When Life Gets in the Way of Training

The weather’s changing so I’m feeling a cold coming on. I’ve been training 5-6 days a week for 14 (or more) weeks. I’m planning a major move that will leave me and my boyfriend and the kitties (and all our stuff) temporarily without a home for a day/night. I’m exhausted.

But I’m still waking up every morning and doing SOMETHING.

In the beginning of this training plan, I mapped out my goals. The plan actually calls for 2 days of rest a week, but my goal was 1. I built that in with the caveat that if I’m having a rough week I can still take 2 days off. I needed that more than ever last week.

Last week’s training culminated in a 13 mile (recovery week) trail run because I was out at my boyfriend’s parents’ house getting some moving logistics taken care of. I don’t do a lot of trail runs…and I never wear my glasses when I run. Needless to say, 2 miles in I tripped over a really sneaky rock and fell. I finished the run but it wasn’t easy. Usually, the day after my long run I’ll take a nice easy 4-5 mile run. I elected to skip on Sunday, and let me tell you, it felt great. I NEEDED that day off.

As I sit here with my lentil soup, next to my Throat Comfort Yogi Tea and my honey, lemon, and ginger, planning out our move, I am anticipating an ugly week ahead. Moving in a week and a half and dealing with closing and money and moving out on day and moving in the next–on top of a possible cold–it’s all pretty stressful.

But I still wake up and run. And hopefully I will next week too. Maybe getting a cold now is a blessing because I’ll get it out of the way for the fall season before Nov. 1.

Life happens and you get sick and you get busy. It’s important to build in at least 1 optional rest day into your training. Mentally I see it like this–every week that I’m able to get 6 workouts in is a huge win because it’s more than what my plan calls for. Every week that I need to take an extra day feels great and I don’t feel guilty for skipping a day.

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Aches and Pains and Running 43 Miles in a Week

The Marathon is less than 2 months away and I’m about 3 weeks out from my last serious long run (20 miles). Yesterday, I ran 18 miles and the weekend before I ran 17. I ran 43 miles this week. The difference between 17 and 18 seemed significant, but it could have just been the difference in weather and the fact that I really needed new sneakers (my current ones have about 350 miles on them right now).

When I finished the 17 miler, I felt pretty good. When I finished the 18 miler, my calves, ankles, and knees were really sore and my legs felt like jelly. It wasn’t a bad run, but it was pretty slow. I’m ok with that though. The long runs should be slow. I don’t want to hurt myself. It’s a really strange feeling getting to 9 miles and turning around as the halfway point. I didn’t feel weak or tired during the run, but felt a little woozy immediately after until I ate. I feel pretty good today, though–and I’m really happy it’s a rest day. Funny enough, the sorest part of me is my arms…probably from carrying my water bottle for 18 miles.

My office is closed today for Rosh Hashanah, so I was able to finally get myself over to Hoboken Fleet Feet (I love Fleet Feet) and buy a new pair of sneakers. I’m a Brooks person, and I stick to the Ghosts right now (I might explore different lighter models eventually but I want to stay consistent for the Marathon). I bought a new pair back in the middle of June…I’m a size 8 in regular shoes but usually do an 8 1/2 in running sneakers. Back in June, the guy in the running store thought I could benefit from a size 9 but they felt a little big and clown-like to me at the time. Fast forward to Sept and I’ve had a bunch of bruised toenails from my long runs over the summer. They don’t feel great and I’d like to prevent getting more. I was more willing to give size 9 a shot today, so I brought my orthotic to try with the shoes. They felt pretty good, so I’m going to run in them tomorrow (5 miles) and see how it goes. From everything I’ve heard, you really need a bunch of room to let your toes spread out in the toe box. If you’re getting a bunch of bruised toes when you’re running, there’s likely a problem. These will be my Marathon sneakers, so it’s pretty exciting!

What does your training schedule look like?

For the past 11 weeks, I’ve been running 4-5 times a week (usually 5), cross training one day, and resting one day. Before that, I was slowly building up to a comfortable 8 miles. The Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan that I’m (loosely) following has the first long run at 8 miles, so I figured I should build up to 8 and be very comfortable running 8 before starting my program. I usually add in an extra day of running to my week, as the program I follow has 2 rest days. If I need the 2nd rest day, I take it.

