Marathon Training Week #7 – Cooling off and going long…er…
It’s July, right? Right? Because this week, save for the very beginning, brought about less humidity and cooler temperatures. This has definitely boosted my confidence in my training and my running. I don’t feel like I’m out of breath. I don’t feel like I’m drowning in sweat (even if it is liquid awesome). I don’t feel tired as quickly. Mother Nature somehow brought me my confidence back with the much cooler, much more running-friendly weather this week.
After last week, this was a welcome change. Especially with the long runs (yes…runs!) I had planned for this weekend. Sweet, sweet relief. And, to make it even better (who am I and what did I do with my former self?)…on Saturday my running group got poured on. It was amazing. It felt great. It made me smile…even if I was getting poured on. It didn’t last long…but it was nice to splash through the puddles and feel all badass for hitting that pavement in a drenching downpour.
This was a “scale-back” week for me in terms of mileage during the week. But my long run this weekend was supposed to be longer than last week’s. Last week I extended my long run to comply with my friend Matthew’s…so, this was technically a scale back as well. I was okay with that. These are important weeks for the body…because with the scale back…the following week brings back the higher mileage and now your body is ready to handle it.
But then…a second long run happened. Because when a friend invites you to join her group for a refreshing, early, early morning long run on Sunday…you go. It was fantastic. I met a new group of wonderful people and I had a chance to really chat up Kelsie and we discussed our training…our hopes for our marathons…fundraising problems…and…clothing/shoes, etc.
This week…was the kind of week I needed.
Sunday is normally my easy run or rest day. My roommate and I had a house guest this weekend, but I felt I needed to stretch my legs out. After Saturday’s rough 18 mile run in extreme heat and humidity, then a lot of riding in a car…followed by sitting on a hard cement floor at a very fun roller derby bout…followed by more car riding…the run was a relief and gave these legs a chance to simply S-T-R-E-T-C-H out. I choose to run hills though…which still doesn’t make sense now that I look back. But, it seemed to be what my legs needed. I could feel the strength returning to them with each hill that I powered up, despite having some residual aches and pains. I took it easy, though…as that stifling humidity was still lingering. It was all about pacing myself and keeping myself hydrated and fueled properly. After the run, I showered, changed, and headed out to meet up with my sports nutritionist again. This time we went over loss of sodium in these sort of conditions and what that means…how to fuel properly for that…what I’ve been doing right…what I need to improve on…and the like. It was a brilliant meeting and I walked out of there feeling so much better about things. Remember all those harsh comments about my body? Well, she told me I looked healthier now than I did when we first met. And that I should pay no attention to the negative people firing these comments at me. She said simply…believe it or not…I am built like a runner. Lean muscle. And the people who said those things have no idea what they are talking about. Her job was to make judgment calls about her clients based on looks as well and she said I looked healthy. Then we hugged. I needed that.
Monday morning took me back out into the wee dark hours before most people are even out of bed. The air felt so heavy, humid, and wet that morning. I did, however, get rained on for one glorious mile. I think I smiled then. It just felt better and easier. It happened right in the middle of my 5 easy run…and it was a blessing. Until it stopped. And all I wanted after that was it to rain down on me a little more. It was so refreshing. But, alas…the rain was gone for the time being. I did rock out negative splits, however! Always a good thing. Being Monday, that also meant it was my Daily Double…so I headed out to my running store’s fun run and we all ran with Natalie again, whose arm is feeling better, but her hamstring is dealing her fits. We let her set the pace and we ran for three miles, winding up back at the store. It was a hot, hot day for running.
Tuesday is the usual cross training day. This week I was scheduled for 40-50 minutes of cross training. That’s rather normal on Tuesdays now. The only difference this week was that Cathy was left at home, having had her last wisdom tooth extracted on Monday afternoon. All alone at the gym. I got on the Arc Trainer for 45 minutes, using the Program 1 setting on Level 5, and managed 2.78 with various intervals, resistance, and inclines. It was challenging. Then, to finish it up, I got on the rowing machine for 10 minutes worked my core and upper body to the max, pushing for 1.19 miles. I hit up a few strength machines before calling it a day. That night…yoga to stretch everything out.
