Cardamom’s Training Log – 7.13.15

Last week was a sucky week in terms of training.

Tuesday & Wednesday- Key Run #1 (5×1000 @4:20)

Attempt #1 was on Tuesday: When I saw this on my training plan, I gulped hard. I didn’t think I could do it and after trying twice, this particular work out is clearly way out of my current abilities. I went to gym, set the treadmill at 9.2 mph and tried to see how long I could hold on. I couldn’t even do one of the prescribed intervals. Since I was already the gym, I decided to do a few random intervals and try again the next day (800 m @3:16, 400 m @1:38, 600 m @2:30, & 200 m @0:49).

Attempt #2 was on Wednesday: I knew I couldn’t do 5 intervals, but I desperately wanted to do 3. I got one done. That one wiped me out and I did a few more random intervals so I would be at the gym for a bit instead of going home after five minutes. This particular speed work is way out of my league. (1000 m @4:21 [yay!], 200 m @0:49, 400 m @1:40, 400 m @1:38, & 400 m @1:39).

Thursday – Key Run #3 (20 miles @9:32 pace)

I’m very fortunate to have a job where I have a lot of flexibility in terms of my work hours, especially in the summer. When I saw that cooler temperatures were predicted for Thursday, I quickly decided to do my long run early Thursday morning and work in the afternoon. Twenty miles is a lot of miles and I wanted to make the run as pleasant as possible for me. Psychologically I found the thought of starting 20 miles away and running towards home a lot more appealing and easier than doing an out and back route or a loop. After looking at various routes online, I settled on starting at the northern most tip of Manhattan and running down the west side, around the bottom tip to Manhattan Bridge, crossing over to Brooklyn, and then running down Flatbush Ave to Prospect Park.

I woke up at 5:30 am and got on the subway at 6:30 am with all the early morning commuters to go into the city. It’s a very long train ride up. Google map said it would take an hour ten minutes, but it was actually closer to 90 min. While on the train ride, I ate a toasted English muffin with peanut butter and Nutella and a heavily sugared iced coffee.

On an overcast and somewhat cool summer morning, I found myself at Inwood Hill Park in Washington Heights. I had never been so far north in Manhattan before. Inwood Hill Park, by the way, is gorgeous and everyone should go there. There are woods and trails and once you’re deep amongst the trees, you seriously feel like you’re out in the countryside and not in New York City.

Ready to run at Inwood Hill Park
Ready to run at Inwood Hill Park

On an overcast and somewhat cool summer morning, I found myself at Inwood Hill Park in Washington Heights. I had never been so far north in Manhattan before. Inwood Hill Park, by the way, is gorgeous and everyone should go there. There are woods and trails and once you’re deep amongst the trees, you seriously feel like you’re out in the countryside and not in New York City.

Unbelievable that this is in Manhattan and not in Central Park
Unbelievable that this is in Manhattan and not in Central Park

I greatly enjoyed running in this park while trying to find a path that would lead me to the Hudson River and run all the way down. Based upon my internet research, it was theoretically possible to do this. Practically speaking, it’s very difficulty without knowing the trails well. I found a trail that followed the Hudson, but after a couple of miles, it became a dead end, so I had to backtrack out. It also rained lightly from Miles 1 to 5. I worried that I would have to stop the run if it began raining harder because I get sick easily if I get wet and cold. After backtracking and running on the streets for a bit, I found a cyclist who was able to give me excellent directions on how I could find the pedestrian/bike path along the Hudson. While I was enjoying the run, once I got on the West Side Highway Bike Path that’s when the fun of running really began for me.

Selfie at the West Side Highway
Selfie at the West Side Highway

Miles 6-8 were warm and steamy. The rain had stopped and the sun was getting stronger (thought it was still overcast). The evaporating puddles created a nice sauna-like condition. I was still having fun because the West Side Highway Bike Path is a super cool place to run. On one side, you have a lovely view of the Hudson River. On the other side, there were several pieces of art installation. The pathway was nicely landscaped and always changing. Normally I’m desperately trying to figure out how to distract my mind to keep from being too depressed that there were so many miles left, but for this run, the miles were flying by!

I couldn’t take as many photos as I would have liked because my IPhone got damp and the touch screen wasn’t registering (the phone is fine). Around Mile 7, I began taking ShotBloks (raspberry flavored I think) and I finished it up around Mile 14.

I was super happy with how well the run was going. I felt good about the pace. I was having a good time running. Then it all came to a sudden sharp stop. At Mile 15, I felt sharp stabbing pains in my left knee. I stopped and rested for a few minutes. Then I gingerly tried running again. More sharp pains as soon as I began running. I knew better than to try to run through a sudden sharp pain, so I halted the run.

