Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 10

Officially made it to taper! Except, my taper really started this past week instead. After reading last week’s post, my coach emailed me and asked if I was ready to go ahead and cut back early. I answered with a resounding, “YES” and the rest is history. I’ve talked to him, my PT, my mom’s trainer, and my doctor, and the general consensus is that while I feel normal on a day to day basis, the long term effects of the sepsis are still taking a toll on my performance. Heaviness in my legs and general fatigue on almost every run has been pretty frustrating.

All that said, I really hope I can still run the marathon. I struggled through 12 miles last Saturday and wanted to quit after just 4. My body seems to not want it. And yes, I’m sure I can get through 26.2, but I don’t want to just get through it. I want to race. I run races to race. Just finishing or struggling through for the sake of saying I finished isn’t why I run. I run because I like to compete and because I enjoy competing. I run to push myself and to improve myself and to feel strong, not to feel weak. I’ve considered several options–not running the race, dropping down to the half, and trying to run it, but dropping out if my body can’t handle it. At this point, I’m planning on trying to run it and giving it my all, even if my all right now isn’t representative of my full potential.

Since I cut back early, week 10 looked like this:

Monday: 4 miles easy @8:49 — felt very “meh” on this run
Tuesday: REST
Wednesday: 6 miles with last 5K @7:41-7:43-7:33 — coach said to pick up the last 5K if I felt ok, and I did, so I went for it. I didn’t want to push too hard, but the quicker pace felt comfortable, and that’s what I was hoping for.
Thursday: 4 miles easy (no watch) — felt good
Friday: REST
Saturday: 12 miles @9:06 pace — this was another tough run. As soon as I started, my legs were heavy, and after 4 miles, I wanted to quit. What’s odd is that the conditions were near perfect–none of the cold or crazy headwind I’ve been dealing with on a lot of my long runs–but I still struggled, probably more than I have any other time. Granted, it was a very hilly trail that I ran, and I know that slowed me down, but even so, I shouldn’t feel that sluggish, especially not after 10 weeks of training. I know that my white and red blood cell counts are lower than normal, so I think I’m just not getting as much oxygen to my muscles as I usually do. Still! UGH.
Sunday: REST
Week 11 total: 26 miles

I think cutting down early was definitely the right call. Now I just have to get my body to cooperate on race day.

Vancouver Marathon Training: Weeks 8 & 9

I always try to stay positive about my training. Well, I kind of try to stay positive about most things in life, but especially running. After all, I like running. I choose to run. I want to run marathons. I think.

I’ve struggled much more during this training cycle than any other before. Usually, I can at least see progress, but I feel like I take one step forward and two steps back. So maybe it’s a fluke, and maybe it’s because I had a sort of serious illness, and maybe it’s that I’m just off for no particular reason at all. Yes, it’s bothering me that I can’t figure it out, but I’ve already spent almost 10 weeks training, so I have to trust that it will get me through 26.2 on May 3.

I had a pretty awful long run last weekend–20 miles that I could barely finish, even at a reasonably easy pace. If I had been near my car around mile 15, I definitely would have quit, which is not like me at all. When I did finish, my body hurt much more than it ever has after I’ve run a full 26.2, and even after my ice bath and much quality time with the foam roller, I was still in a lot of pain. I felt a little better yesterday, but was still achy for today’s 4 miles. At least it was a gorgeous day–as was Saturday when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom on the mall.

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I’ve made a deal with myself that I will run this race for fun and try to enjoy it. I know from the way my body’s behaving that this probably won’t be a PR race for me–and if it is, I will be very pleasantly surprised. Either way, I’m going to look forward to seeing my family there and know that we’ll have fun and enjoy Vancouver regardless of whether I run a 3:30 or a 4:30 or a 5:30. So there.

I’ve also made a deal with myself that I’m going to get through a couple tough workouts this week and then do some hardcore resting during my taper. I’m also in the phase of my training where I up my protein, reduce sugar, and drink water like it’s my job. What that all means is shooting for 80-100g of protein/day, limiting sweets to the weekend (and only if I want them–once I cut them out, I’m much less interested), and 4 liters of water/day, which actually isn’t hard for me to do at all.

