Double Digits + Reworking the Plan

Last night I overhauled our training plan for the Houston Marathon. Again.

Sunday long runs just weren’t working for us. The only thing we really enjoyed was the ability to sleep in on Saturday morning after a long work week filled with 3:45am alarms. Let’s not talk about how at 30 years old I now consider ‘sleeping in’ to be 7 or 8am. Any form of plans on Saturday night had to be turned down and the thunderstorms that kept showing up on Sunday morning meant we didn’t have another day to push the run to. Also, Brad plays softball on Thursday nights and most of the time doesn’t get home until 11pm. There is a 0% chance of him being able to run the following morning. We were constantly flip-flopping run days and it was frustrating not having a set schedule anymore. So things had to change.

Enter the Houston Marathon Training Plan, Version 2:

Houston Marathon 2015

I’m still toying with the idea of adding a 22-miler to the plan in Week 9. That would put our 20-miler the weekend after Thanksgiving and all of that delicious food would be great fuel for those miles. However, that would mean a 3-week build [rather than 2, which I prefer] so I don’t know. BCS isn’t a goal race so I don’t think we really need an official taper for it. We’ll just need to cross that bridge when we come to it. As long as we have one 20 under our belts before race day I’ll be happy.

Town Lake Boardwalk - Austin Sunrise

Last weekend we set out for 10 miles downtown around Town Lake. It should have been 12 but coming off of Ragnar Trail Hill Country the weekend before, 10 seemed like a more reasonable number for our trashed legs. The first 5 miles went by quicker than expected considering how heavy my legs felt and the pace was right where we wanted it to be. Around mile 6 the sun started to come up and we decided to take a water break during each mile. This dropped our overall pace a little bit but helped us finish out the run strong. Somehow mile 10 was our fastest one despite wanting to curl up into a ball and take a nap on the side of the trail. It’s been a LONG time since we’ve run double digits and I’m really happy with how well this one went. That being said, I fully expect to have a ridiculously awful 14-miler this weekend.

Town Lake - Downtown Austin Skyline

12 weeks and many, many miles to go!

Not Enough Time in the Day

I need help. And suggestions. And if it’s possible for you to insert an extra day into my week, that would probably be the best course of action. After Houston, my training came to a screeching halt. The arch issues I encountered on race day tapered off after a few days but the pain migrated over to the side of my right foot and made itself comfortable there. Grocery shopping required a cart to lean on and even just walking from my desk to the kitchen was sometimes painful. I RICE’d the crap out of that thing, with a major emphasis on the rest. I haven’t run a single step since the half last month and my first pain-free day was Saturday. With Austin just around the corner [this weekend, yikes – snuck up on me] I knew a decision would have to be made and I wasn’t going to like it. Nope, I wasn’t going to like it one bit.

I’ll be inking a big fat red DNS next to the 2014 Austin Half Marathon. It’s really for the best because I want to be 100% healthy to run Ragnar Cape Cod in May. But that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed skipping this race. Deferring my entry would cost a pricey $60 [$120 for both Brad & I] and that unfortunately isn’t in the budget right now. Hopefully I’ll score an early-bird discount for the 2015 race when registration opens later this year.

finding the time to workout

Okay, so back to the part I need help with. I’m basically starting from scratch with a workout/running plan because my schedule has been out of whack since mid-December and being out of commission the past few weeks didn’t help either. This is the perfect time [hi, 12 weeks til Ragnar] to get a plan in place and work some classes into the mix. Here’s where I’m running into an issue: there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Morning: My gym opens at 5am so morning workouts are basically limited to anything I can squeeze in between 5 & 6. I need to be home by 6:10 to let Sox out of her crate and get ready for work. This scenario requires leaving the house with wet hair by 6:45, which could possibly suck if it’s cold outside. I can’t take any classes because they start at 5:30 and end at 6:30, leaving hardly any time to shower and drive to work – let alone going home to free Sox from her crate one last time.

Lunch: A Gold’s Gym just opened across the street from my office, which is awesome but ideally I’d need more than an hour. A run could definitely be squeezed in but taking Body Pump or RPM would be out of the question. I suppose an option would be to stay at the office 30 minutes later in order to justify a long lunch, but since I usually leave work around 5:15 or 5:30, I’m already pushing my ETA at home pretty far out. That 75-90 minute commute ruins everything…

Evening: All of the classes I’m interested in across the street don’t start until 6pm, so there’d be some time to kill after work. With classes running from 6-7 and at least an hour drive home, that puts me walking through the front door around 8pm. Brad is in bed by 8:30 at the latest and passed out cold by 9, so the amount of time we’d see each other during the week would be pretty scarce. I guess there’s always the option to go to the gym after he goes to bed, but let’s be honest: it probably won’t happen. The chance of me leaving the house again after getting home from work is slim.

