Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Week 4


Tuesday, 1/12

  • Workout: Spin Class
  • Total mileage: 19

NOTES: Dang. Cycling is hard, y’all. Good workout today. Did about 10-20 mins of ab work in the PM

Wednesday, 1/13

  • Workout: 1 w/u + 3 treadmill hills, followed my 20:00 glutes/hip work
  • Target pace: 10:00
  • Actual pace: 9:55
  • Total mileage: 4

NOTES: 30 minutes on the treadmill not broken up by intervals went by surprisingly fast (although I guess you could say the hills in the workout kinda count as intervals). What I like about doing hills on the treadmill, other than the fact that I can work in harder climbs than I can find in the neighborhood, is that it forces me to hold my pace as I climb. Strength work was donkey kicks, bridges and clam shells.

Thursday, 1/14

  • Workout: MP practice
  • Target pace (for MP splits): 8:20 – 8:25
  • Actual pace: 8:31, 8:22, 8:32, 8:18 (8:26 avg)
  • Total mileage: 6

NOTES: MUCH better this time! I picked a different route with a lot of bike lanes/road shoulder so that I could run mostly in the road and avoid the icy/snowy sidewalks. I also warmed up for 1.5 miles instead of just 1, and I thought this made a big difference (I shortened my cooldown to .5). Finally, I didn’t look at the splits on my watch while running, so I could run by effort and let my body find the pace.

This was a good workout. The MP effort felt pretty honest: comfortably moderate-hard, definitely not a hard tempo effort but not easy either. The splits weren’t as consistent as I’d hoped, and it felt like I was running slightly faster than those mile times show, but I think that’s pretty typical of MP practice runs early in the training cycle. It’s a deceptively tough workout, especially early on in training, and especially when you do it before 6 AM. I remember my first few MP runs during Grandma’s training being just like this, and then with time and practice, the workouts eventually got smoother and the splits more consistent. I just slightly missed the ballpark this time (for a 3:40 anyway; for just a sub-3:45 I was right on the money!), but I think I’m off to a great start!

Friday, 1/15

  • Workout: Easy Run
  • Target pace: 9:45 – 10:00
  • Actual pace: 9:36
  • Total mileage: 5

NOTES: It sounds weird to say 4 weeks in, but today was the first time a marathon training easy run felt like a marathon training easy run. I’m starting to see the return of those marathon training hallmarks I’d forgotten about, most notably, “Fatiguey Fridays” (a term I coined for the late-week easy runs that are often my most mentally difficult workouts of the week, because I’m tired from a long week and yet I still have so much running to do before it’s over). I was also just REALLY tired this morning.

When I saw my average pace after the run, the fatigue made a little more sense. 9:35 is on the fast end of my easy pace range for this training. My body clearly noticed the 20-30 second difference from what I have normally been running on my easy/recovery days. It wasn’t hard, and it didn’t really feel like more effort than usual – I had just assumed that my body was having trouble waking up.

Saturday, 1/16

  • Workout: Progressive Long Run
  • Target pace: 9:00
  • Actual pace: 8:58
  • Total mileage: 10


NOTES: Because I had a shorter long run and lower mileage this week, I decided I’d let myself push the pace on today’s 10 miler and make it more of a workout. I met up with my running group again today, and I ran the first 5 miles with a few people in the group that I hadn’t met before. They were all stopping at 5 miles, so I decided that once I was on my own I’d just keep going north on the trail and start to pick up the pace, hopefully progressing down to goal MP. For the first five miles, we were running at roughly a 9:20-9:30 pace, and it felt VERY easy. Once they stopped and I was on my own, I loosened the reins on all that pent-up energy I had from the first 5 miles. 

There were a few icy sections of the trail, but luckily, I don’t think they slowed me down too much. I actually did a fairly decent job with the ice today, and every time I encountered it, I just reminded myself there’s nothing I can do about the ice, and don’t worry if it slows down my splits because I train to race, I don’t race to train, I’m still doing the work and I can’t control the ice.

When the workout was over, I felt great. The 10 miles went by SO quickly! And I was over the moon about my splits – even with the ice, my progression splits were 9:06, 8:32, 8:26, and 7:59. My cool down mile was actually 8:22 – right at goal MP!

It just felt so awesome that 10 miles could go by in the blink of an eye like that. I kept thinking about how one month ago – heck, even just 2 weeks ago – it took so much more endurance to get through 10 miles and the distance felt like a truly LONG run. During these first few weeks of training, when it’s too early to see any fitness gains yet, it’s so easy to wonder if you’re actually getting anywhere. Today was the first time I could see that my training is paying off and the work I’m doing is starting to yield some gains in my endurance. I felt like my old self again, and this was just the confidence boost I needed during a light week when I was starting to get impatient with my training and my fitness gains.

Sunday, 1/17

  • Workout: Easy/Recovery Run
  • Target pace: 9:45-10:00
  • Actual pace: 9:36
  • Total mileage: 5

NOTES: So, this is a little fast for a recovery pace, but who would want to be out in this any longer than they have to be?


Also, what’s with all these 9:36s lately? This is the third time in the last 8 days I’ve had that exact average pace in a workout!


