15 Weeks ’til Grandma’s Marathon

Another week in the bag here in my home away from home Lilongwe, Malawi. Weather started out wet this week, but it got dry and sunny by midweek and training went on as usual. This week, week two in my marathon build-up, was similar to last week volume wise. The goal was to hold the volume and work load for a second week before increasing next week. In the past I’ve gradually upped the volume each week, but this has usually left me so tired by the second week that that instead of building again I would reduce the load to rest. Yet to see if this two week stair stepping method will work, but its worth a shot. I have to say for my second week at 90 plus miles in 6 days I felt remarkably good this morning on the long run. Anyway, let’s take a look at how training panned out this week.

Monday: Rain, rain go away. Planned 800 workout for the morning was cancelled due to down pour and lack of training partners. Jogged to the track to find no one there, waited about 20 minutes before heading home in the rain for a total of 6.5 miles for the morning. Ran another 8.5 miles in the afternoon to get in 15 for the day.

Tuesday: Moved the 800s to today. Met up with Chancy and Francis, plus two others. Had a new location in mind but upon arrival found that we weren’t going to be able to workout there. There is a nice hotel/business complex in City Center, with a .7 mile road loop around it, but my Malawian friends did not believe we would be aloud to run inside the gated area so we moved on. Unfortunately we drove separate cars and two of our crew never made it to the first location and neither of them had phones so we were down two men, one being Chancy when we started our 800s at the other location. This place is like many places we train, a random lot with a dirt road around it, various construction going on inside it, and not a flat spot in sight. The loop is about .78 miles around with long steady declines, but a sharp uphill about half way into the loop. The workout was 10x800m with a 400m recovery jog between each rep. I was shooting for around 2:21-2:16 for the 800s. Things went well as Francis would take them out fairly hard and pull me along, usually gapping me slightly on the uphill. We would crest and I would use the long downhill stretch to reel him back in over the second half of the rep, which was nice because it gave me someone to chase and helped keep the speed up over the second half of each 800. The recovery jog took us anywhere from 3:00-3:30 to complete, so we were getting full recovery on each rep.


Splits: 2:19, 2:18, 2:21, 2:18, 2:20, 2:20, 2:20, 2:19, 2:18, 2:10

Held a pretty even pace throughout the workout and then got fired up on the last rep and stuck on Francis’ shoulder up the hill and then hammered down the back side, gapping him by 4 seconds. Felt good to get moving, but during the cool down I could already feel my quads getting sore. Ran a short afternoon run to get around 15 miles for the day.

Wednesday: Oh recovery days, how sweet you are! Ran a very easy 8.5 miles in the morning, legs definitely sore from the 800s the day before. Came back in the afternoon for a little quicker, though still slow 7 miles. 15.5 for the day.

Thursday: Back to the grindstone today. Ran to the track, then back over to the same loop as Tuesday. Today’s workout was long tempo intervals. 4 x 10 minute with a 3 minute rest. I had a goal pace in mind, but after the first rep it became clear that this was going to have to be by effort instead of pace. Both this week and last week I struggled to hit the prescribed tempo pace that corresponds with my current fitness. I know what you’re thinking, must mean my estimated fitness is off. I would usually agree, but my speed paces and recent race performances match up very nicely, so I think the problem is a neglect of tempo work over the past 4 weeks coming back to haunt me. Anyway, once I stopped checking the pace and instead focused on keeping the heart rate at 165-175 beat per minute things got more tolerable. It still hurt a great deal, tempos are never fun, but mentally it was more manageable to watch the heart rate then just keep seeing how slow I was actually running.

Interval 1: 1.8 Miles, 5:33/mile, AveHR: 162 MaxHR: 172
Interval 2: 1.88 Miles, 5:19/mile, AveHR: 168 MaxHR: 176
Interval 3: 1.71 Miles, 5:47/mile, AveHR: 167 MaxHR: 174
Interval 4: 1.78 Miles, 5:35/mile, AveHR: 167, MaxHR: 175


Interval 3 was a blood bath, I just crumbled mentally on that rep and have nothing good to say about it. I was able to pull it together for the last interval at least. After a long warm up and cool down I ran a little over 14 for the morning and called it a day.

Friday: Chancy returned feeling fresh today, I don’t think he worked out yesterday. The morning run started relaxed but the further we got the quicker he ran. When I found myself running at 6:30 pace I put it in neutral and cruised the rest of the run around there. I needed the recovery run to be recovery and I could tell he had other plans. I split off as they headed back to the track and finished up with a nice 12 mile run. Went for a quick 3 mile run in the afternoon, feeling refreshed after the morning run. 7:18, 6:57, 6:21 for the splits, nothing crazy, but not very often do my afternoon runs dip under 7 minute pace, so it was a nice change of pace. Total of 15 miles for the day.

Saturday: And how else would we finish a week but with the long run? We planned to meet up about half way between my house and the track, but upon arrival at the agreed upon spot I found no one there. I did my pre-run stretches, which I had neglected because I assumed that I would be standing at this exact spot waiting for them. After finishing the stretches I resumed my run, heading towards the track and figuring if I didn’t run into them heading my direction then they probably were coming. About half way there I ran into Francis and another guy (I should really learn these other guys names) and I turned around as we headed towards the loop Francis had in mind. Pace was slow to start, but after about 5 miles (3 for them) we found a nice sub comfortable sub 7 pace and held it there for the next several miles. Our long runs usually progress this way, starting very slowly and then ramping up to quick finish over the last few miles. Today didn’t quite hit the usual intensity, probably because the speedster among us had failed to show up this morning, and we settled for a more controlled 6:10 pace by the end of the run. As we returned to the morning meeting spot we split ways, Francis heading back to the track, myself towards home. Finished up 18 miles in 2:05 and then walked the tenth of a mile muddy road back to the house.

Overall the week was about what I expected. We had one less quality session than last week, but that was due to the weather on Monday. I think my body will thank me for scrapping the third quality. Total mileage for the week was 93 miles in 6 days. Next week I plan to add a little volume and throw a third quality session back in. The focus now shifts to strength and tempo work, but I plan to throw in short speed sessions on the Fridays over the coming weeks to keep the turnover up. Each week should see the tempo and interval work get a little longer. I hope the volume and work so far begins to bear fruit in the coming tempo workouts. Only time will tell. Check back next week to see.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s