Marathon Training Recap - Week 12 out of 12 Weeks

© Runners World
Week 12: With that looming injury, I was very careful to run. I kept telling myself, that I the training was done, that I would not increase my fitness level at this stage of the training. That I could rather do damage than good with the wrong training now. However, it still felt wrong not to run. I went for a relaxed 9k run on Tuesday night, and walked after 6.5k as the pelvic pain came on again. I really couldn't understand what it was caused by.

I rested until Saturday, giving that 20+ run that I actually wanted to do a miss. A few people that I spoke to about my littleinjury said that it might be in my head and that the nerves are already getting the better of me. I was hoping so.
On Saturday night, I run with a group. It's a two-lap course, and I took it very easy on the first 3.5k. I could feel a little niggle in the pelvis, but as my body warmed up it seemed to go away. The second 3.5k I did at usual fast pace, and the pain finally went (almost). I was relieved, as I figured that it was not a real and serious injury. It probably was the nerves in combination with whatever. Nevertheless I got myself painkiller creams and tablets.

Sunday's run was supposed to be my last run before the marathon: 12k at marathon pace. It felt good. I had just the tiniest niggle in my pelvis. I felt confident, and I finally started to believe that I could run the whole 42k at this pace.

If you like numbers as much as I do: I ran a total of 641k during this marathon training. 720k were scheduled. I often didn't quite make the scheduled mileage. But I feel good. I think I am the fittest and fastest I have ever been. The missing mileage was due to extra rest days that my body definitely needed at the time, and surely not caused by laziness. I have been eating right. My plan for the next 4 days before the marathon looks like this:
- Monday: nothing special, eat right, go on with everyday life.
- Tuesday: carb-load
- Wednesday: carb-load, pick up race number
- Thursday: eat light and right, take it very easy

Week 11: I turned this week's running program upside down, as I had a 10k race scheduled for Friday. Another 24k race was planned but I didn't want to tire my legs too much before the 10k race. I took it very easy, and just ran a very relaxed 10k run on Wednesday before the race. I believe in rested legs, and I wanted to do well in the 10k race. One of my goals for the season was to get under 45:00. Only 17 seconds had to be knocked off my PB. With the marathon training at such an advanced stage, I felt I could do it.

On the day, the weather felt very warm (too warm for Dubai in January), but very windy. After the gun went off, I ran off quite quickly with a 4:24 pace over the first kilometer. With two points of strong headwinds on each of the three laps, I wasn't sure if I could keep up my pace. Somewhere during the second lap, I literally felt the marathon training kicking in. I didn't feel as exhausted as I expected and knew I could keep up my pace. My halfway time was 22:02, which would result well under 45:00 finish time. In the end, I crossed the line at 43:56. I was a very happy girl. Read a full report here.

After a rest day, I did the long intervals on Sunday: 2x4.5k at tempo pace. For some reason, that was a tiring session, which I didn't expect. On top of that I felt a  strange pain in my pelvis over the last 2k. The last thing I need now, was an injury. I got very nervous about it.

That pain was familiar to me. I had it before, during the early stages of last year's marathon training. At that time, I was increasing my weekly mileage by  quite a bit, and I explained these pains with overexertion. But why would OI get it now. I was tapering already, I didn't do many runs in the recent past. It was surely not overexertion. I decided to take it very easy in the following week, and rather recover from whatever caused these pains instead of running with pain.

Week 10: Taper time has begun, and I am quite happy that I can slow down a bit. Now that I have come to this stage, I feel that a 12-week marathon training program is not soooo bad after all. The first month are sort of hard, as I usually just jump in without being really ready to do the required mileage. The second month is hard because all the really long runs are being done between then. And then it's already tapering time. A 29k run doesn't feel as bad anymore. One 29k run was scheduled for week 9. I just did it. No big deal. 

I started the week with a rest day on Monday, did a 13k run on Tuesday, an 8k run on Wednesday, and 28k on Friday. Managed another little 3,5k speed run on Saturday, before Sunday's long Intervals of 2x6k at marathon pace. I am settling into this 5:20 pace and I start to believe that I might be able to run the whole marathon at that pace. With the marathon still 3 weeks away, I am feeling very confident and am quite a bigmouth in my running group. I know I will quieten down as race day comes closer!

