Houston Marathon Training – Week 3

I ran a little over 42 miles last week, which was a first for me early in a training cycle.  Usually in half marathon training I will peak around 40-45 miles a few weeks before a race.  But right now I’ve completed less than 20% of my training plan!

I’m really glad that I kept my mileage around 40 miles per week over the summer.  This week was tough due to two workouts but the actual number of miles I ran wasn’t a challenge.  For that I think I can partially thank all of the miserably hot and slow miles I ran from June to August.  I’m not confident about my ability to run a fast 8K on October 2nd but I feel pretty good about being able to grind out 20+ miles total on little sleep for Cap to Coast.

The plan:


The execution (spoiler– I did not follow the schedule at all):

Monday, 12-Sep: I usually work from home on Monday, which makes it a good day for running.  But my schedule was thrown off from the start with a 7:00 AM meeting, which meant no AM run for me.  So I rested and did some yoga in the afternoon.

Tuesday, 13-Sep: 6 miles easy

Wednesday, 14-Sep: I fully intended to do this workout on the track.  However, I did not sleep well at all on Tuesday night and was wide awake before 4:00 AM.  I decided to hit the treadmill at a super early hour since I was already awake and knew I would start to get hungry and tired later in the morning. I ran 7.5 miles total:

  • 1 mile warm up
  • 4 x 1600m @ 10K effort (7:30, 7:30, 7:24, 7:24) with 400m recovery
  • 1 mile cool down

All things considered this was fine, though I am not sure how easily I’d hit those paces on the track, especially with the current heat and humidity.  Also did some yoga at night.

Thursday, 15-Sep: Doubles day.  5 easy in the morning, 6 easy in the afternoon– 11 miles total.

Friday, 16-Sep: Rest because tired and early meeting at the office.

Saturday, 17-Sep: I got up early and met up with some folks from my running group who were planning on 10+ miles.  I figured I would run 9 easy and then drop off.  This is easy to do on our usual route; however, on Saturday everyone wanted to run a different route with more hills, which was concerning since I had a track workout planned the next day.  The run ended up being much less disastrous than it could have been.  The pace (~10 min/mile) felt very easy and it was fun to run a new route even if we got lost and accidentally ran down a smelly alley trying to find our way back to the trail.  We ran up the massive hill on 15th Street– which is around mile 12 on the Austin Half Marathon course– and the hill did not feel bad at all when I was not 12 miles into a half marathon and trying to hold onto a sub-8:00 minute pace.  I ended up running 9.56 miles— not too much more than this week’s prescribed long run– and felt like I had a lot of energy left at the end.

Sunday, 18-Sep:  Since Track Sunday was such a success last week I decided to try it again this week.  I was a little worried about how my legs would feel after nearly 10 miles the day before but I don’t think that was an issue at all since I made sure to keep my easy effort on Saturday easy.  I aimed for 800m repeats in 3:35 and 400m repeats in 1:45 or faster.  Aside from the first 800m repeat I was pretty much on pace:

  • 1 mile easy
  • 6 x 800m @ 5K effort with 400m recovery (3:41, 3:36, 3:32, 3:34, 3:35, 3:35)
  • 800m easy
  • 4 x 400m @ ~7:00 minute/mile pace with 200m recovery (1:44, 1:45, 1:46, 1:43)
  • 1.1 mile easy

Total of 8.18 miles per my Garmin.  Total of 2 breakfast tacos post-workout.  That’s why I hope to keep Track Sunday around.

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Houston Marathon Training – Week 2

I survived Week 2 of 20.  I’m 10% done!

This week I hit the track (twice!) for the first time in several months.  I was nervous about how much slower I’d gotten since the spring, so I mostly ran both workouts by effort.  Both times I was definitely off PR pace but not nearly as slow as I’d expected.  So that was very encouraging.

I had to make some adjustments towards the end of the week due to my work schedule.  I did all of the runs in my training plan but everything was completely out of order.  Week 3 will be a similar scenario.  I am not too concerned about this at the moment since I’m not really doing long runs every weekend, so running a track workout on a Sunday (like I did today) is pretty feasible.  Hopefully by Week 5 (first double digit run) I will have a little more flexibility during the week.

It hasn’t been nearly as hot as it was in July/August (highs in the upper 80s/low 90s) but I don’t like that I have less and less daylight in the morning.  I am counting down the days (56!) until Daylight Savings ends on November 6th.

