Counting backwards from May……….18, 17, 16…….

Right now I’m in the middle of base building (Week 1: 15 miles, Week 2: 17 miles, Week 3: 22 miles, Week 4: 26.8), and it was going so well. Was. Until this morning when a previously tight left calf turned into a seriously sore left calf. Sad face. My warm-up mile went fine, followed by a fast mile (7.13 min) and then OW. I cut my run short and headed home to work it out with a stick. So a RICE day for me and probably a few days off. I think that hilly run on Sunday may have been a little too much. Oh well.

But it has given me time to think about my marathon training (after I googled the hell out of calf pain/strain) and what my approach will be to try and get a new PR. Last time I followed and Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I plan, and I think it worked out pretty well. What I liked about it was that there was two 20-milers (which was good because my first one sucked and I got a redo), and most weekends consisted of a run on Saturday that was usually shorter (5-9 miles) and often done at race pace and a long run on Sunday. It didn’t include any speedwork aside from this race-pace Saturday run, so I added in a midweek tempo run (6-9 miles) after the first month. My mileage peaked at 45 miles but was consistently around 35 miles per week. Despite having an awesome training cycle I have been wondering if I should do more?

For the last week, I’ve been reading Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger. This is the training plan that my husband used when he qualified for Boston last year. They have a couple of different mileage options but the lowest mileage plan tops out at 55 miles. Although I’m not committed to this plan it has been interesting to read about the physiology of different running workouts (lactate threshold, strides to improve form) and one thing that they have mentioned is doing long runs at a reasonable pace. That is doing part of some long runs at goal marathon pace – and this really speaks to me.


The long runs I did last cycle convinced me that I could run at least 20 miles but I had no idea what pace I could sustain for a full marathon. Pace runs gave me a clue about how far I could run up to 10 miles but how would that translate to 26.2? That’s what I want to try to figure out for this cycle. So, I’m going to listen to both Hal and Pete and incorporate some miles at goal marathon pace (or close to it – 10 to 20% slower) into some of my long runs. Interestingly, both recommend avoiding short interval speedwork. Hal is totally against speedwork (except long pace runs) during marathon training – that should wait for another time of year. Pete – well I’m just about to start that chapter – but he likes strides (which I’ve never done) and longer intervals.

I thinking right now that I’ll follow Higdon but incorporate some of the things I’ve learned by reading Pfitzinger’s book. Or maybe……well I’m not 100% sure but I will decide soon. And by soon I mean next week. Because next week marks the 18 week countdown until marathon number 2 (Ogden marathon May 16th). I realized this on Monday when I was trying to figure out how many more weeks of base building I had left. Oops. Somehow I thought I had another couple of weeks.

Pfitzinger also devotes a chapter emphasizing the importance of proper hydration and nutrition – especially during long runs. It had definitely motivated me to keep my water intake up and to think about fueling as training ramps up. One thing that I have discovered is that there is now a name for my way of eating: reducetarian. People who want to eat less meat (but not ever quit eating meat) for ethical, health and environmental reasons. Finally, I have a pompous name to call myself! One recipe that I have been loving is this one from skinnytaste. It’s simple to make and absolutely delicious.


                                                                  Any recipes that you’ve been loving lately?


20 thoughts on “Counting backwards from May……….18, 17, 16…….

  1. I used the Pfitzinger & Douglas 18-week 55-mile plan last summer and I loved it. The threshold runs in the early weeks are tough but after that I was blasting through them and my races times tumbled down.

    • That is exactly what I like to hear! The plan looks tough and they seem to emphasize that you need to be fully committed to the plan to see results. But I like challenging myself (when my calf is cooperating). Congrats on getting those times a tumblin’.

  2. Oo that last picture is delicious looking! I had a similar calf niggle the other day, so I rested it out. I am almost 7 weeks out from my next marathon, but because of the inconsistencies with this training cycle I feel like I am hardly in the game at all. This time last year I basically felt ready to go! Hope that your calf feels better ASAP. I KT taped mine and didn’t stretch it for a few days, then worked eccentric training in, and rolled around (but not on) the area that doesn’t feel good. That seemed to help a lot!

    • Thanks for the tips! Injuries are not fun. And I’m sorry to hear that your training isn’t going as well as you hoped. Those Chicago winters must be so incredibly tough to train through. I know that you’ll stay positive – especially because you get to go somewhere warm to run!

  3. FLRunnerBoy says:

    Ugh!!! Sorry to hear the news about the calf Iris 😦 but on the positive you are being proactive by listening your body and keeping your mind busy with how to attack your upcoming marathon. I had to improvise and cut my workout short today because my right hamstring/buttock is still not cooperating 100%. Hoping you heal soon! 🙂

    • It’s so hard to back off when you want to ramp up your training – especially with all the spring races coming up on my calendar. I think I might be becoming a little more sensible though – and at least not pushing through and making things worse. I hope your right leg starts behaving soon!

