AFC Half Marathon Training Update (Weeks 3 to 5)

I’ve been averaging about 30 miles a week (Tuesday – Intervals, Thursday – Tempo, and Sunday – Long Run) for the past three weeks .  I’ve been following my training plan pretty closely, but honestly haven’t been putting forth my best effort.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my intensity at a 7.  I’m giving myself a pass this training cycle since I’m pretty burnt out from all the racing the first half of the year and quite frankly the motivation to keep at peak fitness level just isn’t there.  Also, I have a nagging pain on the ball of my left foot that started after my last marathon that is healing very slowly – I can still run, but it is probably prolonging the healing process.  Personally, and it is probably applicable to most people, keeping in peak running form all year around is close to impossible.  I think it is more practical to always maintain a good sustainable level of fitness, but only scale up to peak performance once our twice a year for a particular race.

I continue to cross-train (bike trainer, stretching, strength training and walking) and have kept a somewhat disciplined diet – mostly plant based whole foods, but not 100%.  I’ve maintained my weight within a consistent and healthy range of 141 to 142 lbs and body fat between 7.9 to 8.0%.  I’ve been sleeping okay, 7 to 8 hours a night, although I could probably use a little more.  The stress level in my life has been moderate, work has been extremely busy and full of tight deadlines.

So with the AFC Half Marathon four weeks away, I’m not sure how it will go on race day. I’m in relatively good shape physically and been going through the motions of my training plan, but I know I’m not at my best.

afc-half-marathon-training-plan-wk5

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AFC Half Marathon Training Update (Weeks 1 & 2)

The first two weeks of training for the AFC Half Marathon has been somewhat difficult. I’m still recovering from the last month’s marathon and still experiencing some minor aches and pain in both feet.  The leg speed is coming back gradually, but mentally I just don’t have the motivation to push too hard.  Eventually, the fog will lift, I’m sure.

As far as my training goes, I’m going through the motions.  I’m averaging about 31 miles a weeks, with intervals on Tuesday, a tempo run on Thursday and a 15 mile long run on Sunday. I’m not going to post the details this training cycle as I have in the past, but if you want to see what I did for my runs the last two weeks, you can find them at the following link:

http://connect.garmin.com/dashboard?cid=24864994

I’m doing three new things this training cycle.  First, I’m incorporating some walking every evening after dinner.  Not a lot, maybe 1 to 2 miles for 20 to 30 minutes.  This also seems to help with the digestion.  Second, I’m trying to eat less.  I normally eat until I’m full, but want to stop a little before I get to that point.  In general, we all just eat too much for no good reason and controlling my appetite is a habit I’d like to master.  And third, take cold showers – not freezing – but cold enough to make it somewhat uncomfortable.  There are supposedly lots of health benefits to cold showers, so I’m giving it a try. I’m not sure if any of this will help my running, but I’m trying to form these habits for health reasons and not necessarily to run faster.

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2014 AFC Half Marathon Training Plan

Ran 28 easy pace miles this week.  Legs are still not 100% recovered from the marathon, but good enough to start my half marathon training cycle next week.  I have 9 weeks to prepare for the AFC Half Marathon.  There is no specific goal in mind other than to put in a quality training cycle, stay in the moment and focus on each specific run and see where that takes me.

The training plan below is pretty straight forward, three running days (intervals on Tuesday, tempo on Thursday, and long run on Sunday) with cross-training (bike trainer, core/strength, and yoga) on my non-running days.  In addition, will make an effort to get 8 hours of sleep per night and eat primarily a plant-based diet.

Although I have a general outline of my running, I purposely did not put in any planned paces.  I find that running by feel on  a particular day seems to work better for me than trying to hit a certain planned pace for a training run.  Certain days I’ll feel great and be able to run hard while I know other days will be a grind, but just going with how the body feels takes away some of the stress of having to hit some arbitrary pace for the day.

2014-afc-half-marathon-training-plan

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Half Marathon Racing Schedule

Started running again this past week.  I ran a 3 times for a total of 24 miles.  I kept the running at a leisurely pace since I could feel I still wasn’t fully recovered from the marathon.  I plan continue the easy pace running this week before I begin any speed work. I just want to ensure I’m fully recovered from the marathon since I have a history of injury when beginning another training cycle too early.

