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.

Training Log for Week 19 of 2018

Yet another week has become part of training log history, and the end of this one marked just five weeks to go until I toe the starting line of my debut marathon on June 16th. With regards to my 18-week training plan, I am closing out the hardest part of the plan, with just two more weeks to go until the taper starts. In summary, this was another very decent week of training as I managed to log 117 km (72 miles) and climb 1,043 meters (3,422 ft) over a total of 9 hours and 17 minutes of running. This was a new all-time high in terms of weekly mileage for me!

On Monday I started the week with a 10k recovery run before I did my first run commute to my new place of employment on Tuesday morning. Tagging along with a friend slash neighbour who works a bit further off, we took what for me amounted to the scenic route and a total distance of 15k for a nice start to the day. My plan after accepting this new job has been to try and get most of my weekday running done as part of my transportation to or from work. This will free up a lot of time for me, and hopefully, make running at this level more viable even as our family expands in the future.

Wednesday was a full rest day and come Tuesday, it was time for another interval session on the track. This week Pfitzinger threw 6×1000 meters at me, and while it definitely felt laboured throughout, I got through them comfortably enough coming in just under 3:30 in all six intervals. I opted for around 75% (2:30) light jog rest. With the benefit of hindsight, I probably could have made it an even better session by cutting the rest with 30 seconds. It was still a decent workout though, and with the sun out and the temperatures rising, it was a nice feeling to be able to run shirtless with some speed, relatively speaking, on the track again. I closed the day off with a slow 8k recovery jog.

A red, tartan running track
Feels great to be back on the track in great weather, running intervals. Photo by Karl Poggeman.

On Friday I paid the price for my session the day before, as I struggled my way through a slow and sluggish 22k medium long run. These runs can be really challenging on tired legs, even if you’re running them at recovery pace, but I believe it to be very beneficial to make sure to get these done during marathon training. Saturday I just did another short and slow 8k recovery run, trying to get my legs nice and loose for the big session to come.

In Pfitzinger’s medium and high mileage plans, the 18/14 (18 miles with 14 at goal marathon pace) is perhaps the most infamous. It is hard because you’re in the middle of the hardest part of the plan, but at the same time, you should be able to complete 14 miles at your goal marathon pace just five weeks out from the race. The idea is that if you manage to complete this session at your goal pace and in representative conditions, you are in a good place with regards to realising your goal come race day.

I decided the course I wanted to run by looking at my old Strava logs, and to get the balance right between climbs and descents in the marathon pace portion, I ended up planning a 35k (22 miles) run with 23k at goal marathon pace. My goal for the marathon is to come in at under three hours, which equates to 4 min 15 sec per km (6:50/mile). To give myself some leeway, all my training paces have been calculated with a goal marathon pace of 4:10/km (6:42/mile). For the most part, I’ve been able to complete all my workouts slightly faster than the paces calculated from my 4:10/km goal marathon pace, which I figure will give me some additional leeway when something inevitably goes wrong. It’s a marathon, after all.

So, going into the marathon section of the big long run this Sunday, I was hopeful that I would be able to average at least 4:10/km. Given that the 23k I would be running at marathon pace comprised as much climbing as the full marathon I will be running does, and that I did it with a hydration vest with bottles, I figured that would mean I was in a good spot. Coming back home, I was delighted to find that my average pace for the 23k at marathon pace was 4:05/km (6:34/mile).

Road and landscape
The stretch of road where I finished the marathon pace section of the run. Felt great to get through that!

It was a very hard session all told, but I am happy with how I got through it. The conditions were favourable overall, cloudy with little to no wind, but the temperature climbing into the middle of the twenties (Celsius) for the first time so far this year definitely made it a bit challenging. Still, I was able to handle my nutrition and get down four gels and around 200 ml of energy drink. But I did have to stop at a fast food joint along the way to buy more water after finishing the marathon pace segment. I was all out of water and felt desperately thirsty and sticky in the throat and mouth from the gels and the energy drink. A note to myself following this is to make sure to not skimp on water at the aid stations come race day.

