Boston Marathon Training: Week Four

And just like that we’re one month in. Already?! These weeks flew by which is pretty rare for January. I think I was much smarter this January than I was in January 2017. I ran easy more often, didn’t add in too much extra cross training, was intentional about my workouts, and will actually end up having higher mileage even though it doesn’t feel like it.

One of the reasons I love marathon training so much is because it is always a learning process. No training cycle is the same and I take what I learned the last time into the new months ahead. Plus, I’m really liking working with a coach for the first time. It helps me mentally to take the guess work out.

Here’s what week four looked like!

January 22nd-28th: 37.55 miles

Monday is the easy shakeout day. I used to have tempo runs on Monday and liked it, but it felt like a lot for the first run back from a long run. I’m really enjoying just having a relaxed run instead. I usually keep it slower than 8:45 pace and just shakeout my legs. This particular Monday it was five miles on the treadmill.

Tuesday was a double day. I was honestly not looking forward to it, just because it intimidates me. Once I get moving I’m fine, but I have to get there. An hour incline treadmill workout (6.45 miles) followed by an hour of strength training is a lot. Especially when my incline pushes were at 7:36 pace. But I took the treadmill one minute at a time while watching an episode of Gossip Girl and felt like it went by pretty quickly. The strength hour is fun even when I’m tired just because I’m out of my comfort zone. I’m not doing this because I love it, I’m doing it so my body gets stronger and I can stay injury free. But it is a good feeling to hit a new dead lift personal best.

Wednesday = speed. The dark, cold Zoo Lot speed workouts are the best. I wouldn’t want to get out there alone, but once I’m there I love it. This week I had mile repeats – 4 of them. This seemed like a big jump from the previous speed workout, so I was a little anxious, but in a good way. And once I finished the first one I knew I was going to have a great workout. Splits were 7:20, 7:15, 7:10, 7:05. With warm up and cool down I covered 7.50 miles. Plus, I went to a yoga class at lunch so it technically was a double day, but I can do as much yoga as I want. It really helps stretch out my legs! Oh and I got my Boston Marathon jacket in the mail. It was a really good day.

Thursday was cross training and a lot of it. I got a little ambitious since I was working from home which meant I had the chance to take more classes. I ended up taking a cycling class in the morning, a 40 minute strength class at lunch, and an hour long hot yoga class in the evening. My legs were tight but by the end of the yoga class I felt good as new. I love my non-running days almost as much as my running days.

Friday is another easy run for time and I got my butt out of bed before work. 5.40 miles at 8:34 pace in the sunniest weekday morning I’d seen in awhile. The only reason I can’t definitively say winter marathon¬†training is my favorite is because of the lack of daylight, so when I get some I’m extra grateful.

Saturday solo long run of 13.20 miles at 8:17 average pace. I had tempo miles in my long run!! I was really excited. I kept my first hour easy at around 8:45 pace, had a 30 minute tempo around 7:25 pace (4.10 miles), and then a cool down. I really felt strong. The first hour flew by since I was looking forward to the tempo. And once I picked up the speed I was surprised by how much better my legs felt. I like going fast, I really do. I was lucky with a 40 degree sunny day in January and I love the effortless feeling long runs like this.

Sunday I took a Performance Stretch class to treat my body well, but I actually wasn’t feeling very sore at all. I felt worse after Tuesday, but Saturday didn’t beat me up. That’s a good thing. I love to end the week feeling as good as I did when it started.

Week five will bring me a new challenge. Why? I get to race a half marathon for the first time since July. I’m a little nervous, but I am SO excited to getaway for a runcation and spend time someplace warmer. I don’t know if I’m really ready to race after only 5 weeks of training, but it will be a good test of where I’m at. I’m trying not to put any pressure on myself. Either way, I’ll run another 13.1 miles and I’ll have fun doing it.

Boston Marathon Training: Week Three

Week three brought more speed and a little more mileage. My intention for this week was to find my routine, but not look too far ahead. It can be tough to start training again after a few months off and re-figure out how to make regular life and marathon training life happen. I’m always learning.

