Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

Sunday, July 29: 80 minutes cross training (30 minute circuit workout + 50 minute bike)
I went to the gym Sunday afternoon and settled in for the longest cross training session. I know I shouldn’t start complaining about these already – it’s only going to get worse (i.e.: longer) before it gets better. I was in A Mood at the gym (tired, hungry, headache-y, cranky), which meant I was not at all in the mood to do this workout. Skipping it only would’ve made things worse, because then I would’ve been tired, hungry, headache-y, cranky, AND mad at myself for skipping a workout just because I didn’t want to do it, so I got it in. Fortunately, things went by quicker than I anticipated.

Monday, July 30: Strength training – legs (AM) + 6 miles in 1:08:42 for an 11:27 pace
Today was apparently core day for me. I did stability ball rollouts for the first time since my senior year of college (or possibly PT, but all of those sessions blurred together over time) and leg raises which were INSANELY HARD. Holy cow. I had to do 21 reps at one point and stopped to rest twice during those 21 because I was dying. It’s a good thing today was core day, because I clearly could use some work in that department.

Due to the shower woes at home, I decided to skip my run commute on Monday and do an out-and-back from work instead. That way I could shower there in case my landlord hadn’t been by to fix our shower draining issues yet. My run felt surprisingly hard to start, especially considering how slow I was moving. I felt better after a couple of miles, though, so maybe it was just a matter of warming up. The biggest downside of doing an out-and-back instead of a run commute was that I had to tackle crowds twice, rather than powering through them for the first mile or so. It will never cease to amaze me how many people lack a rudimentary understanding of how to exist on a public walkway. Your entire party does not need to walk side by side down a narrow path. Rules of the road dictate that you should stay to the right, but if you refuse to stay to the right, then at the very LEAST you should stay to the left. THE. MIDDLE. IS. NOT. A. SIDE. And finally, if you, person in the aforementioned party that erroneously believes you must all walk next to each other rather than in front of or behind each other, see a runner approaching, it would make a lot of sense for you to move out of the runner’s way.

I’m counting down the days until Labor Day, because after that, my run commutes will only involve other-commuter dodging, rather than tourist dodging.

Tuesday, July 31: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
I had an exciting moment during Tuesday’s strength training session. I’ve done reverse flys who knows how many times since I became acquainted with strength training eight or so years ago, but they’ve always been really hard for me, and I’ve never been able to do them well with anything heavier than five pound dumbbells in each hand. WELL. On Tuesday, reverse flys showed up on my strength training schedule for the first time this marathon season, and since I already had the 10 pound dumbbells out, I figured I’d try to do them with 10 pounds instead of my usual five and see what happens. I was able to do it!! I was so surprised! There have been times in the past two months when I’ve wondered if all this strength training was actually doing anything other than making me sore at all times, so to have tangible evidence that I am getting stronger was wonderful.

My fears that we would not learn anything else in this session of dance were confirmed on Tuesday, the last available to chance to start learning something new. SUPER DUPER EXCITED to spend the next two weeks reviewing the same things over and over and over and over again *eyeroll emoji* It’s just really frustrating to have to play to the lowest common denominator in these classes when the lowest common denominator is made up of people who clearly have limited interest in attempting to get better. If you can’t be bothered to put a modicum of effort into the class, why are you even there?!?! Spend your money and your time elsewhere! Go to a drop in class! You don’t have to sign up for an eight week class with a performance at the end!

Wednesday, August 1: 6.5 miles (2 mi WU, 6x.5mi (4:41, 4:36, 4:36, 4:36, 4:42, 4:45) w/.25 mi recovery) in 1:08:37 for a 10:33 pace
*praise hands emoji* This is my third time doing 800s this marathon season and I. LOVE. THIS. WORKOUT. I look forward to weeks with 800s, and after a particularly annoying day at work, I was banking on this workout to put my grumpy self away before I got home for the evening. I checked the news after lunch and saw a line of thunderstorms forming out near Rockford that seemed like it would get into the city right when I planned to leave for my run, but miraculously the line broke into two pieces and avoided me entirely–the sidewalk wasn’t even wet when I left the office–so I was able to get in my run and was very grateful for that.

It was fairly warm on Wednesday and I expected my first 800 to be somewhere in the high 4:5x range. I was both surprised and concerned when I lapped my watch after the first 800 and saw that I had come through in 4:41: my fastest 800 all year. Since the point of this workout is to keep all of the 800 reps at the same speed, I quickly realized that Wednesday’s workout was going to be less of a test of my current fitness and more of a workout workout. I hoped I could hang on and do another 4:41ish, so when I lapped my watch after the second 800 and saw a 4:36, my eyes about fell out of my head. WHAT WAS HAPPENING.

If I thought one 4:36 was shocking, it was nothing compared to the shock I felt when I did both my third AND fourth reps in 4:36 as well. And not only did I run three consecutive 4:36s: I ran them at the exact same pace down to the tenth of a second.