  4. Martha B says:

    Boo on that calf. Sorry to hear that!
    I too like the “reductitarian” way of eating. I use it as a way to get as much good stuff in me as possible, especially when decent, locally sourced protein isn’t an option. Plus the financial implications are amazing too – I use up all my fresh veggies which is less waste, and even 2 veg dinners a week saves us significant money as well. I want to try full veg for awhile to see how it makes me feel physically. I imagine pretty good.
    I read the Hanson’s Half marathon book last year, they have a full as well which I’ve heard a lot of people use to BQ. Just some more food for thought when you’re going through your planning phase. Definitely an interesting read, definitely makes sense, but it’s a 6 day a week running plan and lots of miles. Whatever you decide, I know it will be awesome!

    • It’s funny I don’t really miss meat that much – I think we have it on the weekends only – and have increased my veggie intake so much. I can’t believe the crappy processed food that I used to eat. I’m kind of jealous of your super fresh venison haul too! But the thoughts of never having steak or a burger again – I’m not sure I could do it. I’ve heard of Hanson’s but haven’t read it. My recollection is that his longest run is 16 miles (although I think overall mileage is similar to other plans?) and my brain cannot cope with that just yet.

      • Martha B says:

        Yeah, fresh venison has taken over my life in terms of my favorite meat. And I will always appreciate an awesome steak. I think it does become quality over quantity once you start cutting back. That is impressive that you only do meat on the weekends.
        Hanson’s is the one with the 16 mile long run. I only read the half marathon book though. The mileage is really high, so I’m not brave enough to test drive it until I feel like I can run a lot more injury free.

  5. I think both have great points. While I like Hal’s over all plan I personally think that speed work built into a training plan is necessary if you are looking to beat a PR or qualify for Boston. You can also use your speed work to work on pacing to get a feel for where you are at and where you need to be. A good intermediate/advanced plan in my opinion should have some speed work in so that over the course of 14-18 weeks (depending on which plan you choose) you see yourself naturally getting faster and handling longer mileage better. Have you considered making one of those runs a 22 miler? Sorry to be nosy and butt in with my opinions….I kind of love building training plans 🙂 Also, don’t be afraid to dig into those calves with your fingers and try wrapping some heat around them. Hope you feel better soon!

    • Ha! I love that you are being nosy! I did some shortish tempo runs last time around – and I did see an improvement over time – but I kind of made it up as I went along. Ideally I’d like to increase my overall mileage (peak closer to and hopefully above 50) and do some more structured speedwork. Although I’ll probably hate myself in 2.5 months. I hadn’t thought about 22 – Hal schedules 3 x 20 miler so I’m guessing making one of those 22 could work. Oh – and I’ve been totally poking round my calf with the stick and my fingers. It’s very localized but improving so easy runs next week.

      • I love speedwork and swear by it. Personally I prefer a 20 miler followed by a 22 miler two weeks later and then a decrease heading towards but not right into a taper like 17, 15, and then 10.

  6. charissarunning says:

    I definitely think it’s good to get a lot of race-pace running during your long run. When I did my long runs, I attempted to do them right about at race-pace or a bit slower – not all of the miles, but I tried to finish them at least on pace. I think that helped me in my marathon – the fast finish technique! I also think intervals are so helpful and they can be utilized alot in marathon training. However, I usually don’t do anything lower than 800’s in marathon training unless I’ve also got a 5k race coming up – then I’ll add some 400’s in the mix.

    I hope your calf heals really quickly. What are you doing to compress? Do you wear compression socks? I’ve found that they help my calves tremendously!

    • Oh yes – I’m all about the compression! I’ve been wearing my sleeves since Wednesday and I think they are helping. My sources AKA the internet said it should take 7-10 days to get back to normal so I’m hoping to run in the middle of next week.

      I’ve never really done 800s or any kind of track work but I think it’ll be useful for the tune-up races I have between now and April. And the more I think about it the more sense it makes (to me at least) to do some runs with marathon pace miles thrown in. Assuming my legs ever work again!

  7. Hey!! So sorry to hear about your calf!! My husband used the Advanced Marathoning book, too and loved it. He’s no longer running marathons but definitely recommends the book! Lots of great info! Also, love your new name!! Very cool! Have a happy Friday!! XOXO

    • Thanks Kristin! I recall that your husband is super speedy (like you)? I totally dig this book – so useful. Now I just need my body to cooperate – I feel like my mind is a million steps ahead.

  8. Ughhh noooo I’m sorry. 😦 I hope your calf stops acting up quickly and you can get back to it. That sounds like such an interesting read! I really like that take on long runs!

    • Thank you! The calf is feeling much better but still not ready to run. I would definitely recommend that you get this book. It explains everything that you could ever possibly want to know about marathon training – pacing, different kinds of runs, hydration, race strategies plus the training plans. I’m not sure that I’m in good enough shape to use it this time around but I think it will get me/you/anybody a PR.

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