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Weekly mileage PR and marathon expectations


Here at the end of my highest-ever weekly miles (103), I feel remarkably fresh.

In exceedingly dull weather news, the rain rolled back into town and proceeded to pound southeast Alaska’s four feet of snow into submission before washing nearly all of it away. Don’t tell anyone in Juneau, but I was so relieved to see the rain return. Running is significantly less exhausting when I don’t have to fight through the energy-suck of a thick padding of snow on the road.

Training Plan.

So, I don’t really follow a training plan. My tactic lately has been to do whatever I want.  However, I do see certain patterns emerging in my training, and since they seem to work for me, I’d like to continue on with them.

In lieu of the traditional “three week buildup then a cutback week” thing, I’ve really been liking my recent habit of alternating between “volume weeks” and “speed weeks.” I’ve been gravitating toward a week in the 90-100 mpw range focused on hitting big miles, followed by a week in the 70-80 range focused on a few quality strength/speed workouts. It’s keeping things fresh for me mentally and physically, and I feel really, really good.

There are five weeks to go before the marathon, and if all goes well they’ll look something like this:

5. Speed week at 70-80 miles, two quality tempo/speedy workouts

4. Volume week at ~100 miles

3. Speed week at 70-80 miles, two quality tempo/speedy workouts

2. 50-60 taper

1. 40 taper

Hmm. Looking back at this week’s “Volume” training, I did actually have 2-3 runs that incorporated faster stuff, so it’s not like I’m just jogging through the volume weeks, but it helps me to think about it that way.

Goals and Expectations.

I hate admitting that I actually have expectations for this one, but I do.

Somewhere between 3:15-3:20 should be achievable, but then I think about the fact that 3:15 requires a 7:26 pace average and I freak out a bit. On the other hand, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to do that if I taper appropriately, stay injury and illness-free, knock back enough sports drink during the race, and avoid being stupid.

I really want to keep my approach to this marathon low-key. PRing and breaking 3:20 are the primary objectives. Beyond that, I don’t want to dream too big just yet. I have the feeling I’m not going to see the benefit of this mileage right away. It’s entirely possible that I’ll have a mediocre marathon and won’t yet realize any rewards from all the miles I’ve put in this fall. If that happens, it’s okay. I am well-versed in the reality that running is not an instant gratification endeavor. These miles will come back and reward me some other time if not this time, and at the very least it’s been an enjoyable experiment.

Health Mysteries.

Anybody had experience with night sweats or horizontal ridges on your fingernails? I had a few significant night sweats at the beginning of the week, but none the past few nights. I’ve heard and read that this is a symptom of overtraining, and with the couple of ridges it could be that I’ve got some sort of nutrient deficiency. I’m thinking the night sweats might just be an adaptation response and not so much something to be worried about in terms of overtraining, because physically I feel good and mentally I feel excellent: eager to get out there every morning, satisfied with my paces, springy, energetic, happy to be alive.

Extra Stuff.

Every day after my run I either do 50 pushups or two sets of 3′ fancy planks. I also do a quick “myrtl” routine (a lot like this one) and some inchworm stretches. Other than that, there is no strength training or other ancillary stuff  in my running life right now. I get up, run in the morning before work, do my pushups or planks, stretch, and that’s it for the day. No doubles in the afternoon or extra workouts, because the idea of running in the dark again after work does not excite me.

I go to work, get stuff done, spend time with friends and keep up some semblance of a social life, and don’t even feel like there were 15-20 miles tucked into the beginning of the day. I’m not really sure why it’s all clicking so well right now, but I know that things can change pretty quickly and the process of training and running won’t always be this easy, so I may as well enjoy this while I’ve got it.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/11/2011 19:01

    Whoa. You make triple-digit-weeks sound, like, casual or something. How does your mileage break down day-to-day during the volume weeks? I’d be curious to hear about that.

  2. 12/12/2011 03:18

    I’m with Tracy. I’d love to see what your mileage is from day to day. Also what type of speed work you’re doing. Is it random?

    You’re training like a beast. I think you’ll see the results now.

  3. 12/12/2011 05:17

    Whoa girl, you make it all sound so easy! Very impressive!

    I’ve had the night sweats thing in the past. It usually happens during heavy training cycles when my bodyfat dips too low. It wacks out my estrogen and other hormone levels. If your cycle is otherwise normal, I probably wouldn;t be too concerned.

  4. 12/12/2011 05:51

    Wow, you are doing it beautifully! Seriously, I love the method you’re taking of every other week and your addition of pushups/planks (50 after every run is huge!). I wouldn’t worry about overtraining at all, your mental and physical state seems great. I do think you’re being conservative on your goal though for several reasons: 1. that snowy race you did where you matched the 18:xx guy in pace (not using 5k as a marathon predictor but…well, kind of, it’s too good not to), 2. your mileage (it’s gonna show some now, not for your lowest ever result but you were fleet of foot to begin with and the fact that you’ve been incorporating lots of faster stuff…you’re doing everything right) and 3. you’re gonna kick ass, period.

    This is fun to see you working so hard and steadily. Keep it up, I’m living vicariously through you. 🙂

  5. 12/12/2011 08:31

    Holy crap girl. 103 miles. I’m proud of myself when I break 70. I agree with the two mentions above that you make it seem so casual. We need a weekly mileage break down to oooh and awwww over!

    I have the night sweats and I’ve been having them for the past year. They make me feel like a menopausal 40 year old. I had my thyroid functions tested and alas they found nothing except my bank account. But them going hand in hand with the fact that I’ve been maintaining 40+ miles a week and trained for two marathons over the past year makes more sense. I’ve just given up trying to figure out why and accepted that I’m apparently a 40 yr old trapped in a 26 year old’s body.

    You will rock the shit out of the marathon! Which one are you running? Disney? RnR Arizona?

  6. 12/12/2011 08:45

    That is craaaaazy stuff! Wow! I still can’t wrap my head around doing 15 to 20 before work and, well, being able to do work. Or doing 50 pushups. Silly former rowers with arm strength. I seem to think that fingernail abnormalities can be a sign of iron deficiency, but if you’re feeling that good it probably doesn’t matter.

  7. 12/12/2011 19:26

    Umm – you’re amazing! I also wonder what marathon you’re doing?? Perhaps I missed that in a previous post? Hope your training & life balance keeps working well and you run a kick butt marathon. In my (very non-expert) mind, you should definitely see some great results from your combo of high mileage & speedwork. Just stay healthy!

  8. 12/13/2011 01:40

    Must agree with Flo in that you could be on for something ‘surprising’ in the marathon (presuming it’s an okay course)… Your mileage is good; don’t appear to be overtraining; speed is good; you naturally run even or negative splits. Early stages, but I’d say run by feel and don’t limit yourself to a 3:15-20 schedule. A 1:41/1:32 split is going to look strange (when it could have been 1:34/1:33 or similar).

    I like that mileage week/speed week plan. Might try something like that in the future. By the way, on the nutrient mystery, try ‘Pink Himalayan Salt’ if you can get it.

  9. 12/13/2011 08:31

    103 miles?!?! You make it sound so easy! I have a feeling that you’re going to have a great race after all of the work that you are putting in. I can’t wait to see the race results.

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