Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

Monday, August 19: 8 miles in 1:27:46 for a 10:58 pace.
Another week, another rearranged training plan. I opted to do my midweek long run on Monday to avoid the predicted heat and humidity of the actual midweek, and I’m more or less glad I did. “More” in the I would always rather run in cooler weather than warmer weather sense, but “less” in the I don’t know how wise it is to do these long runs so soon after my weekend long runs sense. I’m a little concerned I’m not giving my body enough time between long/longish runs to recover. For the first time in a long time, my legs felt shin splint-y and bits and pieces of the end of my run were a literal pain in the butt. All things considered, though, I’m happy with the outcome of this run. It wasn’t particularly fast, but mentally I was kind of dreading the run before I got started (eight miles sounded looooooong when I began running) so I’m glad I was able to get in done, period. I also had multiple, “Man, how did I get so lucky to be running in this city?” moments, which is always good from a morale standpoint.

Tuesday, August 20: cross training.
Oh, team, it was WEIRD to not have dance on Tuesday. So weird. I had so much time on Tuesday and I just did not know what to do with myself. I cooked dinner–which is groundbreaking in and of itself, because I truly do not remember the last time I cooked a meal on a weekday–AND baked cookies. Oh, and I worked out, too.


Yoga-ed for half an hour. It was my first time EVER doing yoga on a yoga mat. Crazy stuff here, people. After yoga I took advantage of my temporary dance studio with a little bit of freestyle and a little bit of breakdance, so at least I still got my dance fix despite not having class.

Wednesday, August 21: 4 miles in 42:46 for a 10:41 pace.
You know, I’ve got to say I’m actually pretty pleased with this run. Wednesday was hot hot hot (it broke 90 for the first time in two weeks) and humid humid humid, so I was hoping to do whatever I could on this run. My first two miles were both in the 10:20s, which I did not at all expect. Soon after I started mile 3, my left leg started to hurt in the general IT band area (not my knee, more like my side quad) and I was all, “OMG I’M GOING TO DIE.” Hello, my name is Bethany, and I suffer from a crippling case of paranoid hypochondria. For real, though. I think one of my biggest struggles over the next seven weeks or so will be not talking myself into being injured.

Thursday, August 22: 4 miles in 43:10 for a 10:47 pace.
The weather was a lot nicer on Thursday, even though my times don’t particularly reflect that. My muscles were not feeling this run at the beginning, and I seriously considered making it a three miler instead of a four miler (and as such spent most of my first mile debating what would be the better option). In the end, I opted to go four for a few reasons. Even though I don’t think I need to follow my training plan to a T, I know that once I start compromising on some things, it becomes very easy to start compromising on everything else. It’s one thing to skip or shorten a run or two, but when that becomes a pattern of behavior (which I think it would), you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Next week is also a “cutback” week (a lame cutback week, imo. The only cutback is on our long run. Our during-the-week mileage is supposed to be higher than it was this week), and the current forecast for next week makes me want to weep even more than this past week’s forecast, so I figured if I’m going to compromise, it’d be better to save that for when I’ll be more likely to need it (and can justify it with, “But it’s cutback week!”).

Friday, August 23: rest

Saturday, August 24: 16 miles in 3:03:06 for a 11:27 pace.
This run, hands down, was the worst long run of my two-years-plus-change running career. The 10:30s generally break up into two groups, and while I normally run with the second, slightly slower group, on Saturday I opted to run with the first group, mostly because I knew they spent a lot less time at water stops, and after my IT band business on last week’s long run, I wanted to get in and out of these water stops. Honestly, I was probably doing all right for the first six and a half, seven miles or so (and we did get in and out of water stops, which solved all IT band pain). And I saw Lindsay! That was exciting. Once we got into that seventh mile, though, I was struggling, and oh BABY did it just go south from there (well, technically we ran north…but you know. Metaphorically it was south. Haha). I had an amazing running partner on Saturday, and he kept checking in on me, asking me how I was feeling, and I progressed from, “Fine” to “Okay” to “Not good” to “Can’t breathe.” Somewhere…I don’t remember where. Somewhere either in the eleventh mile or soon after, I honestly couldn’t breathe, at least not well. I think I might have been hyperventilating? That’s kind of what it felt like. I knew I was getting really, really worked up–it actually reminded me a lot of how I’d get worked up about thunderstorms when I was younger, where rationally I knew I was probably okay but my mind was running away with itself and I just could not get a grip. At this point I was nearly in tears, and my partner asked if I needed to walk, and I said I did and I’d try to catch up with them all at Castaways, which was maybe three-quarters of a mile away. I walked for maybe half a mile or so and then felt a lot better, so I ran the rest of the way to Castaways, caught up with the group, and thought it’d all be well and good from there. Ohhhh was I wrong. I was able to hang with the group all the way from Castaways to the North Ave. bridge, at which point I just could not do it anymore (for those of you not familiar with the Lakefront Trail, this was maybe a quarter of a mile. Probably a lot less than that.). As I watched the group run away from me, I indulged myself in another emotional and mental breakdown. So I cried some more, processed through some more failure feelings, and then decided to employ a run-.75-walk.25 method for the rest of the run. That method worked out quite well, both from a physical standpoint as well as a mental standpoint. Positive self-talk is not exactly my forte in life in general, and it is definitely not my forte when I’m feeling down on myself in the first place, but what was most frustrating about this situation was that I genuinely was trying to encourage myself–telling myself I was strong, reminding myself that I had nearly covered a half marathon already, and none of my non-running friends can even fathom running or walking that distance, telling myself that I was capable of doing this—but it just was not working. The only thing that really worked to calm me down was time. Eventually, though, all the bad thoughts passed, and I was able to run the entire last mile without walking at all (although “run” might be overstating things. It was a 12:33 mile, so “shuffle” might be the more accurate term for what I did. But I didn’t walk, and that’s the point).

