Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

Sunday, June 5: Achilles/lower leg strength routine.
Conveniently, this was already scheduled on my RunnersConnect plan. The routine, obviously, focuses on basically everything from the knees down: calves, Achilles, plantar fascia, ankles. It didn’t bother my Achilles as much as I worried it would, which was a nice surprise.

Monday, June 6: 5 miles (1 mile warmup, 8×400 with 2 minute walking recovery, 1 mile cooldown) in 54:10 for a 10:50 pace.
I don’t feel like the overall pace thing is particularly relevant with this sort of workout, but I’ve always written out my run longs like this, so here we are. I was supposed to run my 400 repeats between 7:55 and 8:05, but I was ALL over the board: anywhere from 7:31 to 8:26. I’ve never really done workouts like this before, so figuring out how to pace something like this is a work in progress. I did really enjoy the workout, though, so that was nice.

Tuesday, June 7: Dance.
Since last marathon season, my dancing has changed a little bit. I’ve dropped breakdance entirely, and now only take one hip hop class per week. That’s what I did on Tuesday. This session ends tomorrow, so by this point a lot of people have dropped out of class, and it’s only my friends left. We don’t hate having new people around, of course, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy class when it’s just my friends and me. We added a little bit of locking to our current routine, and man, that stuff is NOT easy. We only have four counts of choreographed locking, but trying to remember which isolated portion of your arm to move in which way at what time is really tough!

Wednesday, June 8: 6 miles (1 mile warmup, 2×2 tempo miles with 4:00 recovery [8:47, 8:40, 8:25, 8:41 tempo miles], 1 mile cooldown) in 1:03:12 for a 9:35 pace.
The weather on Wednesday was FABULOUS. It was a cool and comfortable 68 degrees with no humidity to speak of when I headed out for my run, which made things one zillion times easier than they would have been if the weather had been rougher. My target pace for my tempo miles, according to my schedule, was 8:30-8:40, which never would’ve been attainable if it had been hotter or more humid. 8:40 was barely attainable in the first place, to be honest. By the end of each tempo set, I was SPENT. 8:30-8:40 is fairly close to my 8K-on-a-good-day race pace, which is a lot faster than I would normally expect to run a tempo run, but this workout was officially labeled “tempo intervals.” The point of this sort of workout is to keep you in your lactate threshold zone for more cumulative time over the course of the whole workout. With how tired I was after my second mile, there’s no way I could’ve maintained an 8:40ish pace for the remainder of my run. Four minutes of recovery, however, allowed me to do two more miles at about that same pace. Overall, I was really happy with how this run went.

Thursday, June 9: Runner’s Knee/Core/Plantar Fasciitis strength routines.
My schedule called for all of the above strength training plus three easy miles. I had plans after work, which meant I wouldn’t be able to run in the evening, and though I tried, I did not even come close to going to bed early enough to get up with time to run AND strength train on Thursday morning. I opted to just do the strength training instead, since I could save time and do that at home, whereas running would require going to the gym so I could use the treadmill. These strength routines took 45 minutes when all was said and done (20 minutes for core, 15 minutes for Runner’s Knee, 10 minutes for Plantar Fasciitis), so I certainly did a fair amount of exercise with this. I was also kindly reminded of how much core strength I don’t have, both while doing the workout and the following day, when I woke up to sore abs.

Friday, June 10: Hamstring routine.
Technically, this was a rest day, but RunnersConnect still schedules strength routines on rest days, so here we are. I’d put most of the exercises in these strength training plans as slightly more challenging than your standard physical therapy regimen, but substantially less challenging than “normal” strength training, so I didn’t mind doing this on Friday since I had the time to do it, and getting in my strength training makes me feel good about myself, considering how often I skip it haha.

Saturday, June 11: 6.08 miles in 1:02:28 for a 10:16 pace.
Summer group training begins again! Let’s pretend I commemorated this with a photo, which I meant to take, but then forgot to. So here, have a recycled photo instead:



RunnersConnect called for 10 miles, but CARA called for six. I planned to compromise on this by doing a mile before running with my group, doing six with them, stretching/hanging out with my friends, then running home instead of taking public transportation or a ride from one of my group leaders to get closeish to 10. On my way to the run, however, I realized that I had eaten and planned as if I were running six miles (by which I mean I had one piece of toast instead of two, as I have two pieces for runs seven miles or longer, and I had not brought any fuel with me, as I don’t fuel during a run unless I’m going seven miles or longer as well). So that killed all my big dreams about getting in 10 miles.

