Chicago Marathon Training Week 4

Sunday, June 24: Rest
I was in Wisconsin for most of the day and knew I wouldn’t have time for an actual workout. I did a decent amount of walking, though, and actually hit 10,000 steps: a rarity for me on Sundays.

Monday, June 25: Strength training – legs (AM) + 7 miles (with 4 hill repeats) in 1:12:58 for a 10:25 pace (PM)
After getting up at 4:30 on Saturday and Sunday morning over the weekend, I will admit I wasn’t overly enthused about getting up earlier than usual for a morning workout. I made it to the gym anyway and did the leg workout Erin prescribed for the day. It was heavier on the plyometrics than any of last week’s workouts, but I know those high intensity intervals will help build my fitness, so bring on the jump squats.

My company’s version of summer hours is to give us one free half day per summer month (no need to use your PTO to take it, or to make up those four hours elsewhere in the week), and due to Monday afternoon obligations, I decided to take my June half day on Monday. I still wanted to run commute, but because I left at noon, that meant run commuting at noon rather than later in the afternoon. I was surprised how many runners I encountered! I can’t imagine running during my lunch break. I don’t run in the morning because I feel too stressed out about the time it’ll take, and in the morning, you can get up as early as necessary to give yourself as much time as necessary – not so at lunch! More power to the people who can pull it off. I admire you! Anyway, the weather was mercifully pleasant, making my run less miserable than I feared. In addition to 800s, I also decided to incorporate hills into my training roughly once every three weeks as part of my weekday long run, starting with this one. I did four repeats, and they also were less miserable than I feared?? I don’t know why workouts I expected to be challenging (the 800s, the hills) are going smoothly. While part of me wants to believe this is indicative of having a higher fitness level than I realized, another part of me worries that this is all a fluke and that the wheels are going to fall off sooner rather than later. I’m trying to not overthink it too much.

Another thing to note about this run: after I finished my hill repeats and was about halfway between the hill and my apartment, I encountered another runner coming in my direction, who held up his hand and yelled, “High five!” as I ran past him. That was the first time I’ve ever received a mid-run high five from another runner, and it was so delightful! It made me really happy 🙂

Tuesday, June 26: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
Oof, this strength training. Today’s upper body strength training was very shoulder focused, and it was a tough one. My shoulders have never been particularly strong, and I will admit that I tend to shy away from shoulder strength training because it’s challenging. But that’s the whole point of this! So even if it wasn’t very much fun, I know I definitely needed it. I also did a much better job of picking appropriate weights–I tend to either go too heavy or too light–and that made me happy.

A new session of dance started on Tuesday, and there was a suspicious number of people in the class. In the past, the class was limited to eight people (which is about as many as you can fit in the room), but 11 people showed up on Tuesday. We’ll see how many stick around in the coming weeks. From the very first move my teacher demoed, I knew that I had learned this routine before (here), so it looks like I’m going to need to dig out my knee pads again.

Wednesday, June 27: 4 miles in 41:13 for a 10:18 pace
This was supposed to be a race pace run, but it definitely wasn’t. I mean, I wouldn’t be opposed to running the marathon at a 10:18 pace (a 4:30 marathon), but given my past marathon performances, I find it highly unlikely that I’ll be able to run the marathon at a 10:18 pace. My goal for the race is 4:45, which translates to a 10:52 pace. That’s what I tried to do on this run, I promise! I ran really, really easy–my average HR on this run was 10 bpm lower than what I normally get on a run–but I just wasn’t able to go slower. I always struggle with marathon pace vs. easy pace runs, mostly because if anything, what has worked out to be my marathon pace (11:08 on the day I PRed; 12:23 on my slowest marathon) is generally equal to or slower than what I consider an “easy pace” (which is highly weather dependent, but generally falls in the 10:30-11:30/mile range). I feel like when you’re on the survival end of the marathoning spectrum rather than the competitive end–and I would firmly put myself in the “survival” category–the whole “marathon pace is one minute faster than easy pace” rule no longer applies. But maybe I just want to be a special snowflake and feel like I’m the exception to the rule.

Thursday, June 28: Strength training – legs (AM) + 45 minute bike (PM)
I had mixed feelings about this strength training. As expected, my starry-eyed enthusiasm for waking up early wore off (though I am a bit disappointed it wore off so quickly!), and I was a tired grump when I got to the gym. The workout took longer and made me sweatier than I anticipated, which threw a monkey wrench in my normal get-to-my-desk-on-time order of operations–and that obviously did nothing to improve my mood. On the other hand, I felt like the exercises involved in this workout were very runner focused, and I appreciated that even if I was tired and grumpy, at least I could console myself with the fact that what I was doing was important.

I went back to the gym after work on Thursday for cross training on the bike. I started to have some intermittent foot pain on Tuesday that bothered me more Thursday afternoon than it had before (though I also couldn’t stop thinking about it Thursday afternoon, so I’m sure that didn’t help), so I welcomed a low-impact workout with open arms. I hadn’t biked at all in about six weeks and appreciated the change of pace – though I will admit I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about going to the gym twice in one day.

