Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

**Before jumping into this week’s recap, I wanted to let you all know that one of the most wonderful human beings you will ever meet, Jamie, is hosting a Pilates fundraiser class for the Kidney Cancer Association next Sunday (August 17) at Harmony (1962 N. Bissell, roughly 100 steps off the Armitage Brown Line stop). Jamie is one of my CARA group leaders, and, honestly, is 99.5% of the reason why I wanted to run the marathon again this year. She is the epitome of a 10:30 Awesome, and I would so love it if you’re in the area and can come out and support her KCA fundraising. Never taken Pilates? Me neither! We can flail our way through it together 🙂 You can get all the info here, and feel free to share it with anyone you know who may be interested! It’s nice to be nice.

(I’m also still doing my own fundraising for OAR Run for Autism, if you’re feeling particularly generous 🙂 ).

Sunday, August 3: Lollapalooza.

Don’t even try to tell me that doesn’t count as cross training 😉

Monday, August 4: Rest.

Tuesday, August 5: Dance.
My heel, which hadn’t really bothered me at all since my run on Saturday, started acting up after I left the office for the day and continued for the remainder of the night. It didn’t impact my dancing, but it did make me nervous. Still struggling to get the whole mental aspect of this injury business under control. Dance itself went well, though, but I’ve definitely hit the barely-breakdancing stage of marathon training. The last thing I want to do is hurt myself doing something stupid in break, which means I spend more time standing around and less time dancing than usual. Sorry not sorry.

Wednesday, August 6: 7 miles in 1:12:57 for a 10:25 pace.
My heel still hurt a little on Wednesday morning, which made me worried that I’d focus too much on it and make yet another mountain out of a molehill on my run. I know that throughout training, my worst runs have been those I’ve done alone, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these bad runs and a lack of distraction have gone hand in hand. Having no one to talk to but myself means that, inevitably, I’ll start thinking about what does/does not/is beginning to seem like it may hurt, which does me approximately negative elevenity billion favors. So, in an effort to prevent that, I spent my run counting the number of people heading toward me wearing pink. (Approximately 116, five of which were men, one of which was a baby in a stroller.) And wouldn’t you know it, I felt pretty good on the run. I had a brief bout of minor toe numbness, and my knee was creeping into this-hurts territory by mile 6.5, but my heel was just fine, and, overall, I’d say my body held it together quite well.

My knee was not quite as hot post-run, which seems to be the new pattern to my pain. It hasn’t returned to 8-out-of-10 territory on the pain scale, but I’d prefer it to be closer to, you know, 0. It didn’t hurt so bad that I couldn’t complete my PT exercises after running, but I have trouble when I’m on the floor if my foot stays put while my leg moves (this is also a problem when I roll over in bed). It’s hard to describe and tends to make me nervous about my ligaments, but since the sports doc checked my ligaments/meniscus before anything else and I came out clear on that (and since my symptoms match PFPS so closely, and since I never suffered any major trauma), I imagine they’re probably okay.

Thursday, August 7: 4 miles in 40:44 for a 10:11 pace.
My heel hadn’t bothered me all day, my knee hadn’t given me too much trouble, and though my back had been twingey at work, that had dissipated as well by the time I headed out for my run. What had not dissipated, however, was the enormous turkey club sandwich and fries I foolishly had when we went out to lunch to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, thinking, “I only have to run four miles today! I can eat whatever!” Yeah. Wrong. Will not make that mistake again. The back half of my run was rough and mostly a battle between my stomach and my brain, both of which had very different ideas about what should be done with the remains of said sandwich and fries. Thankfully my brain triumphed, but I only made it halfway through my PT exercises before calling it quits due to a very grumpy tummy. Even though I did have some solid times, my legs felt heavy and I overall just felt sluggish on this entire run.

