Grandma’s Marathon Training: Week 6

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my latest post on all my pre-race jitters and thoughts about my upcoming half marathons. I loved reading your comments! 🙂 And it’s now RACE WEEK so the nerves will be out in full force these next few days – eek!



Also I have to warn you: today’s post is a pretty long one. To tidy things up I’m deviating from my usual format and only recapping the significant stuff. Here’s what you’ll be missing: I did a strength train workout at the gym on Tuesday; on Thursday I did my easy run Garminless and it was kinda nice. I tried to cut stuff down as much as possible but it’s still really long today: I just have a lot to talk about after this week, I guess!


Wednesday, 3/25

Workout: MP Practice
Location: Roads
Total Miles (with w/u and c/d): 8
MP mile splits: 8:30, 8:37, 8:36, 8:34, 8:29, 8:45; 8:35 avg

Well…this workout was not as easy as I thought it would be. Our Wednesday night plans fell through, freeing up my evening, and I decided to move my MP run up a day so I could practice on fresh instead of tired legs. But after yesterday’s strength workout my legs were not fresh. My inner thigh muscles were freakin SORE.

3 of these miles were right in the ballpark of where I need to be. The last one was a little too slow, and I had a couple miles that were 10 seconds too fast. I think I’m starting to see what’s causing my pacing issues:

  • I go out too fast (shocker): I do the opposite of what I should be doing: I go out fast on my first MP mile and have to try to adjust down instead of starting slow and easing into goal pace. Not an efficient strategy.
  • I try to run by pace instead of by feel: Even though MP runs are supposed to be about pace, I get way too caught up in Garmin-checking. This actually messes with my pacing instead of helping, because I keep adjusting and never settle into a pace.

Part of me is half-heartedly wondering if I should just change my goal MP to 8:35, because ironically that pace seems to be easier for me to maintain than an 8:40 and most of my practice has unintentionally been at this pace instead. And it’s only 5 sec faster so it doesn’t really feel that different.


Friday, 3/27

Workout: Easy Run
Location: Roads
Total Miles: 5

20150329-195147.jpgI DID A RUN IN THE MORNING!!!! Yes, that really happened! We had plans this night so there was no other way.

I didn’t look at Mr. Garmin until after the run, and I was stunned at what I saw. That was the slowest run I’ve had in at least a year; I’m not even used to seeing those pace numbers on my watch anymore. At first I was all PMSy and frustrated about it, but by the time I got ready and went to work I was over it. It’s just one run and there’s no need to freak out about it, besides, there was a lot going on here: it was dark o clock in the morning and freezing with a surprise dusting of SNOW on the ground, I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, my legs were still SORE, and I really wasn’t trying very hard anyway.

And there was a silver lining: when I got into work later I suddenly noticed that my legs felt…better? The soreness wasn’t gone but it had died down a little bit, and my muscles felt looser and more fluid. Hey maybe this wasn’t so bad after all!


Saturday, 3/28

Workout: MP practice run
Location: Roads
Total Miles: 7
MP mile splits: 8:32, 8:31, 8:45, 8:34, 8:32; avg – 8:35

Wow, what a difference a day makes! Today was one of those perfect, “on” running days. It felt like I woke up with brand new legs. My Wednesday run must have snuck in and switched places with today’s run because it was blissfully easy today – not how it’s supposed to feel after you’ve already run 18 miles in 3 days. So I guess I’ve learned my lesson: easy runs need to keep being RULL easy from now on!

Here’s what I did differently today:

I employed a pacing tip from my friend Lyndsay: setting my Garmin’s auto-lap to .5 miles instead of full miles. This way, I didn’t have to worry about looking at my watch’s pace every few seconds, because I knew that the half mile split would tell me where I’m at and I could use the next half mile to adjust accordingly. With this method, I felt like I could relax and run by feel, which in turn allows me to get into a rhythm.

I stopped obsessing over individual mile splits. It finally occurred to me how counterproductive this is.  I can’t expect that I’m going to hit the exact pace every mile. I mean, who does that?! During the race there will be natural fluctuations in pace/mile splits, so it’s okay if my workouts have them too. I’m trying to get into the habit of looking at the bigger picture: what is the average of all my MP miles, and is that on track? Do I stay fairly consistent in my mile splits or do they jump around? If there are outliers, was I able to readjust in the following miles or did it derail me? Were those outliers possibly caused by something – hills, head winds?

I’m seeing that my MP workouts are more successful and enjoyable when my goal is to simply run at a consistent, steady effort in the ballpark of goal MP instead of trying to hit a strict pace every mile. I think if I give my body more time to learn consistent marathon effort, it will become easier to make small adjustments to get that effort closer to marathon pace.


