Hot Weather Training in full swing!

First, let me say "Yes! I made it through June!" ::fist bump::Boom::

The high temperatures and humidity, my 39.3 mile Avon Walk, the brutal 93F North Shore Half Marathon, and 106 miles of 'foot time' all combined to make June a challenging month for me. And I am happy to say I survived it. I ended Marathon Training Week 3 with 21.1 miles across four runs (marathon training miles to-date: 60.8). Crossing the 100-mile threshold for the second time this year is pretty cool -- another milestone that last year I thought I'd never be able to reach.

I have changed my training program to include four running days now, and 1-2 days of cross-training (depending upon how the body feels). This week was so hot that even at 5:30am, the temps were in the 73-76F range and very humid. That certainly added to the difficulty level. So this week looked like this:

Tuesday: Interval Training. This is where you focus on speedwork. I have a set of three speed runs of 500m (1/3 mile) with a 1-minute recovery walk/jog between them. Then I follow the set with a 5-minute easy run. I do this twice. And I always do a 5-minute warm-up at the start and a 5-minute cool-down at the end. Today my run segments were at a 9:00/mm pace (actually 3 of the segments were run at a 8:50/mm pace). That was a good workout!

Wednesday: Tempo Run. This is where you run at a pace close to your Race Pace. Today I ran for 3.11 miles (a 5K) in 28:29 at a 9:11/mm pace. This was 40 seconds off my fastest 5K time, but given the heat I was okay with my performance.

Thursday: Easy Run. This is just a 'get out and run' day, where I don't look at my sports watch and just run at a pace that feels comfortable. This day was the hottest day in the week, with the temp at 77F with high humidity when I walked out of the house at 5:30am. But in spite of that, my run went very well. I ran for 4.05 miles at a 10:33/mm pace (faster than I would have guessed) and felt strong the entire run.

Sunday: Long Slow Run. This is where you train your body to burn fat efficiently for fuel and to work on your endurance (not speed). You can't go too slowly on a Long Run. I went out with my Marathon Training group and hung with the 11:30/mm pace group. We ran for a solid 9.2 miles this morning at an 11:42/mm pace. The route had some decent hills and we ran those. It was really a lot of fun because of the camaraderie among our pace group. The temperature was 76F when we started, and 86F when we finished! But we all finished strong, and headed for the pool afterwards for our 'ice bath" -- boy did that feel good!

After this week, I think my body is starting to acclimate to running in the heat. I really enjoy running in the cooler temps, but maybe I can make the adjustment to warm weather running. I have the Rock-n-Roll Chicago Half Marathon coming up on July 22nd, so I am really hoping to be able to run that race well even if it turns out to be a hot day.

Next week will be 'more of the same.' Except this time, it will be in Indianapolis. I have a two-week church conference there (which I am really excited about!) and the average temperature out there is going to be 95F. I am going to try to stick with my training schedule and get out there at 5:30am (or thereabouts). I have a 3.8 mile loop defined along the River which should be pretty and is just a few blocks from my hotel. I am also running a 5K race sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women organization on July 8th which should be a fun event.

For those readers who are Episcopalians and are interested in what is happening at our General Convention, I will be posting on my other blog "Random Musings" about my reflections and observations of the flow of Convention. I am the First Alternate Deputy for the Diocese of Chicago.


Volunteer at a Race -- it's Fun!

My friend Beth says that all runners who do races should make a point to volunteer for races as well. It is a good way to 'pay it forward', and to appreciate the work that goes into making a race go smoothly. It is also good to cheer for fellow runners for a change (as opposed to being the recipient of the cheers). I think she is right.

So, I volunteered at my first race today... the "Run for your Heart 5K". It was a local race sponsored by the Roadrunners Running Club and Centegra Healthbridge health club. I got to place the course markers, set up the water station, and set the mile markers out (and remove all of it later). It was pretty cool!

It was in the upper 70s for the race with about 200 runners of all ages. The course was flat and fast. The overall winner finished in 16 minutes or something ridiculously fast. The coolest thing was an older gentleman who walked the entire course with a cane. A group of volunteers walked with him the last 1/2 mile to the Finish Line, all clapping and cheering him on (me included). Talk about courage and mental toughness!

When I am in a race and feeling tired, and negative thoughts start to creep into my mind, I am going to remember that man's effort and determination. He achieved his goal! So shall I!

Training Week 2

Week 2 of my marathon training was pretty productive. I am still trying get acclimated to warm weather running, and this week felt much better than Week 1. On Tuesday, I went out on an easy run 4.6 mile run, running at a 10:42/mm pace (with 1/2 mile of warm-up/cool-down walking). It was warm but there was a nice breeze that kept me feeling refreshed.

Then I ran on three consecutive days -- Thursday, Friday, and Saturday -- which is not my usual schedule. Thursday was interval training for speed and I was very pleased with clocking six 500m run intervals at 9:20/mm pacing, followed by 1-minute recovery walks (it was very humid out there), and a couple of 5-minute easy run segments at 11:00/mm pace. On Friday, it was another easy run at a 10:10/mm pace with my usual 1/2 mile warm-up/cool-down walks.

On Saturday, I met up with my partner Mike for an 8-mile Long Slow Run (LSR) . We decided to run the Prairie Path which we used often last fall/winter. Well, they are doing some work on that path because there was a 2-mile stretch of it that was dug up (hopefully to be repaved with asphalt). It was like running on a trail -- nice-sized rocks, pieces of road, gravel, dirt, divots, you name it. I almost twisted an ankle at one point. And since we were doing a 4-mile out-and-back, we had to negotiate that stretch of the path twice. The bikers were none too pleased about it either!

The LSR run itself was great! The path is well-shaded (which was key in this heat). My pace was good (11:43/mm) and my heart rate stayed in Zones 2-3 (mostly Zone 2). We ended up running 8.3 miles by my watch, plus another .6 miles of warm-up walking (so almost 9 miles all together).

It is always more fun to run with someone -- for the conversation and the shared satisfaction of completion. Mike and I are good at keeping each other accountable to our training goals, and Mike is especially good at encouraging/challenging me to keep going and stay positive. I heard a quote somewhere that says "Friends don't let friends run alone". I totally agree with that!

I ended Week 2 with 21.8 miles across four runs (marathon training miles to-date: 39.7). My mileage for June now stands at 94.2. I didn't think I'd reach 100 miles this month but I guess I was mistaken. I will easily reach 105 miles for June. W00t!

Next week will be interesting. Training runs on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with my 9-mile Long Run on Sunday morning (with the training program folks). Thursday is supposed to be 103F so I am praying that at 5AM that morning, the temps will be reasonable. Otherwise, I might be doing some Treadmill training at LifeTime this week. I mean, I want to acclimate to warm weather running but not in 100+ degrees...