Marathon Training for Slackers

I have a few new followers this week...welcome!  I hope you find something here to keep you reading after Neil's giveaway ends.  And if you're a follower who has never stopped by Neil's blog, you might check him out (and I'm not just saying that because I shamelessly self-promoted myself on his blog).  Speaking of shameless self-promotion, I'm hoping to have an announcement in the next couple weeks (no, I'm not pregnant), so stay tuned.

My marathon training plan only has me running three days a week. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I take that back; I know exactly how I feel about it: it both thrills me (bc I still don't love running all that much, especially when I'm doing it) and worries me (is it enough?). I'm using the Runner's World Smart Coach plan, and I'm choosing to trust in it.

My goal paces are based on my last 10k time, which wasn't a stellar performance, possibly due to running half marathons (well, one half marathon and one 20k) in each of the previous two weeks. I have definitely run faster than the paces the speedwork intervals call for...but that was when I was training for the half; I haven't trained consistently since October. I seem to do better if I set realistic (if not downright cautious) goals and work to exceed them than if I set ambitious goals...and then fail to meet them.

This was my first week of official marathon training, and here's the scoop so far:

Goal: Easy run 3 miles at 11:22
Actual: 3 miles @ 10:12 pace

Every time I run, I'm reminded to respect the distance. "Ah...'only' 3 miles..." and then I get out there and remember that no matter how short the run is and how easy the pace is, running does NOT come easy to me! The other thing I'm always reminded is to keep going. After the first two miles it felt much better. Note: took the hillier route in our neighborhood and concentrated on "float up the hill". I'm not sure what that means, but it helped.

Goal: Tempo run: 1 mi w/u, 3 miles @ 9:45, 1 mi c/d
Actual: w/u (10:05), mi 1 (9:24), mi 2 (9:24), mi 3 (9:27), c/d (10:48)

This was another one that started off rough. If I quit running as soon as it felt unpleasant, I'd never make it past my driveway. Halfway through the warmup mile, I was telling myself it's ok...just run the 5's ok if you're too slow... Once I finished the second mile it was much better, and mile 2-2.5 actually felt good. I need to remember at the beginning that it'll get better. Mentally I'm always stronger on the back half of a run. Hopefully that'll hold true for the marathon, where I'll really need it! This ended up being a really good run.

Goal: easy 8 miles at 11:22
Actual: 8.8 trail miles @11:03 pace

This was my longest run since the River Road Race. I ran it on a trail loop. I'm triple dipping...getting in my marthon miles, taking it easier on my knees, training for the Castlewood Cup 15K and Quivering Quads half marathon (both trail events). I've been woefully unprepared for my last two trail races, and that isn't going to happen again. This way I got to add in some hills, and my hill running definitely has room for improvement.

photo.JPGIt was cold this morning. said 12 degrees with a -3 wind chill the first time I woke up, so I said forget that (or maybe some other f word...I'm not sure...) and went back to sleep. I dragged out the waiting process all morning and finally took off around 1. By then, the temps had warmed to a balmy 20 degrees/5 degree windchill. I wore running tights under another pair of pants, a long-sleeved compression top, a short-sleeved technical t, a fleece sweatshirt, and my jacket. Last time I wore the jacket, my fleece was soaked when I took it off. This time I used the pit zips and actually had the jacket unzipped most of the way for a lot of the run, but after the first 2.2 mile lap I ended up being too warm and taking the fleece off.

Once again, the fleece was wet on the outside.  I ran the remainder of the run with the other shirts under the jacket, and it was much better except for the sweat from the jacket.  So. I think I've pretty much figured out the way to go for cold weather runs.  No fleece with the jacket.  I'll say, though, that the REI website says the jacket is breathable, and it sure doesn't seem to be.  They may get an email from me.  Is it possible that I'm doing something wrong?  If I can't wear a jacket right, that's just sad.

It was pretty quiet out today. I saw a total of two bicyclists on my way to the trails and two lonely cars at the (normally packet) parking area for the paved trails. There was one older couple out on "my" trails with me as well as three or four deer. Because it was so cold, the majority of the trail was nice and frozen.  Most of it was clear, but there were a few spots that still had a light cover of snow.

I loved doing my long run on the trail.  Granted, it was physically harder and slower than I would have been on the road or paved trail, but it's so much more interesting.  The loop I run is around 2.2 miles.  To break it up, I ran two loops counterclockwise (my normal direction) and two clockwise.  The big news of the day is that I conquered* the hill! Ever since I started running out here in the fall, there's been a hill that I haven't been able to run the entire way up.  Today, for the first time, I did--twice!  (On the other hand, I have a slower time on the loop when I "run" the hill than when I walk it, but that'll get better.)

