Tag Archives: half marathon training

Spring Training Week 2

Feeling ripped after P90X3 "The Challenge" - after seeing this photo realized it was in my head....

Feeling ripped after P90X3 “The Challenge” – after seeing this photo realized it was in my head….

This week we brought it up a notch. After missing some cycling last week I tried to fit it in among the P90X3 workouts and 4 runs. It was tough to get it all in at times, but I was still able to fit it all in! Mike and I have been regularly taking BCAAs, Glutamine and VegaOne recovery and protein supplements, and I think that is part of the reason why we’ve been feeling so good. Despite a high volume week this week (for me anyway!) I felt great.

This week was Week 2 of P90X3, which means that we followed the same format as last week (P90X3 has three phases, each consisting of 3-4 weeks plus a recovery week, to total 13 weeks/90 days). Although the workouts were still tough, it was definitely easier to get through knowing what was coming next. I was still sore throughout the week due to the workouts, particularly after Agility X (especially glutes and inner thighs) ad The Challenge (chest, back, arms, shoulders, everything after this pull-up/push-up extreme workout).

Monday – 

AM: P90X3 Total Synergistics

PM: Fartlek Run – 6 miles (with Mike!) with 8 x 50 second intervals @ 10k pace (I kept these intervals around low 7s/high 6 pace).


AM: P90X3 Agility X

That evening we went to Mike’s parents house for a birthday dinner for our future brother in law (Mike’s sister is getting married over Memorial Day weekend!).


AM: P90X3 Yoga X . For some reason this workout felt WAY easier this time than last time. P90X3 yoga has a lot of moves crammed into 30 minutes but you don’t hold any move for too long to get an super intense burn like in the original version. However, it’s still a great workout and I could tell my muscles were much looser by the end.

sunset on my tempo run

sunset on my tempo run

PM: I left work at a descent hour and felt pretty good so I decided to follow the workout from Brad Hudson’s “Run Faster” workout plan as he wrote it this time. In general his workouts are pretty high mileage so I’ve been adjusting them down a bit, but this time I decided to go for the full workout. After a 2 mile run, I did two 15 minute intervals with 2 minutes recovery jog between, followed by a 2 mile cool-down. In total I ran nearly 8.5 miles and my intervals averaged 7:29 over about 4 miles. I was really happy with this workout. I felt VERY strong despite some serious headwind on the way back. My legs felt light despite the heavy load I’ve been putting them through with P90X3 and my lungs were strong. I really feel like I’ve recovered from the marathon now and am making gains in my training. This workout was proof of that.


AM: SLEEP. I try to sleep in at a least one day per week day so that I don’t get run down. When I try 5:30-6 a.m. wake-up calls for five consecutive work days I’m seriously dragging by the end of the week.

PM: First, P90X3 The Challenge. This workout is 8 sets of push-ups and pull-ups (4 moves of each in total, repeated twice) plus a “burn out” session where you are supposed to do as many pull-ups and push-ups as possible. Over the course of the 8 sets, Tony encourages you to pick two numbers and stick with them. I picked 8 pull-ups (assisted) and 15 push-ups. I was able to stick with my goal for the entire time, although I did go to my knees for the military push-ups. I was happy with this and I felt like I worked really hard for the entire workout. I was very sore the next day so I definitely think it worked!

After The Challenge, we got on the trainers for a 45 minute spin. I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor, but I’m pretty sure this was a Zone 1 or low Zone 2 spin (read: easy).


AM: Early morning 6 mile run with my friend Allison. We ran easy but our pace was faster than it has been in a while. I feel like I’m getting my mojo back!


Post Run Beach Shot

Post Run Beach Shot

AM: 15 mile run with 10 miles at a moderate/hard pace. Asia is running the Boston Marathon in 2 weeks and her coach prescribed her a 2 hour 30 minute run with a 45 minute warm-up and 10 miles at goal pace (8-8:10ish miles). I told Asia I’d help pace her on this run but didn’t want to run more than 15 miles (my plan called for 13). I’ve been feeling good lately but was still a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to hold the pace for 10 miles.

However, I actually ended up feeling really good on this run and we ran the majority of the 10 miles at the goal pace. Asia wasn’t feeling as great since she had a very high intensity/mileage week behind her but I was able to help motivate her to keep going. We had a fun run together and it reminded me of the old days when we used to train more together! It was also fun because our normal running route is on the Ragnar SoCal run course so people thought that we were running the race and were cheering for us! It was almost like we were running a race for part of it and had a free cheer squad!



AM: P90X3 Doubles – “CVX” (cardio/plyometrics with a weight) followed by “The Warrior” (push-ups, core, cardio/plyometrics, lunges, etc). We had to get in the final two P90X3 workouts of the week today so we ended up just doing both back to back. By the end of the second workout I was toast!

PM: We took a break between and then got back on the trainers for a 60 minute spin in the late afternoon. I wore my heart rate monitor and tried to keep it in Zone 2. I was surprised how hard I had to work to keep it in Zone 2. I was drenched in sweat by the end! My leg strength really needs to catch up with my lungs on the bike. Hopefully all these lunges, squats and plyometric moves in P90X3 will help with that!