I can fit running in pretty much anywhere, but structured classes are harder to schedule. Let’s recap: Sox the Pillow Eater cramps my style in the morning, midday classes are too long to fit into my lunch break, and evening gym sessions cut into time spent [which is already pretty short] with my other half. On Wednesdays I work from home, so taking a class that morning is definitely doable. The thought of waking up early on a day I usually look forward to sleeping in isn’t exactly appealing but sacrifices must be made. Here is the [tentative] plan:

Mon: RPM // Tues: run // Wed: BodyPump // Thurs: run // Fri: rest // Sat: run // Sun: rest/yoga

Monday I’ll try to get into work a little early and stay a little later to account for the lunchtime RPM class. On Tuesday and Thursday I have the option of running before work or at lunch. Wednesday morning I’ll reluctantly drag myself out of bed at the crack of down to get my ass kicked at BodyPump. And the remaining days are a non-issue.

Since this plan is just tentative, I’m looking for some tips & tricks to squeeze workouts into a busy schedule. Are you a morning, noon, or night runner/gym-goer?

Nothing’s Finer than a Shiner {especially after 13.1 miles}

I’m sure race envy will rear its ugly head at some point, but for right now I’m really relishing the fact my life this summer isn’t tied to a training plan for a fall marathon. Like, REALLY loving it.

A few months have passed since my last race and it’s been nice to run only when (and for as many miles) as I want. In the back of my mind I knew there would be a fall 13.1 but wanted to enjoy the beginning of summer and easy miles.

I loosely drafted a training plan back in May and didn’t open it again until last weekend. And then on Tuesday I registered for a race:


Running this race in 2012 didn’t quite pan out so I knew it needed to happen in 2013. Since Brad and I are pretty much in love with this beer, it only seems right to travel a little over an hour from Austin out to Shiner for the race in November.

As a creature of habit, I generally default to the FIRST Run Less, Run Faster training plans. Nearly every plan I’ve created over the past two years has been an even mix of speed, tempo, and long runs. But the first time it truly failed me was last summer while preparing for Philly. Nailing the paces I needed on 400s and mile repeats in the humid 95 degree evenings of summer was nearly impossible and every run was a struggle. I had set myself up for failure with RLRF.

I dug up my training log from Marine Corps in 2011 and poured over it. Since it was my first marathon and still fairly new to running, I dropped most of the speed workouts and subbed in easy runs. So I ran easy on Tuesday, tempo’ed on Thursday, and long on Saturday. The plan didn’t include any paces – I ran by what I felt was “fast” for me on any given day. That probably sounds absurd to you but it worked. Now that I’m looking back, one week my tempo pace was 10:45 and then a couple weeks later it was 10:15. I was getting faster and it wasn’t forced. And I wasn’t getting injured. (IMPORTANT!!)

The TL;DR – I’m going back to basics for Shiner.

Shiner Half Marathon - Training Plan

Low mileage, slow build, no paces – but still only running 3x per week. Because that’s what works for me. And if it ain’t broke? Don’t fix it.

Oh and while I was tweaking this plan to my liking yesterday, I remembered another little race which I should probably plan for:

Houston Half Marathon Registration

Oh hey Houston, guess I’ll be seeing you in January! Since technically a 12 week plan would start on October 27th, I’ll probably take a small break post-Shiner and run maintenance mileage through December to keep my fitness level up. Logistics on that front are TBA, but most importantly – I’m in for Houston!

Houston Half In-Training

And now that I’ve registered for two half marathons and my credit card is cowering in the corner begging me not to use it again in the near future, it’s your turn:

What is your fall goal race? Do you have to travel or is it local? Where does your training plan come from: a coach, the internet, or do you create it yourself?

Philadelphia Marathon Training Plan

Welp, it’s finally done.

Philadelphia Marathon

I’ve been working on this damn training plan for MONTHS, tweaking it here and there, adjusting paces and LR distances. The RLRF FIRST plan I started with was for a 4:45 finish. After an exciting and successful night at the track, I changed it to 4:40. And then there were those failed 800s last week that knocked me right back down to reality. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to adjust my goal. I’d rather start out on the conservative side of challenging, rather than the setting-myself-up-for-disappointment side.

After much debate, I settled on a goal: SUB-5.