As for training the last 2 weeks, here’s the rundown:

Week 8
Monday 6 miles easy (@8:28)
Tuesday 5 miles easy (@8:52)
Wednesday 8 mile tempo run–6 miles at tempo (7:24–7:19–7:19–7:19–7:16–7:13) Felt really great during this run. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.
Thursday HIIT workout ~40 minutes
Friday REST
Saturday 18 miles @8:19 overall pace–was supposed to do 2 sets of 4 miles at tempo pace of @7:34-7:37. It was crazy windy (30 mph, yo), and I struggled through this one. Nothing to be done about bad conditions, but still did nothing for my confidence.
Sunday REST
Week 8 total: 37 miles

Week 9
Monday 6 miles easy (@8:26)
Tuesday HIIT workout ~40 minutes (mostly core and upper body)
Wednesday 8 miles total — I was supposed to do a workout similar to last week’s, but with 6 miles @7:13-7:19, which should have been no problem since I basically did that the week before. Nope. nopenopenopenopenope. My legs felt heavy and the whole run was a struggle. Barely made it through one mile @7:19, then dropped down to half mile repeats. I did 6 @7:19 with half mile jogs in between each one, and I really had to make myself do it. My lungs were burning, and I had chest pain pretty much the whole time. I’m sure my cardiologist would not approve.
Thursday 6 miles easy recovery run (@8:27)
Friday REST
Saturday 20 miles (@8:32) as mentioned above. The worst.
Sunday REST
Week 9 total: 40 miles

Given that I just let out the heaviest sigh known to man, I’d say that’s a pretty good indication of how I’m feeling now. Tomorrow is a rest OR cross training day on my training schedule, and I’m going to rest. I just feel done, you know? Hopefully, that’ll get me primed for a tough workout on Wednesday, and I can rebuild some of my confidence with a successful workout. Here’s hoping!

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 7

I want to want this race. I want to be excited about it. But I’m just not. I don’t know if it’s the fact that this has been the longest winter ever or that I felt like I was overtraining or what. It’s been a frustrating training cycle, to say the least.

I think the thing that stands out to me the most is that I feel tired and weak more often than not. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have good runs here and there when I feel really strong and push myself. But those have be the exception rather than the rule. I’m not especially motivated, even for my easy runs, and the workouts I enjoy most are cross training. Not the best.

Apple fritters in the car after a long run console me.

Apple fritters in the car after a long run console me.

I’m afraid I might have a bit of a mental block as well. I read plenty of running blogs and threads, and I know that really successful (read: FAST) marathoners run a lot more miles than I do. Their weekly mileage tops out anywhere from 55-70+ miles, and mine is nowhere near that. So while I began this training cycle with big goals for myself, the realization that my body isn’t cut out for that kind of training has me doubting myself, big time. And really, I know I should be happy with a sub 3:30 marathon and that everything beyond this should be gravy, but it’s not. I want to be better. I want to run faster. I think I can run faster, too. Can I do it with a much lower weekly mileage than most? Guess we’ll find out May 3.

Week 7

Monday
What I was supposed to do: 5 miles, easy @8:35-9:00
What actually happened: 5 miles @8:26
Legs felt heavy for the first part of this, but after I warmed up, I felt ok.

Tuesday
What I was supposed to do:
XT or rest
What actually happened: 4 miles @8:32; physical therapy appointment
This will come as a shock to no one, but I decided to run this day because I either had time to work out or walk the dog, and I am a slave to her. It was breezy and mild, and I think we both enjoyed getting out for a few miles.

I will own you and you will like it.

I will own you and you will like it.

Wednesday
What I was supposed to do: 
7 miles total with 1/2 mile repeats–6 x 1/2 mile @ 6:40 – 6:43 per mile pace. 2-3 min jog in between
What actually happened: 7 miles total–1 mile warm up–7 x 800 m repeats with 400 m rest for each; 1 mile cool down
6:35–6:31–6:27–6:27–6:27–6:27–6:18
Yep, threw in an extra one for good measure. This was my good, strong workout for the week. I loved it so much that I ran faster than I needed to AND added an extra interval. If only they could all be this good! 

Thursday
What I was supposed to do: 
4 miles EASY
What actually happened: 48 minutes HIIT training
I’ve been missing my strength workouts, and since I didn’t need fresh legs for Friday, this seemed like a good time to squeeze in some muscle work. Just what the doctor ordered.

Friday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: REST
4 hours in the car and a long day of meetings. Rest, indeed.

