Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s: An exercise in futility

GUESS WHATS BACK? Well if you read the title then you already know. If you are still reading it at this point, then all power to you. The plan is to run the BOA Chicago Marathon but I might as well say it, I highly doubt that the race is happening. The TCS New York City Marathon already got cancelled, and that is later in the year. So I don’t think this is happening. Regardless, the backup plan is to run some marathon in Scranton, PA, which is the same day. So lets break down the training plan.

I’m trying a new marathon training plan for this one, if you want to go back to my last marathon training blog series you can read all about my experience using the “Advanced” training plan from NYRR. I didn’t really test the effectiveness of the plan, as I didn’t push it 100% on the actual running of the marathon, but I will say I think it was an excellent plan for people looking to advance their own running abilities, specifically running higher-milage weeks. My biggest complaint about the plan is actually personal only to me. I documented completely how I was so exhausted, and all the running certainly was the major factor, I mean I was training for a fucking marathon, but it was all my extra-curricular’s that really did me in. I played soccer once a week for maybe the first half of the plan, and never really slowed down my physical activities.

So when choosing another plan I needed to consider that it was super unlikely I was going to completely shut down other activities. This was a big reason why I choose the Intermediate 2 Half Marathon Training Plan by Hal-Higdon for my half marathon in March, which I documented in a different blog series. It gave me enough speedwork days to get faster, but had enough flexibility and rest days for me to continue strength training and playing soccer. This led to me setting a PR with a time of 1:41:06.

What I decided on was Runner’s World Basic Marathon Schedule: A 16-week training plan for runners looking to finish between 3:30-4:30. Kind of a terrible name for a plan, but it had what I was looking for. One absolute rest day on Friday and one optional rest day on Monday. This gives me the option of shifting my weekend runs to either Friday or Monday if I’m going on vacation or have some type of plans that absolutely will impact my running schedule. Or move the weekday runs around if I have a game or something. I also can continue to do some strength training, either on my rest days or doubling up. With 2 speedwork days during the week, the runs I am doing will be much more efficient, instead of piling on miles and days run. I am not saying that is a bad strategy, my first marathon I needed to increase my ability to pack on miles as I had no capacity for consistently running long distances, but I now know a little bit more about myself and recognize that I am not likely to cut out anything else, so I need a plan that doesn’t burn me out but I can still improve.

So looking at the plan, I am excited to take it on, and will of course be providing weekly updates on everything. It really helps me to post the workouts for the week, and how all my runs went the week prior. While I rarely actually get to writing these things on Monday’s, I honestly have found it such a fun experience to track my progress and feelings over the length of a training plan. So without further ado, here is the actual plan, I also am posting underneath it the plan I did last year, for comparisons sake. This will be the first time I actually look at them both critically, which seems kind of stupid to have not compared them earlier. But then again that level of preperation would be out of character.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 10: 3 quarters down, one to go

In a blog I wrote an eternity ago, I mentioned at great length how a quarter the way through anything is one of the worst milestones to hit. Only having a quarter to go though, is a superbly improved situation. I mean a quarter left feels almost like you are done. On reflection, this really only applies to running, a quarter to go in a basketball game feels like there isn’t enough time in the world. This start to the blog is an absolute train wreck.

With 9 weeks in the books there the end is in sight. It is fortunate that I really feel like I am starting to hit my stride, as I had a great week of running and am starting to feel comfortable at the 8 minute pace I am going to need to hold to hit my 1:45:00 goal. Last week I had two tough runs, the interval run was brutal and the 15k was difficult. The interval run came the morning after a soccer game, so I was already feeling sore, but 9 rounds of quarter mile repeats is going to suck no matter when you do it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find an official 15k but the ran around Hoboken. While I didn’t really keep the pace I had too, it is always hard to judge my true speed when I have to stop for cars and traffic lights. Overall, the extra day off day from running has me feeling reenergized and ready to take on the next week.

So talking about next week, I have to do quite a bit of run swapping. I am starting the week off on Monday and going 4 straight days. With a little snowboard trip on the horizon, I am going to have to take Friday and Saturday off. The long run is an 11 miler, which is going to be hell after two days of riding but whatever thats the price you pay for fun. The tempo run hits the peak with 45 min, once again I am going to break it up into two parts. Hopefully it goes well. Thats all I got.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 9: Get yourself some miles

Whats up everybody it is time for me to commiserate on my many failures and praise myself for my few successes. Of course this means it is time for the next edition of the greatest weekly running training blog series of all time. This includes that series that elite marathon guy and his coach put out. I will not link it or include his name because his is infinitely more impressive then mine in terms of the actual running/fitness, not in terms of funny. I stick to my strengths, one of them being self-aggrandizing.

