This was a fairly calm and uneventful (but high mileage) week. My first strength run was Monday, and I’ll talk a little more about my difficulty finding my pace in a bit. I didn’t have to travel for work this week, and it was nice being able to focus on my training, nutrition, and recovery. Last week was a really difficult week for me, with several unexpected events making my training trickier than usual. It was really nice having a fairly typical schedule and training routine this week, but I did some reflection on the importance of flexibility in marathon training and pursuing fitness goals in general. I’m not a flexible person nature. I have a pretty specific view of the way I would like for things to go, but marathon training (and mom life in general) have taught me the need to be a bit more flexible when it comes to how I execute the plans that help me reach goals, without sacrificing the goal as a whole.
I took some extra naps this week, and spent some additional time recovering from my runs and CrossFit WODs, as well as just relaxing a little more in general this week. Saturday evening, my husband was able to take a rare evening off work. We took full advantage, met up with him, and found a really great pizza place. I would rather rip off a perfectly healthy toenail than go out to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, but Saturday was a perfect date night. Even with a 6 year old in tow.
For dinner, we split a sampler pizza that was incredible. I ordered a couple of slices with pear, prosciutto, and arugula, and let me tell you, zero regrets. It was amazing.
Next week will have some different work requirements, which will likely mean another week where flexibility is extra important. In light of that, I’d like to share how I maintain flexibility in working towards my fitness goals, without sacrificing the goals as a whole.
Flexibility and Fitness Goals
Create Your Goals & A Loose Plan
I feel like it should go without saying (but I’ve learned not to assume), but it’s pretty difficult to work towards a goal if you don’t know what the goal is. Sitting down for a minute and assessing what you really want to go after helps maintain a consistent focus. Once I’ve decided on a specific goal, I can make better decisions about what I need to be stubborn about, and the area’s where I can exercise a little more flexibility.
I’ve also found that it’s helpful to create some sort of a loose plan in the very beginning, and to build in some “contingency” times. For example, when I create a training plan for a client, I make sure to factor in some extra time for days lost to the random cold or hamstring that isn’t cooperating and needs an extra day of rest. Having some contingency time helps someone whose type-A, like me, to be slightly less anxious when something doesn’t go as planned.
I’ve learned the hard way that when you go after a big, long-term goal, shit always comes up at some point. And it’s almost never the shit you planned for. I’m a lot less likely to completely lose it over a missed workout if I know I built an extra week into my schedule to let me “catch up.”
Similarly, if you don’t give yourself some sort of plan, with smaller targets to hit along the way, it can be too easy to skip workouts and lose focus when life throws you a sick kid or four extra business trips.
Figure Out What’s Really Important
Once you’ve got a goal and a general plan, you can prioritize the things that need to happen. I recommend scheduling key workouts around big life and work events, and before you schedule other workouts. This way you can avoid being the idiot who ends up having to try to squeeze in a 10 mile tempo run the same day you have to present a status update on a big work project to your VP. Which I’ve only done twice, thank you very much.
Schedule the important workouts intelligently, when you have enough time to not feel rushed, and other things are less likely to “come up” and ruin your plans. I also recommend trying to schedule your most important workouts evenly throughout the week. This does a few things. It gives you time to recover between workouts, which doesn’t suck. But it also gives you some wiggle room if you need to postpone a workout a day or two.
Once you’ve got your key workouts mapped out for the week, fill in the rest of the workouts where your schedule makes sense. Now if something comes up, like your husband has to go to the ER, you have some sort of barometer to help you decide if you should just call it a day or try to be creative and move the workout to another day or time. Key workouts should be rescheduled if possible, and other workouts can be skipped or replaced. Having a framework to make these decisions comes in handy when you need to problem solve quickly.
Again, it’s really helpful if you leave a little room in your schedule for contingencies. As an example, I plan my long runs for Saturday mornings, but I know if I *have* to free up my morning, I can still make a long run happen Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. It pisses me off when I have to do this, but the tantrum I throw is significantly smaller.
Be Flexible About the Methods
Just like you can be somewhat flexible with your schedule, it’s also helpful to remember that you can be as flexible with your methods as well. No training plan is going to be executed perfectly, unless you happen to be independently wealthy with unlimited time and staff. For the rest of us, there will be unanticipated hurdles.
Sometimes, these things mean that while you have the time to get your training in, it might look a little different than what you had planned. Track workouts ideally happen on the track, no surprises there. But, you can certainly run fast intervals on a sidewalk or *gasp* treadmill if needed. You don’t always have to lift exactly 84.6% of your one rep max if you had a crappy night’s sleep just because that’s what’s programmed.
It’s better, in this coach’s opinion, to do a workout in a slightly altered way, than to go insane trying to make things happen perfectly. I’ve run plenty of tempo runs on a treadmill at just slightly slower than goal pace, because I was traveling and didn’t feel comfortable running outside in the dark. And it didn’t completely ruin my plans (regardless of how much I might complain to my husband that it will).