Zucchini pesto pasta and kale

Homemade zucchini pesto pasta and kale

Indulgent dinner with friends on Saturday! Worth it!

Indulgent dinner with good friends on Saturday! Worth it!

This week was great. I really feel like my running is improving and I’m already seeing big changes in my body. Nutrition wise, I had a great week Monday-Friday and kind of dropped the ball over the weekend. I think a lot of us struggle with the same challenge with keeping nutrition good over the weekend. It is hard to manage with meet ups with friends and the allure of delicious beer and wine! But, in the end, I have to remind myself that I’m still eating healthier far more than not.


Strength: 3 hours 15 min

Running: 35.5 miles

Cycling: 1 hour 45 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours 20 minutes

Do you tend to eat healthier on week days than weekends? 

The McMillan Pace Calculator

One of the biggest questions that runners have is “How fast should I be running?” Obviously a 5 mile recovery run requires a different pace than 1/2 mile intervals, a 20 mile long run or a 200 meter sprint. Most of the time people just adjust their pace based on perceieved exertion. You run your long run “easy” and you run your intervals “hard.” The McMillan Running Company came up with a handy online calculator that helps take the guesswork out both your training pace an your race pace.

If you have a recent race time, you can enter it into the McMillan Pace Calculator and it will tell you what your pace should be at various distances, including training runs and races. For example, if you recently ran a 45 minute 10k, McMillan estimates that you could run a 6:15.2 mile, a 21:40 5k, a 1:40:08 half marathon and a 3:31.11 marathon. Obviously if you aren’t training for a marathon you couldn’t go out and suddenly bust out a a 3:31 marathon without having run more than 6 miles, but hypothetically if you were to train for marathon, you could expect a 3:31.11.

Turkey Trotting to a Sub 3:50 Marathon?

I personally have found the McMillan Pace Calculator to be pretty freakishly accurate at estimating my times. For example, after I ran the La Jolla Half Marathon in April with a time of 1:52:21, McMillan guessed I’d run a 4:01:10 marathon. I ran a 4:02:00 marathon in June.

As I’ve mentioned before, my “A” goal for the Surf City Marathon in February is to crack 4 hours. My “B”goal has been to aim for a 3:50:00 marathon. I’ve been using this goal to calculate my Yasso 800s intervals. According to the running gurus of McMillan, my Thanksgiving Day 5k time of 23:55 predicts that I will run a 3:53:09 marathon (and that I can run a 1:50:33 half marathon). Certainly the marathon prediction using my half marathon time was a better indicator since it is a race that is closer in distance, but I’m still looking at this as a indicator that my Sub-4 dreams can become a reality and that I may even come close to my 3:50 goal.

Using McMillan to Train

McMillan’s pace calculator is good for more than giving you hope that you can achieve a certain race time (or crushing your dreams that it isn’t possible). It can also give you a guide for paces during speed workouts, long runs, and more. Here’s a sample of some of my key workout paces:

  • Long Run Pace: 9:24 – 10:24 (recently most long runs have been in the mid-low 9s)
  • Easy Run Pace: 9:24 – 9:54
  • Tempo Run Pace: 8:27-8:41
  • 800 Meter Speed Workout: 3:39-3:49 minutes (right on target for my Yasso 800s which I do in 3:50 intervals)
  • 100 Meter Sprint: 22.2 – 24.2 seconds

Another way to use the McMillan Pace Calculator is to input your desired race time and use the paces it spits out to train. However, this is not recommended if your race goal is unrealistic. If you currently run a 4 hour marathon and then input a marathon time of 3 hours as your goal, it probably won’t feel easy to run at the “easy run” pace and therefore it will be ineffective to train at this level. Since my goal marathon time of 3:49:59 is fairly close to my predicted marathon time of 3:53:09, when I entered 3:50:00 as my actual time, it revises some of my training times, but not by much:

  • Long Run Pace: 9:17 – 10:17
  • Easy Run Pace: 9:17-9:47
  • Tempo Run Pace: 7:59-8:20
  • 800 Meter Speed Workout: 3:36-3:46 minutes (this contradicts the Yasso philosophy that my race goal time of 3:50 means I should be running 3 minute 50 second 800 intervals)
  • 100 Meter Sprint: 21.9 – 24.1 seconds

It seems to me that I’m right on track with my training. Asia and I have consistently been doing our long runs in the 9:20-9:30 range and soon we will add tempo runs to the end of our long runs. I’ve also been doing my Yasso 800s each week (except recovery week) at 3:40 intervals (this week I’ll be up to 7 of them!). Considering that Half Ironman training starts next week and the marathon will not be my “A” race of the year, I think that this is a good effort to tackle my sub 3:50 goal. If it doesn’t happen at this race, I have plenty of time to make it happen AFTER the Ironman.

Have you found that the McMillan Pace Calculator is accurate for you? How do you determine your pace for your workouts?

Training on Vacay!

