Miscellaneous Marathon Training Notes

I recently read multiple books to prepare for the 2015 Chicago Marathon, my first marathon. My official training schedule doesn’t start for another week, but I wanted to get my mind right, just as much as my body. I read 3 books: “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide” (by Hal Higdon), “You Can Go The Distance” (by Bruce Van Horn) and “Marathon Training” (by Joe Henderson).

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When I am reading for research like this, I usually have a notepad and pen by my side to jot down the important notes. As a result below are the notes I took from reading these three books to help in my training efforts. Hopefully they can help those in need as well.

On Nutrition:

  • Amount of protein needed per day during training is 0.8 grams per KG of body weight.
    • Body Weight / 2.2 = Weight in KG
    • Weight in KG x 0.8 = Amount of Grams of Protein needed per day
  • Successful marathon diet:
    • 55% carbohydrates, 30% fats, 15% protein
  • Carbo loading should happen months before the race, not the night before

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • “By skipping a run, you are actually training your brain to do that next time”
  • To become a successful marathoner:
    1. Follow a proper diet
    2. Eliminate extra body fat
    3. Refrain from smoking/ heavy drinking
    4. Get adequate sleep
    5. Exercise regularly
  • High mileage training helps you better utilize glycogen (the substance stored in muscles and liver that creates energy for running)
  • To run a marathon well, change your habits in 5 areas during the final weeks of training:
    1. Cut total mileage (cut by about 50%)
    2. Cut frequency (days you run per week)
    3. Cut distance, not intensity
    4. Cut the lifting
    5. Cut back on calories
  • Get a race day routine and practice it during your long runs
  • You build strength when resting not running
  • Yasso 800’s = Run 800 meters (0.5 miles) at your goal pace per mile. Lightly jog another 800 and repeat.

On Taper Period:

  • Tapering = Taking your running miles down 2- 3 weeks before race day
  • Begin tapering 3 weeks prior to marathon (after your 20 mile long run).
  • During the 3 week taper period long runs should be 12 miles, then 8, then race day.
  • During taper weeks, cut your distance not your pace.

On Race Week:

  • To do week of race:
    • Drink more water
    • Sleep longer
    • Stay off feet
  • Focus on fruits, vegetables and grains one week before the race
  • During marathon week, watch food intake for first 3 days, then the next 3 days eat more than your normal intake, with a focus on carbs
  • You may want to jog the day before the marathon to reduce nervousness, but do not go too far

On Pre-Race:

  • Eat your first race day pre-race food as early as 3 hours before the race start
  • Run/ walk a half mile or so on race day in preparation
  • Types of protein bars for pre-race should be something that is mostly carbs
  • Pre-Race Breakfast:
    • 1.5 to 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight 3 to 4 hours before race

On Post-Race:

  • After crossing the finish line you must keep walking. Drops in blood pressure and cramping increases by resting immediately after.
  • Try to get your blood sugar back to normal as soon as possible with sugar based drinks (Gatorade, Soda, etc.)
  • Types of protein bars for post-race should be something heavy in protein
  • After the first 5- 10 minutes post run walking around, get off your feet. Elevate your feet to ease blood flow to your heart.
  • Keep any stretching post-race short and simple.

Books

Book Review: “Marathon Training” by Joe Henderson

The second book on my marathon training adventure was “Marathon Training. The 100-Day Program for Success”. This book was written by Joe Henderson.

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I do not know the official background on Joe Henderson, but his words can be trusted. He mentions in the book that he was a contributor to Runners World magazine in the 1970’s. Also he talks about running marathons all over the country (including the major ones like Boston and NY). So as far as advice goes he is someone’s advice that I respect.

Having said that, truth be told I did not finish this book. I got half way through before deciding to call it quits. Not because I thought it was a bad book. But it is truly a 100 day program for marathon training. Yes, I do realize that is in the title so this should not surprise me. But I took a chance on the book because I am new to marathon training and am not too good for anyone’s advice.

Continue reading

Why I Love The Out and Back Training Run

Over the past few days I have taken my training runs to the outdoors. The weather in Philly is starting to turn from snow which has resulted me in leaving the treadmill behind. I’ll admit it, I wimped out most this winter and stuck to indoor running for the most part. And by most I mean just about all of my running. This week would be the first full week I have taken my running outside. I ran 6 miles two nights ago and another 4 miles tonight.

