Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon Training, Month 2: Ups and Downs, Snacking Extravaganza, and Legs that Don’t Run in Sync

Believe it or not, it’s time for the second update on my Seattle Rock’n’Roll marathon training! Time flies when you’re having fun – and so did month two out of five of my marathon preparation. I’ve proven to myself before that it’s possible to train for a marathon as a vegan, so this time around, I’ve set to prove that one can balance marathon training with working a full-time job.

Rock'n'Roll Seattle marathon training update, month 2Overall, this month went fine, with a few ups and downs that proved once again that I’m only human. I’ve been on the same 5-workout per week schedule, with three solid runs and two strength training sessions at the gym. Most marathon training plans will tell you that running only three times a week is not enough, but I’ve learned from training for my two previous marathons that too much running is a surefire way for me to get injured, so I’m going to do my best to take it easy.

Ups and Downs of Month 2

Ups: My runs are getting a little easier, so I don’t feel like all of my energy is wiped out after I go running. I’m also getting a little faster: I’ve averaged 8:53 per mile on one of my 8-mile long runs this month – the credit goes to my treadmill interval running sessions. Also, I participated in my first ever 15k race a couple weeks ago – it was Seattle Hot Chocolate 15k, and once again I surprised myself by performing better than I expected while running crazy hills with the average pace of 8:32 per mile for all of 9.3 miles of the race.

Downs: Since I’m not a superhuman with crazy motivation who gets everything right the first time, I have to admit that I’ve had my lazy moments when I needed to pull every mental trick I knew to get out of bed early for my Sunday morning long runs. I’ve still managed to get 3 out of 4 long runs this month (one of them being the 15k race), and only missed one due to a combo of a nagging cold + feeling very tired + bad rain outside.

Another thing I’ve recently discovered: my left leg doesn’t want to run the same way as my right leg. Sounds puzzling, I know, but I’ve found while running on the treadmill that my left knee is prone to locking slightly when I land on my left foot – maybe because I’m pronating more on the left side, or for any other reasons I don’t notice because I can’t see myself from away. It’s not painful or overly bothersome, and I never even notice it when running outside, but at least it explains why most of my running injuries (including last year’s plantar fasciitis) have always happened on my left side. I can’t do anything about this, but at least I know what’s going on now.

Update on Goals Set Last Month

Last month, I had set a few goals that I hoped to achieve in month 2 of my marathon training routine (see my month 1 update here). Here are those goals along with my updates on how everything went:

1. Run a 15k race – done successfully.

2. Start following a structured training plan – a lot of procrastination, not enough action here. I just tried to fit in 5 workouts a week including 3 runs, and wished to find time/motivation to actually sit down and put together a coherent training plan. In the finest traditions of procrastinating, I waited till last Sunday to finally do that 🙂 Let’s consider this goal achieved. Kind of.

3. Run 1 mi on gym strength training days – haven’t gotten around to that yet, mainly because once I jump into lifting weights, I get so excited that an hour flies by, and I realize that it’s time to go home and make dinner. I’ll try to eventually shorten my sessions with weights to fit in some running though.

4. Stretching, foam rolling after running for injury prevention– I’ve been pretty good at this goal, thank goodness. In fact, foam rolling has been a surprisingly good helper in battling muscle soreness: I’ve noticed that if I spend 10-15 min on some foam rolling after a long run, my muscle soreness will be almost nonexistent the following day. Maybe things will change once my long runs go up to 15-20 miles, but for now I’ll take it! I loosely follow the advice of Matt from No Meat Athlete over here when doing my foam rolling routine – the tennis ball is just magical!

5. Get more sleep on weekdays – this has been an ongoing battle. Interestingly, as I’m writing this at 9:30 pm, I realize that I should shut off my computer right now and go brush my teeth, put together my gym bag, make my overnight oats, etc. if I want to still get enough sleep tonight. Yet the desire to write another paragraph is so persistent that, yes, I keep on going, as you can tell from the text still going on 🙂 One of these days, ladies and gentlemen, one of these days I’ll get my evening routine under control and start getting enough sleep on weekdays!

Training and Mileage Breakdown

On a day-to-day basis, my training in month 2 went as follows:

Sundays – long run of 8 to 9.3 mi

Mondays – rest or strength training

Tuesdays – strength training (if I rested the day before) or treadmill interval running, 4.5 – 5.5 mi

Wednesdays – rest (if worked out Mon and Tue) or treadmill interval running as above

Thursdays – strength training

Fridays – running outside, 4-5 mi

Saturdays – rest

All workouts except for Sunday long run have been performed in the evening after work, starting between 5 and 6 pm. I’d like to eventually try running in the morning, but for now it’s challenging since I have to be at work at 7 am, and it’s still too dark (and scary) outside at 5 am.

Nutrition

As for nutrition, my main focus on a day-to-day basis has been to eat frequently so that my blood sugar and hunger pangs don’t drive me crazy. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, I’ve been snacking on fruit, nuts, baked sweet potatoes, roasted chickpeas, carrots and hummus, tempeh cubes, little pieces of homemade vegan cheesecake, chocolate – okay, my snacking palette goes all over the place 🙂 but overall I’ve been trying to keep it on the cleaner side. When it comes to nutrition during running, I haven’t had a big need to eat something during my long runs since they aren’t too long yet (I ate a sports gel during my 15k though). I’ve been entertaining the idea of fueling with dates instead of heavily processed gels when running, but right now I’m puzzled about how to carry them without turning my running pouch into a mess. Have you tried eating dates during long runs? If so, how do you carry them? I’d love to hear some of your advice!

