Hartford Marathon Training, Week 1: 6/29 – 7/5

imageHope everyone had a great 4th of July!! I made some festive Jell-O shots to celebrate 🙂 It was rainy and gross in the morning, but it cleared up and ended up being a great day for family, BBQs and being outside.

Over the next few weeks, I’m focusing on base building. I created a 12 week training plan for the Hartford Marathon. I included 5 weeks of base building/marathon recovery (if you include last week) before the 12 period begins, so it’s really like a 16-17 week program. I didn’t think it would be wise to jump right into high mileage, track workouts and tempo runs with only one week of marathon recovery, and I’ve been very successful on 12 week programs in the past. During the base building phase, I want to incorporate some moderate speed – moderately paced progression runs, fartleks, and some local races so I don’t completely shock my body with the addition of intensity in week 4-5.

Monday, 6/29 – 2800 Meter Swim + Strength/PT/core + Pole Strong
Swimming was uneventful, other than being excited because I did a bunch of 100s and I was averaging 1:37-1:38/100 meters pretty consistently. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I do remember a time not too long ago that just breaking 1:50 for 100 meters was a good day. Progress!

I did a quick session with weights and headed to the pole studio for a class called Pole Strong – a body weight conditioning class for those working to progress at the pole fit classes. I tried as many classes as I could while they were free so I thought, why not. It was one of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken, and my whole upper body felt like it was run over by a truck the next day. Funniest part – we did these crazy circuits where we had to do pull ups (I JUST MENTIONED that I can do ONE pull up and blogged about them last week!) on the pole! I think they might have been harder than using a bar at the gym. We also did crazy pushups on the pole, and some core work that left my entire torso stiff and sore. I still can’t get over how hard of a workout it is. I realize that I keep repeating myself, but I’m just in awe of it.

I did some paleo cooking that afternoon and started working on a recipe for some paleo Almond Joy bars:

They tasted pretty great but I need to work on the filling before I post the recipe! It falls apart a little, even after being in the refrigerator. Guess I’ll just have to make another batch to try again- what a shame!

Tuesday, 6/30 –  12 Mile Progression Run + Pole Fitness
I planned my long run early in the week because I knew I had a 15K race on the schedule for Saturday. Besides the race, my long run was my hardest planned run of the week so I wanted as much distance between the run and the race as possible. I headed to the Plainfield trail because it’s a very similar grade to Saturday’s race course (or so I thought – more on that later) – uphill on the way out, downhill on the way back. My goal was to run the first 7 miles easy and the last 5 at a moderate pace. If “moderate” felt good (7:15-30 range), I planned to run the last 2-3 miles at goal marathon pace (GMP). I warmed up with my first mile @ 7:56, and ran miles 2-6 very consistently between 7:41-7:45. Once I hit the turn around, I kicked the pace up a little more: 7:25, 7:17, 7:10. Since those felt decent, I decided to see if I could do the last three at GMP: 6:50, 6:57, 6:51. Though the last three miles were not a perfect progression, the overall run was progressive – started slow, gradually got faster, and ended fastest. Overall pace, 7:25. I was excited, especially since I did this run solo and it was the first “speed work” I’ve done since the marathon.

I followed it up with a pole class almost immediately after and learned some more new tricks:

imageIt’s safe to say that I have a new obsession. Ha! We had some crazy weird storms in our area on Tuesday afternoon and a TORNADO ACTUALLY TOUCHED DOWN. WHAT?! I live in Pennsylvania – NOT Kansas!! I was out shopping, and everyone was freaking out and taking cover. And I guess I can understand why, since the sky looked like this:

Luckily, my house was okay but the tornado touched down in the neighborhood where I run with Kathy on Saturday mornings. Her house was fine, but they lost power and didn’t get it back for over a day! WTF, Pennsylvania?!

Wednesday, 7/18 Mile General Aerobic Run w/8×8 second Hill Sprints + 17 Mile Bike
My legs were a little stiff from Tuesday’s run but I headed out early anyway, and they loosened up pretty quickly. Since I focused on seeing how a little speed felt the day before, I headed out for some hills for this run. I ran in Bethlehem and picked a hilly route – the first half had several big climbs plus part of the Runner’s World Half Marathon course that goes up a long, steep hill. The middle of the run featured a mile that I like to refer to as the hill trifecta – it’s three hills in a row with a slight recovery in between each one. Each hill is harder than the one before it (or maybe I’m just really tired and think that) so by the end of the mile, you are praying for it to end. Though I felt strong running up those, it was my slowest mile of the run. I clearly need work on hills!

My general aerobic range (from McMillian) is 7:14-8:14. Knowing I ran harder on Tuesday and and had the 15K on Saturday, I wanted to keep things on the easy end of that range so I averaged 8:01. I wanted to run comfortably and pay little attention to my Garmin – something I haven’t done in a long, long time and that was the result. When I checked my splits after the run, I noticed that it ended up being progressive for almost the whole thing (other than my hill trifecta mile) – more negative splits! The only mile I consciously ran faster was my last mile since I want to focus on fast finishes for all of my runs. They don’t have to be 5K pace or anything crazy – making my last mile the strongest of each run will hopefully translate to feeling stronger in the later miles of a marathon. When the run was over, I started my mini hill sprints again – something that comes from Run Faster and I haven’t done in a long time. They get tacked on after an easier run each week. It actually tacked on another 1/2 mile to my run, so I ended up with 8.5 for the day.

Following my run, I headed out for a bike ride with my friend Jenny. We’ve been friends since 4th grade, and she just moved home from Vancouver, British Columbia! After college, she also lived in New Zealand and India. She loves to run and bike but has no idea where to go, so I took her on a nice, easy loop that she can use as a go-to ride when she wants to go out.


It was great to catch up and hang out, and I’m so excited that she’s home for good. Following our ride, I went home and did core, drills, and MYRTLs.

Thursday, 7/2Recovery 6 mile run + Strength/Core/PT + Yoga
I headed to the parkway for a recovery run, and the focus was to go easy. My McMillian recovery range is 8:20-9:01, and I averaged 8:38 pace. I felt really tired even though I got a good night’s sleep and did the first two miles of this run in my Newtons (last week, I ran one mile in them to begin the process of breaking them in). I averaged closer to a 9 minute pace for those miles because I want to be cautious as I continue my transition, especially since I doubled the distance that I did in those shoes from last week.

Once I changed back to my Brooks, I still didn’t feel peppy so I fell into a relaxed pace until the final mile, where I picked it up. Not much – my final mile was an 8:07 – the goal was for it to be the fastest mile of the run. Even on my recovery runs, I am making a conscious effort to finish strong. It’s funny, I felt like crap for most of the run until that final mile. Sometimes, I think slowing things down can be just as uncomfortable as speeding them up. But marathon training is about making yourself comfortable with being uncomfortable. Easy miles are a critical part of the base building process. If I want to get back to running 60-70 miles per week, I can’t expect to kill it on every single run.

I also got in a good strength session that included drills, MYRTLs, PT exercises, and 30 minutes of core. In the afternoon, I spent about 25 minutes on my yoga mat just doing an easy practice and finished up with some foam rolling. I took an ice bath since my legs felt pretty stiff that morning.

Friday20 Minute Shakeout Run w/6×100 meter sprints + 2400 Meter Swim + Core
I was starting to get nervous about the race, because I ran about 2.5 miles to shake my legs out with some pickups and my legs felt heavy and tired. It’s not like I was tapering for the race so I wasn’t happy that my legs felt crappy. I did drills, MYRTLs, abs and an easy swim afterwards.

SaturdayRace Street Run 15K
Race recap coming soon! It was NOT the kind of race I expected. But I will leave you with this little spoiler:


Sunday17 Mile Ride + 5 mi Transition/Recovery Run + Core
I had a friend coming in from out of town later that morning, but I didn’t want to change my workout. I’d planned to do no more than a 20 mile ride and a 5 mile run. I knew I would only have time to ride for an hour, and I wasn’t willing to push the workout off until the afternoon because I knew I would be way less likely to do it. I also wasn’t willing to cancel on my friend over a workout. I don’t want to miss out on hanging with my friends because I need to do some sort of workout.

The past six months have taught me that yes, you need to work hard to achieve your goals but it’s important to make time for the things that really matter. No matter how hard you train for a race, something can be off on race day and things might not go your way. It’s hurts more when you reflect on your training and realized that you not only didn’t achieve your goal, but missed out on life in the process. I truly enjoy the time I spend running, riding, swimming, etc. But someday, that might not be as much of a priority – and then what are you left with? The past six months might not have gone my way, but I think the lesson learned is that I can’t turn my life upside down to shave a few seconds off of my marathon time. I have that “Type A” personality and tend chase my goals by taking things to extreme levels. Another work in progress.

So I sucked it up and headed out on my bike at 6am. It was one of the most peaceful rides I’ve ever done. There was absolutely no one on the roads and the sun was incredible. I wish I got a shot of it earlier because it was actually red when I first began my ride:
image    imageimage
I felt like I was the only person in the world out there. I didn’t see a single car the entire time. These roads are not normally super busy but there are usually some cars. I wasn’t riding fast, but my legs felt good once I got moving.

The run, however, was another story. I suck at transition runs. My legs never feel good when I run off the bike. I have a Olympic distance triathlon in about a month, so I need these types of runs in my schedule. I’m going to keep them on the schedule after the triathlon when I can. There are a lot of benefit to them in marathon training. Perhaps the most important aspect (for me) is the discomfort. These runs are not comfortable to me, and marathon training is all about being comfortable with the uncomfortable. They also give me practice running on tired legs. As if my legs weren’t tired enough from the 15K the day before, the bike ride loosened them up a little but tired them out even more.

As for how the run actually went? It was surprisingly well, once I warmed up. I wanted to keep it in my recovery zone (8:20-9:01) and averaged 8:28 pace. My splits were perfect negative splits with a fast finish mile, even though it was downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back: 8:54, 8:45, 8:35, 8:24, 7:54. By the last mile, I felt like I could keep going but I was out of time.

