I can't believe peak week is over and it's time to start tapering! This was a week of high mileage, lots of planking, speed work, and hills, capped off with a very long run. I was very pleased with how my body reacted to all of the work I put it throuh this week and especially how good I feel today after my long run. The other point of this week was to up my mental game, because before this week I was starting to doubt myself. I pushed myself to the limits during my runs and then tried to push past them to prove to myself that I could. It was a great week.
Monday - Mile Repeats
I did my mile repeat workout on Monday in between tracking people running the Boston Marathon and that made for awesome motivation.
1 Mile Warmup - 8:09
3x1 mile repeats - 6:51, 6:50, 6:45
1 Mile Cooldown - 8:04
5 Miles total at 7:19 average. Then half a mile of hill repeats at 8:00/mile. Plank streak day 72 for 10 minutes (2 five minute planks).
Tuesday - Long Speedwork
Really wanted to test my legs with a longer speedy run. I took the first 5 miles at 7:55/mile. Then the next two were 8:10/mile. The last mile was around 8:45. The whole run was 8 miles at 8:12/mile. Followed by plank streak day 73 for 8 minutes.
Wednesday - Recovery Miles
Started this run with really tight legs, but I pushed through and a couple miles in they loosened up. I ended up with 5 miles at 8:37/mile. Plank streak day 74 was 5 minutes.
I stuck to the treadmill on Thursday because I really didn't want to take it too fast and it was pouring rain. 5.1 Miles at 8:44/mile followed up by plank streak day 75 for 5 minutes.
Friday - Rest Day
I rested and carbed up on Friday, but I did do plank streak day 76 and got a new PR. 13 Minutes!! It was a lot easier than usual until the last couple minutes. I was surprised because of all the planking I did this week.
Saturday - 22 Mile Long Run
Peak week ended with my Saturday long run. My running partner was running a race so I started early before the club at 6:25am. It was freezing cold and I was wearing shorts. I was glad to have a pair of gloves in my car because I ended up needing them the whole time. I got in 7.5 miles before I met the club, including 3 big hills. When I got to the club, I had company for about 4 miles before everyone turned off to go back. I kept going until 14 miles where I had to stop to refill my Nuun and grab some more gels.
With all my fuel restocked, I took off for an 8 mile loop (4 out and 4 back). I was dying to get to the turn around, but once I got to 2.5 out I felt pretty good. I turned at 4 (18 miles) and turned around. I pulled off at 19.3 to refill my bottle at the fountain, and then headed back to my car. As I got near 20 miles it started to drag. It felt like I was looking at my watch every .05 miles and I was dying to take a break around 20. I told myself that this is what happens in my marathons and it's where I have caved in the past. I told myself to push to 21 and see how I felt, knowing that there was no way I'd stop with a mile to go. I pushed myself to 21 and sure enough, I hit a runner's high and coasted in the last mile. I proved to myself that I can be stronger than my doubts and my 22 miler ended up great. I took an ice bath and stretched out once I got home and then did plank streak day 78 for 3 minutes.
Another great week of training and it's officially time to taper, although I still have a week before I really scale back. 45.6 Miles this week at 8:29/mile. 54 Minutes of planking.
Since I just hit a new plank PR (13 Minutes!!) and my last PR generated so much attention on Instagram, I decided to share my tips that led to me being able to plank for so long. For me, I started my plank streak being able to hold a 2:30 plank, and had previously done a 4:30 plank, so I already had something of a foundation coming into this. My tips can be broken down into form, mental strength, and strategy.
Form is probably the most important aspect of planking. If you don't have good form, you are likely to hurt yourself or not get a good workout out of your plank. Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance.
Here are my tips as they relate to form:
1. Clench your abs when it starts to get hard. The more you focus on your abs, the less strain on your arms, and the better ab workout you get.
2. Sink your heels back away from your body and toward the ground. This will keep you from leaning too far over your arms and hurting your form. Again, it takes the focus off of your arms and stops your legs from shaking.
3. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together. I prefer to clasp my hands, especially once I get over 5 minutes.
4. Relax. A lot of people hold their breath or breathe very shallowly. If you control your breathing and relax, it takes the tension off of your neck and shoulders and makes it a little more comfortable.
5. Child's Pose should be your best friend. As soon as I finish planking, or if I am doing multiple planks, I immediately go into child's pose and hold it for about a minute or two. This helps stretch out your back and resets any strain that you put on it during the plank. The longer the plank, the longer I hold it.
