Weekly Update: 5/25 to 5/30

I had my highest run volume yet this week, but it wasn’t just my highest volume since before Boston – it was my highest run volume yet since about 2 years ago! I laid off the biking (I did zero bike miles!) and the swimming again to focus on the run volume. Last Saturday, I had some calf issues on my post long run recovery ride. It scared me enough to back off. With Grandma’s Marathon being right around the corner, the most important thing is to focus on run mileage and pay attention to any little tweaks that pop up.

Memorial Day – a family day at my house, we had a nice big BBQ (close to 50 people!) and hung out in the pool and on the grill. I went to the gym for my strength workout that morning but relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the day.

Tuesday11 Mile General Aerobic Run + Yoga/Core
I’m still going with my Terrible Tuesday nickname for how much my Tuesday runs have been SUCKING lately, but this one wasn’t quite as bad. It was hot – hotter than it’s been yet at 92 degrees – and sunny. It was cloudy all day until the second I got out of my car at the trailhead. Blazing hot, full sun. I decided to stay on the trail for some shade and flat terrain to see how my calf responded. My pace was nothing spectacular, but I was still (barely) in my appropriate general aerobic range so I thought that was a success. I didn’t push the pace anymore than necessary but I didn’t feel like I was dying as I had on my Tuesday longish runs over the past three weeks. My calf felt fine, so I’d consider this run a win. Where I ran was really pretty, so that helped:

imageI came home and did form drills, MYRTLs, and about 40 minutes of yoga and core…poolside 🙂 I didn’t mind the heat wave by that point, ha!

Wednesday 2500 meter swim + Track Workout: 8×1 mile @ 6:45 (11 miles total) + Yoga/Core
I felt great swimming, but my legs felt a little tight from the run the day prior. I headed to the track after work. I was tired from my morning swim and working all day, so I stopped for my usual afternoon Starbucks fix…and started driving home instead of in the opposite direction towards the track, like I needed to. I decided to use the track at Lehigh University instead so I didn’t have to turn around:


It was sunny, hot and extremely humid when when I got started, and my warm up was slow and sluggish. My legs felt awkward and clumsy, and I was nervous for the workout:

imageI think my coach was drunk when he wrote this…that’s the only explanation I have for EIGHT repeats and “I want you to get comfortable with this pace” comment following the 6:45. Makes me laugh every damn time I read it.

The last time I blogged about a track workout, Hanna from The Millennial Next Door commented that she often will run the first few laps of whatever interval she is doing a bit harder, and then ease up towards the end. She mentioned that she builds on that each interval, trying to hold the harder pace longer with each one. I’ve never done a workout with more than 4-5 mile repeats, and I was concerned about burning out. The suggested pace was somewhere in between 10K to half-marathon pace for me, so it wasn’t completely unreasonable but still daunting, especially considering the weather conditions. I gave her strategy a shot – and it totally worked (thanks, Hanna!). I managed to do negative splits until the sky started to look like this by the sixth repeat:

imageOn the first 400 of repeat #7, the rain came POURING down and there was crazy thunder happening. The wind was whipping around like you wouldn’t believe, and I spent most of that mile wondering if I should wait it out in my car and worrying about my phone, which was wrapped in my shirt and floating in a puddle on the side of the track (I have no idea how it survived since it wasn’t in the case and is currently sporting a cracked display from dropping it during a trail run, but that’s another story). I finished the mile, ran my stuff to my car for my “recovery jog”, but went right back out for the final repeat. The hardest part was running into the crazy headwind which I would hit on the second half of each 400, and that the rain was coming down so hard that I could barely keep my eyes open to see. I refused to let my last repeat be my slowest one, so I did what I could and finished strong. At the end of the final mile, the rain started to let up a bit so I continued on for one more mile to cooldown. By the end of my cooldown, the sun was back out. It was the craziest conditions I’d ever run in! My splits:

  • Mile 1 – 6:44
  • Mile 2 – 6:43
  • Mile 3 – 6:39
  • Mile 4 – 6:37
  • Mile 5 – 6:35
  • Mile 6 – 6:33
  • Mile 7 – 6:44 (downpour!!!)
  • Mile 8 – 6:40

I was super happy with the workout and felt a little badass that I didn’t stop when the rain/thunder started! My rationale was that it could easily be pouring rain on the day of the marathon and I’m not going to stop then, either. It DID pour on us in Boston this year so it’s not like it hasn’t happened before. I felt pretty good the whole time, and I felt like if I absolutely had to, I could probably have done a few more of these. It was about 15-20 seconds faster per mile than my goal marathon pace (I’m shooting for a 7:00-7:05 pace at Grandma’s), so it was a real confidence booster. I was pretty soggy when I was finished, though:

imageBy the time I got home, my stomach was cramping up and I laid on the couch for about an hour. I think I was really dehydrated because I felt awful. I finally got some seltzer down and came back to life a little, so I could cook dinner and do my MYRTLs, form drills, core, stretching and foam rolling. It was really weird – I was fine after the workout, and then the heat and dehydration must have caught up with me on the drive home. It was super hot and humid when I started, and I felt cooler when it rained so I almost forgot about how hot it really was for the majority of the workout.

