October 26, 2011

The Daily Grind

Andrea after a long run in Park City
We are about 3 weeks out from the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon, and training has essentially taken over our lives. As Andrea tells me all the time, "Marathon training is HARD." There is a big difference between training to complete a marathon in a respectable time, and training to RACE a marathon in a blazing fast time. There is nothing easy about trying to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials in and of itself... and to do it while working a full time job is pretty much like have two full time jobs! :-)

We are trying to do something that really pushes the limits of what we are capable of. At times it is difficult, but the journey towards this goal - the day in, day out things we have experienced, learned about ourselves, and learned about each other have already made this whole endeavor worthwhile. And despite the workload, we have been able to maintain "balance" in our lives and have fun giving this thing a shot!

Over the next few weeks we plan to post a lot of our thoughts about the marathon, the training process, the daily happenings, etc. We pretty much talk about this stuff every day, on every run, so we want to capture it on the blog. Hopefully others can gain some insight from our reflections, and we will surely enjoy having something to look back on.

This idea is totally a spin off of Lauren Fleshman's... she is currently wrapping up her training for her debut marathon (NYC) and has been posting frequently about the marathon training process. We definitely identify with a lot of the same sentiments that she has written about over the past few weeks.

So to start, what does a "typical" week look like for us? At full volume, I am running 130-145 miles per week, and Andrea has gotten up to 80-90 miles per week, so not much other than training! :-)

Monday through Friday
Weekdays tend to blend together, especially the mornings: wakeup sometime between 5:30-6:00am, and get out the door within 10-15 minutes for the morning run. Laying out clothes and having everything ready to go the night before is crucial for time management. Morning runs are almost always a very easy pace. The distance varies, depending on what our mileage goals for the day are... something between 6-12 miles is standard (occasionally I'll do a midweek 15-17 miler). Once a week we try to meet up with some friends for an early morning group run.

Then we head off to work for 8-9 hours. I work as a research coordinator and Andrea is an engineer.

After work, its time for the second session of the day. On a harder workout day (especially this time of year when there is less daylight and its cooler outside) we'll do our workouts in the afternoon. During the summer, we'd often do them in the mornings to avoid doing our fastest running during the hottest part of the day. A typical week usually has 2 harder workout sessions (often Mon/Thur or Tues/Thur). One day is usually a tempo run of 6-10 miles, the other is shorter reps on the track (like 1000m repeats, mile repeats, 800s, etc). I also like to throw in a set of 200-300m reps once a week to keep the legs feeling sharp.

If its not a harder workout day, we'll just meet up and do an easier run in the afternoon, on softer surfaces whenever possible.

Once run #2 is finished, we head home and take care of the little things - pushups, core exercises, ice (or heat, depending on what hurts), stick massage, foam roller, etc. We try to do these things while preparing dinner to save time. Then shower and eat dinner, or vice versa. By this point its usually around 7pm, and getting close to bedtime! We get our stuff ready for the next day, relax for a while, eat our ice cream, and then usually go to sleep sometime between 8:30-9:00pm (although some nights its as early as 8:00-8:15pm).

Repeat x 5. And that is your Monday through Friday.

This is usually our long run day. We try to sleep in as late as possible, but considering how early we go to bed, getting up at 7am still gets us 10-11 hours of sleep! For the long run we'll either drive up to Park City (for the higher altitude) or head somewhere like the Jordan River trail. Once we get in our 20-24 miles, our job is to be LAZY the rest of the day and let the bodies recover. I'll always head out for a 3-4 mile afternoon shakeout on long run days, and Andrea will often accompany me on the bike.

Sundays are for easy runs and crazy haircuts
Sundays are the ultimate lazy day, mostly because we are exhausted. Again, we try to sleep in, but it rarely happens! The morning run on Sunday is almost always a slow 10 miler on soft surfaces. In the afternoons, I head back out for an additional 4-6 miles, with Andrea biking alongside. We try to do a lot of cooking on weekends, especially on Sundays, since we have lots of extra free time. Often we'll cook huge batches of food so we can just eat leftovers during the week, which definitely makes it a lot easier to eat healthy when you get home from a hard track workout at 7pm during the middle of the week. Luckily, we have no problem eating the same foods for days on end - we are currently on spaghetti week, last week was barbeque chicken week, and meatloaf week is coming up next!

At first glance this might sound pretty monotonous and boring, but I like to say that "you cannot renounce that which you have never possessed." There is something very exciting about pushing yourself, every single day, towards a goal that is both seemingly impossible AND completely tangible... a goal that is challenging not only physically, but mentally as well. Hopefully our posts over the next few weeks will reveal how fun, rewarding, and exciting training for a marathon really can be... and yes I said FUN!


  1. "Of all the current athletes who have qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials, only a small percentage of them work full-time jobs." If you're talking about the marathon trials, I bet more most of the qualifiers work full-time jobs. If you're talking about track trials, then I'd agree, most are professionals.

    If you look at the marathon trials qualifiers on Houston2012.com, there are 335 men and women qualifiers. I bet less than 100 are professsional runners.

  2. According to the Running Times article that ran last month, only about two dozen guys who have hit the standard are working full-time.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.