Mental Strength -
Let's be real, we all know that as perfect as your form is, your mental game is what is going to help you be able to go long. After planking for 76 days straight I have learned quite a few tips to help mentally power through a plank.
1. Don't watch the clock. Seems simple right? I play on my phone on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. I will watch Netflix. I will people watch out the window. But I rarely look at the clock. Time goes by much quicker when you aren't watching it.
2. Plank outside if you can. I often plank on my balcony or inside with the windows open. The breeze feels amazing and there's something about being outside that makes it feel more enjoyable.
3. Countdowns. When I start to feel my head giving up, I do a countdown in my head. I pick an amount of time (usually 30-60 seconds) and count down. Chances are, your count down is much slower than the real time and you will be presently surprised when you check the clock at the end and you went closer to double the amount of time.
4. Know when you want to try of a new PR and use that as your motivation to power through the time. I pick a day of the week where I want to try and I mentally get ready each week knowing that will be the day.
While form and mental game are important, having a strategy to increasing your time is equally important. There are several steps I took that helped me to move up through the times and acheive several PRs.
1. Consistency. There is just no substitute for it in any aspect of fitness. I have been planking for 76 days straight now and I guarantee that was the major factor in increasing my times. Additionally, doing longer planks during the week before trying for a PR. Once I would get a PR, I would take a minute off and do a couple planks that long during the week. Once you build strength to consistently do those, you will be able to up the time.
2. Upping your plank time per week. When I started my streak I made sure to plank at least 25 minutes a week, then 30, 35, 40, 45, and now I plank around 50 minutes a week. That is how you build strength (physical and mental).
3. Multiple planks. In order to get a certain PR, I would do a couple days of planking that long in the form of multiple planks. So for 10 minutes, I'd do a 5 minute and then a 3 and then a 2. As I got stronger it would be a 2 five minute planks and then a 7 and a 3. Then I would know I was ready to try for 10 straight.
4. Try for the PR on a non-running/non-leg day. While it seems like all of the pain is concentrated in your arms and abs, your legs play a big role in holding you up. Doing your big plank on a day where you have fresh legs will work wonders.
So those are my tips for how I mastered the double digit plank! I'm working my way up to a 20 minute! I hope that I have inspired some of you to start plank streaks of your own and try for some serious PRs!
HAPPY PLANKING! YOU CAN DO IT!
Happy Sunday/Boston Marathon eve! Currently watching my Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs. Yesterday wrapped up week 12 of my marathon training and I'm feeling great. I talked with my running partner who thinks that based on my recent performance in the 20 mile drop, my performance in Cleveland is going to be better than he originally expected. I already felt the same way but hearing it from someone else makes me excited and confident! This week of training was heavily focused on recovery and making sure I didn't cause injury by overworking since I just raced a 20 miler on Sunday. As a result, the mileage was lower with a lot of off days worked in and no speedwork. This week also brought a new plank PR!
Monday - Rest Day
Monday was a straight rest day, except for plank streak day 65 for 10 minutes (7 minutes regular plank, two 1 minute side planks, 1 minute reverse plank. I foam rolled intensely on Monday which was so painful the day after my race.
Tuesday - Rest Day/Recovery Swim
Tuesday I was dying to run and I literally stood in my apartment for about 15 minutes trying to decided whether to cave and go for a run or to get in the pool and swim for a workout instead. I knew I needed another day off because I could feel tightness in my posterior shin and wanted to prevent a splint from happening. I put on my swimming stuff and headed to the pool. I ended up doing a little over a mile and a half swim workout, with about .15 miles of kicking (to work out the tightness) and about .35 individual medleys. I then got into the hot tub, using the jets to massage out any tight spots. After the swim I felt incredibly loose and I knew I made the right decision. Plank streak day 66 was 10 minutes (one 6 minute, one 4 minute). Followed up by some homemade Szechuan Shrimp!
Wednesday - Windy Run
Tried to go out for a casual run on Wednesday and keep it easy, but the wind had other plans. I ended up fighting 30 mph winds the whole way and it was freezing cold when I had a headwind despite the sunshine. I ended up with 5.2 miles at 8:32/mile. PLank Streak day 67 was 3 minutes.
This run was interesting because I decided to head to a different park because the winds were minimal and it was relatively warm. I took off and was having a great run until I saw flashing ambulance and police car lights ahead. I figured there was a car accident or something so I pushed on until I hit the crime scene tape. I was the third citizen on the scene of a body discovered on the beach....so I decided to turn around and head back a different direction. If I hadn't slept in an extra hour that morning, I might have made the discovery because I would have been the first person there. I will be avoiding that park for a while during off hours until we get some details on what happened. I ended up with 5 miles at 8:24/mile. Plank streak day 68 was 3 minutes.
