Monday, May 26, 2014

SRM WEEK 2: The Slow Burn

On Sunday we cooked a whole pig in our backyard, and it was delicious.

We used to roast it out in the open on a spitz over hot coals. While that method does make for a damn tasty, fall-apart tender pig and there is nothing like waking up to a house permeated with the smell of bacon, that method takes like 15 hours for an 80 pound pig (talk about a slow burn), and after putting out one too many grease fires at two in the morning, we switched last year to the caja china method.

Cooking the pig in the caja has the advantage of taking only 4-5 hours, and also of fewer grease fires at two in the morning. And it still makes for a damn tasty, 95%-as-fall-apart tender pig.

The pig is pronounced tasty.

* * *

In non-pig-related news, most of my runs for the last two weeks have been about three miles. Some of them have been surprisingly difficult (particularly those on warm days and/or involving hills), but on other days they've felt pretty darn good. With week 2 now in the books, I've almost reached the point of finishing a twenty-five minute run & going, "That's IT? Really? When does marathon training *actually* start??" I won't lie and say that I have been super duper excited to run every single day, but there have definitely been times when spending twenty-three and a half hours out of a day not running has felt really strange and there have been a few mornings only twelve hours post-run when I've been so, so ready to lace up the shoes & head out. "Let me at that pavement. Bring it right the hell on."

Of course, those things are easy to say when you've got 36 miles down and 575 left to go.

I definitely have a history of being incredibly gung-ho at the beginning of marathon training (Every mile!! Every run!! All the cross-training!! No sleeping in!! Unplanned/complete rest days are for wimps!!), and then about six weeks in, realizing I am tired and sore and grumpy and unmotivated and screw it, I'm taking half the week off, because otherwise I may never feel like a normal human ever again.

This time around, I'm trying to remember the extremely meta advice that I've given several first-time marathoners: Marathon training itself is a marathon, not a sprint. The first few weeks aren't supposed to be that hard; if they are, you're probably doing something wrong. I keep reminding myself that Coach Tom scaled these first few weeks back for me, and he did it for a reason.

Which is to say, I am taking everything week-by-week, run-by-run. So far I've been able to do everything on the schedule (with one swap in Week 1), and though I've been slightly sore at times, there's been nothing insurmountable yet. Still, I'm making a deal with myself to remember how those past marathon training cycles have felt and not wait until I'm exhausted and burned out to take an extra rest day if I need to, skip the cross training occasionally, etc. It may seem counterintuitive, but it turns out (for me, at least) that skipping a few miles here & there early-on often means not skipping a whole bunch later down the road when it matters more.

* * * WEEK 2 * * *
(13 to go)

Grand Total: 21 miles, all easy


    * 30 miles bike
    * 1.5 hours strength/stretch/roll

Monday: a.m strength work / p.m. karate

    Not that I didn't already know this, but WOW have I lost some muscle in (basically) 5 weeks. 15 push-ups with the 25 pound plate is no longer a thing I can do; at best I can manage ~5-6. For the time being I've gone back down to the 10 pound plate. I went down 10 pounds for my back squats & deadlifts as well. The deadlifts felt about right, actually (sigh) but the backsquats felt too easy, so I may go back up to where I was pretty quickly with those. I wanted to get some biking miles in as well, but alas there was no way to fit it in with Monday's work schedule. Maybe it's for the best, though, considering that my legs still felt like Jell-O after karate.

Tuesday: a.m. 15 bike / p.m. 3 easy

    Barely one week back from vacation and I am So. Stinking. BORED of my usual routes I could just wretch. Finding novel routes to run that start at my house is tricky because I live in the land of a) traffic lights and b) hills. I am not talking about nice, friendly, domesticated, everyone-should-run-hills-sometimes-it's-good-for-you hills; I am talking about the big, nasty, feral, soul-destroying, barely-runnable-if-at-all behemoths of central San Francisco, the types of hills from which no real benefit can be gained, in terms of marathon fitness. (Not least of all because coming back down the other side puts you at not-all-that insignificant risk of tripping & falling & breaking your neck.

    Runnable in the most literal sense of the word, but not very useful training-wise.
    (This goes on for like 4 blocks, BTW; the sidewalk actually turns into stairs at one point.)

    It's less the going up & more the coming back down.