As I mentioned in my last post, over the next 12 months I plan to focus on improving my half marathon time.  I have registered for 5 half marathons which are somewhat equally spaced apart.  It will be interesting to see if tailoring my training plan to focus on the half marathon will improve my times.  Logically, one would think so, but we’ll see.

Half Marathon Schedule

August 17, 2014 – America’s Finest City Half Marathon (2013 – 1:29:06)

November 16, 2014 – Silver Strand Half Marathon (2013 – 1:25:52)

December 28, 2014 – San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

March 8, 2015 – San Diego Half Marathon (2014 – 1:25:25)

May 31, 2015 – San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

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2013 / 2014 Racing Season Recap

Well, it’s that time of year when I look back and see how my racing season went.  After a disappointing 2012/2013 season, I’m pleased to say this past year was probably my best season yet.  I not only set a marathon PR, but also performed consistently in all my races. Both of marathons were run under the Boston Marathon qualifying standards and all four of my half marathons were sub-1:30.

The charts below go back 5 years.  My average marathon time improved from 3:25 to 3:08, about 17 minutes faster than last year.  I also improved my streak of running 11 straight marathons under 3:30.

2013-2014 Racing Season

So what went right this season?

1.  Consistency:  Although I had a few nagging injuries, none of them were serious to keep me from missing more than a few days.  This allowed me to carry out my training plans for the most part.

2.  Weight:  I was running about 3 to 5 lbs less this past year.  It doesn’t seem like much, but makes a significant difference over a marathon distance.  Also, eating mostly a plant based diet seems to work for me.  Although I can’t claim I’m 100% vegan, or even 90% for that matter, I don’t eat a lot of meat or animal based products.

3.  Fewer Marathons:  I only ran two marathons this season instead of the 3 or 4 in past years.  I think this reduces burnout and kept me more motivated and focused.

4.  Cross-Training:  Cross-training has become a large part of my training regimen. This has allowed me to be more well rounded in my fitness.  I limit my running to only 3 times a week, but supplement it with the bike trainer and a moderate amount of stretching/yoga and strength training.

5.  Sleep:  Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.  Routinely making an effort to get 8 hours sleep with an afternoon nap not only helps my running, but helps me manage stress as well as makes me a sharper person overall throughout the day.

So what’s next?

I’ve decided to focus my efforts on the half marathon for the 2014/2015 season.  This past season I really enjoyed running the half marathon distance and found that I tend to be a better half marathoner than full marathoner.  Also, I like the fact that training for the half marathon is less wear and tear on the body and recovery from a race is relatively quick.  I think if I could dedicate my efforts to this distance over the next year, I may be able to shave 2 to 3 minutes off my current 1:25 PR.  I have three half marathons planned for the rest of 2014 (August, November and December) and will probably run 2 or 3 more the first half of 2015.  Not sure when I’ll run my next full marathon, but at this point, it probably won’t be until at least the late-2015.

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Race Report: 2014 Mountains to Beach Marathon

m2b medalTime:  3:04:20

Overall:  68 / 1,621

Gender (M):  64 / 809

Division (M 40-44): 10 /148

Wow, this was a really fast course!  If you are looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I would highly recommend this race.  I set a PR by 8 minutes and I attribute it mostly to the gradual downhill course.  There was only one mild incline (mile 6 to 7), which comes early in the race, then it is mostly downhill until mile 18 before it flattens out to the finish line.  It almost seemed like the course was pulling me to the finish.  However, I would caution a person of not being overly aggressive on the downhills.  I think I got too aggressive during the downhill portions and was almost out of gas by mile 23.  I really had to dig deep as I started to slow the last three miles to hang on to my sub-3:05 - as you notice on my Garmin.  

Garmin:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/507128591

I really enjoyed this marathon.  It is a smaller marathon located in Ventura, CA and had less than 2,000 marathoners.  I like smaller marathons a lot more than the big city races, they just seem more laid back, less stressful and less crowded allowing you to get into comfortable pace early in the run.  The organization was good, really no issues to speak of. Port-a-potties were a bit scarce along the course and the water stops were adequate, although many of the stations didn’t seem to have any sports drinks, mostly just water.