Saturday
What I was supposed to do: 
20 miles @8:25-8:45
What actually happened: 20 miles @8:31 average pace
The worst. Yet again. It was 17* with the windchill on Saturday morning, and even though I was bundled up, my hands were swollen, numb, and painful by the time I stopped at my car for Gu after 9.5 miles. I spent 10 very painful minutes waiting for the feeling to return to my hands. Damn Raynaud’s! Since I like having 10 fingers, I drove home, changed and went to the gym to finish on the treadmill. It was the worst. If I never run on a treadmill again, it will be too soon. My body felt fine, but I would’ve been much happier if I were able to do the whole run outside.

I refuse to get up! You cant make me!

I won’t get up! You can’t make me!

Sunday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: 45ish minutes of HIIT training
The world is a cruel, cruel place, so I woke up at 6 am on Sunday even though I had absolutely nowhere to be. Since Roo wasn’t about to get out of bed, and Trader Joe’s doesn’t open until 8, I killed time with a workout. My legs felt surprisingly fine after 20 miles the day before, and I finished with a fair amount of core work that I sort of loved.

Total for the week: 36 miles
vancouver marathon week 7

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 6

Redemption! Kinda. This week was better than last week, for sure. I tell you what, though–having an off week really messes with your head. I know I’ve overtrained in the past, so I knew the signs, but it’s hard to get back to a place of confidence and strength in your running after you get to that place where you’re just completely burnt out. BUT, my speed workout and my long run went well, so I think I’m back on track.

My coach also adjusted my training plan, so I’m running 4 days/week instead of 5, which I think works better for me. I’ll still cross train one day, and then probably take 2 rest days. That’s what’s worked well for me in the past. I envy runners who can run 50+ mile weeks and take fewer days off, but I’m not one of them. Which is fine.

The other thing I know I need to work on is all the maintenance work–things like stretching, foam rolling, core work, and hip/glute exercises. I am HORRIBLE at keeping up with them. Sometimes I’ll be sitting on the couch watching TV, and I think about doing them. But Roo is so snuggly, and foam rolling is painful so I stay on the couch. So much lazy.

Don't blame me, lady!

Don’t blame me, lady!

Week 6

Monday
What I was supposed to do: 4 miles easy
What actually happened: REST
I wasn’t ready to run yet. Still felt completely exhausted, so I listened to the ol’ body and rested.

Tuesday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: 4 miles easy @8:52 pace
Eased back in with some very relaxed miles. This felt ok, but I definitely didn’t want to run any faster.

Wednesday
What I was supposed to do: 
8 mile progression run–start easy and work up to last 5K @7:02-7:08 pace
What actually happened:
 8 mile progression run– 8:31, 8:17, 8:04, 7:50, 7:41, 7:24, 7:08, 7:08
This felt really good. The rest served me well, and my legs were ready to go for this run. The last 5K was definitely challenging, and I had to really push myself both mentally and physically, but I was able to get those last 2 miles at pace so I felt good about that. I really needed a boost, and this run did it.

Thursday
What I was supposed to do: 
4 miles easy
What actually happened: 4 miles @9:15 pace
My right foot was bugging me a bit on this run, and there was no way I could’ve gone any quicker than this. Luckily, the foot pain didn’t linger, but I have been babying it a bit, just in case!

Friday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: REST
Had some quality time on the foam roller and lacrosse ball. Let me tell you, a lacrosse ball in a tight, knotted TFL is no joke. I’d rather be dry needled any day, but I had a conference for work, and I had to miss PT. Can’t wait to get needled next time!

Saturday
What I was supposed to do: 17 miles–first 13 easy, last 4 @7:21-7:25
What actually happened: 17 miles–first 12 easy, 1 ramping up to fast finish (@7:49), last 4: 7:16, 7:18, 7:19, 7:23. My knees were a little sore during this run. I took a freezing 20 minute bath with 24 lbs. of ice while watching the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix, and that seemed to help.
The fast miles on this run were challenging, and I had to do a fair amount of zig-zagging and people dodging since I was in downtown DC. Even early on Saturday morning, people need to see the monuments! I also tried to avoid stopping by turning whichever way the crosswalks were green, so I was a little bit all over the place. The last mile I was pretty dead, but after 17 miles, I’m ok with that.

Sunday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: REST