Marathon Diary: My Marathon Training Program

Wednesday, 11 November 2009  |  Running + Triathlon

Experts say that if you want to achieve something, write it down on paper. I live by that—and I swear by it. I even take it one step further by detailing exactly how I’ll go about to achieving that goal.  (I know a lot of you runners do the same.)

When it comes to running, I am just as anal. As soon as I commit to a running goal, I pore over various training programs and choose one that’s best for me at that particular time.

When I started running in 2006, my first goal was to run 5k in Pinay in Action. I downloaded Runner’s World 8-week program and followed it to the letter. (Beginners, click here to download the same program I used, same program I printed out for hubby when he was starting.)

This time, for the Singapore Marathon, I pored over various Marathon Training programs:

Jeff Galloway – run/walk program, best for beginners
Hal Higdon – various marathon programs to choose from novice, intermediate, advanced, best you read his book
Smart Coach – personalized program
F.I.R.S.T. (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) – 3x a week running program

And, after all the research, the winner for me was F.I.R.S.T. Why?  The program recommends three high-quality runs each week—intervals, tempo, and long run—leaving me with enough time for strength training, stretching, massage, cross training, and most importantly, it allows me to have a life outside of running (in case you forgot, I’m a wife, mom, and entrepreneur, too!)

– My program on Excel Spreadsheet. Good thing Jun (Solemates) created a template so I just typed my numbers in! hah! – 

I didn’t follow it to the letter.  I made a few adjustments for the program to work with my schedule and a friend had to make major revisions when I did my accidental marathon at QCIM a few weeks ago (whooops!), but I’ve followed the three mandatory runs as much as possible, no matter how I feel that day.  I always cringe when I think of the intervals on Tuesdays, I dread the tempo runs on Thursdays, and I am always giddy like a school girl on Sundays when I get to do my favorite long runs. Crossing my fingers that it’ll help me reach my goal on marathon day!

5 Post-Marathon Rewards

Friday, 23 October 2009  |  Running + Triathlon

Every hard step I took in my first marathon at QCIM has come back a hundredfold by way of wonderful blessings. Here are 5 rewards I received this week for the effort I put in last Sunday:

1. Food

 I think I’ve eaten my quota of food for the whole year in the past five days alone. My first words to my husband after I crossed the finish line are words that he will forever keep in his heart as a sign of our deep and everlasting bond, I said “Do you have food? I need food!”

I’m not a big eater as I put on weight faster than you can say McDonalds, but for the past five days I have been able to eat to my heart’s content. Aaah, if I could I would run a marathon weekly just so I have the chance to eat to my heart’s content.

2. Absence of Soreness or Injury

I vividly remember how I ended my long races in the past: limping way back to the hotel after my Singapore Half Marathon, or cringing in pain as I entered the car on the long drive home from Clark after New Balance 25k. But, now after the full marathon at QCIM, I was a walking fiend, attending a baptism for lunch and dropping by the Adidas Running Expo at SM Megamall. The following days, I barely felt any soreness. My right ankle swelled for a day, but disappeared on its own after some ice (accompanied by minor panic!)

3. Free day from the gym

Nothing compares to the feeling you get when you pick the “Get Out of Jail Card” in Monopoly—except, of course, a free pass from the gym! That’s what I got from my PT, Peter, when I informed him about my 32k-turned-42k last Sunday. He immediately replied: “Skip Monday. See you on Friday instead!” Wooohooo! (Note: As much as I have an aversion for the gym, I would have to admit it played a key role in my performance at QCIM)

4. Confidence

You don’t know how nervous (read: paranoid) I was about my goal marathon, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. 42km was a number that was simply out of reach. I worried about hitting the wall at 32km, cramping up, or my knees locking midway (just like in Singapore Half last year.)  But, now that I’ve done the 42km and managed to come out of it alive (and with a smile, too!), I’m a little bit more confident about my body’s performance (no worries about the mind and soul because I know I want the marathon bad!)

