My Training Week: Marathon Training Journal – Week 7
This shaped up to be a great training week. Almost half way through the training cycle and there have been fleeting moments where it suddenly all feels very real. I'm also sitting on the fence right now about changing my goals for this marathon. Well, perhaps it's not so much changing goals as it is abandoning one of them to maximize the enjoyment of the experience; both in training and for the race itself. This is my training week.
Week seven is complete.
Daily Blog Posts Are Hard Work
The daily posts are not going away!
I've been writing daily posts which I take from my daily handwritten journal notes. It doesn't take me long to make my own notes after a run. It's part of my routine so it's just something I do.
Putting those notes into a post that makes sense to anyone who doesn't live inside my head takes a bit more time. I always know what I mean when I say something; that doesn't mean it will make any sense to anybody else.
The World Doesn't Stop When You Fall Behind
Last week, from Friday, through Tuesday of this week was crazy for me. I worked over the long weekend and it was busy! My family also deserve some care and attention and I didn't do a great job of balancing everything out as exhaustion clouded my brain and rendered me incapable of prioritizing the urgent and the important.
This is just part of how things go when you are training. No matter the distance or the length of the training cycle, making the time and keeping priorities straight is a lot harder than it sounds.
[clickToTweet tweet=”I love running. It's part of my life. But it's not instead of it. ” quote=”I love running. It's part of my life. But it's not instead of it. “]
By Wednesday I realized I had little hope of catching up on my daily posts. I would rather skip one or combine two than throw something rushed and half hearted out there just to get it done. My only hope of getting back on track would be to do a wrap up of the training week and resume my daily posts afterwards.
The Holiday That Wasn't
Last week's race took some hours out of my Saturday which meant I got a late start to a busy day and I never really caught up. While Monday was filled with posts of what everyone was doing with the holiday Monday, I was chasing my tail just trying to keep on top of things. There was no post. But I did take my notes and I did run.
Monday: Day 43
Monday's run was neither here nor there. I still felt weird after the strange race last weekend. If you missed that post I wrote a review on the weirdest race experience I've ever had as well as a journal post on how my own run went that day.
After taking Sunday off completely, I still felt a bit strange on Monday. There was a heavy day ahead of me and I just wanted to get out, but at the same time I wanted to run without thinking about running. Keeping anti-race thoughts out of my mind was still difficult and a completely free run was what I needed to get it out of my system.
My calves and shins, particularly the left one, were feeling pretty beat up after running on the brick and cobble over the weekend. Of course neglecting my foam roller yesterday didn't help much at all. They did ease up on me after a few miles, but made sure I wouldn't forget to dig into those knots later in the day. There wouldn't be time. I would have to make it.
I ran a comfortable nine miles and felt fresh and ready for the day when I came back. There were plenty of reasons I could have justified taking the day off of training, but my mind needed this more than my body. Those quiet hours early in the morning when there is nobody to interrupt my thoughts is my time to get things to settle in some sort of logical order. It's a mental sifting process and it happens while I run. I need it. I owe it to myself to get out there.
The Lazy Train
There's no other way to explain it away. I've been to mentally exhausted by the end of the day to get myself ready for speed work and I skipped all the speed sessions last week in training. I just didn't want to do them.
I also realize that halfway through my training cycle, I need them. Not to be faster. I need them to give my muscles some variety in the type of stress I'm putting on them. Time to get my act together and not give a thought to whether or not I like doing them, but to give it my best effort this week.
It's funny how the mind works. A lot of this is attitude.
Tell me to go to 8 x 800's and there's no problem. I like doing that workout. Mention that it falls under the category of speed work and suddenly I'm not so happy. So I ignored what I knew, programmed my watch (which still had the workout in from January – the last time I did it) and stumbled into bed to try get four and a half hours of sleep before the next run.
There are some workouts where I need to stop thinking and just go do it.
Tuesday, Day 44: Let's Run 800's
This turned out to be the best workout of the week. I really do love running 800's. When I checked the workout in my watch I turned off the pace alerts. Last time I was marathon training I was running faster paces than I am right now in training. Why don't I run at that pace now? Honestly, I don't really care about it as much as I did last time. My goals are evolving. Even through this training cycle, there are things that are shifting in my training and race day priorities.
But today, I gave this workout everything I had.
