Week six wasn’t a perfect training week, but in my defense – it was a bit of an unusual seven days. First off, my twin siblings were staying with us while my parents were traveling in China with my brother. We also had my parent’s dog Charlie and our brand newpuppy at home. Two adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 full-time work schedules, marathon training and puppy training. Overwhelmed is an understatement. The puppy slept progressively better every night, but the first couple evenings were a source of major sleep deprivation, and I couldn’t inhale coffee fast enough in the mornings.
I’ve gotten into this habit (especially since the big move in late April) of reminding myself that I’m doing the best that I can at that point in time. And most importantly – that my “best” will improve every week as I adjust to the sources of rising stress. For example, I could only finish 3 out of 4 runs this week. I only made dinner at once. I was late to work 3 times. It didn’t feel good…but I was doing the best that I could. This week, I may be able to finish all of my runs, cook dinner a couple more nights, try and be late no more than once (or twice). You see what I’m saying? Success is great, but I need to be kind to myself even (especially) when things aren’t going as planned.
Anyway, here’s what the week looked like…
Monday: 1.5 hour of ballet class
Tuesday: 4.0 mile run
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: 5.0 mile run
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: 10.0 mile run
Sunday: Rest day
Total Mileage: 19.0 miles
The good: I waited until the evening to run the 5 scheduled miles on Thursday, and it was so hot and humid, but it makes the good category because I pushed the pace where I needed to and it felt great to feel my legs oblige. I also had a solid 10.0 mile run on the 2nd day of my 25th year that boosted my morale and reminded me that I can do this. I didn’t feel great for every minute, but that’s not the point. I need to learn to push through the parts of a long run where I get bored or discouraged or doubtful. I’m also naturally increasing the time I spend running vs. walking, and I can feel my legs adjusting to the building mileage and time on my feet.
The bad: The university gym Alex and I belong to has been shut down for a week to prepare for the new semester, and my cross training has suffered. The temporary close broke my Tuesday and Friday routine and without it, I’ve let some work slide. Completing strength work in my living room (with a couch to sit on in between reps…) can also slow down what should be a quick workout. When I’m at the gym, I’m more purposeful with my time and like to take advantage of equipment I don’t have at home, such as a Bosu ball.
I also missed a shorter 3 mile run on the weekend. I spent the morning watching the women’s olympic marathon and the afternoon saying, “Soon…after this…in an hour…” and suddenly it was dark out and time to sleep. I should know better – there is never a good time for an unscheduled run. I also only did my PT exercises 5/7 times this week – maybe only four. I need to get back to doing it every. single day. My knee has been very nearly 100% pain free because I’m consistent. I can’t have any discomfort creep back because I’m getting lazy.
It’s another week and another chance to get it right! Bring on week 6.
My marathon training plan began on July 4th, and as such, I say I’ve finished five “official” weeks of marathon training. But I started what I call “marathon build-up” six weeks before the official start date on May 23rd, and I kind of count those too. 11 weeks conquered so far! Conquered sounds like a bit of an exaggeration but it really does feel that good (after the work is done). The half marathon training plans I’ve followed in the past have only been 12 weeks long – meaning I’d be just one week away from my goal race at this point in time. Instead – I have about 13 more weeks of training ahead of me.
If you’re still following, that means 24 weeks in 2016 will have been dedicated to training for the New York City Marathon. 6 whole months! On a day-to-day basis, I try not to linger too long on what the upcoming weeks have in store for me. There’s a PDF tucked away in my email and a printed document on my desk that outlines every day’s plan from July 4th to race day on November 6th, but I like to focus on what I need to do this week. The exception to that rule is when I’d like to be prepared for the number of miles I’ll be running on a special weekend – like my 25th birthday, my bachelorette, or you know, wedding weekend. In cases like that, I want to know how big a chunk of a time I might need on a Saturday or Sunday morning to finish my longest run of the week.
If you’re new to the idea of using a training plan to prepare for a race, they outline the work needed across a specified number of weeks to prepare you for the desired distance you’d like to race. You can find and follow one for any kind of race you’d like, including a 5K or a 100-miler ultra. They vary widely depending on a runner’s experience and other factors – is this your first time running this distance? How long have you been running? What’s your weekly mileage look like? 12 miles? 40? 80? Are your looking to improve on a previous time or simply finish the race? Do you want to walk/run the distance? Run the whole thing? You see what I mean.
