Archive of ‘Marathon training’ category

Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 8 – The Week Running Sucked

How have I already completed EIGHT WEEKS of marathon training? I thought this just started? I thought I was still making “new to training” mistakes? No? Just regular “I’m an idiot” mistakes?

This week. Ugh. This week. The best words to sum it up would be ‘the week running sucked’ or simply ‘tired legs’ Or maybe ‘I really need a fucking break’ would have been better, but not totally appropriate for a blog post title.

Pretty much every run this week sucked. The best run was coincidentally the one I generally hate the most, 800s. There were six of them, so that sucked. And even though those weren’t as fast as I would have liked, I was also pretty OK with this run. More on that later. And hey – as much as some running days or weeks might suck, at least I’m not injured! I am running and despite my complaining, I am happy.

Here’s a summary of the week:

Week 8: July 7 – July 13

  • Monday – Maintenance legs + Easy 4 (43:48)
  • Tuesday – 10 miles easy (1:42:04)
  • Wednesday – Refine
  • Thursday – 2 mile warm up, 6×800 (active recovery), 2 mile cool down
  • Friday – OFF
  • Saturday – 14 miles (4 easy, 3 marathon pace, 3 half marathon pace, 2 balls out, 2 4 easy)
  • Sunday – OFF

Total (running) miles: 35.76

Summary of Week 8 running:

Like I said, I really felt like I just needed a fucking break.

My ‘easy 4’ was one of the hardest runs of my life. I am not exaggerating in any way. Every single step felt impossible. My legs were tired and heavy — I believe achy is the word I’m going for –and  the miles went by slowly and painfully. I felt like I was working SO much harder than my 10:58 average pace.

This was the kind of run that totally fucks with your confidence. I’m training for a sub-4 marathon with easy 4 milers averaging almost 11:00 per mile? Who do I think I am? Are you all laughing at me and my ridiculous goal? Should I adjust my expectations on race day? Am I delusional?

See? Like that. My poor confidence.

The next day’s 10 miler was faster but not any easier, though I did get to run some of it with my friend/Refine Challenge buddy Margaret before she moved to London a few days later! The 6.5 miles with her were OK, but the rest were miserable. Like the day before, it was so hot and so humid early in the morning. We started our run at 6:30 am and the sun was beating down. I was never the type of person to get very bothered by the heat (I usually thrive in it!) but this year it’s just so humid all the time and is really getting to me.

Every mile felt hard. My legs were achy again, from very early on in this run. By the final mile it took everything I had in me to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

The next day, I Refined, and it was awesome. I was worried the achy legs would carry over into class but I felt awesome. My jumping lunges were a little slower than they have been but otherwise I was good. Being injured in the neck actually helped my legs in this case because I’m not using heavy kettlebells for squats and lunges. CONFESSION: I secretly like how Refine is easier because of my injury modifications.

I’m probably not supposed to say that.

Anyway, during Tuesday’s 10 miler I told Margaret I was thinking of skipping Thursday’s run. My legs were so achy and tired and I really just needed a break! If my easy runs were so difficult, how could I possibly do 6×800?

I did 6×800!

I didn’t feel burned out from running. If I did, I would have taken another day off. But I was excited to run! My problem had been that once I started running, I felt like shit. So I decided I’d start the run and if it was another achy, sluggish, tired day I’d turn it into an easy run or just cut it short and go home. But if there was any chance I could do my 800s, I wanted to do them. I am committed to improving as a runner and doing everything in my power to hit my sub-4 goal.

My 2-mile warm up wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be! It was the best I’d felt running all week, and I saw no reason not to go for my 800s. The last time I did these was during my 4x800s in Cape Cod and I hated them (this post is doing nothing to convince anyone else that running is fun, is it?) so I didn’t really expect these to be much better. I’m not a fan of the 800 meter distance – it’s too long to sprint but too short to run an attainable pace. I find it hard to pace myself. If there’s one thing worse than 4×800, it is 6×800.

Don’t even get me started on the 8×800 I have coming up in a few weeks.

Anyway, my first 800 was the fastest of the day (and the fastest 800 I’ve run this training cycle!). That should tell you something, and that something should be that this got much harder and more painful as it went on. It was another humid day (surprise, surprise) so I did cut myself some slack. My worst 800 was the fourth one – I felt like I ran out of juice. There was just nothing left, nothing keeping my legs moving. The first three were tough but OK (though none were close to where I’d like to be pace wise), but I ran against the wind in the final three. And the wind was strong – tons of resistance. I did what I could.

I tried to give the last 800 everything I had, but the fact that it was 11 seconds slower than my first one shows just how much I even had left.

(1) 3:30
(2) 3:35
(3) 3:38
(4) 3:58
(5) 3:42
(6) 3:41

But I did it, and I did the 2 mile cool down, and I was really happy that I didn’t skip this run!

And that left one more run during this week — my highest mileage week this year — the long run. I was actually looking forward to this run, even though I was worried about achy legs. I liked that it was divided into manageable sections:

14 miles – 4 easy, 3 marathon pace (9:10), 3 half marathon pace (~8:40), 2 balls out, 2 easy recovery.

14 miles alone would normally seem long and daunting, but I really liked how I had 4 miles easy (which I do all the time) followed by 3 miles at marathon pace (which isn’t tough for me on a normal day) – and then it would already be turnaround time!

And while the second half would be much tougher than the first, I also thought it sounded very doable. Bonus: I’d finish much quicker than a normal 14 mile run!

Well, as it turned out, none of it was doable. I set my alarm for 5:30am, but when I woke up on my own at 6:00, the phone screen said “ALARM – Tap to snooze” but NO SOUND WAS COMING OUT. This has never happened to me in all my years of iPhoning.

So I left my apartment at 6:30 and by then the sun was strong. By the time I finished my 4 easy miles, I was HOT.

1 – 10:54 
2 – 11:47 
3 – 10:41 
4 –  9:52 

When it came time to start my marathon pace miles, I just couldn’t do it. I worked so so so hard to be 12 seconds SLOWER than marathon pace. The entire three miles was the same. My effort and my paces didn’t match up.

5 – 9:22 
6 – 9:14 
7 – 9:21 

I took a breather before turning around because I knew I had to run even faster – and I wasn’t sure I could. Somehow, I did – though not nearly close to half marathon pace.

8 – 9:02 
9 – 9:02 
10 – 9:04 

These 3 miles didn’t even feel like half marathon effort – they felt like balls out effort. I was running as hard as I could, I was in pain, my legs were getting achy again. I thought a lot during these miles about my next 2 “balls out” miles and realized there was no way I could do them. I knew that I’d be doing more harm than good, and I really felt like I’d be risking injury. I was already running at that effort just trying to get to a half marathon pace. The sun was hot. The humidity was strong. This was not my day. And really, it was not my week.

My only option I had was to run the last 4 miles at an easy pace – and even that was brutal. I just wanted to be done!

11 – 9:31 
12 – 9:47 
13 – 10:10 
14 – 10:28

The best part of finishing this run was ending at the farmer’s market in front of my apartment, where ModCup was just setting up their cold brew stand. I treasure my post-summer run iced coffees.

And what does someone with a week’s worth of tired legs do immediately following a challenging 14 mile run? She walks many, many more miles over the course of the morning because it was Pack Walk day! Once a month, all the puppies of Jersey City get together for a group walk.

Hound About Town jersey city pack walk

The arrow points to me and Larry. Miranda and Rusty are in front of me. My mom is next to me, and next to her is the Ander.


And then she does watches Sex and the City reruns for many, many hours. Because as it turns out, the show is even better when you actually understand it.

Ever deal with achy legs? (FYI I am not an ice bath person – I got hypothermia in the summer once. In North Carolina.)

TL;DR: I ramble on and on about achy legs. It’s exciting!


Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 7 – Nailing The Progression Run

Last week was a big week for me. On Monday morning, I woke up at 5am at The Westin hotel to get ready for a day of moving to a new apartment. So on Tuesday morning, with nothing unpacked except only the items I needed for my run, I set off to do my second ever progression run.

My first progression run was a bit of a failure, and I was looking forward to the chance to do a better job this time around. I was also nervous – my plan called for 10:00, 9:30, 9:00, 8:30, 8:00, 8:00. With something like 90% humidity when I woke up, I knew this would be tough but after last week’s awesome 2×2 miles I figured it would be doable.

Once I started running and felt how thick the air was, I adjusted my expectations. My new plan became to stick to the first four miles, and then do as well as I could for the last two, without being upset if I can’t get to 8:00.

I surprised myself with this run! After a slower-than-planned first mile, I was able to stick to my pace exactly right through mile 4. As I speed up with each mile, I felt strong, despite the weather. And even though I pushed as hard as I could those last two miles and didn’t get down to 8:00, I was close enough that I feel really great about it. Especially since I still maintained a progression! I feel like I really nailed this run:

1 – 10:35
2 –  9:32
3 –  9:01
4 –  8:35
5  – 8:17
6  – 8:08

Seriously, it was SO hot and so humid and I felt incredibly badass after this. It was a serious confidence booster and made me feel great about my marathon goal.