You Don't Need Perfection for Great Results
The splits were not perfect, but I was close enough to the target pace that I was really happy. I struggle to hit what are supposed to be my potential speed paces for short distances and intervals. I don't train for these distances and when I do them, it's out of a sense of duty, rather than being fueled by any kind of passion or motivation.
By the time I was done, I was totally wiped out. I saw the traffic lights about 0.1 miles ahead. That's where I end my run because I have to stop anyway, on the way home and I just stopped. But there was a sense of accomplishment that came with it. It gave me a hint of why some runners love speed sessions. Will I ever be converted? I doubt it. But today it felt good.
This was more about getting back on track with the training plan than anything else. It helped a lot. Today, partly because it was different to my usual chosen runs and because I put in maximum effort on a workout where I typically don't try as hard as I could, it was a reset for me. The workout shook me out of that strange post-race place I've been floating around for the last couple of days. It woke me up, even though I was completely exhausted afterwards!
On Friday I ordered a special limited edition Momentum Jewelry Wrap. This lovely little company is donating all the profits to help with sending food and relief to the victims of the recent hurricane in Texas. I have both friends and immediate family in Texas, so this is especially close to my heart. It's a small token, but also a reminder that an act of kindness, no matter how small can stay with you and with others. Getting stuff in the mail is always fun – as long as it's not a bill, of course.
Hurricanes Can Mess Up a Training Schedule
In the middle of this attempt to resume some kind of normal within my training week and get back on track with the plan, we've been watching the latest updates on Hurricane Irma. By the middle of the week it was not looking good and as early as Tuesday, a simple task of picking up some bread and cereal turned into a scavenger hunt. I really wasn't in the mood to play.
The news has been feeding out continuous updates of the shortage of bottled water, empty pumps at the gas stations and a small-scale panic. I think the media adds to the hype and rather than informing people with the facts, has a habit of adding an edge of fear and alarm.
We went to the local grocery store to stock up on essentials.
Food Choices Might Determine Survival Odds
Look, no matter what, we are not going to starve. If houses get wiped out, all the food stashed in them will be gone. We are supposed to stock up in the event of power failures, which are pretty much a certainty. Needless to say the first things wiped out of the shelves included bread, water, sodas and assorted snacks like granola bars, chips and candy.
I didn't have a problem. My bags of spinach will keep for a few days at room temperature, as will the melons, nuts and seeds and I don't really eat bread at all unless I make my own. Which I can do before the storm. I don't eat butter on it so I will still live with little to no sacrifice.
As for water … I don't really drink that except during a long run or a race.
So empty shelves …? Well, that depends what you're looking for. It looks like my food and beverage choices aren't hurting me.
Midweek Recovery Run
With my renewed positive attitude towards making a good effort for my workouts this week, it is important not to overdo it. The 800's session was a pretty hard workout and my calves still need daily rolling and some deep digging into the tighter knots. My lower legs always take a knock. It's the way I run and there is work to be done to care for them. Too many back to back hard runs can completely wreck a training week.
Wednesday, Day 45: Easy Does It
It was a particularly dark morning. Some of the street lights were out as well. I'm not sure if there was something going on with the power, but I was thankful for all my running lights and my Knuckle Lights today. I want to see where I put my feet and more importantly, the sleepy early morning drivers have to see me! My daughter told me yesterday that her school bus passed me and she knew it was me because I looked like a school bus with all my flashing brights. Good. That's the way I like it.
Sometimes there is not much to say about a run, yet often, those are the best ones. This was one of them.
I zoned out completely during this run. It was comfortable and I got lost in a drifting wave of thoughts and ideas that flowed from one to the next. None of them vaguely related to the one before or after. It's a blend of wake-up and unplug time rolled into one.
I covered just over nine and a half miles for the morning. It was like a tonic that separated the hard workout from yesterday and the hill work that's coming up tomorrow.
The cheesy grin says it all. Got to love a run for the love of it!
Another Delivery Brings More New Shoes
There is a post coming about my shoe stories. I am not a “Shoe Girl.” I don't have an obsession with shoes. In fact, I don't wear shoes at all whenever possible, but my running life was born out of a shoe stories.
I don't want to change shoes shortly before my marathon. I love the Saucony Kinvaras I am using. I've pretty much run the first pair to death and have a few hundred miles on the second pair, with a third identical set sitting on reserve, untouched. I've been curious about Newtons and eventually took the plunge to order a pair. They have a 2 mm heel to toe drop, which seems to work better for me than the higher drop shoes.