Here is Week 2 of my training plan:


And here is how it actually went down:

  • Monday, 05-Sep: I decided to do one of the track workouts on Monday since I figured I would have the track mostly to myself early in the morning on Labor Day.  That was definitely the case.  I also decided to start off with the 800m repeats (Thursday’s workout in the plan) since  running fast for 800m at a time felt less daunting than 1600m repeats.  I ran every repeat by effort and didn’t look at my watch until I hit the lap button at the end of 800m.
    • Warm-up: 1.19 miles (i.e. mileage to the track + strides)
    • 5 x 800m @ 5K effort (3:29, 3:34, 3:35, 3:37, 3:37) with 400m recovery
    • Cool-down: 1.03 miles easy running back home
    • Total of 5.74 miles

I felt slow and was honestly expecting every repeat to be around 3:45-4:00.  While getting progressively slower was not part of the plan, I was surprised after every repeat that “5K effort” was not too far off my pace the last time I really tried to race a 5K (which happened back in February, if memory serves me).  These paces also aren’t too shabby when I consider that I was running in high 70s with high humidity.  Next time I’ll aim for more consistency.

After my track workout I ate a quick breakfast and headed out for our annual group trip to the Schlitterbahn.  It was a fun but exhausting day.

  • Tuesday, 06-Sep: Rest
  • Wednesday, 07-Sep: 5.32 miles easy in the morning + 6 miles easy in the afternoon = 11.32 miles.
  • Thursday, 08-Sep: Rest
  • Friday, 09-Sep: I ended up doing Sunday’s tempo miles on Friday afternoon on the treadmill due to scheduling.  I also ended up running a bit slower than the pace in the plan but that was probably for the best given that I had a second track workout this week.
    • 1 mile easy
    • 5 miles @ 8:00 pace
    • 1 mile easy
    • Total of 7 miles

While I am still on a mission to limit my treadmill running (especially for faster paces), I do appreciate that the treadmills at my gym have individual TVs with cable.  I do not have cable TV at home, so the gym is my opportunity to indulge in true crime TV.

I was quite nervous about how these 1600m repeats would go.  I ran the first one entirely by effort and thought I was running around 8:00 minute pace.  I was very surprised when I hit the lap button!  On the second repeat I tried to maintain the same effort and checked my watch at 800m.  On the third repeat I wanted to try to run a little harder, so I checked my watch at 400m, 800m, and 1200m (which is what I usually do when I’m trying to hit a certain pace during 1600m repeats).

  • 1 mile warm up with strides
  • 3 x 1600m @ 10K effort (7:32, 7:33, 7:28) with 800m recovery
  • 1 mile cool down
  • 6 miles  total

As extra motivation for getting up early and running hard, I promised myself (and my boyfriend) that I would stop at Tacodeli for breakfast tacos on the way home.  I’m hoping I can keep Track Sunday going for another week or two.  Having the track to myself and then eating a delicious breakfast is quite a treat.

Total mileage: 36.81 miles

Aside from my concerns about scheduling and pacing, this was a good week.  Both track workouts were great confidence boosters.  I’m also enjoying having two days off from running since I’m doing two easy runs in one day as preparation for Cap to Coast.  I don’t think I will continue running doubles after the relay race  but it’s nice for now.

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Houston Marathon Training – Week 1

I survived Week 1!


That means I’m way, way ahead of my 2014 attempt at a marathon, i.e. the time I got injured before I even started training.  When training for Houston starts to get hard it will be difficult not to say”Well, I’m way ahead of where I was in 2014 so maybe I should just quit while I’m ahead!”

So: last week.  Aside from Wednesday’s attempt at a faster pace than usual (oof), the running itself was not too hard.  The overall mileage was actually a bit less than the ~40 miles I averaged per week in July and August.  The problem was that work got a bit crazy leading up to Labor Day and I ended up going out 3 nights in a row, which was probably more going out than I did in the entirety of August.  Foam rolling, yoga, strength/core work, and adequate sleep fell by the wayside.  I fully intend to keep socializing and having fun during the rest of this 20 week training cycle but I definitely want to maintain a better balance so I don’t end up losing a ton of sleep and skipping injury prevention exercises.

This is the plan I’m (mostly) following.  Here is Week 1 per the plan:


Here is what I actually did:

Monday, 29-Aug: I wanted to do this workout on the track in the morning but slept horribly on Sunday night.  So I did an afternoon treadmill workout instead.  I am trying to keep the treadmill running to a minimum but it was something like 95 degrees in the afternoon and I couldn’t move this to another day.  Anyway: 1 mile warm up, 4 x 800m @ 7:03 pace with 400m recovery, 1 mile cool down for 4.75 miles.  Also did 25 minutes of yoga afterwards.  For most of the summer I’ve been using this video 2-3 times per week.  It feels really good to do extra stretching in the afternoon after I’ve been sitting all day for work.

Tuesday, 30-Aug: Rest.  As much as possible I’m trying to schedule morning runs for days when I don’t have to go to the office.  On Tuesday I had a 7 AM conference call at home with a whiny cat in the background and then I went to the office.  It was a long day and it felt good not to run.

