RnR Savannah / St. Jude Half Marathon Training: Weeks 8-10

Week 10 is done. Thus we mark the halfway point from the beginning of training to the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, and six weeks until Savannah.

This training cycle has sucked. It’s not that I don’t love running or training, it’s that I’m struggling to get out of my body and mind what I feel like it should be able to give me. I’ve never had so many miserable long runs. I haven’t managed to pull off a proper tempo run since Week 5. I’ve half-assed at least one hard running workout that I can think of, and I’ve missed other runs entirely.

I’ve also eaten like shit, drank more than I should, traveled more than I cared to (none of it for pleasure), and slept too little. I don’t respond well when I beat myself up for these behaviors, so I’ll just think of prospective lifestyle changes as “room for improvement.”

Adding strength training has altered my training/recovery dynamic, and learning this new balance has derailed my training more than once. I’m proud that I’ve stuck with it, continued to experiment, and learned a lot about listening to my body and knowing when I can push harder and when I need to back off. That lesson alone is so much more important than the outcome of one training cycle.

The same goes for injuries. I’ve had a few warning signs of potential looming injuries, and I somehow figured out what I think was the root cause, aggressively addressed it, and backed off of training enough to keep the issue from becoming a full-blown injury. The SI joint pain made me skip a couple of runs, but it also may have made me a stronger runner. When I was running through it, it forced me to keep my pelvis neutral which helps so much with getting my glutes to fire.

The reality is that I haven’t gotten in all the miles that I hoped to in preparation for these half marathons, so I’m still unsure about any race goals. My guess is that I’ll make St. Jude my goal race – I think I have enough time left to get in some good training and set up a possible PR.

Anyway, here’s the three weeks of recap, in a condensed format.

Week 8: 27 miles

  • Monday, 9/7: Rest
  • Tuesday, 9/8: 4 miles
  • Wednesday, 9/9: 7 miles (plan 3-6 @ tempo); mobility class
    • I was too aggressive at the beginning of this tempo run – the first two tempo miles were 8:36 & 8:34. I hit an uphill stretch in the third mile, and got really frustrated and took a jogging recovery after a little over half a mile uphill (at an 8:56/mile pace). After recovering for a third of a mile, I ran another mile in 8:49. Overall average pace for the tempo portion was 8:52/mile.
  • Thursday, 9/10: 6 easy miles; strides; strength training
  • Friday, 9/11: Rest
  • Saturday, 9/12: Rest
  • Sunday, 9/13: 11 miles @ 10:40/mile

Week 9: 20 miles

  • Monday, 9/14: Rest
  • Tuesday, 9/15: 8 miles (plan: 3-7 tempo); strength training; tabata core workout
    • I didn’t do myself any favors by trying this run on an even hillier route and in the lunchtime heat. I ran the first two tempo miles in the 8:40s before I just quit. I was way too concerned with hitting the number on my watch to acknowledge that I was working too hard in the first two miles. I ran a moderate-to-comfortably-hard effort for the remaining 3 faster miles without looking at my watch, those miles were all around the 9:10-9:30 range. I wonder how I would have done with a consistent effort for all 5 miles. Lesson learned. (Or was it, when the same damn thing happened last week?)
  • Wednesday, 9/16: 3 recovery miles; Power yoga+pilates; mobility class
    • This was too hard for a recovery day; I shouldn’t have gone to the power yoga+pilates class. I wish I enjoyed pilates. [le sigh]

      There’s a historic cemetery not far from my apartment, and I love the calm of it for recovery runs.

  • Thursday, 9/17: 6 miles; strides; strength training
    • Squat day! I loved the strength workout, which in addition to 5×5 sets of squats, also included pull-ups, split squats with kettlebells, side lunges with a kettlebell, some core work (really tough after yesterday’s yoga/pilates), and so many one-arm kettlebell swings I lost count. I really felt the fatigue from the rest of the week’s workouts.
  • Friday, 9/18: REST SWEET REST; restorative yoga
    • I was really sore, unsurprisingly. We walked to Turner Field for the Braves game (about a mile from my apartment), which I hoped would be some good “active recovery.” But that and restorative yoga were all about all I had to give physically. OMGEXHAUSTED.
  • Saturday, 9/19: 3 mile recovery run
    • I was even more sore than Friday, and my muscles were so stiff – I woke up and couldn’t really walk without altering my gait. Not a good situation for a long run. I spent some time foam rolling and trying to show some love to my sore muscles, and finally felt up to a 3 mile recovery run.
  • Sunday, 9/20: Rest
    • I could have done the long run, but I was about to leave town for the week, and I decided that spending a little time with Jeff was more important. He’s a full-time grad student, a teaching assistant, and a full-time architect, so time together is more valuable than ever! I didn’t mind putting off my run was so happy to put off my run, lest my training continue to disappoint.

Week 10: 39 miles

This looks like a huge jump in mileage based on measuring the week from Monday-Sunday, but a Tuesday-Monday week would have resulted in 32 miles for week 9 and 27 miles for week 10.

  • Monday, 9/21: 12 miles @ 9:47/mile
    • FINALLY! A long run that felt good. I benefited some from cooler temperatures and a flatter route along the Charles River in Boston, but it was still good! I celebrated with a lobster roll, fries, and a Milly’s Oatmeal Stout.

      Sunset overlooking Cambridge on the Charles River

  • Tuesday, 9/22: Rest
  • Wednesday, 9/23: 4 miles
  • Thursday, 9/24: 6.5 miles; strides; Red Sox game

    First visit to Fenway!

  • Friday, 9/25: Rest and the best damn lobster roll (I’ve talked about this place before, but it never disappoints)
  • Saturday, 9/26: 12.5 miles @11:03/mile
    • I ran with my friend Amy, who was running 16 miles with some marathon pace miles thrown in. Even though it was raining, we had a really nice time and a good run.
  • Sunday, 9/27: 4 mile recovery run

After several poor attempts at tempo runs, I just skipped my planned tempo this week. For several weeks, I’d felt a sense of dread of the tempo. The dread grew stronger each week, and I finally decided I’d had enough. I put it behind me and I actually feel better about my training without my weekly dose of dread and disappointment.

This post is feeling a bit negative, so here’s a photo of my cat for grins.

I’m not going to belabor all the things I’ve done wrong or failed to do over the past few weeks – I know I need to do core and hip work more consistently, get some time in lifting heavy things while on the road, and eat better while I’m traveling.

Have you ever had a really crappy training cycle? Any advice you have for pulling out of this rut would be greatly appreciated!

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6 thoughts on “RnR Savannah / St. Jude Half Marathon Training: Weeks 8-10

  1. Finding a balance has been a struggle for me this training cycle. I do well in 4 out of 5 areas and then terrible in another. I’ll course correct the next week and let a different area go. I also struggle with the balance of running with strength training – sore muscles make for miserable runs. Last week, I cut my reps in half and did more of a full body workout instead of just focusing on one area, and that seems to have helped. I hope you figure it out soon!

    Have you read much about heart rate training? One of my friends got tested and has had some great success with that method….

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    • That’s great that you’re experimenting and finding things that work. I’m doing much the same thing, so while it’s been a struggle, I think it’s been valuable from a longer-term perspective.

      I have read about heart rate training, from both evangelists of the method and detractors. For me, it ultimately comes down to enjoyment. Even in the worst tempo runs (this is going to sound cheesy), but there’s something life-affirming about pushing yourself like that, and I love it. I cannot imagine myself enjoying running the same pace (or HR level, I suppose) every day for months. But for those who do and get good results, that’s great!

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  2. I can relate to this so much! Down to the stupid strength exercises that are supposed to be brilliant but end up tweaking you some wrong way. This post isn’t negative. It’s the truth! I’ve skipped those long runs to eek out some family time too, especially when your runs can’t be counted on for 100% returns on your investment. Whereas time with loved ones always pays! (likely I’ll be revisiting that personal mantra at mile 17 of my marathon). I think you’re going to do great, even though you don’t feel great about it. P.S. It is wonderful that you are running for St. Jude. There is no better place to direct your time, money, & miles. I know the families are beyond thankful for contributions like yours.

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    • Thanks for your encouragement. I’m a perfectionist, so it’s hard to accept self-perceived failure in any facet of life. But I’m definitely not into letting down loved ones. I think your marathon will be great! You’ve had some really good runs. Just don’t go out too fast! 😛

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      • Me too! A failing perfectionist I call myself. I always see comments on people “humble bragging” about their runs but I’m like, no that’s not it for me! It’s just if I wanted to run 100 miles per month and I ran 97, well then that’s a fail isn’t it? ha. It’s not like, ohhhh I onnnnly ran 97 this month! So I completely understand the whole perfectionist thing.

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  3. Pingback: RnR Savannah / St. Jude Half Marathon Training: Week 11 | Racing Oprah

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