Goals for Next Month

Month 3 is going to be a tough one – not just because the long run mileage is going up, but because of things going on around here. Between now and my next marathon training update, Rob and I will close on our new house! We’re both very excited – and looking forward to the moment when we’ll be done with packing our worldly possessions and moving them across town to our new home (still on Whidbey Island). We both work Monday through Friday, so this leaves weekends as our only chance for packing and moving. Looking realistically, I admit it’s very likely that I’ll have to skip some workouts, but I’ll try to do my best to stay consistent with training.

So my goals for month 3 are:

– to maintain my training routine as much as I can during moving;

– to up the mileage of my long runs, topping at 14 miles;

– to incorporate 1-2 mile runs on strength training days (find time for that!);

– to continue injury prevention with stretching and foam rolling;

– to figure out what I’ll be doing for nutrition on long runs (gels or dates?).

I hope you had a good scoop of what my marathon training has been like in month two! You can find my previous training updates (and all future ones) over here.

Question for you: Do you ever use any food/sports drinks during longer runs? If so, what’s your favorite running fuel?

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About Alina

Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Being vegan eventually opened her eyes on the issues of animal welfare, environmental protection, human rights and feminism. Alina hopes that her blog will help its readers on their path to making this world a better place.
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12 Responses to Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon Training, Month 2: Ups and Downs, Snacking Extravaganza, and Legs that Don’t Run in Sync

  1. Siobhan says:

    I haven’t done a full marathon as the one time I attempted I over-trained and ended up with a fierce case of plantar fasciitis. That said, I’ve run numerous halfs and my go-to pre-race fuel consists of dates. I do not like to eat or drink when I run and for training runs I just drink a pint or two of plain water about a half hour before I start. But when I run a (half-marathon) race I also usually eat a couple of dates about 15-20 minutes before the start. They’re great fuel. I keep them in one of those half-sized zip-lock bags and they don’t break down so I often eat the one or two I have left right after I finish. YMMV.

  2. Nicollette D says:

    Hi Alina,
    I’m all about the dates! I do pit them and chop them in half before putting them into a ziploc for a long run and depending on how I’ve fueled before hand, whip one out around mile 7-8. I find a whole date a little too much for my mouth all at once (which would be completely preposterous if I wasn’t running– then I’d down several at a time). For me, nothing beats dates– not even sports drinks or gels.
    Keep up the amazing work with your training!

    • Alina says:

      Thank you for the advice, Nicollette! I really should get on this – last Sunday my laziness got the best of me before I headed out for my long run, so I just threw a sports gel in my bag. Well, there’s always the upcoming Sunday!

  3. I’ve only ran a half marathon and I tried dates on my training runs but found them too much for me when running.

    What I found worked though is fruit leather or dried fruit strips. It’s easy to carry and didn’t dry out my mouth. And tastes nice, which helps!
    Miss Roulette recently posted…Spring runningMy Profile

  4. Jan-Marie says:

    I use dates as well. I put them in the snack-size Ziplock bags and usually pop one about every half hour or so. I find it hard to chew and breathe, mostly, but I’m working on that.

    My new thing is to make my own “Gu.” I use a spoonful of peanut butter (protein), some date syrup (carbohydrates), a smidge of molasses (potassium), and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice (electrolytes) to thin it out a bit. It will be a thick goop that you can spoon into the end of a small Ziplock. When you need to refuel, just bite off a small bit of the corner and suck it out. I do stop running when I do this, but the <30 seconds I spend refueling will be made up by my ability to continue on at a decent pace.

    ** And if you need a workout plan, let me know… I've got a great trainer who can help you via email. (he's my son, so I'm a little biased, but he knows his stuff).

    • Alina says:

      That’s very interesting, Jan-Marie! I thought of making my own ‘Gu’ but was puzzled about how to carry it with me. The Ziplock method sounds great! How does your stomach deal with peanut butter in your gel while running – I’ve never tried anything with fat or a significant amount of protein in it on the run, so I’d love to hear your insights!

      • Jan-Marie says:

        I have no problems with my stomach with my style of Gu. I’m only up to 11 miles right now, but I’ve been fueling this way for a month or so and not had any problems. Then again, I eat a huge bowl of raw oats with nuts, an apple and raisins about an hour and a half before I set out on my run. Perhaps, I have a steel gut!

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  6. Trish says:

    I’ve heard about dates being great fuel but even if I was to chop them up I’d have difficulty chewing as I was running/breathing. A few weeks back during a long run I chewed an energy block – there was pieces of gummy stuff flying out of my mouth as I was breathing lol. Def not a good look 😉 Might have to stick with Gu 🙁

    • Alina says:

      Trish, I’ve tried those blocks before with decent results, but still prefer gels. Haven’t mustered up the courage for dates yet though…

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