PGH Marathon Training – weeks 8 to 10 of 16

I’ve been cold many times, but this is my first time getting the flu. It knocked me out for 5 days, but I think I’ve been able to make up for it and I am right back on track.  Here is the summary of my last three weeks of training.

Week 8 of 16
Week 9 of 16
  • Monday Sick all day
  • Tuesday Sick all day
  • Wednesday — Sick all day
  • Thursday Feeling better, but still rested to make sure
  • Friday Morning: 5k run @ 7:23 min/mile. Afternoon: Fitology Studio 3 class combo (30 min indoor cycling +  30 min lifting + 30 min core)
  • Saturday — Full body lifting session + cool-down swim
  • Sunday — 14.89 miles long run @ 7:35 min/mile

I've been cold many times but I've never had the flu before. It struck hard and knocked me out for almost 5 days. It is time to get back to training and make up for lost time. So, I did a very easy paced long run on Sunday, and today I had 9 miles of hills for lunch. I hope to be completely recovered and back to full training mode by the end of the week. #GameOnPGH 🤒🏞🏃🏻👍🏼 — #triathlontraining #trilife #tritraining #marathontraining #ruleyourself #hellobetter #newtons #newtonrunning #gravities #nevernotrunning #furtherfasterstronger #beatyesterday #garminrunning #fromwhereirun #runnershigh #noexcuses #whatyoudointhedark #runningshoes #happyrun #swimbikerun #runitfast #runnerslife #runnerofsteel #runnerscommunity #runnerspace #runnersproblems

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Week 10 of 16

 

I can’t believe more than half of my training is done and there are only 6 weeks left! I am feeling mostly strong with my runs. I was very surprised my legs aren’t sore at all after an 18 mile run on Sunday. But I am not being as fast as I would like to. So, it is not clear whether I will be able to meet my BQ standard. There is still some time to try to get stronger and faster. The next three weeks are going to be tough, with 20 mile long runs, and an extremely hilly local race.

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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 4/16

Can’t believe one fourth (!) of this training cycle is over. On the upside, I am feeling strong, am still completely injury free, no more overseas travel for a while (hopefully) and I am hitting my target marathon pace. On the downside, I made some (minor) adjustments to my plan because I was feeling jet-lagged from last week,  and my total mileage seems low. This week I think the ups dominate the downs, so I’m starting to feel pretty good about this race!

Started the week with a 3-day trip to Ithaca, NY, for a job interview. Fortunately, Ithaca is just a 3 hour drive from home. So, I didn’t have to interrupt my training (like I had to last week). I got in a pretty decent workout before my trip on Monday, and I got to do some running while in Ithaca.

ithaca2

The town of Ithaca was build around Cornell University which, for some strange reason, was built on top of a hill and not on the valley next to it. This means that all the streets in Ithaca have crazy inclination and it is a wonderful place for a hill workout. So, that is exactly what I did. I left my hotel at 5:30 AM, found myself a nice looking hill and did as many repeats as I could before it was time to get ready for my day-long interview.

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PGH Marathon training – Week 3/16

Life doesn’t care you are in the middle of your training. You cannot just pause life because you want to qualify to the Boston Marathon and need to train for it. And, sometimes, life can make it really hard to find the time you need to train.

This week, I travelled overseas for job interviews in Italy and the UK. Between all the flying, jet-lag, interviewing, switching hotels (4 in total) and not having access to my usual gyms, I knew I wouldn’t really be able to train as much as I would like to. So, this week was about remaining as fit as possible, in order to continue getting stronger next week.

  • Monday — 900yd swim
  • Tuesday — Morning: 3.19 miles run @ 7:34 min/mile around Warwickshire. Afternoon: 30 min rowing machine + push-ups
  • Wednesday — All-day job interview
  • Thursday — Travel + rest day
  • Friday — All-day job interview
  • Saturday —4.00 miles treadmill run @ 7:17 min/mile and upper body lifting session
  • Sunday 5.77 miles run @ 7:00 min/mile (BQ pace) back home

I packed  running shoes, booked hotels that had pools/gyms, and hoped I would have the time and energy to work out. Things started out well. On my first night in the UK I stayed at an adorable abbey in Warwickshire called Wroxall Abbey. The place has a pool, a rowing machine (these seem to be rather popular in the UK), and wonderful running trails around it. So, on my first night I was able to get an easy swim before going to sleep, and on the next morning I did a beautiful 5k on the surroundings.

For a change of my usual scenery, today I'm running in Great Britain🏃🏻🏰🇬🇧🍃🌿 — So far it's been exactly what I expected: green fields, gray skies, medieval looking buildings, small cars, phone booths, and the occasional herd of sheep — Roads were flat and mostly ok for an easyish pace 5k around the Wroxall Abbey near Warwick — I did struggle a bit with 20mph cross winds. Guess nobody visits the UK for its formidable weather anyway. At least I finished my run before it started to rain. Lovely 🌬🌫 — #wroxallabbey #warwickshire #runuk #runeverywhere #runexplore #5k #runtourist #garminfenix3 #youvsyou #runtheworld #hellobetter #madebymiles #marathontraining #nevernotrunning #beatyesterday #garminrunning #garmin #run #happyrun #visituk #runengland #trilife #swimbikerun #runchat #runnerspace #runnerscommunity #roadtoironman #instarunners #pghmarathon2016

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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!!

5 steps to shave 30 minutes off my marathon time

boston

That is exactly what I need to qualify to the Boston Marathon. Last year, I ran my first marathon in Pittsburgh in 3:31:43. This was nowhere neat my Boston Marathon Qualifying Standard of 3:05:00. This year, I plan to run my second marathon. It is exactly the same race, but this time I will try to shave 30 minutes off my time to quality to Boston. Here is my 5-step plan to accomplish this task, let’s hope it is enough!!

1. Faster cadence and better form

Last year, I was following a very long (30-week) training plan, but I injured my right hamstring 16 weeks before the race. It took me 6 weeks to come back to a regular training schedule, and another 4 weeks for the pain to subside entirely.

My physical therapist told me that what felt like a hamstring injury was actually a lower back issue caused by a weak core and bad running posture. He also told me that my cadence was too slow and my muscles were too tight, and gave me some pointers to improve my form.

I started doing more core strengthening exercises, stretching better, foam rolling, doing running drills,  and taking rest days seriously,  and I have focused on keeping proper form and fast cadence during my runs. Increasing my cadence hasn’t been easy. I have gone up from 155 steps per minute to 175, and I am consciously trying to push my normal-pace-cadence all the way up to 180.

I am happy to report that I have been injury free since then. I hope my improved form and cadence helps me continue to be injury free for a long time, and to be more efficient on race day!

2. Smarter race

Last year, I was hoping to finish under 3:30:00. I probably could have, but I made a total noob mistake. Since I was feeling great at the beginning of the race, I stuck around the 3:15 pacer for around 15 miles. At some point, I realized I couldn’t keep up any more, and then  I hit the wall. The last 10 miles were absolute hell. I just wanted to stop and wait for someone to pick me up. I did my fastest mile in 7 minutes, and mile 25 took me more than 10. Starting out too fast was a terrible mistake.

2015marathon
You can see how I hit the wall on mile 16, the last 10 miles were tough
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