Chicago Marathon Training Week 5

Sunday, July 2: 75 minutes XT (30 minutes bike + 45 minutes strength training)
FINALLY. This is the type of workout I’ve intended to do on every Sunday of marathon training, but for various reasons I had never actually been able to make it happen until this week. I went to the gym after church and started my workout with an easy 30 minutes on the bike (6.2 miles, averaging 12.1 mph – I told you it was easy haha) and finished with Motionally Stable, a 45 minute strength training workout on the NTC app that I’ve done approximately eleventy billion times since they updated the app last year, since it is literally the only 45 minute strength training workout in the ENTIRE app worth doing (the only other time based 45 minute strength focused workout in the app spends 14:35 of those 45 minutes warming up and cooling down O.O Motionally Stable, by contrast, spends 9:55 warming up and cooling down, which seems a lot more reasonable, since that’s about five minutes to warm up and five minutes to cool down. I’ve had close to a full year to get used to the revamped NTC app, and I still hate its awful workout selection and wish they’d just give me all my old workouts back.) It was quickly apparent to me how long it’s been since I’ve strength trained based on how tired this workout made me. I’ve got to be better about making time for these Sunday workouts.

Monday, July 3: 8 miles in 1:23:49 for a 10:29 pace + SPF
Run commute #2! I am officially all aboard the run commuting train. I’m obsessed with how much time it saves me. I honestly think it’s the only thing that’s going to make these super long weekday runs manageable for me, at least from a happiness standpoint.

I expected my commute to go smoothly since I was one of I think 14 people working in the entire corporate community in Chicago on Monday, but the commuters I lost were MORE than made up for by people crowding the lakefront under the extremely mistaken impression that a 10 foot (or however wide the Lakefront Trail is) paved path meant they could and should take up that entire area by walking four abreast. The entire trail wasn’t a nightmare, but a lot of it was, and I feel very fortunate to have made it through the hubbub without incident. I ran past someone who was not so lucky–I don’t know what happened, but she appeared to have been mowed down by a bike not too long before I ran by, laying face down on the trail with one of her shoes nowhere to be seen, surrounded by four different police officers on bikes and two lifeguards from the nearby beach, with two more bike paramedics heading her way–which was a stark reminder of 1) why we need separate bike and pedestrian lanes on the trail and 2) why, even with, but particularly in the absence of, said separation, everyone–runners, cyclists, walkers, tourists on those awful multi-person bike contraption type things–needs to be aware of their surroundings and respectful of others using the trail.

I did run into one problem with this run commute, which was forgetting to bring any Honey Stinger chews to work with me. I popped into a CVS at lunch on a mission to find an acceptable substitute and ended up buying gummy Lifesavers. They worked perfectly well for me on my run, but all CVS had available was a seven ounce bag with 50 pieces of candy (I only needed about seven to get to the 100 or so calories I get by eating five Honey Stingers), so now I’m locked in a constant struggle between my desire to snack on the Lifesavers all day at work and my desire to, you know, not eat processed sugar all day. Haha.

Tuesday, July 4: Rest
Dance was cancelled for the holiday and my training plan calls for two rest days per week anyway (even though I usually only take one), so instead of coming up with some extra workout just for the sake of getting in an extra workout, I took the day off. Happy birthday, America.

Wednesday, July 5: 4.46 miles in 45:00 (tempo) for a 10:05 pace + SPF
At long last, I can tell you about the other kind of speed work this marathon training plan incorporates! I’ve always understood tempo runs to be the sort of run where you warm up for a mileish, run comfortably hard for several miles, then cool down for a mileish. Hal Higdon, however, wants you to do tempo runs differently on his M3 plan. He requests that you start out at a comfortable pace and gradually increase your speed until the halfway point of your run, where you should sustain roughly a 10K pace for five or so minutes, before gradually slowing down. This, I have found, is FAR and away the most challenging workout of the entire marathon training program. It’s physically difficult, because it requires precise pacing (don’t speed up too fast, don’t run too fast at the peak, don’t slow down too quickly), and it’s also mentally difficult because of the physical difficulty, especially on the back half.

I do these runs in five minute segments, increasing (or decreasing) my speed every five minutes (or at least that’s the plan – it doesn’t always work out that way!). While I thought I was doing all right for the first half, I definitely went a bit too hard on my peak, and struggled a lot on the second half of this run. It didn’t help that I had lead legs as soon as I started running. Those normally clear up after a mile or so of easy running, but there was no easy running to be had during this workout, so this was a tough (but satisfying, from a “I pushed myself hard” standpoint) run.

Thursday, July 6: 45 minutes XT (yoga)
This one:

While I am normally all about Yoga with Adriene, after how tired my legs felt on Wednesday, I really wanted to do something that would allow me to recover and give my legs a break (i.e.: no warriors, balancing poses, etc.). Yin yoga seemed like a solid option, so I found this video on YouTube and off I went. Some of the poses were really, really hard to hold for as long as I was supposed to hold them, and I ended up making a fair number of modifications (not having blocks also required some modifying). I did nearly fall asleep on several occasions, though, so clearly I got the rest I was looking for!

