Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 3
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10 Mondays Until Boston!
The thing I love about running, is that it almost always seems to be teaching me something that goes far beyond the miles on the road. Of all the things running has taught me so far, the biggest lessons are in commitment and discipline. On the windiest days when you are pushing the jogger into a literal wall of wind. On the days where your whole body is aching and the thought of cutting those 17 miles down keeps cropping up in your head. On the days where stepping out the door feels like a great mental battle. It is on these days where you still show up, still follow-through, that the real training begins.
This past week of training was the first week where I really struggled to hit my mileage. The excitement of the early stage of marathon training has already faded within me and I have been hit with the reality of the simple fact: training for a marathon is hard work. Just like an actual marathon, it is those first miles that are easy and fun. Then somewhere in the middle, you are hit with the reality that you still have 13 miles to go and things become a little less fun. I am officially over the honeymoon stage of marathon training and not quite yet at the exciting tapering stage. This in-between spot of training can be tough: mileage is increasing, workout intensity is increasing, and long runs are increasing. The finish line still feels far away. 10 weeks is a bit too long to get super excited. All this to say, last week was a good week in training in the sense that even when I wasn’t feeling it, I pushed through.
I can get so obsessed with what my Garmin tells me. I want to hit the exact mileage every single time. I want to be within a pace frame. I want to hit my faster miles when I am doing a workout. This past week, my garmin was not my friend. It died on runs. I forgot to start it after stopping it. It kept telling me “6:10” when all I wanted to see was “6:00.” It told me “12” when I still had 5 more miles.
With all these Garmin issues, this week I learned to be okay with being flexible. I stopped when I knew I was right around 8 miles, even though my Garmin told me otherwise. I was okay with that 6:07 mile that was supposed to be 6 flat. I stopped at 6 miles on the windiest running day of my life as Hudson just kept screaming. I am all about pushing through, but sometimes when there is another little guy involved, you have to stop. Similarly to what I wrote about last week, things don’t revolve around me as the runner, but as the mom that runs, which is very different. Cutting weekly mileage by 2 miles seems like no big deal, but it really bothered me. I was planning on running 2 miles sometime later in day, but it just never happened and I never had the time to add it on to the other mileage in the week. 2 miles will not kill my training.
So, in that case I adjusted, but later in the week on the long run when I was dying at mile 12, I pushed through and hit the 17 miles. It is all about knowing when to push and when to stop. Monday, I needed to stop. Saturday, I needed to push.
This is a lot of reflection to say one thing: running felt hard last week. Once I hit 50 + miles, all my typical issues start rolling in. My mind starts telling me how tired I am. My right leg starts flaring up. My right hip starts tightening up. My feet start feeling extra fragile. It is on weeks like this, that the commitment and discipline start to really develop and for that, this week of training can still be deemed as a good week.
53 miles was spread out like this:
- 6 miles in the WIND with JOGGER. Big mistake.
- 6 miles of park loops solo.
- 10 miles with 2 miles at race pace and one mile faster.
- 8 miles with jogger. Long. Some extra cardio involved as I had to sing to H to stop some of the crying. Running with a jogger is WORK!
- 6 miles of park loops solo.
- The big 17 miler with lots of uphill trails.
One quick tangent on mileage. This week, I was hit with mile comparison. Sounds weird, but this is totally a thing. Let me explain. I was listening to a podcast interview with this one runner who was trying to get an OTQ last fall. She talked about running 90 mile weeks and how this is basically the mileage you need to hit to be super competitive in the marathon. This got me feeling a bit panicky. I am still building in mileage, but even in my peak for this training cycle I will not be anywhere close to 90 mile weeks. For one, I feel like I would really struggle being present to Hudson and secondly, I know my body pretty well and I think that would put it over the edge.
I was struck with the fact that mileage comparison can even steal your joy when it comes to running. The doubt immediately began to sink in and I began to question if some of my future running goals are even possible with running 60-70 miles at my very peak. All this to say, weekly mileage is such a personal thing. The numbers that work for one person, might be way too little or way too much for the next. Run your mileage. Do workouts that make sense for your season. Don’t get too focused on what all the other fast people are doing.
What I am Listening to
Not as much to say in this section this week. Nothing that really stuck in my mind like previous weeks. I will say, I had one solo run where I could not find my phone so just had a silent sunrise run and it was refreshing. Especially with all the noise in my days, it is necessary to have some runs with nothing going on in the background.
More so than the podcasts I listened to, some of the conversations I had on the run stick out even more. With all the solo running I do, I am always thankful for the miles that are made up with conversation and company.
How I am Fueling
- Already over the bagel and cream cheese phase.
- Still into the coconut water.
- Trying a new protein powder, Orgain Organic Protein Powder.
- El Gringo’s breakfast burrito post-17 miles.
Things are beginning to hurt. Recovery is becoming more and more important. As I alluded to before, when my run is done, I need to jump into mom things and don’t have a ton of recovery time. With that said, here are a few things I have been doing this week to recover:
- Hot showers. I know, weird type of recovery, but hey it’s practicable. The heat helps with my muscle tightness.
- Epsom salt baths every Sunday night.
- Lower back pain and tight hip flexors has brought me back to rolling out before bed.
- Two words: Yoga Toes. I have used these for years. I put them on for a few minutes before bed. I deal with a lot of foot pain and have a pretty bad bunion, so the yoga toes really helps provide needed relief!
- Naps. Usually only get one per week, but this weekly nap really helps with my energy levels.
The same. I realized on my long run that my usual weak glutes are beginning to affect my hip flexors and lower back. Hoping that continuing to go to Petra’s strength classes will help my very, very weak glutes. I am planning on incorporating even just 5 minutes every other day at home to use the bands and do some targeted glute strengthening exercises.
What I Keep Telling Myself
Stay in it. Stay in it. Stay in it.
This might be the mantra for Boston. We will see. This is what I said when I kept looking down and seemed to not be able to break that 6:10 barrier on my tempo. This is what I told myself at mile 12 when I wanted to cut the long run short. Stay in it. Yes, physically, but more so mentally. When the pain sets in and things start to get really hard, it is easy for me to check out. I really want to focus on this and stay in it, mentally, even when the pain starts to settle in.
I am already picturing myself running up Heartbreak Hill and the words: stay in it, stay in it are pounding in my head and propelling me up.
High + Low
- Pushing through and running 17 miles.
- Wednesday workout and feeling controlled and confident.
- Monday’s run in the wind and my sister and mom having to pick us up! True story.
- The last painful few miles of my long run.
- Overall more tired and less excited.
The Long Run
17 miler in Palos Verdes on Telephone Trail. This is the last long run I will run on this trail. There is so much soft-surface uphill. It is brutal. There is also a lot of rocky trails and I almost rolled my ankle multiple times. These early hard miles put a greater fatigue on my body and made the final miles a real challenge for me.
Even though it was a bit painful, I am proud I finished it. I was very close to rounding up. It will be nice to drop a bit next week and come back in two Saturdays and run an 18-miler and then the big 2-0.
The long run in numbers (there was a a few meters that I forgot to start up Garmin again, but I did do 17, I promise!)
2 hours 13 minutes
7:54 minutes/mile average
Fastest mile at mile 12: 6:49