Friday - Rest day
Friday was a rest day and carb up day for my (sorta) long run on Saturday. I did have plank streak day 69 which was a new PR of 12 minutes! I couldn't believe it! I knew I wanted a new PR since it had been 2 weeks since my last PR, so I set up Netflix and watched that while planking.
Saturday - 10 Mile Long Run
Saturday I got to reunite with my club for 10 miles. I wanted to go longer but my running partner said no, because I was still recovering. He did let turn it into a hard workout. We took the first 4ish pretty slow, chatting with the club ranging from 8:45-8:55 per mile. Around 4 we kicked it up a little, because it was downhill, finishing mile 5 at 8:35ish. The way back we really kicked it up, working hard and ranging from 8:15-8:25/mile. It felt good to push my legs and I was okay with only doing 10.2 since we worked hard. We ended up with a negative split, finishing at 8:35/mile. I ended the day with plank streak day 70 for 5 minutes. I came home from my run to a shipment of Nuun Watermelon (so I'm good to go for the marathon) and I rewarded myself for the long run with a giant sea salt dark chocolate caramel cup!
So that wrapped up week 12 and that means that next week is peak week! Crazy that we are this close to the race! This week had 20.3 miles (not counting the race) at 8:31/mile. It also had 50 minutes of planking! Time to channel the mental game and work on strengthening that aspect as we get closer to the race!
Hard to believe that there are only 4 weeks of training left plus a week of taper! Where did the time go? Yesterday wrapped up my 11th week of Cleveland Marathon training. It ended on Sunday because of the 20 Mile Drop (which I recapped yesterday!).
This week went pretty great overall, even though I had some chaotic things going on this week and experimenting with carb depletion for this race as I wanted to try it out in advance for Cleveland. As recapped in my prior post, the race went great for me and the results of carb depletion seriously paid off. Special shoutout to fellow Cleveland runner @keenforarun for her blog post on how to carb deplete, which I used as guidance last week.
So let's get into how the week went overall!
Monday I ran a relatively fast run because I knew my legs would have time to recover before the race. I didn't necessarily get into speed work (since I didn't really drop into the 7s) but I did make it a negative split and progression run. The first mile was around an 8:30. The second was closer to an 8:24. The third was an 8:15. The fourth was an 8:05. The fifth and last .2 were 7:55. Total was 5.2 at 8:13 average. Followed up with plank streak day 58 for 5 minutes. This was day 1 of carb depletion and I thought it was hard until I signed up for MyFitnessPal and actually logged my meals and realized I was only consuming about 8% carbs (TOO LOW!!).
Tuesday - Speed Work
I decided to have one more day of real speed this week as I was planning an off day on Wednesday and would be taking slower runs the rest of the week. I set out for a speedy 10k. I went a hair long (6.3 miles) and ended up at 7:37/mile for the entire run. That pace made me really happy (though my face says otherwise). Plank streak day 59 - 6 mins.
Wednesday - Recovery Swim
I took the day off from running and opted for a swim workout instead. Since doing that the week of Rock n' Roll Arizona and having awesome results, I have made it a permanent part of my race week routine because it loosens up all of the muscles while getting in an awesome workout. 1.2 miles/30 minutes. Plank streak day 60 - 5 minutes.
For once the wind was calm by the lake so I headed to a different park for my run (when the wind is bad, the route to this park has 30 mph headwinds) and I decided to explore since it was an easier run. I rarely do trails, but I was curious, so I ducked onto the trails for about a mile. I was so glad I did because I got awesome views and I knew the soft surface was good on my legs. I didn't exactly enjoy having to climb uphill, jump a creek, and run down stairs, but it was fun overall. 5.3 miles at 8:45/mile and plank streak day 61 - 3 mins.
After a hectic day of packet pickup, staying late at work, and running errands, I came home at about 7:40 and hopped on the treadmill for a short run, since I knew I had to get a run in because the day before a race is always a rest day. I also got my second run in on my new shoes to be sure they'd be good to go for the 20 mile drop. I did 3.5 miles at 8:19 to shake out the legs. Followed it up with a 3 minute plank for day 62.
