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Martini Fridays: An Extra Week of Training? Fun!

This is not me, and this is not how I have fun.
This is not me, and this is not how I have fun.

In this edition of Martini Fridays, Adrienne Martini, training for the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon using the Train Like a Mother: Finish It plan, realizes she's served herself up a few more miles.

This is not what I expected to be writing about this week.

Before you panic, I’m not injured nor sick. Everyone near and dear to me is well.

Oh, and I’m not pregnant. That particular ship has sailed, thank all the gods that may be. I love my babies but I am d-o-n-e.

No, my surprise is much more mundane. What I’d expected to devote my entire post to this week  was Saturday’s nine-miler and how I keep failing at the “fun workout.”

Long story short: Nine miles is a long way. I wanted to reward myself with a homemade cinnamon roll afterwards but was afraid I might barf, which would be a waste of a homemade cinnamon roll. I did get to run outside, even though I had to keep changing my route because it was blocked by heaps of melting snow. Still, I got it done.

“Fun workouts” are called for a few times on the TLAM: Finish It Half-Marathon Plan. SBS, Dimity, and Coach Christine Hinton offer up some ideas for the fun workout. Shoot baskets, they suggest, or play dodgeball. Ice skating would work. Hit a dance or aqua aerobics class.

These are all reasonable suggestions, even though I can’t quite think about dodgeball without painful flashbacks to sixth grade gym. Unless you count flinching and crying as a “fun workout,” dodgeball is off of the table. And if you do count flinching and crying as a fun workout, well, who am I to judge?

That’s a lie. I’m totally going to judge that.

Regardless, what their suggestions don’t take into account —and why would they?—is that I have a very narrow window to work with on Mondays. I have 45 minutes in the morning and that’s it. There is nowhere else I could squeeze anything longer than a pee break.

My YMCA is a small one. There are no classes scheduled during that window. As I’ve whined about before, the weather here is still frigid and icy. The options for “fun” narrow pretty quickly when I take all of that into account.

My kids, of course, think that I’m just against fun, which is why I can’t come up with an activity. They may have a point. When it comes to workouts, I like the reassurance of a plan. I don’t have enough experience with running to feel like I can just wing even a tiny bit of it. And being asked to choose my own fun feels a little like winging.

This is what fun looks like for me. Rather than leap on the elliptical or stair climber, I’ve been bonding with the recumbent bike. Given that these fun workouts usually come after mileage increases, it’s nice to sit down for a little bit, even while making sure I’m getting my heart rate up enough to sweat a little.

Part of me feels that I’m obeying the letter of the law on this, rather than its spirit. And what I’d intended to do at this point in the post was ask you a) what you’d do for a fun workout and b) if I’m slacking too much. Which I still hope you comment on, mind.

But I noticed something while taking the picture to go with this post.

TLAM picture 1

I’m proud that I’ve worked through the first page of the plan. I was going to get all pinteresty on crossing off the days, like work in some scrapbooking stickers or origami or something. In the end, I went with good old red pencil and laziness. The slashes go in different directions because of the way the page was sitting on my desk.

After taking that picture, I moved the second page of the plan to the top of my pile of running-related paper. Something looked weird. See if you can spot it.

TLAM picture 2

The race is on May 4, which means that the last week of training starts on April 28, which is what my pencil date on the side says next to week 15. That works. All is well through Week 7. But when you go back to the first page ...

TLAM picture 1

... you notice that I failed to account for the week that starts with February 24.

I might have wept a little when I put all of this together.

So here’s the dilemma: should I pick a week to do twice or do I lengthen the taper or do some third thing that I haven’t yet thought of? If I pick a week to do twice, which one should it be: one with more mileage or with less?

Remember what I mentioned about my ability to wing it? If I thought the directive to have fun was unsettling, well, this missing week is downright harrowing. Please advise on both how to have fun and how to deal with this dilemma. 

