Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Week 3



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Tuesday, 1/5

  • Workout: SPEED WORK on the indoor track: 5×800 (400m recoveries) with 1.5 m w/u, 1.25 m c/d
  • Target interval times: 3:40-3:45
  • Actual interval times: 3:36, 3:39, 3:39, 3:39, 3:38
  • Total mileage: 6.5

NOTES: I haven’t done a track workout since July, so going into today’s workout I told myself “you might positive split, and have interval times all over the place. THAT’S OKAY. It’s early, and you are still (re)learning!” So I was bowled over with pride to have posted some of the most consistent splits of my life!

One thing I did differently today is that I did 1.5 miles of warm up instead of just 1. I’m not sure it will always be practical to add this much distance once the workouts get longer, but I think that extra half mile of warm up really helped me out in today’s workout.

Wednesday, 1/6

  • Workout: Recovery/Easy Run with hill practice
  • Target pace: 10:00 – 10:20
  • Actual pace: 10:10
  • Total mileage: 5.5

NOTES: Multiple loops around the hills in my neighborhood to get this one in. As I’ve said before, we really don’t have great hills around here, but anything is better than nothing, right?


I am hoping that as my fitness improves, my easy effort will start to yield slightly better paces. I love my easy runs but I have to admit, it is weird to run at slower easy paces than I used to when my goal time is actually faster, even if it makes sense from a training stand point. I know I just have to trust my training and remember that I’m doing the right thing and it will pay off in the end.

Thursday, 1/7

NOTES: Skipped cross training today to get some extra zzzs. BAD HANNA!

Friday, 1/8

  • Workout: MP Practice (6 miles w/ 3 @ pace)
  • Target pace (for MP splits): 8:20-8:25
  • Actual paces: 8:49, 8:38, 8:42, 9:10 (I gave up)
  • Total mileage: 6

NOTES: Not. my. day. Terrible. First I woke up late this morning and had to dart out the door, and then I spent a lot of this run dodging and tiptoeing over ice patches that I thought would be melted after a couple warm days but apparently they weren’t warm enough.

When I saw the three MP splits on my watch, I honestly couldn’t believe it. I was busting my hump out there, how could it possibly be that slow? The icy patches couldn’t have been slowing me down that much, right? I was supposed to do a 4th MP mile but by that point I was so frustrated I just gave up and did the last two miles as a cool down.

I had been looking forward to this workout all week (nerd alert), so I didn’t take my failure very well at first, but after a while I realized it was simply just a bad morning. The ice slowed me down and I wasn’t prepared or properly warmed up. I’ll just have to do better next week.

Saturday, 1/9

  • Workout: Long Run
  • Target pace: 9:45
  • Actual pace: 9:36
  • Total mileage: 14

NOTES: I met up with my running group this morning, but went on my own for the run so I could get hills in. It’s not the same as a route with actual rolling hills, but I really need practice with climbing, so I’ll take what I can get. I stuck to a 3-ish mile strip of Lincoln Memorial Drive along the lake so I could travel between three different hills and do repeats of each one. I ended up with 10 repeats total. Most of the ice on the sidewalks was gone here, so this run was a lot smoother than last week’s(and yesterday’s).

This workout went really well and I felt great and strong. The hills were, predictably, a workout, but they weren’t as tough as I was fearing – maybe I’m slowly getting better and starting to see those first early signs of fitness gains?? My body relished the challenge today and I felt good the whole time. Definitely a confidence-boosting workout that made me feel good about Pittsburgh.

Sunday, 1/10

  • Workout: Easy Run
  • Target pace: 10:10-10:20
  • Actual pace: 9:54
  • Total mileage: 6

NOTES: Brrrr! It was a cold one out there and it is only gonna get colder this week. I was more concerned about ice, but on the route I chose it was mostly okay.


RUNDOWN: Another week of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Highlight: my kickass speed work and my awesome long run;
my botched MP practice run

The good thing about having bad runs is that they allow you to sort of reset. Examining what went wrong and why forces you to start being more mindful of things. If everything always continued to go seamlessly in training, we would never learn anything, now would we?

This bad run AND Saturday’s good long run both helped push me to the same realization: that I’m losing sight of what matters in this training cycle and what I’ve set out to do. I can see myself starting to get too fixated on my paces and times again – the very thing I set out NOT to do at the beginning of this training cycle. Time to nip it in the bud.

Yes, I have a time goal and want to run this marathon a little faster, but this training cycle isn’t about just “getting faster”, it’s about getting better. If all I wanted was a fast time, I could have just picked some easy flat marathon and called it a day. But I didn’t, I chose Pittsburgh, and I need to keep reminding myself why.

My finish time isn’t what this journey is all about. This isn’t about being faster, it’s about getting stronger and grittier as a runner. I chose to run a hard marathon because I’d come to a point in my running journey where the only way I could grow was to start pushing myself out of my comfort zone and taking on new, unfamiliar challenges. I need to keep seeking out ways to make my body and legs stronger instead of just fixating on whether I hit my paces in workouts. And luckily for me, I’m about to stumble into the perfect time to get serious about doing that…


Up next – Week 4!

Iiiiiiiiiiiiit’s cutback week time! I’ll only be doing 10 miles for my long run and my overall weekly mileage will go down to 30. In lieu of speed work, I’ll be doing a “redepmtion” MP practice run, but everything else will be easy running.

More importantly, I’m taking advantage of the lighter mileage this week to emphasize some work that will make me stronger. I’m going to spin class as my cross training this week, on Tuesday because I now know that if I do it earlier in the week I’m less likely to skip it.

I’ve been totally neglecting my strength work these last few weeks and it’s stressing me out. I feel like I’m being handed one last chance to get serious about making this a habit and I need to take advantage of it. I need to start being stronger than my excuses. Not enough time after easy runs or spin class ends to do some strength? Then I’ll get there early and do it before, or force myself to do it at home that evening. Easy to put it off because I’m not even sure what exercises to do? Then I’ll sit down and develop a routine and even write it down so I follow it.

My goal this week is to do my cross training, some plyo exercises, some body weight strength training and some form drills. Maybe now that I’ve put it out there, I’ll do it!


13 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Week 3

  1. In spite of the weather, you had a really strong week! Even though conditions were far from ideal you got out there and got it done. Go Hanna!

    Since I haven’t been running and probably won’t be running again this week (seriously sore throat/cold, please go away!) I spent some time coming up with a 5 minute body weight strength routine this week. My goal is to do it every day. Once I get in the habit of doing that, I hope to expand it to 10 minutes. I’m trying so hard not to keep making excuses when it comes to cross training. We can do this!

  2. Great job. You were able to nail the important runs! Hey, if you ever want some hills to run, come visit me. It is kicking my butt, part of the reason for the treadmill long run…

  3. Don’t be too bummed about your MP run. Remember that when it’s really cold out your body works harder to keep it warm… so higher heart rate at a pace that would normally be easier in better conditions. I think it’s easy to forget that though because it’s obvious in the summer that you’re working harder because there’s a ton of sweat to show for it! Anyway, you’re early in your training. Keep up the hard work!

  4. Woah, look at those consistent splits on your Tuesday interval workout! Very nice! Sounds like you rocked Saturday’s long run too. As for the Friday MP run, yes, I think the icy patches can really slow you down a lot! At least, they do for me because once I slow down/walk to get around them, I have to get my momentum back up. I was excited earlier on when I saw my easy paces getting faster, but now that I’m feeling the cumulative fatigue, they’re slowing again. Womp, womp. Oh well, like you said so well at the end, the training is about getting better in general, so I refuse to worry about my easy pace. Enjoy your cutback week!

  5. I am so impressed by your interval workout splits. Consistency can be such a beast to get a handle on.

    It’s so interesting to me how much you’re prioritizing hills in your training. I think it’s great. Not sure I feel like the Pittsburgh Marathon is super hilly…but I also live here, so, I guess it’s just normal to me now.

    1. Ah! Posted too early! I love doing hills in my workouts, I think it really helps me get stronger physically and mentally. I’m so glad to see that things are going so well! Keep it up!

  6. Great job, Hanna! Your attitude is great for your workout gone bad: there were factors you could not control (and ice is not something to mess with) and you always have the workout next week.
    That’s great that the extra half mile on your warm-up helped – it clearly shows in your splits! Maybe it’s because I’m an endurance runner, but I started extending my warm-ups to 1.5-2.5 miles – it’s hard to move fast after only a mile, especially when it’s cold outside. Have a great Monday!

  7. I imagine icy runs really mess with your pace the way that sandy runs do. If you’re constantly watching your footing and trying to avoid a hole or patch or other hazard, your pace is going to slow but you’re going to feel like you’re working REALLY hard. I think the rest of your week looks great! I hope this week thaws a little for you!

  8. I hope you ARE able to do strength this week! Even a little bit helps!

    Those are HELLA consistent repeats! Awesome!

    Isn’t it funny to do the slower runs when your goal is faster? I’ve always been a slow long run person (with maybe some faster miles sprinkled in) and it can be a mind f*ck if you think about it too much and forget the tempos and other shiz you did at race pace!

    Ugh, ice. I hope that is one of VERY FEW times you’ll have to deal with it.

    What is your strategy to make sure you don’t get too caught up in pace and focus on become a grittier runner?

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