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!!


The most useless post about macros you’ll ever read

Since I’m still in recovery, there are not a lot of things I can do about my fitness.

I’m doing upper body strength work on machines four times a week, because I cannot trust my foot yet to help me keep proper form on the bench or standing, and I am technically not allowed to put pressure on it beyond regular walking.

So, what else can I do to become a successful triathlete this year?

For the past 8 weeks, 90% of my meals have been cooked at home. In the months prior to that, about 90% of my meals were from restaurants. I was gradually gaining weight with the pretext that I was “training,” and of course I needed all those pancakes and fries as fuel. After all, you need to carb load the whole week for your weekend long rides, right?

The truth is, I had an incredibly tough year at school and work, and my stress levels were out of control. I spent 8 months working 50-70 hour weeks (I know this is the norm for many people, but it was incredibly tough for me with an ambitious training schedule and 60+ mile rides on weekends). Something had to give, and what gave was my nutrition.

The fact that I had obligatory medical leave and had to be at home for weeks forced me to reflect. First of all, I cannot sustain that level of stress and be an efficient athlete (or a healthy human, for that matter). Second, though I completed my century ride, I did it slower than I trained for and my fitness was going in the wrong direction.

What I can do to make myself a better athlete is to regain control of what I eat and create boundaries to protect my mental and physical well-being.

I started noticing that I was losing weight just from eating at home. Of course, I’m also losing muscle mass, especially in my legs and glutes, but I am doing everything I can to build my upper body muscles and maintain overall strength. Since I cannot use my legs to train, I can use this time to get lean. This can only mean one thing: tracking macros!

After reading dozens of articles, I believe I need to increase my protein intake, and drastically reduce my carbs. The first day, I tried to set my ratios to P40/C30/F30 and it was a complete fail. One does not go from 50-60% carbs to 30% overnight. So, I opted to do a more gradual transition and tried P35/C40/F25. That went very well, so I will be transitioning to P40/C35/F25 next week.

My macronutrient intake for the week. Gradually decreasing my carbs/protein ratio. Friday was a cheat day, can you tell? 😛

How can I tell this is working? I cannot weigh myself because I cannot stand barefoot on a scale. I did not take body measurements last week, and frankly, I’m not eager to. The way I can tell this is working is by how I feel.

On Friday, I ate a steak salad with fries, and at night I had a frozen margarita with chips and salsa. I felt sluggish and greasy and weak. The lack of protein and excess of carbs made a big difference in just one day. Next week, I will track physical changes more closely and I will do my first weekend meal prep. I’m so excited to share with you the positive results these changes will bring.



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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