Race Specific Training Weeks 1 and 2

Here it is, the finally “hurrah” towards the Pittsburgh Half Marathon!  I’m getting a little burnt out, but trying so hard to push to the finish.  It’s not so much the running that is wearing me down, but other aspects of life pulling me in every other direction.  It’s hard to stay committed when you have 8 other things on your mind and all you want to do is take a nap.

Instead of recapping entire weeks at a time, I’m just going to highlight what’s been important to my training.  I’m trying to get in 2-3 solid workouts each week, which includes speed and a long run.

Week One – 3/7/16 to 3/13/16
Monday – Cruise Intervals
Tuesday – CrossFit
Saturday – Shamrock Run 8k

Week Two – 3/14/16 to 3/20/16
Tuesday – Tempo Intervals
Saturday – Long Run

I started off this final phase kicking some ass.  Well, sort of.  That week was hellish in that if I wanted to run at all, I had to get up and do it before work.  Morning running is something I’ve tried and it’s been sort of enjoyable after I’m awake, but never easy on the legs.

Knowing that I had a race on the weekend, I had to start off my week with the first morning workout and speed.  That’s two strikes against me right there!  I didn’t sleep well on Sunday, nervous I might miss my alarm or be too deep in sleep to wake up.  I ate a Honey Stinger waffle while getting ready as my only fuel — I’m willing to wake up early to run, but getting up for breakfast before the run is actually impossible.

The Cruise Intervals were a bit of a new concept to me.  On deck was 6-8 reps of 1000m at pace with 200m recovery jog.  For me, based on my most recent races, pace was somewhere in the 7:40 – 7:50 per mile range.  (I’d double check, but I already updated my paces based on that weekend’s race.)  I decided to run two parallel roads for the repeats that didn’t have much traffic and had some good Strava segments to target.  Hey, I won’t lie on why I choose some routes over others.  There are also a couple small, gradual hills that can affect pace.  After a brief warm-up, I started and immediately felt like I was working for those paces; it was hard.  Cruise?  Definitely not.  By the time rep 5 came along, I was convinced I’d die on the road.  I decided to go for it and if things totally derailed, I was fine cutting it short.  Things derailed bad and I was more than happy to start cooling down, my paces were 7:45, 7:50, 7:38 (woo, slight downhill!), 7:40, 8:18.  So yeah, completely happy with a cool down at that point.


Working on the handstand pushup!

CrossFit was also ridiculously early — 5:30am!  I had a friend meet me there though, so I was totally committed.  The workout looked like a bundle of fun where we got to work up to our max on a few lifts, but due to time constraints it got modified. Our skill practice was front squats up to 80% of our maximum and I worked up to 65 lbs.  It’s hard to lift that early!  Then the workout was five rounds for time: 6 hang power cleans, 6 thrusters, 12 front rack lunges, and 6 push jerks.  Come on, doesn’t that look fun?  I thought it did and, well, it’s not.  It’s awful and everything burns and your arms fall off.  Then you have to go shower and get your butt to work with fallen off arms.

I did the workout with just a bar and totally forgot to look at my time.  My overhead strength is next to nothing, which is something I’m working on.  The final round Chris told me to cut out the overhead movements because my arms fell off a little earlier than expected, so I replaced thrusters with front squats and just didn’t do any push jerks.  My fallen off arms were perfectly happy sitting sedentary at my desk typing away for the rest of the day!

 And then Saturday was the Shamrock Run, which was a personal record that I wasn’t expecting at all.  I didn’t do a long run at all and was totally fine with it.

The following week’s hard workouts were done on tired legs.  After racing in flats for the first time since high school, my calves were tired and tight.  It didn’t matter that I had two days of recovery running and minimal miles, I was still toast into midweek.

Tuesday I had some tempo intervals on deck, which I did around a small “lake” near my house.  It’s one mile around and yes, it does have some Strava segments I’m aiming to knock down.  The workout was 2000m at pace, 400m recovery jog for 4 to 5 reps.  Based on Saturday’s race, I’ve been able to update my paces again and was aiming for 7:29-7:46 per mile.

You ever have those runs where you’re going in circles, but the wind is most definitely in your face the entire time?  That was Tuesday.  I don’t know how it happens, but it does.  My calves were on fire and I was dead but managed 7:47 pace for each set.  Considering winds were hovering around 20mph, I’m totally fine with that pace.  I cut my run short at 3 reps because J and Dunkin were walking to meet me.  Despite cutting short, I did 5 hill repeats while waiting for them, so I felt like I got something worthwhile in after the fact.

Saturday was supposed to be 14-18 miles, but I ended up with 9 and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t disappointed.  I’ll try again this weekend.  But I do think I have a curse. It’s called “the first run in a training cycle over 13 miles” curse. My first one ever was during Chicago training was awful, as in the worst run I’ve had in my life. This was my first one in this training cycle and it was rough

I had to do 5-6 before meeting up with friends at the gym for another 5-6, then a few with a friend, and finally heading home.  I started running around 7am and had a nice sunrise, plus saw an owl that wasn’t at the zoo, but everything felt awful.  I felt like a blob of playdough with 4 toothpicks sticking out — you know how you made human playdough figures as a kid?  Well, that.  My limbs weren’t working together, nothing was fluid, and I was dreading the next two hours.

