NYCM 2012: peak training week

Hellooo! Things have been a little crazy over these past two weeks. I finished up at my old job, started a brand new one, and am in the middle of peak marathon mileage. I’m not going to divulge a lot of details on the new gig, but I will say that I’m enjoying it so far and that the work-life balance (and salary) are a big improvement. Here’s hoping things continue to go well!


Before I recap the past few weeks of training and share some recipes, I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind lately: running miles at goal pace. When people ask me “What do you think is most important for marathon training?”, the first thing that comes to mind is tempo runs at goal half-marathon and marathon pace. I’m sure there’s a ton of scientific research detailing the aerobic and muscular benefits of this type of workout, but I can tell you from first hand experience that they work. Sure, long runs and easy runs and track workouts and cross training and rest are important, but there’s something about these long, grinding workouts that prepare you physically and mentally to tackle long races. The only problem is…these type of workouts scare the shit out of me. Every week, I have to coerce and cajole myself into going to the Thursday night CPTC tempo run. It’s never quite as bad as I expect, but these type of workouts can be just as mentally trying as they are physically. Without fail, I start to think…”If 4 miles or 6 miles or 8 miles at half marathon or marathon pace feels hard, how am I supposed to run THREE TIMES that amount of race day?” If you’re having a good day, these workouts can be a big confidence booster, but if you’re tired or just having an off night…panic can begin to set in. Every time that happens (and believe me, it happens in almost every workout) I just try to accept the fact that although I think marathon pace should feel like a piece of cake, it probably won’t. I’ve been running a lot of workouts and miles, so it seems safe to assume that with a generous taper, my legs will have a little more pep in them. Plus, magical things can happen on race day. You always seem to find that extra something that isn’t there during regular training runs and workouts.

Anyway! Generally,  my training has been going well. I ran 67 miles for the final week of September and 70 miles last week. I’ve been logging at least one workout a week and I’ve completed 2 x 20-milers so far (a 22-miler is on tap for this weekend!). If all goes well, I’m hoping to top out at 80 miles this week and start the taper on Monday. Ahh. Can’t believe there’s only 25 days until the marathon. These next 10 days are going to be molto importante. I’m really proud of last week’s training and I’m hoping for similar results this week. This marathon training cycle got off to a slow start, but I think things are falling into place.

Last week:

  • Monday, Oct 1 – 7 miles
  • Tuesday, Oct 2 – 10.5 miles incl. 6 x 800m w/ 200m recovery (3:15, 3:12, 3:12, 3:10, 3:10, 3:11)
  • Wednesday, Oct 3 – 11 miles
  • Thursday, Oct 4 – 15 miles incl. 9 mile tempo with 3 mi @ MP, 3 mi @ HMP, 3 mi @MP (7:38, 7:30, 7:25, 7:11, 7:07, 7:11, 7:42, 7:28, 7:30)
  • Friday, Oct 5 – 6.5 miles
  • Saturday, Oct 6 – 20 miles
  • Sunday, Oct 7 – REST DAY
  • Total: 70 miles

The plan for this week:

  • Monday, Oct 8 – 8 miles
  • Tuesday, Oct 9 – 12 miles incl. 8x600m @5k pace w/ 200m recovery (actual splits were: 2:27, 2:25, 2:26, 2:25, 2:25, 2:24, 2:25, 2:24)
  • Wednesday, Oct 10 – 11 miles
  • Thursday, Oct 13 – 11 miles incl. 4 x 800’s @ 10k pace w/ 400m recovery
  • Friday, Oct 14 – 11 miles
  • Saturday, Oct 15 – 5 miles
  • Sunday, Oct 16 – 22 miles with ~8 miles at MP (7:35 pace)
  • Total: 80 miles

After the 22-miler, I’m going to gradually start scaling back on volume (but not necessarily on workouts). You can see my constantly evolving training plan on google docs.

Some things I’ve been cooking:

Baked chicken nuggets with buffalo sauce 

Our nuggets were inspired by my friend Megan M. and based on this recipe, although I ended up using Japanese panko instead of Italian breadcrumbs and I omitted many of the spices. Overall, they were pretty delicious with a nice crispy exterior and a good nutritional profile. Plus anything dipped in a mixture of butter + Frank’s Red Hot is bound to taste good.

Mini frittata

I love frittatas (basically baked omelets) because they’re so healthy and adaptable. For my most recent experiment, I mixed together some eggs, egg whites, sauteed onion, kale, tomato, and cheddar and baked in my mini heart pans for about 20-25 mins at 350 F. Perfect for quick breakfasts.