I still consider myself a fairly new runner, semi-injury prone (since I’ve had difficulty in the past increasing my mileage), and most definitely a novice in the realm of marathon training. I’ve never run 26.2 miles before so my #1 goal is to simply cover the distance. Perhaps one day I’ll train to beat that time. My training plan reflects that – there isn’t a lot of complicated speed or track work. I run 4x a week – not 5 or 6. My highest weekly mileage peaks at 38 miles, and I only run the my longest training run once (20 miles). Oh yes friends and family, it’s actually very normal to never run the whole 26.2 mile distance until race day. For a newbie like myself, it’s done to lessen the risk I’ll strain myself before race day, and I must simply trust in my training (and a heavy dose of adrenaline from NYC’s sideline energy) to pull me through. The longest run I did before both of my half marathons (13.1 miles long) was 10 miles, and they went just fine, so I think that fuels my trust a little bit too.
My Marathon Training Plan
I’m following a novice training plan provided by a coach from Team Every Mother Counts. Typically the plan prescribes Monday as an “active” or full rest day. Tuesday is an easy run. Wednesday calls for 30 minutes – 1 hour of cross training (anything that isn’t running and preferably doesn’t mimic the same strains as running, such as yoga, biking or swimming). Thursday‘s run begins with a warm-up mile(s), moves in to mileage at the pace (speed) I’d like to run on race day (AKA Marathon Race Pace), and ends with a cool-down mile(s). Friday is another 30 minutes – 1 hour of cross training. Saturday calls for 3 “easy” miles or more cross training if I’m tired (“easy” = a pace you should be able to hold and still simultaneously chat with a friend). Sunday is Long Run Day. It is not to be missed or cheated (if you can help it) because it is the pinnacle of long distance training. It gets your body used to being on your feet for a long period of time and on race day, that long run will be the whole 26.2 enchilada. Mileage typically increases slowly every week, but it does drop down from time to time to ease up on the body and will “taper” at the end so my legs are nice and fresh on race day.
Marathon Training Weeks 1-5
Here’s a quick run down of the the last 5 week’s of “official” training for a quick catch-up. I’ve excluded the extras (PT exercises, strength work) for now and will begin to include it in the recap in coming weeks. I’ll return to posting each week’s training every Monday.
*I allowed myself an easier first week of training due to a little hip pain action
Week 1, Monday: Rest day
Week 1, Tuesday: Rest day
Week 1, Wednesday: 3.0 elliptical miles + 20 minute swim
Week 1, Thursday: 3.3 elliptical miles
Week 1, Friday: Rest day
Week 1, Saturday: 3 mile run
Week 1, Sunday: 4.0 mile run
Total Mileage: 7 run miles; 6.6 elliptical miles
Week 2, Monday: Rest day
Week 2, Tuesday: 3 mile run
Week 2, Wednesday: 7.0 mile bike
Week 2, Thursday: 3.1 mile run
Week 2, Friday: 6.5 mile bike
Week 2, Saturday: 2.0 mile run
Week 2, Sunday: 6.1 mile run
Total Mileage: 14.2 run miles; 13.5 bike miles
Week 3, Monday: 1.5 hours of ballet class (yes way)
Week 3, Tuesday: 3.0 mile run
Week 3, Wednesday: 6.1 bike miles
Week 3, Thursday: 3.1 mile run
Week 3, Friday: Rest day
Week 3, Saturday: 2.5 mile run
Week 3, Sunday: 8 run mile run
Total Mileage: 16.6 run miles; 6.1 miles miles
Week 4, Monday: 1.5 hours of ballet class
Week 4, Tuesday: 3.0 mile run
Week 4, Wednesday: 8.0 bike miles
Week 4, Thursday: 3.0 mile run
Week 4, Friday: Rest Day
Week 4, Saturday: 3.0 mile run
Week 4, Sunday: 4.0 mile run
Total Mileage: 13 run miles; 8.0 bike miles
Week 5, Monday: Rest day
Week 5, Tuesday: 4.0 mile run
Week 5, Wednesday: 30 minutes yoga
Week 5, Thursday: 5.0 mile run
Week 5, Friday: Rest day
Week 5, Saturday: 3.0 mile run
Week 5, Sunday: 8.0 mile run
Total Mileage:20.0 run miles
In quick summary – I feel good! I am really, really proud of the work I’ve been putting into this marathon training. There have been more than a handful of times that I have doubted my ability to even get to the starting line of this race, but I am chugging along – getting it done to the best of my ability.