Saturday’s run was not fun, but even in the moment, I knew what I was going through was good for me. I’ve heard it said over and over and over that a marathon is just as, if not more, mental as it is physical, but I think that’s one of those things that you can hear and have a “head knowledge” of, if you will, but you can’t really understand it until you experience a serious mental struggle. And whoaaaa boy did I experience mental struggle on Saturday. I’ve never fallen out of the mental game like that, nor have I ever had so much trouble getting back into the mental game, but I’m honestly glad it happened. If something like this happens during the marathon, I now know 1) that I’ve been through it before and I can get through it again and 2) how to deal with it to make myself feel better. I was actually very tempted to call someone–anyone–while I was running to get their encouragement, but I chose not to because I didn’t think it would make me feel better to have someone sitting at home on a leisurely Saturday morning telling me I could do it. Running tends to be a solitary sport for me, and while I do very much appreciate and enjoy the company of my training group–I don’t think I would’ve made it nearly as far on Saturday without them–sometimes I just need to be by myself to let myself gather my own thoughts and “self-soothe,” if you will. Knowing that, I think, will be of infinite use during the marathon itself.

Sunday, August 25: cross training
My legs were super trashed after Saturday, and while I did everything I could on Saturday to help them out (ice bath, compression shorts and sleeves, not spending too much time sitting around), I was still a little stiff when I woke up on Sunday. I opted to walk to church (about a 30 minute walk) instead of taking the CTA, and that helped. I also ran through a strength training routine. I really wanted to dance as well, but I’m so paranoid about injury at this point that I thought it might be best to not push myself too hard.

Prior to this training cycle, I had never run more than 21.5 miles in one week. I now have not run less than 21.5 miles in a week in over a month. While that’s cool from a “look what I can do now!” perspective, I think it also has a lot to do with my general leg woes. I think more than anything I’m just paranoid, but it is still unnerving to have soreness that I’ve never experienced before. This week, like I mentioned, is a cutback week, so hopefully that’ll help me out some. I’m also taking two rest days instead of one since I have the flexibility to do that while dance is still on summer vacation. Now if only I could get my Weather Control machine in working order to do something about these 90s all the meteorologists keep mentioning….

13 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

  1. It was great to see you on Saturday!

    I think one of the hardest things about training in general is discerning between fatigue aches and could-become-an-injury aches. Obviously, increasing weekly mileage and running PDRs every weekend will make a body much sorer than it has been before but it’s smart to keep a lookout for that fine line where you’re no longer safely pushing yourself but are approaching injuryville. It’s really tough and I think you’re smart to take advantage of an extra rest day during a cutback week if you feel like it’ll prevent overuse.

    The mental part of marathon training is the hardest part by far! Especially right now when we’ve completed the majority of training and our legs and minds are tired. I’ve definitely felt less motivated lately which has made some runs more difficult mentally than they should be. It’s totally normal. I think you handled yourself well though. You regrouped and finished the run which can seem nearly impossible when you’re in the moment. You’ll be so much more prepared for mental aspect of the marathon after working yourself through Saturday! Do you think you psyched yourself out running with the faster group? Did you fuel well before/during your run? Just some things to think about!