Spot the owl!

I passed my apartment around mile 3 and considered crawling right back into bed.  Then I thought about people like Michele and Lindsey… the people who are always like “sometimes the run sucks and you keep going… and then finish and have the best of runs!” So I thought, “Alright, I’m going to be like Lindsey and Michele and have the best run today because that’s what happens when you get past the stupid miles in the beginning!”

I got to the gym and felt like I ran a half marathon already, but it was only 5 miles.  FIVE. MILES.

So there’s a small group of us and we take out for a six mile “easy” run. This means low 9’s for majority of us, which normally I can hang with, and definitely should hang with for this long run. I hung. I chatted a bit, too. But things never really got better. I just felt labored and wonky. We rounded my apartment and my hip was getting sore to the point where I knew it’d alter my stride within the next two miles. I thought about runners like Lindsey and Michele again. I knew if things were starting to go from bad to worse at mile 9 in a training run, they’d say “next time”, too. So I said “see ya”, apologized to Manz for ditching when I knew she was waiting at the gym and went home.

It was the right choice. My hip was sore until Sunday night. If my first “god awful worst thing ever” run is 6 weeks before race day, that isn’t so bad.

So there’s the first two weeks worth of the “specific” workouts. I was going to sign up for a hilly 15k as a training run this weekend but I’m going to get in that 14-18 instead on my own. After how long it took me to recover from that 8k, I don’t want to risk another week lost because I got carried away in a race.

I still can’t believe I have six weeks to go until d-day. Just six weeks left to get the most out of this training… Time to grind!


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

7 thoughts on “Race Specific Training Weeks 1 and 2”

  1. I feel you in “getting carried away” from racing. I’m glad everything seems to be going well. I think sometimes we all have those runs that we just want to cut out…you got some injury free miles in so that is all that matters.


  2. cruise intervals are strange at first but I have really grown to like them! it takes work to feel out the right pace though. Excited for your training, the ups and downs are inevitable and you’re getting strong and staying healthy. If that means cutting a run or two short, then so be it- it’s worth it in the grand scheme of things to keep you on track mentally and physically. There’s a time and a place to push through a run, and if you’re questioning it for physical reasons then calling it quits is almost always the better answer.


  3. Oh my god. So yesterday, I’m running my easy Monday run on this trail. 17 mph wind speed, 30 mph gusts. It was in my face the whole way out. The entire time, I’m thinking “yeah this kind of sucks but at least it will be to my back on the way back!!!” I get to mile 5, turn with excitement and relief, and BOOM. IN MY FACE. WHAT. The actual. Eff. So yeah. I feel you for sure. ROUGH TIMES.

    Good call on cutting it short with the 6 miler. So smart to listen to your body that way. Can’t wait for you to run the half!


  4. YES! How is it that the wind can be in your face at every turn?! Good call on cutting your long run short at mile 9. There’s pushing through when it’s hard and it’s going to make you stronger, and pushing through when your body needs a break and no good is going to come from it. I can’t believe your only 6 weeks away from your half! I’m still in the double digits from mine and it is seem soooo far.


  5. It is SO crazy that we are now less than 6 weeks from Pittsburgh. How is this real life?!

    I think you made the right call in cutting your run short. You don’t really *need* to be running over 14 miles 6 weeks out from race day anyway. Last week, a couple days before my race, I decided to skip my planned easy run for the day. I didn’t have a real reason – I certainly could have run those 6 miles just fine – I just didn’t feel like it. I suddenly realized that there was really no point in running junk miles just to meet some arbitrary weekly mileage goal and that I’d be better off getting more rest for my race (and for my training in general). Pretty sure I ended up being right. I’m probably going to take another unplanned rest day this week because I ran REALLY hard yesterday (and it was awesoooooome), I still have a 10 and 20 miler on tap for this week, and I deserve it damnit. It is SUCH a delicate balance between “push yourself harder, you’ll be stronger for it in the end!” and “um, hello, overtraining?!”. I think we are all so hard on ourselves in training, but if you look at the big picture, is a few easy miles here and there really going to affect anything? In general, you are much more likely to be successful if you are undertrained than if you are overtrained, so I always try to err on the side of more rest. If for no other reason than, life is short. Take care of your health and happiness.

    Sorry that was like a novel. I have a lot of thoughts on this recently as I have grappled with compulsive training and beating myself up over missed workouts.


    1. It is so crazy that we are that close! It feels so far still. I’m with you on the short “junk” miles though. Sometimes just laying low to keep your sanity is needed.

      This is the first time I’ve run more than 13 for a half marathon in training, but with aiming for the PR I am, I know I should be aiming a little longer. But it’s hard!! There’s definitely a fine line between over and under training… But I’m in the boat where if I’m not LOVING what I’m doing on race day, it’s more detrimental than nailing every workout.


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