The marathon starts in the small town of Ojai (elevation about 800 ft above sea level). There is a shuttle bus that picks you up in downtown Ventura and takes about 20 minutes to the start line. I caught the 5 am shuttle and arrived around 5:20 am.  This was great, not a lot of waiting around before the 6 am start.  There were some lines at the port-a-potties, but I think I waited less than 15 minutes.

m2b tech shirtThe start takes you through the town of Ojai for about 8 miles before you begin your descent, primarily on a paved bike path, from miles 8 to 19.  Around mile 19 it flattens out and eventually you arrive in downtown Ventura where you finish the race along the bayfront. The bayfront was nice, but you’ll be sharing some of the path with the general population since it is not exclusive to the runners.  This wasn’t a big deal, but I did have to work my way around a few folks.  But for the majority of the race, the scenery is really serene and the bike path is shaded by plenty of trees.  The weather was good, but humid (83%) – low to mid-60s with nice cloud cover. There were some people cheering along the course – mostly family members, but for the most part you’ll be running in silence.  The finish area was pretty typical, some water and snacks for runners and an area for a band and few dozen vendors.

Overall, this is a really nice race and a lightening fast course – this may be the fastest course in the country – no kidding.  Not sure when my next marathon will be, but if I’m looking to run a PR or qualify for Boston, this race would be at the top of my list.

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2014 Mountains to Beach Marathon Training Update (Week 16 of 16)

The final week of my taper went okay, but not great.  The excitement I used to have going into a marathon just doesn’t seem to be there anymore.  As a result, my motivation and focus has waned.  I plan to take an extended break from full marathons for the foreseeable future and focus on improving my half marathon time.

Report Card

m2b-grade-wk16Running:  (B) 10 miles of running this week before the marathon.  Short intervals on Tuesday and a short tempo on Thursday.  Legs felt a little flat, but not unusual during the taper period.

Sleep:  (A-) Got 8 – 9 hours of sleep almost every night, but fewer afternoon naps during the day.

Diet/Hydration:  (B) Ate okay, but probably a few more sweets than I should have.

Weight/Body Fat:  (B) My weight increased 0.6 lbs from 143.6 lbs to 144.2 lbs.  Body fat also increased from 8.3% to 8.5%.  A little weight gain is almost inevitable during the taper period since the activity level is considerably less.

Cross-Training/Stretching:  (A-) No cross-training other than stretching for 20 to 30 minutes daily.

Stress Management:  (D) Very busy and stressful week at work.  It’s amazing to me what stress does to the mindset and body.  I was hoping it would be a relatively laid back week, but it was one of those weeks.

Body Condition/Injuries:  (A) Body felt great, no other significant pains to speak of going into the marathon.

Overall:  (B) Okay week of training, but since the stress level was high, I think it affected other aspects of my training.

Training Recap

Running:  10 miles

Core/Strength:  0 minutes

Bike Trainer:  0 minutes

Yoga:  2 hours

Total Exercise Time:  3 hours, 4 minutes

Monday – 35 minutes yoga

Tuesday – Intervals – 6 x 400m (1:41, 1:46, 1:39, 1:36, 1:35 and 1:33) w/400m rest jog, (Previous Training Cycle: 1:29, 1:24, 1:25, 1:25, 1:20 and 1:25)

Wednesday – 20 minutes yoga

Thursday – Tempo, 2 mile warm-up, 3 miles @ tempo (6:58, 6:49 and 6:56), 1 mile cooldown, 15 minutes yoga (Previous Training Cycle:  6:20, 6:17 and 6:17)

Friday – 35 minutes yoga

Saturday – None

Sunday – Mountains to Beach Marathon

Training Plan

m2b-training-plan-wk16

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2014 Mountains to Beach Marathon Training Update (Week 15 of 16)

The marathon is next Sunday and I’m feeling confident that I’ve put myself in a position to PR.  Although not a perfect training cycle, it was pretty good.  I was consistent all around for the most part and avoided any significant injury.  There are a number of things that could go wrong next week that may or may not be within my control that could prevent me from setting a new PR, but I think with any training cycle, the goal is to put yourself in a position for success and hope for the best.

Since this Mountains to Beach Marathon course has a gradual downhill for a good portion of race (miles 6 – 21), I plan to run relatively aggressive.  If the weather cooperates – although it is not looking good – my goal is to average 7:00 minute miles, but will probably run a little faster than this during the downhill portions.  If the weather is too warm, then I’ll just run by feel.