The rest of my week’s training:

Week 7: June 30 – July 6

  • Monday – Maintenance Legs OFF
  • Tuesday – 6 mile progression run
  • Wednesday – Refine
  • Thursday – OFF
  • Friday – 1 mile warm up, 10K time trial
  • Saturday – 11 miles (1:57:17)
  • Sunday – OFF

Total (running) miles: 23.20

Summary of Week 7 running:

In addition to the progression run, I had a really great Refine class. Instructor Laura told me I had great form during my jumping lunges – which made me REALLY happy because I must have done hundreds of these since working with Coach Abby. They’re a big part of the plyos she has me do. Good to know my form is right – and I loved feeling awesome at them at Refine. We had the option to jump back to center between each lunge but I jumped into each one since that’s what I do in my plyos. I felt pretty great about it all.

I was supposed to do my maintenance legs on Thursday since I didn’t have the chance on Monday’s moving day, but I actually didn’t feel well and spent the day resting. On Friday — the 4th of July — I woke up to another humid, rainy, gross day for my 10K time trial.

patriotic pup

I was dreading this run, so nervous for it. A time trial is like a race – mapped course, etc. I gave myself a pace plan that I wanted to stick to (assuming a less humid day). I wanted to run the first 3 miles at 8:30, the next at 8:20, then the last two as close to 8:00 as possible. I think that’s a doable strategy and one I’d like to try during an actual 10K race!

But the weather was not on my side. I just want one nice day! Just one! I don’t remember it being this bad every single day the last few years?

After a warm-up at 11:50 (THAT is how humid it was), I surprised myself by speeding up to 8:35 for the first 10K mile. It didn’t feel too bad! But after three miles like this, I was not able to speed up any more for the fourth. In fact, I slowed down.

And after that, running the same pace as the first three (8:35ish) felt like I was putting in double the amount of work.

1 – 8:36
2 – 8:35
3 – 8:35
4 – 8:44
5 – 8:37
6 – 8:31
.2 – 8:30

10K Time: 53.31

Miles 5 and 6 weren’t much different time wise from 1, 2 or 3, but they took SO MUCH more effort. By that last .2, I felt like I was sprinting even though I clearly wasn’t.

I gave myself permission to alter this run as much as needed. I know that an 8:35 in humidity equates to a faster pace on a drier day, and I tried to allow myself to account for that and slow down. But I’m tough on myself, and I wanted to try as hard as I could to stick to where I wanted to be.

When I finally finished, I felt nauseous and totally beat – but also pretty proud of myself for holding such a hard pace on such a miserably thick day. In fact, it poured not long after I finished my run. So, not the time I wanted, but I was very pleased. And it made me really want to find a 10K to race!

4th of July puppyLarry and Dori on 4th of July - Dori's Shiny Blog

And lastly, the long run. 11 miles is the shortest long run I have until the weekend before the marathon. I couldn’t find anyone to run with, and my Team DetermiNation group wasn’t meeting because of the 4th of July holiday weekend. I was on my own.

While it was finally a beautiful day and not very humid, I didn’t feel great during this run. In fact, I felt miserable. I had to stop at Duane Reade for Naproxen about 2 miles in, the sun was beating down on me, I forgot to wear my compression sleeves (I have no idea if they actually do anything, but as soon as I felt a calf pain I was like OMG IT IS MY FAULT – and for the record, that calf pain disappeared after I did a quick stretch later on in the run), I forgot fuel (which I don’t even usually want or need for 11 miles, but once I realized I didn’t have it that was all I could think about), and I was slow. Really slow. Well, for some of it. In the end, I averaged a 10:39 pace which isn’t bad at all. But I struggled mentally with the 11:00 miles, and it definitely fucked with my confidence from earlier in the week.

I basically slogged through to 5.5 miles on the waterfront, turned around, and got through another 5.5 until I could finally reach my ultimate destination: Sam A.M. The thought of my favorite breakfast got me through the run. And I thought about it a LOT.

And that’s the week! It was a stepback week, and my lowest mileage week for a long time. Despite the crappy long run, I feel really good about how I did. I’m already feeling like a stronger runner, and even though my “easy” pace isn’t as fast as other people with similar goals, I think I can hold my own on the tougher runs when I have to quite nicely.

Do you adjust your goals for the humidity? 


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