A snapshot of my training

I have a lot of questions about what my training actually looks like (not just the projected training plan that I posted last week), along with the questions of ‘how can you run that much?’ ‘What can you think about while running so many miles?’ and the inevitable ‘How do you feel after all this running?’ Now that I am coming off my highest mileage week ever (39 miles logged from August 9-15!), here is a glimpse into what I did and how I felt:

Sunday: 17 mi long, slow distance run. I knew I wanted to do 16 mi, but decided to push it a bit to see if I could do 17 mi, the longest run I would have in the summer months. I ran 7.5 mi at the gym, .25 mi from the gym to my place (where I change into fresh, DRY running clothes, drink some pickle juice, refresh my water and remind my husband what to bring and when to meet me), 5.5 mi by myself then 3.75 mi with my husband around the golf course. I listened to a running podcast at the gym, my book on tape on my solo run then my husband and I talked about the baseball games that were on, our upcoming travel schedule, how the run was going and whether I thought I would be in any shape to actually eat that night (I often feel nauseated after my long runs to the point where I don’t want to eat dinner. I can usually drink a beer, though, before I get too queasy. And trust me, it used to be way worse when I didn’t start out my run indoors!). Overall, I love this time to myself. I spend the first few miles wondering why I do this every, bloody week. Then I get into a rhythm and just go with it. It’s nice to have this time to think and listen to a book, and of course enjoy about 40 min of running with my husband.

Monday: Cross training – flow yoga. I used to do yoga a lot. Then I started running and I stopped doing yoga. Not sure why. I love it, so this first yoga class in more than eight months was a great time! I know that yoga will help me be a better running, so I spent the time just enjoying the stretching and pushing myself to work on keeping my mind still, as the mental training also helps the running.

Tuesday: 4 easy miles. Because of the heat, I run indoors during the week. Well, and I’m scared of the traffic in general. So I headed to the gym for an easy four miles. Why, though, are those easy, short runs so difficult??? I honestly feel like they should be a breeze, but they seem to take forever and I struggle to just take it easy. But easy miles. So I did my best to slow it down and enjoy the TV show I was watching (side note: how are there STILL episodes of Law & Order SVU that I haven’t seen? I mean, I’ve seen a ton of them, but somehow there were like five episodes this week that I caught at the gym that were new to me!)

Wednesday: 7.8 speed interval miles (Yasso 800’s). I have a love/hate relationship with Yasso 800’s (which I do on the treadmill to keep me at the right pace and not die in the hot sun). I love how I feel after they are done, but honestly? They are HARD! I am aiming for a four-hour marathon (in my dreams!), so that means that I need to run 800 m (a half mile) in 4-min (a 7.5 mph pace), then I run for 4-min at a much slower pace (6.3-6.5 mph). I started this out telling myself that I am going to feel relaxed during the first four cycles of my Yasso 800’s because that is not a challenge anymore, and only when I got to the fifth cycle was I allowed to feel remotely tired or challenged by the session. I have discovered recently that I count down the minutes of my fast intervals only, and it really makes the entire session easier! I mean, when I am running at the fast pace, I long for the slower pace segments, which feel like I am walking and can do those for hours, so they don’t really count. I have been at 8.5 cycles of Yasso 800’s and the theory of these is that when you can do 10 cycles without stopping, you should be able to meet your goal time (as long as you put in the other work needed, especially your long training runs). I am very close, so who knows? I may end up with a four-hour marathon after all!

Thursday: 4 easy miles. Again, so much harder than it should have been! What gives? So painful mentally that I am starting to hate these easy runs!

Friday: 0 miles: Rest day. A runner’s least favourite day, generally, although I quite look forward to them. But like many runners, I still need to DO something, so I spent 6.5 hours volunteering with the sea turtle nesting project in Cayman. I walked about a total of six miles in the sand and did lots of shoveling of sand. Yeah, so that is the kind of ‘rest day’ that I have.

Saturday: 7 miles, race pace. If I want to run a four hour marathon, I need to maintain an average speed of 6.6 miles per hour. Because I will be walking through all aid stations and when I need to eat, I set my pace at 6.8 mph just to push it a bit further. I quite enjoy these runs as I am working kind of hard, but I will admit, my thoughts kept straying to whether I could maintain that pace for another three hours on race day. In my head I said there are many things that help at the actual race: spectators, new sights to see, all the other runners around you pushing you pace a bit faster and of course, race day magic! So in the end while I know maintaining a similar pace for a total of four hours will be a huge challenge, it is possible for me to do. And I think if I just keep reminding myself that, I just may do it! This marathon thing is a huge mental challenge, as much as it is a physical challenge.

Yes, a total of 39 miles last week. That brings my monthly total for August to 76.85 mi, and my total for the first 7 1/2 months to 862 mi! Holy smokes! I never thought I would be someone to run this much! It is truly amazing for me to total up these numbers.

Which brings me to today. I was riding a huge wave of confidence on the success of last week. Then I got to today. I make an amateur mistake and went to softball practice this morning, which had me out in the blazing sun for more than two hours this morning–on a day when I had wanted to run 17 miles. Guess what? I felt terribly drained in spite of the seemingly gallons of water I drank all day. I ended up with a 6.3 mile long run day, but I knew it early in the run that I was going to have to adjust. For the first time on an aborted long run, I’m not beating myself up relentlessly over it! Instead, I had been wanting to transition to Saturday long runs (so I can enjoy NFL games at the bar on Sundays :-)) so this gave me a nice easy day that will help me make that adjustment in my schedule. Instead of a true cross training day tomorrow, I’ll do my yoga and the mileage that was scheduled for Tuesday, which is a nice easy four miles. Then my mid-week speed work/long runs will now be run on Tuesday, my rest day will be Friday, and long runs will take place on Sunday. Clearly my body knew what needed to happen, and luckily my mind was on board with the new plan!

I’ll be back at the 17 miler next week (on Saturday!) and continuing on to the Marine Corps Marathon start line!

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