Thursday 6 Mile Recovery Run + Girls on the Run 5K
My recovery run was ROUGH, but I got it done before work. I struggled, but I was glad I got it done because it was really hot later in the day. My morning run was slowwwww and my legs were stiff, but by the time I got to Lehigh Parkway for the Girls on the Run 5K that evening, I felt a lot better. I think doing a track workout/hard run the evening before followed by a run less than 12 hours later is tough on your legs, because each week I notice that my Thursday morning run is hard no matter how slow I go.

I liked resting so much last week, I thought I’d do it again! I loved how much energy I had on last week’s long run, and how fresh my legs felt so I rested again. Well, semi-rested. We are renovating our 1890s farmhouse and the kitchen (which was probably last updated in 1950) is the current project so we spent Friday night gutting the kitchen and setting up a temporary kitchen in our sunroom.

Saturday22 mile Run + Strength/Core WO
No recovery ride  following my run this week just to be cautious with my calf. It hadn’t acted up since last Sunday and I skipped my Thursday ride just to be safe. The run was just okay – but I’m glad to report that my calf was fine. The pace was good, the company was great, but I felt a pretty crappy in general. I was disappointed since I rested the day before and thought a good run was a guarantee. I honestly think something about having to run 22 miles messes with me mentally. It’s only 2 miles more than 20, and 20 doesn’t intimidate me. It’s really only about 15 extra minutes. Why do I hate it so much?

The first variable that concerned me was the weather. We started at 6:30am, and it was already 70 degrees and HUMID. The good thing was that we had good cloud cover until about mile 17. The run began at Sand Island in Bethlehem, and I met Kathy for the first 10 miles. We mostly ran the Runner’s World Half Marathon course, with a few of our own tweaks. I felt so off and wasn’t talking much, but the miles were flying by anyway. My stomach felt terrible, which made no sense because I ate what I would normally eat. My legs felt decent, but my body felt fatigued.

I knew we were heading back to Sand Island around mile 10 to pick up Cassie, who would run the remaining 12 miles with me. I was nearly in tears by then. Not because I was having a bad run – those are bound to happen and I don’t think a bad run means you are a “bad” runner, it means you’re human. I was worried that I was messing up everyone else’s workout. Kathy isn’t training for anything and assured me she didn’t care and that the pace was great. When we met Cass, I explained how I felt and told her that she should go without me, that I didn’t want to hold her up. She refused to leave me and said she was sticking with me even if I didn’t say two words to her the whole time.

Kathy decided to run another 3-4 miles so she could catch up with Cassie, so I agreed to stick with them for that. My stomach was cramping so badly, and close to mile 11 I almost gave up. I was so frustrated and I didn’t want to bring down the mood of the group so I just positioned myself behind my friends and listened to their chatter, which calmed me down. We crossed the Minsi Trail bridge to go South Bethlehem, and before I knew it my watch was beeping at mile 14 and Kathy was waving goodbye and heading over the Fahey Bridge to her car. I realized I had only nine miles left (why am I putting the word “only” before nine? When did that start?) and that I sure as hell not going to quit. I looked at Cassie and said, “Eff it, I’m doing this. Let’s go crush some hills.” So the remainder of the run was a little stronger, and I started to feel better with every single mile that passed. In a way, it was just like a marathon – it often takes me the first half of a marathon before I convince myself that I’m actually finishing it.

imageOnce we hit mile 16, we crossed the Hill to Hill Bridge and headed back to the north side of Bethlehem. We ran up Broad Street, which goes up, up, up. When we finished the run, I gave Cassie a huge, sweaty hug and thanked her. She is truly an amazing friend. She’s way faster than me – won the first Runner’s World Half a few years ago in 1:24 or something, and Shalane Flanagan was running that year (for fun) and ran with her to “pace” her! She also has something like a 3:03 marathon PR, but you’d never hear her brag about it. And she’s not just a sick runner – she’s an incredible triathlete. Most of all, she is the most humble person I know and stuck by me on a bad day. 22 miles, overall pace 7:38…all while feeling like total shit for most of it. Last week’s run might have been faster, but getting through this run at that pace was a whole different kind of training run. Saturday’s run was one of those runs that make you stronger because not only do you know you can do the distance, but you know you can get it done when you are not feeling up to par.

