Tag Archives: marathon training

2017 Chicago Marathon Recap

Author’s Note: This marathon recap was started in Oct. 2017 and finished in Jan. 2018 which is amazing because the experience of the race still feels like yesterday.

The 2017 Chicago Marathon was marathon #12 for me. I’ve not trained for any marathon the same way twice but I have combined the best parts of my past experiences and having just achieved my best personal record yet, I may be a tad closer to a formula for marathon success. From my first marathon eight years ago with a 4:11 finish to my Chicago finish in 3:29, there are a lot of little things that add up to successful marathons. But there are two constants – one is all mental, the other is putting in the work.

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Taper Time Equals Restless Mind

There are three weeks left until the Chicago Marathon which means it’s almost taper time and my mind is starting to get restless. With 4 weeks to go, I did my last 20-miler and in the week leading up to it was feeling ready to be “done,” ready to taper, let’s get to the race already! I was physically tired but that last 20-miler hit the spot. After that run, I felt physically and mentally ready. And then a funny thing happened. I looked at the remaining three weeks of training — it’s really only one more solid week of hard runs and two weeks of taper — and all of a sudden my mind goes wild. One 16-miler, one 10-miler, and then it’s race day! It’s a feeling of not quite panic, excitement, and an immediate unsettled feeling of what will come next.  Continue reading

2016 TCS NYC Marathon Recap: A New PR

My last post was a marathon recap and it’s crazy how much has happened in the course of 5 months from one marathon to the next, including a Presidential election. Perhaps I’m choosing to write tonight as a distraction from what’s happening to the fate of the future of our country. I’m much happier reflecting on my new PR just two days ago at the TCS NYC Marathon. Long story short, I finished the NYC marathon in 3:33:31, a time that crushed my previous PR from 2013 by 2:11. AND it earns me a 2018 BQ by a 7 minute margin! While I am still riding this runner’s high, possibly one of the things that makes this PR so sweet is that it’s not even what I set out to do. I set out to run smart, to run a specific race strategy; I set out to run through pain, to run with everything I had in me. I set out to finish hard. As it turns out, the combination of these things resulted in an incredibly rewarding race and new PR. Continue reading

Compression Sock Considerations: Yay or Nay?

IMG_3437I’m not sure exactly when compression socks made it on the running scene but one article I read credited Paula Radcliffe with being among the first to really introduce them to long distance running. I know a few running friends that run with compression socks (some swear by them) and I certainly see plenty of people at the starting line of races sporting them. I’ve loosely wondered for a couple years what the big deal is and whether or not it’s something I need to try. After reading an article in the July issue of RW that recommended wearing compression socks on a long flight before a marathon, I decided they’d be worth a try if nothing else for the flight from Baltimore to Salt Lake City for the Big Cottonwood Marathon. Continue reading

Downhill Training: Dealing with Quad Work

I love to run. I’m pretty good at running. I really, really enjoy cycling. With consistent riding I am a decent biker. I like to swim. If I could work in swimming with regularity I could be an ok swimmer again. But I hate quad work. I dread the idea of having to do squats, lunges and wall sits. And yet, those are the exact things I should be doing if I were going to be preparing as best I can to run two marathons this fall, both of which have significant downhill components. Continue reading

Long, Slow, Hot Summer Distance Runs

hot-sunI had an 18 mile run on the calendar for Saturday. My hope was to be out the door running at 5:30 a.m. When I hit start on my watch it was 5:50. The sun was up, it wasn’t terribly humid and it was almost cool for a summer morning. By the time I got to mile 5 I was thinking how much better it would’ve been if I had actually left at 5:30. And if I could’ve run at 5 a.m. I bet I would’ve enjoyed even a few cooler temperatures earlier in the morning. The point is, the earlier, the cooler. At the end of 18 miles I was hot, covered in salt and had downed all four bottles of water in my fuel belt. And it’s only June. I have 11 more weeks of marathon training to do and the long runs inevitably peak during the hottest parts of the summer. Continue reading

Do I Need a Running Break?

DSC_7071I took on what I consider to be serious long distance running and training in the early fall of 2008 when I signed up for and started training for my first half marathon. With the exception of the last 6 months of my pregnancy (in 2011-2012) I have been pretty much consistently training for one race or another. There may have been a few “down” moments where I wasn’t heavily logging miles or focusing on a specific plan, but I have regularly been running, biking and swimming for about six years now (ok, mostly running). And just when I hit my peak, just when I decided I should try and train for a BQ, just when my first tri in over a year is on the horizon and just when I felt like I might have figured out even the slightest ability to balance work, life, motherhood, wifehood, and training–I decided, I realized, I’m tired. Continue reading

Taper Time!

taperdownIn the 16-week marathon training plan I’ve been using for the upcoming Richmond Marathon, tapering begins at week 14. Any race plan will include a taper and depending on your level of fitness, race goals, and race level (elite vs. beginner) the taper will definitely vary. In addition to the actual change in mileage and type of runs on the schedule, tapering also includes a rise (at least for me) in the mental preparation for race day.

Unfortunately for me, week 14 was also a week from hell. I had a nasty cough that kept me up all night and left me so exhausted that I missed several runs, I had an intense work deadline that got me up early and kept me up late which meant I missed an additional run, and my last (and worst) excuse is that I had a lot too much fun at a college alumni event causing me to miss yet another run. So on what should have been a 45-mile week 14, I did a whopping 8. I stressed about it every day and knew that it would be yet another mental hurdle to get over in race preparation. Continue reading

Hump Day Hill Work-Outs

42-15850270Wednesdays, hump days, are hill work-outs. I wonder if that’s why Bart Yasso put hills on Wednesdays, to help us get over the proverbial hump. Or, at least that’s the work-out on the fall marathon training schedule he put together that myself and probably hundreds of other runners are following. I will definitely be coming back to the marathon training topic but for now I want to focus on hills.

Just like with intervals, I believe I have a love/hate relationship with these work-outs and I’m sure I’m not alone. On today’s hills (which happens to be a Thursday…sometimes you have to tweak the schedule to fit this thing called life!) I spent some time debating whether I would choose intervals or hills as my preferred torture work-out. Halfway through the work-out I thought I was leaning toward intervals, but by the time I finished and was thinking “it wasn’t that bad” I guess I could pick hills. Of course, I have that same thought at the end of intervals too; I guess it’s all mental! What about you; do you prefer hills or intervals?

Getting Over the Hump

Bart’s schedule doesn’t start out lightly. In the 16-week plan the first eight are hills and they start at 6 miles. We spend four weeks at 6 miles, then move up to 7, then 8, then back down to 7, and week eight has 8 miles of hill repeats.

My running routes are not in the flattest part of the world but steady hills are also somewhat tricky to come by. In order to do the six mile route I mapped a loop just over two miles in my neighborhood that starts out flat for about a half mile for a warm-up and then goes straight into four uphill climbs, has another half mile flat, and then two more hill climbs before starting all over. To do the six miles I obviously repeat this loop three times.

I find that I really need the entire first loop to get my body and legs warmed up. I can feel the tightness in my quads and hamstrings on the first set of hills but by the first real recovery they usually loosen up. I try to keep a steady pace on the flats that isn’t too fast because I know I always push harder and run faster up the hills. I also try not to fly down the downhills, and somehow on my route there are really only two and a half downhills. A Runner’s World article shared that when running downhill it’s best to use your arms for balance and rather than pump them or let them flap around, keeping them steady by your sides will conserve energy for when you really do need to pump them to get up the hill.

Whether going up or down hill I try to focus on keeping my form consistent. I try not to lean too far forward or too far back and keep my footfalls relatively just under my body. I also try to keep my breathing consistent. I don’t want to be panting the entire way uphill otherwise I spend more time trying to catch my breath on recovery rather than just let my body relax a little before the next hill. All this is easier said than done but if you’re thinking about these things then you’re less likely to focus on how steep or long the hill is that you’re about to climb.

The first time I ran the hills I noticed that my hip flexors were a little sore in addition to the tightness I felt in my hamstrings. I remembered reading many times during my research on ITBS that these muscles take a beating on hills and should be strengthened and stretched well so that they can support the extra work required to run hills. To strengthen my hips I’ve added hip raises to my work-outs and do 100 hip raises twice a week. It’s not a ton but it’s better than nothing. Because I am also triathlon training I think the cycling and swimming help strengthen these muscles as well as give them a break from how they’re used in running.

I have also added the foam roller back into every stretching routine. After any work-out I spend time doing abs and core strengthening as well as stretching and I make sure to roll each leg in the quad and hamstring area 5-10 or 15 times depending on how I feel. I only needed to experience ITBS once to know that it’s worth taking preventive measures to prevent.

As daunting as I find the hill work-outs on the training schedule, the fact that I had to walk up the hill in the half marathon I did this summer still bothers me. I don’t want to have to do that again and if it takes running hills on every hump day (or Thursday or whatever day happens to fit my life schedule best that week) then I’m willing to do it.