    • I actually am a little curious if my fueling had anything to do with it. I got up 25 minutes earlier than normal (and thus ate breakfast about 25 minutes earlier than normal), which did keep me from feeling nauseous for the first three miles (which is how I felt the last two Saturdays), but could have had something to do with it. I also fueled a little differently. Gatorade now makes G Endurance Carb Energy Chews, not G Series Carb Energy Chews. I assumed they were the exact same thing, just rebranded (their ingredient lists are almost identical, except the G Endurance say “sugar” instead of “sucrose” and “salt” instead of “sodium chloride,” but I wouldn’t think that’s actually anything really different. Plus their nutrition facts are exactly the same.), but when I was at the Chicago Tri expo later on Saturday, the Gatorade rep told me the G Endurance ones are different and have 3x more electrolytes (…? But the nutrition facts and ingredient list are identical…?). So idk if that might have had something to do with it as well?

  2. You should feel really accomplished- Sometimes you just have bad runs! Sometimes I go out for 3 miles and the first half mile of the run is horrendous, everything hurts my body hates it and I want to stop. Sometimes it doesn’t matter the distance, it’s just not your day.

    that being said, you really should feel pretty incredible. you did something amazing and you pushed your body. Even if you feel like it sucked, whatever you made it!

  3. It is nice you have a group to conquer that long run with, it definitely can be a mental battle for a lot of it. Training plans are all about re-arranging so glad you found what works. The worst runs too are the ones that make you strong 🙂

    • Okay, straight up love what you said: “Training plans are all about re-arranging.” Even though I’ve been trying to not be too type A about my training, I can get REALLY, REALLY, REALLY type A about it (omg! That’s not what I had on my calendar to do today! I’M NEVER GONNA FINISH THE MARATHON!”), but you’re totally right: you’ve got to be flexible and able to go with the flow. Thanks for that!

  4. I’m sorry Saturday’s long run was sucky, hun, but I’m also very impressed with the way you handled it. You’re absolutely right, too…you know you can fight through it now despite what your head says. And running is 90%, 10% physical as far as I’m concerned at this point. The body is way more capable than we give it credit for….our minds are the ones that need the extra persuasion 😛 keep paying attention to the legs, hun….fatigue/extra soreness is expected but i know you don’t want to end up hurt, too. You’ve been so smart thus far, though, that I have no doubt you’ll be ok 🙂

    • Ha, so I’m pretty sure someone in my training group said the 90/10 thing a month or so ago, and I thought about putting that in here, but I was like, “Well, maybe I misheard her…” so I’m glad you said that so now I know I’m not crazy haha. And YES about the mind thing. It always fascinates me how once my legs get going, they’re all, “Mmkay. Just let us know when you want to stop. In the mean time we’ll keep doing this, because we’re fine down here.” It’s my brain that’s all, “Wait, you want to go HOW many miles?? Are you SURE?!” If only I could get my whole body on the same page here! Work in progress, but I think Saturday helped that out for sure.

  5. Sometimes a run just isn’t meant to be. I understand that feeling you’ve describe about almost as if you’re hyperventilating because it’s happened to me on several runs. It’s definitely an anxiety thing. I get worried that I’m not going to hit my pace or keep up with a group or whatever and I started to freak out and then BAM mini-panic attack. You’re dead right that the only thing that helps is time. And slowing down and not caring about your pace. But the second one is easier said than done.

    • Yes! It honestly was so much like the times I’ve had panic attacks! Which was frustrating, because by and large my anxiety hasn’t given me any trouble probably for a year or so, at least not in totally debilitating way it used to. Fortunately once my brain went into survival mode, my pace stopped being too important, which I I think did help me on that last mile. Normally a 12:33 (or a 12 anything…or really anything 11:30 or slower) would REALLY upset me, but I was so glad to just be able to be running that it wasn’t as huge of a deal as it could’ve been. It’s all about perspective, I suppose.

  6. I firmly stand by the belief that every crappy run makes the good runs even more awesome. I think in any given training cycle, we’re guaranteed to have a bunch of less than stellar runs and that’s totally normal. It’s our bodies way of preparing. I can almost guarantee you that come race day, you’ll be ready, and hopefully the next long run isn’t as mentally challenging. It’s pretty awesome that you have such a great training group! I miss that about cross country.

    • It definitely makes me appreciate the good runs, that’s for sure! Thanks so much for your encouragement, though — bad runs can mess with my confidence, but hopefully I’ll be able to come back strong on Saturday! (Or possibly next Saturday…forecast for this Saturday does not look too promising in the heat department haha).

  7. Pingback: Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2013 Recap | accidental intentions

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