Week One: Chicago Marathon Training

Day one of marathon training and I'm icing my leg from day zero. WTF?
Day one of marathon training and I’m icing my leg from day zero. WTF?

Monday: After having spent 8-9 hours on Sunday walking in Sperry’s around the Omaha Zoo with my family, I woke up with a pulled muscle behind my knee and down into my calf muscle. Not sure how I got it, but I spent the morning icing it and rolling it out and I went to a yoga class that evening. I was supposed to run an easy 4 miles today, but, out of an abundance of caution, I decided to take my weekly rest day today so my calf could heal. That was a tough call to make– starting out marathon training with an injury SUCKS. Taking a rest day on the first day also SUCKS and I’m trying to deny feeling a little bit of pressure from starting a training plan that is 2 weeks shorter than what I am used to. So, I rubbed Tiger Balm into my leg, slipped on a compression sleeve, and went to bed.

Getting a shout-out from my favorite runners Sonia Richards-Ross and Shalane Flanagan while using my Nike Plus training app was an unexpected but welcomed perk!
Getting a shout-out from my favorite runners Sonia Richards-Ross and Shalane Flanagan while using my Nike Plus training app was an unexpected but welcomed perk!

Tuesday: I woke up on Tuesday morning and the mysterious strain in my calf seemed to have gotten much, much worse. I spent my morning icing it and walked around the grocery store with little pain. That evening, I started off with a casual 15-minute walk to warm up and make sure my leg wouldn’t be give me pain. Once I got started, the run felt easy and light. I refused to look at my Garmin because I didn’t want to get too excited if I was going fast and I didn’t want to get frustrated if I was going slow. I just ran, focusing on my breathing and taking in the heavy aromas of clover and jasmine. I remember thinking that I wanted to slow down because it was getting tough to run at the pace I was at and I wanted to make sure I lasted through all 4 miles, but I told myself, “Yes, this is tough. But you are tougher.” I ended the run with a 30-minute walk, 20 push-ups on my kitchen counter, a 60-second wall sit, and some IT band stretches with a yoga strap and foam roller. First official run of Chicago Marathon training, and if all my runs go this way, I’ll get my happy process-oriented training season like I want.

Wednesday: I live on a golf course, and I have been trying to convince my brother Caleb to drive down from Omaha to teach me how to play golf. He finally did today, and I realized just how tricky golf can be. Well…okay, I may not be totally convinced. Even as a newbie, I did have a couple of great hits. And Caleb kept telling me how important it is for me to learn how to play golf because “it’s the game of Washington” and “they spend more time playing golf than they do anything else.” I hate to admit it, but women who can golf are smart. So, I may need a few trips to the driving range, but at least I’ve got a brother who understands that I need to learn and will teach me.

That evening, I had a 6-miler to run that included running 2-minute fartleks. Not only have I not run over 4 miles since the May 4th Lincoln Half-Marathon, but I haven’t done speed work in an even longer amount of time. I started out with a 1.5-mile warmup and decided to run fartleks every half mile for the next 3 miles and then cool down for 1.5 miles. The speed work went well despite the hot summer evening and I was surprised that running 8:30-9:00 tempos felt easy. My cool down 1.5 miles was hard. I ran up a huge hill with a slow rise and couldn’t recover under 10:55 per mile. Seeing an average split of 11:00 and over is INTENSELY FRUSTRATING to me, so I used that frustration and annoyance to run harder for a little bit. I know I said I wouldn’t be worried about pace during this training season, but running that slow and not improving makes me terribly unhappy. Regardless, I didn’t stop at 5 miles and didn’t tell myself it was okay to run slower in the heat when I hadn’t run that far in awhile. Hopefully I will see longer fast paces over the coming weeks.

Stop and smell the clover! It's seriously the yummiest, prettiest smell on my summer evening runs!
Stop and smell the clover! It’s seriously the yummiest, prettiest smell on my summer evening runs!

Thursday: Because of Monday’s unplanned rest day, my training schedule got a little bit messed up. As far as mileage is concerned, I am still on track. Today was supposed to be my cross-training day (which my training plan suggested doing yoga, spinning, swimming, etc.) which I technically took on Monday– my unscheduled rest day. After last night’s speed session, I decided that a yoga class would be a good idea in between my next run so I can prevent injury; however, I overslept for it. I told you….I suck at waking up early to work out. Halfway through the day, a 30% chance of thunderstorms turned into a rainy mayhem so I planned on having a night at the pool. The evening, however, cooled down significantly and I decided to run my intended easy 5 miles. But going for a run without having done yoga made me really nervous. Getting injured again– pushing too hard after having taken some pretty significant time off– scares me. Plus, I was knee-deep into a project that I had a deadline for and I was making some serious progress. So, Thursday turned into a rest day for me. I hate taking unscheduled rest days, but I do believe that it’s important to listen to your body’s needs. This is the first week of training for me after a long break, I did just run my longest mileage run after having taken about a month or so off in addition to speed work, and I admit my legs did feel a little tired. And my head wasn’t in the game, having become distracted with my project. The last thing I needed on top of an injury was the feeling of burnout– the feeling that I would rather be doing something else. That’s when you run the risk of over-training. Tonight, I will go to bed telling myself that I need all the sleep I can get because tomorrow will be yoga plus an easy 5 miles, Saturday will be a core class with a 4-miler, and Sunday will be the big tamale long run. My goal for the next three days is to stop over-thinking my runs and stop waiting for perfect to make it happen.  