Sunday9 Mile Recovery Run + Yoga/Core
Sundays have officially become my trail running day! I’ve been hanging out at the Trexler Game Preserve. The good thing is that it’s about 1500′ of elevation gain over 8.5 miles (I finish out the last half mile on the road to make it to nine) and is one of the prettiest places to run:


That’s one of the mild hills! It’s a challenging course with rocky, rough terrain so it means you run slower by default. The hills make you strong, and since it’s technically a “recovery” run I don’t feel pressure to push the pace. And since it’s a game preserve, you see some wildlife…like bison:

The trail is a kind of out there in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve only ever run it with a group.Until my husband and I ran it two weeks ago, and then I ran it with one of the cross country runners, Joelle, last weekend. This weekend, I ran it alone for the first time. I was a little nervous – you don’t see many people out there so if you need help, you might be waiting awhile. In the first few miles, you get views that make you feel like you’re on top of the world:

Until you start to get some good tree cover and descend into the forest…
imageAround mile 4, you get one of the steepest climbs of the run. Of course it never photographs the way it really looks, and it just keeps going up and up, twisting around turns and climbing:


My favorite part of the run starts at mile five. Instead of the massive climbs, you have rolling hills and gorgeous scenery. You can pick up the pace a little here, or just cruise and take it all in:image imageThe last half mine is completely uphill. You emerge from the woods and can see about where your car is parked, but there’s a HUGE mountain looming in front of you, and you have to climb it to finish the loop.

Overall, I was pleased with the week. Though I felt poor on my long run, I was happy with the outcome. I was also pleased with the track workout. I’m going to try adding some bike miles (but not too many) back as I move into my taper and my run mileage tapers off! Three weeks until GRANDMA’S!!!! EEEEK!

Swim: 2500 meters ♥ Bike: 0 miles ♥  Run: 62 miles
May Run Mileage: 238

Craziest weather conditions you’ve ever run in? What are your thoughts on total rest days – no cross training, just rest? Any good races or workouts from the weekend?



26 Replies to “Weekly Update: 5/25 to 5/30”

  1. You absolutely crushed it! I got caught in a thunderstorm once which was great, because it was during a humid heat wave, but also super scary! Haha. Ugh total rest days stress me out sometimes. I usually stick to active rest days, easy cross training or short workouts, but I feel like every few weeks I just need a day of total rest. I totally go back and forth on the idea. Usually during structured training I will build in total rest days, as opposed to just base building where I’ll only take a complete day off if my body is screaming that it needs one. Hope you have a fantastic Monday!!

    1. Thanks! I do love running in the rain – and we had a similar situation here with heat and humidity on Wednesday, so the rain was welcome. I usually do active rest days, also – but the past two weeks, when Friday came around, I felt BEAT and I knew I had a long run the next day! It felt nice. Planning to do the same again this week, but maybe add in some core/yoga just to do something 🙂

  2. You are an incredibly strong runner! That track workout and then the 22 mile run at that pace is just amazing. I ran a hilly half marathon on a bum foot (the joint in the top part of my foot slipped and then got all inflamed, and then I raced on it) so now I’m recovering from that. Once my foot settles down, I want to hit the track for some quality workouts.

    1. Thank you so much! It was definitely a productive week. I had a rough winter with minimal speed work – healing a bum achilles, yuck! – and I am so glad to be back!!! AMAZING job on the hilly half – and with a bum foot?! You are super strong yourself, sister!!! Heal up fast!

  3. Thanks for the shoutout! So glad that modified tempo run worked for you!

    No 22 milers for me this training cycle. I did a 20 and that was enough. I did one for my first marathon and it was a confidence booster but I just didn’t really see the point this time around. I think it makes more sense for people like you who are fast and already logging a high volume.

    I am a big advocate of total rest days. If I do any sort of working out, then it’s not a rest day. For one, I’ve found that I perform much better in races and in general when I’m well rested. And I just don’t see the point in working out 7 days a week. I’m sure my body could handle it but the time commitment is what gets me. It’s hard enough to have a life outside of running now and I only work out 5 days a week, I can’t imagine if I didn’t take at least one total rest day. They are usually my favorite days of the week – it’s so nice knowing I have all that time free. Just my 2 cents, of course 🙂

    1. Thank YOU for the tip on how to deal with those intervals! I thought of you the whole time and was all like, “thank you, Hanna!!” during the workout! 20 is PLENTY – I am not sure I’m into the 22 mile thing. Never did one before working with my coach. I liked it for Boston ONLY because I had such a jacked up training cycle and needed the confidence booster! And I agree – I’m better in races with some rest, so why not rest more during the week?! I need to work on this!!!