We are cooking with gas on ol’ Week 9 so lets waste no time and get into last weeks runs. In the course of one week I actually put up a 40 mile week, not intentionally, it just happened to work out that my long run the prior week was on Sunday and the long run last week was on Saturday. A lot of miles to be putting on the legs with little rest, but I think I balanced it well despite not taking any rest days. I did the first run on Monday, running 5 instead of 4.5 because I don’t read great. Not a big deal. On Tuesday my cross training was a soccer game, I may have mentioned this before but intense organized pick-up soccer is not the best cross training to supplement a running schedule. It is fun as shit though. That Meetup app is amazing for finding games.

I switched the tempo run with the 3-miler, my legs were killing me and I wanted to make sure I was able to focus on getting the most out of the tempo run, which is really hard to do the day after soccer. I think the tempo run went great, those runs wind up being close to 9 miles so besides being difficult they are also long. Solid workout though. The long run was 10 miles this week, which was actually a drop from last week. Honestly it went pretty poorly it was absolutely freezing out and I was shot. The pace run the next day went well though. We are at the point where my own refusal to scale back my other activities to ensure proper rest starts to take its toll. It is a problem I have no difficulty identifying, but refuse to do anything about.

Looking ahead things are pretty standard, until the 15k I am supposed to run this weekend. Where the hell am I going to find a 15k this weekend. This time I am supposed to run 5 miles, which for honesty’s sake I have already done. Soccer again this Tuesday. The workout is the same interval run I have been doing, just 9 rounds instead of 8. I know the workout I posted says 10, just change that number in your head with 9. Lets get after it this week!

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 8: Bienvenidos a Miami

For anyone following along with this blog series, that subtitle isn’t just a random attempt to make this a bilingual blog despite the lucrative opportunities that would provide. Lucrative in the sense that I will still lose money on it, but the joy of education will be it’s own reward. I was in the lovely city of Miami for the half marathon, though that is for another blog. I like to believe that the artist behind the classic “Big Willie Style” famous song is never far from my mind. The haters will point out that the song is not actually on that album. That is okay.

While the vacation was certainly enjoyable, it pains me to say that I left my Garmin Forerunner 235 running watch at the TSA checkpoint at the United Terminal in Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) on Friday, February 7th around 7:15 pm. Why all that specific detail, well imaginary person I am talking too, this blog is extraordinarily popular with TSA Agents and I know those longtime readers will be able to help me out. And longtime silent supporter Garmin will be able to make me whole again.

Okay with those tangents out of the way, time to talk running. Last week was a relatively calm week, this was the first week I was running 4.5 to start the week. Didn’t really make a difference, though once again I ran it Monday as I played soccer Tuesday Night. 1/9 with 4 shots on goal no big deal. Running the intervals the following day was kind of brutal, it was in exercise in control as I balanced keeping a good speed with keeping my hamstrings intact. Since a sadly lost my watch, I have no data on Thursday’s 3-miler and I also messed up my photo editing, please trust me that I ran it. Saturday I was supposed to run another 4, but seeing as I was already going to go 4 miles over on my long run, I kept it an easy 3. The long run went great, which you can read about later this week.

Looking ahead, well I already did one of the runs this week. But I despair as I think I need to move my running workout to Thursday so that I can have a running watch for it. Tragedy. Other then me continuing to complain, the long run is 10, and with the way I felt running that half, I anticipate no issues. At some point I lost the enthusiasm that I started this blog with and it shows. Shame, shame. Please find my watch TSA.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 7: Hey this might be working

With half of the training plan in the rear view mirror it is time for another edition of the greatest running blog series for amateur runners who wish to follow one mans quest for mediocrity. I’m talking Week 7 baby.

Milestones like the quarter done, halfway done, and the infamous 11/17ths done are always great points for reflection and since I sorely struggle for material to talk about writing this series I am always thankful when I hit one. I don’t think that I evaluate my own progress well or I really see the benefits of any training program as I constantly believe that I could do better or that some external factor contributed to the result. Since I don’t focus solely on running, there is a legitimate case to be made that I don’t maximize my running potential. I also could argue that all that stuff over the long term just makes me a better athlete, and while I will not see immediate improvements over time I will continue to get better without plateauing. I know one area I really struggle with is rest, I mean on the days I am supposed to refrain from physical activity I usually am doing some form of the gym, yoga or sports. This directly impacts my running as I don’t attack every run with the energy it deserves. But I really can’t help myself. This was deep. And way too long.

