Air Force Marathon Training Check-In

Today we began week 10 of our 16 week training plan- only 7 weeks to go until marathon #7 – The Air Force Marathon! I thought since we are well past the halfway point I would do a quick update on how our training is going.

First of all, this is the first time I’ve trained over the entire summer. This is the earliest fall marathon I’ve done – the other ones have all been in November or late October. Training in the peak of summer heat has been very challenging and humbling at the same time. I have learned to respect the heat and humidity and just do what I can without pushing my body to the point where it’s unsafe. We have truly had to follow Adaptive Running principles, sometimes changing what we had planned. It has been a learning experience for me and I’m getting better at letting go of the arbitrary numbers on my plan (mileage & pace) and instead listening to my body and what it needs. It’s a delicate balance!

We actually did pretty well at following our plan until this past week when the heat beat us down during our long run. We hadn’t really had to modify many things, except that our easy runs were occasionally a little bit slower than what the Runners World SmartCoach recommended. I think that it really helps that the SmartCoach makes every third or fourth week a cut-back week where the mileage is lighter.

Here are two graphs from my Daily Mile page. The first one shows my weekly mileage since we started this training plan (Weeks 1 to 9). This is definitely not the highest mileage training plan I’ve ever done, but I actually like running less than usual because it gives me more time for cross and strength-training. I can tell that it is really helping me improve my running!

The second graph shows total monthly mileage from May to July. I ran the County Music Marathon on April 30th and spent most of May taking it easy and recovering from it. I started this training cycle on May 30th and mileage has been climbing since then.

I love Daily Mile and it’s awesome graphs!

When I first talked about our training plan, I had 6 big goals in mind. Let’s see how those goals are going now that we’re 10 weeks in! Here’s what I wrote originally and my updates will be underneath in italics.

  • Running: 4x a week (2 easy runs, 1 speed/tempo run, 1 long run) @ paces determined by SmartCoach. I will also be trying to get in the habit of finishing all my runs fast. I know that my biggest weakness is keeping my pace steady in the last few miles of the marathon. That is when I lose control every time. I know that adding speed at the end of my runs will help my body adjust to maintaining speed when I am tired.
    • We’ve been getting all our runs in and we hit our target paces most of the time, which is awesome and a huge confidence builder! There have been times where we had to switch up the order of our runs that week but that’s not a huge deal. I’m still working on injecting speed in at the end of each run when I’m fatigued. Some days are better than others. I’m really going to focus on this over the next 7 weeks because it is definitely my weak area.
  • Cross-Training: 2x a week. Spinning, Zumba, Yoga, Elliptical, Row Machine, Biking outside, etc.
    • I have been going to spinning every Wednesday and Body Pump 3x a week, which I think can be considered cross-training. It is weight lifting but there’s definitely a cardio aspect to it – it gets my heart pumping!
  • Strength-Training: 3x a week. This is something that I always have good intentions of doing when I begin a new training cycle, but it quickly gets pushed to the back burner when the mileage picks up. I want to focus mainly on my upper body and core because these areas can definitely get stronger and it will improve my running.
    • This is a big check that I am very proud of! I am usually such a slacker when it comes to strength training but I’ve been going to Body Pump classes 3 times a week for the last 5 weeks! I can really tell a difference in my strength and in my arms and legs. 
  • Rest: One day (or more depending on how we are feeling that week) of total rest.
    • YES! Sundays have been designated rest days most weeks. 
  • Sleep: At least 7 hours a night… This is very, very important to us this time around!
    • Hmmm… not so much. I would say I get between 6 – 7 hours a night. I have been having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep lately (blame it on the wedding anxiety!), and we wake up really early to run and beat the summertime heat. Need to work on this over the next 7 weeks for sure!
  • Nutrition: I eat a vegetarian diet 100% of the time and Kevin eats that way probably 80% of the time. We eat mostly whole, natural, unprocessed foods and although we have good percentage of carbohydrates, fats, and protein in our diets, it can sometimes be hard to eat enough to fuel our high mileage and keep our energy up. We are going to pay a little more attention to our basic calorie intake/outtake to make sure that we are maintaining a good balance!
    • I have been keeping track of intake/outtake of calories to make sure I am getting enough food. I also started tracking protein since I’m doing more strength training now. However, there was a few weeks that we definitely ate out and indulged too much. I think it was due to it being summer and hot out, which leads to laziness in the kitchen and cravings for ice cream and Mexican food (well that’s all the time actually!). I was really feeling the effects of too many dinners/lunches out so made the decision to only eat out once every 2 weeks. It’s been working so far and I’ve been feeling so much better (and saving money too!)

I’d say we’re doing pretty good with our goals for training. I am determined to finish these last 7 weeks out strong, while being careful at the same time in the summer heat. I still REALLY want to run a sub 4 hour marathon, and I think that lucky marathon #7 may be the one!

Here is a look at each month of training so far and what we have left. The black is what was planned originally, and the green is what we actually did (click to enlarge).

Here’s to great 9 weeks of training – 7 more to go!

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