WHO AM I?!?! 1) Where was this speed coming from, and 2) where was this consistency coming from?! The wheels fell off a bit on reps five and six, and I am a bit bummed out by my 4:45 final 800, mostly because that means I had a nine second spread between my slowest 800 and my fastest 800, and in a perfect world, I’d like to keep that spread closer to three or four seconds at the most (in a perfect perfect world, I’d like to keep that spread to zero seconds). That being said, reviewing my heart rate data from the run gave me a better understanding of why the last couple were slower. I clearly wasn’t recovering as much on my .25 mile recovery lap, at least from a heart rate standpoint, as the workout went on, which I think helps explain why the burn of the 800s would set in a lot earlier on the last two reps than it did early on.


Regardless, this was the fastest 800s workout I’ve had yet, and that was very encouraging. Runs like Monday’s have made me wonder if I’m actually gaining any fitness from all the work I’ve put in so far this season, but runs like this show me that I have. That doesn’t necessarily make my three times/week two a days easier, but at least it makes them feel like they’re helping. I’m sure I’m overanalyzing the data, but across all my 800s so far this year, I’m averaging a 4:46. If that turns out to be what I’m able to do on marathon day, I would be so thrilled.

Thursday, August 2: Strength training – legs (AM) + 50 minutes bike (PM)
After a miserable night of “sleep” that saw me awake from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. courtesy of an inability to get comfortable from both a sleeping position and temperature standpoint, I was dragging Thursday morning and would not have minded bailing on my workout. I knew I wouldn’t have time for that and biking after work, though, and I really want to save my workout bails for times when I actually need them, not when I just want them (“need” meaning due to weather, injury, illness, or something along those lines). I know you don’t have to do every workout in a training program, it’s just a guide, blah blah blah, but one of my goals in any training program, marathon or otherwise, is to do as many workouts prescribed as possible. So if that’s the goal, I’m not going to jeopardize my success with that goal because I don’t want to do something. Anyway, despite my lethargy, I got in a good strength training session. Erin gave me some deadlift tips to help protect my back, and that made a big difference.

I returned to the gym after work for some biking. I actually tried on Thursday and felt like I got in a good workout, rather than 50 minutes of spinning my legs out, so that was nice. I did turn me into a puddle of sweat, but I suppose that’s a silly thing to get worked up about in the exercise department 😛

Friday, August 3: Rest

Saturday, August 4: 11.07 miles in 2:06:05 for an 11:23 pace
I briefly tried to kid myself into believing I could run 11 miles at an 11:00 pace on Saturday, but with the heat, humidity, sun, and utter lack of of interest in pushing myself at all on a long run, that lasted less than one mile. I met up with the 11:30 pace group after our first water stop on Saturday, and it was much more my speed (literally!). The pace felt a lot more comfortable and will probably be where I stick for the rest of the summer (particularly since I would like to try fast finishing all of my remaining long long runs (15, 16, 18, 20)). I enjoyed the company and effort, and all in all felt like this was another good long run.


Well, here we are: halfway through marathon season. I’m pretty sure I always feel this way, but it won’t stop me from saying it again: I feel like the first half of marathon season FLEW by. I cannot believe it’s already August. I cannot believe I only have nine weeks of training left. Of course, I also feel like the first half of marathon training is just the prep work for the second half of marathon season, when the real work begins. The super long long runs, the super long week day runs, the marathon-training-is-the-entirety-of-my-free-time part of marathon training. I had such a crummy second half of marathon season last year that I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive going into the second half of marathon training this year. Nearly everything went wrong in the second half of training last year, from knee pain to a stomach bug to a heat wave at the end of September (WHY). The chances of all of those things happening again this year seem slim, so hopefully I’ll have a better second half of marathon season in 2018. Fingers crossed!

8 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training Week 9

  1. “1) Where was this speed coming from, and 2) where was this consistency coming from?!”
    I think I know 😉
    Seriously, though, I hope you’re feeling like all the work you’re putting in is worth it. Because you are killing it so far!

    • Hahaha yeah, it’s probably safe to say all of these early morning strength training sessions have not been a waste of my time 😛 I am really happy with how things have turned out so far this year – things have been going a lot better than I’m used to, which is a nice surprise. Hopefully that continues for the next nine weeks!

  2. Such a great feeling to keep crushing workouts!

    Maybe I’m doing it wrong but your HR graph looks pretty much like what mine looks like for speedwork! I recently heard about cardiac drift, which basically means that your HR creeps higher and higher during the course of a run. I mean, duh, of course it does, but I felt like I was having a problem getting my HR back down to normal once it started really getting up, and reading about cardiac drift made it make a lot more sense (and confirm that I wasn’t crazy for thinking that was a thing).

    • That’s super interesting! I’ve definitely noticed that my heart rate gets higher the longer I run, but I assumed it was purely a fatigue thing – I didn’t consider how it could be impacted by other factors (working too hard, dehydration). That’s something I’m definitely going to keep in mind moving forward!

  3. I was going to say the same as Erin – the strength training and XT are passing over in to running and that is why you’re running faster 800s – that plus the fact that you are doing them consistently! Running consistency pays off with running (training specificity FTW)! Great job!

    OMG people on the sidewalk. Gah it makes me nuts! Even when I am not running. People. Be courteous. (that is too hard for most people to comprehend, I know)

    • Right?! How is it SO HARD to walk in a way that allows others to use the space, too?? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done an awkward dance trying to avoid people coming in my direction because we don’t just stick to the “walk right, pass left” rule. So simple, and yet, apparently, so complicated.

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