Wednesday, 31-Aug: In the morning I did my first attempt at speed work on the running trail since…probably March.  The plan states “45 minute fartlek”, so I decided to jog to the trail and then run a 5 mile loop.  I programmed the workout into my Garmin with a target pace of 7-7:10 for the fast segments and  8:30-9:00 min/mile pace for the “moderate” segments.  (That seems slow compared to how I was running earlier this year but my easy runs this summer have been 9:30-10:00 min pace, so I was trying not to be overly ambitious.)  The execution was a bit flawed– my warm up was too short and my Garmin kept buzzing during the fast segments because I’d start sprinting, then slow down, then pick up the pace again, etc.  I think I should have put in a slower and wider margin like 7:00-7:30.  The good news was that I was comfortably able to run 8:30-9:00 min pace without much thought.  Also, aside from some execution flaws, I think this was a good first workout back on the trail since I was running fast (and increasing my turnover) but just for a minute at a time.  The bad news was that this workout felt really tough.  Other bad news was that I had another run scheduled in the afternoon.

AM run: Too short warm-up, d6 x 1 min @ 5K (7:00-7:10 pace), 5 min @ “moderate” (8:30-9:00 pace), cool down (5.38 miles).

Running doubles may seem like a weird idea given my total weekly mileage but I’m trying this for the next few weeks on the advice of a veteran Cap to Coast runner.  During the relay I’ll be running 3 times in approximately 24 hours for a total of around 20 miles.  So the idea is that running doubles once a week will get me used to less recovery time. AM workout + PM run probably wasn’t the best idea but the overall mileage for the day was okay.

PM run: 5 miles easy on the treadmill

We went to the Paramount at night to see Some Like It Hot and then I ate an enormous amount of Amy’s Ice Cream because it was my birthday.

Thursday, 1-Sep: Due to evening plans I had to do this run in the morning, which was not pleasant after two runs and a late night on Wednesday.  4.13 miles easy.

On Thursday night I went to a happy hour and dinner and didn’t get home until around 10, which is super late for me during the week!


Friday, 2-Sep: Rest, thankfully. Although I had another late night so we could see one last summer classic movie at the Paramount (Rebel Without a Cause).

Saturday, 3-Sep: Early morning group run.  Plan called for 7 mile “long run”, I ended up with 8.07 miles (ran with someone doing a 5 mile loop + mileage to/from our meeting spot).  I felt remarkably good given several nights of suboptimal sleep.

Saturday night we stayed home and ate burgers and fries while watching the last episode of Stranger Things.  Stranger Things is SO GOOD by the way.  Usually I shy away from anything remotely sci-fi but I loved this show.


French fries (and Eggo waffles) 4-ever

Sunday, 4-Sep: Another early morning group run.  This time I ended up with 5.86 miles (weird mileage is again due to running to/from the group meeting spot).

Total: 33.19 miles

Even though the lower mileage initially concerned me (I’m running a marathon, shouldn’t I be running more?!), I was thankful to run less while upping the speed work a bit.  This week should be around 35 miles if I follow what I entered into Excel awhile back.  Goals this week will be to sleep more, not slack on yoga/stretching/etc., and keep up the speed work even if I have to run more by effort vs. target pace since I’m slower.

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It Begins


Today marked the beginning of Houston Marathon training!  Unfortunately, it did not get off to a good start.  Last night I had the worst insomnia I have had in years.  I probably got 3-4 hours of sleep total.  I think it was a combination of stressing about a busy work week, stressing about “OMG I’m training for a marathon?!?!?!”, and making the mistake of drinking a Diet Coke around 8 PM.  (I don’t drink Diet Coke very often but I crave it every now and then.  Last night was one of those times.  Apparently, even though I can drink a ton of coffee in the morning and sleep fine at night, the caffeine in the soda was enough to keep me feeling wired way later than my bedtime).  So that’s how my AM date with the track turned into a PM date with the treadmill.  It was not ideal– I want/need to get back to running hard paces on non-treadmill surfaces– but it was better than nothing.  My schedule this week is more erratic than usual, so today was pretty much the only day 4 x 800m @ slightly faster than 5K pace could happen.

I am using this plan as the backbone for my training because I’ve done well with the intermediate level half marathon program. That was the plan I (mostly) followed before running half marathon and 10 mile PRs earlier this year.  I put everything into an Excel spreadsheet a few weeks ago to help me gauge what type of mileage I’ll be anticipating and what adjustments I’ll need to make for races.  There will probably be further adjustments as I move along.  I’m not too concerned about the peak mileage (50-55 miles)– I’ve come very close to that in the past and I feel very comfortable at 40 mpw right now.  I’m a bit more concerned about the longer midweek runs with lots of marathon/half marathon/10K pace miles.  Too many fast miles is what led to my downfall (read: stress fracture) in 2014, so I will probably make changes there.  While I’d like to set a goal slightly more ambitious than just finishing the marathon (sub-4:00?  maybe sub-3:45?), this is still my first attempt at 26.2 miles and I would prefer to not break anything in the process.