Week 9: Alright, Christmas is over. I moved last week's interval training to Monday this week. My fellow runners seemed very itchy to run, and suggested to keep on jogging between intervals. We usually just walk or rest for a few minutes. Oh, how I regretted to having agreed to that. It added up to 18k, for which I wasn't prepared at all. I thought I'd do my intervals quickly before dinner. Wrong mindset. I cheated by half a kilometre at the end, dropping onto the nearest bench totally exhausted.

As a result, I needed to rest the next day. After an easy 8k run on Wednesday, I planned the longest of my long runs on Thursday, 36k. The weather in Dubai is perfect now. Low 20C in late afternoons and evenings are perfect for me.
However, I started off slightly to early in the afternoon. The sun was still beating down, and in areas where there was no shade, it wasn't very pleasant to run as it was simply too hot. From about 4pm onwards, temperatures got better. Although I struggled for the first 18k. During the whole time I was negotiating with myself if I should swap this week's 36k with 29k. Once I got past the halfway mark, I felt better and knew I would do the 36k. Ticking that run off the list was all I wanted. Not to have any further 30+k runs on the schedule after this, was motivation enough to get me through.
The second half of the 36k was much easier than I thought. Surely, it was painful to run, especially the last 8-10k, but I managed. I was surprised and proud when it was all done, that I actually just ran 36k.

Again, I recovered quickly from the long run. After a rest day, I could do a 7k pace run that still left enough energy to do Sunday's intervals. Sunday's intervals were just hard to run because I ate the wrong things before. We were invited to a BBQ, and I had grilled chicken, beef steak, apple cake and ice cream. Too much proteins and the wrong carbs.
This week's mileage added up to some whopping 82k. I never thought I could run that much and still feeling fit enough to manage everyday life. Now I am officially tapering! Fellow runners are questioning each other for running strategies on race day. Perhaps it's time to think about this now.

Week 8: It's the week leading up to Christmas. The two toughest weeks of the program have started, as the long 30+k runs have to be done. The only good thing about it is that any Christmas indulgence will be run off for sure. In that sense, it's good timing. Otherwise, I just want to get it over and done with. I am coming to that stage in the training where I am ticking off runs. Whatever I do today, I don't have to do tomorrow.

I did a relaxed 13k and a 8k run on Tuesday and Wednesday. These short to mid-distance runs have become really easy by now. It's more a question of time to squeeze them in, not so much a workout anymore that leaves me tired. I take it as a good sign that my fitness levels are going up.

After a rest day, I tackle the 20mile/32k long run on Friday. I went to Safa Park in Dubai, which is surrounded by a running track. One lap is just over 3,4k and I am intending to run 10 laps. It may sound boring, but it suits me to come past my car every 20 minutes, where I keep water, sports drinks, bananas and GU gels ready. And there is toilets. Knowing that they are there, lets me focus more on getting those 10 laps done. When I go off, I intend to stop at my car every 2 laps/7k to top up my water or have a snack.

I am feeling really good right from the beginning and change plans. Instead of running 5x 2 laps, I run one 4 laps and two 3 lap sessions. My pace is about 6 min/k throughout the run.
When I do those long runs, I feel that I need to run at a pace that is the least tiring. It's almost that I don't want to feel that I am running. Sooner or later you will feel it, there is no doubt. But the start should feel like no effort at all.
When I hit the 29-30k, I remembered last year's 30+runs of the marathon training. Very reliably, between 29 and 30k, the pain level goes up a lot. That's the time when I remember a quote about the marathon that I once read: A marathon only starts at 30k.

I admit, the last 5k were no fun. But I saw the end in sight and pushed myself to finish. Ticking these long runs off, rather than trying to do them again the next week, got me going until I completed the 34k.

No-one can argue this, it is a long time to run. Apart from the breaks,  I had a net time of about 3:27 to do these 10 laps/34k.  I was happy to have done 2k more than asked for. And all this just before Christmas!

