Esther started coaching me about a year ago with the goal of keeping me healthy and preparing me to break 2:19 in the marathon and qualify for the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials. From October 2017 to July 2018, she gave me a very conservative training plan and we slowly worked out the coach-athlete-spouse relationship which, frankly, was quite smooth. I needed a coach. Esther coaches over 30 clients around the world and I’ve seen first hand how measured and rational she is with her clients regardless of their personal bests. I know myself and it would’ve been a disaster if I was making all the decisions with my own training. I needed someone to rein me in, calm me down, and get me fit without getting hurt.
My results from last Thanksgiving through July were mediocre but I was beginning to piece together months of uninterrupted training and starting to see glimpses of my old self in training. After running Peachtree and Crazy 8’s in July I took a break then began a very short but focused build up for Twin Cities. Every day was regimented. I made decisions in three areas every day: lifestyle, rehab, and training.
I knew that with the lower mileage I needed to make sure everything else was as “perfect” as possible. In many ways, the running is the easiest part of training, it’s the decisions you make the other 22 hours of the day that can make a big difference.
I made a checklist in August of the lifestyle choices I wanted to stick to during the 8 weeks:
-Bedtime 10:00pm or earlier every night
-Iron supplement daily
-Magnesium supplement daily
-Foam roll 5 min each morning and before bed
-Massage, stretch, chiropractor appointments weekly
With the exception of getting to bed a few times just after 10pm, I hit 95% of the above checklist every day for 8 weeks–I’m very proud of this. It took planning and commitment but I felt a great sense of accomplishment each night when I had checked every box on my list. And while week 1 was tough, week 7 was easy as it became my pattern.
As far as treatment goes, I got a lot of it! Injuries are always right around the corner for me so I was very proactive in scheduling around work to get in all the treatment my body needed. To better illustrate my daily schedule here’s a sample of what a weekday looked like during this buildup:
6:15AM – Wake up
7:00-7:30AM – Begin easy run or workout
9:30AM – Leave for work
9:45AM-2:45PM – CESA Office
3:00-4:15PM – 2nd run, treatment, or nap (rarely)
4:20PM – Drive to soccer practice
5:30-8:30PM – Soccer practice
8:45-9:15PM – Dinner, prepare lunch for next day
9:45PM – Foam roll
10:00PM – Bedtime
As you can see, my days were packed but I made it work. Here are all the appointments I got in during this time:
Oh yeah, the training! The goal was to hit around 80 miles each week with 1 day off. With games on the weekends and Sunday often being a travel day it logically became a good day to take off. Esther and I structured each week exactly the same for this reason:
Monday: Quality workout (18-20 miles)
Tuesday: 2 easy runs (7/5 or 6/6 double runs)
Wednesday: Moderate medium long (13-14 miles with strides)
Thursday: 1 easy run (8-9 miles)
Friday: Quality long run (20-24 miles)
Saturday: 1 shorter easy run (5-6 miles)
Below are the workouts I did each week. Please know that I’m not purposely leaving paces out to be secretive. Nearly every quality Monday or Friday workout was at goal marathon pace (5:15-20) or current half marathon pace (4:55-5:00). There was very little pace variation with regards to my quality sessions. I needed to teach my body that pace and we didn’t care if it felt too easy/hard on some days- finding that rhythm was more important.
Week 1: August 6-12
Total: 70 miles, Sunday off
Quality Sessions: 7 to 1 fartlek; 90 minute moderate long run
Week 2: August 13-19
Total: 81 miles, Sunday off
Quality Sessions: 8×1 mile; 3 mile-2 mile-1 mile within 16 mile long run
Week 3: August 20-26
Total: 81 miles, Sunday off
Quality Sessions: 4×2 mile; 24 mile long run
Week 4: August 27-September 2
Total: 80 miles, Sunday off
Quality Sessions: 15 mile progression run; 22 mile long run
Week 5: September 3-9
Total: 80 miles, Sunday off
Quality Sessions: 13 mile fast medium long; 22 mile long run fast finish last 3 (5:05)
Week 6: September 10-16
Total: 88 miles, no days off
Quality Sessions: 6x(600,1000)+400; 20 mile run with 7 miles MP, 5 miles MP
Week 7: September 17-23
Total: 80 miles, 1 day off
Quality Sessions: 4×2 mile; 22 mile long run with 7 miles @ MP
Week 8: September 24-30
Total: 66 miles, 1 day off
Quality Sessions: 4x (1 mile, .5 mile, .5 mile @ MP in 14 mile run; 15 mile long run with 30 minutes @ MP
Week 9: October 1-7 (Race Week)
Total: 65 miles (TCM 2:20:39/7th place)
1st half: 1:10:51
2nd half: 1:09:48
Based on the result of the race, I did not accomplish my main goal. However, I don’t have a bad taste in my mouth after this performance. Perspective is important and I sat in my hotel after the race and realized it was the 1st effort I’ve been proud of since leaving ZAP.
Coming back from injury is about much more than a physical return to form; mentally the mind must trust the body again. At the starting line and during the 1st half of this race I still wasn’t quite sure if I was ready to roll!! If you look at the splits I ran my first 5k in 17:01 which was over 30 seconds slower than I needed. But at mile 13 I decided to run alone and left the group of 3 I was with.
That moment is when I felt like myself again. As I accelerated down the road with confidence I thought about all the early bedtimes, treatment sessions ($$$), and workouts I’d waded through to get to this point. It was much longer than 8 weeks–it was over 2 years of methodically training with the confidence it would return at some point. So, I ran alone from 13 to the finish and while my hamstrings cramped from 22 to the finish slowing me slightly, I had a great 13-21 where I was running free and with purpose to the finish line. Next up is Houston where I am confident my TCM experience will set me up well for a big performance there.