About me, 2018

Back in 2004 I wrote an “about me” when I entered the Steamtown Marathon, months before I started training, on my general physical shape and running experience. I’m just a few weeks out from my (very minimal) 16-week training period, and I’ve already covered why I’m running the NYCM, my current PR, and why I’m rebooting this blog. Current weight etc. numbers are in the weekly summary posts. But there have been some major physical lifestyle changes since then:

  • Soon after Vibram FiveFingers were introduced (2005), I got my first pair. It took years, but eventually I completely changed my running style and by about 2010 had switched to strike mid/fore-foot  (rather than the typical mid-foot/heel strike I used to have). The change was difficult—lots of calf pain when I went too far/fast—but now even in regular running-shoes-with-socks that’s how I run. FiveFingers have been problematic for me in terms of fit and comfort; I’ve bought pairs that felt OK initially and turned out to be wrong, and one pair where the toes were just too short and they always hurt. But overall, my impression is that it’s been super worth it. My running feels much more natural and comfortable. When training for the Rochester Marathon in 2015, I did develop top-of-foot-pain and had to focus on letting my heel touch down, which eventually fixed it, and I ran that race in FiveFingers. I’ll probably do a whole post on shoes. I think I run faster this way; I’m not sure, but it is a big change.
  • Around 2014? I started a daily cold shower routine (2 minutes, or rather counting to 60 twice, which probably happens a little faster in the winter!, after the hot water/soap stuff). AWESOME!!! cannot recommend highly enough for life-changing effects, mostly mood but also motivation and health.
  • Around 2015? I added an “eating window” thingy where I typically skip breakfast (aside from black coffee), and ingest food only between about noon and 9pm. I’m loose about it—I have breakfast while we’re traveling, eat soon after my long Sunday runs, etc—but it’s really helped keep my diet healthier and it’s now totally routine to run 5-8 miles on an empty stomach without any trouble. I relish my food more, don’t feel the need to control my eating as much, and in general my blood sugar is more stable. Not for everyone, but it’s been good for me.
  • Aging has still slowed me some! I’ve mostly let go of the dream of qualifying for Boston by continuing to run just as fast into my 70s (you now need to break 5:10 as a 75-year-old woman to qualify… yeah, not gonna happen), and accepted that despite my Westfield 5K PR, my fastest times are probably behind me. That’s fine, but it does mean that the number of marathons I’m willing to take the time to train for is going to be small. So focusing on enjoying the process and the day makes a lot of sense. I’m so lucky to get to do it!

Pre-training week 1

Miles for the week: 11 (2/2/1/6)
Resting heart rate: 57
Weight: 116
Long run: 6 miles LSD; average HR 134; time 1:16:35 (12:37 avg); splits:

Mile Time Elevation (feet)
1 13:12 59
2 13:04 20
3 11:56 -3
4 13:10 66
5 12:04 -138
6 12:11 0

Decent long run, overcast and not too hot. Way better than the same run last week when I got overheated and almost bonked (I was feeling bad and indeed my HR was spiking as high as 180). I’ve been curious to compare to my previous marathon experiences; pre-training week 1 from 2004, when I was a few pounds higher, my pace was almost a minute faster. But from my description, I was running a 2/2 cadence (two breaths in, two out), whereas now my long slow distance cadence is 3/3. (And I can do 3/2 also, so I have three gears now aside from sprinting!) So I was running harder back then and maybe it’s apples to oranges. I’ve been using the great free app RunKeeper for training since the 2015 marathon, so I can compare to that too, and I’m significantly slower than then. Hmm! Is it age? I’ll see how it goes, but I’m really glad I’m doing a light training schedule.

I’ll be doing this route as my long run for the next 3 weeks—it’s my usual 5+ miles with a little extra tacked on—and I love it. When we lived in Pennsylvania I thought I had the best 5 mile route ever, with pastures and woods and hills; although there are no actual cows on this course, and no deep woods, there’s Paradise Pond and the Mill River, the dog park, fields with views, and seven gardens I get to visit: the herb garden at Hungry Ghost, Capen Garden, walk break in the Lyman Greenhouse when I’m not too early (it opens at 8:30am), main Smith Botanic Garden (which actually includes several, like the rock garden, systematics, perennial border, etc.), Happy Chase Garden, the Northampton Community Garden, and the gorgeous small garden in front of the Roundhouse. Plus beautiful yards and architecture!