And they have been tough runs.

I knew this would happen. When you are on the treadmill you don’t battle the same elements as you do with outdoor runs. On the treadmill there is no cold weather, rolling inclines, snow to avoid, etc. etc. So as a result outdoor running is always a bit tougher.

Long story short, as I mentioned the past 10 miles this week have been tough. A little more walking than I would like to admit. But at the end of the day I have logged the miles so I am happy.

And that is what brings me to the point of my post. The out and back type of run is probably the best. For my 6 mile run I ran out 3 miles and ran 3 back to the same point. The first 3 miles were tough but I got through them. And then what was I going to do? I was 3 miles away from home. Where I live it is not that easy to just call a cab to get you back. And I very well couldn’t respect myself if I called a friend to drive me less than 5 minutes home. So I had to run the 3 miles back. And there I was, with 6 miles in.

If I were to run 6 miles on a track or an area where I had to run laps it could be very easy to just give up and not finish the 6 miles. I am constantly by the starting point, so it is just as easy to say “I will stop here”. The out and back forces you to get your miles in as long as you make it to your half way point. And lets face it, whatever your total mile is I am sure you can get to the half way point with no issue.

Now that I have the first 10 outdoor training miles in the book I look forward to logging much more, especially as the weather warms up. I am 7 months away from having to finish 26.2 Miles, so plenty of more out and backs for me.

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My first outdoor training path of the year.

Update: The day after I wrote this original post I continued reading “You Can Go The Distance” by Bruce Van Horn (find it here). And in the book I read about how much he supports out and back running (pictured below). Glad to see others who share the same opinion.

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Portion of Bruce Van Horn’s “You Can Go The Distance”

2014: My First Full Running Year in Review

2014 was my first full calendar year as a runner. On November 23rd I participated in the Philadelphia Half Marathon which officially marks my last official run of the year. I have a scheduled 5K in December with the Philadelphia City Running Tour group, but as far as official races go, 2014 is in the books.

As the title states 2014 is my first full calendar year of running. Before I look back at the year, below are the races I ran:

  • Merrell Down & Dirty 5K Mud Run
  • US Road Running Virtual 5K
  • Hot Chocolate 15K
  • Philly 10K
  • Herb Kahl 5K
  • Spartan Race
  • Philly Rock N Roll 5K
  • Broad Street Run 10 Miler
  • Yuengling Oktoberfest 5K
  • Delaware Valley Duathlon
  • Run For Orphans 5K
  • Philly Rock Triathlon
  • St Rose 5K
  • Oddyssey Half Marathon
  • Autism Cares 10K
  • Philadelphia Half Marathon

So for those scoring at home, that would be .5 Miles of Swimming, 27.2 Miles of Biking and 93.1 Miles of Running throughout the year. Not taking into account all the training miles as well.

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A look at some of the major runs from the year

Outside of all those runs there were some other great highlights from the year as well:

Overall 2014 was an amazing year. I came into the year with a very rough blueprint of what I wanted to get accomplished. I knew I wanted to keep up my one official run per month, complete at least 2 more Half Marathon’s and the big goal for the year was a Triathlon. Outside of that I didn’t know what to expect. As the year went by I just started looking into races and throwing more on my schedule. I knew I wanted to prep myself for the tri so I found a Duathlon (5K Run, 12 Mile Bike, 5K Run). And I am so happy I did. That race was so much fun and really prepped me for how hard a Triathlon would be. I will never forget (in both the duathlon and triathlon) how impossible I thought it would be to run a 5K after having just done as much as I did. I also will never forget the feeling of joy when I crossed the finish line either.

Outside of the physical aspect of running, 2014 was also polar opposite for me as far as how running and my personal life were intertwined. I have discussed this before but in 2013 I was in a relationship with someone who made running more difficult than it had to be. For the majority of the time she was someone who would put me down for my running or tell me how I couldn’t accomplish my goals making it more difficult for me. I cannot completely be mad at her for it, because it built a fire in me to work harder just to prove her wrong. So I may not have worked as hard as I did when I first started out without that constant doubt she threw at me. In 2014 I started dating someone who couldn’t be more supportive if she tried. She is always encouraging me to work hard and do my best. She is constantly telling me how proud she is of all my accomplishments, even if I do not have the best race. And outside of her verbal encouragement she is showing up to these races with me no questions asked. It is one thing if I have to show up to a run at 5 am in the freezing cold. It is another for her to come with me and wait around for me. I don’t know what I can do to show her how thankful I am for having her in my life and being so selfless. In 2013 I was in a very dark place after being verbally (and unfortunately sometimes physically) beaten down by a woman I thought cared about me. I remember many times wondering if things would ever get better for me. In 2014 a greater power clearly understood my struggle and put someone in my life that has done nothing but make me feel like there is nothing I can’t accomplish. And I am very thankful for that.