Not actually "the" hill

The hill above is steep enough that you can actually see its steepness in the picture, which is rare, but it's not "the hill" (though I did run this one twice as well).  "The" hill is a lot longer and I've always worn down.  Not today! :)  Part of the loop passes along a ravine of sorts.  It's interesting; on the counterclockwise loop I was able to run the whole way along the ravine.  When I ran it clockwise, there was one spot where I had to stop and step across; it was too scary going in that direction.

Narrow spot in the trail

It's hard to tell from the picture above, but the trail is about as wide as my foot in this one spot with a fairly steep (though not overly long) drop to the right.  I stopped to take this picture, put away my phone, and almost lost my balance.  Nice.  Then, about 4 feet further along (thankfully on a wider spot in the trail), I slipped and fell.  My first fall of 2011...and not the last, I'm sure.  Landed on my butt, so plenty of padding. :)

None of my 2.2 mile splits were particularly impressive.  Lap 1 was 23:54, Lap 2 was 23:49, Lap 3 was 24:46, and lap 4 was 24:50.  I did stop a couple of times to take a quick picture, but the time lost was negligible.  I'm interested to see if I pick up some speed if I run my long runs out here regularly.  I did take a GU (Vanilla Bean...mmmm) halfway through.  I would have been fine without it (never did any fueling during any of my HM training long runs), but I figure I'll be needing some sort of fueling strategy when I run the marathon and had better start figuring out what works for me.

Still smiling, no body parts lost to frostbite. :)
Anyway, I'll call my first official marathon training long run a success.  And week one is in the bag.


  1. Good job keeping under your goal times! What marathon time are you shooting for?

  2. Well, my main goal is just to finish. Ideally under 4:30.

  3. You are making me feel like a slacker. Good job this week. I will have a post later tonight,maybe tomorrow about our weekend. With you eggig me on inside my pocket I did a little jog at the Zoo. It was 17 degrees outside, I am pretty sure anyone can be motivated to run to warmth in the weather.

  4. Sounds like you are taking the low trail. You should mix it up and take the high trail. Or mix it up even further and show up for a group run on Saturday morning.

  5. I thought about it today until I saw the temperature and wimped out. I was wondering if I was running in you guys' footprints...and thought of your pictures each time I ran past (not down or up) suicide hill.

  6. It is wonderful to read about your marathon training! I wanted to train for one that is at the end of March, but I am struggling with an IT Band injury. :( Best of luck in your training adventures!

  7. Way to get out there and get it done, specially when it is so cold. Very impressive.

  8. I know what you mean about only training 3 times a week - you really just gotta trust the training program that you are following. Nothing wrong with your self-portrait ;-)

  9. I followed 3 times the RW training program (the 4 weekly workouts one) and it always worked for me. I am sure that you will reach your under 4:30 goal.

  10. Great week one, Kate! I love trail running, and I agree, it's also less impact on your body. Also, love the slideshow, I may have to look into that for my blog too. Happy running for week 2! :)

  11. My sister is a marathon runner and I so admire the fortitude it takes to conquer those miles.

    Good luck with your training plan! May your feet stay in top condition and you stay away from more falls. I will be watching from the sidelines.

  12. Is your training going to ever take you up more than 3 days/week? I only ask because just the other day we (the xc coaches at school) were talking about marathon training and this topic came up when one of the coaches wives used the "run less run far" program, which implements less mileage and focuses on key runs. Personally, we all felt it wasn't enough, so I am very excited in you proving us wrong :)!!!

    I used to work at REI - LOVED IT (why I quit is beyond me, and now I can't get back on) ... but they have a great return policy so just take the jacket back and say it couldn't breathe .. they'll give ya your money back! :) And get a jacket with some pit zips, perhaps?!?!?

  13. Looks like you had a fantastic week!

  14. I find that I can only wear a jacket when it is raining-even the "breathable" jackets don't breathe. I like layers of tech shirts finished with a fleece....with the fleece/jacket combo, the fleece pulls the moisture to the top and the jacket traps it.

  15. YOu rock! Hope you didn't have too many thoughts of my blog post as you shopped today. HOpe you enjoy good food but treat yourself too because looks like you've earned it! :)

    I'm excited to see how your plan plays out! are you doing other cross training on the other days? If so, I think this can be enough...I've heard from others who are using this plan.

  16. I was curious which of the two runs between the Cup and Quads was worse? I’m doing Quads, did a training run at Castlewood, and was blown out by mile ten.

    1. Oh man, it's been a long time since I ran at Cuivre River, and I don't have a Garmin track from there to look back on. I'd guess they're pretty equivalent, but I haven't run long miles at Castlewood in 2 years and at Cuivre River in 7, so take that with a grain of salt.


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