This was a rest day and finally putting a lot of carbs into my body. I spent the day relaxing (after an insanely stressful morning) and got my outfit organized as I could see the real feel at the start would be about 15 degrees. I headed to bed early because of the buses leaving at 6:30 for the race, meaning my alarm would go off at 4:30.
Sunday - 20 Mile Drop
For a full recap on this race, you can check out my previous blog post recap of this race. But for a short summary, this race was awesome! They changed up the course a little from the previous year to cut out some hills. The race in a nutshell involves 20 miles of net downhill elevation change. There is also a 10 mile version. Both are great for spring half and full marathon training. I planned to take this race at an 8:40-8:45 based on my discussion with my training partner and not wanting to burn out before Cleveland. When I got on tuhe course, I ended up befriending a couple of runners around me at mile 2, feeling great from the carb depletion and loading, and loving the downhill, so I started out a little faster. I ended up finishing the race in 2:50.56 (8:33/mile). Yes, it was too fast, but the downhill contributed to the pace and I felt great while doing it. My running partner said it was only about 4 minutes too fast so it wasn't a big deal and I would take this week lightly. I definitely had a blast at the 20 mile drop! Plank streak day 64 - 7 minutes.
Another great week of training plus a race in the books! 45 minutes of planking last week and 40.3 miles at 8:21/mile. Ready for a light week this week!
Writing this as I relax on the couch with pizza and Netflix. This morning was the 20 Mile Drop and the fun started at the crack of dawn this morning....well, actually earlier than that, like 4:30am...
Brief summary of this race: I ran the ten mile version last year and decided to use the 20 mile version as my training because it fits quite nicely. The course is a net downhill, so the elevation drops significantly by the time you finish. My goal was to hold 8:40-8:45 since this was a training run afterall. I've been experimenting this week with carbohydrate depletion (as I will discuss in my weekly training recap) but let's just say that I will definitely be doing that again for the Cleveland Marathon. I got all carbed up last night and headed off to bed early as I knew my alarm would be going off at 4:30. My mom stayed with me the night before to go with me and to drive in the morning. When the alarm went off, I got up and had my cup of coffee, cup of water, cup of Nuun, banana, and 3 pieces of gluten free toast. We left for Fairport Harbor at 5:15 and got there at 6ish. I waited in line for the portapotty and then boarded the bus which would take us to the start.
The bus dropped us off at the start at about 6:55 with the race starting at 7:15. I got in line for one last portapotty stop and after I hung out with my mom and made the decision to get my gator since it was a real feel of 15 degrees. They pushed back the start to 7:20 since the line for the portapotties was so long. I lined up at 7:15 and the gun went off at 7:20.
The first mile sucked because in order to keep the race all downhill or flat, they had to loop us around the downtown square twice. I worked into my pace and after the square we turned out and downhill which made me kick it up a notch. We then dipped onto the new bike path where we stayed for several miles.
Around mile 2, I made friends with those around me and we began to talk. Denise and Craig were a couple who run all of this organization's events. We talked for a long time and Craig pulled about .1 to .2 miles ahead. Denise and I continued to talk and share stories and Ida fell into place next to us. Ida is a relatively new runner (October of last year) who is training for the Cleveland Marathon as her first. We gave her advice and just chatted in general. The miles flew by with us holding 8:20s-8:25s. Around mile 8.5 we passed my mom and she snapped some photos. Then it was an uphill loop through a neighborhood followed by downhill onto the main road and back onto the bike path at 10 miles.
When we got back onto the trail, we all stuck together as we caught up to Craig and their friend named John. We all talked and shared stories until about mile 12 where Ida stayed at a water stop to slow up and the others wanted to hold 8:20s so I decided to back down a little, yet, keep them in my sights. At the 13 mile mark I had caught back up on them and we ran up a hill and out of the park. We crossed the street and I saw my mom. I let the others go ahead because I realized I was on pace to finish 14 in under 2 hours, meaning I was going too fast, so I stopped by my mom for a few seconds to grab a bottle of Nuun and a new gel. I took off after that holding around 8:40s.
I ran from 13.5 to 15 alone, but with the others in my sights. Around 15.5 I chatted with another run for a brief couple of minutes about pacing and goals. I got a runner's high though and took off. Around 16, I was cruising and all of the sudden the runner next to me (whom I had been running with but not talking to) drops an f-bomb. I was confused until I saw the train crossing sign come down about half a mile ahead. We knew that it was a possibility (it happened last year) but hoped it would be quick. We got lucky as we didn't even have to stop because as we approached, the train ended and the arms came up.