5. God’s Gift

So, I do believe (and you can tell me if you think I’m mistaken) that God was watching from above while I was running the 42k and He said “She’s been through so much injury, I should give her a gift if she finishes the marathon.” So, He sent one of the most perfect men on earth to me; He got him thinking about running and gave us a chance to meet. This future runner just started training with Coach Rio and will run 10km at the Timex Race on November 15. By God’s grace, I had the pleasure of spending time with him, glaring at him for hours, and handing him a copy of my heart, er, I mean my TBR Magazine. Maybe you know him? Here’s our photo…



– with Piolo at the Timex Presscon –

Animo Tri Simulation

Tuesday, 9 June 2009  |  Running + Triathlon

What: Animo Mini Sprint Simulation, 350m swim-11k bike-3.4k run
Where: Alabang Country Club and Ayala Alabang Village
When: June 7, 2009, 6:30 am
Who: Jamike (Try-Athlete), Jun (Solemates), hubby and myself

– Hubby, Jamike, and Jun –

– with Jun and Jamike –

I woke up at 5 a.m. to do pre-simulation data gathering: took note of my time at last year’s mini sprint and the time of the 3rd placer who was closer to my age than the 1st and 2nd placers who were in their teens and printed out four copies of the race map, one for each of us.

We arrived at the Club to find Jun waiting for us at the parking lot and Jamike already doing laps at the pool.  After a few minutes of chit chat, we jumped in and officially started the our simulation.

SWIM: 350m

We swam 14 laps in a 25m pool.  I swam in almost 11 mins. which was a big improvement from the slow 18 mins I did last year.  But, I seriously think the push offs at the end of each 25m made a big difference.  I don’t know how I’ll perform in a 50m pool.  Hopefully, a bit faster than 18 mins.  Gulp.

BIKE: 11k

When I had Annie’s bike tuned up for Animo last week, Hans, the owner of GranTrail bike shop at West Gate Center in Alabang who is an old acquaintance of mine from a million years ago, offered to lend me his own bike for the upcoming triathlon.  (How lucky am I?!  Uhm, if you see how handsome the bike is, you’ll reply “VERY LUCKY!”)  For this training day, Hans even lent the bike for practice.  

I hopped onto the bike and felt comfortable instantly.  We biked out of Alabang Country Club (not the actual route) and headed towards Narra where the bike portion really starts.  We thought we followed the ocho loop but learned only after that we still got it wrong despite my printouts.  (We’ll probably bike this again before race day.)

I forgot to turn on my Garmin for this one so I have no clue how I did.  Even when I remembered to switch on my Garmin in the middle of the bike trip, I couldn’t.  Admittedly, I still can’t let go of the handlebars until now.  So, for the entire 11k, I could not take a sip of water, scratch my forehead when it got itchy, or worse, wipe off a bug that landed in between my eyes!

The start of the bike trip was a bit tough.  My butt and shoulders were aching.  But, after a few kilometers, I learned to relax and enjoy the ride.

RUN: 3.4k

Need I say that this was my favorite part?  The route isn’t the flat course anymore like last year.  This new course starts flat, but once you hit University Ave., there’s a gradual incline, slight downhill, then a climb up again after the turnaround.  It’s a nice, short yet challenging route.

We ran 4.6k—a bit more than the required—at 5:35 average pace.  We were huffing and puffing all the way to the end, but that made the finish even more fulfilling.

Click here for more info on Animo Triathlon.

Perfect Training Morning

Saturday, 6 June 2009  |  Running + Triathlon

Yesterday morning, thick, gray clouds temporarily parted and allowed the sleepy sun to shine through for a brief but fulfilling swim-run training session in the south. Finally, the weather cooperated and allowed me to get some outdoor training in before the Animo Tri next week.

For this session, I was fortunate enough to be invited by Paolo, gym friend and member of newly-created South Tri team, to join a swim workout coached by no less than the Ironwoman herself Coach Ani de Leon. I met other members of the team, tri couple, Glenn and Yvette, and Jay. We were around 10 in the pool as the Sabak Tri team was there too.