Sunday, 3/29

Workout: Long Slow Distance
Location: Roads
Total Miles: 18
Average Pace: 9:27


Sunday was gloomy, cold, and rainy all day. It made me feel miserable just thinking about running in it but eventually I had to put on my big girl pants and get it over with. Luckily, the rain held off, and the first half of the run went pretty well, even though I wasn’t very happy about being out running for three hours on such a gloomy day. I started out slow and steady, with 9:40-10:20 miles for the first third of the run. After that I decided to start gradually cranking up a bit, getting my miles up to 9:00-9:30 and hopefully being able to do the last few at goal MP.

But then OH MY GOD THE WIND. I did a lot of my miles along the lake shore, which in retrospect was a bad decision, because OH MY GOD THE WIND. Gusts 25-35 mph and they just tore me apart. I hated life. All I wanted was to get away from the damn lake and back into the streets for the final 5 miles. But it didn’t make any difference. As I ran through the roads back toward home I still kept getting assaulted by random blasts of mean icy wind. It was just miserable, but I was a trooper and held onto my pace really well: the wind never slowed me down to anything above a 10 min mile, but my god that took a lot out of me.

At mile 17, I looked at the timer and realized that if I ran this last mile in about 9 minutes I would finish in 2:51 and pull off a 9:30 average pace. So I bolted through that last mile and wound up running it at goal MP. But oh my goodness, I had to dig deep for it. Hardest 8:38 I ever ran.





Week 6 Grade: B+

Many good workouts, and I’m starting to get a little better at MP and easy running. Things didn’t always go according to plan and I was thrown a few curveballs but I think I did well given the circumstances. I was a real trooper about getting up for an AM run, doing a long run in shitty weather, and taking it in stride when I didn’t hit paces I wanted or feel great during key workouts. But I just really didn’t enjoy this week (except my Saturday run). Lots of really cold, cloudy weather did not help. On paper it looks fine but it just wasn’t as fun as other weeks.


Looking Ahead: Week 7

Monday 3/30 – REST
Tuesday 3/31 – 5 miles easy
Wednesday 4/1 – 8 miles w/ MP practice
Thursday 4/2 – 4 miles very easy
Friday 4/3 – REST
Saturday 4/4 – South Shore HALF MARATHON!
Sunday 4/5 (Happy Easter!) – 4 mile shakeout
TOTAL planned mileage: 34.1

I originally had planned to do speed work this week, but I think I’m gonna back off again so that I’m well rested going into Saturday’s race. Now that my mileage is increasing, cumulative fatigue is really starting to catch up to me – you saw that in some of my workouts this week. Now is the time that I really need to get serious about making sure I’m managing my energy wisely. Easy runs need to be easy, and I need to make sure that I’m taking better care of myself and my tired legs. My hardest workout is another MP run this week. I may try to do some of those miles at goal HM pace to keep my legs feeling fresh…but I may even change to all easy runs if I’m feeling nervous about my energy levels. Also, Week 7 is also serving as my 2nd “cutback” week, so I want to make sure I’m giving my body the break it is craving.

Looking forward to a GREAT Week 7 and hoping to kick some half marathon butt!


Does anyone have any good tips for pacing yourself and staying on track during MP practice runs?




23 thoughts on “Grandma’s Marathon Training: Week 6

  1. I’m pretty good at pacing myself at slow paces, but like you, for faster efforts I have a tendency to start too fast. This is definitely something that I need to work on as well.

    Great job working through 18 miles in that nasty weather! It was very windy and overcast here on Sunday as well, there was even some sleet/hail/ice that evening. I was so glad that I had gotten my run done early in the day.

    1. Yes, it is really hard not to start out too fast. For some reason I’ve always been more afraid of running slower than goal pace than I am of running faster than goal pace…I think because if I run faster I at least know I can run goal pace. But it is not an efficient way to run, and I am learning that now!!

      We got a little bit of sleet in the late AM before I ran. Luckily the rain held off the rest of the day, but it was still cold and windy and misty and gross. So glad we’re supposed to have nicer weather this week.

    1. Haha I only just recently realized that you could name alarms!

      November Project sounds cool, I’ve always wanted to give it a try one of these days

  2. Ah! It was so windy here too! I went hiking and it was hard to just walk around. Nice job digging deep and pushing on despite the wind. Good luck this weekend! You’re gonna be awesome. 🙂

  3. Lol, I love the screenshot of your alarms. I’ve totally done the same thing.

    For runs when I’m trying to mind my goal pace, I set my Garmin to average pace instead of lap or instant pace. That way I can have a better sense of what the overall pacing looks like rather than the mile-to-mile fluctuations. I totally understand your tendency to be somewhat obsessive with checking your Garmin.

