Training Log for Week 29 of 2018

Five weeks have now passed since I ran my debut marathon, and as my recovery continues, this week saw me adding some work at higher intensities back into my training. The weekly total was seven hours of running, resulting in 86 km (53 miles) run with 1124 meters (3688 ft) of climbing. The only cross training I got in this week was about 20 minutes of core strengthening exercises.

The summer in the southern parts of Norway continues to defy all rhyme and reason, and this was yet another week with midday temperatures in the low thirties for Celsius, which is close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This gave me a rough start to the week as I ran home after work on Monday, but I took the short route and got through the 11k without collapsing!

Trail running in Hebekkskogen, Nøstvedtmarka, Ski
Easy days on the trails are really easy on days like these!

Tuesday I just went out for a short and easy 8k trail run in the afternoon, while I added some speed and intensity on Wednesday morning. I took the scenic route (trails) on my commute to work, which is about 15k all told, and pushed pretty hard on the hills. On Thursday morning I had planned to run the short route to work, but I ended up having to double back after a couple of kilometres because I forgot both my wallet and my keycard, which made the run 14k long.

I kicked off the weekend on Friday morning by doing some more work on the hills, starting out with 6 times 15-second repetitions, before ending the session with a hard two-minute climb. Saturday was a full rest day, and Sunday saw me doing a short long run at 21k, with about 300 meters of climbing, most of it being in the final five kilometres.

All told it felt good to be working hard again, but I definitely notice that I have a ways to go before I am back to pre-marathon shape again. Because of that, I will prioritise this coming week’s more intensive stuff in the hills again. This is because I am far less likely to be caught up (and demotivated) with paces when working hills, and I also find it is easier to really get working in the hills, even if you don’t have too much pop in your legs.

Training Log for Week 28 of 2018

This was the fourth week after my marathon back on June 16th, and it’s good to finally be able to say that my body is beginning to feel normal again. Six and a half hours of running this week resulted in 79 km (49 miles) of running with 884 meters (2867 ft) of climbing. In terms of cross-training, I only managed to get in about half an hour on the bike.

The week started off in a good fashion, as the weather was perfect for running home after work, with clouds and a bit of rain to keep me nice and cool in around 20 degrees Celsius. The next couple of days the heat returned, and I tried to get all of my running done in the morning, going into work.

A dewy field early in the morning
Early morning runs can make for some scenic views, such as this dewy morning field.

As the week progressed, I felt that I recovered well and felt noticeably better after each run compared to what the past few weeks have been like. This spurred me on, and I got a real mental boost from feeling decent again, and I even signed up for a race. Come August 11, I will be running for a new 5k PR, which will hopefully be in the 17:30 range if I can get going again now.

That will in fact not be my first race after my goal marathon, as I did indeed participate in a marathon race this past Saturday. A couple of local guys had put on a race in the town where I live to celebrate finishing their 100th and 50th marathon respectively. Wow, well done! As I believe it is important to support local initiatives such as this, I decided to sign up for the marathon even if I knew I wouldn’t finish it. I jogged through 18k at a reasonably comfortable trot before calling it a day, but the hot conditions with a scorching sun and close to 30 Celsius in the shade made it a harder effort than I had hoped for.

Runner at Kråkstad Athletics Track
The 4k laps of Saturday’s race included a lap around one of the local tracks. This is me during the third of the five laps I ran.

Thankfully I pulled up alright on Sunday, and got through 8k at a decent recovery pace without feeling much of what I did the day before in my legs and body otherwise. I take this as a clear sign that I should be ready to add in some higher intensity work this coming week. The plan is to start with adding some short and hard hill repeats to a couple of my runs, and if I don’t notice any adverse effects from those I can start planning some proper sessions in the following weeks to try to get ready for a go at sub 17:30 in the 5k.

Training Log for Week 27 of 2018

This past week was the third week after my marathon, and the goal for the week was to keep increasing mileage after just getting back to running again with a couple of slow runs the week before. I didn’t quite get in the mileage I wanted, and I ended up with 42.2 km (26.2 miles, totally a coincident!) and 469 meters (1538 feet) of climbing across 3 hours and 38 minutes of running.

Road going through trees
From a morning run into work this week

With an hour and a half on the bike for cross training (and commuting) it was an OK week in terms of scaling my overall activity level back up towards pre-marathon levels. There’s very little to report from the four runs and three bike rides, as all of it was done at a low intensity and won’t catch anyone’s eye while the scroll past it in their Strava feeds.

