Monday, August 29, 2011

Marathon Training: Week 5

This was my last intense week of training before the half-marathon on Sept. 5 and the super-sprint triathlon on Sept. 10. I can't believe how quickly these races are coming up!


Monday: Pool swim

I find myself looking forward to Monday evenings now! I really enjoy swimming, even though I'm still not great at it. This past Monday was rough, as it seemed like I'd forgotten everything I learned in the pool the previous week, but I improved throughout the swim. One of my roommates, who is a former competitive swimmer, came along and gave me some great pointers. I finally know what I'm supposed to do while swimming, so now I just need to practice, practice, practice!

Tuesday: 3-mile run + strength training

I used this short run to test out my new triathlon outfit! Tri clothes are specially designed to be worn throughout the entire race, so you should be able to swim, bike and run comfortably in them. I'm really glad I gave these clothes a trial run because I found that the shorts were awesome, but the top was awful. It kept riding up — a lot — as I ran, and I actually turned back just a few minutes into the run to change into a different shirt! The top was either too big or just the wrong style, which is a shame because I thought it was so darn cute. Yes, I am such a girl.

I saw progress when I hit the gym for strength training, as I was able to use 12.5- and 15-pound free weights for moves I haven't been able to go so heavy on in the past. My lifting strategy is to use heavier weights and do a lower number of reps (8-12) for each move, which I've read yields better results than doing a ton of reps with light weights. Seems like it's working!

Wednesday: 5-mile run — speed intervals

On Tuesday, I hit a local track with my friend Carly to do speed intervals. (I swear we actually ran on the track, but obviously my GPS watch was a tad bit off on our location.) We warmed up for one mile, then did fast 400 m (1 lap) repeats with 400 m of recovery in between. At one point, we did a fast 800 m followed by 800 m of recovery (whew!) We finished up with a nice cooldown during a beautiful sunset.

Our fast laps were done in the 7:00-7:30/mi pace range, which was challenging but manageable. Speed intervals really helped me get faster while I trained for my first half-marathon, so I'm glad I've been able to fit in a few speed workouts this time around.

Thursday: 3-mile run + strength training

I read in Runner's World that 70% of your weekly mileage should be easy running. Wha?!? I've totally been doing it wrong. I don't go all-out on all my runs, but I do try to challenge myself. I made an effort to slow down on this 3-miler, especially since I combined it with a trip to to gym. I think this 70% rule will help keep my legs happy as I get into higher mileage throughout marathon training.

The lovely bathroom photo above shows what my "guns" (gun?) look like after five weeks of consistent strength training. Are you intimidated yet? No? I'll check back in a few weeks.

Friday: Rest

Glorious rest! This day was so needed. I treated myself to Chipotle for lunch, then later headed home to Woodinville to spend the night at my mom's house in preparation for Saturday morning's run...

Saturday: 11-mile run

I don't want to get too dramatic and call this the "Run of Death" or "The Hottest, Sweatiest, Are-You-F'ing-Kidding-Me Run Ever," but let's just say it was warm and sunny. Toasty, if you will.

I ran 11 miles along the Sammamish River Trail in Woodinville, where the half-marathon will take place. I like to get a sense of the terrain before I race. In this case, I discovered that the terrain is shadeless, and that the shine shone mercilessly onto my face in the very direction and during the same time of day we'll be running (9 to 11 a.m.).

This was the first run I've done that actually made me fear for my safety because of the heat, and I was very careful to stay hydrated and take little breaks in the shade. Luckily I was covered in SPF 50. I saw some lobster-hued folks who were not so prepared. Get on the Banana Boat, people!

Mental notes for the race: Take advantage of every water stop. Find a lightweight visor to wear if it's sunny. PRAY FOR CLOUDS.

Sunday: 15-mile bike ride + lake swim

I capped off this week of training by first going for a nice ride along the Sammamish River Trail. Yeah, it was the same trail I ran on the previous day, and also the same type of weather. But cycling is infinitely easier than running! I don't know if I would appreciate cycling so much if I weren't a runner, but my God, it was such a nice change of pace to fly through these miles on wheels rather than shuffle along on tired feet under the scorching sun.

Sorry, I'm still being dramatic about that run.

Later, I jumped into Cottage Lake (where the tri will be held) for my first open-water training swim. Fact: Cottage Lake is murky and terrifying underneath the surface! I got over my initial panic by staying in a shallow area of the lake so I could stop swimming and stand up at any time if I needed to. I also decided to ignore the creepy seaweed and just power through it.

I think a lot of the challenge I'll face in the swim leg of the triathlon will be mental. I'll need to avoid freaking out, try to go slowly and, most of all, remember to breathe. Breathing is good! Drowning is not so good.


Miles run: 22
Miles biked: 15
Swims: 2
Strength-training sessions: 2
Rest days: 1
Amount of lake water swallowed: Too much
Amount of Chipotle swallowed: Not enough


Miles run: 87.5
Miles biked: 58.5
Swims: 4
Strength-training sessions: 9

This week, I'll back off a bit from training to prepare for the half-marathon, which is a week from today! The triathlon is just four days after that.

I'm getting excited to RACE!


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  1. Congrats - you are doing great! Also, I must ask, how do you find the energy to do strength training after running!? I run 2.5 miles 3 times a week, but I've yet to integrate regular strength training into my routine. I was going to do it on the days that I'm not running (3 days of running & 3 days of strength training a week, with Sunday off), but that means I need to shower daily, and my hair can't take that. Maybe I just need to wait until I am stronger/can recover from running faster.

  2. Thank you! I actually find that running ENERGIZES me for the strength training. Also, I usually run to the gym and back, so it's easy to fit the running in because it's my mode of transporation (my gym is only a mile away from my house). I'd definitely encourage you to try strength training, as it helps you become a better runner and more fit overall. Maybe do a shorter run and piggyback some weight-lifting onto that? Good luck!


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