Final Week of Base Building: Pittsburgh Half Marathon

This week left me feeling really good about where I currently am.  I’ve been recovering quickly, making progress in my strength training, and feeling stronger overall.  Running sometimes still feels like a chore and I’d rather cuddle on my couch with my dog (who wouldn’t?) but I don’t find it as difficult to get up and out the door.

Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 25 minutes w/ Dunkin
Wednesday – CrossFit
Thursday – 40 minutes w/ 2 miles tempo
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 85 minute long run
Sunday – 30 minute recovery run

Monday – Rest
Three runs in a row is about all I’m willing to do at this point without a rest day.  Last year, I would feel funky if I tried that third day in a row so I’m quite happy with where I’m at right now.  To be honest, I’d probably be okay with four days in a row if they weren’t the bulk of my mileage.

CrossFit Running Dog MemeTuesday – 25 minute Dunkin Run
12:55 pace/74% MHR
I took the day off because J was busy, but his plans were cancelled so we had the day off together.  I debated utilizing this time to get in my own 45 minute run, but Dunks was kind of antsy so I took him with me.

Wednesday – CrossFit
Oh my goodness.  This was such a hard workout.  We warmed up with miniband walks and banded squats, followed by three rounds of: 2 handstand push-ups and 4 strict pull-ups.  I can’t do either, so I was on top of a box working on my handstand pull-ups, then I used a red and purple band to work on my strict pull-ups.

The majority of the class was spent on working up to a one rep maximum for a few barbell movements and they were our choice; I loved it!  I worked on my deadlift and the split jerk.  I picked deadlifts because they’re a solid workout for runners and the split jerk because it’s been months since I learned how to do it and it’s one of my favorites.  I set my deadlift PR at 125 lbs and my jerk PR at 75 lbs.  I don’t know if this is any better or worse than where I was a year ago, but at least now I’m doing workouts that give me the option to see progress.

After that, the final portion of the class was the actual workout… you know, the heart pounding, lungs burning part.  It was “death by burpees” — oh shit.  The first minute, you had to get 10 burpees in, then 12 in the next minute, then 14, etc. until you can’t get that many burpees in the minute.  I made it three full rounds and 9 reps into the fourth.  That third round was the hardest because my quads were burning with lactic acid buildup and a couple times I went to bring my feet in, but didn’t pick them up enough so they got stuck on the floor.  I finished my 14th rep on the final second.  After the 4th minute passed and I collected my breath, I took my heart rate (forgot to start my watch but was wearing my monitor — doh!) and I was at 190bpm, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I came close or hit my max heart rate from running during that workout.  It took me a full hour for my lungs to stop burning!

Thursday – 40 minutes w/ 2 miles at tempo
9:57 pace/77% MHR – 9:15 tempo pace/80% MHR
I headed out for a solo easy run, but my legs felt surprisingly refreshed.  I remembered two segments from Strava that are on one-way streets and a straight shot, so I decided to incorporate those into my run.  When I reached the segments, I was warmed up and opted to toss in some tempo miles because admittedly, Strava.  It felt good, rolling hills and all — miles (and hills!) to the bank for Pittsburgh!

Friday – Rest
With three days of decent workouts and a Saturday long run facing me, I kept my butt on the couch.

Saturday – 85 minute long run
9:51 pace/79% MHR
We didn’t get any snow from Jonas (did Buffalo shift locations on the map and not tell me?) but it was freezing.  I was meeting up with the run group at the gym and knew their run was anywhere from 4-6 miles, so if I wanted to get a longer run in I had to run there and home (2.25 miles each way).  The option of just tacking on miles when everyone else is done isn’t something I’m capable of doing, so I have to force it upon myself and that’s by commuting.

It was dark and felt like 10 degrees when I left so I was rather miserable.  There was snow and ice no matter which route I took and my calves were cramping up hard.  At run group there were only three of us, one of which was the coach and sub 5-minute miler, so our pace was basically race walking for him, but he kindly stuck with us for half the run (before tacking on an extra mile for himself and working to catch back up).  We cruised quicker than I was prepared to do, going from my 10+ minute warm-up pace to lower 9 minute pace.  It felt hard at first but became more comfortable on the way back — in fact I was able to keep that pace and a little quicker for my cool down while keeping my heart rate in check!  My average heart rate kept under 80% MHR, so I’m stoked.  I wanted to run another 15-20 minutes than I did but it truly was just too cold out.  I got home, immediately changed into warm, dry clothes and hopped into bed under the covers.  It took a full two hours to warm up.  Yes, coffee and a shower would have helped but… my men were snuggin’ in bed so I had to, too!

Sunday – 30 minute recovery run
10:24 pace/73% MHR
I really, really wanted to hit 20 miles this week but I remembered back to researching my training.  It’s not all about the miles.  The miles aren’t any good if you’re not recovering.  According to McMillan, recovery runs are under 70% MHR and anywhere from 15-45 minutes, but the shorter the better — so out I went for 30 minutes.  I kept my heart rate at, or under, 75% MHR — I gave myself some leeway with the snow and ice.  I wasn’t too upset at being outside for “only” 30 minutes, I felt like I go the purpose of the workout in and it was again, really effin’ cold.

I absolutely cannot complain about closing out my base building with a month of 15-18 mile weeks.  Given that my go-to average used to be 10-12 mile weeks last year, I’m happy with being here.  I think I would have been a little higher without Dunkin to care for, but you roll with the punches.  This upcoming week (or two!) is supposed to be upper 30s and even in the 40s so I anticipate some great training runs.



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Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

11 thoughts on “Final Week of Base Building: Pittsburgh Half Marathon”

  1. Definitely showing big consistency and that WILL pay off. Also, those 30 minutes of recovery do make a difference even if its “only” 30 minutes. I’ve found those recovery runs have done wonders and really do help me bounce back quicker. I’m excited for more Pittsburgh training for you because I KNOW you have all the tools to nail a big PR (cheesy, yes- true, yes 🙂 ) Also- snuggles in bed with man/dog is the best- no shame!


  2. I think this base building is going to help you so much. I’ve personally found that I feel worse before I feel better. I cannot wait to see when you make that huge PR.


  3. I’m really impressed with how good your legs felt the day after your cross fit workout. I can feel the burn in my legs just reading about all those burpees 🙂 Great work on a finishing a strong base building period!


  4. Ahhhh Crossfit seems so hard! Amazing how good you are feeling running in the day after it. I think it will benefit you so much. Maybe it will at least inspire me to go lift some legs one of these days. I need it!

    I am loving reading about your heart rate training. Keep it up and keep blogging it! It’s about the only thing I haven’t yet tried, but with my new Garmin I am interested in giving it a shot since I have heart rate on it 🙂


  5. Hey! So how often do you crossfit? When I tried it out a few years ago and told the guy I was only willing to make time for it 1-2 times a week he acted like that was dumb and was kind of a turd in general about me being a runner so I never went back haha! Do you love it??


    1. When I’m training for a race I do it like once a week. I just get too sore and my runs suffer. BUT I go to a gym that is owned by endurance athletes so they have a different outlook on the whole thing. They are really good about respecting my goals and also have endurance sport specific classes. So I think it takes some effort to find a place that embraces that kind of attitude. Other gyms I went to were NOT for me and were kind of like “running and triathlons are stupid.” and way too intense for me. I do love love love it, though. I’ve noticed a difference in my running and particularly injuries (lack thereof).


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