The weather was much more mild compared to week one and two and I actually snuck in TWO extra daylight runs. I usually run in the dark because it’s dark in the morning before I have to get ready for work and dark when I leave the office. Luckily, I had Monday off so I ran in the sunshine and snow in the afternoon and Friday I made my run happen on my lunch hour so I could get some extra sun time.

I love to run – that isn’t a secret – but I don’t love every single in the dark slow roll or treadmill hour. The sunny, beautiful runs are the ones that light me up. This week reminded me how much happier I am when I spend more time outside soaking up some vitamin D. I hope January keeps up this nice streak.

Here’s what week three looked like:

January 15th-January 21st: 35.52 miles 

Monday was a slow roll. 45 minutes running in zone 2. I kept my pace at 9 minute average and covered 5 miles. Simple, but great. Running in the snow is so much fun for me. And I had time for an extra hour long yoga class before my run that helped stretch me out and make me feel even more grateful for the day. Tuesday was strength and incline workout day. One hour on the treadmill with 10 minute incline intervals at 8:06 pace. This felt pretty tough. I was gassed after the hour and then had an hour of strength with my trainer to get through. I was exhausted by the end, but I still had a great lift and felt really proud of getting it all done.

Wednesday evening speed workouts are officially back. I’m not going crazy yet, but I had a timed interval fartlek style workout with pushes at 7:30 pace and walking recoveries. It was freezing cold, windy, and dark but I got outside. Slow warm up and cool down brought me to 6.68 total miles. These intervals felt dare I say “easy.” I wanted more and I wanted faster, but that’s a good sign. I like ending a workout feeling like I had more to give. I’m trying to be patient while my legs find their speed again.

Thursday cross training double day is a favorite day. 6am hot power yoga and a 7:30pm 45 minute cycling class. I think this combination works really well for me. I like stretching out first thing the morning after my Wednesday evening speed workout and the cycle in the evening helps flush out my legs. And I get to spend time at Studio Three so its obviously a really good day for me. By Friday my legs weren’t feeling as sore and I was able to log another easy 45 minutes at a relaxed pace with what felt like little effort. Another 5.05 miles at 8:55 pace. Just miles in the bank, but I know these type of runs are really important.

Long run Saturday brought me the biggest smile of my week since it was 35 degrees and felt like spring in Chicago. I know it’s really just a tease, but I’ll take it. I had 1 hour and 45 minutes easy on the plan. I ran to Fleet Feet, met Arielle and Steph for 2 miles of their warm up and then did the last 9 miles on my own at a slower pace. I was supposed to keep my average pace above 8:40 and I didn’t do that, but 8:32 is close right?! I was holding myself back the entire time. I wanted to let my legs fly so badly because I was feeling so good, but I restrained. It was tough. But I was so happy to be out there that it didn’t really matter how fast I was going. I wanted to run forever. I stopped for water and a little Gatorade at 5.50 miles and again at 7.50 miles, but otherwise didn’t use any fuel. I like to wait for 13+ mile runs and this one totaled 12.51 miles.

Sunday is my recovery day which means sleeping in, eating well, recapping my week, planning meals for the upcoming week, and going to yoga. I love my 75 minute yoga flow on Sunday evenings. I look forward to it all day and end the weekend feeling refreshed.

Week three was a good one for me because I completed all of my scheduled workouts, recovered well, and still felt like I had gas in the tank. It’s nice to hit another 35 mile week and not feel drained or super sore. I am trusting this plan and feeling grateful I have really learned what it means to take care of myself during marathon training.

I don’t take my ability to train for granted. I love training. I love the workouts, the schedule, the hard efforts, the dedication. I am 12 weeks out from my dream race and I’m ready to keep working hard to be in the best shape I can be at that start line.

Bring on week four!

Boston Marathon Training: Week One & Two

Is it weird that writing “Boston Marathon Training” still gives me chills? I have to keep reminding myself this is the actual marathon I’m training for. It’s unreal and I don’t think I have ever been so excited for a race.

