Wow! Training for a marathon is like a part-time job. It’s been nearly two months since my last update on training for the Charlevoix Marathon. The short story is training has been going well and I’m feeling confident about running my best race and believing its possible for me to achieve my marathon goal. Crazy! But it’s not a short story. It’s been 13 weeks of training that seem to have gone by quick. It’s been 13 weeks of being supported by some awesome friends that made tempo runs and long runs feel good! And that’s what I have to share with you today.
So lets go back to the beginning of April. My favorite speed workout is 12x400s. Of course on the day I set out to do it, it was down-pouring rain and 37 degrees F outside. But the high school kids were on Easter Break so I had an empty track to go to after work. All 12 were between 1:52 & 1:55 (goal was 1:55). That called for a selfie! A good start, right?
Later that week I had my first 5-mile tempo run (on the track). My long run was 12 miles that week which I did at local park with a one mile loop. All I kept thinking about was a hot shower and a hot carmel macchiato- the windchill made it feel like 19 degrees F! That was week seven of training and I felt like I was finally starting to put the real work in. I hit 38 miles for the week, was still going to hot yoga once a week, but felt I lacked the cross-training goals (no surprise, you’ll see that didn’t improve as this blog post goes on).
I should mention now that it was at this point I gave up on my one salad per week new year’s resolution. Whoops.
The next week, we had a beautiful day! It warmed to 73 degrees F! And this is when it gets good. My lovely friend Jess came with for my 5-mile tempo run. She rode alongside on a bike and her husband came with roller blades. Somehow, I managed all the miles under my 8:46 goal pace. I’ll admit I wasn’t very confident with the higher temps and wind gusts…
By the weekend it was cold and rainy and miserable out again. My weekend runs were all on the treadmill. Even my ten mile long run. I forget which show I was watching on Netflix but it went by much faster than I thought it would. And when it was looking like this outside, yeah, I’ll go down to the basement to run:
Training week nine went even better. My goal mileage for the week was 47 miles! I did my speed workout on Wednesday and although it was sunny and in the low 40s, the temperature really dropped as the workout went on. The workout was 5x1000s and its gotta be one of my least favorite distances to repeat, next to 1200s. It was hard to say whether I hit the split or was a few seconds behind. I was going by an approximate distance on my watch (0.62-0.65 mile aka whenever I glanced down and realized I needed to stop). No open track for me to run at. That evening I tried cooking with polenta! The attractive picture of the mushroom dish always stood out in the Runner’s World cookbook cover and I finally came across polenta in the store. I had bought the pre-cooked kind and it was a little questionable when I first started but it did taste pretty good! (There was cheese added to the polenta, so yeah, it tasted good.)
The tempo run distance increased that week from 5 to 8 miles. This week I was joined by my friend Emily and we went down some streets with a long straightaway and then into a park with an asphalt pathway. It was a little cooler in the 50s. I was really surprised by the splits and later my legs were feeling it. Even instantly when we went from the asphalt path back to the concrete sidewalks.
My long run that week was 15 miles! I don’t think I went that far last year when I was training for halfs. The run felt so good. Don’t get me wrong, the last few miles felt hard but all splits were between 8:48 and 9:08 (except for a random 8:34 at mile three). Jon and I had perfect weather in the low 60s.
More notably, I am getting better with eating enough before I run. I only ate chews at mile seven. It’s hard to figure out how much I should consume (people say like X amount every 45 minutes or something?). I burn less calories a mile than other people so if anyone can tell me what’s best, please, do tell, because following that general statement feels like too much.
In my 10th week of training it didn’t feel hard to get all the miles in (48). Oh the day after the 15 miles it was tough to get going and I could feel it in the hips. My sister joined me on the bike and we ran through neighborhoods and showed up at my aunt’s house to say hi! Tuesday’s speed workout was 4x1200s. I didn’t hit the right times even though my effort felt hard.
I had a rest day before my 8-mile tempo run. My friend Jess came with me on the bike. Of course it’s not a warm day and it lightly rained in the beginning and end of the ride. These tempo runs are getting easier, though! All eight were under goal pace!
During my run the next day all I could think about was how I needed a new pair of shoes. Do I wear the new pair (same model) for my next run of 13 miles or wait for a shorter run to help break them in? Yeah, yeah, I know the rule and I would have advised anyone to wait for a shorter run. I didn’t listen to my own advice. And the new pair felt like running on clouds! Emily came with me and we took a brief rest to run up and down a giant sledding hill. At this point, I didn’t make it to yoga or had any cross-training on the stationary bike.
