The end of week 9 means halfway through my training plan. I had been intending to do a “half time” training recap and more than anything, I wanted to be able to say how I’ve been killing it on my training and that I feel confident that I’ll be running that 4:18 marathon in two months.
I haven’t lied in this blog to date, so I don’t think I’ll start now.
I’m halfway through this training and right now, I have very little confidence that I’m going to be running a 4:18 marathon in two months. I haven’t missed a run, I’ve been able to do the speed work, I’m running more miles in a week than I ever have before but I really don’t feel like I’m killing anything. Except my feet.
It was a rough week, training-wise (you may have already figured that out.)
- Planned – Speed work: 5 x 1K with 400 recovery (plus 1 mile wu, 1 mile cd) @8:33 – 8:55
- Actual – 5 x 1K with 400 recovery (plus 1 mile wu, 1 mile cd) @8:34 for all speed intervals
Speed work was on the treadmill again. I’ve gotten over my treadmill guilt after doing some research and this workout. It was HARD. My legs are usually pretty tired on the 6th running day. I try to give them at least 24 hours to rest before the speed workout – which is why waiting until the evening on the treadmill seems to work better. Even if it wasn’t a sweltering 80+ degrees in the mornings here. After doing these for several week, I’ve decided that I don’t really like speed work. I’ll be happy when it’s over.
REST. No running, no exercise. Bliss.
- Planned – Tempo run: 8 miles @ 9:50 (plus 1 mile wu, 1 mile cd)
- Actual – 6.12 Miles: 2.12 @ 9:26 and 4 @ 10:31
Tempo mileage jumped up this week. Running 8 miles at a 9:50 pace is not something new for me. It’s not actually something I would have even considered that difficult. Before I started any training this year, I ran a 9:21 10K – so if anything, I should be able to do these 8 miles no problem, right? But for some reason, calling it a tempo run and putting the pressure of having to maintain my “target marathon pace” on it was really messing with my head. I got all caught up with finding the best route. Instead of just running some of my normal routes that have hills, I decided to basically run in circles in my neighborhood and keep the run flatter. Basically, I just created a large, 2 mile track loop in the streets of Ballston.
Coming off a day of rest, my legs should have felt pretty good. I ran the warm up mile and the first mile faster than I needed to and then just stopped. My legs didn’t feel good, the thought of running in circles for the next hour and a half was unbearable – the tempo run just wasn’t going to happen. In retrospect, I think this was more the head than the legs. I was stressing too much about the pace and then picking an awful route to run just made it even worse. Of course, I was then angry at myself for the majority of the day. I got in four miles on the treadmill (I was supposed to do six easy on Thursday) and decided I’d try the tempo run again on Thursday.
- Planned – 6 miles initially, now 8 mile tempo Run @ 9:50
- Actual – 6 miles @ 9:41; 4 miles @ 9:47
I decided that I was going to do the tempo miles on the track. Probably not ideal but I was still letting the “TEMPO MILE” stigma get to me and I was still worrying about the Arlington hills. However, I didn’t wake up on time and by the time I got to the track it was super crowded. That really doesn’t have anything to do my run, other than the fact that I let it be one more thing to stress me out about this damn run. I ran the first three miles 9:30 – 9:39, took a brief walk break and then started back up again. After that, even though I maintained a 9:45ish pace for the next three miles, I took more walk breaks than I probably should have. It’s like I mentally broke the seal on my tempo run, and once I had, I just couldn’t seem to make myself keep running. I honestly don’t even think I was all that tired or really needed it. I just didn’t want to run anymore.
I stopped after 6 miles. I had run out of time and needed to get home to get ready for work. Kind of. My boss is very understanding of my running schedule and flexible about letting me work from home or come in late, so it’s not like I would have had any issues there. But I did have a lot of work to do and let’s face it, the tempo run was a big fat fail anyways. I might as well just get to work and do something right. I did get my remaining 4 miles in that evening on the treadmill. So, I did get all my tempo mileage in within 12 hours, but I certainly wouldn’t call it a successful run by any means.
- Planned – 5 easy miles
- Actual – 4 easy miles @ 10:18
My long run this week was going to be almost 16 instead of 15, so I decided to shorten this run. None of the miles feel easy anymore, so it probably doesn’t make a difference one way or the other. I was trying to get my head right for the long run. After two days of bad runs, I had already mentally kicked the crap out of myself and that was not going do me any good on Saturday. A nice, easy morning run was in order to restore my running zen.
