Friendly Fifteen

in Marathon Training

Previous marathon training long runs:


I had a FABULOUS 15.0-mile training run this morning!  Mileage is ALWAYS better with friends.

IMG_1228 IMG_1229

IMG_1230  IMG_1232

Alright – so clearly, Maggie wasn’t involved in the training run, but Jen and Emily sure helped me along!


With any training program – but especially for marathons – there will be ebbs and flows with your long runs.  It’s just part of being human.  I’ve learned to accept the ‘bad’ runs more gracefully (after all, they teach you a LOT!) and really relish the good runs. 


Emily ran the full 15.0 with me, which helped because she’s definitely a tad bit stronger and faster than I am.  It really motivated me to keep on trucking.


And we looped back around Mile 10 to grab Jen, who already did her long run this week, and we all finished up together.


The run didn’t start off that well, truthfully.  I slept horribly and woke up feeling groggy.  I try not to get into the “This is going to be a bad run” mindset because it really doesn’t help the situation at all!  I ate my standard breakfast (PB sandwich with a banana and coffee):


Once Emily arrived at my place, I just decided to focus on chatting with her and tried not to focus too much on the actual running.


We stopped at a gas station around Mile 3.0 to buy a Gatorade.  I had two servings (about 300 calories) over the course of the run.  I’m experimenting with solid food calories (Gels or jelly beans) vs. drink calories.  It seemed to work well today!


Emily and I rarely walked – we took a few breaks to drink water or stretch out our legs (timed).  I think we just wanted it to be OVER!  Once Jen joined us, things really picked up.  I actually hit a 9-minute mile during the last mile because I wanted to be done so, so bad.


My splits:


  • Distance: 15.0 miles
  • Duration: 2:36:35 (average of 10:26)
  • Mile 1: 10:15
  • Mile 2: 10:07
  • Mile 3: 9:59
  • Mile 4: 9:48
  • Mile 5: 10:08
  • Mile 6:  11:17
  • Mile 7: 10:29
  • Mile 8: 10:30
  • Mile 9: 10:26
  • Mile 10: 11:01
  • Mile 11: 10:41
  • Mile 12: 10:28
  • Mile 13: 10:32
  • Mile 14: 11:06
  • Mile 15: 9:48 <— wowza!


Hip, hip, hooooray!


Came home and immediately made a protein shake:


Which contained 1 cup almond milk, 1 banana, 2 scoops brown rice protein, frozen cherries, and two mini Resee’s PB cups <—epic.


Showered and ate lunch:


Leftover No-Cheese Salsa Verde Enchilada:


Two pieces of bread with tabbouli:


And a salad (trying to eat some veggies, too, not just straight carbs):


Now that my stomach is satisfied (for now, this will probably last me an hour at the most!), I’m going to take a well-deserved nap.


One of the things that Jen, Emily, and I were discussing on the run is my training plan.  Although I can’t be sure because the weather was so weird for my first marathon, I think I need to do more long runs and have a shorter taper period than most training plans call for (safely, of course, so I don’t get injured).  That’s why I’m already at 15.0 miles even though my marathon isn’t until December.  Emily prefers a longer taper (3 weeks), while Jen needs a shorter one (1.5). 


What modifications do you make to typical training plans to make them work for YOU and YOUR BODY?



  • Nicole - August 29, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Back in the day when I was running long races I preferred a short taper as well, like 2 weeks. Otherwise I felt overwhelmed by the race distance. Good job on 15!

  • Miranda August 29, 2010, 12:30 pm

    I love the pic of Maggie! It makes me laugh/smile every time you post a pic of her. I’m glad to see a run recap today. I realized I’ve missed all the race recaps. Great job today!

  • Heather August 29, 2010, 12:34 pm

    great job, I would want to get it over with, too!
    I taper 1.5 for a half and will probably do 2 for my full

  • Jill August 29, 2010, 12:37 pm

    I went to the promise land yesterday (TJ”s) and picked up some ingredients for the no cheese enchiladas. So looking forward to dinner 🙂

  • Rachel August 29, 2010, 12:48 pm

    Hahahaha I love that picture of Maggie. It almost made me spit my water out! 🙂

  • Freya (Brit Chick Runs) August 29, 2010, 12:54 pm

    Congratulations on the run!! I’m so jealous you got to do it with friends :p
    I’m following my first ever official plan so I haven’t made many changes – the only one being so far that I did my 12mile run early so I could avoid the Chicago HLS heat!
    (btw – my last comment got eaten :()

  • Brooke - One Healthy Cookie August 29, 2010, 12:55 pm

    Haha, Maggie is adorable!

