Just like that, marathon training is here. My favorite Christmas gift this year is the ability to run and train for this marathon. I was pretty nervous that it wasn’t going to happen during my time off, when test runs were ending in pain.
With the exception of Week 1, when I was running all easy without a structured training schedule, my training looks basically like this:
- Monday: cross-training or easy run + rehab exercises + optional strength training
- Tuesday: easy run + strides + core
- Wednesday: tempo run / workout + rehab exercises + optional strength training or yoga
- Thursday: rest
- Friday: easy run + strides + Myrtl routine
- Saturday: long run + core
- Sunday: yoga + optional cross-training
I appreciate that all of the non-running stuff is written into the schedule, so I don’t have to think about when (or if!) I should do it. In my last post, I talked a little bit about discipline. While I think this looks like a lot, I’m running low mileage, so I shouldn’t have any trouble having the discipline to get all the “extras” in to stay strong and healthy.
Week 1: 12/14-12/20
Monday: Rest day + chiro + rehab exercises
I was pretty frazzled when I went to the sports chiropractor. I’d been injured for 3 weeks, I had a setback the week prior, and I started feeling pain on a test run I tried to do Sunday. I had given up on that run and was somewhat convinced that Paris couldn’t happen.
He had a totally different (read: more optimistic) perspective. He examined some of the “problem areas” we’d been working on, which had improved, to my surprise. He helped me see that I was making progress: I wasn’t feeling sharp pain while running anymore, only after running. This was true: the week before, I had a really nice run with a friend, then hopped on a plane to New York. My ITB got so tight while I was sitting on the plane that I had to limp through the airport after landing. It took 2 more days for me to walk without any pain.
The fix was so simple I kicked myself for not thinking of it: just foam roll/stretch immediately after running, and don’t sit in one place for hours. And with that, I could resume normal training. Simple!
That evening, we had our annual runners’ holiday party / gift exchange. We had a great time getting together and catching up. I ended up getting a green Under Armour hat and burgundy ear warmers: the perfect way to gear up for winter marathon training!
Tuesday: 3 miles easy @ 10:13/mile + core work + PT
One of the suggestions my chiro gave me was to run on soft, flat surfaces while coming back. The best/closest option is this half-mile loop. I did some stretching before driving home then did some foam rolling & core work when I got home. And just like that, no pain the next day!
I saw the physical therapist that afternoon, who did some dry needling in my glute, hip, and the outside of my right quad.
Wednesday: Indoor cycling class @ Cyc Fitness + rehab exercises
I have been meaning to try out Cyc’s spin classes since it is next door to my office. Everyone was super nice, and they share facilities with the Forum Athletic Club, meaning I could use their locker room & products after class before heading back to the office. Cyc has its own take on the indoor cycling class format, and while it wasn’t my very favorite, I had a good time and a good workout.
Thursday: 5 miles easy @ 10:10/mile + bodyweight strength work
I was happy to successfully complete another run without a hint of pain, even though the 10 loops around got pretty boring. Afterwards, I did a strength workout that focused on glutes, hips, & hammies by combining some movements similar to my rehab exercises (such as hip thrusts) with more fun strength exercises like pistol squats and single-leg deadlifts.
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: 7 miles easy @ 10:38/mile + core work
14 laps around the gravel loop, and I didn’t feel great from the start. It was just one of those “off” running days. I never felt ITB pain (yay!) and I listened to a podcast interview with Tom Foreman that was the perfect bad-running-day listening material. His enthusiasm for running is contagious, and he actually talked at some length about embracing the bad running days.
Sunday: 3 miles easy @ 10:22/mile + rehab exercises
About a mile and a half into the run, I started feeling a little bit of discomfort around the IT band. It was very minor – maybe a 1 or 2/10 on the pain scale. I paid extra attention to my form for the rest of the run, and the pain didn’t get any worse.
Week 1: 18 miles
Week 2: 12/21-12/27
- Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises
- Actual: 45 min spinning + rehab exercises + chiro
I had an encouraging visit with the sports chiro. He was pleased with my progress, both with running the week before and the improvement in the tightness/imbalances that we’ve been working on. I got the green light to run all the miles!