Pulled pork

Oh my goodness. This recipe was…interesting. I’ve been wanting to make pulled pork in my slow-cooker for awhile, so I found a Martha Stewart recipe and tried it out. The result was delicious and the process wasn’t all that difficult, but the initial preparation was a little…unusual. The recipe called for a 3lb pork shoulder which unfortunately my grocery store did not have. They DID have an 8lb pork shoulder…with the bone in and the skin attached. Not looking to back down from a challenge, I decided to skin (fyi – pig skin is rather bristle-y) and de-bone the meat myself. It was messy and reminded me why I was a temporary vegetarian for awhile….But the good news is – I got it done and ended up with some delicious pulled pork sandwiches, roasted fingerling potatoes, and homemade coleslaw. If you make this, be prepared for a lot of leftovers. This recipe served dinner + a night of leftovers for two people PLUS a large tupperware that I put in the freezer.

Some things that don’t appear on the blog:

Countless bottles of pumpkin ale, 13 empty Ben & Jerry’s pints, economy size Nutella, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Alright, I’m out. I probably have to go run, shower, sleep, or eat which is pretty much all I do these days (or so it feels like it). Tell me – peak marathon training: love it or hate it? (I complain, but I secretly kind of love it).

  • Megan M

    1) Buffalo sauce ftw
    2) crying before CPTC ftw?
    3) 22 miler EXTRA ftw. esp b/c it’s the LAST ONE.

  • I totally relate on the fear of hard tempo or speed workouts. I think you’re right though that it’s important to stay confident that things will come together on race day as long as you’ve put in the work during training. Sounds like you will be well prepare for the NYC marathon!

  • embenton

    This is the first time I’ve trained with peak mileage in mind. I never really kept track before, so I think I’ve peaked somewhere <45 miles in the past. I'm topping out at 55 miles this training cycle (this week, actually) and it hasn't seemed that scary yet.

    Is this the first time you've peaked at such high mileage (70-80 mpw) in marathon training? Two long runs in one week, like a 15 and 20 seems scurry to me! How have you felt so far?

  • DAMN girl. You’re right in that it’s tough, but you’ve got this!

  • I have to first comment on your tempo run last week: Killer! Nice work!!
    Your thoughts on tempo runs at MP were comforting – I was feeling the same way this morning.
    Oh, the things a girl will do for a week’s supply of pulled pork, haha.
    Marathon peaking = exciting! I didn’t think I would come this far into training post-injury. And yes, I’m sleeping a lot, hamstrings are sore, and am constantly eating.

  • Nicole

    I love your heart pans! I imagine that cooks them quicker…I was shocked when a quiche I made took 55 minutes at 400! I’m inspired to make chicken nuggets now!

  • runnerskitchen

    I peaked at 70 mpw for NYCM in 2010 and around 80 mpw for Boston 2012, so I’ve done similar training in the past, but logistically it just always seems so daunting. There really is no wiggle room…if I sleep in or don’t feel like running one day, it kind of throws the whole plan off. In the end though, they’re fairly arbitrary numbers, so as long as I get in a good workout and a long run with MP miles, I’ll be happy. Last Thursday’s 15 mile day was kind of a doozy, but it included a 9-mile tempo with CPTC, so that helped it pass a little more quickly.

    Let me know when you’ll be in town for the marathon! It would be great to catch up. 🙂

  • runnerskitchen

    the chicken nuggets were tasty (and easy to make). i definitely recommend them! glad you like the heart pans – i have 4 of them if you ever want to borrow! they’d make cute Valentine’s day mini-cakes.

  • embenton

    Yay! I’ll be there from 11/1-11/5. Would love to get coffee or something!

  • Katie

    I’m so glad to hear the new job is going well! Maybe we can get together for happy hour soon to catch up.

    I also love your idea for the mini fritattas… I’m in a major breakfast rut and am trying to find new ways to mix it up.

  • Emily

    I love peak weeks in marathon training. Maybe I am saying that only because my marathon training is behind me for now after running the Chicago Marathon last Sunday! No, I think I really do love them. They are challenging and rewarding. Nice runs!!! And congrats on the job!

  • truth: my favorite comfort meal is chicken nuggets. and now i think it may be slow cooker pulled pork – that looks fantastic!

  • MealsforMiles

    ahh, workouts at goal HMP and MP also kind of freak me out, but I’m starting to like them! Got a similar long run as you on tap for tomorrow and am scurrred/excited 🙂 I go back and forth about loving peak training – all in all it’s been an awesome experience, but I also haz a tired. Bring on the taper!

  • runnerskitchen

    the pulled pork was so good! but…i recommend the boneless/skinless pork shoulder if you can get it. 😉 less messy!

  • Brenda

    I so agree about goal pace runs. I feel they are super important for marathon training. Lately though, they have been making me feel worried about my training because they have felt a little too taxing. You made me feel a little bit better though. Race pace shouldn’t be super easy cause then why is it race pace?! Thanks Megan! ps Congrats on the new job!

  • runnerskitchen

    good point! i don’t think race pace will ever feel super easy, because if it does…then maybe i need to shoot a little higher, you know? are you running NYCM??