscription was to build muscle endurance, which is the ability to sustain an intense effort for an extended amount of time. To achieve that there was a combination of stable and unstable exercises that require engaging multiple muscles.
Easy run: 4 miles (72 degrees)
This was an accidental progression run, which each mile getting slightly faster until I ended around long run pace. Felt great!
Note that on Tuesday and Thursday I forgot to put the memory card in my camera, so I have no run outfit photos. The horror! On this morning I had a cute outfit, too!
Strength training, foam rolling, and stretching: 50 minutes
Easy run: 4 miles (72 degrees)
Another accidental progression run. Feeling good!
Easy run: 4 miles (68 degrees)
Yet another accidental progression run. Woot!
Easy run: 6 miles (68 degrees and raining)
I met Jamie at North Park for this run. We did the 5-mile loop of rolling hills around the lake with an additional mile tacked on. The first 4 miles were my typical accidental progression run, but then I started fading in the last 2 miles. I think I’m going to start taking gels for runs over 5 miles. It will start training my stomach to take in fuel while running plus will help to prevent me fading at the end of runs. Still, my overall pace was just slower than long run pace so not bad. It was raining lightly the whole time, which felt wonderful!
Strength training, foam rolling, and stretching: 48 minutes
After I did my strength training, which really makes me feel refreshed.
The rest of the day was busy. My husband, greyhound, and I went to Veg Fest, the vegan festival near my house, after it stopped raining. It was crowded, and the food lines were so long. I waited to eat lunch and was starving when I got there so unfortunately couldn’t wait in line for food from Onion Maiden, a really popular vegan food trunk with a punk rock theme (their logo looks like Iron Maiden). Instead I got food from a burrito place near me that I go to frequently. The highlight was meeting someone’s friendly pet pig that she was walking around. The pig was definitely a big hit. The low light was that I gave Django a piece of my popsicle (hand-crafted from local business Sticklers–so good!), and he immediately puked right in front of the entire eating area. I picked it up with a poop bag, which was so gross, but lesson learned that he can’t have cold treats on hot days. Later on we had beer and ciders at Grist House. The Steer and Wheel food truck was there, so we had burgers (veggie for me). So, all day we had street food from food trucks. Probably not the best thing!
Recovery run: 3 miles (66 degrees)
I kept to my weekly ritual of doing a trail run for my recovery runs and headed to my favorite trail in Riverview Park. I love these trail runs! They’re a fun treat at the end of my training week. It was pretty cool and cloudy, but the humidity was high so of course I was drenched at the end. At one point, a deer was hanging out right by the trail. I kept telling it to move, but it wouldn’t! Finally, I told it, “Okay, I’m coming through!” hoping it wouldn’t hurt me. When I got closer it did move away–but just a little and then continued watching me. Curious deer!
After I showered, I brought my 18-year-old bike out of the basement, pumped up the tires, and brushed off the cobwebs. Today was the final Open Streets in Pittsburgh, where they close down roads so people can walk, run, bike, skate, or do whatever on the streets. This was a new route, from Downtown to the Northside to the West End. We walked through the last two Open Streets but decided to bike this one. It was so much fun! We biked to Downtown and followed the full course to the end in West End (3 miles) and back. It was sunny and hot so felt so nice on the bike with the breeze. There were a ton of people out–mostly on bikes–and everyone was in great spirits, wishing everyone else “Happy Open Streets” and “Happy summer!” I swear, Open Streets brings out the best in people. I liked this route better than the other route because there’s more variety with hills and bridges, plus we usually don’t get over to the West End. I haven’t ridden my bike in forever so my legs were hurting on the hills, and I was pretty tired when we got home. But of course then we had to take Django for a walk in the park! So I’m ending the week a bit tired but happy because I’m only tired because I’m making the most out of this summer.
I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap. I appreciate all the work Holly and Tricia do for their linkup and am happy I’ve got to meet some great new bloggers through the linkup. Thank you, Holly and Tricia! Have a great week!