I took the next two days off. On Christmas Day would have been another interval session. But changes have to made when necessary. So I moved this session to Monday, first week of the 9th week.

Week 7: I started this week with a rest day after last week's half marathon followed by a relaxed run and interval training. I still believe, that running on three consecutive days is all I can do. It feels unhealthy from the fourth day on. Another long run was planned for this week. At this stage of the training I put all my energy into the long runs and the interval sessions. I want to complete these as prescribed in the program. I am ready to sacrifice one or the other smaller run for it.

I did a 9k run on Tuesday to be fit for the long run on Thursday. I ate well before the long run. I didn't want to feel hungry again during the run. I planned to run for 3 hours, which would translate to about 30k. All went well for about 2 1/2 hours. After that my legs felt really tired and I just wanted to go home. I struggled for another 20-25 minutes. So in the end, I guess I ran about 28-29k. I was happy with it. In the end, it's all about getting the miles in at a slow and steady pace. That's what I did.

Saturday was a special 7k run with my running group. It's actually a race, and I set a new PB over the distance that we run (which is 2 laps around a park). Sunday's interval training I usually do with a group. This week I had to do it on my own due to time commitments. It was a bit of a let down, as I wasn't checking my training plan before setting off. Instead of tempo pace, I ran the intervals at marathon pace. Oh well..... The mileage this week added up to 56k, quite a bit less than the goal mileage of 65k. Never mind. I still feel good with the way the training is going.

Week 6: There is only one Half Marathon in Dubai and it was scheduled for this week. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, runs in it. I wanted to do well, so I opted for extra rest days before. In non-marathon training times, I usually don't run for 4-5 days before a race. In my experience, you don't gain any fitness on such short notice. At the same time, going into a race with rested legs is a big advantage.

I had a relaxed 6k run on Tuesday, and rested on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. During the whole week I was fighting a cold that started on Sunday and peaked on Wednesday. On Wednesday evening I was feeling so rotten that I thought I would not be able to run this half marathon at all. I was glad that it got much better on Thursday. My family told me not to do anything stupid and run while being sick. But they could rest assured that I would not get up at 4.45am if I wasn't sure I could finish a 21k race.

Come Friday, and my adrenaline was working as reliable as expected before and on race days. I didn't need my alarm clock to be up at 4.30am. I ate a bowl of porridge and banana (without much appetite), but I think I did good by carb-loading a little bit before the race. I didn't want to feel hungry again DURING the race, like it happened to me a week before on my long training run.

The race went really well. I started off much slower than the Half Marathon three weeks earlier in Abu Dhabi. The initial pace was 5:20min/k. I was a bit surprised but everyone seemed to go off slowly so I just hung in there. Having the 1:45h pacemaker behind me, gave me a little comfort. I went with the flow, which got gradually faster. As I just run with a normal stopwatch, I don't have split times. I only remember crossing the halfway line at 52:37. In the second half of the race I missed many distance markers, so I wasn't really sure where I was standing timewise. I wanted to be under 1:45, and gave whatever was left in me on the last kilometers. A few hundred meters to go to the finish line, I checked my watch again and realized I would do a 1:42 time. Final time was 1:42:36, net time 1:42:16. I was very impressed with what I had achieved, to say the least!

On Saturday, I did a very relaxed 7k run, to be fit enough for the long intervals on Sunday. I was surprised that I was able to do both runs after Friday's Half Marathon. I think the marathon training finally got me to the next level of fitness. I recover quicker from previous runs. The training doesn't seem as hard as it was in the beginning. I feel less tired. It's motivating.

Week 5: Week 5 is the first week in the program when I was supposed to run the maximum mileage I had set myself: 72k or 45 miles. That is a lot of kilometers. I didn't do 72k. I managed 67k. I was quite pleased with myself, as I ran all five runs, and in the middle of it a 28k run, after which I finally registered for the Dubai marathon.

I feel I have more energy, as the interval training sessions on Sundays have become slower (although longer), but that suits me well. I have dropped my weekly short (and fast) interval session with my running group in favor for a regular relaxed and steady training run. These changes make me recover much faster from the runs, or don't even leave me as tired in the first place.

