Marathon Training Week 5: Plan in Place

Weekly Summary 1/13-1/18/15

This week continued along regular lines until I had to cut one of my mid-week runs short and had the bright idea to “just” add two miles to my long run to make up the weekly mileage. So yeah, I ran 16 miles on Sunday. Here’s a photo of me post-run. Running is not pretty.

Sixteen Miles

Holy crap. There is something about going past 15 miles that really hammers home “Fuck, this is a long run.” This is where we start to separate the men from the boys, my friends. Physically, I felt OK. I’m developing a little tightness in my right calf, clearly an overuse issue, and one that will hopefully straighten itself out since I’ll be going down in mileage the next two weeks.

As is usually the problem with me, the struggle was predominantly mental. I did loops on this long run, so at about every 5+ miles, I had the option to quit, and it really took some resourcefulness to get me back out for another lap.

I tried the famous Muhammad Ali quote: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” So, that was inspiring…for about half a mile.

Luckily, I was listening to a podcast where a runner recounted her first ultramarathon. It sounded brutal! She was dry heaving at mile ten, cramping at mile fourteen, barely made the last cut-off point, but she finished. So I felt like a bit of a wimp being all “It’s hot” and somehow found the strength to push on in 70 degree weather.

But even between the inspiring Ali quote and listening to Kimberley’s courageous race, what really got me through was the promise that I could eat the biggest fattiest guilt-free-est lunch if I finished the 16 miles.

Whatever it takes, fam.

So after this ugly yet somehow triumphant long run, I suffered all the effects of having run that much in one go-round. I was toast for the rest of the day. Usually, I can still get lots of errands done and be a fully-functioning human being, but that Sunday, I basically lay in bed with ice on my knees and calf, watched football, ate and ate, and napped. After I woke up from my nap, I went in for round 2 of that.

Feeling the effects on my calf also had me alter one more thing on my schedule for my Mountains2Beach Marathon at the end of May, and now I can say that it is in final form.

Up until now, although I’m saying I’m in week 5 of my schedule, my friend/mentor/coach (hereinafter “FMC”) had suggested I wait until the end of January to officially start marathon training so I wouldn’t burn out too soon. She said to just get my mileage up around 35 miles per week, and then she’d have my schedule ready. Then, my FMC up and went and had a baby! So inconvenient (for me).

My FMC and I have been able to text a little, and we decided to mostly stick with my schedule for M2B from last year. It was a good schedule, and I got through it injury-free. However, we decided to add a couple things, which may be the culprits for me experiencing two disappointing marathons in a row. One is integrating some miles at marathon pace into my long run, and the other is adding a couple long runs of more than 20 miles (eeks!).

I’m hoping the first change will address the IT band issues that I’ve developed in my last two races. Although my IT band has been fine all through training, my long runs are done at a pace that is about 60-90 seconds slower than my MP. Miraculously, as soon as I hit the start line, I go at MP, and my cardio feels fine. At the 2013 Ventura Marathon, I was flying and felt great…until mile 14 when out of nowhere my kneecap felt a little wobbly, which then turned into what felt like an ice pick had been jammed into the side of my left knee for the last six miles. Pretty much the same thing at M2B last year. My heart was willing, but my body just couldn’t handle the faster pace over 26.2 miles. So, we’re going to let my body feel MP pace in my training so it doesn’t freak out on race day.

The second tweak is equal parts physical and mental. Basically, just to get my body and mind thinking “Oh, it’s just 3 miles longer than my long run.” This mental adjustment really seems to work for me in shorter races. For example, when I do my half marathon in a couple weeks, instead of it being my longest run of my training cycle, I’ll know I’ve done three miles more than that distance already. Or course, I won’t do more than 26.2 miles in training, but I do have a 22-miler and 23-miler planned. The last three point two will be all guts.

Anyway, here are the color coded stages in the final plan.


The purple is pre-marathon or what I’m calling Base Building I, which is what I’m in now. I needed this stage because I had been sidelined and then stayed in lower mileage due to my IT band injury. I had to get my mileage up fast (not advised) and went from 30 to 38 miles per week in 5 weeks, as well as increased my long run from 10 to 16 miles in that same time period. I feel slow, but I’ve learned my knees can take it, and now, so as not to tempt fate with this tightening calf, in this last week of Base Building I, I will drop down to 34 miles. After that I’ll be tapering for my half marathon, so I’ll have a nice little “break” before I slowly ramp up again in Base Building II (orange). Following that, I’ll enter the sharpening phase where I’ll add in some tempo runs (blue), and then taper (green).

I have a Plan. I feel good about the Plan. The Plan is god.

Total weekly mileage: 38
Long run: 16 miles
Cross-training: Abs (2x); Upper Body (1x); Leg Strengthening (1 hour)
Push-Ups: 95

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