- Planned – 15 miles @ 10:29 – 10:36
- Actual – 15.6 miles @ 11:13ish (I left my Garmin on at one of the water stops)
The long run route we ran was one I’d done before. Actually, I remember it well from the previous year for two reasons. First, it was the first run where I actually started to bond with some of the ladies in my running group. Second, it was really hot and really, really hard. I distinctly remember thinking that I might perish on the Custis hills.
Once again, I started to think a little too much about the upcoming run. Like the fact I haven’t run this far since last year’s marathon. And the fact that the last few 10 milers have been really challenging. And how I’m supposed to be keeping a 10:29 – 10:38 pace for the last two long runs and I haven’t been able to do hit that pace yet. OH FOR F#@&s SAKE CAN I JUST GIVE MYSELF A BREAK!
You know you were thinking it, too.
16 miles means a little more than just a gel or two to get me through it. I decided to fuel with Tailwind for the run and I also brought a few stinger gels. Even though Tailwind is supposed to help with replenishing electrolytes, I still brought salt tabs.
I was able to push aside a lot of the thoughts and doubts and when we headed out on Saturday at 6:00 AM, I was feeling pretty good. It was definitely a warm morning, but not as bad as last Saturday. The first five miles were pretty good. I was in new shoes that had been causing me a blister or two since I’d gotten them, and had a new hydration pack that I hadn’t quite gotten the fit right yet, but neither seemed uncomfortable enough to be of concern. For some reason, miles 5 – 7 were awful. Like, I seriously considered calling an Uber awful. I walked a little bit but there really isn’t any reason 5 – 7 miles should be difficult. I was drinking Tailwind and I’d taken salt tabs but my hands were swelling up like balloons, so maybe my fueling was off, but it’s still odd this would happen after only 5 miles.
However, I pushed passed the wanting to stop and kept going. This is where running with a group really helps. Having someone there with you makes it harder to quit. It’s a combination of peer pressure and camaraderie, but it definitely works. The rest of the route was running with walk breaks every so often. I could feel the blisters forming on my feet and I could see where the new hydration pack was starting to chafe. The best thing about the route is that most of the last mile is downhill, so ironically, I did finish pretty strong. I was really glad to be done and high-fived with the ladies at the end. However, after an ice bath and extremely painful shower (the chafing was really BAD), I started to get very discouraged. Not even focusing on the pace, the amount of struggling to get this run done made me feel like all this training has been for shit. To make matters worse, I went and looked up this run last year.
The exact same pace. I ran this same run last year at the same friggin’ pace! Now the duration of the run was 13 minutes less than last year, which means we stopped more to rest last year than we did this year, so I guess that is still some improvement. But still, that was pretty damn discouraging. Not going to lie, I sulked for the rest of the day, ordered gluten free pizza and cracked open a bottle of wine to celebrate my lack of awesomeness.
- Planned: 5 easy miles
- Actual: 3 easy miles
I didn’t want to run on Sunday. The chafing had been so bad the night before, I’d had to sit with my arms elevated because it hurt just to have them at my sides. I had blisters on both feet, one of them on the bottom of my foot. I was also just depressed. It had really just been such a disappointing week. I sat around for a few hours, thinking about all the reasons I wasn’t going to run. I needed to let my feel heal. I needed to let my arms heal. I had a headache from the wine. I clearly was struggling with this training and needed to rest for the day.
Then I got up, greased up my arms, bandaged my feet and went and ran on the treadmill. I ran until the blisters started to hurt and then I stopped. It wasn’t all the miles I was supposed to run, but today wasn’t about miles. It was just about effort. It was about getting off my ass and not letting my head get the best of me.
If you’re thinking this post is going to end with some inspirational, lessons learned, looking towards the second half of training with renewed strength and hope…you’d be wrong. I’m really not there yet. The only thing I really feel good about last week is that I didn’t skip the run on Sunday.
I’m hoping that writing this blog helps me get past this funk and find some perspective. That and a good cry. Running is both physical and mental and without sounding too new-agey, I know that this discouragement and negativity is only going to slow me down. Literally.