Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

Sunday, August 13: IM 70.3 Steelhead spectating
Like last year, spectating IM 70.3 Steelhead totally messed with my Fitbit, so I have no idea how active I actually was on Sunday. I know I was on my feet for the better part of the day, though, and I know I was exhausted when I got home, so I’m counting this as my “workout” for the day.

Monday, August 14: 10.25 miles in 1:47:56 for a 10:30 pace
I saw the sports doctor Monday afternoon, and after diagnosing me with runner’s knee, he told me I could continue training as normal, just no speed work for the time being. I conveniently failed to mention that “as normal” meant 10 miles a few hours after the appointment, but since he said I could run, I went for it. I was pleasantly surprised! My knee didn’t hurt at all like it had hurt the previous Monday or Wednesday, and I made it through all 10(ish) miles without incident. It was awfully hot, though, compared to the past two weeks. I realized as I was leaving work that I hadn’t mapped out 10 miles, which was a particular problem in this case because I wasn’t running home, but rather to the annual Broadway in Chicago preview show in Millennium Park. I figured I’d run at least 10 miles by my watch, but shoot for 10.25 if it worked out to make sure I got in 10 real miles. Even though I didn’t map the run ahead of time, it couldn’t have worked out better. I ended up hitting 10.25 miles right as I got to the intersection of Michigan and Madison, which was where I planned to stop to go to the show. Perfect!

Tuesday, August 15: Dance
The session ended on Tuesday, so we had graduation Tuesday night. After setting the entire routine last Tuesday with the three of us who showed up to class, someone else showed up this past Tuesday, which made me irrationally angry (more on that later). We adjusted the routine to accommodate her, and graduation went fairly well, except for when the music stopped about a third of the way through haha. That was a first! But that technically difficulty was resolved soon enough, and I actually think this was probably one of the better performances we’ve had in awhile. Knee felt fine throughout.

Wednesday, August 16: 5.43 miles in 55:00 for a 10:07 pace + SPF
First of all, LOLOLOLOLOLOL at my watch’s distance estimation. According to my watch, I dropped two sub-9:00 miles to start out this run, which I can tell you beyond any shadow of a doubt is not true. MapMyRun put this run at closer to five miles, possibly a hair over five miles, which I think is a lot more accurate.

Anyway, my schedule called for a 55 minute tempo run on Wednesday, which I didn’t particularly shed any tears over having to skip, per the doctor’s “no speed work for now” instructions I received on Monday. I wasn’t sure exactly how to adjust my run in light of that, though. The thing with these timed tempo runs is I don’t know how far I’m going to go, so I didn’t have a distance to target. I figured instead of worrying about distance, I’d focus on time instead, so I went for a 55 minute run. It was SO HUMID. Blech. I felt like I was breathing through a straw the whole time. It didn’t rain much on my run, but it did rain for the duration of my cooldown walk (which was actually very welcome, so no complaints here).

My knee held up just fine on the run itself, including on the downhills that gave me grief last Wednesday, but it was a different story once I got home. Getting down on my hands and knees to stretch hurt just like it did last Monday, and my knee continued to hurt on and off for the remainder of the night. That was a bit discouraging 😦

Thursday, August 17: Rest
*Hangs head in shame* I had therapy right after work on Thursday, but I still had every intention of doing yoga today, I really did. I even pulled up the only close-to-55-minutes Yoga with Adriene video before I left work so it’d be easy to find in my YouTube history. My knee continued hurting on and off all day without any obvious rhyme or reason, and when I mentioned this to my therapist, she didn’t tell me not to do yoga when I got home, but warned me that I would need to be particularly careful in poses like low lunge, Warrior I, Warrior II, and any other pose where my knee is bent and could possibly drift in, which, as I knew from my doctor’s appointment on Monday/every race photo of me ever, is an ongoing problem in my life. Given that my therapist is certified to teach yoga and therefore knows what she’s talking about, and that I didn’t get home until like 6:45 Thursday evening (which would’ve meant having dinner that night at 8:00 at best), I decided to bail on yoga entirely and just take a rest day.

