Entries in Training (79)


Marathon Training -- First week in the books!

In my previous post, I mentioned that I am now focusing my sights upon the upcoming Chicago Marathon this October. I am signed up for it, and I am running it with several friends, so I better get started on my training. This past week was the start of that training.

Coming off the North Shore Half left me tired, and admittedly a little discouraged. I am glad I finished, and I think I was pretty smart about taking it slow in response to the race conditions, but I was still left feeling like I walked just a little too much. (This is irrational thinking on my part, but it is more an emotional reaction than a rational one).

I gave myself permission to rest up from Sunday so I skipped my Tuesday run and worked to detox my body. My masseuse suggested that my body was probably still 'toxic' from the AVON weekend which might have been why my legs felt so heavy and my energy level was low. Toxic, meaning that there were likely still a lot of lactic acid and other byproducts of my exertion that my body had not purged in the six days between races.

(Mustard oil baths, aromatherapies, saunas, drinking lots of liquids after a massage/foam rolling, and basic sweating (while at rest) are all ways to encourage the body to purge the junk out of our bodies, clear the pores, and recover more quickly.)

I did get myself up early on Thursday morning for an easy run to kick things off. I needed to feel better about my fitness level after my performance last Sunday. So I got in a solid 4.7 miles at a 10:11/mm pace that morning. It took me about a mile before I feel into a good breathing and cadence rhythm but after that, it was really a good time! Then I went to my chiropractor for an adjustment and some PT. Boy I felt pretty darn good that day!

Then Saturday, since I didn't run on Tuesday, I decided to get in another run. This time I went for 5.7 miles. It was warmer and more humid that Thursday, which made it more challenging, but it was still a good, consistently paced run at a 10:34/mm pace. There were a lot of fellow runners and cyclists out that morning so there was a lot of 'shared greetings' throughout the run which made me feel pretty good as well.

Later that day, I went for a massage. I wanted to have some focus upon my calves and hip areas, as well as my upper back and shoulders. As usual, Toni was exceptional. And she applied lavender to my shoulder to help with the remainder of the nagging pain there from what I am pretty sure was a bee sting during the AVON Full.

She and I also discussed an herb called Arnica which can be used topically as an anti-inflammatory and pain relief treatment as well as a healing agent. She indicated that it could be used instead of Vitamin E as a topical ointment/creme on sore areas (like for your Achilles or IT Band). This turned into quite a discussion of aromatherapy and other homeopathic alternatives for various ailments. Very interesting stuff!

So with 10+ miles under my belt for the first week of training, I woke up early today to attend the first Long Run with the RRCA Marathon Training group. The run was scheduled for 6:30am so I got myself ready, ate a pre-race breakfast of a banana, milk, and a GU, and met up with the group.

I did not know what to expect. There were probably 20-25 people there of all experience levels. I was pleased to know I was not the only one there who was training for their first marathon. We were scheduled for a 7-mile run. We broke into various pace groups and I chose the 11-12/mm group.

The first annoyance I had was my water bottle. It kept falling out of the belt! This has NEVER happened to me before. It did it twice! I felt like such a noob! I ended up having to hold the bottle in my hand the entire run! Guess I will be getting a new fuel belt this week... may an iFitness belt this time.

The run started off pretty comfortably for the first 3.7 miles (at a 10:45/mm pace), which was where our water station was set up for this run (it is very cool that the Long Runs have actual water stations set up). We chatted for about 4 minutes at the water station. That's when I learned that two women in our group were also training for the 'Chicago' -- so I was not alone.

It was around 72 degrees but much more humid than the day before. As we started back, I found myself slowing down a bit. We had two pacers with our group so Melody chose to stay with me since I was new and did not know the route.

She and I pretty much ran the rest of the way back together. We were running at an 11:00/mm pace more or less which felt better. The legs felt fine but the humidity was making it difficult for me (and running the day before probably didn't help matters either). Twice during the run back, I took a 30-60 second walk break to drink water, bring my heart rate down, and refuel.