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This woman has no clue how appreciative I am for her in my life. And how thankful I am for the sacrifices she makes for me.

2014 wasn’t just rainbows and smiles. There was that time I had to back out of a race as well. However this was not due to any physical limitations or injuries. So while I was upset about the first time backing out of a run, I also understood why and didn’t dwell on it so much. I pride myself on setting a goal and seeing it through to completion so it was a tough decision.

So there is my 2014 Running Year in Review. I took the next huge step in my running story by competing in a number of different style of races that tested me beyond my wildest dreams. This blog was started by someone who never ran in his life and decided to just pick it up at 28 years old. A year and a half later and here I am. No magic potion or formula. Just picking out a race, getting a training plan and making sure I complete a goal. When those start to add up you get someone who isn’t afraid of testing himself on what is to come.

And with that being said 2015 will be here shortly. My eyes are already set on 2015’s goal: a full marathon. This will not be taken lightly as I know there are extreme dangers that come with this goal. But it is something that I will set out to accomplish. As usual 2015 will be full of finding as many cool races as I think I can complete. But the majority of the year will be spent chasing those 26.2 miles. The goal will be for a race towards the end of the year, which specific race is yet to be determined. But I know by the end of next year this Average Joe will be a Full Marathon runner!

2014: The Year of the Bling!

2014: The Year of the Bling!

Half Marathon #3 Weekend Is Here!

In 2 days I will be completing my 3rd Half Marathon. The Philadelphia Half Marathon. And I could not be more excited. Being able to hang up my 3rd Half Marathon medal after only starting to run in July 2013 is an exciting thought.

However this will be my first winter half marathon. And what I learned is training for a half in the winter is hard. Not the running part. Luckily if it gets too cold both my work and my apartment complex have gyms on site so it isn’t difficult to get a run in. For me it’s hard to find the motivation to run. By the time I leave for work it’s bitter cold and pitch black out. To say seasonal depression has kicked in would be an understatement.

So training has dipped off a bit. I have really only run a handful of times in the past few weeks. And with any luck I will get a run in today to remind my body what running feels like. As a result doubt has crept into my mind. Will I be able to do as well as I know I can? Am I ready? Can I even do it?

Luckily I have faith in myself. By no means am I a half expert, but I have been to the dance before. I know what 13.1 miles feels like. I know that by mile 3 I will be doubting if I can even run any further. I know at mile 7 I will start to get so hungry I could eat a full Thanksgiving turkey. I know at mile 10 I will be convincing myself “only a 5K more!” And I know by mile 13 I will sprint my hardest .1 mile I know I can. So from that standpoint I have been through the motions before and know what I am capable of.

I also had a 10K run a few weekends ago and walked away from that experience feeling very positive. My time was good, I handled the cold weather well and the course was very hilly and I didn’t let that stop me.

So naturally I am just going through the nerves anyone experiences when they know they are on the doorsteps of something very important to them. And as long as I am confident in myself, don’t get too high, don’t get too low I know I will complete my goal.

#3 is on its way!

Want to Run a Half Marathon? Go do it!

For me running started in June of 2013 and it began with 1.27 miles. Took me about 11:30 to finish and I remember it being very difficult. Fast forward a year and a half later and I am in the middle of training for my 3rd Half Marathon.

During that first 1.27 mile I will never forget how difficult it was. I was training for a 5K at the time. And I will always remember how I wasn’t sure how I was going to finish 3.1 miles. I didn’t want to do it but decided I wouldn’t give up. Immediately after my first 5K I decided to go on a plan for a half marathon. I figured if I work hard enough I could do it.

Fast forward two months later and I completed a half marathon! I always thought I needed to be a certain body type or needed to run track as a high schooler to complete that goal. But here I was, close to 30 years old, running for the first time in my life and finishing a half marathon with only 8 weeks training.