Standing outside of the pool as we all stared at her from the water, Coach Ani explained technique and form articulately and demonstrated what she wanted us to do. After a few minutes, she jumped into the pool with us, which had Paolo saying in the most awestruck manner “Woah, Ani de Leon is swimming with us!” Admittedly, I felt the same way. After all, how often do you get to share the pool with the first Filipina Ironman Kona finisher? I made sure that I listened intently to her every word.

The drills she asked of us looked a lot easier when she demonstrated them, and even when the Sabak Tri teams, who were in “Group 1” did it. When it was our turn, I struggled with the fins (which I never used until that day), got overwhelmed with all the info, and drank a lot of water trying to experiment with all the new tips. Oh boy, I felt like a kid on my first day of swim class.

Thankfully, my newfound friends in the South Tri are a great bunch of people who share the same eagerness to learn and improve matched with a great sense of humor. We all basically learned at our own pace, laughing along at our mistakes and flaws, and enjoying every minute. Of course, we all hope to become better triathletes at the same time.

After the 1.5 hour swim session, Paolo and I jumped into our running shoes and ran a quick 5k around the Club at a 6-minute pace. I insisted we include the uphill climb along Country Club Drive as it was my last road run before Mizuno 15k.  Under the 9 a.m. heat, we were complaining of the heat and how out of shape we were, but at the same time we were enjoying the workout. We were done in a little over 30 minutes.

I got home feeling more exhilarated than exhausted. It’s felt like forever since I had a fulfilling session outdoors. I hope there will be many more to come!

The Treadmill Torture Test

Thursday, 4 June 2009  |  Running + Triathlon

The terrible weather left me with no choice but to submit myself to what I’ve been dreading the most: a one-hour treadmill run, better known as “The Treadmill Torture Test” in The Bull Runner’s world.

Dressed for a 10k outdoor run yesterday afternoon, I was headed out the door when the rain started to pour outside. Had it been a light drizzle, I would’ve proceeded with my run, but these rain droplets were BIG, the kind that made large thuds on the rooftop, and the same ones that would feel like a deep tissue massage on my shoulders. Angrily, I went for Plan B.

I headed back to my bedroom to change into my pambahay running gear—the running outfits that never make it to the roads or the gym—such as the short shorts that I once wore which had my son exclaiming “It’s nice. You look like you’re in your underwear!” or old race singlets that don’t fit too well. Then, at snail’s pace, I headed downstairs for the treadmill.

The treadmill. I’ve been using it much more often lately due to the rains, but I hadn’t exceeded 35 minutes on it. A run on the treadmill, for me, is like having coffee with no sugar, eating ice cream with no rainbow sprinkles, or watching a movie with no popcorn. It’s pure drudgery. But, this time, with the Mizuno Infinity Run coming up, I was forced to set my emotions aside and run like a machine on this…er…machine.

The first 15 minutes went by in slow motion. I swear I could watch each tiny droplet of water slide down the sides of the Gatorade bottle before me. It didn’t help that the television was hijacked by the kids who were with me in the room. No Oprah or MTV for me, it was a Fairly Odd-Parents marathon. This was torture. How could I survive one hour on this thing?

The next 15 minutes, surprisingly, went by quickly. My kids and I chatted while I ran. I even had a chance to do a little bit of speedwork as I rushed upstairs for some band aid. I increased the pace and incline once in a while to vary the training a bit, but most of the time, I ran at a comfortable pace. There were absolutely no signs of pain, so the run was quite enjoyable.

Before I knew it, I hit 45 minutes. Woah, that was quick. I ran 10 more minutes and started my cool down at 55 minutes. When I reached 1 hour, I toyed with the idea of doing more, but I decided against it.

1 hour on the treadmill wasn’t as dreadful as I thought it would be. I guess I passed my “Treadmill Torture Test” with flying colors.