  • Amanda (modernation) August 29, 2010, 12:59 pm

    Great job on the run. I have been taking in more liquid calories on my long runs and really like it. I have been using Hammer Perpetuem and I really like it. It is more calorie dense than sports drinks and has a really subtle taste.

  • christina cadden August 29, 2010, 1:04 pm

    Good job on your run!

  • Evan Thomas August 29, 2010, 1:06 pm

    Congratulations! Those two girls are strong, tough runners. They really put me through my paces on the 16 mile HLS run

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing August 29, 2010, 1:09 pm

    Love the Reese’s cup in the smoothie!!! And 15 miles.. you rock!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) August 29, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Your lunch looks so good! Glad you had some friends to run with. Definitely makes for a better time! Enjoy your nap and congrats on the run and the time!

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans August 29, 2010, 1:23 pm

    My marathon is coming up in about a month (eek!), and I’ve found that running every other day is really the ticket for me and my body. I’ve also been doing long runs like whoa, which I know has really helped me out and will hopefully pay off on race day!

  • Stacey August 29, 2010, 1:25 pm

    Yay! I’m glad you had a great long run this morning 😀 I seem to like longer runs better than short ones…my mind sort of goes into auto-mode and I think of nothing the entire run, it’s awesome.
    And your lunch looks GREAT too, it’s made me hungry–time to go raid the fridge. Happy napping to you 😉

  • Kristen @ That Hoosier Girl August 29, 2010, 1:30 pm

    Good job!

    I only tapered for about a week for my half marathon. My body forgets things quickly 🙂

    Love the picture of Maggie – something about pets just make me smile!

  • Erica August 29, 2010, 1:35 pm

    Great job on the run! Love that you threw the picture of Maggie in there 😉 She and Frank are more of the cheerleading vs. participating types. I love running with friends- it really does make the time fly. Your post run shake sounds really tasty. I bet the addition of the PB cups was amazing! Do you find rice protein tastes kind of….gritty? When I used it, I found I needed a good amount of add ins to cover up the flavor. Have a great rest of the day

    • Caitlin August 30, 2010, 9:48 am

      Yes it’s kind of chalky. I wish there were better non-whey proteins out there.

  • kristina ( August 29, 2010, 1:39 pm

    Running with friends makes a long run always better. I ran the last half of my long run with my hubby today with was so lovely. I definitely modify my training plans based on my past experience. This time I’m only running 4 days a week instead of 5 like I did last time. I am planning to taper for 2.5 weeks prior to my marathon.

  • Little Bookworm August 29, 2010, 1:47 pm

    Congrats on the run! 🙂

  • Krista @ Can't Survive on Yarn Alone August 29, 2010, 1:57 pm

    The first set of images w Maggie made me immediately think of the “One of these things (is not like the other”) song from Sesame Street.

  • Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place August 29, 2010, 2:21 pm

    LOL love the photo of maggie. too cute! great job on the run as usual..I wish i had some running buddies nearby.

  • hippierunner August 29, 2010, 2:24 pm

    Awesome job! I’m thinking of doing the LA Marathon and I’ve only trained according to what we were told to do in Students Run LA, which give us long runs only towards the end so we don’t get worn out too soon!

  • AngelaOSG August 29, 2010, 2:25 pm

    Great job ladies!

  • Caitlin August 29, 2010, 2:29 pm

    When swimming, I do less focus more on quality than quantity. For example, when others might do 4 laps fast, I do only one or two. My body is annoyingly sensitive, so I become far too exhausted if I push as much as others do. It took me YEARS to figure this out and I’m so glad I finally did!

    • Caitlin August 29, 2010, 2:31 pm

      Oops that was supposed to read “I do less yardage and focus more on quality than quantity”!

  • Alyssa August 29, 2010, 2:30 pm

    I did my first 18 miler yesterday and I was really embarrassed to have to ask my running buddies to slow down around mile 2, but I knew I couldn’t keep that pace for 16 more miles! At the end though, they were both struggling while I was feeling good, and they were grateful I had slowed them down. Lesson learned, speak up and don’t start out too fast.