37 responses to “Martini Fridays: An Extra Week of Training? Fun!

  1. I had the same problem in the fall and redid the week with the longest run, subbed out 13 for 11… And promptly got PF! So, don’t do that one. 🙂

  2. A really fun workout is trampoline aerobics. There is a place in my town that has this and it is so much fun and a great workout. Of course, the drawback is you need to have a place that offers it.

    On another note, I have LOVED these posts by Martini. I love her writing style and hearing about her training!

  3. I love this idea! My daughter is 9 and she loves when I do her Wii Dance game with her. She doesnt’ realize that I’m getting in my workout at the same time. 🙂

  4. Fun workout idea: I have 3 girls who love to dance and so we have several of those Wii Just Dance games. Dance to a couple of those songs to get your heart pumping!

  5. I do this all the time!!! You’d think I’d learn by now. It works out to my favor because inevitably, I will miss a long run and can then make it up by having that “extra” week.

  6. I have 3 teenagers who are hard core swimmers and I have to tell you their favorite time of the swim seasons are the taper weeks. We are all shouting, “Take two weeks to taper!” And as an aside, I happily wear the name tag “Funsucker” in my family!

  7. I sorta did this same thing and I just acted like I was on whatever week I was supposed to be on. I would repeat wherever you’re at twice (you choose). But, I’ve only done this once. Everyone else has more experience (mostly). I will say that I ended up skipping several workouts about 3 weeks before the Pittsburgh Half last year, including a long run, and I still finished at my goal time (2:15). (My youngest ended up in Children’s Hospital – ain’t nothing you can do about that and SHE was my priority – not a medal)(but I got one anyway). You’ll finish. You’ve got a plan, even if it hit a little snafu.

  8. Fun workout: I’ve skipped those before (sssshhhh, don’t tell!). I get why they are written into the plans, and I think they are a great idea. But usually I see them as an extra rest day every once in awhile. 😉
    Now, having said that, I think an easy spin to fine, too! The point is to move your body, but don’t over think it. 🙂

    As for the plan, I would sandwich an easy week in between weeks 8 and 9, or 11 and 12. It will give your body a little rest towards the end of the plan when you may be feeling a bit drained. I would even consider doing 6mi for the long run that week, if you can’t stomach another 8 miler. (I once followed a plan that incorporated VERY light mileage weeks occasionally, and the break was SO refreshing! I really think it helped me train harder without injury or burnout.)

    I know you say that you need a plan, but maybe having to finagle this one is just what you need to get more comfortable with listening to your body. 🙂 I love having a plan to follow, but I’ve also learned to adapt that plan based on my needs. It may be a fun exercise to think up the week of training just based on your experiences so far, and then compare it to what’s already on paper to be sure you’re not totally off base anywhere!

  9. Definitely don’t worry about it. It’s not an exact science. I’d add an intermediate week between between W12-W13 where you do slightly less mileage – say 10-11 miles long. Probably do three mid-week runs with one being a little shorter.

  10. I think others have said this, but… I would do week 12 twice. The first time you do it, there are heavy miles earlier in the week. I would maybe skimp the miles a wee bit on those “earlier in week 12” workouts and do 11 or 12 the long run day. Then the following week, do week 12 again, full bore, 13 miles for the long. You will be that much stronger for having done it!

    Fun? What is this fun of which you speak? I have been known to do Just Dance. Other than that… it might be helping someone move (that was this week), or some other weird item. It might be skiing sometime too. But yeah, I struggle with the fun part b/c I’m almost as time-compressed as you. Good luck!

  11. Along those lines, I’m a huge fan of “cross-training” by doing “Just Dance!” on the Wii. Once you’ve done a dance a few times, it’s easy to get really into it and break a sweat.

  12. Fun workout – If you are an 80’s child or 80’s-child-at-heart, try the Wii Michael Jackson Experience. My husband and I were in fits laughing while dancing Thriller. It’s a surprisingly good workout to get your heartrate up – the more you “go for it”, the more you sweat, and the funnier it is.