Friday, August 8: Personal Training + Physical Therapy.
I did tri-sets again in training, and they were…okay. My heel was sore, and I’ve quickly learned that any sort of heel soreness = instant downward mental spiral into depression/terror/hopelessness, so needless to say I was a bit “off” during training. My ever-perceptive trainer picked up on it and altered my workouts accordingly. He, too, has had plantar fasciitis, so he offered a few tips and made sure to stretch out my feet/calves at the end of our session. Obviously my injuries aren’t his fault, but I think he feels bad that I keep having new things pop up, since one of the biggest goals of all of this was to keep me from getting injured during marathon season. Whoops. On the flip side, the other goal was to make me faster/a better runner, and comparing this period of marathon training to the same period last year, according to my Garmin stats, I’m averaging 21 seconds/mile faster this year than last year. The weather has been cooler this year than last, which I know makes a big difference, but up to this point I have yet to struggle from an endurance standpoint on a run, which was not the case last year. I may be falling apart at the seams physically, but I’ve found anything between 9:45 and 10:30 (depending on the day) genuinely does feel easy this year, whereas 10:30 was a pretty solid effort last year, so I do think I’ve at least made improvements in that department. I’m also like 30-odd miles behind where I was this time last year, but let’s not worry about that 😉 I’ve only missed one Saturday long run and one midweek long run for a total of 14 or 15 miles, I believe, which means the remaining miles I’ve missed, realistically, would’ve been junk miles anyway. I don’t mind missing junk miles for the sake of injury prevention (or healing, as the case may be).

PT was all right, though this plantar fasciitis business means I’m in for a long road of more bottom-of-the-foot Astym, which, as we’ve established, is the worst. Guh. My left calf also was not having the manual therapy my PT did, and much weeping and gnashing of teeth occurred (well, maybe not weeping. But I could’ve wept. Owie 😦 ).

Saturday, August 9: 10.08 miles in 1:46:34 for a 10:34 pace.
Do not let my overall pace fool you. This run was misery from start to finish, and the only reason I have a 10:30 average pace is due to the fact that a couple of our early miles were closer to 10:15 than 10:30.

I could tell from the second we started running on Saturday that my legs were not going to be up to the task on Saturday. I was sore and worn out from personal training and physical therapy, and my legs did not want to move as fast as I needed them to move. I was already dying by the time we hit the first water station, which was only 2.5 miles into the run. I managed to hang with the group through mile 6 or so, but the sun down south of Castaways sucked out the little energy I had left, and by the time we re-crossed the North Ave. bridge on our way back, I was done. I watched the backs of my group members get farther and farther away from me and had some serious flashbacks to last year. One of my group leaders hung back with me, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much that meant to me. I didn’t ask her to stay back, and she didn’t ask if I needed her company: she just silently fell into stride with me, made a couple comments on our last four miles (but not much), and generally just provided the exact moral support I needed at that moment. This is exactly why I train with a group. Could I run 10 miles on my own? Absolutely. Would I have made it through 10 miles this past Saturday without help? Honestly, I kind of doubt it. I was struggling so. hard. (this was the first run all cycle where I’ve logged an 11 minute mile), and I desperately needed company. I’ve been brainstorming a list of people who have made up my “team” for marathon training that I want to make sure to thank in one capacity or another when this is all said and done, and let me tell you, that group leader FOR SURE found her way onto that list on Saturday.

I have inundated you with words and rewarded you with very, very few pictures, but if you will just indulge me for a bit longer: we’re officially halfway through training. This first nine weeks clearly have not gone at all like I would have hoped, so now seems like as good of a time as any to re-evaluate some things and set some goals for the remainder of the season:

#1: Make it to October 12.
Top priority, bar none. I want to get across the start and finish lines of the Chicago Marathon, and then I will be done running for quite some time.

#2: Work on my mental game.
Because, plantar fasciitis or not, allowing myself to fall into a negative thought process only makes bad situations worse, and I need to stop doing that.

#3: Take better care of myself.
My diet and sleep patterns over the first half of the season have been horrific, to say the least. If I expect my body to treat me well, I need to start treating it well, too.

#4: Commit to doing whatever I can to heal current injuries and prevent future injuries.
My PT homework track record has been spotty at best, and while I do get in once-weekly strength training sessions with my trainer, that’s it. I know I’m going to have less spare time as the season goes on, but this, like sleep and quality nutrition, is something I can’t compromise on any longer. If that means getting up earlier (and, consequently, going to bed earlier) in order to do my PT before work, so be it. But I need to take that time to do my exercises, foam roll, and stretch, or I’m going to be in PT until Christmas, and though I have hit my deductible (hooray! Cheap healthcare for the rest of the year!), I’d certainly prefer to not be in PT until Christmas. Or Thanksgiving. Or Halloween (although they do have good candy in the clinic around Halloween…:P).

PLEASE feel free to hold me accountable to all of those things. E-mail me, comment on posts, tweet at me — whatever. I am all for being encouraged, and goodness knows I’ll need it!