Friday, July 7: Rest

Saturday, July 8: 10.26 miles in 1:47:00 (really! I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen before during a marathon training long run, finishing on an :00!) for a 10:24 pace.
Another perfect Saturday morning.


After a couple days of crushing humidity, I woke up to temperatures in the mid-60s Saturday morning and quite a strong breeze out of the north (you can’t really tell from this picture, but Lake Michigan was quite wavy Saturday morning). The first half of the run was a bit warmer than I expected, but as soon as we turned the wind provided some very nice cooling. We’re now getting into the distances that involve running in the Concrete Section of Hell (I need to come up with a catchier name for that) on the Lakefront Trail (*weeps uncontrollably*), which is the area between Castaways and Ohio Street Beach, so any time anything assists with keeping me more comfortable while I have to run through there on Saturday mornings–a gentle rain, wind, or even plain ol’ cloud cover–I’m most grateful.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with training this week. I have two six milers on my schedule, but the forecast also has three straight days of thunderstorms on its schedule. For six miles, I really only need about a 75 minute thunderstorm-free window (accounting for time spent waiting at stoplights), so hopefully I can get one of those on Monday and one on Wednesday–ideally when I plan to leave work, since I’d like to run commute both of those days if at all possible. I have a half marathon this coming weekend, so I’m not opposed to taking a little bit of a break this week, but I’d like to just take a little bit of a break, not a complete break! Fingers crossed.

4 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 5

  1. Glad you had such a good week!

    People walking multiple-abreast and taking up the trail or sidewalk and then refusing to move (or only doing so grudgingly) when someone is coming at them is a huge pet peeve of mine. I don’t have a lot of trivial pet peeves but this is one of them. I don’t know why this makes me so ragey, but man. Stop hogging the trail!!! Pay attention to your surroundings!!

    Do you have a shower at work? Run commuting 8 miles this time of year would be a hygiene disaster for me. During cooler months I will sometimes knock out a couple miles on my lunch break, which I love.

    • YES! It just drives me up a freaking wall! It is SO simple to use the trail respectfully. SO. SIMPLE. And yet, by the way people act, you’d think it’s the most difficult thing in the entire world. Don’t even get me started on sidewalk usage…. Haha.

      We do have a shower at work, though it’s in the office building’s gym, so you have to be a member of that gym to use the shower. (I think they used to have a shower-only membership, but a different company took over the gym’s management last summer, and now they don’t have that anymore.) I’m not a member of the gym (yet), but all my run commuting thus far has been running home after work rather than running to work in the morning, and my house definitely has a shower, so that solves that! Haha.

  2. Just out of curiosity, why you do use the NTC app instead of doing traditional weight training? Only asking because I get bored by strength training very easily and am constantly switching up my routine. I’d like to find one I can stick to because I think I’d see more results that way, but considering that I struggle just to get in one gym session per week, I’m not even sure how much it matters what exactly I do when I’m there!
    The tourists are out and about in DC too and they’re also unaware that they don’t, in fact, own the entire sidewalk. The other day I ran by someone who was close enough to me that I accidentally brushed them with my sweaty arm and, if I’m being honest, I didn’t even feel bad about it since they made no effort to move or go around me.
    I hope the weather cooperates for you this week! Is it weird that it’s rained so rarely the last few months that I’m kind of jealous of your thunderstorms? I would love a run in the rain right about now!

    • Well, I initially started using NTC out of convenience back in 2014 (I think? Maybe 2015?), because I didn’t belong to a gym then, and I could do most of the workouts at home with the set of 5 lb and 10 lb weights I had. I kept it using it once I joined a gym because I figured Nike knew what they were doing when they put together training programs, so I didn’t have to worry about creating a workout for myself that would work my muscles appropriately (I wouldn’t want to do a workout that only focused on my quads or my biceps without working on the other muscles in my arms or legs, for example). I still use it for that reason, but my biggest motivator for using it now is that the workouts are timed, which, when I’m trying to hit a certain amount of time spent cross training, is REALLY helpful. I know I won’t hit 45 minutes in the middle of a circuit when I’m doing a 45 minute program Nike already designed to last that amount of time. Plus, the strength training workouts on NTC are purely strength – no burpees, mountain climbers, etc. That’s also what I’m looking for, since I obviously get enough cardio as it is the other five days of the week I work out, so so far, NTC has been the best option – even if I wish they had a LOT more variety.

      One thunderstorm-free afternoon down, one to go! It’s funny: now that I have a vegetable and herb garden (as opposed to just a flower garden), I’m SO much more pro-thunderstorm/rain than I ever was before. I want my plants to grow and thrive, and they need lightning-released nitrogen and rainwater to make that happen! (Otherwise I have to fertilize and water them, and that’s not nearly as easy 😛 ). I just want it to rain and storm when I *don’t* need to be outside running haha.

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