Chicago Marathon Training Week 3

Sunday, June 19: Elliptical + strength training.
I intended to bike at the gym Sunday afternoon, but the only ones available were recumbent bikes, so the elliptical it was. I did 30 easy minutes with a three minute cooldown, and then headed over to the free weights section to do 15 minutes of arm work. I haven’t done any arm-specific strength training since April (and, real talk: any strength training that involves my arms at all since Memorial Day), and I was beating myself up about it. I figured since I had time, I’d do the Arm Definer from the NTC app. As I feared, I’ve lost a LOT of upper body strength since April. While 10 pounds used to feel light, that was the most I could use on Sunday, which was super frustrating, and let’s not even get into the disasters that were my tricep pushups. Since this only takes 15 minutes, I’d like to try to do it at least once a week to maintain some sort of strength, even if I don’t build strength, but who knows whether or not that’ll actually happen. I also did the Achilles Lower Leg routine from RunnersConnect, which, unlike Arm Definer, has started to feel easier, not harder.

Monday, June 20: 4.6 miles (1 mi. warmup, 1 mi. at 7:55, 800 at 7:55, 600 at 7:15, 400 at 7:05, 1 mi. cooldown) in 45:52 for a 9:58 overall pace.
Hello darkness my old friend.



Relegated to the treadmill once again on Monday, because it was steamy outside and there was no way on God’s green earth I could even think about those kind of paces when it was 90 and humid. RunnersConnect offers temperature adjustment to your paces, but even then, I still couldn’t imagine doing speedwork under those conditions, so the treadmill it was. At least this way I could hit all my paces. Anyway, this workout was TOUGH. Holy smokes. I had to jump off the treadmill during the mile and the 600 to catch my breath for a few seconds because I was just dying. I’ve never loved recovery periods more. I was, however, quite proud of myself after completing this, so that felt nice.

Tuesday, June 21: Dance.
New session, new choreography! And new people. Only one of my usual dance friends signed up for this session, so it’s almost entirely new faces this time around – and different faces. In my nearly four years of taking dance, I’d guess that the oldest person we ever had in class was maybe 45. This session, however, there are two people who have definitely not been 45 for many, many years. It was really surprising to me to see people that much older than the usual crowd, especially since it’s a hip hop class. Don’t get me wrong: people in their 50s and 60s are more than welcome to listen to whatever kind of music they like, and take whatever kind of dance classes they like. But given the fast-paced, hard-hitting nature of hip hop, it wouldn’t be the first thing I’d expect someone older to take, just because I think it’d be a bit harder to do with the natural reduction you have in strength and agility as you get older. But man, you do you, and if you want to take a hip hop class in yours 60s, more power to you. If my body can handle hip hop when I’m in my 60s, maybe I’ll still be taking classes, too!

Wednesday, June 22: 4 miles in 42:41 for a 10:39 pace + strength training.
My company offers summer perk days, which means that we get to take one half day in June, July, and August without it coming out of our PTO. I had a dentist appointment on Wednesday morning, so I chose to use my June perk day then (to avoid using PTO for the dentist, and because I was quickly running out of time to use my June perk day, as they don’t roll over). I didn’t have to be to the dentist until 10:00, so I had plenty of time to run before that. This was the scene I woke up to Wednesday morning:



AccuWeather told me it was going to start raining in 40 minutes, so I jumped out of bed, put my contacts in, put on my shoes, and was out the door in 10 minutes (I had slept in my running clothes, as I tend to do when I plan morning workouts). I planned to stick to a mileish loop right by my house that offered me quick and easy access back to my place in case it started storming. I went out WAY too fast with a 9:55 mile and paid for it mightily in the next three miles, which were 10:55, 10:57, and 11:01. Ouch. It didn’t rain on me at all, though, and I was quite happy I got my four miles in.

When I got back inside, a sweaty, disgusting, exhausted mess, I took out my phone to see what had developed on the radar while I was out running. I told it to animate, which I hadn’t done when I woke up–slow Internet in my bedroom leads to spotty radar animation–and, even though I had expected the storm to be moving north, it turned out that it was actually moving southeast, thus missing the city entirely and making my early morning insanity completely unnecessary. Oh well. At least now I know how long it takes me to get out the door and run!

RunnersConnect told me to do the runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, and general strength workouts as well on Wednesday, but I only had time for runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis. Those are areas I think are more important to focus on during marathon season rather than overall strength (if I have to pick, that is – ideally, I’d like to work on everything, of course), so even though it would’ve been nice to do everything, I’m glad I got in what I did.

Thursday, June 23: 5.5 miles (1 mi. warmup, 5×800 with 3 minutes rest, 1 mi. cooldown) in 54:34 for a 9:55 overall place. smokes. This workout pushed me to my absolute limit. I’ve only done 800s once in my life before, on Memorial Day, and they did NOT go well. That time, I was supposed to do 6×800 with 45 seconds of rest, and I only made it through three reps before throwing in the towel. I managed to get through all of my 800s on Thursday, but I did not come anywhere close to hitting my target paces per RunnersConnect. According to my plan, I was supposed to do these 800s at a 7:45-7:55 pace. Mine, however, were all at a 8:20-8:30 pace, and my legs, lungs, and heart were screaming for mercy at that clip. I felt like this was a really great workout for building physical and mental strength, but it was extremely challenging, and I noted as such on my training log inside RunnersConnect. As a result, the coaches are rewriting my training plan for the rest of the season.

Friday, June 24: Rest.

Saturday, June 25: 8.04 miles in 1:23:03 for a 10:19 pace.
CARA called for five miles; RunnersConnect (pre-rewritten plan) called for 11. I compromised with eight. It was HOT on Saturday. Probably not quite as bad as the first week of training, but definitely not as comfortable as last week, either. I ran with a girl new to our group and enjoyed chatting with her over our five miles, so that was fun.

I’m a little bummed out by Thursday’s workout and my resulting new schedule, if I’m being honest. I feel like I failed my training plan, which sucks. I’ve thought from the get-go that this training plan was beyond my current skill level, but I had come to accept that, mostly because I want to run beyond my current skill level. I’m okay with my marathon performance, but I wouldn’t say I’m particularly happy with my marathon performance, and I want to become a better marathoner. Doing the same thing I’ve done year after a year with improvement, but many of the same issues–not being able to hold a pace I want to maintain, in particular–does not seem like the best way to get faster, or at least to the level I want to get to. This is still different, of course, so we’ll see what happens. My schedule, if nothing else, is at least a little less overwhelming now, so hopefully I’ll be able to hang in there a little better moving forward.

4 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 3

  1. Good lord, I am getting winded just reading about some of those speed sessions! Great job pushing through. When I do intervals, I used to try to jog through the recovery phases – these days I walk them. No shame. It helps me get through the tempo intervals much more easily, and I’m told those are what’s most important! I envy your summer perk days and I was also wondering where all the massive thunderstorms were that we were supposed to be getting!

    • I try to jog when I can, but most of the time with these speeds sessions, I push myself to my absolute limit, so I really need to walk to catch my breath. I’ve been doing a one-two minute walk recovery followed by a very slow jog for the remainder of my recovery time before jumping into the next interval, and that’s been working well so far!

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