Thursday, July 25, 2013

Marathon training: the good, the bad, and the tragic

There are now just four weeks to the Perth City to Surf marathon. HOLLY ARE YOU EXCITED YET?

The good: This is probably my most consistent marathon training cycle to date. Except for a couple of weeks in the middle when I was sick/ injured, most weeks have been in the 60km range and have involved running 6 days a week. Past marathon training cycles have NOT been consistent, 60km and five days a week was somewhat optimistic.

Here's a typical training week from last year, a month before the marathon.
Sunday - 6km easy run
Tuesday - Track: pyramid 200/400/600/800/800/600/400/200 = 4km
Thursday - 4km
Saturday - 25km.
Total: 39km.

And this is my week so far:
Sunday - 10km
Monday - 7km
Tuesday - a couple of strength circuits; track: 4(400 and rest), 1200, 3(300 and active recovery), 1200, cooldown = 5km
Wednesday - 8.4km tempo run (A PROPER tempo - 10.4 to 10.8km/h)
Thursday - AM 5km, PM 10km
Total so far:  45.5km.
That doesn't include tomorrow's workout and I haven't even got to Saturday's long run yet.

I'm more comfortable with a double-digits run midweek now. And doubles. And strength training. And running six days a week (I had a little trouble wrapping my head around that one at first).

Except this morning. I set foot on my usual canal path and the sky poured a bucket of water on me. So I did just 5km of a planned 14.5. It actually crossed my mind that I should've worn my goggles...

this is what comes up when you do an image search for "running in goggles"-i have no idea.
(UPDATE: had a very nice run around Bishan Park this evening - ran from work and back.)

The bad: I think 60km is still too low mileage-wise to make a proper dent in a marathon, but it's what my work schedule can deal with. Just in case you think I have commitment problems - my 5.30am phone alarm says PERTH CITY TO SURF. SUB-5. YOU HAVE TO EARN IT. That usually gets me out of bed... (I mean, you try being a slow-as-molasses runner who works as a daily news journalist and trains for a marathon at the same time, and then let's talk...)

The slightly worse: I added all this up and all of my training takes me roughly ten hours a week. I have no idea where the other 158 hours go.

The it-would-be-funny-if-it-wasn't-so-sad: I think I've gotten SLOWER as a result of longer slower runs. (Ya think?) At Tuesday track this week, I ran the 1200s with a friend who claimed that when he started at track earlier this year he was trying to keep up with me. He might be right, but he is now MUCH faster than I am on sprints. Ouch. And I've been doing my speedwork and strides. That's why I'm genetically body goes 'I see your measly hour of speedwork and raise you some turtle pace'.

I'm quite happy to accept that I will never be FAST fast even if I work twice as hard. And I'm not really going to beat myself up about it. Not while I still enjoy running and if it gets me to the finish line of a marathon in healthy-but-genetically-challenged-molasses-goal-time.

Here is possibly the world's best running tank

It's the Under Armour Women's Victory Tank, which wicks like a dream, is hip-length on my hilariously long torso, fits skintight so it doesn't flop around uncomfortably when soggy, and you should probably size down from whatever you usually wear. You're welcome. (I have two and they're XS. Sizing - it basically means nothing these days so just wear whatever fits.)

My friend A. told me about these and she swears by them. Apparently an added bonus is they stretch and still fit if you're pregnant, or so she says. (She is due at the start of August.) Haven't really tried that myself.

I would really, really like to get more, but I don't think I can justify that right now. Uh, so my birthday's in November. Husband? Are you reading this?


  1. I can tell that that shirt would be knee-length on my hilariously short torso. Apparently your long-torsoed people have taken over every sports company, ever because I cannot for the life of me find tanks that are short enough for me anymore! It's a hard life, that of a short torso-er.

    Well, the good news is that you know you can finish a marathon on 39km/week, so just think of the additional 21 as a bonus! Or something. Do you think the Hansons are making your track workouts slower, or is it something else? Who needs speed anyway?

    1. If your torso is ridiculously short, I have a couple of old race shirts you can have... :) They're made by Adidas, in case you wanted to look for that. But they're also too wide and tend to flap around in the breeze.

      To compensate I also have short legs - not hilariously short but shorter than usual. Enough that knickers that are supposed to be knee-length hit partway down my calves. (I wish gear companies understood this variance in sizing - if only outdoor gear came in tall and petite like some ordinary clothing brands!)

      It's true...I suppose I can finish a marathon on 39 to 50 km a week. And have done so. Thrice. It wasn't a happy time, though. As for the speed thing...I don't know whether to blame the Hansons or something else. Considering I'm not following the Hansons plan exactly, probably something else. But yeah, who needs speed anyway! I'm not planning on winning. :)

    2. If it's any consolation, Jeano, I think that the longer "tunic" length just happens to be "in" this year - so there's a lot more longer length around than usual.

      You'll get your turn. And I have some tops I can throw in with Mthyo's for you. I have nice abs and all, but I try not to let them play "peek-a-boo" because I'm wearing cropped shirts...

    3. I don't even have (visible) abs (let alone any that I would want on display). Jeano can have all of my midriff shirts. ;)

  2. Nice work with that consistent training! I've gotta chip in and recommend the UA Fly-By Mesh Tank as well: The mesh is the most breathable and moisture-wicking fabric I've ever experienced in Singapore. Sometimes I'll get off the treadmill and I won't even 100% soaking wet, it's a revelation! And although "mesh" sounds tacky it's not see-through or anything, don't worry.

  3. You can always justify more of these tanks. For instance: you now run doubles and run six days a week. How is one supposed to keep up with that kind of laundry while also working crazy journalist hours? More UA tanks, that's how.
    Oh, and my parents are going to be here next week. They live 15 min. from an outlet mall that include an UA outlet. So no shipping and possibly on sale. Marathon training requires at least four of these beauties.

  4. If you're Hansoning properly, then I think at this point, you SHOULD feel like your track repeats are sluggish. Although I will point out that, without a watch (even a cheap stopwatch), you have no real *evidence* of your speed - only in relation to your friend. Do you publish a news-story without checking your facts? Didn't think so... ;-)

    And of course you want to do more - but you're already doing more than in previous attempts. That, plus Perth conditions, bode well for you. In my opinion. [Incidentally, I gained about 30 sec/mile on this today's 22 vs my 20 in NJ a few weeks back. While some of that might be residual fatigue from this past weekend, I think a fair amount can be chalked up to temperature. Jersey was hot and humid, but not quite as hot as Singapore, on the day I did that run. In short: I'm feeling good about what the temperature will do for us!]

    1. WHOA! Am I trusted enough that I don't have to await moderation anymore?!?!?!

    2. 1:56 400s with 49s rest (total 2:45 per rep including rest) - I do have a stopwatch, I just don't want to bore everyone with the details! The last time I did a bunch of 400 reps (13 x 400) they were 2:00-2:06 but not supposed to be sprints - just a long string of endurance repeats. But it does feel like everyone's getting faster, faster while I am getting faster...more slowly. If that makes any sense.

      I've done away with moderation - I forgot I could change the settings :)

    3. PS and right now I don't feel like I'm getting faster at all. Just sluggish.