Halfway through the plan, Week 6 was absolutely brutal. I mean it too, I felt like dogshit all week. My runs did not suffer though, which is encouraging. I ran the 4-miler on Monday because I wanted to play in a soccer game Tuesday night. I did and that could have been a big mistake. I was so beyond sore Wednesday I thought there was no way that I would be able to effectively knock out the tempo run. But I did, fortunately by the time the warm up was over I was able to get moving. My calves and hamstrings were really feeling it, but they held up nicely. I mean 25 minutes of tempo is essentially running a 5k then taking a slight break and speeding another 2. Not an easy workout at all, but it went way better then I expected. I basically walked the 3-miler the next day, I was beaaaat up. Friday all I did was stretch, which broke my workout every day in January streak but I had to do it. I ran the 10k on Saturday but I will save discussion of that for another blog.

Looking ahead this is a little bit of a jump from what I have been running. 4.5 is the Tuesday run, I will be doing that today since I have soccer Tuesday night. The workout is another interval workout with 8 rounds. Fuck that is a lot. The weekend it is back to long runs, and I am super excited because I will be in lovely Miami running the Lifetime Miami Marathon & Half Marathon presented by cbdMD. I am doing the Half Marathon obviously. This is a little jump up from what the plan actually calls for, which is a 9-miler, but whatever the Miami race is so much fun.

So overall the second half of the plan is a huge step up work wise, but this plan has worked so well with my schedule and my body has responded to it that I trust that I will be ready for the Half in March. The 10k this weekend validated that I am getting much faster, so my usually dour, depressed self is feeling inspired. Crush it this global warming week everyone.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 6: Measuring stick week

Not really sure what that is supposed to mean but I think it sounded cool and this being the 22nd time I have had to come up with a subtitle for a running training plan blog I am almost completely shot on new and original ideas. Either way it is Week 6 and as everyone knows that is the measuring stick week.

Last week was probably the first week where I had that internal conflict of trying to work my schedule around the time commitment it takes to follow the plan and my own bodies ability to maintain the fitness to attack the runs. I think that starts to happen around the 25 mile weeks, my body needs a few weeks at that mileage to readjust and I am not exactly known for me ability to take true rest days. The time commitment starts to impede on my free time, but I also understand that if I didn’t cross train on the rest days that I probably wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed. That is the price to pay for mediocrity though.

So there were three runs worth mentioning from last week, the 4-miler, the interval workout, and the long run. I switched the days around because I had ran last week’s long run on Monday and wanted to give my body a little break, so the interval run was the first challenge of the week. You would think the extra sprint every two weeks really wouldn’t make much of a difference but after I ran the 6th one it took a fucking effort to do it one more time. Those sprints are brutal, the only saving grace is that they make the run go really quickly because the entire time I am thinking only about getting the next one done. Every time I hit around the .2 mile mark I can’t believe that it isn’t over. To be fair they are getting a little easier.

The 4-miler is only worth mentioning because it was a half mile jump from the week before. Idk something about 4 compared to 3.5 makes a difference in my mind. It is legit like 4 more minutes running but it is a mental thing. The long run I was beat on. I really did a poor job with it, I think the cumulative fatigue of my no rest days January is catching up to me. Felt slow and like the whole thing was a struggle. I did get it done though.

Looking at the upcoming week, I have a feeling that it is going to be one of the most challenging weeks. The tempo run is 40 minutes, I am not positive how I am going to break it up yet, but I would like to do it in one 25 minute block and one 15 minute block, separated by a 10 minute recovery. How I do it is largely going to be decided by how I feel that day, as I am playing soccer Tuesday night. The fun thing though is Saturday I am doing a 10k, I was lucky enough that there is one I can do so I will not be running my own race. Hopefully I am physically still standing by then because I need content for a race review. My goal is to shoot for 46 minutes, which is about 1:15 under my current PR. Only time will tell.

This blog felt long, have a good week everybody.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s Week 5: Frozen fun for everyone

Welcome back to the personal journey of one blogger’s attempt to be the most amateur runner of all time. With a corny subtitle for the blog, lets dive right into it.

