Sunday, September 8, 2013

Philly, the Skookle and My Best Workouts

This week I got sent to Philly and Pittsburgh for work. Weirdly (for a foreigner) I actually have quite a lot of friends in PA, and so happily had some people to catch up with... and pick the brains of, concerning the best running routes in those cities.

Unfortunately I didn't get any time to run in Pittsburgh, but in Philly I was told about the Schuylkill River Trail that runs right through the city. FUN FACT: Schuylkill is actually pronounced skoo-kel. Weird. Anyway, the trail itself actually reminded me of the Yarra River Trail in Melbourne; a double-lane, dual-use trail, running along the river for mile upon uninterrupted mile. Just lovely.

I got two wonderful runs in along the trail; an easy-10 miler and an 11 miler including a half-marathon specific workout. It was kinda motivating running along the same road I will be running in a week's time for the RnR half!

Now speaking of workouts, I gotta say, I'm quite excited to recap my training the last two weeks. Save for two complete suffer-fests of long runs, I think I've actually been running the best I ever have.

August 25-31, 2013
Sunday: 20 miles at 8:30 avg pace (not counting tons of stops). Horrible, awful, no good, terrible. The weather was about 75 degrees but the humidity was quite high. Miles 16-20 were particularly nasty. I had planned to eat a particularly carb-y dinner the night before, which hadn't worked out, and so was also acutely under-fueled and dehydrated. Not pretty.
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 9 miles, treadmill, 1.5%. From one extreme to the other. Ate two pieces of cake at work, before a run-lunch, and after getting over the initial imminent cake-vom feeling, I felt like I was going to fly off the treadmill. Kept it at an easy 8:30 pace + leg workout (3 x 20 squats (40lb); 15 standing lunges (30lb); 15 side lunges (no weight); 15 single leg deadlifts (17.5lb) and 15 leg extensions on machine (cant remember weight)).
Wednesday: 8 miles easy, around 8:30 with 10x100m strides
Thursday: XT - 50 mins on elliptical  + yoga
Friday: 10 miles, with 2x3 miles at HM pace, 1 mile jog recovery. Was totally stoked with this one as I have never completed this workout without stopping. Splits were: 6:59, 6:57, 6:44 (8:58 recovery) 6:52, 6:50, 6:43. It was really warm/humid, but I got it done.
Saturday: 8 miles very easy + planks and arm workout
Total: 56 miles

September 1-7, 2013
Sunday: 18 miles at 8:24 avg pace, with 1 mile (16) at MP (7:19). I was going to do the last two more miles up tempo, but couldn't. The entire run was brutal; 82 degrees and about 85% humidity. Had plenty of fuel, stopped many many times for water but I just couldn't beat the heat.
Monday: Walked around Coney Island and got on a few roller coasters. That counts as speedwork, right??
Tuesday: 9 miles at 8:17 avg pace
Wednesday: 10 miles easy at 8:09 avg pace. Weather in Philly turned cool (65 degrees and no wind)... such a beautiful releif.
Thursday: 11 miles with 6x1 mile repeats at HM pace, 3:30 mins jogging recoveries (between 8:30-9:00 pace, no stopping). Splits: 6:48; 6:38; 6:45; 6:34; 6:37; 6:34
A note on this workout. I did this before NJ Marathon earlier this year, and wasn't even coming close to these speeds. Its probably the most successful speed/lactate threshold workout I've ever done. I had not eaten anything that morning, but I'm betting that the 800 calories of pure carbs I consumed after dinner probably had something to do with it. I tried to slow down in that third mile, but I just kept banging out that pace as though it was nothing. I almost thought my garmin was malfunctioning!

Its fun to compare these two HM workouts with the same from earlier this year. In April I did 2x3 miles at HM pace, and finished with a 7:02 avg (last week I finished with a 6:50 avg). In March I did the same 6x1mile repeats at HM pace with longer recoveries, and averaged only 6:55 pace (last week averaged 6:39 min miles). Big difference! 

Friday: 40 mins easy elliptical
Saturday: a.m. 7 miles easy at 8:40 avg pace; p.m. 30 mins easy elliptical + leg strength workout
Total: 55 miles

This week I'm doing a mini-taper. The beauty of doing an 18-week marathon plan, has been that I have been able to schedule a couple of races in the middle, and not be stressed (I do get a little OCD with training plans) that I'm missing any significant amount of training for November 17. In fact this is the first time I have actually sketched out a planned season of racing, rather than just a single race.

You're totally engrossed by that fun fact, I'm sure.

Anyways, I'll be back next week with a race recap and hopefully a shiny new half PR!

~ Penny


  1. Uninterrupted trail in the middle of a city is one of my favorite things in the running world. As someone who really, truly, totally HATES stopping at stoplights, these trails are like gifts from the running gods!!

    Those are some pretty sweet numbers...I love when consistent work yields consistent (measurable!) improvement.

  2. Those are some nice workouts! You are running really well. That path in Philly is my regular running route - I live 0.5 mile away from it, so I'm trotting along there all the time.

    I will be out on the course this weekend cheering (I'm pregnant, so I'm skipping this year). The weather looks perfect for a nice new PR, and you sound ready - good luck!