That’s what this post is about: if you want to complete a half marathon (or any distance you want) you just need to go for it. You don’t have to set a world record. You don’t need to have running in your DNA. You don’t need to be elite. Just pick a plan and go after it. Whether you finish in the top of your group or you are the last person across the finish line, you can say you finished.

For me personally I had always wanted to run a half marathon because I thought it would be a major accomplishment. But for years I avoided it because I always thought I wasn’t special enough. Until I finally got a plan and stuck to it. At the end of the plan I had a half marathon medal. A year and a half later and I have 2 Half Marathon, a Triathlon and countless other medals of varying distances.

You don’t need a special gene in your body to complete a goal. You just need a plan and an attitude that won’t give up. Like Nike says: just do it. It sounds so simple, however I know from personal experiences it is not. But don’t let fear or doubt get in your way. You are possible of so much more than you think. You will realize the only thing stopping you from achieving your goals is yourself.

Just as the picture says, don’t think about it. Just go out and run. Now go out there and accomplish your goals!

9/20: The Day I Ran Two Races

On Saturday 9/20 I ran the Philly Rock N Roll 5K at 8:00 in the morning, and by 10:00 AM I crossed the start line of the Spartan Race at Citizens Bank Park in South Philly. Needless to say it was a fun day.

Last year I ran the Rock N Roll Half Marathon and it was the first time I ever ran a Half Marathon. This year they introduced an inaugural 5K. I am not quite ready for a Half Marathon right now (training for one in November) so I thought the 5K would be a fun option. Honestly, for as amazing as the Half Marathon was last year the only thing left to be desired was the finisher medal. However the Rock N Roll 5K medal this year looked a lot better so I felt it was worth the run. And truth be told I run a lot of races for the medals. Call it what you will, I make no apologies about it.

This year I decided I would run the Spartan Race. As I have written before I really like trying out new races so when I found out they were running a Spartan in Philly I knew I had to sign up. I also saw that the Philly Rock N Roll 5K was that morning. So I made the decision I was going to run both races. The 5K started at 8:00 and I signed up for the 10:00 wave of the Spartan Race, so I figured no problem.

So first, the 5K…

It was a lot of fun. It was the day before the Half Marathon so the course was prepped for the thousands of people who would be running the Half Marathon however only 2,500 ran the 5K. So it wasn’t too crowded and there was plenty of room on the course. Also the portable toilets we’re set up to handle 10’s of thousands of runners. I don’t think I need to tell a runner how this was a positive impact for a race that had not even 3,000 people.

The course was an out and back so it was good to see the people who started earlier than you running towards you and cheering everyone on. Also a state record was set for the fastest 5K run in Pennsylvania ever. Cool to be a part of  running history.

Overall they did a great job with the run. This was to be expected as they were handling the Half Marathon the next day so setting up a 5K should have, and was, a simple process.

Next, to the Spartan Race….

I finished the 5K, met up with my girlfriend and got out of there without really waiting around. I never really feel the need to take in post 5K celebrations. Not that I do not enjoy them, but just give me my water bottle and let me head home. So her and I left there and headed to our next stop. My first race was in Center City Philadelphia and my next one was South Philadelphia, so a quick ride on the Subway and we were there.

The Spartan Race was a lot of fun. They set the course up at Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies play. So there was tons of running up stairs, through stadium seats and more. We even got on the field to do some obstacles in the clubhouse!

The race itself is probably one of the most difficult runs I have done so far. I have run a triathlon, duathlon and a few half marathons but this one included a lot more than just running. There was so many more obstacles to fight through that caused additional fatigue.

Overall it was really cool to run through the stadium like that. As a sports fan I have been to the stadium a bunch of times however never like that. So the race itself was a lot of fun and organized very well.

So there you have it, my first ever two-a-day organized race day. I pushed myself hard that day and kicked my butt. And I would do it again in a heart beat.

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Active Day

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Race #1!

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Race #2!

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My girlfriend, my amazing support sysetm. Got up early with me, carried my racing gear around and traveled all over the city with me. I am a lucky guy

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Spartan Finisher!

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Productive Saturday


Weekly Workout Recap

The third week of my Tough Mudder training is now in the books. This week was a really good week because my girlfriend asked to be a part of it. After my workout on Monday she asked “why don’t you ever want me to work out with you?” And it was never about not wanting her to, I just assumed she didn’t have an interest. Not that she doesn’t like to workout (she is a Crossfitter) I just figured since I was on my own plan doing my own thing that she did not have an interest. But we did and we had a lot of fun. She even helped me with my form, as I can be an uncoordinated mess sometimes.