And if the universe is conspiring against you in some way, remember that something is almost always better than nothing. If your alarm betrayed you, and you woke up with only enough time to workout for 30 minutes when you planned for 60, 30 minutes of quality work is better than skipping it all together. And now that you’ve prioritized which workouts you need to be stubborn about, you can decide if you want to just let go of the 30 minutes and enjoy the extra recovery, or if you want to re-organize your week a little to get that 60 minutes in somewhere else.
Ultimately, working towards big goals is much more about the cumulative effort than any one day in particular. For someone whose laser-focused on getting what they want, it can be tricky to remember that one missed workout probably won’t have much of an impact because of the 76 workouts you didn’t miss. Even if you happen to be a coach who regularly reminds her clients of this fact.
So, focus on the priorities, move things around to make sure the priority workouts happen, build in some contingency time, and have some freaking grace for yourself. This nonsense is supposed to be (mostly) fun, and stressing about life’s circumstances is an easy way to suck all of the fun out of anything.
Total Miles: 57.5
Hansons Marathon Method, Week 11
How the Runs Felt
This week’s runs were challenging but accomplishable. That’s the best way I can really explain how I felt. This is the first week where my mileage is really starting to climb, and by mid-week, I was definitely feeling the fatigue. I will say, I did not bust my butt a single time this week, so that is ALWAYS a win!
I usually do my Sunday’s run with my kiddo, but because my husband had back issues on Saturday, I decided to wake up early and get the run out of the way so that I could take care of anything I needed to around the house. He’s doing better this week, but this weekend was a rough one for the Brambila clan.
Monday was my first strength run, and I have to say it was pretty challenging. I’ve spent a lot of time on the treadmill lately because of lightening storms and travel. I am super grateful that I have a treadmill to use when I need it, but it was tricky finding my pacing during my strength workout. I hit my mileage paces, but there was a lot of watch checking and making adjustments to my speed. But, that’s part of the purpose for these workouts, so I guess they’re doing their job.
My tempo run this week felt really great, which is always encouraging. This is normally the hardest run for me. I was able to run this workout outside, and felt really strong, My stomach was a little unhappy after the run, which is not uncommon for me. I ended up taking a nap during my lunch on Thursday, and going to bed pretty early. Thankfully, by Friday I was feeling fairly recovered.
I can definitely tell a difference in my level of strength and comfort with harder paces this round of Hansons Training, so I’m hopeful that this will show up on race day. Saturday’s long run really affirmed my growing strength. Despite a week of some fatigue, I felt really strong throughout my longrun. I was even able to do 30 second pick ups for the entire 16 miles.
Related Post: Long Runs with Speed Workouts
I shared on my IG stories that I’m planning to extend my last two long runs to 17 and 18 miles, and how I’m going to stay in line with Hansons methodology by increasing my overall weekly mileage as well. Let me know if you’d be interested in a more in -depth explanation of what I am changing about the Hansons plan and why.
What I’ve Been Listening To
This week I was back on my BS. Which means I listened to a whole lot of true crime, and I have zero regrets about it. I finished up Disorganized Crime, which I absolutely loved. The Officer’s Wife seems like it is coming to its conclusion, and it is such an incredible and wild story. I’ve started listening to Down the Hill, which covers the murders of two young teenagers in 2017. So far it seems fairly interesting, and really sad. There are some twists and turns that make this story unique, and I definitely think it is worth a listen.
I also listened to an interview with Natosha Rogers on I’ll Have Another. I thought it was a great episode about how her love of running keeps pulling her back to the sport, despite numerous bad experiences.
How the WODs felt
There’s really no other way to say this. This weeks’ WODs completely kicked my butt. The volume was just intense. Every. Single. Day. Paired with some high mileage, and I was on the struggle bus in the box this week.
I was able to do all of the WODs as prescribed, which is always a good feeling. I know I put in a lot of effort this week, and I can feel myself getting stronger. Which is incredible. But the strength definitely only comes on the other side of discomfort, like I shared last week.
What Went Well
This is the longest stretch of time I have been able to maintain consistent core and mobility work. I think a lot of it has to do with how much I’ve seen the core work improve my ability to run faster, and I’m so sore after all of this work that skipping stretching is just not an option for me. I’ve also been very mindful about drinking a good amount of water, and making sure my nutrition is meeting my body’s work output. Not having to travel for work has really helped me keep everything going while the rest of my life has been more difficult and training has been picking up.
Related Post: Running Nutrition
What Went Shitty
So much has been going well, but I honestly think part of the reason is that I’m feeling like things are out of control. With the car accident, and other little personal things coming up, it has seemed like there are a lot of things that are happening to me that I don’t have a ton of control over. I know the only thing you can really control is how you react to life’s circumstances, but feeling out of control is a big trigger for me and my mental health. So I have a tendency to try to control as much as I can when I feel this way. This week it’s worked well for me, but I’m aware that it’s a fine line, and trying to exert control when we honestly aren’t omnipotent has a way of biting me in the butt after a while. I need to make sure I stay aware of this and honest with myself.
Plans to Improve Next Week Next week I’ll have some work travel, but I will also get to have dinner with my mom and see some of my running clients who are running the Austin half-marathon. I plan to spend some extra time doing some self-care work so that I don’t overdo the whole control thing and work myself into some shit.