At 17 I caught back up to Craig, John, and Denise. I ran with them until about mile 18, but they decided to start a little kick and that was too early for me. I backed off, holding about 8:40-8:45. 18-19 sucked but I kept telling myself how close I was and that the last mile would be easy and short. At 19 I started to kick it up to about 8:25. I held pretty consistent until 19.70 when I really started by kick, dropping to 8 min miles and then I saw my dad waiting for me. I ramped up to 7:45 and I high fived him before rounding the turn onto the snow covered grass behind other runners finishing. There was a line of us because it was snow covered and muddy and uphill, so the first guy was taking it slow. I didn't want to finish at a 10 minute mile, so at the first chance I darted around because I was slipping more going slow. I crossed the finish at 2:50:53 or 8:33/mile with a giant smile on my face.
I reunited with my friends who came in about 15 seconds before me at 8:31/mile and we waited for Ida. She also came in under 3 hours (amazing for her second ever 20 miler!) and we all talked and exchanged info. I headed over with my parents to the pancake breakfast and got food but had no appetite. I forced down a banana and a Honey Stinger Waffle plus a bunch of Nuun, water and chocolate milk. I changed my clothes which felt amazing because it was still a real feel of 20 degrees.
While I took this race too fast, I talked with my running partner, and he wasn't too worried about it because I didn't go out and run marathon pace or anything, and I felt good doing it, plus the fact that it was all down hill. He did make me promise to take a couple off days this week and to take the rest of my runs this week easy. I was only about 4 minutes too fast overall. All in all, it was a great day and turned out better and easier than I could have imagined, even with frigid temps!
Wow, hard to believe it's been 10 weeks already and that there is only a little over a month until race day! Wrapped up another week of training and this one was a seriously high mileage week, considering that the 20 miler from the previous week fell on Sunday, bringing it into this week, and ramping the mileage closer to 54 miles on the week. This week brought a new plank pr and I am officially in the double digits with a 10:30! That was hard!
Monday - Rest Day
Because last week's 20 miler fell on a Sunday, Monday became a rest and recovery day full of stretching and foam rolling. I also worked in a plank workout of 10 Minutes, broken into two 5 minute planks.
Tuesday - Long Run with Tempo Workout
Tuesday my legs felt fresh and recovered so I decided to work in some speed into the middle of a longer run. I settled on getting 8 total miles and planned on a 1 mile warm up, 6 at marathon pace, and 1 mile cool down. I ended up at 8:12 overall with a mile warmup at 9:00, 6 miles at 7:55/mile, and a mile cooldown at 8:58. The whole thing felt good and I was impressed at how easy the fast miles felt. Plank streak day 52 - 5 mins.
Wednesday - Recovery Miles
Knew I needed the recovery on Wednesday because my legs felt tired and so I set out to take it really easy for 5ish miles. I ended up with 5.2 miles at 8:41/mile. Plank streak day 53 - 6 minutes.
My legs felt seriously tired on Thursday and I knew I still needed 5 miles, so I convinced myself to do it because I would get a day off on Friday. When I got up to do the run it was pouring rain, freezing cold, and 34 mph winds, so I decided to head to the treadmill. It was tough but I got it done with 5 miles at 8:36/mile. Plank streak day 54 - 3 minutes.
Friday - Rest day
Friday was another day off except plank streak day 55. Got a new PR of 10:30, which was really difficult.
Saturday - 16 Mile Long Run
Saturday's long run was done in unseasonably cold temperatures with tiny ice balls (apparently called Groppel?) falling from the sky for the first couple miles. Set out to hold around a 9 minute mile or 9:10 for the whole thing since it was a hard week of training. The legs felt really heavy but the run actually didn't feel that bad overall. My running partner had a rough run, but he held in there, either running with me or about 5 feet behind me. It wasn't until the very last mile that I took off, finishing the last mile at 8:00/mile. Held 9:02/mile for the whole run. Plank streak day 56 for 3 mins.
So that wraps up another week of training and despite all the miles. Wrapped up March with 162.3 miles and 2 hours and 55 minutes of planking. Wrapped up the week of training with 34.2 miles (not counting the 20 miler) at 8:44/mile and 37 minutes and 30 seconds of planks. Normally I would think that 8:44 average for the week was a little slow for my training, but with all the miles I put in, the fact that this was a recovery week, and having a race next week, I'm pretty happy with how it came out and I know my legs are going to reward me in the coming weeks.
Happy running everyone!