16 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

  1. Your Saturday run is exactly why I love my run club. Can always find someone willing to run with you even if you don’t feel great to give you encouragement and keep you going when you’re tempted to get down on yourself and give up. I’m glad you had someone to finish with, hun, and I’m sorry things have gotten so rough 😦 I think your plans sound smart to get you to October, and I hope things continue to let you get there. Take care of yourself as much as you can, and that will make things a little better in your head and body!

    • As someone who spent a fair portion of her running career logging solo miles, I’ve been surprised by how much I appreciate the company, especially on those long runs. I think I probably *could* get through the miles on my own if I had to, but man oh man is it so much better to have people there along to encourage you!

  2. Your feet issues remind me of why I’m training for this year’s marathon a little differently. I’m letting my crossfit coach train me. Yep, I’m still putting in the miles, but not nearly the miles I did before the last time I ran Chicago. She also has me doing lots of intervals and endurance workouts. After I ran Chicago, I had so much problems with my feet that I missed almost a whole year of running. I’m hoping to avoid that. We’ll see….hang in there and baby those feet of yours!

    ~Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home

    • That’s really cool, Wendy! I’d be interested in seeing how your marathon this year compares to marathons of year’s past. I’ve heard of people doing a lot of CrossFit during training (instead of doing a lot of running) and having really incredible results, and I hope that happens for you as well! Anything to stay uninjured, right?

    • I ran a half marathon PR earlier this year doing very little running-specific speedwork and almost all HIIT strength training (similar to Crossfit but not quite). I also only ran 3 times a week (if that!) and felt really strong during my half. So, yeah, I think there is something to less running + more strength training!

      • It’s so interesting to hear what works for various people. You look at elites who are running like 100+ miles per week and obviously are doing just fine for themselves in the speed department, but then running three days a week also does wonders for some people. That’s how I got my half PR earlier this year, too, and it really made me think quality is so much better than quantity when it comes to running, at least for me.

  3. Just wait a couple more weeks, and when your body catches up to the amount of training you’ve been doing, you’ll sleep like a baby. It took about 11 weeks for me last time (out of 18). You’ll also try and eat everything in the pantry, but I promise you’ll sleep great!

    • Hahaha well, if I’m sleeping I can’t be eating, right? 😛 I do remember last year having no trouble logging nearly nine hours each night towards the end of training. Hopefully now that the rest of my life is starting to settle down I’ll be able to get some more shut eye!

  4. Man oh man what is WITH THESE RUNNING INJURIES?!? Why can’t we all just be happy, pain-free runners? I really hope all your aches and pains resolve soon…I’m rooting for you!

    Running with others is something I haven’t done in months (years?!) but you’re totally right – it does help make running so much more seamless. I tend to focus too much on every sensation in my legs while running solo, thus leading to possible major freakouts mid-run. I think another added benefit of running with a buddy is that it’s easier to identify what’s truly a running-related pain vs. something you’re creating in your mind. The human mind is extraordinarily powerful so work on getting those negative thoughts under control! Good luck 🙂

    • Yes! You hit the nail on the head. I don’t think my body would let me ignore pain that is actually a legitimate problem, but having something to focus on other than the pain that may or may not be real (i.e.: running with a buddy) really helps differentiate between the two.

  5. We are in the exact same boat!! My marathon is the 12th and I’m dealing with PF. Or at least I was, I think it’s gone away for now but I’m just waiting for it to flare up again! After my marathon I’m also done running for a very long time except for a half marathon in November but it’s at Disney so it’s just for fun!

    • Oh man, props to you for putting another race on your calendar after your marathon! I *may* do a 5K in December, but that’s about as ambitious as I’ll get haha. Although from what I’ve heard, Disney races can be pretty chill, so I’m sure you’ll have a great time 🙂

  6. I think it was Caitlin who first turned me onto this idea – during a race, take each one of your miles and dedicate it to someone who means a lot to you, or someone who has really supported you in your training. Then, when it gets REALLY hard, think about that person, and run it for that person. Kind of combines your goals of not focusing on the running when you are running AND thanking all of the people who have helped you.

    I also like your idea of counting the number of people in pink. I hope that your move went well!

  7. I think running is really mental, even with injuries, etc. Power of positive thinking is real. Honestly, maybe take a week off now and don’t run and don’t force it… you might start missing it and be excited to run the following week.

    • I 100% agree with that sentiment. I’ve actually noticed some incredible differences in my running (and life in general) when I commit to positive thinking. Unfortunately, taking a week off probably isn’t entirely reasonable at this point in training, but I am trying hard to listen to my body and respect its wishes!

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