You may have noticed that I have been blog MIA! I’m usually good at posting 3-4 times a week and now haven’t put something out in over a week. But it’s for good reason. Last week Mike and I flew to the Dominican Republic and stayed five nights in an all-inclusive resort in order to celebrate our good friends’ wedding.

After my trip to Vegas in mid-July for a bachelorette party, I wrote a blog about how to not blow your diet while on vacation. Well, although I did follow a bit of my own advice, I failed big time in the drink and food department. All inclusive resorts where a new round of friends arrive each night are NOT conducive to moderation. I’m not going to beat myself up about it – I enjoyed every moment of indulgence!

However, with a half marathon coming up on August 21 and an Olympic distance triathlon scheduled for September 11, I knew that although I wasn’t going to hold back on dessert or drinks this week, I could at least maintain my fitness level with some good workouts. As for P90X, luckily this week was our scheduled recovery week. Although we didn’t get any Core Synergistics or Yoga in, we “recovered” by taking it easier and not lifting heavy weights.

Front Loading Workouts

We didn’t leave for our trip until Sunday evening, so we were able to get some solid workouts in the weekend before we left (one of the tips in my vacation survival blog). We started Saturday morning with a 12 mile run, followed by a 18 mile bike ride on Sunday and then a Dailey Method class Sunday at noon. If you don’t know what the Dailey Method is, check out my good friend Allison’s recent blog post about this fabulous workout here.

Fitness Classes Abroad

After we rested up the first day of our arrival in the Dominican, we checked out the classes offered at the gym. Our all-inclusive resort included not only a gym with cardio equipment and a weight room, it included five workout classes per day – 2 spin classes, yoga, pilates and an aerobics class. After figuring out that the spin class was offered at 8 a.m and 5 p.m., we decided to check out the class on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

I’ve never done a spin class in a foreign country, so I knew this would be interesting. Our instructor was a muscular Dominican man dressed in pants and a long sleeve shirt. I, on the other hand, was wearing short shorts and a tank top, as the 90 degree, 90% humidity weather dictated. Although the gym was moderately air-conditioned, the group exercise room was not. Mike and I were both sweating profusely into the warm up and stretch. Our stoic instructor led us through a 40 minute sweat fest that consisted of pretty simple moves but got the job done. Although it wasn’t the most riveting spin class I’ve ever attended, the 40 minute workout left me very sweaty and tired.

We repeated the class the next morning at 8 a.m. with the same instructor (this was difficult to wake up for after the fun we had the previous night). This time I did my own core workout afterward and incorporated some of P90X moves – plank, push-ups, Mason Twist, Oblique V-Ups, Crunchy Frog, etc.

On Thursday it rained all day so we headed the gym once more, this time around 11 a.m. Once a treadmill freed up, I put myself through an interval workout that consisted of 1/4 mile hard/moderate intervals. The treadmill was reading kilometers so it was hard to figure everything out. I based my 1/4 mile intervals on the image of the track that lit up as you made your way around it. As for speed, I wasn’t exactly sure how to convert the numbers, but I figured out that I was averaging at 9:15 min/mile total – including fast intervals and slow. After doing this workout I have even more respect for Mike who completed his Ironman in Cozumel, where humidity and temperatures are similar to Dominican Republic (it was high 80s with 90% humidity). Not only was I super sweaty, my legs felt heavy and it was much harder. I’m glad our Ironman day temperate should be well below this.

Our last workout of the weekend was yet another 8 a.m. spin class on Saturday, the morning we left the Dominican. This time we had a female instructor who spent 90% of the class off the bike. This made it difficult to understand what she was trying to get us to do since we couldn’t mimic her. However, she made it easy for us at times but coming over to our bikes and increasing or decreasing the resistance! A spin instructor in the US once told me that is a big no-no in the spin instructing world – but apparently that rule doesn’t cross over into all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican.

Our favorite fruity drinks - tasted like a orange creamsicle!

Although these workouts definitely couldn’t come close to compensating for the calories consumed in food and drink over the weekend, i was able to maintain my fitness level while on vacation and also feel a little better about my splurges. Plus, I just love the feeling of getting in a good workout and I can’t imagine 5 days without it – vacation or not! Usually I take vacations that involve a lot of outdoor activities or at the very least, a lot of walking, so going to an all-inclusive resort and lying on the beach and drinking and eating all day is not normal for me! I’m glad that the resort had facilities available to satisfy my sweat craving.

Business as Usual

Now that we’re back, we’ve just started phase 3 of P90X. However, since we have a half marathon coming up in less than 2 weeks and an Olympic distance triathlon in september, we are focusing more on triathlon and running and less on P90X. It’s starting to look like we’re not going to be able to get in more than 3-4 P90X workouts per week, and perhaps even only 2 this week! Although I want to dedicate myself to P90X, triathlon just have to take priority at this point so that I’m not miserable on race day. At this point I still plan to take my after pictures and do the fit test, but my Round 2 results aren’t going to be 100% reflective of a typical round of P90X (not to mention I’m not following the nutrition plan this time).

Have you ever worked out on vacation? How did you find it different from your normal routine?