Marathon Training Update

As I look back at my previous posts, I realize I was pretty good at sharing the first four weeks of my 16 week marathon training with you.  What’s happened since then?  Have I fallen off the wagon?  Given up on my goals? Do you know me AT ALL?! 😉

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Four weeks into marathon training was early this summer…when there were weeks upon weeks of lazy summer days with my kids to enjoy.  Each training run was a gift (and not that long, and not that fast).  Since then…the summer has evaporated, we’ve crossed dozens of things off of our “100 things to do this summer” list with the kids, we enjoyed two weeks in Hawaii (check out my vacation cross training tips!), the training runs have gotten longer and harder and faster, and the school year is back upon us in all of its chaos and glory.  I’m in the midst of Week 11 of that 16 week plan (trying to wrap my brain around the fact that there’s only 5 weeks left. that’s not much time!).  What happened to weeks 5-10?!  Here’s the cliff notes version…

Remember that each week I have three key runs to knock off: speedwork, tempo, and long.  I also try for 1-2 cross training days, and sometimes I get a bonus run in there as well.  Speedwork suffered a bit while my Achilles bothered me.  I had to slow the pace and cut short the track workout for Week 5 because it was too painful.  We were on vacation on Weeks 6-7 where I got one track workout in, but it was slower and shorter as well (mostly because the lights went out at the track I was running at, leaving me in pitch darkness!), I modified again on Week 8 and ran intervals from our MOTR training schedule instead of my specified track workout.  By Week 9, my Achilles was feeling better and I could do the workout without pain (to my Achilles), but I could tell that my lungs and my head had been on a speedwork break because I just couldn’t consistently hit my target paces.  By Week 10 I was back on track.  I could hit the paces AND my Achilles was ALL BETTER!!  Just like that…all of a sudden…no pain.  I have no idea how exactly that happened (but perhaps the PT exercises, rest, and slower pace had something to do with it), but I’m just extremely thankful and grateful that I no longer have to worry if a run is going to cause my Achilles tendon to snap in pieces.

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Tempo runs.  I delayed my Week 5 tempo run until we got to Hawaii and although I didn’t exactly hit the tempo pace for the entire time, I did get a great run in along the rim of Kilauea Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Please forgive me for slowing down a little and gawking at the steaming crater as I ran by.  Week 6…umm…no tempo run. Please forgive me for cutting myself some slack and doing extra (and fun!) cross training while on vacation.  By Week 7 we were back home, and despite a nagging and still-painful Achilles, I knocked out tempo runs during Weeks 7-8, but I made pace adjustments and slowed down.  By Week 9, I was BACK…and I could do the distance AND the pace without much pain to my Achilles.  The silver lining of running injuries is that they make you appreciate every step and not take anything for granted.  My tempo runs have increased in distance and intensity (up to 10 miles at a consistent marathon pace…although I’m trying to figure out exactly what that “marathon pace” should be…depends on how ambitious I want to be in goal-setting for a finish time!).

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Long runs. I had been following a pretty ambitious training schedule…I hit 17.5 miles by Week 4, for crying out loud!  Perhaps that was too much, too soon.  I dialed it back to a less intensive, although still plenty challenging, version of the training plan that had lower miles for my long runs.  I was able to get in a long run each week, although I did substitute a 10 mile race in Kauai for a 14 mile training run.  However, I ran race pace, my Achilles was hurting, I hiked 5 miles on steep trails later that day, AND I was on vacation.  Originally, my long runs were scheduled to be 18, 20, 13, 18, and 20 for Weeks 5-9…but when I dialed back the mileage, that became 12, 14, 10, 15, and 16. My actual mileage for those weeks was 12, 10, 13.5, 16.6, and 18.9.  I can live with that – especially since my Achilles stopped bugging me sometime before the 18.9 cumulative miles that I ran in the three legs of the Great River Ragnar Relay in about a 24 hour time period on no sleep.

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So…I cut myself a little slack and modified pace and distance for about a month.  I took a vacation, which my body, mind, and marriage desperately needed.  The middle segment of marathon training was not what I had intended or expected it to be, but I’m glad it was in the middle I had to modify and not now, when we’re getting closer to crunch time.  I think I’m in a good place, but I’m really conflicted about how and what I should set for goals for the remainder of my training, as well as for the marathon itself. Do I set ambitious goals and push myself?  Or do I relax and enjoy the remainder of the training and soak it all in on marathon Sunday?

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My parents, particularly my Dad, instilled in my a wicked strong sense of self-discipline and determination.  He taught me to set a goal and work hard to achieve it.  He worked hard.  He was a farmer – he didn’t stop until the work was done.  (Help me honor his memory by donating to the Alzheimer’s Association!).  I know this is different, but I’m a slave to a training plan.  I’m not known to cut runs short or take it easy (right, running buddies?!).  It was hard for me to cut back the miles and the pace, mentally at least.  I had such high expectations for myself this summer as I trained, and although I know I had good reason to cut myself some slack…I’m (not so secretly) thrilled that I can get myself back on my original training plan.  The work is not yet done.  I have 5 more weeks.  Therefore I can’t stop.  Must. Keep. Going.  I’m so thankful for that voice in my head (sometimes it’s my Dad’s deep voice) and my running buddies who keep me going.  Some of those running buddies are marathon training too…others are just amazing friends who are helping me get my miles in, and making them oh so much more enjoyable with good company.  Thank you.  All of you.  For everything you do to help me keep going.

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