  • Andrea August 29, 2010, 2:50 pm

    Oh my goodness. I love reading your blog but I especially love to see the beautiful pictures of your food. I just want to come over and eat. Everything you eat looks so good. I especially want to try those enchiladas and the protien shake. I had 11 this week and it went great. I’ve got 17 coming up next Saturday and it has been a few months since I’ve run 17. I think I’m going to try the pb and banana sandwich before my run as well. I know I need to eat more before my runs. I always run out of food energy. Anyway, good for you on a great run.

  • Amanda (tomboythatwearsmakeup August 29, 2010, 3:10 pm

    I haven’t been running as much lately. I have been hiking and doing yoga. 5 days in a row now, I’ve done both. Going for 7 straight days and then talk a lil break.
    Good job with your running!!

  • Steph @ Epicurious Runner August 29, 2010, 3:11 pm

    Glad you had a good run! I was so nervous about mine, but it ended up being a really great one! I may need to take a nap later too. I agree, your food always does look delicious.

  • BostonRunner August 29, 2010, 3:11 pm

    I modify training plans to have only four runs a week (in my experience most have five). This works best for me because then I really focus on quality of each run rather than quantity. Plus I’m very prone to shin splints so running on consecutive days consistently isn’t good.
    I’m interested to know how runners know if they prefer a short taper period or a long one? Is it just from experience or is there another reason for the preference?

    • Caitlin August 30, 2010, 9:49 am

      I think they just figure it out over time… Trial and error!

  • John August 29, 2010, 3:16 pm

    Nice run Caitlin especially your last mile! Some day I’ll have to try running with someone though it wouldn’t have helped today due to a sore heel.

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! August 29, 2010, 3:18 pm

    GREAT RUN! I completed my first 10 Mile Run last Saturday in 2 hours and 15 minutes, man I am a lot slower then you but you also have a few years head start (running wise) on me too so I am not comparing really……just think your time is great. =)

    I always modified my Training Plans to fit my busy work & home (hubby & little one) schedule so I can fit the most runs in as possible.

  • Sana August 29, 2010, 3:20 pm

    Not running 😉 I can only run once in a while- so that is what I dooo 🙂

  • Lauren @ Health on the Run August 29, 2010, 3:24 pm

    Congrats on the run!! Having friends to do long runs with definitely makes them go by faster…and helps you push harder! (and Jen is an awesome runner/running buddy :)).

    In the past I’ve tweaked marathon plans so much to fit my own schedule/training needs that for this marathon, I just created my own. It’s so much easier to just make something that works, instead of always having to second-guess the plan. I know I personally like to have a two week taper period, so I start cutting back on my overall mileage and long runs a full two weeks before the race. I also need to do more than 1 20-miler. I find that the marathon is easier if I can get through more than one in training so I always build in 2 – 3 (I think my body “learns” a lot from the first one and the second and third make it stronger). But everyone is different, and this is all just stuff that I’ve learned over time through trial and error.

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans August 29, 2010, 3:27 pm

    Great job Caitlin!! I gulped Gatorade on my 11 mile run today and I think the calories really helped (I am usually a water only gal on practice runs)

  • Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat August 29, 2010, 3:31 pm

    YUM! I would eat so many more protein shakes if I put reese’s PB cups in them! Awesome idea.

    I also grabbed some Gatorade on my 8 mile long run today. I grabbed the G2 version, which I realized wouldn’t give me as many carbs/sugars as I wanted. At least it helped by giving my body something cold, refreshing, and different1

  • Emily August 29, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Great job on your run! That shake looks amaaazing. Love that you used pb cups in it.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 29, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Great job on that 15 miles, especially the last one!! You must have been excited for that post-workout shake! 🙂 For my first marathon, I used a taper period of 2 weeks. My last long run was on a Saturday, and the race was 2 weeks after the Sunday. During the taper time, I did run a bit, but nothing longer than 1 hour. I did some lower impact cardio as well, like teaching spin and a few sessions on the elliptical. Nothing too intense though because I really didn’t want to injure myself pre-race!

  • Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) August 29, 2010, 4:30 pm

    I’m so glad you had a great run. 15 miles is so amazing and that last mile – wow!!

  • Jenna @ EatingGreen, StayingLean August 29, 2010, 4:34 pm

    Congrats on that run! 15 miles is awesome!

  • Halley (Blunder Construction) August 29, 2010, 4:42 pm

    Still nomming prepared tabouli or have you tried homemade? I have been wanting to make my own because I too go through the store-bought stuff too quickly.