- Plan: 3 miles easy + 4 strides + core work
- Actual: 3 miles easy @ 10:11/mile + core work + PT
I decided to try running my shortest run of the week on the Beltline, which is a little more convenient to me than the loop I’ve been running. It’s a rail-trail that’s mostly flat, but the downside is that it’s paved with concrete. I felt about the same amount of discomfort on this run as I did on Sunday: it was there, but it was never enough to be concerning. I skipped the strides because the idea of any faster running made me nervous.
I had a call with Jason about my training plan, and aside from helping me feel confident that I can be ready for Paris, he mentioned that sometimes with ITBS, picking up the pace can result in changing the angle of the leg in a way that is less stressful on the IT band. This made me feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of faster running.
In my PT visit, I got all the needling. Right quad, hip, glute, left hip flexor, and a little in the back. There was some improvement from the week before, but my right quad in particular is a nasty mess.
I required a little self-
bribery motivation to finish up the core work.
- Plan: 5 miles w/ last 2 @ steady pace + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
- Actual: 3 miles @10:40/mile + rehab exercises
I did this run on the treadmill after work and I felt awful during the whole run. When I picked up the pace, I felt a sharp pain on the outside of my right knee. NOT AGAIN. F*$K this $H!T. I did my rehab exercises dutifully and foam rolled/lacrosse balled/stretched A LOT. All while crossing my fingers that this pain wasn’t indicative of something serious.
- Plan: Rest day
- Actual: Travel to Memphis + Christmas Eve
I hesitate to call this day “rest” because it was really not very restful at all. As Jeff and I were about to embark on a multi-day journey from Atlanta and across Tennessee – with the cat – said cat decided to win the hide-and-seek championships of 2015 by posting up inside my box spring. Imagine my consternation as I searched the apartment for a cat that seemed to vanish. I wish my iPhone camera could have captured the moment when I found her staring at me through the hole she clawed in the mesh at the bottom of the box spring.
We drove the six hours and had Christmas Eve at my aunt and uncle’s house out in the country near Memphis. It was warm enough to be outside, cool enough for bourbon by the fire, and altogether a fun time with my family.
- Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl routine
- Actual: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl + Christmas
Three soggy, flooded miles along the paved trails by my parents’ house. I ran through a few ankle-deep puddles then decided to run the roads back to my parents’ house, which had some hills I decided to walk down. I still had a bit of discomfort in the knee on this run.
Christmas was full of food, gifts, drinks, political arguments, and laughter.
- Plan: 10 miles + core
- Actual: Travel to Knoxville
My plan was to wake up early and get the run in while in relatively flat Memphis, but when I woke up, my knee was feeling some discomfort from just walking. I decided to opt for extra sleep and put off the run.
- Plan: optional cross-training + yoga
- Actual: 10 miles @ 10:30/mile + core
We spent the day catching up with Jeff’s family. One of the highlights was hanging out with his brother, sister-in-law, and their baby girls. We saw them in the NICU when they were itty bitty, so it is so fun to see them as happy, chubby, expressive babes!
I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to get my long run done, because Knoxville, AKA Rocky Top, is super hilly. What luck that Jeff’s sister-in-law was able to bring me to her gym as a guest for free!
Long running on the treadmill is quite a mental challenge. All the respect for you guys who regularly run long on the treadmill. I also did some core work after the run, but not the full 3 sets planned.
Jeff’s stepmom made an amazing homemade Italian feast, and I nearly ate myself into a coma. She also makes these Italian pastries that I swoon over every time. She sent me home with a freezer bag full of them, which was a delicious mistake. I’m already almost finished eating them…oops.
Week 2: 19 miles
I’m happy to be able to run and train, but I’m still not sure what to think about this knee just yet. I am seeing more and more value in the low-mileage training plan, because I don’t think my ITBS could handle what I would consider “normal” marathon training.
A very happy new year to you all, and here’s to a healthy and happy 2016! If you’re running a spring marathon, let me know in the comments!