This excitement made me feel SO ready for week one. I felt like I could have jumped into a 40 mile week with two speed workouts. My legs were ready. But I also have anxiety about getting injured during a winter marathon training cycle again. I cannot afford to derail my training or risk not making it to the start line of my dream race, so I decided I shouldn’t follow the exact same plan as I did last year. I’m still training with the Fleet Feet Boston 365 group, but I also got a coach for the first time in my life.

I’m excited to work with someone and have a plan that is so personalized for me. And week one caught me by surprise when I saw so many slow runs, a few run/walks, and no speed work in my TrainingPeaks. To be honest, my excitement faded a little bit. I don’t get excited for 11 minute pace runs on a treadmill. But I told myself he knows best and I needed to ease in.

“Ease in” and “relax” have been my mantras for these first couple of weeks. If my number one goal is to not get injured, then I know I need to be reeled in. And this is exactly why I got a coach.

I also have my PR goal in my head. I am working to improve my time, but that isn’t the number one priority either. I’m learning how to train smarter by figuring out what truly works for me (and I’m hoping that makes me faster).

Here’s what week week one and two looked like:

January 1st – January 7th: 27.39 miles

Monday and Tuesday were both easy paced treadmill runs. (4 miles, 2.50 miles) Chicago has been bitterly cold and dark when I wake up and when I leave work, so running outside on weekdays hasn’t been ideal. Wednesday I had a strength workout with my trainer – no speed workout. I’ve been loving focusing on strength work more in the past few months and I want it to continue throughout Boston training.

Thursday was an 1 hour+ of treadmill run/walking (7.89 miles total) and Friday was an easy 30 minutes (3 miles) on the treadmill after work. Saturday was my first long run back in a balmy 1 degree. I had to get outside after being cooped up all week. I covered 10 miles at 8:33 average pace and felt relaxed. I was a little nervous about the cold, but the miles went by quickly and I was grateful to see the sun. I had a relaxing day after my run and got to bed early as part of my recovery. Sunday is my dedicated recovery day. For week one, I chose to double up on yoga classes: AM & PM. It was my ideal Sunday and the perfect ending to the first week!

January 8th – January 14th: 35.06 miles

Week two was higher mileage with a little speed work thrown in. I liked the looks of week two more than one. Monday was a treadmill incline workout (5.78 miles). I don’t love the treadmill, but it is a nice way to get some extra hill work in. Tuesday I ran an easy 4.50 miles outside before my strength session with my trainer – hit a new deadlift PR which felt really good.

Mid-week I got to bring some speed back to my legs after what felt like forever. I ran 2.5 easy miles on my lunch break Wednesday and my mini tempo workout in the evening (6.78 miles). My tempo pushes were around 7:40 pace and they felt super comfortable. It was just nice to be moving fast again. Thursday was a double cross training day: hot yoga in the morning, 45 minute cycling class in the evening. I brought friends to both and had a great day. I really love yoga and cycling classes almost as much as I love running, so I’m grateful to have scheduled time for both of them.

Friday I had 40 easy minutes on the plan, so I tackled the wind and snow flurries outside for 4.50 miles before heading to a hot yoga class in the evening. I have added in more yoga classes lately and I think it’s part of the reason I have been feeling so relaxed. This was a great way to wind down before another cold cold Saturday long run. I had 1 hour and 30 minutes for Saturday at an easy pace. This meant not running with my friends, which is really hard for me, but I know I made the right decision. And Megan did hang back to run my last 5 miles with me, which was nice. I held an 8:33 average pace and never felt like I was moving very fast. The 6 degrees felt way warmer than the 1 degree from the previous week and it was sunny again, so it was a good run. 11 miles total and another tough winter day successfully completed. Sunday I took a complete rest day. It was my first complete rest day in over two weeks and I felt like I needed it. I like to do yoga on Sunday, but I was signed up for a Monday class too, so I didn’t mind not doing much of anything this day.

I ended week two feeling content and happy with how my body handled the uptick in mileage. I worked harder and covered more ground, but I also didn’t feel very tired or sore like I can during marathon training. I think this plan is going to work for me. I’m trusting the process.

Mileage will keep increasing with week 3!