    • Caitlin August 30, 2010, 9:51 am

      still nomming prepared – i’m going to try to make some this week!

  • Heather (heather's dish) August 29, 2010, 4:45 pm

    it’s so crazy…this was about the time that i initially started reading your blog…right when you were training for the Disney marathon! it’s so awesome to see how far you’ve come and how in tune with your body’s needs you’re becoming 🙂

  • Samantha August 29, 2010, 4:48 pm

    For those whose bodies can handle it, I think a shorter taper is great. Although my old running coach always said it’s better to go in on less miles but rested and strong than to go in burned out from too much running. It’s a gray area where one really has to listen to their body, and be flexible enough to change the plan if need be. If you’re sick or injured, you must rest. If you’re mentally burned out, cross training a little to pull your mind away from the constant running is a great option in the short term.

    Way to bang out 15, at a beautiful pace I might add!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 29, 2010, 4:53 pm

    Nice job on the 15 miles! I biked about that distance yesterday and I can’t imagine ever running that far!

  • Stacey@ August 29, 2010, 5:14 pm

    That’s fantastic that you could run that far. You did even more then a half marathon today. What an inspiration.

  • Jessica@tastyandtrim August 29, 2010, 5:24 pm

    I was reading through my September issue of fitness magazine and I jumped up when I saw that you and Operation Beautiful were mentioned on page 28! That’s amazing, Congrats 🙂

    • Caitlin August 30, 2010, 9:51 am

      Yay! Thanks!

  • Theodora August 29, 2010, 5:35 pm

    I had some knee/lower back/IT band issues between my two half-marathons, so a trainer I’m working with designed a marathon plan for me that incorporates a lot of biking–sometimes in place of runs!–to build up my endurance but not stress out my poor knees/lower back more than necessary.

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit August 29, 2010, 5:56 pm

    Awesome run! Thanks for all the details about the food you eat before and after these long runs- I only did 7 miles today and I’ve been hungry ALL day! Didn’t eat a ton, though, but I felt like I did. I’m going to have to think more deliberately about fueling when I increase my mileage.

  • holly @ couchpotatoathlete August 29, 2010, 6:54 pm

    I have always followed a Hal Higdon program for my marathon and my half marathons — I think they include a 3 week taper. It has seemed to work well. You had great times today! Way to go!

    Do you know where Emily got that running tank from? It looks so comfortable.

    • Caitlin August 30, 2010, 9:52 am

      I think she’s blogging about it recently on her blog…. I can’t remember the brand though.

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter August 29, 2010, 7:15 pm

    Wow great run! When I go for even a 4 mile run my metabolism is crazy and needs food every hour.

  • Tina August 29, 2010, 7:20 pm

    15 miles is such a feat. I would want to simply be done as well. Great job!

  • Chelsey August 29, 2010, 7:37 pm

    Nice job on the run!!!!

    I do what my body tells me. I may have a run/workout planned, but if I am sore or just plain exhausted, I know my body will hate me when I attempt to do my long run at the end of the week. It works!

  • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul August 29, 2010, 7:47 pm

    Kudos to you on this accomplishment! Running with someone slightly (or much, in my case) stronger really helps. I ran a race this weekend with my husband and pushed myself so much more than I think I could have without him. And it paid off!

  • Carol August 29, 2010, 8:01 pm

    Our training schedule had us doing 20 miles today, but we follow the 10:1 rule in our clinics and stick by the credo that Sunday long runs are long, SLOW runs. Our pace was 8:08/km (sorry, Mr. Garmin is Canadian!!) which is right in our pace zone for a 5-hour finish.
    As for Gu’s and such, for the last 6 months or so, I have strictly run with a water/OJ combination. Mix water and juice about 50/50 and add a teaspoon or so of sea salt, or a few drops of trace minerals. I find this really works for me. Keeps my sugars level, I’m not hungry, nor am I lagging in energy. And on race day, I only grab water at the water stations, and up the OJ a bit in the mix. I just don’t like that I don’t really know what goes into those gels and I’m trying to eat cleanly. I know what’s in OJ!
    Good job on the run. You’ll rock the marathon.

    • Caitlin August 30, 2010, 9:53 am

      OJ sounds interesting! I should try that!