I don't get aches in my posterior tibial tendon anymore, which I always had to work on when I was wearing the 10-12 mm drop shoes.
Thursday, Day 46: Breaking In New Shoes
You always hear about being gentle and testing out new shoes only on short runs. If I'm going to test out some shoes, I want to give them a good run to see how they do. Perhaps it's because I size up so much, but to date, I have never had any problem putting nine or ten miles on a pair right out of the box. And I've had a few pairs since I started running.
And Today I Ran ALL of Them!
This was hill repeat day. If you've read any of my other hill day posts, you'll know that I always do the minimum number of repetitions. If the plan says five to seven, I'll do five.
Today had to be different. I am putting more effort into these workouts and the plan called for five to six. So I did six. Good, huh? Yes, I am feeling pretty pleased with myself.
It wasn't my fastest set of repeats, but they were steady and knowing that the last one was the one I would have skipped, I made sure that I gave that sprint my very best effort.
This workout has so many benefits for building stamina and fitness while maintaining good form and I don't dislike doing it. It's another example of attitude because I know that it falls under the category of speed work. Attitude problems.
Yes, that was a 32 ounce sports drink bottle in the photo, filled with water and two Nuun Lemon Lime tablets in. I chugged the whole thing.
It is not autumn in Florida yet. Summer remains for a while.
Shout Out For The Shoes. They Conquered 9 Miles and Some Hills
The Newtons did themselves proud. It's quite a different feel because of the way the forefoot is built. If you would like a review with more detail on these, please let me know in the comments. If you like super cushioned soles and lots of springy base in the insoles of your shoes, these are not for you. But if you enjoy great return on your stride and don't like to sink into layers of soft foam, they are worth a look.
There is an interesting set-up on the sole and there is a reason for it, but there's a protruding piece of sole under the forefoot. It gives a really nice ride and it's great for mid-foot and forefoot strikers as it gives more support there. I won't go on too much about these, but I'm going to have fun forming an opinion on them as I get to run with them a little more.
Shoes, Shoes and More Shoes
I wasn't kidding when I said I am in the mood to experiment a lot more right now.
I've tried out different types of shoes. Rotating shoes was never something I did. Not ever. There would be one pair, I'd run the hell out of them and then get some more and repeat the process. Another pair arrived today. These will be reviewed on a different site and I will post the link once it is live, after they have had a thorough testing. I don't review anything before I've given it a fair chance to either shine or mess up. Close to 100 miles with different types of running usually feels fair for shoes.
This time they are Reeboks. The details will follow, but once again, I'm breaking the rules. While I may not try anything new on race day, I will take some chances during my training. If they arrive today, they get tested tomorrow. That's how I deal with new shoes. There will be more about these.
Besides, tomorrow won't be a long run. I'm saving that for Saturday as part of my obligatory hurricane preparations. And of course, knowing that I won't be able to run on Sunday or Monday, I want to end the week with the run I love the most.
Keeping Friday Short and Sweet
With a long run saved for Saturday, I wanted some miles in today, but not so many that I start out fatigued the next morning.
I figured I'd keep my distance between six and eight miles with an easy pace and some short surges at the end. The new shoes came with me. I took Reebok for a spin just to see how they fared.
When I went to the gym, long ago, Reebok was my shoe of choice. I always wore cross trainers though. I refused to have anything to do with running so if it was branded as a running shoe, I dismissed it automatically. Not only did I not run, but I did not want any association with running. So these got my attention.
They are by far the most comfortable running shoes I have tried yet. You can see by the design that they are quite different to the typical styles we usually see.
Friday, Day 47: Keeping Calm Before the Long Run
Because this run was shorter than usual, I could have left a little later. Schools throughout the state were closed today so that preparations could be made to provide shelters during Hurricane Irma. Without the need to chase teenage daughter out of bed for school, an extra half hour of sleep would have been great if I'd remembered to reset my alarm last night. I did not and was already dressed by the time I remembered. So it was a dark run. That's fine. It felt good.
I forgot I had new shoes on. I didn't even think about or look at my feet while I was running. That's possibly one of the biggest compliments you can pay a pair of running shoes right out of the box. Well especially for their inaugural run.
There was nothing to note or mention about this run. I feel like the week has gone well and my training is back on track again. Somewhere I just needed this mental reset and although it was physical training to get me there, most of it was about getting my mind and attitude to the place I need it for this next phase of training.
