Sunday, February 10, 2013

Peak Week! (Part V)

Continuing with my tradition of blogging about my "peak week" of marathon training, I wanted to write a detailed report of this week, February 4-10. My total was 60 miles.

My weekly mileage hasn't been this high since the spring of 2010 (which I actually didn't blog about). After getting stress fractures in January of 2011, I decided I would try lower mileage for awhile, with swimming and pool running as cross training. This cycle, I removed the swimming and pool running and returned to higher mileage, along with strength training-- particularly core work. I am very thankful that I haven't gotten injured and that I've felt energized for the majority of my runs.

Previous Peak Weeks

The Big Picture
I know that many marathon plans "peak" 3 weeks out from race day. I prefer to peak 5-6 weeks out in terms of mileage and then do some tune-up races and some marathon pace workouts for the remainder of the cycle.

There wasn't a point when I "officially" started marathon training. I did create a 22-week plan when I was recovering from mono, which I have kept very closely to. I prefer to see myself as simply "training" rather than "marathon training" because it puts the focus more on the work itself and less on the end result.

Monday: 11 miles easy, avg. 8:46
I love starting the week with a 10-11 mile run. Technically, I refer to anything over 10 as a "medium-long" run in my log. I've discovered that if I truly keep these runs easy, my legs feel fresh enough for a interval workout the next day. This run went very well, but my legs did start to feel a little tired during the last mile. That's to be expected and if my legs never felt tired during a run, I would think that I could probably be doing more. It was 25 degrees and windy and I ran my typical residential route.

Tuesday: 8.5 miles, including 4 x 1200m
I did this workout with my team at the track in Arlington. It's a 25-minute drive to get there, and then 40 minutes to drive back to the gym near my office where I shower because of rush hour traffic. But it's worth it to run with such a great group and to have the coach encouraging you each lap. I warmed up for 2.4 miles, and then we started the workout. My times were 5:10, 5:01, 5:01, 4:58. Pace-wise, these are in the low 6:40's. I didn't look at my Garmin during the run, and although the coach was calling out splits at each lap, I have zero ability to do the math when I am running fast. I wasn't targeting any particular pace, I just put out an effort level that felt appropriate for 1200's. Recovery between each was a 500m jog. I then cooled down for 2.1 miles, giving me 8.5 for the day.

Wednesday: Rest + Stretching/Strengthening
Wednesday has been my scheduled rest day for most of this cycle. I know it would probably be ideal to have complete rest rather than to do core work and weights, but it's so hard to fit in strength training on the days when I am running so many miles.

Thursday: 10 miles, inc. 6 tempo avg. 7:29
On Thursday, I ran 2.5 miles warmup, 6 miles tempo, and 1.5 miles cooldown. I prefer a longer warmup in the winter and a shorter warmup in the summer, for obvious reasons! I don't think I have run a 6-mile tempo since the fall of 2011. I wasn't at all intimidated by this run because I knew all I had to do was keep my heart rate between 172-179 and I'd get the desired benefit. No pressure to run a particular pace. It was a pretty good morning for a tempo run-- 27 degrees and very little wind.

Mile 1: 7:31 (165 avg. HR)
Mile 2: 7:25 (174 avg. HR)
Mile 3: 7:34 (174 avg. HR) - net uphill
Mile 4: 7:32 (176 avg. HR)
Mile 5: 7:30 (176 avg. HR)
Mile 6: 7:15 (176 avg. HR)- net downhill

It definitely nice to finish on a downhill! I was very pleased with how I kept my effort level consistent and my heart rate reflected that.

Friday: 5.5 miles easy, avg. 8:44
I was pleasantly surprised at how peppy my legs felt after the previous day's tempo run. This was not a nice day for running- very cold, windy, overcast, but I got it done.

Saturday: 20.6 miles, avg. 8:56
I ran the Rock Creek Park loop with my teammates. A wind advisory was in effect, with sustained winds form 20-25 mph and higher gusts. The temperature was in the high 20's so this was really not ideal long-run weather. The wind kept waking me up the night before, so I hadn't slept well. In fact, for various reasons, I didn't sleep well this week at all. It didn't seem to affect my running, but I do want to make sure I get back on the right track with my sleep.

This Rock Creek Loop is much more challenging than my typical 20-mile residential route. The last 5 miles are noticeably downhill, but you pay for that in the first 15 which feel like they are primarily uphill. The coach recommends we hit marathon pace for the last 6 miles, which I did, but because they were all downhill, the 8:00 pace felt at the end of the run felt a little easier than the 9:00 uphill pace earlier in the run. I guess I'm just not used to so many hills. Once I finished, it felt great to have that run behind me, especially with such windy conditions.

Sunday: 4.4 miles easy, avg. 9:02
My legs felt great after the previous day's long run, but once again I didn't sleep well so I was pretty tired. I took a nap afterwards, so now I feel better.

It feels awesome to be logging this type of mileage and feeling good. I think I've finally found a training formula that works for me that I plan to repeat in future cycles.


  1. That is great Elizabeth! I hope the rest of your training goes well too. :-)