    Good luck this weekend! I think you’re wise to take it easy this week before your half. Don’t let yourself forget that it is a stepback week and that means you have earned some extra rest!

    1. THANKS! I am already getting super nervous for this weekend.

      My former GPS watch, a Nike one, had an average pace function (that’s actually what I used during my marathon to see how close I was to a 4:00 finish time), but I haven’t figured out how to do that on my Garmin 210. I’ll have to take another look at it

    1. Oh don’t be – I can’t do that unless I absolutely have to, and even then I’m still tempted to skip out!

  4. I think that is smart you are still cutting back on speed and seeing what is right for you with your fatigue level from week to week. Good for you!

    Gawd. I cannot believe you were out running that yesterday. I was in your hood, eating at the Palomino and it was HORRIBLE outside. HORRIBLE. That is why I attempted my LR on Friday (cause I was busy Saturday and knew Sunday would be crap). Super impressive you made it through that. Your marathon will be much easier! LOL!

    1. Haha I ran by Palomino at one point, I wonder if you were in there! It would have been around 1PM or shortly before.

      Here’s hoping that what didn’t kill me just made me stronger!!

  5. I like to set my mile splits at half or quarter miles when I’m trying to keep an eye on my pace too! Plus, it seems to make the mileage go by way faster. Nice job getting up early for your run. Now that summer is back in Florida, I need to start running in the mornings again, too.

    Way to go on your long run…it’s so hard to do a long run after a semi-long run! But your legs will thank you on race day.

    1. It did make the mileage go by faster, now that you mention it! I’m so glad I picked up this technique. Sadly, I only did this morning run because I absolutely had to. I’ve been trying for ages to get into the habit of AM running but I just can’t. I’m so not a morning person.

  6. For pacing during longer runs I give myself a mile to “ease in” and then adjust my pace from there. So it gets me started usually slower, rather than faster, but for me, that is what I am most comfortable doing. I have even started some races knowing that I wanted to stay with the “X” pacer, but I start behind them knowing I do better easing into my pace.
    I have found my tolerance for this nasty weather is at a zero. Kudos to you for knocking off 18 miles in it!!! I bet you gained a lot of mental toughness on that run!!!
    I think you are too hard on yourself on your grading–you ARE GETTING THE JOB DONE!!!

    1. Thanks Cheryl! I’m glad easing into it works for you because it really is a smart way to do things. I’m really trying to work on getting to that point but it’s rare that I can pull it off. There’s just something about needing to hit a certain pace that really makes me anxious. I do a lot of small local races and I really wish more of them had pacers/pace groups, for that very reason. The first few miles of a race are when I really need a pacer’s help!

  7. I always, always, always go out too fast! If someone has a trick to not do that I would love to hear it! If I don’t run in the morning I won’t run at all, so good for you for keeping yourself motivated to do most of your training runs in the afternoon/night!

    1. If there is a trick for not starting out too fast I need to hear it too! For races, people often suggest trying to run with a pacer. But I do a lot of smaller local races, and a lot of them don’t have pace groups (I don’t think my half this weekend has them, which is a bummer because it would make me feel a lot less nervous!).

      I wish I were more motivated to run in the AM…maybe when the weather starts to get nicer!

  8. I can obsess over my pace for every tenth of a mile, but I don’t think it does any good. Looking at the bigger picture is more helpful.

    Obviously the excessively slow run helped your legs recover, so I don’t think you can beat yourself up over that run – it served a purpose!

    I hope you kill it this weekend! So nice that your race is on a Saturday. I think it’s smart to forgo the speedwork and save your legs for it!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I know I must be fatigued when I’m not even TEMPTED to try speed work this week!

  9. Your Friday morning alarm situation is cracking me up because that’s what I have to do when I need to run in the morning too. Nine times out of 10 I end up hitting snooze again though. I’m terrible at the morning running thing!

    Your Saturday + Sunday combo is intense! Way to go getting in the mileage. I can definitely see why you described it as hell! My body would have completely fallen apart. Great job getting it done!

  10. A morning run, what?! Nice job! The only way I figured how to slow down at the beginning was to walk more of my first mile. It’s kind of odd but it works for me. I hate the wind! It’s one thing that may send me inside to a treadmill, but then again, I have never run 18 miles. You’re going to have a great race!

  11. I love your early morning run made your legs feel better! Easy paced are okay and in the dark it is easier to be slower, but it served a good purpose – you had a kick butt run the next one out 🙂
    I think anything within 5 or 6 seconds is awesome consistently when I look at splits. You are able to pace yourself really well for longer distances. I do like the resetting of the Garmin. I did that last year when I was training to PR a 10K – it helped me a bunch.
    It’s exciting you have a race coming up!

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