If I feel stronger in a couple months and the paces just aren’t cutting it, I can always bump them down. I’d rather, you know, not have my confidence crushed on Day One. I also removed all pace goals from long runs. When it’s 90 degrees, I’d rather focus on not dying than stalk my watch to make sure I’m going fast enough. So my long run goal is distance. And distance only.

Here’s the plan I’ll be following from now through November 18th:

Philly Marathon Plan 1

Philly Marathon Plan 2

click image to view full doc in Google Drive

What training plan do you use? Galloway? Higdon? FIRST? Or do you make your own?

What distance do you use for your longest half/full marathon training run?

NJ Marathon: The Plan of Attack

Well, it’s no secret I’m registered and training for the New Jersey Marathon on May 6, 2012.


Marine Corps was a phenomenal experience and the best race I’ve run to date. I’ve been back and forth hundreds of times whether or not to run it again in 2012. I know there will be extreme race envy when registration opens in a few weeks and I don’t sign up. That weekend in DC wasn’t exactly easy on the wallet, and the thought of training through a Texas summer again doesn’t sound terribly appealing.

One of my friends suggested I run the New Jersey Marathon, and the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. I’m looking to shave some serious minutes off of my race time from October, and this flat, fast course is the perfect place to do it.

More importantly, this is essentially a hometown race for me so I’ll get to spend a lot of time with my wonderful family and friends. Also important: Wawa Subs, Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner, and Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese Sandwiches. AND It’ll be Brad’s first time in NJ; he’s already practicing his Jersey Turnpike. Clearly we watch way too much Jersey Shore.

I found this gem when looking for a Jersey Turnpike photo:

Deena Cortese demonstrates the Jersey Turnpike on Ed Helms

You’re welcome. Ed Helms is such a trooper.

Anyway, back to that massive marathon PR I’ve got my eye on. Given my performance at 3M at the end of January, obviously the speed work I’ve been doing is working. As much as mile repeats leave me gasping for air and wondering why I chose running as a ‘hobby’, the results speak for themselves. Speed work + tempo runs + long run = The Return of FIRST Training. I used FIRST for the Marine Corps Marathon, but my speed work and tempo paces weren’t aggressive at all. Welp, they are now.

I present to you, Operation PR in New Jersey.



Ambitious you say? I concur. This plan definitely has wiggle room, and I don’t doubt there will be some tweaking along the way (I’m looking at you, 11 mile tempo run in week 12!)

The next few months are going to be TOUGH. But you know how you learn to run fast? You train fast. I know I need to push myself and run paces outside my comfort zone. If I don’t test my limits, how will I ever know what I’m capable of?


Let’s do this.

What’s Next?

I spent July through October training my little heart out for the Marine Corps Marathon.


Now that the race has come and gone, it’s time to look into the future at upcoming goals.

I fell ridiculously short of my sub 2:20 half marathon goal for 2011. I can tell you exactly why: lack of training. The first three races in the beginning of the year should hardly be considered as legitimate attempts. I barely logged any training miles and ran the races solely to finish. I had a few killer speed workouts and tempo runs during marathon training, but for the most part I only trained for distance.

Once San Antonio rolled around, two weeks after Marine Corps, it was clear this wouldn’t be the time to PR. It didn’t keep me from setting a few lofty race goals though. I managed to eek out a PR by one minute – not what I had hoped for. A less than impressive showing on my behalf. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.


Back to my original point – the sub 2:20 race didn’t happen. The only logical thing to do would be to slash some serious minutes off my current PR early next year.

Enter 3M Half Marathon on January 29, 2012.


This will be my PR race, kicking the year off in a big way. The goal is a 2:15-2:20 finish. Yes, I realize that’s a 20 minute difference from the half two weeks ago, but barring injury {knock on wood} it’s attainable with the correct training.

Therefore, I present to you … the Operation Run Fast training plan.

(click to view full training plan)

I’ve been tweaking it for over a month and aside from the long run paces, it’s finally done.

Three days of running (speed/tempo/long), two days of cross-training (elliptical/spin), and two rest days. While I always run three days a week, cross-training seems to fall by the wayside. It’s just as important as running, so I need to make sure I’m completing those workouts (not counting this past holiday week).

I jumped back onto the running scene this week:

Tuesday:   2 miles @ 9:55 pace (This run kicked my ass and reminded me what taking a few weeks off will do to you)

Thursday:  5 miles @ 11:25 pace (Turkey Trot)

Sunday:     6.5 miles @ 11:04 pace (Supposed to be 6-7 miles at 11:38 pace. I compromised with 6.5 and ran them a bit faster than what the training plan called for. Oops)

I’m ready to buckle down and train hard for the 3M Half. Operation Run Fast starts NOW.

Bring it on.