Marathon Training Chronicles- Installment #11

Less than seven weeks until Marathon Day!! I’m really glad I decided to document everything I’m doing. It’ll be fun to look back at all these blog posts one day– maybe 10 years from now when I’m crushing my 10th marathon. Even though I am planning out each step of my training, there’s been changes and pivots along the way.

this is obviously what I think of every time I say the word pivot

The next five weeks I’m focusing on increasing my total mileage per week. Last week I got 30 miles in over a four-day period. I don’t know if I’ll get to 35-40 miles per week on four days, but I’ll try. Here’s the breakdown of last week’s runs:

Wednesday- 5.3 miles on the treadmill; Friday- 3.2 miles outside (did some speed intervals); Saturday- 12.5 miles on the treadmill; and Sunday- 9.1 miles on the treadmill. I am really happy with my progress of being able to do back-to-back longer runs. Doing 12.5 and then 9.1 the following day is something I never even would’ve dreamed of attempting two months ago. It just goes to show that consistency pays off… but also, when you’re not given much of a choice of when you can do your mid-long runs, you make it work regardless. My body may try to tell me I can’t, but my mind is saying, “but you have to!!” And, of all the runs last week, my favorite was the 9.1 miles on the treadmill. I got in the zone, I was playing with the speed and I got through 9.1 feeling like I could’ve done another mile or two easily.

The next few weeks are going to be a little different because I am pivoting off my original plan of strength training 3 days and running 3 days. I’ve been dealing with a shoulder issues for many months that I keep ignoring. I figure if there’s ever a time to ease up on lifting weights, now is the time since I’m training for a marathon. That doesn’t mean I won’t do a full-body weight workout once a week until marathon day. It’s just not going to be a major part of my training right now. I’m focusing on running, stretching, and core work. Another thing I’m working on is starting slower. My runs have been a little faster than they probably should be- if I can slow it down to 9:30 pace for my long runs, that will help. I notice that my runs are always better when I give myself time to get into it. I’ve always been that way. I like to start slow, let my body warm up and then I’ll fall into a good pace. The goal is to finish- I’m not winning the marathon so the time is irrelevant. (However, if you’re a runner, you can’t help but have a goal in mind. And, if you’re wondering, mine hasn’t changed since my training started- I want to finish in 4:30:00- four hours and thirty minutes).

My goal for this week is 32-33 miles with a 16-17 mile run on Saturday. I am getting a little nervous because I only have four to five more long runs left before the big day. I’d like to do 16-17 miles once; 18-19 once and then 20-21 once. If I can make that happen over the course of the next four to five weeks I will feel really good going into race day. I’m hoping that giving myself more active rest days (i.e. stretching and ab work) it’ll give my legs a break and I’ll feel good on all my runs.

Other things I’m thinking about… 1) what am I wearing on race day? I think I know which leggings but I have to decide on my upper half. I will probably work out a couple of different options based on the weather. 2) How am I going to handle eating before the race? I usually don’t eat before I run but I’m typically not up for more than 45-60 minutes before I run. On race day, I will probably be waking up a good 2-3 hours before the race starts. I’m thinking a banana on the drive over and my pre-workout about 20-30 minutes prior to race time. That’s what I’ve done when I’ve run half marathons and it’s worked out OK. I’ll also be using the water backpack and the chews that I got on race day. I know there’s water stops along the way but I want to limit my stopping at least through the first 15 miles or so.

Wish me luck as I start ramping up my mileage!

Marathon Training Chronicles- Installment #6

Week 5 is in the books and it was a great week overall. I started a new strength training program that I’m doing on Monday/Wednesday/Thursday. Monday is lower body, Wednesday is upper body and Thursday is full body. I’ve done this program before and I really enjoyed it. The workouts are about 35 minutes long so it’s right in my sweet spot time-wise. It’s fast-paced, a lot of volume, and it gets my heart rate up. I decided that Tuesdays are going to be a cardio day- usually HIIT or some sort of callisthenic-type training. However, after this past week, I realized I might need to use Tuesdays as a second rest day (if I feel my body needs it). Thursday, Saturday and Sunday were my run days.