Friday, August 18: Rest
Knee felt 100% better today

Saturday, August 19: 16.33 miles in 2:52:13 for a 10:32 pace + SPF
My knee wasn’t in the best shape, but on a scale of 1-10, I would put the pain I felt on Saturday at like a 1.5, so I did all 16 (+ change) miles. We were HAULING for reasons beyond my understand (my 7th mile was a 9:50 O.O NOT close to 10:30!!), so I gave up trying to run with the group and fell off the back at the turnaround. I was in a pretty grumpy mood for the first half of the run and felt a lot better once I was on my own, so I think it was just one of those days when I needed to be not surrounded be people. The Air and Water Show can do that to a person, I suppose! I actually ended up passing the group with a little less than two miles to go, because they stopped at a drinking fountain and I didn’t, and they didn’t catch up to me until we got to Cricket Hill. That made me feel good about my pace! Speaking of water: I use my FuelBelt for runs 14 miles or longer, so I planned to use my FuelBelt this past Saturday. When I went to fill it up Saturday morning before leaving, I was SHOCKED (and disgusted) to find that it still had water in it from the MARATHON. As in, almost a full year ago. Blech! Needless to say, I did not use my FuelBelt on Saturday and opted for my handheld water bottle instead.

Putting the knee situation aside, I haven’t been feeling great as a runner or a human in general for the past couple of weeks. In particular, I’ve noticed that I’ve been EXTREMELY irritable since last Tuesday (not the Tuesday of this recap, but the one before that), where the littlest things–the CTA making me late, forgetting something at home, a person showing up to dance after we had set the routine, entering my password incorrectly into my work computer–were just ENRAGING me. I’m not the most levelheaded person to ever exist, but I can usually take things more or less in stride. Incidentally, my resting heart rate (per my Fitbit, which, I will concede, is not necessarily the gold standard of heart rate measuring) SKYROCKETED last week as well, shooting up seven beats per minute over the course of six days, which is something that’s only happened two or three in the 14 months I’ve worn a Fitbit, and every time but once due to obvious illness. On top of all of that, I was sore after Monday’s run. Now, I will admit, I didn’t stretch or foam roll on Monday, but never once in six years of running have I ever been sore after a 10 miler, and I especially haven’t been sore after a 10 miler that I was perfectly capable of running (i.e.: if I had taken a month off and ran a 10 miler on no training, I’d expect post-run soreness. In the middle of marathon season, not so much.).

As I was pondering all of this in the middle of last week, particularly the irritability situation, I began to wonder if I’m flirting with overtraining. RunnersConnect lists 12 symptoms of overtraining, six of which (fatigue, increased anxiety/irritability, infections of the upper respiratory tract, elevated RHR, mild muscle soreness, injuries) I’ve noticed in myself over the past few weeks. The article I linked to interviews a doctor who says that overtraining is not necessarily linked to the amount of literal training you’re doing, but rather “the volume of training in relation to what’s going on in the rest of your life.”

If you’ve been closely following my blog for the past month or so, you can probably draw two conclusions from what I’ve written: 1) the amount of training I’m doing is not that ridiculous, by my standards or any other marathon trainer’s standards and 2) I have had a LOT of major life changes (new apartment, new job) happen in the past 30 days.

A piece of advice CARA often doles out at the beginning of marathon season is to do what we can to reduce the amount of non-running life stress we have in our lives while training (“This is not the time to get married or divorced.”) While the stress from my move has dissipated, I’ve found my new role at work to be substantially more stressful than my previous role, and I feel significant pressure from my boss to accomplish major things in a short time frame to prove the worthiness of my new position to the company (I don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but my job is an entirely new job at my company.). I’m not only stressed at and about work, but on top of that, I’ve been extremely busy outside of work as well. I don’t remember the last time I had a quiet, lazy night at home, and the frenetic pace of my extracurricular life has most certainly cut into my ability to do usual adult tasks (staying on top of my budget, in particular), which adds additional stress as I watch the receipts pile up in on my computer and in my inbox, waiting for me to deal with them. I’ve felt like I’m constantly bouncing from one stressful situation to another and have consistently gone to bed 45 minutes to an hour later than I need to in an effort to get as much done as I can in a day.

So, do I think it’s a fair conclusion that my volume of training to everything else going on in my life ratio is a bit off balance right now? Abso-freaking-lutely. Am I giving myself the time to recover properly? Not even a little bit. Obviously, something is going to have to change, and it’s going to have to change very quickly if I expect to make it through the next seven weeks. I’m going to need to start saying no. I’m going to need to start prioritizing sleep and rest over just about everything else. I can’t keep putting my body through the ringer, physically and psychologically, day in and day out and not expect any repercussions from that. I don’t really know how I’m going to accomplish these things, but I need to focus on it, or it’s going to be a long, painful, possibly ineffective march to the start line.