My legs felt a little heavy this past week.  This is usually the case during the taper period, not sure why, but usually happens every training cycle.  For the final week, I don’t plan on doing any strength or cross-training.  I’ll continue to do some moderate stretching, with a short interval run on Tuesday and short marathon pace run on Thursday.  Also, plan to try and get 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night, drink plenty of fluids and eat clean.

Report Card

m2b-grade-wk15

Running:  (B+) 24 miles of running this week.  Intervals on Wednesday, short tempo on Friday and 10 mile long run on Sunday.  Legs seemed a bit fatigued this week.  I used to worry about this, but this is pretty typical for me during the taper period and felt fine when it was time to run the marathon.

Sleep:  (A) Got 8 hours of sleep every night and short afternoon naps during the day.

Diet/Hydration:  (B+) Ate okay, but ate a few things I shouldn’t have.

Weight/Body Fat:  (A-) My weight decreased 0.4 lbs from 144.0 lbs to 143.6 lbs.  Body fat also decreased from 8.5% to 8.3%.  Although I lost a little weight, I was hoping to be under 143 lbs by this time.  However, I’m almost 2 lbs less compared to my last training cycle.

Cross-Training/Stretching:  (A) About 3 hours on the bike trainer; 60 minutes of core/strength sessions; and 2 hours of yoga spread throughout the week.

Stress Management:  (A) Low stress week.

Body Condition/Injuries:  (A) No other significant pains to speak of this week.  

Overall:  (A-) Good week of training for the second taper week.

Training Recap

Running:  24 miles

Core/Strength:  60 minutes

Bike Trainer:  3 hours

Yoga:  2 hours

Total Exercise Time:  8 hours, 53 minutes

Monday – 15 minutes yoga, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes yoga

Tuesday – 15 minutes core, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes yoga

Wednesday – Intervals – 5 x 1000m (4:06, 4:06, 3:57, 3:55 and 4:08), w/400m rest jog, 15 minutes strength  (Previous Training Cycle: 4:07, 3:59, 3:50, 3:48 and 3:55)

Thursday – 15 minutes yoga, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes yoga

Friday – Tempo, 2 mile warm-up, 3 miles @ tempo (6:42, 6:35 and 6:20), 2 mile cooldown, 20 minutes yoga (Previous Training Cycle:  6:20, 6:17 and 6:17)

Saturday – 15 minutes core, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes strength

Saturday – Long Run – 10 miles (average pace 6:59/mile), 20 minutes yoga (Previous Training Cycle:  average pace 7:09/mile)

Training Plan

m2b-training-plan-wk15

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2014 Mountains to Beach Marathon Training Update (Week 14 of 16)

Only two weeks to go before the marathon.  This has been a good training cycle and feel pretty good going into the race.  Earlier in the week I was having some knee problems, so had to scrap my interval run early on Tuesday and moved my tempo run to Friday.  With a couple more days of rest, the pain has gone away.  This is the third time this training cycle where I’ve had problems with my right knee, usually after a 20-mile long run, but after a few days of rest, the pain goes away.  I think I’ll be fine going into the marathon, but probably need to adjust my next full marathon training plan to give more rest (i.e., two full days instead of one) between my long runs and interval runs.  Otherwise, it has been a good week of training.

Report Card

m2b-grade-wk14

Running:  (B) 25 miles of running this week.  Started my interval run on Tuesday, but had to scrap it after the first interval since I felt some pain in my right knee.  Continued my running week with a tempo run on Friday and long run on Sunday.  The tempo and long runs were solid.

Sleep:  (A) Got 8 hours of sleep every night and short afternoon naps during the day.  Felt great getting adequate sleep every day.

Diet/Hydration:  (A) Ate pretty clean this week, mostly whole foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Kept the sweets to a minimum and kept hydrated.

Weight/Body Fat:  (A) My weight decreased 1.1 lbs from 145.1 lbs to 144.0 lbs.  Body fat also decreased from 8.7% to 8.5%.

Cross-Training/Stretching:  (A) About 3.5 hours on the bike trainer; 60 minutes of core/strength sessions; and 2 hours of yoga spread throughout the week.

Stress Management:  (A) Low stress week.

Body Condition/Injuries:  (B) Right knee problems earlier in the week.  After a few days rest, seem to be okay now.  No other significant pains to speak of this week. 