Last week had it’s challenges as it has truly become the dead of winter and is now obnoxiously cold. It is the point of the winter where I see these former track runners out in nothing but dick showing shorts and maybe a long sleeve shirt and I realize that I will never make the sacrifices needed to be a great runner or a fucking try-hard. If you are going to wear short ass shorts why do it in the freezing cold when your dick is going to look all shriveled up. Sure you look tough I guess, wearing nothing out there in the frozen tundra but these tiny flaps that show all your bony ass cheeks and withered tree branch legs, but all anyone is going to care about is that lack of bulge. Not putting yourself in a position to succeed. Or maybe I am just projecting my own insecurities. Continue on please.

Dick rant over, last week I had two challenging runs. The tempo run I thought went extremely well. After the first 20 minute tempo I knew that I had some more gas in the tank and could handle the second part without suicidal thoughts. I think for the first part I averaged close to a 7 minute mile, the second part maybe 7:30. Not too bad. I mean those runs at this point are going to be as long as my long runs, the workout topped out at almost 8 miles so they are not quick workouts. I can see that even from the last time I did it there was an improvement in both speed and endurance, maybe this fucker Hal Higdon is on to something. The long run was nothing crazy, I did an easy 7 yesterday as I had to shift the runs around. Add in three gym days and I would say I really got a good week in.

Which takes us to this week my friends. This week things are starting to pick up a little bit, the 3.5-miler from last week gets upped to a 4-miler, and now that it is at the 4 miles I am debating switching Tuesday’s and Thursdays so that I can do hills on Thursday’s without it affecting my speed workouts. Did that make sense? Whatever no going back now.

The workout is back to the interval’s, just throwing another one into the mix. I know that my workout says 5 miles, but now with 7 rounds of intervals it is def going to be a little longer. The long run is 8 miles. An 8 mile run is right about where I start considering the long run to be long enough that it impacts my day. When I am not training for something I rarely run over 6 miles unless I am feeling rambunctious or try-hardish so anything above 7 starts to feel like work. Which means it’s time to go to work, have a good week everyone. What a closing line, and while it may seem like I am ruining it by adding this, I would be remiss in my duties of self-promotion if I did not take this time to point that out.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 4: Quarter down, much more to go

A quarter of the way through anything has to be one of the most difficult checkpoints to try and rationalize that you are almost done. I mean a quarter the way through the Texans/Chiefs game Bill O’Brien probably thought things were going pretty well. A quarter of the way through a semester you still think you are going to keep up with all the work and not have to pull a few all-nighters just to keep the semblance of a decent GPA. A quarter of the way through Season 8 of Game of Thrones I thought that the season was going well. Just kidding that whole thing was trash. Just like me making that joke a year too late.

Point being it’s Monday and radiating positivity isn’t always the easiest thing. Not that it is my strong point anyway. At least I am getting this out on Monday.

I thought I was in for this nice easy week, and I guess for the most part it wasn’t an overwhelming amount of running, but with two speed days I felt like death. I am sure things would be easier if I actually did the workout the correct way, instead of turning it into an interval workout. Well I didn’t so that is my own fault. Obviously with only four days of running last week there is not much to talk about, but I am concerned at my inability to improve my performance in the 5k distance.

I kept it under 24 minutes which I guess isn’t terrible, but I think I can attribute it to a couple of factors. The first is just poor strategy, I come out the gate wayyyy to hot, I think I ran the first mile in under 7 minutes which set me up for disaster. The second is that on top of this training plan I am doing a decent amount of other exercise, so those rest days are not really rest days they are gym or some other activity days. Meaning that I am fucking gassed. The third is some accountability, I am bad at that distance. If I want some excuses I could tell you I got caught at a light for a minute, but that would be dishonest as I was so happy I got caught at that light. I needed the break and I knew the man in the sky had just provided me with a ready made excuse. If I want to take something positive from it a few minutes after I finished the run I felt fine and ready to go again.

Looking ahead there are really two runs worth taking a look at. The running workout is the murderous tempo run. I am going to do the same thing I did last time, just adding 5 more minutes to the first tempo. I also changed the end of it so the cool down has not set limit. Last time I was far from my apartment and had to stop to make the watch start again. As much as I hate these tempo runs after the last one I recognize how necessary they are. I am sure I will not be this positive halfway through it. The long run is back to mileage building, so I have to bang out a 7-miler. I am also going snowboarding this weekend, so no rest for the weary. Lets get after it

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 3: Thursday is basically Monday

Though my commitment to putting out this blog series every Monday has already fallen to the wayside, I am still committed to getting it out weekly. As we all know by now, I would never deign to make an excuse, but if I did I would perhaps put the blame on Florida’s beaches. A man can’t be expected to sit inside and write a weekly blog series that nobody reads when faced with such adversity as trying to stay awake in a lounge chair staring at the ocean. So if you want me to get these out on time, perhaps you should try and contribute to pollution so the beach is too gross for me to relax on. Ball is in your court.

