Coffee… and Training – Marathon Training 1: Week 9

Happy Sunday, my friends!

In spite of my exuberance about being half way through the plan last week, it became clear over the course of the last 8 days that the toughness of the plan was starting to catch up to me. My friends, this was a tough, tough running week for me. Every run was a huge challenge and I was exhausted during the first mile. This, friends, is what over training feels like. The point of this plan is to teach you how to run the marathon physically, sure, but also to (sort of) emulate getting your body so tired that your brain says “nope… nope… not gonna happen today kid” so you can learn how to overcome that when you’re hearing it at mile 20. My understanding of that philosophy is a really big reason I keep going.

However… Before I started this plan, my average mileage per week was around 20. I think I hit 30 miles one time and that week I did a 14-mile run in preparation for a half marathon. I have *never* run more than 7 miles on a work day (and I only did that once), let alone routinely get up at 4 am to run 9 (fast) miles on my home treadmill while my kids slept. Now, I do that regularly on Mondays and Wednesdays, and, not only do I do it, I am to do it faster than I usually run. For the last 3 weeks, I have gone over 30 (well beyond, I believe), and now I think it is catching up to me. I feel stronger – my body has changed dramatically in the last 9 weeks. I feel better after a run than I ever had, especially the last couple of weeks – I’ve grown to love the feeling of a fast run, even when it hurts. But… as it happens to all of us, we hit a training wall and, well, as stubborn as my mind is, my body sometimes trumps it. This is a big reason I decided to do this training plan twice. The hope is, after a few weeks break between them and the accumulated miles for my “new base mileage”, the second time around will be a little less painful for me.

Here is how the training went this week:

  • Sunday: The boys were with me and my house was starting to disgust me, so I did a lot of cleaning. We had a birthday party in the afternoon, though, I spent a large portion of it sitting on my butt talking to my sister, so I didn’t participate as much as I was worried I’d have to (it was a basketball-themed party and I thought I’d be throwing air-balls all afternoon). That said, I did have to wrangle two sugar-ed-up boys who hate getting clean into the shower, and, they are getting to the point where they are getting too big for me to pick them up like that (sigh). So… not exactly a restful rest day.
  • Monday: The plan called for 5 x 1 mi intervals with (gulp) 90 sec rests and 2 mi warm up, 1 mi cool down – this was my first challenging run. I did it. I was finished, but (a) I had wayyy more than 90 seconds between each interval (b) I didn’t do the cool down because I didn’t have the energy for one more mile (c) all the “rests” were stops on the treadmill and (d) I even had to stop mid-mile on the first couple. I didn’t do it according to the plan flawlessly, but it was done. I didn’t have time for the core work, so I didn’t get it done, unfortunately.
  • Tuesday: I did nothing more than my usual routine with the boys.
  • Wednesday: the plan called for a tempo: easy 2, target pace of 8:00-8:20 for 6, and then 1 cool down. I got up at my usual 4:30-ish to do this run, but I was taking a looong time to get it started. Once I finally got on the treadmill and started the run (even with a movie), I was having a really, really tough time enjoying it. In fact, I felt so tired that I really just wanted to stop. I got 1.5 mile into the “warm up” and it felt like I was trying intervals. I felt so heavy. I decided to give up for the day and just take a shower and get ready for work. However… I know me. The entire drive to work, I fretted about “how am I going to make this up?” I thought about shifting this one back to Thursday and doing my 6 on Saturday and my long Sunday – four the day after a long shouldn’t be too bad – or just taking next Monday off anyway and doing the other two runs back to back to get back on schedule. Yeah. I’ll do that. Then, I looked at the 10-day forecast. The humidity was supposed to be much lower on Saturday (sigh). I should do this run today and stay on schedule. Thankfully, I have my gym bag and, thankfully, that sucker is always full of at least 2 days worth of run gear (totally worth the teasing I take for that now). I took my gym bag into the office, checked for an easy 2-hour block of time (10 am to noon) and had some breakfast and water to prepare for it. After eating some food and having some water, I felt a lot better and the first mile went well. However, I had to pause the treadmill to fix my hair (I was getting flyaways in my face) and discovered that the treadmills at work give you only 10 sec to pause. I tried to restart it before it hit zero and knocked the safety out. DAMNIT. Ok. I started it again and managed to get 5.8 mi at pretty close to the time prescribed in the plan before I knocked it out a second time. In all, I had just over 8 miles total for the day in those 3 attempts. I was fine with that and had to learn how to accept it when I know I need to just stop.
  • Thursday: Like Tuesday, I did nothing.
  • Friday: Steady 6 – no pace was suggested, but, since it is the same color on the training plan as the 8:35-9:10 pace workouts, I targeted that pace. Or, I started to. I decided to do this run outside during my “lunch hour” because I just couldn’t wake up in enough time to get it done before work (in fact, even without the run, I barely woke up in time to get the boys to their early care before the bus left). I started out fast because I was excited about running outside. I haven’t had many miles outside since I started this plan in mid-July, so I am always excited to run outside. My excitement, however, tends to be my downfall, and I had to walk at mile 3 (gah!) I did finish the run inside of the 8:35-9:10 range (8:48) but it kind of sucked, even if it was outside. I felt a lot better after I finished it, but I was very worried about my ability to do an 18-mile run the next day.
  • Saturday: the plan called for a steady 18-mile run, which would have been my longest run. I’ll be honest: I was mega worried about this run, unlike the 16 the week before. I was excited about the 16, even. I was dreading this one. Maybe it was because I was so tired. Maybe I had a mental block about the 18. Maybe all those things. Like Monday, though, it took me a while to get dressed and get myself ready for the run. I finally got out a little after 8 (when I got up around 6) and the first mile 1/2 mile or so felt alright. However, shortly into that first mile, I had to pee and that was all I could think about. I stopped at my normal bathroom stop at the lake around mile 2 and started to feel better until I got to mile 4. All of the sudden, my body just felt like concrete. Not just my legs: my entire body. I felt like I could stop and take a nap at any point along the route. The thought of walking home, let alone running home, was painful to me. I kept going, though, because that’s happened to me before. I eventually got over it and I thought I’d be able to get over it today, too. I stopped and walked (I already told myself we were NOT worried about pace at all today) and started up again. I got about 1/2 a mile before I had to stop again to walk, but I kept on the route I had mapped out for myself, assuming I’d get over it. I didn’t. It got worse, actually. So, at the point in the route when I was running toward the neighborhood that was my half point (that street was about 3 miles away from me at this point), I decided to cut it short. I was at mile 7. I decided that if I could continue running from this point back to my house, I could at least get a double-digit run today and, if I felt better, I could do what I can to get as close to 18 in my own neighborhood, which is a tad flatter. Boring, but flatter. It was not to be. Between 7.5 and 8.25 was absolutely miserable and I couldn’t run one more step. I was so disappointed. It was such a perfect day for a good long run. 61 degrees, 60% humidity, partly cloudy. Absolutely nothing in my environment to keep me from my goal. Only my body. I walked 3 miles home, deflated and pissed off that I “wasted” a perfect run day. During what I referred to as my “walk of shame” home, I talked it over with a runner friend of mine who made me feel much, much better about things. I then, later in the day, got an unexpected invitation from another close family friend who is also a runner (training for his first marathon, too!) to do an 18-miler next weekend – an invitation I was happy to accept. It might make it easier to finish it if I have people to run with, too.

This upcoming week is much needed step back:

  • Monday: 4+ with 6x:30 intervals (2:00 rests) at the end. Planning to do this one outside before work, weather permitting. I’ll also try to time it better so I can get my core work done this week.
  • Tuesday: non-run day – planning to do nada.
  • Wednesday: 7 mi slow – planning to do this one outside before work, weather permitting. I also plan to do my core work after this run, time permitting.
  • Thursday: non-run day – planning to do nada.
  • Friday: Easy 5 – planning to do this one outside before work, weather permitting.
  • Saturday: Plan calls for 10, but, considering that I got 8 this week and I have the invitation for 18 from my friend, I’m planning to attempt the 18 miler again. No goal pace, just get the mileage. I’m also planning to do it at one of the greenway trails that is a bit flatter than the route I attempted before. This will be my longest ever run if I finish the whole thing.

That should do it! Have a great day!

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