Wednesday, November 5, 2014

This...Ahem..."Serious Runner" Gets Back on the Training Hamster Wheel

I took three weeks off of training post-Chicago-marathon. By "three weeks off," I don't mean "sit on my couch and watch Real Housewives." I always watch Real Housewives on the treadmill, anyway, and the Beverly Hills season doesn't start until mid-November! (I also have a running streak to uphold.) By "three weeks off," I mean, "easy runnin'." The apostrophe is required, in order to accurately describe the loping that was taking place. And most of it was on the treadmill.

For those of you who don't know my training routine, I usually have to be home by shortly after 7 A.M. on the weekdays, so my husband can head to work. Many a training run for Chicago was logged in pitch darkness, until the sun would make its first appearance about halfway through my run. My 'mill is also old, and the console display of speed and mileage is useless, making any quality workouts or speedwork difficult. However, if I go to my 'mill in the basement, I can run until 7:30ish until I have to wake the kids up for school. For a recovering marathoner who is all about sleep and who doesn't give a hoot about her pace, which one do you think she chose nine times out of 10?

Yep, this looked like me a lot of mornings.

So just picture me getting in some miles in my basement, setting the pace to whatever seemed like it wouldn't overly exert me, and stopping when I felt like it. I did run outside on the days my son was in preschool, and my pace was a bit faster, like it usually is outdoors, but I did not press the pace at all and stopped when I felt like it. On the weekends, I did venture outside for longer runs of about 10 miles. My goal was to maintain my base of mileage I had built up over the past year, nothing more or less. My brain got a luscious vacation from stressing about splits and weekly mileage totals. It was awesome.

Okay, there was one day where my ambition got the better of me. On Tuesday of my second week of easy runnin', I began to get antsy that my speed was leaving me (what speed I had in Chicago -- it's all relative, folks). I decided to order myself up some 3/4-mile repeats and see what would happen. My first interval was around my average race pace for the marathon. Oof. As the repeats went on, however, I got progressively faster, until I was approaching my 10-K pace at the last one. Not exactly setting the world on fire, but I reassured myself that I would still have a solid base in another week. Back to easy runnin', treadmills, and gloriousness.

But I signed myself up for the Schaumburg Half Marathon on November 29th, and the race wasn't going to run itself. Plus, as I established at Chicago when I PR'ed the half marathon split, my half PR is a little soft and ripe for improvement. I can never resist a good PR chase, so I just needed a plan to jump into that would get me there. Enter...

I agree, those guys look totally serious...

My man with the plan who got me my sweet BQ, Mr. Pete Pfitzinger. But seriously, Pfitz, you are *killing* me with the self-important book titles! First, I had to cringe when I talked about my training plan for my second marathon, since it was from a book called "Advanced Marathoning." Now I have to cringe about being a "serious runner." I can accept this mantle better than being an advanced marathoner, though, I guess!

This training cycle won't be a true test of this plan, since I will only be doing 4 weeks of it. But I'm a gal who needs structure to prevent overtraining (I'm an ISTJ, don't 'cha know). This book was published prior to "Advanced Marathoning," and Pfitz added a day-to-day training plan calendar for the latter book. "Road Racing for Serious Runners" just lists the key workouts for the week (long run, medium-long run and speedwork), and a weekly mileage total. It is up to you to fill the rest of the week with easy and/or recovery miles, breaking it up among as many or as few days as you like. This is similar to "Daniels Running Formula," which makes sense since Pfitz was influenced by Daniels. I kind of like this structure better, since I tended to stress out during marathon training if I moved a workout to a different day. This way of presenting it makes Pfitz seem a little more like a benevolent dictator rather than a tyrant. 

I jumped on the plan this past Sunday, with a long run of 13 miles. I actually made it 14 miles, since when I got back to my car, I was already at 13.5 due to miscalculation. My paces were on par with my long-run paces during taper, and both physically and emotionally, things felt ready to rock again. Since then, I've done my medium-long run for the week of 11 miles. I was able to do it outside, which I rarely had the chance to do during marathon training. One of the many benefits of morning preschool! I plan to do some mile repeats on Friday, and then a long run this coming Sunday of 16 miles. Then it is off to taper town, so to speak!

I'm approaching this training plan with a different attitude than my marathon training. Psychologically, I'm still on my BQ victory lap, and I feel like a PR (or lack thereof) at the half-marathon will neither enhance nor diminish my accomplishment. I'm also going to run at least two additional half-marathons before my next marathon, which will give me at least two more chances to PR. Plus, the weather for this race has a good chance of being sub-par, which could tank my PR chances anyway.  My mindset is a great one, to give myself a break from constant serious training, while still being able to run for fitness and chase a goal. However, I'm definitely lacking the "fire in the belly." For now, that is!

Image found here. If I don't get some fire, I could end up looking like this Buddha!

I will post more updates as my training unfolds and the race draws nearer!


  1. P. Pfitz is no joke. I have the Advaced Marathoning book but haven't seen an entire training cycle thru without injury. Excited for you in Schaumburg! Yeah it poured at the end the last time I ran it. ; p

    1. Believe me, it only took me about a week on his marathon plan to realize that he wasn't playing around! It obviously paid big dividends for me, but I can see how injuries could happen especially during the ramp-up. If I use him again for Green Bay, I'm going to have to be aware of that for sure!

      And yes, last year's Schaumburg Half was a bit chilly at the start but pretty great weather, all things considered. I have a feeling that I wasted my good weather mojo on that race, however, since most of the other years I have heard about haven't been great! I'll give it my best shot, though -- after our Turkey Trot, that is! :)