Week 11 was when things started to get a little rough. My weekly mileage goal was 54 and I only made it to 40 miles. On Monday my left Achilles’ tendon started feeling tender at work. I know what to do. Take two rest days. I did 30-60 minutes of core, strength, and upper body work on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I resumed training. Week 11 was the start of strength workouts. And I actually love the 6x1mi workout. It goes by quick and feels like you really accomplished something. Of course, if my Achilles’ acted up I would turn right back home. It never did and my sister got to bike 10 miles with me! It sure was a warm day and I’m glad we brought water with us. My splits were 8:26, 8:37, 8:35, 8:32, 8:32, and 8:39 (goal 8:36).
And I brought cash to get ice cream on our way home. The hardest part of the workout was walking a mile home with the bike while eating ice cream.
I basically had ice cream for dinner. That night I was sure to foam roll and do ankle strengthening exercises with a theraband. Because of my weekend plans I did my 8-mile tempo run the very next day. Jess joined me and guess what!? It was a downpour on us! And super windy! Jessica is the best! The temp had really dropped from the time we started and it didn’t help that we were soaked from the rain but we still went out to get Tim Horton’s ice capps afterwards.
Saturday morning I increased my long run distance to 16.6 miles. Emily met me at the trail and it was a warmer 59 degrees F, little wind, a sunny day. I had water about every three miles and chews at mile six and eleven. I also had negative splits on the way back and I didn’t realize the elevation was a descent on the return trip! I averaged 9:16 pace.
Afterwards Emily and I ate at a crepe restaurant and it was delicious!
Of course the 12th training week’s mileage was 49 and I fell ten short. I hadn’t been biking or going to yoga but I did keep up the core and upper body work. I had one good workout and one disappointing workout. On Tuesday I met my friend Donna for a a strength workout at the park. We did 4×1.5mi and I am so glad we could do it together. Thursday was a 9-mile tempo run. It was awful. I was miserable. It was hot and humid and I should have brought water with me. I even made the sixth mile a “recovery” mile (a 9:51 mile) to finish the remaining three of the tempo at goal pace. Nope, didn’t really help. As soon as I got home I got the chills right away- surely dehydrated. The week finished without much of a long run due to a busy weekend. It was a good start on adding core and upper body strength back in, though. And I know I wasn’t getting much sleep each night so I was feeling pretty tired.
Then we get to this past week. It started off great. Tuesday was another fabulous strength workout with Donna: 3x2mi. All six miles averaged in the 8:20s. And I made it back to hot yoga on Wednesday. It kicked my butt! Thursday I met Emily at the metropark. It was attempt #2 at my 9-mile tempo run. I averaged 8:41 pace and even more, its a hilly park. The last mile and a half were difficult and I had to talk a little less.
But then Friday. Ugh, I hate to admit when an injury happens. I’m stubborn. When my Achilles’ acts up, sure, its recurring and I rest and its good as new. But I’m going to be honest here. Friday morning my left knee started to hurt when I would stand up. And it got worse as the day went on, even while walking. Rest day. I did theraband side steps and leg lifts and foam rolled. I stretched. I iced it, too. Thank goodness, Saturday there was zero pain once. 100% honesty- I didn’t feel it once. I stretched and did more theraband work and foam rolled, again. And this morning, Sunday, zero pain. I stretched and went out for a super easy 2.5 mile run. Man, I am beyond grateful and I hope that’s behind me. I stretched when I came back and later I foam rolled and did more theraband work. Tomorrow I’ll resume training and I will NOT skip on the stretching and strengthening and foam rolling.
I was really looking forward to my 18 mile run this weekend. (I know, that’s a runner talking!) I’m trying to follow the Hanson’s Marathon Method beginner plan as best as I can. Their max long run distance is 16 miles, repeated three times during the training program. I want to do it a little bit different. I wanted to have an 18 and a 20 mile long run. Mainly for confidence. I remember during my first marathon when I reached mile 16, “crap, I still have ten more miles to go.” (It was SO HARD.) And I ‘get it’ in the book, it makes sense. So my 29.5 mile week really fell short from the 56 is was supposed to be.
This weekend was my birthday (25!) and it’s perfect timing for this blog post. I have two big things to wrap it up:
- If you’ve made it this far, you’ll realize I am so incredibly grateful for all my friends supporting my training: They are awesome! Even my friends who don’t run with me are important because they let me talk about my training, go to yoga with, or do ironstrength workout videos with me, the list goes on.
- And then what I’ve learned (or what I knew, slacked on, paid for it, and won’t make that mistake again): stretching and strength work is important and not to be skipped. Just five more weeks of training…