RUNDOWN: It was a good week, but I struggled with some confidence issues for much of this week. One thing that’s been on my mind is how much better I feel during this training cycle than I did during my last one, and does that mean I’m not working hard enough? On paper, I’m putting in the work. Speed work, long runs, hills – it’s all there. I even looked back through the past few weeks of my training log to remind myself. Then my 10 miler on Saturday happened, and at just the right time – it made me feel MUCH more confident.

I think this is just a weird phase of training, where you’ve been putting in the work for a while now but it’s still too early to see huge fitness gains or do hard race-specific work just yet, so it’s difficult not to wonder if you’re just spinning your wheels, and you really have to draw on the mental strength to trust in your training.

Or in other words: here I am, getting the taper crazies at the beginning of my training. Go figure!

Up next – Week 5!

The time, it really does fly! I can’t believe I’ve been training for a month now, and that I am now already in the last week of my first 5-week mesocycle!

I’m looking forward to this week and the upcoming mesocycle. My legs are getting that familiar itch to work harder, and I think I’m ready to take it to the next level and start pushing myself just a little bit harder. I think I’ve done a good job priming myself for the more difficult work ahead, and while it’s still a little early to see any fitness gains very clearly, I seem to be in great shape so far. But I’ve been craving the more marathon-specific work that will make me feel like I’m actually getting closer to my goal. It occurs to me now that maybe this is kind of the point – to make myself crave it. I like to think that what I’ve really achieved is a masterful balance of doing the necessary work while saving just enough mental and physical fuel to not only be ready for harder work but also feel energized about it. Ha, I’m probably giving myself too much credit :-). If not, well, I’ll just remember that it’s always better to undertrain than to overtrain!


25 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Marathon Training: Week 4

    1. It might have had me on the treadmill if it weren’t Sunday – by the time I got to the gym I could have just had the 5 miles over with, so I bit the bullet! I’d like to brag that it makes me tougher but honestly, this was not enjoyable. It was pretty miserable out there! Luckily the next 10 days are going to be slightly warmer

  1. Sounds like things are falling into place…Good to hear! I hope I will have a week like that soon! I am about to head out into the bitter cold, part of me wants to do the treadmill, but I have a feeling I am going to be doing a fair amount of miles on the mill this cycle, so I should go while the going is good. (and maybe just redefine “good”!)

    1. If I had a treadmill at home, it would be no contest. I don’t care if I lose runner street cred for saying this, but these 0/single digit temps are for the birds. I avoid it as much as I can!

  2. Nice job all around, but especially on that 10-miler! I can see why it gave you a big confidence boost, and it’s a wrong that it came at the right time. I’m completely in awe that you can run at your MP based on feel. I really want to work to get to that point, but I’m so not there right now. And maybe you should play 936 in the lottery. 😉

    1. Ha! Maybe I should! When I first started doing MP runs, I did them by pace. Because you don’t really know what your marathon effort level is if you’ve never run a marathon, you know? Now I just try to run them by effort and then later, if the splits are off, I just try to adjust for next time. It always starts out rocky but by the end of my last training cycle, my legs had that pace memorized and I would run it without even trying.

  3. Great week. I agree, weeks fly by when you’re in a training cycle. Try not to let the ups and downs bother you. At the end you will be ready to go and nail that run.

  4. Nice week, Hanna! It looks like you are nailing your runs and capping the week off with a progressive long run is awesome! I think your attitude of training to race is a good one. I’m a big believer in that just because you can run faster paces doesn’t mean you should be running faster paces.

  5. Yay for running the intervals in the road and not having to worry about ice! Nice job hitting those splits – and so early in the am!

    It does sound like you are getting to the build up (and Fatiguey Fridays, lol) where you will start to feel like you are working hard! I mean, really, if it felt hard from the get go, wouldn’t that be a bad sign?!

    1. Yes! That’s what I keep telling myself – 4 weeks is really not that long when you look at how long the training is, and I’d much rather be feeling under-trained than over-trained right now! No one wants to be exhausted with 10 more weeks of harder work ahead!

  6. Great week! Those splits for your 800’s are pretty crazy. Three in a row at the same splits… that’s really consistent! It sounds like your training has been off to a great start. I’m sure things will start to feel tougher as you enter the middle of the training cycle. Enjoy the ease! I’m sure it wont last too long. 🙂

    1. LOL that’s what I keep telling myself, enjoy it while it lasts because in a few weeks I’ll look back and miss the days when I felt *too* fresh!

  7. I loved reading about the success on your 10 miler! I am so excited for you. You also said something along the lines of feeling like marathon training runs starting to feel like marathon training runs. It’s taken me 5 weeks but I am finally starting to feel like I’m adapting to training again. It’s been rough. And GIRL, those temps are INSANE. We usually get some days like those 0 degrees you are talking about, but it’s been mild for us this winter. You should be very proud of what you are accomplishing – you are awesome! Those intervals sound badass, too. I think good things will come from Pburg 🙂

    1. Thanks lady! I hope those 0 degree days are few and far between. I mean, I love me some cold weather running but this deep freeze is for the birds.

    1. LOL right?? At least during the workouts we can tell ourselves “but at least it’s Friday!”

    1. Thanks! And very true! I have to keep reminding myself that they can’t all be Peak Week.

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