Taking a look at last week, the real challenge was the 30 min tempo run. I posted the workout last blog, but it’s worth repeating that I broke the 30 min tempo into two 15 minute blocks spaced out by a 10 minute recovery. I think I needed to do this because I was moving during the first 15 minutes of the workout, and without that 10 minute recovery I wouldn’t have been able to get moving again for the second round. This was obviously the hardest run of the week, I think the whole run totaled around 8 miles but damn it felt good to get moving like that.

The rest of the week was pretty standard until I got to Florida. Saturday I did my long run of 6 miles, and since I slept in by the time I got started it was a solid 85 degrees and brutally hot. The last 2 miles of that run I literally felt like Mosses wandering the dessert for 40 years. I am sure he would agree our struggle was similar. For the 3-miler on Sunday, me and the ol’ ball-and-chain actually found a local 5k to take our talents too. Race review is hopefully coming tomorrow.

Lets take a look at this week. Since it is already Thursday half my runs are already done, but for the sake of this blog I am just going to power through it. This week starts the increase of the light runs, instead of two 3 mile runs to round out the week, the Tuesday runs are now going to increase every week. This shouldn’t really prove to be an issue, though in a few weeks it might be time to start slowing down all my other physical activities. The workout this week is the same interval/5k pace quarter-mile repeats from Week 1, though every time I do this workout it adds an extra one. Spoiler alert for next week’s blog, it sucked. Either way the workout is posted below. No long run this week, instead I am supposed to race a 5k. I am trying to look for a local one, but if not I will I guess make my own. For the sake of content and my own boredom, I hope I find one.

That about wraps up this week. Having gone from 75 degrees and sunny to 25 degrees and miserable I gotta say I really prefer the the sunny. Ooooo well. Have a good week everybody.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 2: New year, new me

Nothing I like better then making corny end of the year jokes and ironically saying “New year, new me” with absolutely no intention of changing anything about myself or habits. But as the end of the calendar year approaches, it perhaps is a good time to do zero reflection and only continue to look towards the future. Maybe you thought something sappy was coming, you were wrong.

I mentioned that for this training plan I was going to attempt to push what I was using as my casual running pace in order to try and get faster for this thing. I think that I had a great first week doing that in terms of how fast I ran, the drawback being that my body is feeling it. I know there are a lot of theories from much more accomplished runners and coaches on how hard to go for each workout but I honestly find it difficult to make a conscious effort to pullback or push myself on any given run. So much of it has to do with how I am feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally, so to properly abide by the popular 80/20 intensity ratio seems pretty difficult. The answer to that would be to calculate exactly how fast I need to go for each run, down to the pace-per-mile, but that seems like way to much fucking work or way to expensive to pay someone to come up with that.

Rant on pushing myself over, I want to actually talk about the week. The real challenge was the Wednesday run, which was supposed to be 5 x 400 at 5k pace. I kinda just ran those 400’s like they were intervals, so I basically gunned em as fast as I could. Having not done intervals in a while, this was absolutely brutal. I didn’t get to do any hills, I know the plan doesn’t call for any but this race is in New York City so I need to make some of these runs hill runs. I have time for that. The rest of the week went fine, I was really feeling it on Sunday’s 5-miler, but I had worked out after the run the day before and my legs were sore as hell. In a few more weeks it might be time to cut down on the leg workouts if I want to have any juice left to actually run faster on the longer runs.

Projecting into the future it seems like the only two days that have any variance are the Wednesday workout and the Sunday long run. The Sunday long run goes up a mile, which while not crippling it is worth noting. The workout though is where I am going to struggle. As you can see from the image below, my goal is to break up the tempo run into two 15 minute segments. I don’t honestly think I can keep a good tempo for a full 30 right now, so hopefully this will be a nice way to ease into it.

That about wraps up this weeks half marathon talk so hopefully everyone hit their running goals for 2019 and if they didn’t well there is always next year so don’t beat yourself up.