Saturday, November 5, 2016

1 day to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

Tomorrow is the day I've been working toward since I was able to start running again in April. It's been a very trying year, but I now have 7 healthy months of training under my belt, and I can safely say that the injury cycle has been broken, and I am back on track for a great marathon tomorrow and a healthy 2017.

In past marathons I have been able to check all the boxes I thought I needed to build my confidence going into a race. I was able to say I hit workouts as fast as I was aiming for, I stuck to my nutrition plan, completed all the supplemental training, and ran all the high mileage weeks. This time around I can check every box except the last one, and it has been an exercise in confidence. I had to be extremely careful these last 12 weeks which led me into the pool every time I felt tightness that I was uncomfortable with. I was most likely overreacting each time, but it is extremely difficult to catch a stress fracture before it's too late. Whether it was an overreaction or not doesn't really matter. My marathon specific workouts have been on par or at times surpassed any of my training blocks in the past, and I'm showing up to the line healthy. When starting this marathon segment months ago, I had convinced my self that I would only be able to get to an 80 or 90% fitness level without getting hurt. I am hoping now that I am actually closer to 100% and heading into race day feeling fresh.

The curse is broken! It's time to let the training (especially the countless hours of horrendously boring aquajogging) pay off. The field is obviously very competitive, and the American field is deep. New York is always a surprise in terms of how fast it starts, where moves are made, and who is having a good or bad day. I plan to stick my nose in the thick of it and be ready to adapt at any moment.

Thank you to the New York Road Runners for giving me the platform to continue my career among some of the best competition in the world, on the greatest marathon stage in the world. Thank you also to Brooks for sticking with me through this rough patch and committing to me well beyond 2016!


Weeks to go: 2 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 90 minutes aqua jogging off 1 hour 0
Tuesday 11.5 5.5 + drills and strides 17
Wednesday 4 x 2 miles w/2 min rest @ 4:41-4:45 off 15
Thursday 11 5 16
Friday 1 hour aqua jogging off 30 minutes 0
Saturday 10 5 15
Sunday 15 easy off 30 minutes 15
TOTAL 78

Weeks to go: 1
AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 70 minutes aqua jogging 40 minutes elliptical 30 minutes 0
Tuesday 5 x 1km @ 2:54-2:57 w/1 min rest 5 16
Wednesday off travel to NYC off 0
Thursday 1 hour easy off 9
Friday 50 minutes easy + drills and strides off 8
Saturday 30 minutes easy off 4
Sunday NYC Marathon off

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Less than 2 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

I'm happy to report that the concerning tightness in my back from the previous week has disappeared even after the long, hard tempo a week and a half ago. I was back to running six days this last week, and the body feels great. Sometimes forced rest can be beneficial, especially squeezed between high volume and high intensity workouts. I certainly don't want to jinx myself, but I am looking forward to starting the New York Marathon healthy, rested, and fit!

Playing it safe, we went to a Fartlek for the mid-week workout and decided to save my last threshold effort workout for this week. I have also backed off the lifting once feeling the back tightness two weeks ago, but it was about time for that anyway. I wanted one last week of decent volume before starting a brief, two week taper. The previous week had so much time in the pool that I do not feel that I am risking fresh legs by popping back up to 100 in 6 days. I still plan 1-2 days off and my final pool session during the coming 10 days, so my legs won't have any excuse not to show up as ready as my mind on November 6th.

With nearly all important training in the bank, this next week will be more about healthy distractions, reflection, and dialing in a race plan which I will share more about next week. Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below.

Weeks to go: 3 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 90 minutes aqua jogging off 1 hour 0
Tuesday 12 5 + drills and strides 17
Wednesday Fartlek: 3 x (5, 4, 3) w/half recovery jog off 40 minutes 15
Thursday 12 5 17
Friday 10 5 + drills and strides 40 minutes 15
Saturday 12 6 18
Sunday 18 miles, push 4 @ 4:59 from 13-17 off 18
TOTAL 100

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Less than 3 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

With the NYC Marathon nearing, it's time to put the finishing touches on a successful marathon training block. After last week's long run with tempo repeats, I started to feel tightness in my lower back that was concerning (felt like sacrum), and with NYC so close, I was not about to take any chances. I took 4 days in the pool and skipped the scheduled Fartlek for the week. I am likely overreacting as I did before with the quad tightness, but at this point I cannot be too careful. All the major workouts are in, and the easy mileage now is more for confidence and maintaining a routine than actually increasing fitness. With the help of the extra rest, I had a great 16 mile tempo this past Sunday, and the back feels great! I can't second guess whather the down time was necessary at this point, and I'm excited to still be on the path to a healthy and fit start on November 6th. This past year of three consecutive stress fractures has made me much more cautious but certainly not less hungry. 