Now that I have so many many cultivated flowers to look at, the wildflowers don’t register as much, but I’ll try to still pay attention because I like reading that in the previous blog posts. Garden-wise there were still some irises, but astilbes, roses, and clematis were in full bloom. I saw goldfinches swooping over the little pond next to the greenhouse, and an agitated mockingbird squawking like a grackle or a titmouse.

Training plan – sticking to NRMT!

After my first marathon, and again when I found out I got into the New York Marathon, I thought for my next I’d do a more rigorous training plan than the Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, which I used for the two previous marathons I’ve done. It’s the most basic possible plan, with even less mileage than Hal Higdon’s Novice 1. I was thinking five running days, longer long runs, speedwork, more total mileage…

But when I got down to actual planning and read this Runner’s World article which says that beginners “may start with 15 to 20 miles per week total and gradually build to a peak week of 35 to 40 miles” and “More experienced runners may start at 35 or more miles per week and peak at 50 or more miles,” I rethought. My typical weekly mileage is only 10-12. I’m going to be working extra hours this summer and only have two weekdays where I can get in a little late. Plus I already bike commute whenever I can, which is about 50-80 miles a week, and walk/hike plenty. When my mother helpfully asked what the benefits of a more strenuous plan would be, I realized for me there wasn’t much. I’m not likely to beat my time from Steamtown, which is a faster course anyway, now that I’m a decade and a half older. And no way would it be a big jump, like getting to 4.5 or under 4.

Having used the NRMT plan twice, I know it will get me strong enough to run another one with enjoyment, which is my primary goal, and full of confidence that I will finish. I’d love to break 5 hours again (which would mean improving by 8:20 over Rochester in 2016), but really I just want to savor this experience to the fullest. Since I’m so slow, even adding one more short run per week is another hour or two.  Not worth it! But I will add some tweaks:

  1. I’ve been doing intervals once a week; keep those and make that part of the first short run (Tuesdays).
  2. The first part of the short run could be a tempo run. This seemed like a good idea until I read articles on combo workouts (“Michigans“) that mention how challenging they are. I think it’s worth trying, though. I’ll have a rest day on either side of this short-but-hard day.
  3. I’ll do the second short run back-to-back with the long run (Saturday/Sunday), instead of having a rest day on either side. Jen Miller gave me this idea when describing the Hansons Marathon Method of “running on tired legs.” But no six-day weeks for me!
  4. Strength training is something I pick up for a while and drop again, but I know it’s valuable. Whether weights or kettlebell, I’ll try to do one session a week.

But I will listen to my body and drop back to basics if I need to. In both previous marathon ramp-ups a minor injury cropped up, so I’m prepared that might happen again. I’ll be flexible!

NRMT is a 16-week schedule and I need a few weeks to ramp up from my current mileage to 15, so it times out well to start mid-July. I have a few races fitted in already, plus I’ll hope to add the Frozen Yogurt 5K if it happens for the 5th year—no, we’ll be out of town—and Kestrel Land Trust’s 5K for Farmland once they announce the date—rats, no, it’s the same date as the Happier Valley Half!

date (Mon) Tue Thu Sat Sun Total
week 1 Jul 16 3 3 3 6 15
week 2 Jul 23 3 4 3 6 16
week 3 Jul 30 3 4 3 7 17
week 4 Aug 6 3 5 3 8 19
week 5 Aug 13 3 3 5 – Bridge of Flowers 10 21
week 6 Aug 20 4 5 4 11 24
week 7 Aug 27 4 6 4 12 – Faxon Law 20 K 26
week 8 Sep 3 4 6 4 14 28
week 9 Sep 10 4 7 4 16 31
week 10 Sep 17 5 8 5 16 34
week 11 Sep 24 5 8 5 16 34
week 12 Oct 1 5 8 5 18 36
week 13 Oct 8 5 8 5 18 36
week 14 Oct 15 5 8 0 13.1 – Happy Valley Half 26.1
week 15 Oct 22 3 5 3 8 19
week 16 Oct 29 3 3 walk 3 26.2 32.2