Friday, June 29: Rest
Thank goodness. I became increasingly focused on my foot ache as Thursday wore on, and decided I’d spend all day at work on Friday icing my foot (and by “all day” I mean “once an hour for the eight hours I’m there.”). Then, I woke up to discover I had slept on my neck all wrong, causing one of my neck muscles to spasm and preventing me from turning my head all the way to the left, so I got to spend my entire day icing that instead. And because clearly all of that wasn’t enough, I also was sore from Thursday’s strength training. Went to be 27, woke up 85. Yay marathon training.

Saturday, June 30: 9.22 miles in 1:47:02 for an 11:37 pace
I desperately wanted CARA to cancel Saturday’s run so I could bail on it without guilt. The forecast for Saturday was atrocious, and the idea of being outside, never mind running outside, sounded horrible. But CARA didn’t cancel, and since it was only (“only”) 80 degrees with a Real Feel of 85 when I woke up at 4:30 (*sobs, for temperature and time of day reasons*), I decided I’d go and do my best. As much as I LOATHED the end of last marathon season, when it was unseasonably and relentlessly hellish outside, I learned a lot about how to physically and mentally deal with hot runs during that stretch, and I found the lessons I learned during that period to be quite useful on Saturday. Lesson #1: forward motion counts as a pace. CARA recommended that we do our runs five to 15 percent slower than normal, which for my 11:00 pace group meant anywhere between an 11:45 and 12:51 pace. In general, we did a good job of running that slow. There were definitely times where the group took off too quickly after a break (we took LOTS of breaks on Saturday – the entire run took 2:10, even though we were only running for 1:47 of it), but I stuck to my guns about running slow, and eventually would rejoin them once they slowed down. I think all of my fast finish (and, consequently, slow start) runs this summer helped with that a lot. I got very used to running S.L.O.W.–much, much slower than I would normally consider “easy”–and that made it easier to dial in my pace on Saturday, even when starting after a break. Lesson #2 from last year: day-before preparation. I hydrated like a BOSS on Friday. I lost count of how many glasses of water I drank at work. Normally I’ll let my water glass sit empty at my desk for a stretch, since getting up and going to refill it is so much work (<–sarcasm font). Not on Friday. As soon as I finished my glass, I was up to get another one. I also salt loaded like crazy (such a burden). I had pretzels for my morning and afternoon snack, salted the burrito bowl I had at lunch, went to TOWN salting my pasta Friday night, and even salted my peanut butter toast Saturday morning. I even forced myself to have Nuun at Fleet Feet’s water stations, which I normally avoid. I think that, plus all of Friday’s hydration, plus my dramatically lowered expectations and effort, are what allowed me to have, as far as I’m concerned, a highly successful run on Saturday. We started the run with six people in my group: by the end, it was only me and one of my group leaders (even the other group leader didn’t make it all the way through). In what is clearly shaping up to be the theme of this marathon season (or at least the theme of June of marathon season), this run went infinitely better than I expected, and that made me quite happy.


Sigh, the weather. What can you do? It doesn’t look like we’re in for much relief in the heat and humidity departments this week, so I have a feeling it’s going to be another slow one. I’m trying to focus on staying on top of my hydration, particularly after my runs, since that’s when I tend to slack off. I felt decent, but definitely not 100 percent, on Sunday, and I’m sure it’s because of how little I drank for the rest of Saturday (one and a half bottles of water and one pint glass). I also know I NEED to be more intentional about going to bed on time, especially if I plan to keep up these morning strength training sessions. I averaged 6:54 last week (according to Fitbit), and that’s just not sustainable as the mileage goes up, particularly when I’m getting extra drained by hot runs.


5 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 4

  1. Wow I’m amazed you were able to get your long run in the heat this weekend!

    It’s still early in training and you mileage is still fairly light so you have a lot of energy and fresh legs, which is might be why you find it hard to slow down on your pace runs. Try not to worry about your pace so much and just focus on maintaining the right effort level for each run. Paces will fall into place from there. Our bodies know effort level, not pace, so you really can’t go wrong training this way, as long as you’re being honest with yourself about how much effort you’re putting in. My easy paces range anywhere from 9:50-10:30 at roughly the same effort level depending on everything from time of day, heat, how I’m feeling, time of the month, cumulative fatigue, etc.

  2. Great job on your LR and the prep for it! I welcome the slower miles on my LRs too ( I’ve had success with doing them slower then running about a minute or so faster for the marathon, which I know you were not mentioning in relation to the LR, but it has worked for me!).

    Love that high five! I hate how everyone ignores each other when running in the city, so that makes me happy!

    I hope your strength workouts are not making you as sore this week!!!

    • Haha whenever I run at my parents house, I always have to make sure to remember to greet other people. I’ve grown so used to not acknowledging anyone that when I’m back there, where it IS normal to greet everyone, I have to make a conscious effort to do it so I’m not accidentally being rude to them!

  3. Pingback: 2018 Running Recap | accidental intentions

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