  4. KILLED IT! Great job, Allison! Those mile repeats are amazing – and in a downpour no less! I generally avoid running in full on storm/rain because I do not care for soggy clothes/shoes, but I have experienced this on occasion.
    I also LOVE full rest days! I think they help a lot and I try to get at least one in every week, but it doesn’t always happen. This week was one of those go-go-go weeks and I didn’t have a single rest day. I will be sure to have more of those coming up though.
    I’ve also never done over 20 miles in training before so I don’t know how that would feel mentally, but this is the first time in training I’ve now done two 20-milers…and I did them consecutive weekends! Although I felt more badass during the first one, recovery from my second one yesterday is a breeze. My legs already feel good to go and I can barely believe it! So excited for the taper time now 🙂

    1. THANKS lady!!! I was pretty happy with it and now I’m even more excited for the race. Woohooo! Still not sure how I feel about going over 20 for marathon training. My coach has 20-22 down for me for this Saturday and I’m thinking I’m going to go more towards the 20 mile range – not worth asking my body to do 22 this close to the race. I am so glad you are feeling recovered so quickly – that’s a GREAT sign!!

  5. Wow you are an absolute machine! So impressed!!!!! 🙂 sounds like a great week of training and that you pushed through some challenges like a boss 🙂 it sounds super humid there! The craziest weather I have run in was a huge lightening storm here in Australia earlier this year, and one time in Malaysia an incredibly humid run that felt like I was swimming! Eek!

  6. Way to tough out that track workout! I love meeting weather challenges too. You never know what race day will bring. If the weather stinks, you’ll be prepared. If the weather is great, you’ll be so much faster and stronger for having kicked butt in the wind and rain.

  7. Those are some crazy weather conditions you have to train in! And I have that camo Lulu bra, I love it! I always get in two solid rest days, I think my body likes it and I KNOW my mind loves it.

    1. Ahhhh I love my camo lulu!! I have the camo shorts too. I didn’t really match so well that day though…I don’t usually run in just a sports bra but it was sooooo gross out!

  8. I’m seriously impressed with your training! Can not wait to read about your marathon in three weeks!! How do you run 22 miles then run again the next day on that crazy, beautiful, hilly trail?! I’ve run in rain, sleet, snow…you name it. I think my snowy 18 miler was my favorite run ever. And as far as rest days I take one total rest day of zero activity. Because it’s just good for my body and brain to take a break from all the grind. I’m usually constantly thinking about running or working out so by taking a break it gives myself room to breathe and not burn out.

    1. Thank you so much! I actually have no idea how that’s been working out, HA! I try not to sit around after a super long run so I don’t get too stiff and it seems to help. I would rather be napping, though. But it has helped me to feel decent on Sunday mornings, so I think it works. Running the trail also helps because it’s more like glorified hiking. The hills are so super steep that even the best trail runners walk. When I did it with my husband, we did 13 min miles. When I did it last week with my speedy high school cross country runner, we did 11 min miles and we were trying to run as much as possible. Same with last week – 11:01 pace. It’s impossible to run fast because the terrain and elevation is so crazy! Running trails makes you slow down and use muscles you neglect on road runs, so it really helps!! Snowy running is THE BEST!! My favorite runs are always the snowy ones!! You said it best – it’s taking a break from the grind that your body needs those rest days for. I’m like you – always have running/working out on the brain 🙂 I think it’s a good addiction to have. We wouldn’t have it any other way though, right?

  9. it’s funny how you talk about your super speedy friend.. so are you.!! that 8 miler is crazy.!! I’m so excited to hear about your marathon. You are really going to rock it.
    I love rest days.! even though a lot of times I don’t want to take them. I think one solid no activity day really helps me out mentally. and gets me really excited to run the next day.

  10. Way to go girl! Awesome mileage for the week and kudos for beasting your track workout (even with the intense weather) and for sticking it out on your 22-miler.

    That trail looks heavenly! I don’t think I could do a trail run solo, but…I’m also still trying to find the courage to do trails period. I have a thing with snakes… 😐

    1. Thank you!! That was the first time I ever did a real trail all by myself. I was looking for snakes the whole time!! That was my biggest concern. It was worth it, though – so fun!

  11. You killed those mile repeats!! I love runs like that – you’re nervous before hand, but when you finish it, it’s SUCH a confidence booster. All the better that it’s pretty close to race day too 🙂
    That sucks that you were feeling miserable for the majority of your long run on last Saturday, but I’m definitely in agreement that rough runs make you stronger and put a good perspective on your abilities.

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