After finishing the run, I was completely battered for the rest of the day, and eating was about the only thing I managed to do until bedtime. In summary, it was another good week of training, and the emphasis is now on keeping the mileage up for the next two weeks despite the cumulative fatigue. If I can get through to the taper unscathed, I think I will have put myself in a good position to realise my goal time in my first marathon.

Training Log for Week 18 of 2018

Only six weeks out from my goal marathon, I am now in the meat of my training. Last week was a really good week of training overall, as I was able to combine intensive workouts with peak mileage. Across just shy of nine hours of running, I got in 112 km (70 miles) and 1,033 meters (3,390 ft) of climbing last week.

I started the week off with a short 8k recovery session on Monday, before upping the pace a bit on Tuesday, with a steady state Medium Long Run with a 4 km cutdown to just a bit faster than marathon pace. Total distance for the run including the cooldown was 22.5 km. After this run, I felt a bit of a niggle on the outside of my right midfoot. It did not bother me at all while running, but I felt sore afterwards and in the following morning.

Come Wednesday, I kept the foot on the pedal and did a VO2Max session consisting of 5 x 600 meters at around 5k pace with an 80 seconds 200-meter jog between intervals. I didn’t feel particularly fresh throughout this session, but I got through it as prescribed, even if it probably cost a bit more than it should have. The outside of my right midfoot still lingered post running, without being more than barely noticeable while running.

Thursday was a full rest day before I did a 16k General Aerobic run on Friday. Saturday was the day for the last Lactate Threshold specific session of the cycle. With 11k at threshold pace, it’s a pretty big workout. As I didn’t feel really great on the day, I decided to the threshold segment based on HR, as opposed to trying to hit certain paces. All in all, I got through it alright, even if I found it pretty challenging to keep the intensity high enough at stretches. That cumulative fatigue is making its mark!

I closed off the week with a comfortable long run. Well, I use “comfortable” as an adjective for the pace, rather than how I felt throughout. At the end of a long week, I’m not going to find it comfortable past kilometre 25 regardless of pace. Which is fine, and getting the work in on tired legs should be very decent marathon training.

Training Log for Week 17 of 2018

As per Pfitzinger’s 18-week marathon training plan that I am using in the build-up for my marathon debut, the previous week was the last of the second mesocycle lactate threshold and endurance, leading into four weeks of race preparations. All in all, it was a decent week of training, and I ended up running 111 km (69 miles) spread over a little more than 9 hours, with 1,102 meters (3,615 ft) of climbing.

The week kicked off with a recovery session on Monday before I unexpectedly had to cancel the planned run on Tuesday. I barely managed to get through the day at work on account of headaches and generally feeling pretty bad, and feared that I was coming down with something that would throw a proper wrench in my training plans. As I came home from work, I went straight to bed and more or less slept until Wednesday morning, and woke up feeling much better.

What it was that bothered me on Tuesday, I don’t know, but I counted my blessings that it didn’t set me further back and went out for an easy general aerobic 15k run on Wednesday evening. On Thursday I did a double comprising an AM 10k and a PM 15k.

Because of my plans for the weekend, and the fact that I had the day off from work, I had scheduled my long run for the week to Friday. It was a pretty long one, with 35k on the plan. Every part of my body wanted to just drop it and pretend like nothing as I woke up to the alarm on my day off, which was a cold and quite windy one. But, I got out there and I put in the miles, despite the fact that it felt like I had to work for every single step. Some days are just horrible, but I believe that getting through whatever’s on the plan for those days hardens you.

An uphill road
Some days leave you feeling like you’re constantly running uphill.

Saturday was an easy 8k recovery session, while I closed off the week with a 20k medium long on Sunday afternoon. All in all a decent week of training, but because of scheduling and the unplanned day off, I missed out on the final LT session of the cycle. That means I have to try and fit it in somewhere in the coming week, which will make it a challenging week. Hopefully, I am equipped to handle it this point.

