This week was my highest mileage week ever! And boy did I feel it on Saturday. But before I get to that, here’s the recap:
8.08 miles, 1:00:29, 7:29 pace (morning)
1.3 miles, 9:42, 7:27 pace (warm up on treadmill before Sculpt class in the evening)
1.01 mile warm up, 8:23, 8:16 pace
2 mile time trial, 12:41, 6:19 pace
1.06 mile cool down, 8:34, 8:04 pace
7.27 miles, 53:47, 7:24 pace
2.06 mile warm up, 17:12, 8:20 pace
5.05 miles (Boulevard Bolt), 33:48, 6:41 pace
2.01 mile cool down, 16:44, 8:19 pace
16 miles, 2:01:05, 7:34 pace
Total weekly mileage: 45.84
Right now, I’m starting marathon training but I’m not using one particular training plan. I think when I first started out with running, I needed an exact plan every week. It helped give me structure and honestly I had no idea what I was doing. Now I have a pretty good idea of what my body needs and what works for me. I still use them as a guideline but I adapt them. I have Peter Pfitzinger’s book Advanced Marathoning and it’s an incredibly helpful book to read based on the comprehensive information it has about all facets of training-from nutrition, recovery, etc. However, the plans in the book are VERY high mileage. I’m loosely following the 18 week plan that tops out at 55 miles a week (that’s the lowest mileage plan!). The problem with the plan for me right now is that a lot of the weekday runs are LONG. I’m not used to running 12 miles on a Wednesday. I definitely want my body to get used to the longer runs but I’m a bit scared off by the prospect of having to fit 12 miles on a morning before work. He also doesn’t have speed work built in for the first part of the plan. I’m in the habit of doing speed work every week and will continue with that. I am however going to use the plan to dictate my long runs every week and when I should do cut back weeks. I want to get my weekly mileage higher and at least do one run during the week that is fairly long-but it’s intimidating to me right now to imagine regularly going on runs over 10 miles before work. I already wake up between 5-5:30!
So onto this week’s runs! I have enjoyed being a bit flexible at the start of marathon training. I went out on Monday morning with the idea to at least do 6 miles and just see how it felt. Something about that freedom, allowing myself to end it at 6 or go longer if I felt like it, really helps me mentally. I ended up doing 8 miles because my legs just felt great and I had a lot of energy. I’m not sure if I had told myself I absolutely had to do 8 miles, I would’ve enjoyed it as much.
I did speed sessions with Fleet Feet back in the winter and it’s what got me hooked on speed work! Even though the speed sessions ended in April, I’ve continued doing the workouts every week on my own since then. We did a 2 mile time trial at the beginning of speed sessions and in the middle. The first time I got somewhere around 14:10 and the 2nd time I got 13:35ish (I got a cramp 1.3 miles in and had to stop and breathe through it and start again). All of your workout paces for speed sessions were determined by your time trial. I hadn’t done a time trial since March and all of my paces were way outdated. I’d been guessing for months. I finally got my ass in gear and did the time trial on Tuesday. Ugh-they’re a certain kind of agony. It’s just really tough to run full out for 2 miles. However, I ended up getting 12:37! I shaved almost a minute off my time. I was extremely excited about that. My first mile was 6:20 and my second was 6:17. I felt like I really paced myself well this time. When I ran my first one last winter, my 2nd mile was about 10 seconds slower than my first. This time I tried to stay relatively conservative for the first mile and then was able to really push it in at the end. I do not enjoy time trials but it was so validating to see my progress! And it’ll be nice to have legit times to shoot for when I do my workouts now.
Wednesday’s run was so run of the mill (get it…hahaha…) that I don’t really remember details. Thursday was the Boulevard Bolt! It’s a Nashville Thanksgiving tradition. It’s a 5 mile race up and down Belle Meade Boulevard. Basically you run past mansions the whole way as people in Belle Meade are LOADED. This is really the only thing I took pictures of, so bear with me.
I wanted to get more than 5 miles on the day, so I parked 2 miles away and jogged to and from the race start. This seemed like a great idea, and I still think it was, but unfortunately the jog to the race was mostly downhill, so…I kind of hated myself on the jog back. Especially after racing 5 miles. I kept my pace super conservative for the jogs there and back. On my jog there, I got yelled at by a police officer. Yes, really. Me, goodie-two-shoes, got yelled at. By a police officer. Just want to reiterate that for emphasis. It was close to the start and it was a madhouse. This year’s race pulled in over 8500 participants! I was jogging along, trying to get around people, and I had my headphones in so I wasn’t hearing what was happening around me. Apparently this police woman was trying to get people to stop at the driveway into the church (where the race started/ended) so that a shuttle could get out. Me, with my headphones in, trying to get around the crowd, was oblivious. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this woman was in my face yelling at me. I gave her the stink eye and told her that I saw her. At this point I had no idea why she was freaking out. I took out one of my headphones and realized she was yelling at me because I was trying to jog across the driveway and she was trying to get people to stop. She was screaming about how it was a police order and did I think she was just standing around for fun, she was a police officer, blah blah blah. It was so intense and so unnecessary. Granted, she must be really bored since she works in Belle Meade, the land of rich people. She was probably enjoying her brief tango with power.
