St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 10 weeks out

Training this week, in summary:
Monday: rest from Sunday long run; feeling no good from a head cold
Tuesday: 6 miles easy (10:53/mi)
Wednesday: 8 miles/workout: miles 4&5 @ tempo pace (~8:45/mi)
Thursday: 6 miles easy (10:52/mi); strides
Friday: 3 miles easy (10:54/mi); strides
Saturday: 15 miles (10:19/mi)
Total: 38 miles

I started the week with a cold, a holdover from the end of my week in Milwaukee. I shifted around the running schedule by a day to try to promote recovery/avoid running hard while feeling bad. The long run last Sunday ended up being just a get-in-the-miles run because I was definitely less than 100%. I took it easy and only looked at my watch at mile splits, which looked like this:

13 mile splits

Long run with a cold. Taking it reeeeaal easy.

I’m really just glad I got it done.

When I got back to running on Tuesday, I felt the cold hangover for the first three miles of my run (per mile paces ranging from 11:00 to 11:18), but I started feeling better at the end of mile 3 and my mile splits reflected it. I began running closer to my normal paces at an easy effort.

My workout this week was an 8 mile run with 3 miles at tempo pace, but I misread the plan and only ran 2 miles at tempo pace. I felt almost 100% for the workout. The paved trail I’ve been using for workouts is slightly uphill going south and slightly downhill going north, so I split the difference for the two tempo pace miles and did the first downhill and second uphill, as you can tell from the difference in paces. Continue reading


Diving and Marathon Training – Planning Ahead

I’m leaving to go on vacation late next week, which includes some planned scuba diving. I didn’t think anything of this when we planned the trip, but I’m not sure how the high level of training (high level for me) will work with diving. I found one study that suggests exercise before diving could protect against decompression sickness (“DCS” or “something you never want”). This page recommends four hours between exercise and diving, or six between diving and exercise. From reading dive forums, it does sound like there have been other studies linking exercise (everything I read seemed to indicate post-diving exercise was the bigger risk factor than pre-diving exercise) and an increased risk of DCS. I also saw one forum specifically mention that the effect of long runs on DCS risk has not been studied.

What does this all mean? To me, this means exercise caution. I’m an inexperienced diver, so I plan to err on the side of being overly conservative. Based on what I’ve read, this is my very preliminary plan for balancing training and diving on vacation:

a) Talk to dive master about the plan, and adjust if recommended.
b) Try to train according to plan, but pay special attention to how my body is feeling. It’s ok to skip or shorten a run here and there (repeat x5).
c) Dive less than I would when not training. 1-2 dives a day is plenty. Sit out the harder/deeper dives, or only dive once on a deeper dive day.
d) Run in the morning. Everything I’ve read suggests that exercise before diving is less risky than post-dive exercise and possibly even beneficial.
e) Consider not diving at all on workout day/long run day.

This is a preliminary/untested plan, so please don’t take it as advice. I will post later with how everything worked out. If you have any experience or expertise on the subject, I’d love to get your input on how to balance a diving vacation with marathon training.

PS: in case anyone was wondering, I plan to keep a safe distance from stingrays 🙂

UPDATE: I did not get DCS, and I did not adhere to my training plan. I did some running, outlined here, but not nearly as much as I expected.

Even though I train in the relative heat and humidity of Atlanta, that didn’t adequately prepare me for running in the tropics. And that’s okay. I didn’t do a long run, and my attempt at a faster workout was borderline ridiculous.

If I have this situation arise again, this is how I will approach it:

  • IT’S JUST ONE WEEK. Do what you can, don’t sweat the rest. Most of us are working 48 weeks out of the year. Enjoy vacation. To the extent there is time/energy for training, I’d recommend the following:
    • Easy running/brisk walking: walking around is a great way to see the sights in a remote location, and in the tropical heat, a brisk walk can be very good cardio with minimal risk.
    • Strides: It’s vacation, and strides are fun. A good way to get in a little faster running without killing yourself.
    • Bodyweight strength work: This is a great time to catch up on the ancillary work we all shortcut during normal training. Planks on the beach, anyone?