Towards the end of the week, I started feeling noticeably better, and I think that is a good indicator that the cautious approach to recovery is working, and hopefully, I’ll reap the rewards by getting back to full training within a couple of more weeks. The plan for the upcoming week is simply to keep adding mileage at a slow and comfortable trot. If my overall condition keeps improving, I am looking to add in some more up-tempo work the week after.

Training Log for Week 26 of 2018

The second week after my marathon was all about trying to recover. With a full week of rest behind me, I tried to get moving a bit this week. I did not get too much done in the way of running, with a total of 2 hours and 25 minutes that amounted to 28 km (17 miles) and 312 meters (1023 ft) of climbing.

All my running was easy running, although it felt anything but easy. All of the three runs were done at recovery pace, but all of them were challenging and had me pulling up in a rough condition afterwards. Recovering from a marathon is no joke! In addition to the running, I also spent two hours biking, which I hope will aid my recovery.

This coming week will be all about increasing mileage, gradually, as dictated by my body. The aim is to get in around five runs and 50-60 km, but I will let my body and how it feels guide me in terms of how much running I ultimately get in.

Training Log for Week 25 of 2018

Unless eating counts, this week was a total week off from all types of training for me. While you can probably benefit from cross training such as biking during the first week after a goal marathon, I have a personal “policy” of dropping any and all training obligations for at least a full week after a goal race. This gives me at least two weeks every year where I don’t think about training at all, and I have found it to be very important for my motivation and mental strength.

I will start easing back into training the coming week, with a combination of running and biking. Returning to training after a marathon is quite risky in terms of injuries, so I will let caution guide me as I get back into the swing of things.

Training Log for Week 24 of 2018

The final week of training leading up to my goal marathon, which happened on the evening of Saturday this week, contained very little actual training. The goal at this stage is, as I’ve mentioned in several of the past weekly logs, to get to the starting line healthy and feeling fresh. Total running time for the week excluding the marathon was 2 hours 50 minutes, with just 35 kilometres (22 miles) of running and 328 meters (1 076 ft) of climbing.

As has become more or less routine through this training cycle, I started the week with a full rest day on Monday. Tuesday I did 11k at recovery pace, as per my schedule, even if it felt strange to do a recovery session without really having anything to recover from.

Wednesday it was time for the “Dress Rehearsal.” The point of this season is to get a final feel for race pace, with about 3k at marathon pace, and do a final check of the gear you’re planning to wear on race day. As I’d planned my full race attire months in advance, I opted not to wear it during my dress rehearsal. I instantly regretted this when packing to leave the following day, as I couldn’t find the long sleeve I was planning to wear under my singlet. Lesson learned!

Two days out, Tuesday, I ran 8k easy with six strides at the end, and the day before the race I only did 5k at an extra relaxed recovery pace. The race report from my debut marathon will be published sometime later this week, but I felt fit and ready to go after my final run before the race.

Training Log for Week 23 of 2018

This was the penultimate week of the training cycle leading up to my marathon, and the first true week of tapering down the volume. I ended the week with a total of just 5 hours and 30 minutes of running, which amounted to 69 kilometres (43 miles) and 632 meters (2 073 ft) of climbing.

As I’ve often done this training cycle, per Pete Pfitzinger’s plan, I started the week with a full rest day on Monday. That was followed by the only workout of the week, and the final one before my marathon, on Tuesday. The scheduled session comprised 3 x 1600 meter intervals at 5k pace. Given that I ran a race on Saturday, followed by a moderately long run on Sunday, I was pleased enough to get through all three intervals faster than my estimated 5k pace at 3:30 min/km, or about 5:30 for each four-lap interval.

The rest of the week was nothing special to write about, with easy sessions at 6, 11, 10 and 8k from Wednesday to Saturday. I closed the week out with a medium long run, where I for the first time felt the effects of the taper as I was able to cruise very comfortably through 20k at goal marathon pace + 10%. It was a great confidence booster of a run, with the only drawback being that I once more had GI (gastrointestinal) troubles towards the end. I actually had to cut it short with about 1k on account of this.

Going into race week, I will be doing everything I can to get my stomach in order again. Everything that I’m not entirely sure about will be eliminated from my diet, and I will be exclusively drinking water up until race day. All in all, I’m feeling pretty good about my shape, but I do worry a bit that my GI troubles will cause me trouble on race day. Otherwise, the only focus this coming week will be to try and get myself feeling as fresh and well rested without going flat.