I spent a lot of time deciding what my cross training would be. I have been running for probably 5 years now, and doing not much else. Every once in a while I’ll dabble in spin or yoga or I’ll get to a gym and lift some light weights. I’ve never had a strong core, but I’ve always wished that I did. I ended up going with spin on my first week of the program, mostly because there’s a studio a block from my apartment and it’s reasonably priced. I also wanted something more cardio than strength. When I made that decision, I had no clue the amazing gem of a spin studio I had stumbled upon. I got to my first class and realized these bikes were like no other spin bikes I had ever seen. They’re called Real Ryders–they are on a hinge so that you can “turn” left and right by engaging your core. In the standing positions, you have to engage your core just to keep the bike steady. You get a total body workout this way. After my first class, I was toast. I came back to the apartment drenched in sweat and Sean thought I was the grossest. Not really, but kind of. It is SUCH an amazing workout. I’ve been going once or twice a week ever since and I can really feel the difference in my core. I don’t think I could ever take another spin class on a bike that isn’t a Real Ryder. I feel like I work three times harder on it versus a traditional spin bike.

Within the next month, I’ll be moving to a new neighborhood in Jersey City so the studio won’t be as close. That coupled with the fact that they recently significantly raised their prices if you’re not a monthly member has me looking for a new cross training routine. My new neighborhood has a community pool and a reasonably priced yoga studio, so I’ll probably swim laps some weeks and do yoga other weeks.

Cross training is probably one of my favorite parts of the week (other than my rest day of course). I love running, but 5 days a week gets really tedious…especially now that my long runs are 15, 16, 17+ miles. It’s also really important because it helps me build up my extremely pathetic core strength.

50 more days to go…this is getting real!

Since you’re training for a marathon, are you losing a ton of weight?

When you run an average of 35-45+ miles a week, people probably expect that you’ll lose a TON of weight. If weight loss is your primary goal, training for a marathon probably isn’t the best method. That amount of exercise will destroy calories, absolutely. However, calories are energy and energy is what you need to complete a 10-20+ mile long run–so you need to eat, and you need to eat a LOT.

I’ve never exercised this much or this consistently in my life–even before my NYC Half PR a few years ago my longest run leading up to the event was 10 miles. Not only am I running 40-ish miles a week (I’m up to 17 miles for my long run), I’m spending at least one day a week cross training. With the amount of calories I’m zapping, my body is BEGGING me to replace them. After a long run, I’ll immediately replace calories with coconut water or a smoothie before I eat my first meal of the day. On a good day, I’m hungry every couple of hours–but I typically find myself hungry again an hour after I eat. I find myself eating constantly, and needing to consume larger meals, and snack frequently in between meals. I find myself seeking out the most filling foods (which also happen to be pretty calorically dense)–beans, hummus, carbs. My appetite is a result of my body needing to replace the calories I burn working out so I can keep going. Increased activity leads to increased calorie intake leads to a relatively stable weight.

In the beginning, I shed quite a few pounds pretty easily, but now I’m evening out. I’d say overall in the last 2 months I’ve lost maybe 10 pounds. That’s not so say I don’t LOOK a lot more fit. I’m gaining muscles I’ve never seen before and I’m losing fat. But I’m not losing a TON of weight. And I didn’t expect to. I would never deprive my body of the calories and nutrients it needs to perform its best leading up to the marathon. Lately I’ve been worried about whether or not I’ve consumer enough the night before a longer run to ensure my energy level is high enough to get me through the run.

If you want to run a marathon, prepare yourself to eat a lot during training. Don’t expect to lose a ton of weight. If you do, you’re going to deny yourself what you need to perform your best. Eat when you’re hungry and make sure you’re getting enough calories. You’ll still lose a little weight and you are going to look and feel fit. Just think about all you can eat without feeling guilty, and ENJOY it. You’re going out on 3-4+ hour long runs and working out almost every day. You’re experiencing aches and pains you never thought were physically possible. You are sacrificing hours upon hours of your free time. You’re going to sleep early on Friday nights (and waking up early on weekends). You’re missing out on countless happy hours and drinks with friends. You DESERVE to eat and enjoy things you’d normally feel a little guilty about. Pasta and bread, yes please and thank you!