The 16 mile tempo took place on the Fairmount loop in Portland, which is a very honest loop. There really isn't a flat point on this 3.5 mile course, so it is an exaggeration of what NYC will bring. On top of that, we had a nice wind/rain storm last weekend in the Pacific NW, so it was quite the battle. I made sure to keep the effort in line as this is not the time for racing, but I did fight to maintain a steady pace. I would like to think a 5:04 average on this day was worth much more, and it gave me a mental boost fighting the conditions and rain. 

I recently did an interview with Athletic Illustrated asking why I decided to run my third New York City Marathon. I like racing marathons without pacemakers. I realize, of course, that NYC is not the only marathon without pacemakers (not even the only US major), but I also love the challenges the course and weather can bring. I have said this before, but NYC is as close as I can come to tapping my cross country mindset at the 26.2 distance, and that's where my strength is. I toe the line without thinking about locking into a 4:58 pace, but only thinking about beating guys that I should have no business beating on other courses. Smart, tough running will take you a long ways in New York. This year will be no exception. 

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below. Also, follow me on Twitter and stay tuned for an opportunity to win a pair of Brooks shoes and cool new piece of tech called Tune

Weeks to go: 4 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 90 minutes aqua jogging off 1 hour 0
Tuesday 1 hour aqua jogging 1 hour aqua jogging 0
Wednesday 90 minutes aqua jogging 40 minutes elliptical 40 minutes 0
Thursday 90 minutes aqua jogging  off 0
Friday 1 hour easy 1 hour aqua jogging 40 minutes 9.5
Saturday 12.5 6 18.5
Sunday 16 mile temp @ 5:04, hilly, rainy, windy off 20

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Less than 4 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

We're now inside 4 week mark to the New York City Marathon, and these final weeks can be the most challenging part. I am still in the heart of marathon training, but it is also time to start thinking about tapering volume within the next week or two. I feel like I'm rounding into marathon shape, so the thought of pumping the brakes is a bit disheartening, but necessary. I knew this marathon training block was going to take extreme patience by keeping my miles far below my normal training load, and now I am beyond the time frame in which I could justify doing something overly aggressive (aka stupid). All signs point toward a healthy start on November 6th and breaking the injury cycle!

As for last week's training, I felt pretty exhausted for Wednesday's threshold work, but that is likely due to the quality long run I had the previous Sunday. Small lulls like this are normal, and I felt much better for the long workout at the end of the week. This tempo, run, tempo workout is pretty brutal. I am learning each time how to better attack particular segments, and I would argue that this was my best yet. Even though I felt a little rusty for the first set of 2km repeats, I forced myself to push the 10 mile run to at least a moderate effort in order to head into the second set of tempo repeats quite fatigued. My pace wasn't particularly fast for the 10 mile run (about 5:50 average), but it was on some seriously hilly terrain following Beach Dr. in Victoria, BC. I finished each of the last 4 tempo repeats not certain if I could do another holding that pace, so I think the effort was spot on. This is one of the best workouts I have found to simulate the mental strain that will occur in the latter stages of NYC in a few weeks.

I was fortunate to be able to change up the scenery for this workout in BC as my wife, Eva, was taking her third crack at the 42km distance at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. It was her second time competing in this race and her second 2nd place finish! The course is beautiful and the organizers are fantastic. I highly recommend putting this on your marathon bucket list.

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below.

Weeks to go: 4 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 90 minutes aqua jogging off 1 hour 0
Tuesday 12.5 5.5 + drills and strides 18
Wednesday 4 mile tempo @ 4:48, 2 x 2 miles @ 4:42 40 minutes elliptical 40 minutes 15
Thursday 12.5 5.5 18
Friday 14 + drills and strides off 14
Saturday 13 6 40 minutes 19
Sunday 4 x 2km, 10 mile run, 4 x 2km @ 4:45 pace off 24
TOTAL 108

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Less than 5 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

I had a down week in terms of volume planned for last week, and with long workouts Wednesday and Sunday, I didn't have much room for easy running in between. Both workouts went well though, so I suppose the rest paid off. Now I'm ready for a few more weeks in the 110 range over a 6 day training period. That will be as high as I get this training block in order to ensure the end of my injury cycle. I am banking on the last decade of high volume to carry me through on strength and allow myself to focus on the quality of a couple hard sessions per week. 