  • Kayla August 29, 2010, 8:05 pm

    Congrats on the run, girl! I’m also of the mindset that a partner makes it easier. I was training for a half-marathon with my fiance until he suffered a stress fracture. I kept going but it wasn’t the same without him. He’s easing back into running again, and we’re running together again, and although we’ve only been doing a mile or two at a time, I haven’t taken any breaks because I don’t want to disappoint him. Friends really are the best motivation, aren’t they?

  • Wei-Wei August 29, 2010, 8:36 pm

    LOL. I thought Maggie ran with you guys! Great run, though. I think that friends definitely make everything better! I’ve never ran a race before, and I’ve just started running so I haven’t been thinking about distance yet, just time. Week 3 of the C25K plan has just started! 😀

  • Sarah (this is it) August 29, 2010, 8:37 pm

    I used to have a jelly bean (the sports one) before running earlier in the year, but I hated the flavor (Cherry) and I struggled to have just one, which I don’t think had a huge impact on my performance. I think it was the “placebo” effect that helped me power through! I also found that putting the little powerbar brand gummies in my little key pocket on my shorts isn’t cool because the gummy melts into the clothing. I stick to mint gum now.

  • lindsay August 29, 2010, 8:56 pm

    Thank you for the blogging tips! I have been trying to create a photo blog for weeks now and I could not figure out word press. I couldn’t get my photos to line up or look nice at all. But Windows Live Writer is awesome! Thank you for this tip!!

  • Jen August 29, 2010, 9:41 pm

    So much fun running with you, as always! I love that picture of Maggie.

  • Laurie August 29, 2010, 10:34 pm

    I thought of you this morning when I was “whining” in my head about my little 3 miler. You had said you’d be out running the 15, so I had a little virtual company along the way. Thanks!

  • Tina August 29, 2010, 10:47 pm


  • Joanne August 30, 2010, 9:42 am

    Great run. You put in some AWESOME miles!

    I’ve been trying different things with food as well. Actually waking up at 2:30 to choke down a banana with PB, 2 hours before my run starts.
    My stomach feels crappy when I head out so I can’t eat anything before starting on my run but around mile 4 will take a gel. Then sports beans at mile 7 or 8 and the last gel around 13. That has gotten me through 3 x 20plus mile runs.
    I think the proper fueling comes from the days BEFORE the run instead of right before.
    I’ve actually felt better running 7 to 10 miles on a completely empty stomach. But that idea scares me for a really long run although I know people who do it.

    • Caitlin August 30, 2010, 9:55 am

      I agree that extra fuel the day before makes a huge difference!

  • Laurie August 30, 2010, 9:49 am

    Sounds like a great fun run! Maggie looked like she had fun! ha ha. Caitlin, need some more doggie updates on your puppy page!

  • Brittany August 30, 2010, 11:56 am

    For my first couple marathons, I followed one of Hal Higdon’s plans, but now I don’t really use a plan, per se. The general structure of my running schedule echoes Higdon’s plans, but sometimes I run 4 days per week, sometimes 7, and I never have to pressure to stick to a plan, since I don’t have one anyway. I like to build in a 20-miler every other week almost from the get-go, and I like to do speedwork every other week, rather than every week. This makes for a large range of weekly mileage – from only 30-35 miles some weeks to 70+ other weeks. Works for my body, prepares me for the race, and keeps me motivated, which are the most important parts of a training plan, anyway!

  • Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun August 30, 2010, 12:44 pm

    Whoa 15 miles – and the 15th mile was the shortest?! Nice! 🙂

  • whitney August 30, 2010, 3:24 pm

    congrats on your run! I just ran 14 on Saturday and it was VERY HARD.

    It’s funny we both ran the Disney for our first marathon and now we are training at the same time again for another marathon except mine is no where near yours 🙁

    I have been trying to incorporate more cross training and sprinting in my training because my knees begin to hurt with all the pounding and I tend to run extra slow for long runs

  • Lisa August 30, 2010, 6:35 pm

    Haha! I love the photo of Maggie!

  • Sassy Molassy August 31, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Caitlin, nice work on the 15. I’m training for my 5th marathon now and have realized over time that as much as my brain might want to run 5-6 days a week, my body doesn’t handle that too well. So instead, I’m focusing my training to 3-4 strong days of running and putting in the time I NEED to get myself ready for the Portland Marathon. I’m also doing a good job at stretching more, doing my phys therapy exercises to get my left hip/hamstring stronger, and doing yoga. Ultimately, I’m just listening to my body more this time around.

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