My first run of this week was supposed to be a 15k run. I did 10k, as I could feel last week's 16k run and 11k interval session still hanging around in my legs. At the same time I wanted to be ready and fit to do Thursday's 29k, my most important run this week. I allowed myself another rest day on Tuesday, and had a another slow and steady 10k run on Wednesday that would still allow me to manage the 29k on Thursday. I ran 28k, and I didn't make it a progression run. My leg muscles were feeling tight. I ran the whole distance in a 5:50min to 6:00min pace, with just little breaks every 7k for water or a GU gel. I wouldn't say I struggled, but these 28k didn't come easy to me. I was glad when it was over. One of the reasons why it didn't go so well, was because I didn't eat enough before the run. Halfway through I got quite hungry, but had nothing with me than a banana and a GU gel. Anyway, another long run to be ticked off the list.
I was glad to see that I recovered rather quickly and did another 7k plus the interval session on Saturday and Sunday as planned.

I think my fitness and endurance levels are going up. I don't feel as exhausted after my runs as I did in the first few weeks. And I recover much quicker. That surely is a motivation and makes me think I do all things right so far.

Week 4: I started week 4 of my marathon training with two rest days. It was expected, but I didn't feel good about it. My level of exhaustion felt above the level of what marathon training exhaustion should be. I decided not to do any speed runs this week, just run some 10-15k runs at relaxed pace.

Wednesday was my first run day. I went out to do 10k, and struggled over the second half. I must have walked about a third of the whole distance. Not good. I wasn't quite sure what made me feel so lame, as my legs were feeling OK. Perhaps, my body fought a little infection? I don't know.

On Thursday I felt better, and completed a 13k run at my usual training pace. It felt good and I finally felt back on track. I allowed myself another rest day on Friday, and ran 16k on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday evening I was ready to do some pace training again. The pace training switched now from shorter distances at fast pace to longer distances at marathon pace. With my marathon training group I ran 3x3k at a pace of 5:20min. I t felt good and comfortable. However, the thought of running the whole 42k at this pace wasn't quite appealing yet. Oh well, it's another two months of preparation. I am still in the early days...
At least the mileage almost added up o what I was expected to run this week. Instead of 53k I did 50k. I am happy with that.

I also think that I do well with a maximum of three days of running and then have a rest day. Those four days of training are too much for me. I will probably readjust my rest days in the following weeks. I don't necessarily need a rest day before my long run, as long as I take it easy on that day.

Week 3: Oh my, what have I done!! A half marathon race is supposed to replace my 24k long slow run on Friday. I am having second thoughts about it, as I feel that too many of my runs are speed runs. The fast runs take a lot out of me. But then again, I do them in a group, so it is usually easier.

Now let's get down to the facts: I was supposed to run 67k this week. Not a good idea if you want to run a half marathon. I decided to go low on the weekly mileage and dropped Monday's 15k altogether. Sometimes less is more, and I usually go well with running little to nothing 4-5 days before a race. On Tuesday I did a Short Interval Training Session with my running group which added up to 10k. Wednesday's 7k run was a very, very slow run, more to loosen up my muscles and to make feel less guilty about the missed-out mileage on Monday and Tuesday.
I am getting to know myself from a whole different side:  I didn't know I would become so competitive with this Marathon training. However, when I created my marathon plan, I put my weekly mileage very high, in order to have weeks like this one, were dropping or shortening one or the other session would still be acceptable.

Friday's half marathon was great. The temperatures were good, not too hot. My legs felt a little tight in the beginning, but I ran a steady 5min/km pace right from the start. On the first half, I was a little scared that I would get tired. Having the rising sun right in my face also didn't help to get me more relaxed.
Thankfully, the second half of the race was in the other direction. I had enough energy left in my legs to run the last 6k even a little faster. I finished with a new PB at 1:44:39. (Read here for a more detailed race recap).

