Minneapolis Marathon Training: Week One

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back...
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back…

My first week of training for the Minneapolis Marathon is in the books. After nearly a month away from running and a consistent gym schedule, I was nervous for myself that I would burn out right away from jumping back into a rigorous training schedule; however, I was delighted with myself that I rose to the challenge and attacked it. I think I am learning that I respond well to direction and routine and that I am not as free-spirited as I thought, with the exception of my intentions. Sometimes I need to KNOW what is coming and what I am building towards, so having a schedule works for me.

Here’s what my first week looked like:

Monday: 3 miles at a 10:00 pace. I ran this one outside after work on a very gloomy evening where the twilight cloud cover made everything look silvery. It was cold but not as cold as it has been lately, but after standing outside for 20 minutes waiting for my Garmin to pick up a signal, I resorted to setting my iPhone timer to 30 minutes and running at an easy pace. I took an alternate route to my running trail, one that gave me a straight shot instead of having to stop at intersections. Around mile 2, my Garmin finally connected and I saw that my average pace was around 9:41. I still logged a 10:00 pace since I just wanted to keep my first run easy.

Tuesday: Rest. This was my first official setback of the season. A big snowstorm hit Nebraska, everyone left work early, the drive home was windy and white with blowing snow, and the only run I got in was to the grocery store up the street for sauvignon blanc. I was also not feeling well and I was expecting a Skype call with my friends in DC, so I decided to call a it spade and take the day.

Wednesday: 5 miles at a 10:00 pace at .5% incline, 1.6-mile walk, leg presses at 60 pounds to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It”, 30 bicep curls, 30 dead lifts, 30 arm rows, 30 chest flies, 1:17 plank hold. I knew one rest day wouldn’t set me back. When you start forcing the mind to do something that your heart is not in sync with, that’s what causes burnout and I’m happy I recognized that and came back very strong the next day.

Thursday: 30 minute, 3.5-mile tempo run at .5% incline at an average 9:08 pace (started out at 10:00 and decreased speed every 3 minutes and ran my last minute at goal race pace of 8:14). 40 oblique crunches, 40 crunches, 40 ab squirms, leg presses to the Olympic theme song at 60-pounds, 1:40 plank hold. I love the Olympics and I can’t lie I was totally inspired to work hard in this workout. 

Friday: Rest. I was nervous that I was already hitting it too hard my first week back and I felt a little strain in the ligaments behind my knees, possibly from over-use on the leg press machine, so I decided to play it safe and take a rest day before a 13-mile weekend.

Saturday: 8 miles at a .5% incline, average 10:12 pace. Oh man, I was NOT feeling this workout. First of all, it was cold AGAIN outside– as in, wind chill of -5 which is fine every once in awhile to deal with, but when it’s been over a month of sub-zero, single digit wind chills and temps, I’m just not okay with feeling that “so-cold-my-face-is-burning, bone-chilling cold sweat evaporation, endless runny nose, can’t-feel-my-toes, I can literally feel my lungs getting pneumonia and maybe the croup or God knows what else” awfulness of a Siberian long winter run AGAIN. On top of having to do all the laundry that comes with it when my heating bills are already sky-high. But this run was hard because:

  1. I felt rushed into it since I was expecting my sister to come over that afternoon to watch the Olympics,
  2. The gym was hot AGAIN (who keeps a gym at 75 degrees!?!),
  3. I realized that I was wearing a sports bra that was long past its final run and all I could think about for 81 minutes was the bouncing and “oh dear God, they’re going to droop when I get off this thing” and that’s just….ladies, you’re with me on this one?, and
  4. The only thing on TV worth watching was “Knocked Up” on TBS.

But it was a run to just put behind me. I wanted to get off the treadmill a hundred times, push my Sunday 5-miler to Saturday and run my 8-miler tomorrow, but I swore to myself that this training was going to be all about finding that line where I want to quit, when my heart has left the game already, and keep going. I dropped my 10:00 pace down to a 10:31 because between the sweltering gym, the loose sports bra that haunts me as I write this, the fact that I was cramming in a run before my sister was due to arrive at my place, and not really wanting to be there was threatening my motivation in the most annoying way possible. But I got in 8 miles and that was all I wanted.

Sunday morning at the gym with MSNBC
Sunday morning at the gym with MSNBC

Sunday: 5 miles at .5% incline, 9:48 average pace; 100 leg presses at 70 pounds. Sunday morning was a hectic one. I had to get up early to run to the store to buy the ingredients to make a peanut butter cake for my mother’s birthday celebration and then I had to bake the cake before getting ready to go to my parents’ house to celebrate with the family. Ordinarily, since I like to just ease myself into the mindset of running and the concept of just getting up and doing something somehow bugs me (a habit I wouldn’t mind breaking), I would have just settled back on the couch to hang out since being lazy on a Sunday morning is my idea of a weekend, but I knew that I wanted to watch the Olympics that night after being with my family and that my choices were to either go to the gym and watch my Sunday morning political talking heads while running my 5 miles or write “Rest” on my training log, and I somehow couldn’t stand the idea of the latter– particularly because my training log is hung up on my desk at work for people to see, and I didn’t want them to see that I took 3 rest days in my first week of training. So, I got my stuff together and went to the gym where I slugged out an easy— and may I say quite enjoyable?– 5 mile run where I felt comfortable enough to push the easy pace to a challenging but could-go-faster 9:48 pace. It was a truly perfect ending to a week where I didn’t go too hard but eased back into a rigorous schedule.

Total Weekly Miles: 24.5

Overall, I’m happy with the effort I put into my first week back. I pushed myself but tried hard not to push myself so hard that it would feel like work and not enjoyment. I let myself rest when I wanted to, when I knew my heart wasn’t in it, but I came back stronger the next day. And even when my heart wasn’t in it during my long run, I pushed past the negative feelings of “God, I don’t want to do this” to “I’ve gotta get it done, so just keep going.” I didn’t always like it, I didn’t always want to do it, but I knew that I had given myself enough breaks this week and that it was time to work if I wanted to meet my goals.

This next week, I have a projected 32 miles to run, plus a cross-training session, two days each of arms and abs strength work, and a rest day with yoga. I’m hoping the weather will lighten up a little bit and that I can run my Thursday speedwork of 4 x 800’s on a local high school track and that my first double-digit run, a 10-miler, will be outside.

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