Marathon Training: Week One

Shelley's DiaryWell, here we go! Who would have believed, when I started running in 2012, that I’d ever want to run a marathon? Certainly not me. Not even after running my first half marathon, which had also seemed out of reach for me.

But this year, for whatever reason possessed me, I decided it was time to make the marathon a goal. I chose the California International Marathon in December for several reasons; not the least of which include the opportunity to train with some awesome running coaches, and with friends who are also running their first marathon.

So here we are, 3 months away, and already through the first official week of training. Here’s how Week 1 went.

Marathon Training: Week 1

Day 1: Rest Day

Mondays have always been my rest day, and so began my marathon training – on Labor Day, no less!! I had a truly laborless day. I did almost nothing but pick up a few groceries and cook brats on the grill.

Speed Work

Since Tuesday was my first day back at work, I didn’t meet up with my morning run team to do speed work. I toyed with the idea of doing the treadmill after work, since the temperatures were expected to be in the 90’s, but it seemed less and less likely as the afternoon wore on. But thanks to a rain storm, the temperature dropped to the mid-70s. The rain had passed and the cloud cover remained as I left my office, so I took to the track.

I did 4 x 200m, 2 x 400m, then 800m, progressively faster, as outlined on my Training Peaks account. While I was really proud of myself for completing most of it, the track seemed desolate and I found myself challenging the quail to a race along the sidelines. I decided a walk with the dogs would be more pleasurable than a 1200m cool-down.

Easy Run

My three-mile easy run on Wednesday could have been easier, but there aren’t that many routes in my neighborhood that don’t include a few hills. So running uphill, and running with my pups, helped me keep a slow, if not easy, pace.

Tempo Run

I’ve been introduced to the concept of RPE’s; Rate of Perceived Exertion. Basically it’s a way to assess effort level during workouts. It’s based on how your body feels during exercise. The scale ranges from 6 (no exertion at all) to 20 (maximal exertion) – with 19 noted as “extremely hard …the most strenuous exercise most people have ever done.”

What I find interesting is the difference between my actual speed and my perceived effort. We were instructed to start out the tempo run at a RPE of 12, and ramp it up each left turn until we were at a RPE of 16 or 17, completely out of breath. When we started out, I felt I was not exerting myself too much. But then I glanced at my Fitbit and it indicated I was running at less than 10 min/mile. My brain forgot about “perceived” exertion and told me to slow down. I stepped it up each turn as instructed and did two laps of the course. Surprisingly, my speeds ranged from 11:20 to 9:40 min/mile. I did feel tired, but not overly.

Marathon Training: Week 1
Easy Shakeout Run

It was the weekend of the annual Great Reno Balloon Races, which takes place about a mile from my home. My friend B and I decided to include the balloons “Glow Show” on an early morning run. Our training called for an easy shakeout run (actually, the training plan called for doing cross training on Friday and the easy run on Saturday, but we switched things around). We ran slowly to the park, watched the balloons, and ran/walked back. B joked that we didn’t go over a RPE of 5!

Marathon Training: Week 1
Balloon Chasing

On Saturday morning, my intention was to do the cross training or yoga that my plan had called for on Friday. Instead, I took the dogs out again. We walked to the ridge/levee at the end of my street, to watch the balloons. We had some close encounters and got some good pictures.

Race Day

Sunday was the Journal Jog. The course is 8K, or about 4.9 miles. My training plan called for RPE 14 for the first mile, and gradually increasing my exertion each mile, aiming for RPE 16 by mile 4 and finishing strong. Again, this concept of “perception” is interesting. I glanced at my Fitbit after the first quarter-mile and saw that my pace was around 10.5 min/mile. I thought I should back off a bit but also kept the word “perception” in my head. (along with my current mantra, “looking strong!”).

There’s a bit of an uphill portion right in the middle of the course, which slowed me down a bit. But I kept going strong and tried to step it up at mile 4. I finished in under 55 minutes and am pretty happy with my splits (which look like this > on my Fitbit app): 1st mile, 11;02; 2nd mile, 11:11; 3rd mile, 11:45; 4th mile, 11:03 and the last 9/10 of a mile, 10:04. So I finished faster than I started, which makes me happy!

Overall, the first week of training was not so bad!

What are you currently training for? How’s it going?

Author: Shelley English

Shelley is a wife, mom and executive assistant who loves to spend the rest of her time running and writing.

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J @ fire drill podcast / millennial boss
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Congrats on training and making the decision to go for it. I ran a half three year ago (wow was it really that long ago?) and loved it. Luckily my husband trained with me and we ran it together, which made it more fun. PS – It was great meeting you at Activate. Hope you had safe travels home.

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