It struck me this morning, as I was thinking about how I felt and what I had blogged and recorded in my running log, that I need to do a more in depth post with details about how I am feeling at the 1/2 way point of this marathon training cycle.
So – those of you who read my blog only to look at pictures of chocolate cake accompanied by a side of beer, or to hear stories about the different ways that you can fall off your bike (or now, apparently, how you can fall while running) – well you readers should just move along because you will find this post extremely boring. Those readers who are RUN NERDS, grab yourself a snack and settle in, because you may actually find this post interesting with all it’s nerdy details!
Why do I want to document how I feel at this point in my training?
- Because I’m 1/2 way through my Chicago Marathon training cycle, so now seems like a good time to evaluate things so that I can make changes if necessary.
- Because I’m ultra Type A and I like to document every single detail about everything.
- Because this time around – for marathon #10 – I have ambitious goals and my training is (or was supposed to be) more serious/more intense, so that I could try to meet those goals. So I want to document how I’m feeling so that I can look back after the marathon and decide whether the change in training intensity was good or bad.
- So that next time I’m putting together a marathon plan, I can look back and decide what worked and what didn’t.
- So that next time I’m in the middle of marathon training I can read this post and compare how I’m feeling at that point to how I’m feeling now.
I’m in week 9 of a 16 week training plan. Half way through. The training plan is tweaked from what the rest of the group is doing because
I’m a pain in my coach’s ass I have done enough of these to have an idea of what works for me and what I need to reach my goals, and I felt that I needed a bit higher mileage (but not crazy high) than the plan called for. In addition to the slightly higher mileage, I’m adding more core, more cross (cycling) and hill sprints or striders a couple times a week.
Those of you who have been reading about my Chicago training know that I’ve said I feel “good”, my “training is going well”, I “feel really good about where I’m at”. But, really, what does that tell you and what does it tell me when I look back? Not much. So, here is a little bit more about what I’m feeling this time around:
- I feel very satisfied with the paces of the workouts that I’ve been doing. I’ve been trying to stay within a prescribed range of paces (based on McMillan or Daniels) for intervals, marathon pace and tempo workouts. It’s been hard, at times, to control my pace and not get swept up in trying to keep up with others in the group who zip ahead. But I have been doing a decent job of reeling it in because I do firmly believe in the “don’t work any harder than you need to for a prescribed workout” theory. I think this is particularly true when my weeks are filled with several quality workouts a week and with a bit higher mileage. I think if I pushed the pace outside of where I needed to be, I’d end up injured (several in the group have now come down with injuries – knock on wood right now!) or else I’d be too exhausted to nail the next workout. So there really haven’t been any runs that I’ve felt too tired to tackle. I still feel excited and motivated for all my runs.
- My legs feel strong. Like stronger than they ever have. I truly feel like it’s from the cycling. It is working slightly different muscles and making me strong, while not beating up on my joints as much as putting in additional miles would be. Side note: Meghan told me yesterday “Mom, your butt is getting better.” Nice! I think that’s from cycling too.
- My core feels strong. Even though the last two weeks the core stuff has dwindled a bit, I can tell that there is a BIG improvement in how my core feels from doing core work or pilates at least 5 times a week for the first 6 weeks. Not sure that you can see definition in my abs, but that’s because they are probably still masked by Blizzards and Beer. Baby steps.
- I feel fast and fit. My paces are faster – at the same effort and a lower heart rate – than where I’ve previously been. I know I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in.
- My right hamstring feels better than it has in a year. Last August I injured it (did a 20 miler and followed it the next day by tempo miles – dumb! Tweaked it and had to take two weeks of cut back/easy mileage and it never has felt fully right since then.). Again, I attribute it to the cycling. I think it has helped – not sure why. It also seemed to get better after Lansing when I cut my mileage a bit to train for the half. Anyway, it still occasionally bothers me, but only feels like a slight tweak and never usually for more than a day. Whereas before it was kind of like a nagging tweak that was always there and I just got used to it.
- The thing that isn’t so great at this point is that I am TIRED. Not my legs, which seems odd. The legs are fine – really even after my 18 and 20 miler, the legs weren’t tired or really even very sore or stiff. What’s tired is just me. I would describe it as a “lazy tired”. Like I’ll be sitting on the couch at night and think “I haven’t done my 10 minutes of core yet, I should get up and do it.” And I won’t get up. I just don’t have the energy to even get up and get myself a glass of red wine, much less do 10 minutes of core. (Ok, I lied, I DO always find the energy to get myself a glass of red wine!) This tiredness has really just come the last 2 weeks of the cycle. Coincidence that it comes when I put in my highest mileage weeks (55 miles running/80 miles biking and 60 miles running)? Maybe. But I also think it may have just as much to do with the “lifestyle” stuff I’ve been doing the last couple weeks – I’ve been cramming in lots of fun personal stuff and had crazy busy work stuff. And I haven’t sacrificed my running/biking for the most part – those last week I didn’t have time to bike. And I haven’t changed the time that I do it at – I’ve been up at 4:15 for 5 of the 7 workouts each week. So maybe my “lazy tiredness” is just that my body is tired from life, work and workouts?
- The other odd thing that I felt – last week – was sleep tiredness. Like to the point that on two separate days I could seriously barely stay awake (both times while I was driving, yikes!). I haven’t felt this during training before. I am virtually certain it has been from the lifestyle choices I made last week (happy hour and late night celebrations seemed really important but I didn’t want to sacrifice work and running, so I was up early and therefore running on fumes).
- Mentally, even though I feel faster and better than I ever have, I haven’t quite wrapped my head around my crazy-fast-dream-goal time/pace yet. I may get there in the next 8 weeks. If not, I’ll adjust the goal to one that I can mentally handle. I think if I were training on my own, with just a coach, I’d have my head around my goal. It’s training with others – and comparing myself and my goal to them and what I know they have run that throws my mental game off. I need to get over that.
- Last important thing to note is my weight. It was down initially in the first few weeks of training (down to 115, which at 5’6.5″ is probably below where I should be), but now it’s up – I think to about 119. I KNOW this is from my shitty diet. And even though 119 isn’t bad, it’s above where I want to be and I FEEL large and icky right now. My feel good race weight is 117. At 117 I feel fast, but still strong.
There you have it. Those are the exciting details about what I’m really feeling when I say that I feel “good” and training is going well.
Kudos to any of you readers that actually read this whole thing. Running Nerds unite!