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I am now officially in training for the Baltimore Marathon on October 11.  I hope that this blog will illustrate what training to race 26.2 miles can look like, at least for this 38-year-old husband/father/teacher.  There is no way to know how (or even if) I will finish, but this will be the real journey.  As the saying goes, “The will to succeed means nothing without the will to prepare."   I use the SmartCoach program as a rough guideline for my workout schedule.  In general, I have found it to be an excellent tool although many of the times for intervals and tempo runs are simply beyond my ability and I find the recovery pace to be too slow for my liking.  My input data is here:

 

This is a look back on the first of the sixteen weeks on my training schedule as well as the week leading up to it (we can call it “Week 0””).  Coming into this period my body was feeling a bit rundown with some lingering aches and pains from the Frederick Marathon in early May (I did not give myself a sufficient recovery period).  On a side note, my wife was away for an autism education training/conference in Houston for most of these two weeks but I was able to find time to workout during my daughters’ swim team practices or in the evenings.

 

Week 0 (6/16 - 6/22)

Monday – A 10 mile run.  A solid maintenance run at a decent pace and a good way to start the week.

Tuesday – An 8 mile run.  I was able to hold a decent pace, but I never really felt loose.  My left calf, which had been giving me trouble for a few weeks, flared up briefly and seemed very tight.  I added 4 strides at the end of the workout.

Wednesday – A track race/workout with my running club (the Frederick Steeplechasers).  I arrive late and only manage to get in a mile of warm-up.  The “main event” is the two-mile and I get badly out-kicked on the last lap so I finish a distant second.  My time is 10:51, which is slower than some of my two-mile splits at spring races.  Afterwards it’s 3x 800 meters (with about 8 minutes of recovery jogging between each one) and my times are 3:35, 3:32, and 3:28.  I didn't have a whole lot of speed, but I can consider it a decent track workout.  I probably put in 6.5 miles total when warm-ups, cool-down, and recovery jogs are added.

Thursday – An 8 mile run.  My legs felt tired and I ran slowly.  My calves tightened up pretty badly on the last mile or two.

Friday – Another 8 miler.  My calves were tight/sore but did not seem to interfere with my running too much once I got warmed up and I was able to maintain a reasonable pace.  I noticed them (especially the left) on turns and when the surface wasn't flat.  They felt better when I was "lifting" my legs rather than "driving" off the ground.

Saturday – A 10 mile run.  This was a fairly typical maintenance run.  My legs were a little tight at first, but they loosened up.

Sunday – A 90 minute spin on my bike trainer.  I take it easy and pedal away while watching the Euro Cup.  Sadly, my beloved Italy loses to eventual champ Spain in penalty kicks.

 

Week 1 (6/23 - 6/29)


Here's what SmartCoach had scheduled: 

Monday – A 4 mile run and an hour spin on bike trainer.  My first run of my “official” training goes horribly wrong.  I head out nice and early for a 10 miler.  My left calf tightens up so badly after 4 miles that I can’t run and have to walk/limp back home.  My attempts to jog even 10 meters bring on so much pain that it causes me to jump up and down on my good leg.  To make matters worse, it’s my anniversary and my wife is still in Houston.  I’m pretty depressed at this point.  While I’m at my daughters’ swim practice I talk to another parent who’s a PT and she pokes and prods my calf and has me do some balance moves.  She diagnoses my problem as a strained soleus (Who knew that trying to run through a tight and sore muscle for about five weeks would lead to an over-use injury?) and prescribes stretches, ibuprofen, and a few days of non-running.  In the evening I try and salvage the day by spinning for an hour while watching “The Princess Bride” with my girls.  They had never seen it before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tuesday – A 2500-yard (1.42 mile) swim in the afternoon and an hour of easy bike spinning in the evening.  I am a terrible swimmer and I hope my first pool workout of the year didn’t strike fear in the lifeguards.  I do a lot of stretching.  I’d rather be running but I don’t dare try more than a couple of easy 50-meter strides.  After I put my daughters to bed I do an easy bike spin to get my legs moving at a good clip.

Wednesday – Another 2500 yard swim and hour of spinning.  See Tuesday.

Thursday – A 3500 yard (1.99 mile) swim.  How do swimmers keep count of their laps?  I’m constantly playing mind games to try and help me remember what lap I’m on and I still keep losing track.  I guess this is my long workout for the week.  I am able to run a couple 100-meter strides without any real pain.

Friday – A 7 mile run and a 2500-yard swim.  I get out early for my run and it goes as well as can be reasonably expected.  I do an easy warm-up, then a solid five miler (splits of 6:30, 6:20, 6:10, 6:10, and 5:55), and I finish with an easy mile of cool-down.  It’s not my best workout ever, but it feels wonderful to run again.  I constantly monitored my calf and it was tight at times, but didn’t become painful.  My right knee was a little sore, probably because I’m over-compensating for my stiff calf.  In the afternoon I swim my laps and then go to pick up my wife at the airport.  She’s back home after two weeks.  What a great day!

Saturday – A 10 mile run.  I run in the morning, but it’s already warm and very humid.  My calf starts out a little tight and then it loosens up nicely after a couple of miles.  I have no pain in my calves or knees.  I am scheduled for a long run of 14 miles this week, but I think that would be pushing my luck.  Psychologically I needed this to complete Monday’s run.

Sunday – A 1250-yard swim and 90-minute spin on my bike trainer.  I don’t think it would be wise at this point to try running three days in a row so I do some more cross-training. This gets me back on my SmartCoach schedule.  In the afternoon I started a slow swim, but I had to stop halfway because of thunder.  Therefore, I finish up my day with another spin.

 

At this point in time I am tentatively optimistic.  I ended the week with some solid workouts and am no longer being hindered by my calf.  While I doubt that I will be able to replicate my performance from Frederick (so many factors came together almost perfectly on that day), I hope to have a solid second leg as I attempt to complete the Maryland Double.

 

 

 

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