  13. This “dilemma” is so funny because the same thing happened to me when I was marathon training. I repeated a week – I think I just dropped back to the schedule 2 weeks earlier, so instead of a 20miler that Saturday, I did 16 and then during the week did pretty much the same as the week before. It all worked out just fine. Fun workouts are always a challenge for me too, cause I do have fun at Stroller Strides even though it can be a pretty tough workout. Good luck with the rest of your training

  14. Fun workouts don’t have to happen when you’re alone. We’re in full on winter mode and so I’ve taken my daughter skating, downhill skiing and snowshoeing (cross-country skiing is next). If Mother Nature isn’t as generous to you, find a place to roller skate/ice skate indoors or play skipping games with your kids or do anything you all have fun at. I try to make up the mama-is-running time with we’re-all-active time. Good luck with the rest of your training.

  15. For me, running is psychological as much as physical. It is the long run that I find most difficult. I do my long runs, and/or run when the weather is miserable, more for my psychological challenge than for the physical. That is why I have 36 complete marathons without a DNF. One of them was during Hurricane Ike. Another, the Boston Marathon, was two weeks after a bout with bronchitis (not a PR, but I still got my medal.) Therefore, I recommend you do whatever is the hardest and most satisfying. For me, that would be two long weeks, followed by the normal taper.

  16. I’ve done this kind of thing 🙂 .I think I made the missing week a combo of workouts I loved (usually ones I felt I did well at) and workouts I felt (or knew) I needed. (like if I needed to work on spending time at goal pace, or faster intervals or whatever).

  17. I did basically the same thing. Using the Own it Plan, I finished week 6, when in fact I should have finished week 3. I was beyond consolation because I thought I would have burned out completely. I’m feeling it. I opted to backtrack and do Week 3 again and finish like I should. You could do basically the same thing. Do another Week 6 and maybe cutback on the nine miler. Good luck.

  18. As I tell most runners attacking their first longer race, repeat the week that you just completed. You know you can do it – so it will feel super to do it again. Keep up the great work! I, too, can relate to the nasty winter and snow being in Cleveland.

  19. Fun to me is a nap. Usually I call the fun workout days rest days. I have 4 kids, 4 dogs, and a full time job in healthcare…do I really need to think of something else to keep my on my feet? On any given day I’ve already played catch, went bike riding with my 6 year old, toted laundry baskets, pushed wheelchairs, and danced at the grocery store (they play good music at Kroger!) So, I call it good.
    And I agree with Holly above as to which week to repeat. And although I’ve never built in additional “just in case” weeks, that sounds like a great idea.

  20. I struggle with the “Fun” workouts too. I have to make so many decisions in my life, I look forward the training plan telling me what to do. One less decision to make. I have found on YouTube there are several videos available. I did a search “Yoga for Runners” and found a really great 30 minute video that I do in my living room. The kids laugh at my unflexible-ness and poor balance, but I always feel better after I do it.
    As far as the extra week, I always add weeks to my training plan. I figure someone will get sick or life will get crazy and I’ll need to the extra weeks to stay on track. Just repeat a week in the middle somewhere and call it good.

  21. You are so freaking funny. I love this column. Don’t lengthen the taper – it’s plenty long enough already. I agree with everyone else – just repeat any week from the middle of the plan. I never managed any of the fun workouts on that plan either and I’m afraid I generally just threw in an extra run.

  22. I too would just repeat a week in the middle, gives you a little “reboot”. I vote zumba or some sort of dance workout for fun, always makes me sweat and I feel like I’ve worked out the next day even though at the time it just flashes me back to being 20 and out dancing with friends. Added bonus I get to laugh at myself when I catch my reflection in the window:)

  23. Drink a martini and call it good (for the fun thing)! I’ve never done a half so can’t help you out with the missed week. Just bought Run Like a Mother so maybe a half is in the stars. Thanks for sharing your life…running and otherwise on Friday mornings. Love it!