Overall:  (A-) Solid week of training for the first taper week.

Training Recap

Running:  25 miles

Core/Strength:  60 minutes

Bike Trainer:  3.5 hours

Yoga:  2 hours

Total Exercise Time:  9 hours, 24 minutes

Monday – 15 minutes yoga, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes yoga

Tuesday – Intervals – planned 8 x 800s, but quit after the first interval, 30 minutes on the bike trainer, 20 minutes yoga  (Previous Training Cycle: 3:08, 3:02, 3:07, 3:03, 3:05, 3:07, 2:55 and 3:09)

Wednesday – 15 minutes core, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes strength

Thursday – 15 minutes yoga, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes yoga

Friday – Tempo, 2 mile warm-up, 5 miles @ tempo (6:32, 6:37, 6:35, 6:26 and 6:25), 1 mile cooldown, 20 minutes yoga (Previous Training Cycle:  6:38, 6:36, 6:34, 6:30 and 6:28)

Saturday – 15 minutes core, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes strength

Saturday – Long Run – 13 miles (average pace 6:55/mile), 20 minutes yoga (Previous Training Cycle:  average pace 6:56/mile)

Training Plan

m2b-training-plan-wk14

 

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2014 Mountains to Beach Marathon Training Update (Week 13 of 16)

So-so week of training this week.  Legs were fatigued from the half marathon last week, so my runs were slower than planned.  But the hard training is pretty much over, now it is is just three weeks of a gradual taper.  I have three primary goals during the taper:  (1) fully recover from the past three months of training; (2) don’t gain any weight, and if possible, try to lose a pound or two; and (3) focus on the peripheral stuff (i.e., getting enough sleep, eating clean, and managing stress.  I think if I can manage to get these areas right, it will set me up for a good marathon in a few weeks.

Report Card

m2b-grade-wk13Running:  (B) 38 miles of running this week. Ran intervals on Tuesday, tempo on Thursday and long run on Sunday.  All runs were slower than planned, legs were fatigued from the half marathon.

Sleep:  (A) Got 8 hours of sleep every night and short afternoon naps during the day.

Diet/Hydration:  (B) Didn’t eat as clean as I had hoped this week.  Parties at work as well as going out to eat this weekend resulted in less than optimal eating.  Will need to try and be really strict over the next few weeks on what and how much I eat.

Weight/Body Fat:  (C) Weight crept up this week.  My weight increased 0.6 lbs from 144.5 lbs to 145.1 lbs.  Body fat also increased from 8.6% to 8.7%.

Cross-Training/Stretching:  (A-) About 3 hours on the bike trainer; 55 minutes of core/strength sessions; and 2 hours of yoga spread throughout the week.

Stress Management:  (A) Low stress week.

Body Condition/Injuries:  (A) No other significant pains to speak of this week. 

Overall:  (B+) Solid week of training, but room for improvement.

Training Recap

Running:  38 miles

Core/Strength:  55 minutes

Bike Trainer:  3 hours

Yoga:  2 hours

Total Exercise Time:  10 hours, 3 minutes

Monday – 15 minutes yoga, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes yoga

Tuesday – Intervals, 10 x 400m (1:31, 1:31, 1:27, 1:32, 1:28, 1:29, 1:32, 1:22, 1:28, and 1:19), w/400m rest jog between intervals, 20 minutes yoga  (Previous Training Cycle: 1:26, 1:24, 1:25, 1:28, 1:24, 1:27, 1:20, 1:25, 1:16, and 1:23)

Wednesday – 15 minutes core, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes strength

Thursday – Tempo, 1 mile warm-up, 8 miles @ tempo (6:57, 6:48, 7:02, 7:00, 6:56, 6:57, 6:58 and 7:04), 1 mile cooldown, 20 minutes yoga (Previous Training Cycle:  6:44, 6:48, 6:53, 6:50, 6:48, 6:44, 6:47 and 6:25)

Friday – 15 minutes yoga, 45 minutes bike trainer, 15 minutes yoga

Saturday – 15 minutes core, 10 minutes strength, 45 minutes bike trainer

Saturday – Long Run – 20 miles (average pace 7:35/mile), 20 minutes yoga (Previous Training Cycle:  average pace 7:06/mile)

Training Plan

m2b-training-plan-wk13

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