My six miles, however, were great! It was pretty warm, especially for 6:30 in the morning, but I felt strong throughout the run, which really surprised me. I was also surprised by how small our group was. We were missing some people due to Ragnar (which, man, I cannot begin to tell you how glad I was to not be doing Ragnar this year. Even if it had been 20 degrees cooler last weekend, knowing that Ragnar was happening and I was not participating just filled me with joy. That was such a miserable experience, and not something I ever need to repeat.), and I wouldn’t be surprised if the heat chased some people away, too, but wowza. It was a really small crowd for week one, that’s for sure.

As you probably know if you live around here and pay attention to the running scene at all, Fleet Feet and RAM are now in cahoots. While this has had implications for all of Fleet Feet’s former races (as in, they’re not Fleet Feet’s races any more, and now belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to RAM Racing), what I did not expect it to affect was the summer hydration along the Lakefront Trail. Fleet Feet has always organized this, but now it’s apparently RAM’s baby. RAM, clearly, as some sort of exclusivity deal with Nuun, which has been quite obvious at all the Fleet-Feet-now-RAM races I’ve run this year, where they only served Nuun on-course and during the race, rather than Gatorade. This deal, evidently, also extends to the hydration stations, which means the official Fleet Feet hydration stations no longer serve Gatorade, but only serve Nuun. I have two comments on this:

Comment #1: While Nuun and Gatorade may be more or less interchangeable in the electrolyte department, to my understanding, they are most certainly not interchangeable in the fueling department. Gatorade contains carbs (sugar). Nuun does not (at least not as far as I know. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). So while you can drink Gatorade and expect to refuel that way, you cannot drink Nuun and expect to refuel.

Comment #2: Exclusivity deal or no, the summer hydration stations are set up to coincide with summer training groups that target the Chicago Marathon. The Chicago Marathon serves Gatorade on the course. What is the NUMBER ONE rule of running? Say it with me now: nothing new on race day. And my goodness, if there is ANYTHING new you particularly don’t want to try on race day, it’s something going into your stomach. You want to wear a new hat, new shoes, new clothes? Fine. Whatever. You may chafe, but I have yet to hear of anyone who’s dropped out of a race because his or her chafing was so severe that he or she could no longer run. You know what’s a hell of a lot more miserable than chafing? Vomiting. Diarrhea. Stomach cramps. Any of the above, individually or combined, during a MARATHON. You’ve got to be a special kind of crazy to spend your entire season training with one product and then show up on race day completely confident that you can use an entirely different product and be sure nothing bad will happen. And again, it’s not like we’re talking about Gatorade vs. Powerade here. We’re talking about a carb-free, calorie-free product vs. flavored sugar water with electrolytes.

CARA realized that this was a really freaking terrible idea, and responded accordingly by setting up its own water stops for its runners this year, instead of sharing with Fleet Feet. Or at least, that was their intention. The execution…was not there. I mean, they had water and Gatorade. But not enough for all of the runners. As in, they had run out of water AND Gatorade by the time my group got to the first water stop. Now, granted, we’re back-of-the-pack-ers as far as CARA training goes–all of the 6:00 a.m. runners go before us, as well as all but like three groups of 6:30 a.m. runners–but still. This is hardly CARA’s first rodeo, and you’d think they’d have the wherewithal to correctly estimate how much Gatorade and water they need to take care of their runners, especially on a hot morning. I’m hoping that this will improve as the season continues.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this week went. I’m pleased with how I handled all of my runs, and was particularly excited to feel so strong during my long run on Saturday. I hope starting the season off on the right foot will set a good tone for the rest of the summer! And I’ll try to start taking pictures, too 😉

2 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 1

  1. Nice week 1! You nailed your tempo run! I think it’s awesome you’re doing that and speedwork – it will make a huge difference.

    How lame about the nuun thing. 😦 It bothers me that they assume people want a no or low-calorie drink.

    • Thanks! I did some tempo runs and intervals last year as well, but not following any actual plan put together by a coach, just doing what I thought sounded reasonable. Having an actual, structured plan put together by actual, educated coaches makes me feel much more confident about things.

      Yeah, it’s super lame. Honestly, I really doubt that they assume that’s what people actually want – I’d put money on RAM having an exclusivity deal with Nuun that prevents them from putting out anything else. No/low-calorie electrolyte drinks are great if you’re doing a short run and sweating a lot, or if you sweat a lot during a run and feel like you need to replace those electrolytes later, but when it comes to marathon training, not even elites go for the entire race without taking in calories in some form. But if there isn’t a caloric option at the aid station, you (as a runner) are in for such a logistical headache, because you’re probably going to want to replace those lose electrolytes, so that’s what you grab the Nuun for, but then you’re going to need nutrition in some form, and you’re probably going to want to chase that with water, so you’re juggling like three different things and trying to get through this aid station in a timely fashion. I have yet to hear a good argument as to why this is a runner-friendly way of doing things.

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