Let’s start with Thursday. Thursday has been a shorter run because I have to wait until after I drop the kids at school. I like to get it done as quickly as possible so I can get to work and get on with my day. This past Thursday was a little rainy but not too cold. I’ve been staying in my neighborhood for my Thursday morning runs. I have a big loop I can do twice to get me somewhere between 3- 3.5 mile depending on how big I make the loop. It’s been working out nicely.

I like having my rest day on Friday (well, not really. I’m not a fan of rest days from a mental standpoint, but I know my body needs it from a physical standpoint). My point is, I like having my rest day the day before my long run day. It stops me from coming up with an excuse about why my legs are tired during my long runs. I try to minimize the amount of things my brain can use as excuses. Even though I enjoy running and training, I don’t always want to do it in the moment.

I woke up Saturday with a GREAT attitude about my run. I was ready to take on 11 miles. When I went outside, I was hit with that 21 degree air and I wasn’t happy, to say the least. The rain turned to ice the night before so I knew it was going to be an interesting run the minute I started trotting down my street. I figured it wasn’t the worst thing in the world considering I was trying to keep my pace a little slower. The first 6 miles weren’t bad. I was trying out a new route which took me a long ways from home (on foot, in icy conditions). In hindsight, it probably wasn’t my smartest move, but I had to do what I had to do. I turned on Whiskey Road around mile 6 and the air felt like it got 10 degrees colder. I wasn’t happy. I continued until I reached my next turn where I spent almost 3 miles cursing– the wind started up and was cutting through my gloves, my shirt, my sweatshirt. I was freezing. I was miserable. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stop and call Nick or my dad to pick me up. But I knew my hands probably wouldn’t even work to make a phone call. By the time I got back to my house my watch said 10.75 miles. On any other day I would’ve ran past my house and made it an even 11; but I was so cold and frustrated that I just stopped at 10.75 miles.

It took my hands hours to warm up. Frostbite, maybe? I don’t know. They were red and not too happy with me. I decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to torture myself with running in conditions like that- especially for runs that were longer than 3-4 miles. After running some errands with the kids, I ran into Planet Fitness and reactivated my account. I knew that Sunday was going to be cold again and I didn’t want to run in 17 degree weather.

What I looked like on Saturday’s run vs. Sunday’s run

Sunday’s run was A LOT better considering I did it on the treadmill at Planet Fitness. I haven’t run on a treadmill in so long. It felt good to be back in a gym and it also felt good to utilize the treadmill for training. I was scheduled to run 5 miles on Sunday but after missing my goal on Saturday by 1/4 mile, I decided to go for a 10k (6.2 miles) on Sunday. It was good. My breathing felt so much easier inside rather than outside in 20 degree weather. I’m still going to try to do the bulk of my training outside. But on super cold or super windy AND cold days, I’m going to the treadmill option. There’s no need for me to be miserable. I want my training to be enjoyable. And while I understand that it’s not always going to be unicorns and rainbows, I don’t want to put myself in situations where my hands will get frostbitten.

On the docket for this week: a 3-4 mile run on Thursday; a half marathon (13.1) on Saturday or Sunday and 5 miles the opposite day.

In running gear news… I purchased new socks. I prefer no-show, ankle socks but sometimes when I run outside I get a piece of gravel or a pebble in my shoe and then I end up with cuts on my ankles (happened on Saturday). So I bought some news socks on Amazon that will go up over my leggings a couple inches, which will prevent gravel/pebbles from getting in AND will cover the 1/2 inch of skin that is usually exposed to the cold. A two-fer! Nick also let me borrow his water backpack thingamabob. I am not much of a water drinker while I run but I’ve never run more than a half marathon. I know for longer runs I’m going to need water. I want to try it out this weekend when I do the half and see how it goes. I will provide my thoughts next week. (-: