Marathon training 2017: Weeks 5-12
12 weeks into marathon training already, the time is just zooming past!
My training program consists of 3 main components: weekday MAF sessions, weekend long run (or 2 long runs) and yoga (for strength on Mondays, restoration on Fridays). Every 4 weeks or so I pull back on the volume for a recovery week. Here’s how the last 8 weeks have looked, green means completed to plan, yellow was I did something but not the plan, red was a miss:
I’m pleased to report I’ve been fairly consistent with my training, especially in the last 5 weeks. The good news: I’m finally seeing improvement in my pace! Here’s how my pace (minutes per kilometre) at MAF heart rate has improved over July – trending down is good:
I’m still walking at my MAF heart rate, but it’s bordering on needing to run to get my heart rate up. After 18 months of training on and off with MAF, I think I’ve found the right combination of consistency, volume and nutrition to see progress. Also I think managing stress – through my yoga practice – has helped. This progress is very exciting and motivating for me!
On my long runs I do go above MAF heart rate because I need to train my body with the mechanics of running. I’ve also been seeing progress in my fitness on my weekend long runs, with both my pace and heart rate are slowly coming down. Here are the graphs:
Coach Tawnee of Endurance Planet has guided me to try double long runs on the weekend to get used to running on tired legs. The first weekend I did this I ran 16km on the Saturday, then rushed to get to the airport to come home from holidays, so did not spend enough time on stretching and fueling post run. The next day when I ran 8km it was so hard – my legs were aching. I had to constantly talk to myself to just keep going, along the lines of: “Yes it’s hard, but this is good, it’s how it will feel on race day. I’m practicing and getting myself ready so it won’t be a surprise on the day. It’s ok to walk if I need to, I just need to keep going, and keeping going is a win for me.”
On the Monday, Sparta Chicks Radio’s podcast episode with Katee Pedicini was a very timely one with practical advice on managing stress and the importance of recovery. The following weekend on the Saturday I ran 19km. I woke up 2 hours before to have breakfast (2 eggs & butter scrambled), tried UCAN (tropical orange) during the run, took a few sips every 30 mins or so, alternating with water. Afterwards I did my usual stretching routine and then 10 mins of legs up the wall. Re-fueled with a homemade smoothie (coconut water, blueberries, 1 egg, baby spinach, almond butter, coconut oil), then supplemented with Perfect Amino 1 hour later. The next day when I ran 8km I felt fantastic! I actually ran faster than the previous day and at a lower heart rate. Amazing how much of a difference a good recovery makes. I did the same recovery last weekend after 21.1km on the Saturday and ran 8km on the Sunday with same good results!
I need to make mention of the value of my yoga practice. I started at Bija Yoga 2 weeks before I started training for the marathon. It’s increased my mobility and flexibility; and has strengthened and brought balance to my muscles. Running uses the same muscles over and over again and the opposing muscles may become weak, but yoga works everything, so those opposing muscles get some action, which can reduce the risk of injury. My previous ITB injury has not resurfaced, I credit this to MAF training and yoga. Yoga makes you focus on deep breathing. When I’m running and noticing my heart rate going up, I take deep breaths which helps to slow everything down. I’ve also experienced the mental benefits of yoga – decreased stress through relaxation and restoration. When I can’t get to class, I find lessons online, but I prefer to be in the studio 🙂
Something else I’ve started in the last few weeks is an accountability tracker for staying on track with nutrition, as this is a big influencer on results. I’ve identified which daily actions (or lead measures) contribute to me keeping to my nutrition goals: meal planning, grocery shopping, packing lunch and tracking food on ‘myfitnesspal’.
I track this and total up my percentage achievement. Coach Jen of Sparta Chicks is helping me with accountability, again, very motivating!
My most recent long training run was 21.1km. 2 years ago doing this distance was my big hairy audacious goal, I can’t believe I’ve got here. From here on in the long run distances get bigger – it’s all new territory for me. 10 weeks to go, wish me luck!
“You can’t really tell how much you can do until you try to do something that’s more.” Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young Documentary (2015)