PGH Marathon training – Week 7 of 16 – Getting rid of heavy legs

As the training intensifies, my legs are starting to feel fatigued. So, I’ve been reading a lot about heavy legs and I decided that my legs needed some rest, and some long easy-pace runs. That was my focus for this week. I cancelled one of my scheduled runs, and I slowed down my pace. Also, I did my first brick workout of the season looking forward to my first (!) sprint triathlon in June.

Sun’s out runs out!!

Slow pace and long distance

With my first ride of the season, a very intense long run, and two HIIT workouts, last weekend was a killer. And I could feel my legs (rightfully) complaining. So, I decided to do a little flushing, with long low-intensity intervals to freshen up my muscles. First thing I did is schedule a rest day for Tuesday, and cancel an easy run I had scheduled for Friday. Also, I replaced a scheduled tempo run with an easy pace five miler. Finally, I slowed down my pace for my long run on Sunday to 7:49 mins per mile instead of my 6:50-7:05 pace from previous weeks. I hope this flushing pays off. Next week I plan to bring the focus back to speed.

Brick workout

A so-called “brick” consists of a full bike workout followed immediately by a full run workout; in other words, it’s a session in which each part could stand alone as a complete workout

I’ve only attempted to do two brick workouts before this season, and I haven’t been very successful. The first time, my legs felt completely exhausted after I started running and had to walk half the way (some people say that this feeling is the reason why they are called “brick workouts”). The second time it didn’t really count because I did a stationary bike workout instead of an actual ride. So, I guess this week I did my first successful brick workout ever!

I chose to do an approximate sprint-distance brick with a 12.6 mile ride followed by a 3.0 mile run. I managed to keep my transition in under 4 minutes. Which is not bad considering I had to walk up to my apartment to change my shoes, leave my bike, get out of my thermal clothes (winter wind on the bike is no joke), and kiss my wife. In fact, I did much better than I expected. It looks like I will definitely  be able to finish my first triathlon (scheduled for June) in under 1:30, and maybe even under 1:15.

My first successful brick workout

Menu of the week

  • Mexican-style steaks and lentils
  • Baked pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes and arugula salad
  • Chicken fajitas and refried beans
  • Teriyaki turkey burgers with fresh veggies



PGH Marathon training – Week 6 of 16

After Pittsburgh, I’ll have 1 week rest and then 6 weeks to train for my first (!) triathlon. So, I decided to incorporate some swimming and cycling to my training starting now. I’ve been swimming for a while, but this week I did my first ride of the year, and it went great (which is good so I don’t have to feel bad about slacking a bit on my running).

First ride of the season

I planed my bike ride for Wednesday afternoon, but the weather was awful and I didn’t have time to do it before dusk. So, I rescheduled it to Friday and joined my wife at the gym instead. However, I was feeling tired and not very motivated Friday and I decided to ditch it all together. Fortunately, the weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect and I couldn’t resist going out for a nice hour-long ride.

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PGH Marathon training – Week 5 of 16

It is week 5 already, which means I need to start increasing my mileage (of course this had to coincide with the coldest week of the season thus far).

This week, I did a tough workout to improve the endurance of my leg muscles: three 10 milers on three consecutive days at an increasing pace. With most the running packed at the end of the week, I had a lot of room  for cross-training earlier on. So, I did three consecutive  days of strength training focusing on different muscle groups.

Three 10 milers on three consecutive days

It is a pretty simple workout. First, run 10 miles. Then, run another 10 miles at a slightly faster pace the next day. Finally, run another 10 miles at an even faster pace on the third day. I attempted this workout for the first time last fall and it was a killer. The first two days went great, but my legs were exhausted on the third day and I had to slow down considerably.

This time I took it a bit more seriously. My target paces for each run were 7:40 min/mile, 7:20 min/mile and 7:00 min/mile, respectively.

On the first day I went a little faster than planned, I ended up doing 7:31 min/mile. Moreover, the course was hillier than I anticipated and I could feel some muscle fatigue already. On the second day I was just on target doing 7:20 min/mile, despite crazy winds and really low temperatures. At night, my calves were sore. I started to worry a bit, but there was not much to do at this point other than foam-rolling and getting a good night sleep. I’m happy to report my legs were strong enough to achieve a sub-7 pace on the third day!!! I’m feeling good about Pittsburgh!