Friday: I went to bed Thursday night after getting so absorbed in my long-overdue project of scanning old photos into my hard drive that I had to tell myself it was already after midnight and I needed to get to bed. I’m doing this because I might soon be moving and I don’t want to move 5 shoe boxes of photos with me when I can fit them all onto a 1 terabyte external hard drive and my Amazon cloud storage. But looking through old memories and being excited about new opportunities meant that, even after I went to bed, I couldn’t sleep. So I tossed and turned for hours, waking up at 2:17 and again at 4:12 and I didn’t get back to sleep until 5:30. I thought about waking up and going for a super early run. But I told myself if I wasn’t asleep at 6AM, I would go. And of course I fell back asleep, waking up again at 9AM and missing the morning yoga class I knew I needed to attend. So, since I proclaimed my goal for my next three runs to be along the lines of “just do it,” I contemplated a run before breakfast (unheard of for me). That morning, however, the loudest, craziest, scariest thunder I have ever heard in my life came tearing through Lincoln, Nebraska. I was sitting at my counter, scanning in 4 x 6’s, when I heard a sound similar to what I expect I would hear if someone literally took a blowtorch and sliced the sky in half before jump-kicking the base of the tallest skyscraper in the world and causing it to fall within .01 seconds at my front door. That sound was thunder. The most terrifying thunder I have ever heard in my life– did I mention I was born and raised in Tornado Alley?? It made my arm hair stand on end, my back was tingling like someone had just done that silly “spider crawling up your spine” game we used to do as kids on the playground, and I was frantically looking around my apartment for something solid to sit against so I could calm down. I was legitimately freaked out. Even my mother heard it over the phone and was astonished. Whatever Lincoln, Nebraska did to piss off the heavens, consider us even. I couldn’t believe I almost decided to go for a run that morning before the second coming of Christ and all his thunderous glory came storming across the Plains. I’d have no doubt been struck by the cloud-to-ground strikes, forced to find shelter under a tree or in a ditch, or been one of those unfortunate people having to knock on doors asking for shelter from the storm from anyone else home on a Friday morning. I’m kind of glad that I had a crappy night of sleep that kept me indoors.

Not that I really know how to climb a rope or do a pull-up, but this is a bummer.
Not that I really know how to climb a rope or do a pull-up, but this is a bummer.

The rest of Friday was sort of a cluster in trying to dodge storms. I was finally able to go for a run that evening, but the the weather was deceptively cool. It was around 76 degrees but the humidity was terrible. I intended to run an easy-pace 3 miler with one final mile at a harder pace to help me prepare for the final 10K push in the marathon, but I went out way too fast. My first split was somewhere around 9:00. I was overjoyed to finally clock a split that was in the territory I was used to running, but during the second mile, the humidity was overbearing. I was not prepared to run a 27:00 3-miler and I couldn’t slow down. My second split was 9:31. I got dizzy and nauseous from my speed in the humidity and decided a fast 2-miler was all I would do. To make up for the other 2 miles, I did some cross-training in the park: 10 up-and-overs on the ladder, 20 pushups, 15 burpees, 20 bench jumps, and a mile walk. It took me over an hour to cool off; my brother, too, having gone for a run after I did. Cool temps can be very deceiving with high humidity.

Saturday: When I woke up that morning, the weather had dipped into the mid-60’s. The MID-60’s! In late June! It was unbelievable. I laced up for my 5-miler and headed to the park near my parents’ house. Today was supposed to be an easy, comfortable paced run to prepare me for the hot tamale of my running week– the long run tomorrow– but, just like last night, I started out super fast It was a conflicting feeling: here I was, finally running the paces I knew I was capable of running after months of 10:00-12:00 paces that felt hard and I was telling myself I needed to slow down. I decided to go with it. I couldn’t slow down because I needed to see if I could hold the pace for a long time. The morning was hot, very humid, but the course was easy– a three-quarter mile loop that was flat and fast. I paused with every lap around the park that I completed to grab a swig of water. My 32-ounce Nalgene was near empty by the end of the run. Five miles later, my Nike Plus app had me running an average 9:13 pace and my Garmin had me at an average 9:36 pace. It was a feeling of relief to have run that fast. FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY. I was back.

Sunday: Sunday morning, after another thunderstorm last night, there was a dense layer of fog. An hour later, another thunderstorm. I had a 10-miler planned, but opted instead to run that evening and go to church with my mom. I admit it has been a long time since I’ve been to church, and I felt like I needed to go that morning. There was another downpour while we were there. I’m not opposed to running in the rain, but I am opposed to running in a thunderstorm. That afternoon, the dense fog stuck around as the sun came out….only we call it muggy, sticky, gross humidity. It was terrible. With temps at 95 degrees, I knew a 10-miler would have to wait until the evening. Ultimately, however, I did not get my 10 miles that evening. I can’t tell if I am over-thinking again, but I looked back at my running over the last two weeks and realized that I was going from having run 12 miles a week to a scheduled 29 miles this week. That’s a huge jump. Without the 10 mile run, My weekly mileage this week would be 17 miles. The jump up in mileage felt more manageable. Plus, I felt like I was starting to get shin splints. Or I am just being paranoid. So, I missed my first long run of Chicago Marathon training. Or at least I’m looking at it as I am playing it safe. Next week’s training schedule will look exactly the same as this week, so I will be able to make it up.

Overall, looking back on the week, I am pleased with my first week. It was a good warm up to the intensity of the rest of my training schedule. I accomplished my first speed work training but I ran 2 additional fast runs. I incorporated strength and cross-training into my schedule. 15 weeks to go!



One thought on “Week One: Chicago Marathon Training

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