Eager to see my fellow runners from the half marathon the next day made me forget about my rest day. Instead, I joined my Saturday evening running group, and did a 7k speed run. I was probably still running high on endorphines from the race the day before, and managed pretty well. In retrospect, I shouldn't have done it. Comes Sunday, and the speed key workout is on the schedule. My legs feel very tired now, I feel exhausted, I am not looking forward to this session at all. I am telling myself, It's just 30 minutes, then it's all over.
After a 1,5k warm-up we are getting ready to run 6k at 5min/km. The first couple of kilometers feel OK, but I can sense that I am doing too much. After 3k I am starting to feel almost sick. I decided to drop out after 4,5k. The signs of my body were more than obvious. Rest was needed.

Now I am paying the price, for doing too much speed training. I probably need more rest days than planned. I must focus more on slow, relaxed runs. They won't be so hard on me, and I won't struggle to get the mileage in. Instead of 68k I ran only 54k this week. Four of the five runs that I did this week were races or speed runs. You don't have to be an expert to see that this is too much. Lesson learned, hopefully.

Week 2: Famous last words from the first week: I expected tired legs. Here we go, I had very tired legs at the beginning of the second week. Training on four days in a row is still a bit too much for me. My body is not used to the strain I am putting it through on such a frequent basis. After the Tuesday run, which was the fourth day in a row, I felt exhausted. Having to run 26k just two days later on Thursday seemed absolutely impossible until Wednesday evening.  I was already making mental arrangements to postpone the long run to Friday. But then, surprise, surprise, I felt good and rested when I woke up on Thursday morning.

My sleep has definitely changed since I started the training. I need more sleep, 30 minutes to an hour per night. I sleep deeper. And I find I recover best while sleeping well  and enough hours.

I went off for my long run on Thursday afternoon and ran into the evening when temperatures got cooler. I had two GU gels with me, this time vanilla flavor. I took it after one hour of running. Again, it went down well. I was planning to take another one 45 to 60 minutes later, but decided against it. As this 26k run was supposed to be a progression run where you increase your pace to Marathon Pace towards the end, I felt that I had enough energy to do so. I don't have a Garmin, but it felt like I ran the last 3-4k faster than the other 22k. I had a big bowl of Traditional Oat Porridge about 45 minutes before the run. An old classic of mine, always goes down well and delivers energy as needed for those runs.

I recovered quickly from the 26k run. No problems to run the Saturday 7k. The Sunday Speed Training that I usually do with a group, I had to do on my own this week. It was not too difficult though. I think, that long intervals com easier to me than the shorter, fast ones.

Nutritionwise, I am trying to put more proteins into my body to speed up recovery after the runs. I have been eating a lot of lentils, eggs and grilled chicken/fish during the week.Those Zucchini Chickpea Feta Fritters have become a staple, and I can always eat a big bowl of Red Lentil Dal.

A good week of running. I feel confident with the training. The fact, that I seem to recover quickly from strenuous runs makes me feel confident and optimistic that I am on the right track. Let's see how next week goes.

Marathon Training Plan - Click to enlarge
Week 1: I did all my runs this week as laid out in the plan. In fact, I did even more than that: on Tuesday, when only a 7k run was planned, I went with my usual running group to do our weekly short distance interval training, which added up to almost 10k. I mentioned my marathon training to this group, and we decided to start a new group to do the long distance interval training as prescribed by my training plan. That was unexpected, but is great as any interval training is much easier (at least in terms of motivation) when done in a group.

On my Thursday long run (21k) I ate my first ever GU energy gel. Just to see if I could stomach it. It had chocolate flavor and wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It tasted a bit like a melted cheap chocolate praline. I couldn't quite feel an energy boost afterwards, but I didn't have any stomach troubles. That's all i wanted to know at this stage. Will now stock up on GUs and try and incorporate them into my marathon preparation on all long runs.

The Sunday tempo run in a group was brilliant. After having done regular short interval training sessions for almost half a year, I must say that the long distance interval training seems to come easier to me. Short intervals are much more of a challenge to me. I consider dropping the short intervals, when the going gets tough with the rest of the marathon training and do just a regular run instead.

All in all I, I felt great after the week. Quite proud that I completed all runs as prescribed. As my weekly mileage went up quite a bit by starting this marathon training, I expected tired legs. It went so well that I signed up for a Half Marathon on 18 November.