It was a great week and I’m loving summer break. I made some progress with base building got to do mostly solo runs this week (last week, I ran with people on almost every run). I’m thankful for this time where I can enjoy my workouts without rushing to fit them in and try some new things. Things get so crazy and hectic during the school year!

Swim:  5200 meters ♥ Bike:  34 miles ♥  Run: 43.3 miles

How was your week? Ever have a tornado touch down in your area? Do you have that “Type A” personality that likes to take over every so often? Run any Fourth of July races this week?

23 Replies to “Hartford Marathon Training, Week 1: 6/29 – 7/5”

  1. Congratulations on winning first place in the 15K! Looks like you had a great week of workouts and were really busy with all the running, race, and pole fitness classes :). Sounds like you really like the pole classes too and looks like a fun workout.

  2. Great training week! Congrats on the 15K first place! Those festive Jell-O shots look yummy. I was hoping to try out one of the pole classes near me, but it doesn’t look like they have times that fit my schedule. Hopefully I can make it work at some point. Happy Monday!

  3. Congrats again on your 1st place finish! It sounds like that was just what you needed to redeem yourself after Gma’s and start your training off on the right foot (hehe, get it?). Looking forward to the recap!

    I am not Type A – very much Type B – but I still fall into the trap you describe where I can’t see the forest for the trees when I’m chasing a big goal. It is hard for all of us to balance the hard work necessary for success with the need to have a life and make time for things that matter – not just in running but in work, school, and other hobbies. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the race is just a day, but friends/family/work will still be there when it’s over so prioritize accordingly.

    As for tornadoes – never say never. In college we had a tornado touch down in Wisconsin IN JANUARY. Stranger things have happened, you know!

    1. Thank you!!! It was sooooo what I needed to kick this next training block off!!! I do struggle with prioritizing but and it’s something I’m working on! Good way to look at it – the race is just a day. One day in the grand scheme of things!! A January tornado in Wisconsin?! What?!?! CRAZY!

  4. Can’t wait to hear about that 1st Place finish! Congrats! You had an awesome week of training – and look at you on that pole! I’m too chicken to even try those classes. My week was all about Vegas and catching up on sleep – but I did get a run in on Fourth of July. Now it’s back to business.

  5. Holy crap, there’s so much in this post that I want to talk about. First of all, I’m from Vancouver, BC! Hi Jenny!!! *waves* Tell her we just had a mini earthquake over here! Well, it was right under where we live in Abbotsford (about an hour out of Vancouver) and it woke us up. Our bed and our blinds were shaking and stuff fell off shelves. We don’t get earthquakes around here, normally. What else, what else… the pole workout has me intrigued. You look awesome on that thing, you awesome sexy woman! And congrats on that first place finish, too! *buttsmack*. Can’t wait to hear about it!

    1. Haha, thank you!!!! ❤ I visited her in Vancouver once! Such a cool freaking city!!! And you get to live near it all the time…LUCKY! An earthquake?! Oddly enough, we had one of those once. I actually thought my house was haunted because things were shaking and it was so weird. Found out it was an earthquake after the fact, ha! You totally need to try the pole classes!!!!!!! I bet you would rock it!

  6. Those almond bars may not be perfected yet, but they look delicious!
    Awesome job on your progressive runs and fast finishes! That’s such a good practice, and I’ve been slacking on fast finishes lately. Thanks for the reminder 🙂
    Nice job on first place! Can’t wait to read the recap 😀
    I’m soooo a type A person too. When I want something, I go all in and tend to let it consume my life. But I like your outlook that you don’t want to look back on months of training only to see how much of LIFE you missed. Life is not work & training, something I definitely struggle with.

    1. Thank you!! Maybe I’ll give those bars another go tomorrow and see how it goes. I might turn them into little chocolate coated energy bites, too. Haven’t decided yet! I haven’t practiced fast finish runs in well over a year. I forgot about them…they are so valuable! This past winter, I put training above a lot and I didn’t get the outcome I wanted. It’s easy for me to get the workouts in the summer since I have more time, so I need to learn to prioritize once fall hits and I’m back to work! It’s a constant struggle!

  7. Congratulations on your first place! Can’t wait to hear about the race.

    I have a tendency to get a little type A-ish with my training. I am planning a long weekend getaway during marathon training and am already trying to decide how best to fit in my mileage during the trip. I’m pretty sure I am going to try to front load the mileage that week and focus on just enjoying the trip. As you said, as much as I love running and training, I don’t want it to end up alienating friends.

    1. Thank you!! It was such a fun race! I stress over weekend getaways during marathon training and try to do exactly what you said – front load the mileage that week. It usually works, but makes the whole week more stressful. That’s where I need to remind myself: it’s only running. Ahhhhhhhhh…the struggle is reeaaallll!!!

  8. We have had tornadoes touch down in Jew Jersey too! Not cool. I just about died over those homemade Almond Joy bars. I’m looking forward to the recipe. Also: CONGRATS on your 15K win! That plaque is so pretty!

  9. Great running week! Congrats on the race win, that’s awesome! Thunder and lightning definitely make me run for cover then again it is also very abnormal out here. I seem to be type A in everything but running. 🙂

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