Back in 2009 I ran my first half marathon in 1:52:35.  Two months later I ran another half marathon in 1:48:05.  I think my faster time was 10% weather related and 90% due to increased comfort and familiarity racing 13.1 miles.  So, in the interest of not having too many more sleepless nights worrying about races, I’m trying to remember that this marathon training cycle will involve some trial and error.  I will probably definitely make some mistakes just like I did when I trained for my first half, regardless of how much advice I get from the Internet and books and veteran marathoners in my running group.  Hopefully I will make it to race day in one piece, learn from the experience, and improve in future races.

Speaking of races, this is what I’ll be doing between now and January 15th:

  • Run Free Texas 80s 8K (October 2nd): I don’t have high hopes for this given my lack of speed work over the summer.  I kind of wish I hadn’t signed up.
  • Cap to Coast (October 14-15th): OH BOY.  I got roped into a relay race!  Good thing I seem to be able to function (sort of) on minimal sleep.
  • Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot (November 24th): Marathon plan calls for 5 miles on hills at marathon effort.  This race is 5 miles of hills conveniently close to where I live.  I will miss my beloved Cedar Park Turkey Day 5K though.
  • Dallas Half Marathon (December 11th): Goal for this is TBD.  If I race it, I would be really happy to run sub-1:40.  I’ve only done that on the 3M course (which is point to point, net downhill), so running sub-1:40 on a course than isn’t 3M would be very validating (even if said course is pretty flat).

And now it is definitely time for bed.  As I mentioned, my schedule this week is weird (7 AM meetings whhhyyyyyyy, some movie plans at night during the last week of the Paramount Summer Movie Classics) but I hope I can squeeze in a post about some of the sleep, food, and injury prevention stuff I’ve tried to work on over the summer.

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Surviving Summer Running

I am exactly one week out from officially starting marathon training, so this seems like a good time to finally update the old running blog.  I find running in the summer in Texas very, very difficult.  I know other parts of the country have had some especially hot stretches this year but Texas feels like a special kind of hell compared to everywhere else I’ve lived during summer months– Pennsylvania is humid; Connecticut is  a milder version of PA; Spain is hot and dry; Argentina is hot and had awful air quality, at least in Buenos Aires.  Texas is extra miserable for me because it is so very hot and it stays so very hot for around half of the year.  I think this summer (which hasn’t been as bad as some of the other years I’ve lived here) we started hitting 90 degrees in April and it would not be unheard of to keep hitting 90+ in October.  During some of the hottest days this year (think morning lows in the upper 70s, afternoon highs in the low 100s) it will stay very, very hot well into the evening.  For someone like me who really struggles with hot weather running, this leaves two options:

  1. Early morning running
  2.  Treadmill

And that’s what I’ve been doing pretty much all summer.  I do the early runs on days when I work from home, days when I don’t have to be at the office super early, and Saturdays (7 AM long run with running group).  If a morning run can’t happen, I take a rest day or run on the treadmill in the afternoon.  Usually I’m on the treadmill 1-2 days per week and I use the time to get in a little speed work.  I don’t think treadmill speedwork is as effective as speedwork on the track or road but it’s better than nothing and it makes the treadmill time go by faster🙂.

I’ve been attending the Saturday AM long runs religiously for the past 8 weeks.  The group runs a 10 mile loop but I typically end up with 13-14 miles since I run between my apartment and our meeting spot.  My pace per mile right now is a good 1 minute (or more)  slower than my long run pace leading up to 3M but I am 100% okay with that.  My main goal for the summer was to maintain a good base before marathon training.  If I had to race a 5K tomorrow it would probably be a mess but 2+ hours of slow running?  No problem.  (Well, it’s still a bit messy because summer = miserable heat, but at least I’ve finally got a good hydration/fuel routine down– Clif bar and coffee 1 hour before run, slowly consume gel during mile 7, refill water bottle at the one water fountain with cold water at mile 9).

Check out my monthly mileage so far this year:

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 7.08.18 PM

July was my highest mileage month and August will probably be even higher!  I’m averaging around 40 miles per week.  I’ve hit 40+ miles before but it’s typically been peak mileage during half marathon training. In the past 40+ miles has left me pretty fatigued but now it’s starting to feel like the norm.  (To be fair, I’m not doing nearly as much speed work as I did during half marathon training.   I think I’ve run at 5K effort once in the past month and it was on the treadmill.)

My mantra this summer has been Some Slow Miles Are Better Than No Miles.  Hopefully  my summer of many slow miles will pay off when it starts to cool off and I start adding some more speed work to my schedule.

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