7 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 11

  1. Some of the best advice I ever saw was “prioritize the elements of training that will yield the biggest returns for you, based on the time you have available.” That’s been something that’s helped me this summer, too – focusing on the workouts that I will get the most benefit from and not worrying so much about running all the miles. If I can do more, great, if not, I’ve still done some solid workouts and a long run which are the things that will actually build my fitness anyway.

    Also, what is your goal marathon time? I’ve noticed that a lot of your long run paces seem kind of fast for what you’ve said your previous marathon times are. Are you going for a big PR this year? For me personally, I’ve noticed that slowing down my long and easy runs (mostly by necessity due to summer heat) has made a huge difference in recovering and not feeling overtrained. I’m averaging around a 9:50-10:20 pace on my long runs, even though my speed work indicates I could be capable of a 3:45-3:50 marathon time (an 8:35-8:40ish pace). Even slowing paces down by 10-15 seconds per mile can make a huge difference for recovery. People usually associate overtraining with volume, but the cumulative effect of doing training runs too fast can really start to wear you down over time, too.

    Of course, maybe you’ve just improved a lot in your running since your last marathon and all of this is moot in which case, feel free to disregard!

    • That’s really good insight about prioritizing training – thanks for sharing that! The past couple of seasons, I really tried to focus on quality over quantity, but I think I lost a lot of that focus this year.

      Oh, my goal marathon pace. If I knew, I’d tell you. Haha. Sub-4:52, because I’d like to PR. I guess I’ve been chasing 4:45 (or, dream goal, 4:30) for like five years now, so we’ll say 4:45. The issue continues to be my pace group. My pace group (my leaders in particular) have been basically the entire reason I’ve continued doing the marathon year after year, and while it’s not like there aren’t other training groups (or even pace groups within CARA) that I could run with, after five years of being a tried-and-true 10:30, it feels like a betrayal to run something with a different group. And I know, I’ve got to do this for me, I need to focus on what I need, yadda yadda yadda, but when my marathoning experience and those people are so intertwined, it really feels like I can’t have one without the other. Thus, my constant dilemma. Is a 10:30 pace too fast for me for my long runs? Honestly, probably yes. Heck, my “marathon pace” (which is something I don’t believe exists for me, at least not yet, since all of my marathons have been at such different paces, unlike my 5Ks or 10Ks or even half marathons, which are almost always all within a pretty similar range) hasn’t even broken 11:00 yet, so clearly expecting a 10:30 to be my “marathon pace” isn’t realistic. I’d *like* it to be, but it isn’t. But if the choice comes down to running a pace I “should” be running or running with the people I want to be running with, I’ve come down on the people side every single time. Which maybe I shouldn’t…but like I said, it’s not that easy to just walk away from, especially five years into it.

      • I understand completely. I guess as a solo runner, it’s easy for me to forget about the social motivators that exist for so many of my runner friends. I think if you can handle the pace then you should stay with the group if that’s what makes you happy. Maybe you could take an additional rest day during the week? This might be just as helpful mentally as physically. Sometimes when life is overwhelming it’s nice to know we have one less thing to worry about on a given day, and more time to relax!

  2. It’s great that you recognize that you are overtraining and that you need to do something about it. It’s worth it to go to the starting line healthy, so hopefully you can find some positive outlets for your outside running stressors and maybe consider a lower week of training this week. It is 100% worth it (speaking from personal experience). I wish you the best of luck in figuring everything out! It sounds like you are a very motivated in all aspects of life, not just running. 😊

    • Fortunately, this is a cutback week, so I’ve got some rest built into my schedule! I’m definitely grateful for that! But you’re totally right – getting to the start line healthy is the most important thing, even if that means sacrificing a few miles now to make that happen.

  3. Glad you’re able to recognize the issue. One thing I’ve struggled with as an adult is prioritizing “me” time. I want to do all the things. But I can’t. So, I force myself to pick one to focus on, and put the rest on hold. Right now my focus is rebuilding my mileage, so burlesque is on hold. Are you planning to take a break from dance until after the marathon?

    • I don’t think so, no (in regards to the break from dance). We get two weeks off before Labor Day, but then after that it’s back to weekly classes. Though it’s not a bad idea. I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility I’ve had for the past couple of weeks, and I’m not hating this extra rest day, either.

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