    So, on Tuesday, I went a different direction & tried to figure out a new route near home that wasn't too heavy on the traffic lights or un-runnable hills, and mostly succeeded! I even found a nice view to look at.

Not too shabby as urban running goes!

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / afternoon 3 easy / p.m. karate

    On Wednesday I went back to doing back squats with the same weight as before vacation, and they felt fine, so I'll probably stick with that for now. Hopefully I'll be able to add the ten pounds back deadlifts soon, too (and honestly...I keep being told I'm not using as much weight for either of these as I could / should, so maybe sometime soon I'll get brave & try adding a little more.)

    Continuing the spirit of finding new routes/places to run, I stopped on my way home at the north entry to Sawyer Camp Trail. When I lived on the Peninsula back in the mid-'00s, I used to do my runs out-and-back from the south entry of this trail all the time, but I've never run from the north end.

Easy on the eyes, but MAN, that grade! Those crazy turns! That insane camber! I totally sucked it up on this run, so obviously I will need to try it again sometime soon.

Thursday: 4 easy

    No bike this Thursday thanks to working from SF. Instead, I had a wicked sports massage in the a.m. I have recently procured a brand-new pair of Kinvara 4's as well as a pair of 5's & did my easy four-miler with one on each food. (Keep an eye out for a post comparing the two a la this one.)

Friday: a.m. 15 bike / p.m. 3 easy

    Since I missed my Thursday morning bike I went back & forth on whether to make it up Friday morning or do my strength work as planned. It seemed more fair to make it two-and-two than three-and-one, so bike it was. After work I took Tuesday afternoon's route through my neighborhood, and BOY do hills suck right now. Which probably means I should be running this route more often.

    Starting to have some annoying pain on the upper outside of my right calf. I've had it on & off over the years; what freaks me out is that that's exactly how the stress fracture on the left side started. :-/ Fortunately, running doesn't seem to be making it any worse, so for now it's watch-and-consult.

Saturday 3 easy

    A quick one through the neighborhood; same old, same old, more or less.

Sunday: 5 easy + stretch/roll.

    Squeezed this one in amidst pig roast prep & made it down to the Panhandle for the first time in five months, which was quite exciting! The pain in my right calf came & went, but never really got any worse, and actually felt a little better afterward, so fingers crossed.

On tap this week: 26 miles and (drrrrrrrrrum rollllllll) a track workout! On an actual track! Here's hoping I can remember how that sort of thing works.


  1. I feel the same way at the beginning of a marathon training cycle. I want to be doing lots of running and I want to do it now because I'm training for a marathon. I always have to remind myself that it takes weeks to build up.

  2. I have never tried a caja for a pig before but that is brilliant. Thanks for the tip! We usually have a pig roast around the 4th of July so I will definitely keep that idea on the back burner.
    I am seriously always inspired after I read about your training and your willingness to adapt to whatever circumstances life throws at you. I am so happy for you that you are back on a training plan. Your passion for your sport always shines through so hard through your writing.

    1. Aw, thank you!! Mostly I just figure that crappy stuff happens to everyone sometimes, & you can either beat yourself up about it or look to every positive you can find, & experience has taught me that option #2 is WAY less exhausting. :)

      You should totally try the caja! It's the greatest thing ever.

  3. Great week! Hope that calf thing goes away! I recently found some huge knots on my upper calf, right under my knee-pit. I've been putting the lacrosse ball under it -- not even rolling, because I don't want to aggravate it if it's not a muscle knot, but it seems to "melt" (or at least budge) after about 20 seconds. Weird!

    1. Melting is a good sign! I bet it's just the soft tissue. When I had my stress fracture, softly bumping into the couch would make me nauseous & bleary-eyed with pain. The doctor would tap at it & be like, "There? Right there?" & I'd be like YES & ALSO I AM ABOUT TO PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE.


  4. Those hills look brutal, esp round Dolores Park. The view from the top is almost enough to make it worthwhile...and I've only walked there! And you're right about the end of Sawyer Camp - I cycled that way recently pulling the Dude in the (heavy) wee-hoo and it was such hard work! So glad you're back into training mode again!!

  5. I actually had to interrupt my Italian vacation to say that pig looks amazing. And you then share it with the whole village? :)

    Also, you are so right about marathon training itself being a marathon. Two weeks' holiday in the middle (albeit fairly active - will write about the hiking later) has been great for staving off training fatigue...