The Wednesday workout surprised me a bit. I have done this 4 mile, 3 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile breakdown during most marathon blocks in the past, but I believe this was the best overall average to date. To be running some of my best threshold workouts while getting in long, hilly, grueling long runs should put me in position to have my best New York race to date. A month is still plenty of time to get hurt, however, so I have to keep plugging away without overdoing it. My two most challenging long runs of the training block are coming up over the next two weeks. If they go well, I will have all the confidence I need for November 6th. 

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below. 

Weeks to go: 5 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 80 minutes aqua jogging off 1 hour 0
Tuesday 11.5 5.5 + drills and strides 17
Wednesday 4 mi, 3 mi, 2 mi 1 mi @ 18:54, 14:07, 9:20, 4:39 40 minutes elliptical 40 minutes 16
Thursday 10 off 10
Friday 12 8 x 200 meter hills 18
Saturday 8 1 hour aqua jogging 40 minutes 8
Sunday 23 miles, hilly Fairmount loop, 18-22 @ 4:57, 5:32 overall average off 23
TOTAL 92

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Less than 6 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

Another week of marathon training is in the books, and I am happy to report that my body feels great! The midweek long tempos are always a struggle as they follow a tough Sunday effort, so the time wasn't particularly impressive, but the effort was consistent and at the level I expect for 70 minutes of running. I decided to move my Sunday long run to a more challenging loop in order to mimic the stress of the ups and downs of the NYC course. The Fairmount loop in Portland is 3.5 miles with constant elevation changes, so it's difficult to get into a rhythm for a long run as you have to push the downhills in order to maintain goal pace. I think it's also beneficial to change the muscle groups throughout a run this long as opposed to locking into cruise control on a flat run. I am considering this challenging course for my last long tempo which will happen in a couple weeks, but I will do one or two more runs first to better learn the layout in preparation. The 3.5 mile distance is very convenient as I can simply leave all my bottles at the start line as opposed to driving around dropping them off and picking them up. It saves me up to an hour for my long run day which I could be using to better refuel and rest.

The next two weeks will likely be the toughest of the training block, and I am confident that my body is ready for it. Despite the scare a few weeks ago that forced me into the pool for a week, I can't remember my body feeling this fresh in a long time. No aches, pains, niggles, tightness, etc. This is about the time that I messed up heading into the Olympic Trials as I used this feeling as a sign to jump the mileage up to 140 per week against my coaches advice, which was likely the beginning of my road to the femoral stress fracture. This time around, I plan to stay the course, keep volume relatively low, continue to stay acutely aware of how my body is feeling, and continue with rehab and recovery. Workouts have been going well enough that I know NYC will go well as long as I'm at the start line healthy. How well it will go will be determined by the next 5 and a half weeks.

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below. Follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Weeks to go: 6 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 90 minutes aqua jogging off 1 hour 0
Tuesday 11.5 5.5 + drills and strides 17
Wednesday 14 mile tempo @ 5:02 off 18
Thursday 11 5 1 hour 16
Friday 11 8 x 200 meter hills 18
Saturday 12 1 hour aqua jogging 40 minutes 12
Sunday 25 miles, miles 18-22 @ 4:59, hilly off 25
TOTAL 106

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Less than 7 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

We're under 7 weeks until the TCS New York City Marathon. Following last week's long run, I was pleased with my threshold effort workout on Wednesday. I started out feeling pretty rusty, which is very normal coming off 24 miles just a couple days before, but I found my rhythm and felt strong during the last two mile rep. These workouts are not the best they have ever been, but they actually aren't far off. Considering the time off from injuries this year and the lower volume, I am pleased with where my fitness is with 6 and a half weeks to go. That is plenty of time to take another big step in terms my marathon prep, and it is also plenty of time to get hurt. I have to keep in mind that I was diagnosed with my last stress fracture about a week before the Olympic Marathon Trials. I have to continue to tune into my body, be prepared to take time off, and accept that I will not reach my typical marathon volume this cycle. Fortunately, my workouts have been going so well that I have the confidence to stay on this path.

New York will be here before I know it, and I have never been so excited to get to the start line. I never took running for granted, but I can tell you that I am appreciating the ability to train hard now more than ever. Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below.



Weeks to go: 8 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 90 minutes aqua jogging off 1 hour 0
Tuesday 12.5 6 + drills and strides 18.5
Wednesday 4 x miles (9:34, 9:30, 9:30, 9:26) 1 hour aqua jogging 16
Thursday 12.5 6 40 minutes 18.5
Friday 1 hour run + 8 x 200 meter hills off 13.5
Saturday 12.5 6 40 minutes 18.5
Sunday 20 miles, 4 mile push from mile 14 @ 4:58, hilly and soft 20
TOTAL 105