Boston Marathon Training - 8 weeks done, 13 to go...

Boston Marathon post card finally arrived!!!

Training towards the Boston Marathon is progressing well, despite the set back of the unsuccessfull heart surgery just before Christmas. I was obviously disappointed that they couldn’t pinpoint the source of my extra beats and get it fixed, and as a result I will have to continue up to - and beyond - Boston, with a non-optimum heart beat. The cardiologist gave me assuring info that I could continue to train as before, and just be careful to not overexerting myself (a 3:10 marathon shouldn’t be too hard, right?). The main risk with the arrhythmia I have is that the reduced blood circulation during an “attack” can lead to clots if you’re prone to this, and once the heart resumes normal pumping capacity, the clot can cause a stroke. However I am not in the risk category for blood clots, so I don’t have to worry about that. It will impact my maximum and optimum running capacity – if I have prolonged arrhythmias I get more tired, especially during maximum efforts. As the marathon is more about endurance rather than maximum capacity, the impact is hopefully less, but I will have to train and execute Boston with this in mind. I will go back to the doctor in June, and then we will see if we make another attempt at fixing it, but that will then likely take place during fall, after the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in September. So it seems I will have this issue the whole season. Kind of made me bummed out, but now I have decided to just push through. It is what it is, and I will have to adjust and adapt to my situation. 

Trying to keep a happy face after the operation...

The surgery gave me six rest days from training over Christmas as the small incision wounds in the groin healed. I used this time to cook and celebrate Christmas and get some kind of physical rest, but after five days I couldn’t stand it more and started training full speed again. Great feeling to be well rested!

Some running days are more beautiful than others!

Week 8 of the 20 week program is now coming to an end, and I finally feel that I am getting into the rhythm of the program. Without a doubt, the volume of running has been very tough on me, legs (mainly quads) have felt constantly tired, and I have started almost every run with legs like stiff logs. Many times I have had doubts around the feasibility of pulling through – arrhythmia together with a 50% increase in running mileage combined with cold and dark weather has been tough to endure both mentally and physically.

Another tough run finished on the treadmill...

Despite this, I have managed to finish every scheduled run, and that has also included the dreaded long runs. Fortunately there has been a lack of snow up to now in Stockholm, so I have been able to continue with outdoor running without too much snow and ice, and then also had access to an indoor gym to do treadmill runs when needed or weather has been bad. I have regularly hitting over 60km per week, and done my first 70km+ week, as well as hitting 30km on the long run again. The long runs have been tough, legs have become very tired around the 20-24km mark, and this has been consistent with last years training. However last week I felt that I had a breakthrough session on the log run, I did the 30km run and I didn’t get that feeling of dead quads towards the end. The full run was done on “OK” legs, and this is a first for me. On top of that this week – which has had a reduced load of running – my legs have actually felt fine, and I did my fastest km interval session ever: 7x1km at a 3:45 – 3:42 pace. I take these two items as indicators that I might have passed over a threashold in my training, and actually might be able to pull this through. It will be interesting to check the feeling on this week’s long run (another 30k) and next week when volume ramps up again with 70km+ per week.

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Volume is increasing, a great 30k run in the bag as well!

Volume wise I am for sure pushing my boundaries, I’m trending towards a record volume of around 250km per month. Good news here is that calves are still feeling OK and I am getting comfortable in the new Saucony Kinvara shoes. They have a significantly lower drop compared to my Asics, and when I started running with these in November I got really stiff in my ankles, but this has more or less disappeared. I will continue with regular massage to make sure that I don’t accumulate too much fatigue and stress in my muscles, this is key for staying healthy.

Boston is coming closer...

The high volume of running has made me re-evaluate my training plans. I haven’t really found the motivation to keep up the biking, off course also an effect of the tiredness in the legs from running. At the beginning I had planned to maintain two bike sessions per week and scale back slightly on the running program to manage this, but in the end I decided to stick with the running program and do whatever little biking I could manage. That has meant one bike session in three weeks… Not good at all for my triathlon capabilities, but at the same time I understand that a 100% focus on the Boston Marathon will mean that the triathlon will have to take a step aside. I hope anyway to be able to start strong on the bike after Boston and get in decent shape until the IM 70.3 WC in September. We’ll see! On the good side I have managed to keep up the swimming. As it works mainly arms I have not felt that I have had to scale back here. On the contrary, it has been a good complement to the running, giving me an opportunity to further work on the cardiovascular capacity as well as a session to “cleanse” by body from tiredness from the running. So far so good, doing two or three swim sessions per week.

Swimming with my bro - the best! Scary that he is just as fast as myself now...

So what is next? Well, the running program continues to increase in volume, it will regularly be five runs with total 70-75km per week (seems to be around 260-270km per month). As we finally got snow in Stockholm this week, we’ll see how it goes with the outdoor and long runs now that roads are more slippery, but I can always increase the indoor treadmill volume if needed. But I don’t know if I have the stamina to do 2.5 hours on the treadmill in one go… Swimming will stay on the agenda two or three times per week, and then biking when I feel I have the strength for it. It will probably not be that often (once per week?), and I just to accept that this is what it will be. I can’t do it all…

Overall, after some eight weeks struggling with the program and the running, I finally feel that things are coming together. I hope to be able to keep this positive spirit in the coming weeks. Plane tickets are purchased for Boston and plans are being converted into actions, just as they should! Game on…

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