Milwaukee: beer, cheese, and running


Baxter, is that you? Bark twice if you’re in Milwaukee!

I spent last week in Milwaukee, a charming city and a lovely place to visit in September.

Restaurant highlights included Millioke (Native American name for Milwaukee), which has great food with a focus on charcuterie and heavier meat dishes, but I thought my salad was phenomenal. A coworker got a root vegetable pot pie that I was eyeing throughout the meal. Awesome beer selection, too. Port of Call was another good spot – loved the gnocchi with creamy sauce.

Milwaukee eating and drinking

My check from Millioke // fried cheese curds, which are like fried mozzarella // Spotted Cow, a fave Wisconsin easy-drinking brew

From downtown Milwaukee, there were a couple of cool spots to run. Along the shore of Lake Michigan had to be #1 on my list because there were few intersections and water is pretty, obviously.

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“Running Burritos” (Vegetarian Sweet Potato Burritos)

Confession: I wouldn’t have tried this recipe on my own. It seems weird to me to put sweet potatoes in a tortilla. Thankfully Jeff can cook circles around me and knows a good recipe when he sees it. I can’t remember why, but he called them “running burritos” the first time he made them, and it stuck in my mind. Pair these burritos with something green, and I don’t think you could do much better to fuel your running.

The original recipe, which I am 75% true to, can be found on this page: “Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos“. Check it out for the original measurements, ingredients, baking instructions, etc. 

Running burritos

Sweet potatoes, cheese, quinoa, beans, salsa verde? It’s a delightfully unexpected combo if you ask me.

Ingredients / Handy Grocery Shopping List:

1 tbsp sunflower oil (vegetable/olive would also work fine)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups cooked beans (I used black beans; the original calls for kidney beans. If using dried beans, check out the 90 Minute No Soak Beans instructions – so easy!)
2 cups water (add slowly, you may not need it all)
1 tbsp chili powder, 1.5 tbsp chipotle chili powder, 1-2 pinches of salt and cumin (alternative: 3 tbsp chili powder)
4 tsp mustard
2 tsp cumin
Dash of cayenne pepper
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 cups mashed sweet potatoes
3 tbsp-1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 cup quinoa (measured uncooked). Cook according to these instructions or as you normally would. (How to cook fluffy, tasty quinoa)
12 burrito-size tortillas (can substitute smaller tortillas to make small burritos, but get more of them – I used 30!)
8 oz. cheese (I used cheddar)
Salsa verde (if desired, for topping)
Sour cream (if desired, for topping)

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I’m Baaaaaack: Training Update

It’s been a few weeks since I last updated the blog, so here’s a brief update. It’s been all training and travel for me lately.

I changed training plans. Generally I’d say switching midstream is a bad idea, but I made the change for a couple of good reasons (in my mind).

a) I got an early start. The standard window for marathon training is 16 weeks, but I started training 20 weeks before the race to give myself a little head start in case of setbacks: illness (check), tough work weeks (check), vacation (check, and a stingray sting to boot). I started my new plan 15 weeks before the race, and I’m committed to seeing it through to the marathon!

b) I wasn’t confident in my existing plan. Leading up to and after the Peachtree Road Race, I began a ramp up of my weekly mileage from around 20 miles per week to 26/27 miles per week in anticipation of marathon training. Starting the plan at that weekly mileage caused my old plan to ramp up my long runs wayyyy faster than I was comfortable with. In the beginning, it was easy enough to subtract a mile or two from the long run and add it to a midweek run. As the long runs got to 16/18/20 miles in weeks 5, 6, and 7, I was basically going to have to rewrite the plan. I don’t feel comfortable with my expertise in designing marathon training plans, so I did a lot of research and selected a plan that excites me and makes me feel confident again! I think the mental aspect of training is so important, and I’m excited to be back on track.

I spent a week in Boston. Home to tons of history, delicious seafood, fall-like August weather, and the world’s greatest marathon. I ate amazing food, went on a ghost tour, and had the best week of training! (I got some work done too.)

Boston: a couple photos from runs along the Charles River, the best lobster roll from Neptune Oyster House, and the graveyard behind Old North Church.

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