I got back, brewed some coffee and sat outside watching the sky changing color. This is the most magical part of the morning. The earth feels so still. It's like the daily calm before the storm. This training week has been so good for me. I needed to break the cycle I had slipped into over the past week or so.
Talking About Shoes, There's a Party Going On
This crept up on me. September is my Running Birthday. This month marks two years since I started running. It was quite by accident. I never planned to be a runner. Seriously, it was one thing I did not plan to do, despite the fact that I have always been active and enjoyed working out, running just did not feature on my wish list of ways to keep moving.
It's a Different Kind of 5K
I don't run 5K's. I've done two. Both of them this year. I ran a marathon before I did my first 5K.
In the two years I've been running I have just crossed the 5,000 mile mark. That was all supported by eight pairs of shoes, seeing as three of the eleven pairs in the party picture have done one run or none at all. My running shoes tell stories. Each pair carries memories. Like I say to my husband, I don't clean my running shoes because the goodness is in the dirt.
Saturday, Day 48: In For The Long Run
Saturday is my one day off. Last week I had a race on Saturday so I took Sunday off instead. I don't mind giving up a run during the week. Sometimes things happen. There is no obligation to make up a skipped workout because life happens and sometimes you just can't do every single thing on the plan. But I love my long run and if I know there's a chance it won't happen, I will make a way to get it in there somehow.
Long Run Fuel is Like a Science Class
Me and calories during running don't exactly have a great relationship. It is the one thing that gets me anxious the night before. Less is more. The fewer calories I take in the better, but there is a fine line between too many and not enough and that darn line seems to move from one run to the next.
I was setting out my fuel and trying to work out what to do. Previously for runs over sixteen miles I would get up an hour or so earlier than necessary, eat half a banana and a few bites of toast with some honey, then go back to bed for an hour.
This is what I did for my previous marathon.
This time I skipped all that. I had two bites of a Ucan bar an hour before leaving and broke the rest into little pieces in a ziploc snack bag. I drank some juice mixed with water and left the house.
No Gels, No Chews, 100 Calories Will Do
It's not that I didn't have these in the house, but this is the first real long run of this training cycle and there is still time to experiment, screw up and fix things. The training week has been good enough that even if things go wrong, the lesson will be a positive.
After the first mile my left calf was incredibly tight and I wasn't sure if I would manage the full run today, but sometimes these things ease up after a few miles. It did and after a while all the discomfort left. It was different running so early on a Saturday morning. I'm used to the week days and my different Sunday routine and a Saturday at 5:30 am has a unique feel to it.
Early Morning and Pretty Light
The sky had a strange tinge to it. Almost surreal and very pretty, once the light started creeping through. The first couple of hours were completely in the dark and it was raining when I left. Running in the rain is not something I enjoy, but the funny weather brought slightly cooler temperatures and that is such a novelty I think I would have run even if it were a scheduled day off just for the sake of it.
There were some other runners out on the paved trail. It was nice to see other people. Those who are out at that time of the morning generally want to be there so I find those people are usually extra friendly. Just a few people waving as we pass each other or saying good morning makes me really happy. It breaks up the otherwise totally solitary run.
An 18 Mile Success
My target for this run was to stick around an average of 7:50 to 8:15 per mile. I do start out slower so the pace over the last miles is generally faster, but I always come alive in the later miles anyway so this works for me. The average came out at 7:52 so I was within the range.
As usual, the last miles were the best. I felt fantastic at the end of the run and my fuel plan worked really well. This was my first 18 mile run of the training season and I loved it.
My simple fuel plan worked well and my stomach was happy. I am considering doing a separate review on my food and fuel choices and what does and does not work for me. My history with running calories – before, during and after long runs – has had a lot of ups and downs. Actually a lot of downs and it remains a bigger source of concern for me than actually covering the marathon distance.
But today offers promise and I have time to experiment some more.
When I got back, two of my furry little cheerleaders were waiting to welcome me back. They seemed to think I did a great job. I am really happy with my effort, too.
Whenever I hit this stage of training and the long runs get longer, I get totally into my training. I love the distance and have not ruled out doing an ultra marathon in the future. But I don't do trails. I need to find one on asphalt.
Thank you for being patient with me this past week and to everyone who has posted or left messages to check on us in Florida, I really appreciate every message. Power is flickering and the internet will go with it. But when things return to normal the daily journal posts will be back.