Training Log for Week 22 of 2018

According to Pete Pfitzinger, the mastermind behind the marathon training schedule I’m following, this week was supposed to be the first week of a three-week long taper leading into my marathon. Sure, the overall mileage was reduced a bit, but at the end of the week, it sure didn’t feel like I was tapering. My numbers for the week were 91 kilometres (57 miles) of running and 841 meters (2 760 ft) of climbing spread across 7 hours and 16 minutes of running. I also did an hour and fifteen minutes on the bike.

Monday was a total rest day, and Tuesday I decided to bike both to and from work. It went fine, but I definitely noticed it both in my groin as I was biking and in my thighs later. This made me decide to be quite careful about doing any more biking in the final weeks before my marathon. Later that evening, I did 12k easy with six strides at the end.

On Wednesday I was supposed to do a 20k Medium Long Run, but I ended up having to cut it short on account of stomach troubles. Very annoying, but I made up for the lost miles the next day when I felt decent and did 16k with six strides to close off the run. Friday comprised only a short 8k recovery session in the heat of the afternoon, as I was preparing to race on Saturday.

Runners at the start of a race
Oppegårdmila 2018 was a hot experience! This is a photo from the start of the 10k, which I raced.

My training plan calls for a final tune-up race between 8-15k just two weeks out from your goal race. Luckily enough, there was local a 10k trail race (well, 10.3k actually) on this weekend, and I penciled that into my plan. It was a hot and heavy race, with the sun shining from clear skies, and a fair bit of climbing on the trails. Still, I managed to put in a very decent effort, and even if my time was not what I was hoping for, I was pleased to come in at 8th place overall in the race. In the next couple of days, I will publish a full race report, so stay tuned for that.

One of the challenges Pfitzinger’s marathon plans throws at you is a Saturday tune-up race followed by a Sunday long run. This was the second time I did that combination over the past 16 weeks, and it is challenging. My original plan was to get up early and hopefully get a head start on the heat, but alas, sleeping in on a Sunday was just too tempting. As such, I ended up doing the 27k in the middle of the day. My legs actually felt decent, but my body overall was definitely not fresh, so I settled in at a pretty comfortable pace. After the stomach cramps ended my run the Sunday before, I also paid extra attention to getting my hydration and gel strategy right this time around, and I did.

Afterwards, I felt pretty tired and banged up, and more than ready to really start tapering. This coming week my running volume will be further reduced with another 20 kilometres, and I hope that this will have me feeling fresher and lighter on my feet.

Training Log for Week 21 of 2018

It is Sunday, and this week was the last of the “Race Preparation” mesocycle of the training programme I am following. The final three weeks leading up to the race involve a staggered reduction in training volume as race day approaches. This means that my peak period of training is over, and the majority of the work is done. All told, I did eight and a half hours of running this week, which resulted in 104 km (64 miles) and 634 meters (2 080 ft) of climbing.

Going into this week, I had my sights on the weekend. I knew it was going to close out the peak period of training with a bit of a challenge. It came down to either a 10-mile race on Saturday followed by a long run on Sunday or my biggest and fastest long run yet on Saturday. In the end, I landed on the former on account of the weather and heat, as the race was too late in the day for my liking.

But, before reviewing my big session, let’s go through the rest of my week. Monday I only did a short, 8k recovery run. Tuesday it was time for another hard VO2Max session, with 5 x 1200 meters @ 5k pace on the plan. Coming home from work I was already tired, and the weather was brutal with close to 30 degrees Celsius and the sun scorching. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hit my 5k pace (around 3:30 min/km) at the planned session, and I instead decided to aim for 10k pace (around 3:40 min/km). Hindsight proves this was a smart move because I was absolutely exhausted after averaging about 3:37 min/km for the five intervals.

Wednesday I ran the 13k into work, and I felt absolutely dead on my feet the whole way, despite the very leisurely pace. On Thursday afternoon I actually ran a 10k race, but rather than racing I tried to pace a friend. It was an interesting experience, and I will be publishing a report of my experience in the coming week. Overall it took very little out of me, despite being another day with very hot and sunny conditions. Still, the day after I settled for another short and easy recovery run, eying the big session coming up on Saturday morning.

The plan going into the session was to start out with 25 kilometres at around marathon pace (or rather, a bit faster,) and then keep on going up to at most 35k if I was capable of keeping up the pace. The main idea behind this workout was to give my legs a final proper beating and hopefully gain some confidence that would help keep me sane as the taper crazies take hold.