We talked quite a bit, which helped to keep my mind off the fact that I was the last person. I hated the idea that on my first Long Run with the group, I would be the last one to finish. But it is what it is, and perhaps it would be good to see how I would be greeted at the end. If they were less than gracious, then I would know to find another group.

Well, Melody was so nice and encouraging, that I finished the 7.5 miles in a good mood. The run ends at the Healthbridge outdoor pool (which we get to use to cool down) where they had water, Gatorade, and bagels. I chatted with several runners who were all very nice and welcoming. I felt 'okay' and not at all singled out for being the last person in.

I would have liked to stay longer but I had to hurry home to shower, change, and go to church with my daughter. I walked to my car with another runner named Toni who ran 'Chicago' in 2009 I think. She said she never would have finished if it hadn't been for the RRCA Training Program. She was excited for my journey towards that same goal.

So, I ended my first Chicago Marathon training week with 17.9 miles in three runs. Not bad for a start. Cari, our coach, suggested that I modify my weekly training plan to include a fourth Easy Run. So starting this week, I think I will be running Tuesday (Easy Run), Thursday (Track/Speed/Hill Work), Friday (Easy Run), and Sunday (Long Run). She specifically said it was important to follow a hard workout with an Easy Run the very next day.

Tomorrow (Monday) is a Rest Day for me so I think I will spend my morning in the Jacuzzi/Sauna, opening up those pores and purging some toxins. Then off to my Chiropractor appointment, and then to the office.


Ramping up with Marathon Training

Now that the long list of 11 races in the first half of 2012 are behind me, I can now start to focus upon my next major challenge: the Chicago Marathon! I am both excited and nervous about this race. Having completed the AVON Marathon Walk, I have a sense of the distance, and some confidence in having been able to successfully speed-walk for 26.2 miles.

However, running the entire distance will involve a different training regimen, a new mental discipline, and a few new challenges I haven't even thought of yet. So I decided that it would be a good thing to partner with someone who has tons of experience with the Marathon, and who has the ability to impart that knowledge and experience to a newbie like me.

So I decided to join the Road Runners Club of America chapter in my hometown. The chapter is sponsored by the Healthbridge Health Club out here, and for an annual fee, you get the benefits of membership which includes their Marathon Training Program.

The trainer for that program is Cari Setzler, who was the instructor for the Natural Running course I took a few months ago to help with my running form and my transition to minimalist running shoes. That course was very good, and I found Cari to be an awesome teacher and motivator. So I am very excited about her leading this training program.

The program started last Sunday but unfortunately, I had to miss it because of the North Shore Half Marathon race I entered. So my first experience will be next Sunday. The program includes three runs per week, with presentations on numerous topics like nutrition, strength training, strategies, etc. More importantly, they work with each person to develop a personalized training program to prepare them for the event for which they are training. And the coaches are available throughout the program to provide support and suggestions to help you improve and succeed.

Runs are scheduled for Thursdays (Track Workouts), Saturdays (Short Runs), and Sundays (Long Runs). The Long Runs are fully supported with water/Gatorade stations, aid, etc. And after the run, they provide food, and you can cool off in the outdoor pool at Healthbridge.

I look forward to having some structure around my training for the Marathon. It gives me some comfort to know I have someone I can turn to for advice and encouragement, who will kick me in the butt if I am not doing the work I need to be doing. My only worry is the month of July, because I have about 17 days of that month allocated to conferences. Getting my training done when I am out of town in hotels will be a challenge. Let the fun begin!

Yesterday, I found a new race that I signed up for. It is the Fox Valley Fall Final 20, a 20-Mile race that is advertized as being the perfect race for your last Long Training Run (20 miles) before the Chicago Marathon. The race is supposed to be flat and fast (and runs along the Fox River) and is scheduled for September 16, which happens to be the date in my Training Plan for my 20-mile Long Slow Run. So I figured if I was running 20 miles anyway, why not get a cool medal and technical shirt for the effort (not to mention good course support for water, aid, etc)! This will be the perfect end of my marathon training because after the 16th, it will be 'taper time'!