Anyway, if I learned anything from running the Bolt last year, it was that you should absolutely line up right by the start line. Even though there are signs for you to line up by predicted finishing time, and people on the megaphones are yelling and reminding people who are going to walk or have small children to get to the back, no one listens. Last year I spent the first mile running through the grass on the side of the road trying to pass all the assholes who willfully disobeyed the seemingly simple rules of lining up. I learned my lesson and lined up right by the start line and thankfully didn’t have to spend much time at all dodging the rule breakers.
The race itself was uneventful. After doing a 5 mile tempo run at 6:53 pace as my speed workout a couple of weeks ago, I knew that I could do sub 7 minute miles. That was my only goal. Here’s the truth-I don’t care for shorter distance races. It really sucks to go all out. Even though it’s over quickly, it’s painful. I like going moderately fast for a long period of time much more than going super fast (relative to the individual) for a short amount of time. My splits for this race went: 6:58, 6:41, 6:44, 6:45, 6:17. I’m pretty excited by the last mile time. It’s amazing what the human body can do. Even when you feel like you just can’t give anymore, somehow your body finds the strength to give it that final push. By mile 3 I wanted to be done but somehow at mile 4 I found something within me to push it to the finish.
After the race and jogging painfully 2 miles uphill to my car, my legs felt kind of wrecked. I decided to get a bag of ice on the way home and ice bath it. I knew I was facing 16 miles on Saturday and wanted to try to recover as much as possible before then. After the ice bath, I got decked out and ready for Thanksgiving feasting.
Saturday’s run was tough. I am struggling lately mentally with long runs. I decided to sign up for this marathon because I wanted to do it at least once and see if I could enjoy it. I know that I’m capable but I guess I want to be able to say I did, not just I could. I know that when I trained for my first couple of halfs, runs of 10, 11, and 12 miles seemed HUGE. They were not always enjoyable. Now, those runs don’t seem bad to me. My body and mind have adjusted. I know it’s just going to take time and patience for my mind and body to adjust to these even longer runs. I’ve been doing longer runs since the summer. I basically built up to 17 miles and then had 3 half marathons in about a month and a half so I wasn’t able to keep building. Now my race schedule is clear until the marathon and I have nothing but time to work on this. I wanted to see if I could enjoy training for and running a marathon but I have to be honest-some weeks these long runs discourage me.
I love the half marathon distance. Part of me feels like there’s this idea that to be a legit runner, you have to be a marathoner. I can’t tell you how many times I would tell people about a half marathon I ran and they’d ask me when I was going to do a full or tell me about someone they know who runs fulls all the time. Or my favorite question- “are you doing the full? Or just the half?” JUST THE HALF. YOU GO RUN 13 MILES AND SEE HOW JUST THAT SEEMS TO YOU! Anyway-all of this to say-I love the half distance. I love the push of endurance but still being able to really push the speed. Maybe one day I’ll love the marathon-but if I don’t-is there really anything wrong with that?
Now, that’s not to say I never have enjoyable long runs. I do! I had a run a few weeks ago of 14.5 miles that was great. I’ve had a few 15s that were great. But this week’s 16 was rough. Here are a few issues:
- I ran way too f-ing fast. You’re supposed to run your long runs significantly slower than your normal paces. But I’m too much of a damn perfectionist to let myself chill out and take it slow. I start out with the mentality that I’ll just take it easy and not push it. But then I get comfortable around miles 3 or 4 and my pace naturally increases and then I won’t let myself slow down. Something about positive splitting seems like a failure to me and so I push myself to at least keep the current pace up. It’s a problem and I know it will eventually hurt my training so I need to work on it.
- I haven’t had much of an appetite lately for some reason and I think probably didn’t have the proper glycogen stores built up that I normally would.
- Cramps. I have been cramping so badly lately. It’s happening on almost every run. I can’t seem to figure out why it’s happening. It happens on fast runs but it also happens on the slower runs. The cramps started early on this run. The started around mile 4 and plagued me until around mile 11 or 12. It’s always the same spot, in the right abdominal muscle. It only seems to happen in the winter which makes me think it’s asthma related somehow but I also wonder if hydration/electrolytes are playing a part. I don’t fuel differently now than I did during the summer. I don’t know. I’m stumped but I’m really freaking frustrated. I guess the silver lining is I’m learning how to run through them so it doesn’t totally derail my run.
- High mileage week + strength training on Friday. This was my highest mileage week ever AND I raced 2 days before this run. I think my legs were just wrecked. I also did strength training on Friday morning instead of Thursday evening since Sculpt was obviously canceled for Thanksgiving. The worst part of the run was how tired my legs were. I think I just wore them out.
Anyway-this post is already absurdly long and I can’t imagine anyone else is really still hanging in so I’m gonna wrap it up. I got home after the 16 miler and did my regular routine of ice bath + coffee, hanging out in bed with about 800 layers because I’m fucking freezing, and then getting ready for my day. Ultimately, I know these long runs are important. Some of them will suck, some of them will be okay and doable, and some of them will (hopefully) be great. They’re important because they’re training my mind and my body. I want my body to get used to these long runs. I want them to be able to endure the strain. But I also want my mind to get used to the idea of running for so long. I want it to be less daunting. I want to be more confident in myself. I know that if I can step my mental game up, the runs will be more pleasant. Honestly-that’s my biggest concern at this point. Can I get my mind to the point where it can handle 26.2 miles? Because I know my body can get there.