Wednesday is my speed work or pacing day and this week called for 5 miles of speed work. This was supposed to be done at the track, however, Cathy was still out of commission and I wasn’t going to head off to the track alone while it was still dark out. I do a lot of crazy things, but safety is always first and I didn’t feel safe going off on my own. So, I decided I would have to dreadmill the speed work this time and make sure I hit up the track next time it came up in the schedule. That was the deal I made with myself and with Cathy. So, I hit the gym and set the treadmill for an easy 7 mph pace for my first mile to get warmed up. Then I dug into 4 x 800 meters at 8 mph with 4 x 400 meters at 7.5 mph for recovery. My last mile was back down to the 7 mph pace to cool down. When I finished, I actually felt like I was too easy on the speed work and should push a little harder next time. So, that’s my goal. I tend to go easier than I normally run on a treadmill. I don’t know why. Most people are the opposite. Go figure.
Thursday morning dawned and brought about my final 5 mile easy run of the week. It was a gorgeous 60 degree morning. And I loved it. I had a bit of a twinge in my hip that morning, but I stretched really well and it went away. And the entire time I was running nothing bothered me at all. I polished off that run like it was nothing, no twinges after that or anything. So whatever it was just required a bit of stretching. And…once again I managed negative splits. It was the kind of run I needed. That was also my second day of the week to hit up the gym and I managed to get 9.18 miles in on the elliptical in 49 minutes. Then rocked out 3.89 miles on the stationary bike. I felt really good about how I did on those, but my legs were really feeling it all that day. So, after hitting up some strength machines and heading to work, I made sure I stretched it all out that night with some soothing yoga.
Friday naturally meant it was the rest day that I never like taking, but have promised to respect it and keep it holy. Which I do. I don’t run or hit the gym or do anything at home. I did, however, take myself for an early morning walk. I managed 2.5 miles in 30 minutes, so that wasn’t too bad. I tend to be a fast walker with these short legs. Next time, I might have to slow it down some. I just get lost in my thoughts and don’t even realize it. But, the rest of the day it was rest, rest, rest because Saturday was coming and that meant…the long run…
Saturday is long run training day. Run long at an easy pace. This week, most people were going for the mileage my training plan called for, which was 15 miles at the Long Slow Distance pace. I met up with my running group earlier than normal, at 6:00 a.m. We hit the road, heading toward one of the parks and overshooting it to get to 8 miles…so that when we turned around…we wouldn’t have to run the worst part of Eastern Parkway here in Louisville near the end. Instead, we would take that at a deliberate walk to cool down. Now…on Friday I accidentally got hit with a case of accidental glutenization. Let’s just say…stupid mistake led to major stomach issues. So, I was a bit nervous about Saturday morning. But I managed to rock out the run. Matthew and I were having a much better run this week…and for the first couple of miles, we ran with the rest of the 6 a.m. group. But, then…for the remainder, it was just us…until we turned around and met up with them again. We stopped to talk for a moment, but then decided to head back to the store. They told us to go ahead…because no one likes to get passed. Matthew and I went on…and polished off the run, cooling down just as planned with a brisk walk toward the coffee shop. I had baked up some gluten-free rosemary cheddar biscuits and some gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free banana oat cookie bites for everyone, and Cathy was at the coffee shop, generously handing them out for me. We settled in to talk for a little while, then we excused ourselves because we were both starving and were ready to hit up my favorite Saturday breakfast spot – Annie May’s Sweet Café – for their gluten-free/vegan sausage and “cheese” breakfast sandwich. I was pretty much on the go the rest of the day…finishing up grocery shopping and just hitting the malls to keep on moving. Eventually, as the day went on, my stomach started to feel better. I’m still not 100%, but at least I proved I had it in me to go the distance regardless. I feel strong.
It turned out to be a fantastic week for running, once the weather changed and the humidity lifted. I mentioned a second long run this weekend, which I rocked out at 5:30 a.m. this morning with my Virgo-in-arms and friend, Kelsie. But…that will have to wait for next week’s blog.
I started the week on a high note, with a good, hill run and a great meeting with my sports nutritionist. Then I polished it off with great running weather for my scheduled long run. Life has been good to me this week. And I am pleased to see that the nicer weather is staying this coming week. See this smile…yeah…it’s been awhile.
See you next week!