One lesson learned this week is that being busier than normal outside of running will have an effect my training. This is nothing new, of course, but it is interesting to really feel that my body has less energy when running in busy periods. Knowing that I fully expect that starting a new job this week will make my training severely more challenging in the coming month. Not ideal, but it is what it is, and will be doing my best to get enough rest between work and training to hopefully make it work both at my new place of employment and out on the road.

Training Log for Week 16 of 2018

The tenth week of my 18 week marathon training plan was a good one. I logged 109 km (68 miles) and 991 m (3250 feet) of climbing across nine hours of running. After coasting last week with only easy running to get my mileage back up post half marathon, I was able to add in some intensity this week.

Monday was a full rest day, while I did around 15k General Aerobic on Tuesday. Wednesday I did my first VO2Max session for the year, 5×800 with 90 seconds walking rest (Strava). I ran the 800s in 2:50 and it felt just as a tough as I’d feared, but I found it amazing to see how quickly I recovered in-between the intervals. Had planned on two minute rests, but after about a minute my HR was already below the range where Pfitzinger suggests you start back up again, so I went with 90 seconds.

Thursday I did a medium long run by commuting in to work (Strava), while Friday’s run was a 10k recovery session at a leisurely pace. Saturday I ran another race, Sentrumsløpet 10k. I bested my previous PR set back in October with about a minute and a half, and chip time as I crossed the finish line was 36:57. Was very pleased with that, as the course is a bit tough in my opinion, with a bit of climbing. Be sure to read the race report for all the details of how the race went.

I’m now in the meat of Pfitz, and will be looking to keep my mileage near peak volume over the next five weeks or so, before starting the taper. Overall I’m still feeling pretty good, but two races over the previous two weeks definitely makes it a bit harder to get the work in. While running a good race makes me want to do even better, I always feel like I deserve a bit of a break after racing. That makes going out for a long run the day after the race a bit of a mental challenge, but I’m hoping that will only make me stronger and more resilient in the long run. (He-he!)

Training Log for Week 15 of 2018

Another week of training in the books, and the end of the week was the halfway mark through my Pfitzinger 18 (weeks) / 70 (peak mpw) training plan in preparation for my marathon debut in June. Between racing a half marathon last Sunday, and some challenges with a cold and a sinus infection in the weeks leading up to that half, this week was all about recovering on my feet.

Put another way, I wanted to recover while still getting my mileage back up to the minimum I want to be doing while preparing for the marathon. That meant getting in at least 100 km / 62 miles, and probably most of it running in zone one or two, depending on how I felt as the week progressed.

Monday and Tuesday I found myself absolutely beat, and it took all I had to just get in a few kilometres. Wednesday I felt a little better while doing a lunch recovery run, and tried a slow medium long run at 20k on Thursday. I was still struggling at that point, and especially beyond 10k. Friday and Saturday I did some general aerobic runs at around 12 and 15k, before closing the week out with a short long run on Sunday, which amounted to 24k and a bit of climbing. Even on Sunday, I was still struggling with turnover. I found that doing some climbing helped force the intensity, and it felt like it shook off some rust.

Garmin training load shows recovery
Garmin training load
Strava training load shows recovery
Strava training load

Most of my running this week was at recovery intensity, and all total, I ended up with 102 km / 63 miles for the week. I am also fairly confident that I managed to do it while recovering effectively. Strava and my Garmin both agree, which is always nice, even if I am a firm advocate of applying a healthy dose of scepticism when using these kinds of measurements for training load.

This coming week I will be looking to add some more intensity to my training, after a full rest day on Monday, while hopefully keeping the mileage more or less steady. The Pfitzinger plan is finally throwing some VO2Max work my way. Saturday will be exciting, as I am running a local 10k race, although I can’t exactly say that the long run the following day is something I am particularly looking forward to.