Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Indy Half Marathon Training Summary

I'll post my half marathon race report shortly, but first I wanted to summarize the twelve weeks of training leading up to the race.  After looking at a range of plans, I decided to take the DIY route.  I spent a couple hours mapping out my detailed plan- a mix of long runs, tempo runs, intervals and track workouts, as well as some core work, yoga, biking, and swimming.  Then I spent the last 12 weeks largely ignoring the plan.  No no, this isn't another "I didn't do my training" post, just the training went differently than planned.  Perfectly?  Of course not!  But I ran a race I was proud of and remained healthy, so that is a win!

Week 1 started on a high note of getting on the podium at the Naperville Tri.  I had that "anything is possible" feeling on Monday, ready to kick off training.  I had a pretty sluggish swim that turned into drills.  I did my first track workout in a LONG time (years?) on the new track at Montrose.  I was amazed at how beat up I could feel after 4x400.  I got in two bike rides- one with shortish FTP intervals, and then a long ride with disappointingly low power, but enjoyable none-the-less.  I topped off the first week with a 12 mile long run at an 8:52 pace before leaving on vacation.  Solid first week!

Week 2 was mostly spent on family vacation in Cape Cod.  I got in four runs but they were far from stellar.  I ended up dropping an planned speed work as my legs felt fatigued and my hip felt not quite right.  The week was capped off by a miserable 10 mile run, where I had absolutely no energy and just squeaked out a sub-9 minute race.  Some R hip/thigh pain had me worried as well.  The enthusiasm/"can do anything" attitude of week 1 was over.

Week 3 was a pity party.  Monday through Saturday saw no workouts.  Yep, that's right, I did nothing.  I justified it to myself as saying I was doing the Magnificent Mile Half Marathon on Sunday, which would re-boot my training.  You can read about that DNF at mile 4 here. 

Week 4 I started to get my butt back in gear but was discouraged.  I got 4 runs in during the week, though all under 5 miles and pace around 9 minute miles, with legs that didn't feel great. Then I went up to Madison for the Ironman on Saturday.  I rode a loop of the course on Saturday and fell back in love with the sport.  My planned run for Sunday went out the window.  I was exhausted from lack of sleep and spectating (harder than the race, I swear!).  Eating was also a disaster.  I was motivated to train, but discouraged at where I was at.

Week 5 ended up not being much better, though I have the excuse of being in San Diego for a conference.  I did get a nice 10 mile run on Monday night, that while it was just an 8:51 pace, it felt much better than recent runs.  I got two slowish 5 mile runs in while at the conference, and was reminded of how much hot weather sucks to run in. 

Week 6 was the turn around point in my training- things started to come together.  I ran over 28 miles and started adding in a few miles at more of a threshold pace.  I got in an 11 mile run at an 8:43 pace (improvement!) including 1.5 miles at a sub-8 pace.  I also got in a swim this week.  I'm sure swimming every few weeks is great for swim fitness!  My nutrition was also on track this week!

Week 7 might be my favorite week.  27 glorious miles of running!  My easy pace was starting to be faster and faster (4 mile easy-ish run in 34:13), and I nailed some fast mile repeats (7:37-7:46 pace).  I also did two swims, one of which was my 1000 yd time trial, and was amazed at the result (18:39!!).  I did a bike test as well and was shocked with an FTP of 150!  I finished off the week with the Apple Cider Century 60 mile ride, which was pure enjoyment. This week was week 2 (and last) of good eating habits!

Week 8 was an intentional cut-back week after killing the legs.  My shins flared up big time, where walking was excruciating.  While I swam on Tuesday, no running happened until Thursday.  My runs Thursday and Friday felt sluggish, probably due to tired legs and then several days of nothing.  I was overjoyed with a 10 mile run that progressively (and seemingly magically) sped up with each mile, netting me an 8:08 pace.  I was feeling like a real runner and started getting more excited for the race.

Week 9 didn't quite go as planned, and ended up being another low eek.  I had two decent runs of 5 and 7 miles during the week and a bike workout, but then my weekend came up with nothing.  On Saturday I tried to run and got a block away- my legs were totally dead.  Sunday I was on my feet all day volunteering at the Chicago Marathon and had no energy to run home. 

Week 10 was my last real week of training before I tapered.  I started my week with a 5 mile easy run and bike VO2 workout.  Followed it up on Tuesday with a 7 mile run at a decent (8:27) pace, though my legs were dead tired.  I had a fun speed workout on the track Thursday- 400 hard/400 easy; 800 hard/800 easy; 1200 hard/1200 easy; 1600 hard/1600 easy.  With running to and from the track, I got in almost 7.5 miles.  I ended the week with my longest run- 14 miles, with 3 at a "hard" pace.  The run was overall an 8:20 pace, and my confidence was high. 

Week 11 started the taper.  I originally had hopes of a harder week, but it was clear my legs needed rest.  A planned track workout didn't pan out with cement legs.  I did an 8 mile run on Sunday as my "long" taper run. This week brought the usual taper worries, though you never remember that they are normal and freak out.  My legs felt dead.  I wasn't eating/sleeping/doing core work like I ideally wanted to.  I couldn't do any speed work.  I had aches and pains.  Disaster, obviously. 

Week 12- the final week!  I had planned on three short runs Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  The reality- one 3.5 mile run on Wednesday, then nada until the race on Saturday.  I also got a massage on Tuesday night.  My eating sucked, and sleeping was sub-par as well.  I felt a little less discouraged than the previous week, but had a lot of pre-race doubts. 

Week 1- 25.0
Week 2- 29.1
Week 3- 4.04
Week 4- 15.3
Week 5- 20.2
Week 6- 28.2
Week 7- 27.0
Week 8- 20.3
Week 9- 11.7
Week 10- 33.6
Week 11- 17.3
Week 12- 16.7 (race included)

The race went well (see race report coming soon), but I have to admit that I had thought training went much better before I actually wrote it out in this post.  My mileage was quite minimal now that I look at it- only 5 weeks at 25 miles or higher.  Who know's what would have happened if I had tried higher mileage though- I am coming off an injury plagued year, and I may have just self-destructed.  It was quite apparent that my legs had trouble handling the work- the fatigue I'd feel after a hard week or two, and that I felt during taper, was significant.  I think part of this is that I didn't have a good run base coming in.  In the future, I hope to keep up a base so my legs can handle this work and recover more efficiently.  I also clearly failed at keeping up swim or bike workouts.  I'm ok with this.  I am doing 2 Ironman races this year, so there will be a time and place when all my spare time and energy goes into training.  This was a half-marathon, and not that time.  It is important to stay balanced for as long as possible. 

The training has me itching to run more.  As much as I love triathlon, stand-alone running is also wonderful, mostly for it's simplicity.  I really enjoyed the tough workouts, pushing myself and seeing what I could do.  I am pumped up for the OutSeason, after another day of rest!  

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