  24. I would do week 7 or 10 in between weeks 8-9 again. It would be a cut back with your long runs being 8, 10, 8, 10-12,8. That would balance out well. You are doing great! I, too, have horrible weather that is not adding “fun” into my workouts.

  25. I usually use Ashtanga or bikram as a fun workout. Bikram is great if you hate the cold (until you step outside after spending 90 min in a 105 degree room).
    As far as the skipped week, definitely repeat one of the closer ones, but reward yourself for it so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Massage, anyone?

  26. I actually like to “build” an extra week into my training plan in case of illness or something else that may come up with the fam. If everything goes according to plan, about a month out I would put an easy/recovery type week in. I don’t think you should build onto your taper. I’ve only run one half so I’m speaking from a very limited experience but these are my thoughts.

  27. It depends how you are feeling. Are you tired a a lot? Are you kinds dreading running? If you are on the verge of being overt trained, you could do a step back week with the extra week . Maybe only do a long run of 6 miles. I love having step back weeks in my plans. They give me a chance to re-charge a little.

  28. Can you monitor ballroom dance at SUCO for fun? It’s a workout. Personally, I would pick a week, right now, and repeat it. I counted wrong and did this mid-training once.

  29. My first reaction is Yay! I didn’t really screw up and skip a week. 🙂 I would likely pick a week in the middle that gives me the “I got this” feeling. That way it doesn’t feel like an added chore and it doesn’t feel too easy. 🙂 It would feel like it was supposed to be there. ha ha

    Fun workout
    *Family yoga with a twister mat.
    *Couples yoga at home with YouTube videos telling you want to do. Believe it or not doing poses with someone is challenging and full of giggles!
    *Personal challenge ~ Find/create a list of exercises that should take more time than you have allotted (45 min) and challenge yourself (or someone else) to see how much you can get done in your allotted time. Or even better set up a webcam and giggle and laugh with a long distance friend while you both do the challenge.
    *Wii game 🙂 You play and set a level then tell your kiddos to try and beat yours after they get home from school.

  30. I would just repeat a week. Seven looks good! 🙂 As far as fun, nothing beats fun for me then a challenge to my girls playing Just Dance on the Wii. It gets your heart rate up and generates some friendly competition in the house. Winner of each song gets to pick the next. 🙂

  31. I am doing one of their plans and my “fun” workout when it was warm out consisted of riding my bike to Barnes and noble (6 miles). Two weeks ago I walked my dog with my husband to Starbucks and got a chai latte. Not what they had in mind when they wrote the plan, I am sure, but it worked for me!
    I agree with Kari; I would just repeat a week…too long a taper makes you antsy.

  32. I agree with Kari, at least you didn’t skip one! I’d say do week 7 twice, that way you give yourself TWO of the dreaded “fun” workout. As far as those go, I’ve done the TLAM Own and Finish plans and usually lean towards a yoga DVD – no classes out in the boonies. It always feels so good to get some good deep stretches into my super-tight muscles. Good luck, and thanks for the Friday morning laughs the last few weeks!

  33. What an interesting problem to have! I wouldn’t lengthen the taper as the TLAM plans are longer than most. I’d just repeat a week toward the middle.

    My fun workouts are usually things like Bodypump or a spin class. Sometimes I treat myself to yoga. I’d look at YouTube for some workouts – kickboxing, Jillian, etc. There’s tons of free stuff from BeFit. I also like to take out DVDs from the library.

  34. Wow – first thing I’d do is be thankful I didn’t go the other way and write the same week twice! This is a good challenge to have. Myself, I would probably repeat the week I just did, or do the next week 2x. Too much taper would make me nervous. Also – fun workout? I’m with you. Until this weather breaks, there just isn’t a whole lot that fits!

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