Although I was disappointed in not being able to complete the 20 miles, oddly this run gave me some confidence that I actually could survive marathon training. If it hadn’t been for the sharp pain, I would have definitely finished the 20 miles. At Mile 15, I felt a bit tired, but not completely exhausted and worn out like I had in the last two long runs. I was definitely in much better condition, despite running at a faster pace.

Saturday – Crosstraining

After more than a year away from regular weightlifting, I’m excited to be going back to it!

Back squats – 3x5x45 (3 sets of 5 reps at 45 lbs). I’ve lost a lot of strength. I can’t believe that a couple years ago, my 1-rep max PR for squats was 125 lbs. The bare barbell felt so heavy. This used to be my warm up set.

Deadlift – 1x5x50, 2x5x55, 1x5x60

Bench press – 3x5x45

Overhead press – 3x5x15

Sunday – Key Run #2 Tempo Run (1 mile easy, 4 miles @7:56, 1 mile easy)

What I really like about RLRF is the flexibility that I have in terms of scheduling the runs. If something should happen and I can’t do a run that day, then I can easily move it to another day. I thought about running on Saturday, but I didn’t feel up to it. I went to the gym on Sunday to muster up the energy to do a tempo run.

I did the easy one mile. I set the treadmill at 7.9 mph and mentally girded myself for staying on for another four miles. I lasted a half mile. I really didn’t have it in me. I don’t know if it was the heat, humidity, or simply the fact that I’m running way more than ever before so I’m feeling fatigue, but I really didn’t have it in me. I decided to do a few random intervals so I do some running. After a few sets, the fire alarm went off at the gym and I interpreted it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to run that day. (.5 mile @3:48, .25 mile @1:46, .25 mile @1:40, & .25 mile @1:38).


I took a look at this week’s plan. It’s brutal. Honestly the training runs would be a tough ask from me during the best running condition. It’s impossible with this awful summer heat and humidity. I’m going to change the marathon training plan to a less aggressive time so that I’m not killing myself or completely failing to complete the key runs.

I'm an academic, a runner, and a New York cliché. I write about the science of exercise, training, and the culture of running. My current goals are a sub-23:00 5K (achieved on 4/22/17 with 22:48) and a sub-1:45 HM (achieved on 10/1/17). Now what?

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  1. I found with RFRL (for the half marathon) that the long runs seem to be longer than many other plans. It may be because there are only two other runs during the week, so to increase mileage it mostly comes from the long runs. I decided to shorten the long runs and add a short one on an otherwise non-run day. Maybe that’d help?

    1. It wouldn’t be a bad idea, if I wasn’t so committed to only running three days a week. Last spring I tried a plan with four training runs a week and I found trying to fit in four runs too stressful for me (granted other major things were happening in my life).

  2. Are you starting the RLRF training in the middle? I have done it numerous times & remember the 5×1000 and 20 mile long run being many weeks in after a pretty good buildup. I found the paces challenging but doable as long as I was using actual recent race paces – and not my desired future race pace. The system works if you build into it.

    1. No, I started it from the beginning. I’m using the RLRF app to create the marathon training plan. There have been some changes to the structure of the plan since the first time they introduced RLRF.

      I put in a race time that was slightly faster than my PR just to see what I could handle with the idea in mind that I would dial back if it turned out to be too much. My current race pace is slower than my PR, but putting in the current race pace had the opposite problem of making the training runs too easy. So I’m adjusting the training plan to where I find the runs as you said, challenging but doable.

  3. Hang in there. Summer training is hard. I think you are wise to reduce your paces to times you feel you can reach. You can always increase them if you are stronger in the fall, when the weather is cooler. The Inwood trails look beautiful. I will have to try them sometime.

    1. Definitely go up to Inwood! I had no idea it existed until a couple weeks ago and now I can’t wait to go back.

      Tracy who commented above had it right that the runs need to be challenging but doable.

      Thanks for your support, Caper.

  4. It sounds like you basically did two back-to-back speed workouts then a long run the next day. Even a runner with a big base of miles would likely suffer in that long run. And speed work is a lot harder for many people on the treadmill. You might consider easing the pace down from day 4:45 down to 4:20 over the course of the workout or something like that wheh stuck on the mill. Although if you can get outside do it outside!!! It will be so much better! I used to do 1000s around the reservoir in CP when I trained for my first half. There’s also a decent track on the east river at 7ish street. Cinnamon knows of other tracks, one or 2 in Brooklyn even.

  5. Yeah, I did two speed workouts and then a long run three days in a row, but the speed workouts weren’t really all that strenuous because I didn’t do the real workout. I don’t normally do schedule my runs to be in a row like that.

    I’ve been doing speed work on the treadmill because it’s so hot. There’s only so much suffering I can take. 🙂