It was yet another hot day, and the temperature was at around 25 degrees Celsius as we started the run at around 9 AM. I had planned the run with a friend who would be helping me along for the full run, and a couple of other people joined us at the start and ran with us for a good chunk of the workout. Doing an up-tempo long run in a group setting was a new experience for me, and definitely something I would like to do again. The miles just seem to fly by that much quicker when you’re running and relaxing with a bunch of other guys and girls.

Sunny roa
Running on a hot, sunny day can definitely be a challenge.

Up until 20k, I felt relaxed and comfortable, but at that point, it definitely started to cost a bit more to keep the pace up. Still, I decided to go on as we passed 25k, fully intending to at least one more “out and back” before slowing down, which would take me to about 33k. Of course, all good plans come undone, as this one did in every possible way when I was hit with some really bad stomach cramps at around 28k. I managed to keep up the pace for a bit, but at 29k I was struggling to catch my breath on account of the pain, and all I could do was hobble my way to 30k.

Having evaluated the run, I believe it was a combination of the heat and very poor fuelling that gave me trouble. I took my first gel at 17k and drank very little before desperately belching down around half a litre after taking another gel at 25k. This was probably too much, too soon for my stomach to handle, and thus I ended up having to cut the run a bit shorter than what I thought my legs would be able to handle on the day.

In a way, I guess I should be thankful for the stark reminder of how important it is to not scamp on my fuelling during the race. It is definitely an aspect of marathoning that I could well forget the importance of as the occasion takes me. I also got through 30 kilometres at 4 min/km, a pace significantly faster than the pace required to realise my goal of going below three hours in three weeks. Yet, I can’t help but feel a little annoyed that I was brought down by something like that, and was unable to complete the run as I had planned yesterday.

Either way, I took it easy today with a very slow recovery run at 10k. And with that, the focus now shifts. Instead of trying to improve fitness, the goal is now to get to the starting line feeling fresh and ready to go. I will be deviating very little from the Pfitzinger plan I’ve been following in these final three weeks, which means that I am doing a final 10k tune-up race next weekend. Other than that, it is primarily comfortable running until I toe the line in three weeks time.

Training Log for Week 20 of 2018

This past weekend marked four weeks to go until my goal race, my marathon debut on June 16th. I am still using the Pfitzinger 18 week, 70 miles per week at peak training plan as the template for my work, and the penultimate week before the taper starts was another decent week of training for me. The log shows a total of 9 hours 9 minutes spent running, which resulted in 115 km (72 miles) and 1,311 meters (4,302 ft) of climbing. Additionally, I spent 30 minutes on the bike for cross training.

The week started with half an hour on the bike on Monday, in an attempt to try and shake out some of the soreness in my legs from the hard Sunday run the day before. Come Tuesday my legs definitely still felt heavy, though, as I tagged along with a friend for a 15k morning run into work.

Wednesday I felt good as I started from work and intended to add an extra loop to make my run home a proper medium long at around 24k. Unfortunately, I totally failed to account for the fact that I’ve barely run in any sort of hot weather this year, and the 25+ degrees Celcius completely got to me after 7-8k, and eventually, I had to cut the run short at 18k.

Thursday was the Norwegian national day, and that means no work. I took advantage of the day off by getting off to the track before the festivities started properly, and did a light VO2Max session which consisted of 5 x 600m intervals at around 5k pace, which is about 3:30 min/km (5:38 min/mile). At 2:02, 2:02, 2:02, 2:02 and finally 2:01, I was pleased with how evenly I ran the splits.

Come Friday morning it was back to work, and I ran in for a good start to the day. As I beat the heat in the morning and felt quite good through the first half of the run, I decided to tack on an extra 8k loop to make up for the lost mileage on Tuesday. Total distance was 23k at a decent pace, considering I did a bit of climbing, too.

Saturday was just a short 8k recovery run before I ended the week with a 33k long run on Sunday afternoon. It was another hot day and the wind made the back half of the run extra challenging. But all in all another decent long run in the bag.

I am currently trying to plan out my final week before the taper. Yes, I am following a Pfitzinger training plan, but making modifications when and where I see fit. For me, that means that the coming week, which ends with three weeks to go until race day, will be peak week in terms of mileage. The conundrum as it stands is how do I close out the week, with a 10-mile race or a 20+ mile long run at marathon pace with a good group? I’ve yet to decide.