Saturday- 1 Hour Spin Class

Sunday- Rest Day

Monday- 1 Mile Run (10:00 Min pace) + 40 Minute Upper Body Workout

Tuesday- 4 Mile Run (9:39 Pace)

Wednesday- 1 Mile Run (10:00 Min pace) + 40 Minute Lower Body Workout

Thursday- Rest Day

Friday– 40 Minute Upper Body Workout

 

Also this week I have decided to go on a 28 Day Meal Plan. As I highlight in that blog, I am looking to drop some weight and tone myself so I can handle the difficulty that my upcoming races (Tough Mudder, Half Marathon, Spartan) will ultimately present.

And as of about 10 minutes ago I decided to run the Rock ‘N Roll Philadelphia 5K and Spartan Race on the same day. I do not think this will be too physically impossible, however the mental aspect of finishing one race only to have to get to the next one will be intense. I cannot lie, the whole reason I am doing this is because of the 5K Medal (pictured below). The Philly Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon was my very first Half Marathon I ever run. I loved it and thought the Rock ‘N Roll organization did a great job, however the medal really left something to be desired. I have run countless races since then whose medals blow it out of the water. So call my reasoning superficial, but ultimately it gets me up and active so that’s not a bad thing right?

Onward and upward…..

 

Look at this medal, wouldn’t you squeeze this race in before a Spartan Race?!phi-5k-medal1

Fitness Friday- Weekly Workout Recap

The 2nd week of Tough Mudder training rolls right along…..

Saturday- Rest Day

Sunday- 5K Mud Run!

Monday- 40 Minute Upper Body Workout + 1 Mile Run

Tuesday- 3 Mile Run (9:40 Pace)

Wednesday- 40 Minute Lower Body Workout + 10 Minute Elliptical

Thursday-  3 Mile Run (9:40 Pace)

Friday- Rest Day

 

All and all a solid week. Getting into to the routine of the tough mudder program. And I had a 5K Mud Run to start the week that was a lot of fun. Prepared me for what I can expect in the upcoming months with the Spartan Race and Tough Mudder. I was surprised with my climbing ability overall. I was up those cargo nets and rock walls like spiderman!

 

Some images from the run….

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Weekly Workout Recap

This week started my 3 month Tough Mudder training. Another 3 month plan to go through the ups and downs and I look forward to every minute!

Saturday- 2 Mile Run (9:15 Pace)

Sunday- Rest Day

Monday- 40 Minute Upper Body Workout

Tuesday- 2 Mile Run (9:30 Pace)

Wednesday- Rest Day

Thursday- 2 Mile Run (9:40 Pace)

Friday- 40 Minute Upper Body Workout

 

The first Upper Body workout was intense. It is a lot of TRX work and focused around arm/ shoulder strength training with some core work. This will be the first time in all of my fitness experiences that I will be focusing on just more than running. So it will definitely be a shake up of what I am used to. And so far it has been a lot of fun.

I have always felt like when I am lifting in the gym I am just kind of going through the motions with no real rhyme or reason. It is good to have an actual plan to follow to get me where I need to be.

Also this week I was introduced to the #TMPushUpClub. If you do not know this is a hashtag used to connect people who are in the Tough Mudder program. Each day at noon the official Tough Mudder twitter account rolls 4 dice. The 4 dice represent the amount of push ups to do and in how many sets.

It’s a small thing, but something I really enjoy. When I started my running journey I was very much a lone man on an island. As I have said before my biggest support system (or so I thought) was my girlfriend at the time. Not to rehash much but she was unsupportive and it caused me to experience a lot of exciting new things alone. So as a result I gravitated towards social media. The beauty of hashtags is that it connects you with people experiencing the same things. And as someone who just started running at the time it was good to not feel alone.

Fast forward a year later and I still very much enjoy the social aspect of all of this. Call it a psychological thing if you would like, but I enjoy being connected to a like minded community. So having found the #TMPushUpClub, I am very excited to experience this new journey and share what I am going through.

 

Modified TRX Training. Swing works just like the TRX Strap. Intense!

Modified TRX Training. Swing works just like the TRX Strap. Intense!

First day of the #TMPushUpClub!

First day of the #TMPushUpClub!