Menu of the week

I’ve been doing most of the cooking for the last few months, since my wife’s surgery. Now, she is recovered enough to be able to cook, which means that there is more dish variety. This week, she prepared two meals and I prepared another two. We had:

  • Turkey ground meat and zucchini lasagna
  • Chicken with mushrooms and boiled cauliflower
  • Beef stew with carrots and potatoes
  • Pan fried salmon, quinoa with vegetables, and roasted beets

Both the zucchini lasagna and the salmon were really awesome!!

PGH Marathon training – Week 2/16

Run like it’s freezing and you are trying to get somewhere warm… Because it is true.

Winter finally came to town. With single digit temperatures and negative real feels I am extremely grateful for thermal wear, keeping me away from the nefarious dreadmill.

It is only week 2, and excuses are already trying to sneak their way into my training. The run on Wednesday was a group run organized by a local running store, and it is usually around 3 miles at 8:30 min/mile. So, I regularly use it as an easier pace recovery run. This week it was faster and longer, and I wanted to use that as an excuse to an easier hill workout on Thursday. But I resisted.

The HIIT class I took on Saturday involved a lot of leg work (barbell squats and lots of squat jumps with a plate). On Sunday, I woke up with sore legs and the weather app said 8F. I wanted to cancel my long run or do a shorter easier route. But, once again, I managed to resist and I did a bit slow but decent long run. 

The runing total for this week is 25.42 miles with an average pace and cadence of 7:30 min/mile and 164 steps per minute. 

Menu of the week

This week’s menu consisted of two meals:

  • Brown-rice chunk crab cakes / radish and cucumber salad
  • Teriyaki baked pork chops / mashed potatoes / baked asparagus
  • On the weekend we tried this highly recommendable protein pancake recipe

The crab cakes were based on this recipe that me and my wife have been using for years. However, this time, we made some adjustments to make  it healthier. First, we reduced the proportion of rice, and we used brown rice instead of white rice. Second, we realized that surimi has a lot of carbs, so we substituted half the surimi with chunky yellow-fin tuna. Third, instead of frying them, we baked them (20min each side at 375). They tasted great!!

PGH Marathon training – Week 1/16

The first week of a training cycle is always exciting. This is week 1 of my 16-week training plan for the 2016 Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, and it is a specially exciting cycle for me.

Last fall I was training for my first Boston qualifying attempt, but then work got in the way. From mid October to mid December, I was barely sleeping, had no time to cook or train properly, and some weeks I didn’t even run at all! So, I backed out from the Philly marathon and only did the half instead.

Now, things are back to normal and I feel ready to go. Something tells this next cycle will be full of excitement and good news.

The day by day workout breakdown was as follows:

  • Monday Morning: 1 mile swim including 10 x 25m @ 19 sec. Afternoon: Les Mills Grit™ 30:00 min HIIT class
  • Tuesday Morning: 6.29 miles run @ 7:59 min/mile on fresh slippery snow. Afternoon: upper body lifting workout
  • Wednesday — Easy swim for a semi-rest day
  • Thursday Morning: 4.92 miles run @ 6:47 min miles average (random pickups since the track was closed). Afternoon: full body lifting workout
  • Friday — Fitology Studio 3 class combo (30 min indoor cycling +  30 min lifting + 30 min core)
  • Saturday — Full body lifting workout
  • Sunday — 10.01 miles run @ 7:17 min/mile

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Menu of the Week – 2016 – week 2

In October 2014, I signed up for my first marathon, started following a rigorous training schedule, and started taking better care of my nutrition.  Inspired by this video, I started cooking most of my meals. Since I usually don’t have time to cook during the week, I use each weekend to prepare 18 microwave-ready meals (12 for me and 6 for my wife). Each meal consists of 1 protein, 1 carb and 1 veggie.

This week, I only made 12 portions because my mother-in-law is in town and she will be doing some cooking. Here is what we are eating this week.

Broiled lime chicken / red rice / rajas with cream

My most common meal consists of: grilled chicken breasts, boiled broccoli, and white rice. This week I made some adjustments.


Grilling chicken inside the house releases a lot of smoke. Instead, I decided to try broiling this week. I marinated the thin sliced chicken breast cutlets in a mixture of lime juice, sparkling white wine (new year’s eve leftover), parsley, rosemary, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Then, I placed it on an iron cast grill and broiled it in the oven (7 min each side).

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