Marathon Training is Hard

I am so tired. For the past couple weeks I haven’t been sleeping as well as normal, which I’m pretty sure is the cardinal sin of marathon training. Sleep is equally as important — no, more important — than all the miles and all the food. 

My favorite running buddy!
When I trained for Chicago, I had a decent base because I had just run the Buffalo Half Marathon. My legs were used to 10+ miles and long, hard efforts. This time around? The legs are so not used to it. When I run 8+ miles, my legs feel like toast all night and while my body is exhausted, my mind is awake and then I finally go to bed and end up with restless legs all. damn. night. Top that off with dreams about the POTUS (maybe I shouldn’t look at twitter after 6pm?) and I’m downright exhausted! 

I modified last week’s workouts from the plan because of said exhaustion, plus with that week off from being sick, I was trying to bridge the gap a little. 

I was happy to put some miles in on my new sneakers – New Balance Vazee Pace. I’ve been running in the New Balance Zante, which I love, but as I got up to 7+ miles, I got some gnarly blisters and could feel soreness all up my arches. So I bumped up from 4mm drop (which is the max I’ve had for years!) to 6mm and the feel of a little more cushion. It’s working well. 

Last week, I had two easy run days – one with Dunkin outdoors and one on Saturday, when I started to do my long run on the treadmill and realized mentally I couldn’t handle it. I was supposed to have a recovery run Wednesday night after my CrossFit in the morning but… exhausted. So I opted to nap and walk Dunkin instead. 

Tuesday I had the most solid workout I’ve had in a while. After a mile warmup, I had 24 minutes of 2:00 hard (8 or 9 effort) and 1:00 easy, but not recovery. I was cruising at 6:45-7:20 pace on the hard efforts and 9:00 on the easy. I felt in control throughout the entire run, though on the verge of vomiting all over on the last set. My cool down was brief solely because Olive Garden was waiting for me upstairs, oops. 

CrossFit for the week was something I really enjoyed. It was a recovery workout for everyone which is why it suited me so well. I didn’t have to modify too much and felt like the strength really helped my running. Our warmup was single leg Romanian deadlifts, which I already include often in my program. I always like when we do single leg things because I succeed at it when the people who focus on CrossFit struggle, mostly because they don’t spend as much time on one leg. We also worked on our cleans. The workout was a 10 minute workout of deadlifts, power cleans, and push-ups; it also didn’t leave me too sore to exist. 

Sunday Running Buddies (can you spot them?)
Since I moved my long run to Sunday, I ended up going outside and spending quality time in a few inches of soft snow. I had 14 easy miles on the calendar which I knew was a stretch from the 11 the previous week, plus with the snow, effort felt like more. I ran 12, however, 6 of which felt like sand and made my legs shake by the end. It was hard! I felt good with my 10:00 average overall, considering the snowy miles were closer to 10:30.  I tried to focus on fueling this run but I’m still not running long enough for it to make a huge difference.  I plan to use Honey Stinger chews again but I may experiment with their gels in a bit, we’ll see. I hate how they leave me sticky because I’m a klutz when I open and eat them!

I had to laugh a bit during my run because I listened to I’ll Have Another podcast and the conversation was surrounding a bit of running and CrossFit, which you basically can’t be good at both. It made me think more about my training and how I try to fit it in. I’ve found what works mostly for me, but it definitely is hard. I know I’m not super fresh for long runs sometimes, or I have to plan carefully with my modifications to ensure I am, but I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. If I’m 5 minutes slower because I wanted to keep up with CrossFit, I’m okay with it because it keeps me sane, healthier (no injuries if I keep it up, injuries when I don’t), and happier. 

One more hard week (and with my planned CrossFit on Sunday — Murph, FINALLY!), I am so looking forward to a recovery week next week. 

Week 2: Running with a Cold

Come on. Kindly vacate my body, you stubborn son of a bitch. I am so not used to this. I started to feel better on Monday, but my workouts this week haven’t come easy. By Saturday, what was left of my voice sounded an octave lower and I had an underlying wheeze, but my energy levels were much higher. 

Despite all that, I hit my highest mileage week in a year and if I recall how I felt a year ago, I think I feel much better now. I guess I can stop commenting on how the present week is my highest mileage in a certain amount of time because every week is going to be that way. 

Monday was an easy run of just a few miles. Four was on the schedule but I didn’t want to jump in my first run back after the cluster of a run I tried on the previous Wednesday. Since I didn’t run after those 2 miles, it felt a little rusty. I finished up with some much needed core work (maybe this summer I can have some solid abs? Kidding, my chicken finger sub is laughing at me.)

Tuesday I worked second shift from home so my workout was a little shifted. I still did it at the same time, but on the treadmill and probably much better fueled than normal.  It sucked, to be frank. The written workout was 3 x 1 mile at 7:40ish, with a quarter mile recovery between. I actually did 2 x 1 and struggling to hit 7:50-8:00.  The effort was there, but the legs and lungs were not. 

I took a solid rest day on Wednesday, and easy 3.5 on Thursday, and another rest day on Friday. 

Thanks to global warming, we had the most unseasonably warm Saturday and I totally enjoyed it. It was 60°!  Last week’s long run was supposed to be 10 miles with the final 4 at 8:40. This week’s long run was supposed to be 12 easy. I decided to meet the two in the middle with 11 miles, 3 of the last 4 at 8:40, and a cool down mile. Those 3 faster miles averaged more like 8:25 because I was running just enough behind a guy that I was ever so slightly gaining on him and my legs just did their thing… oops. I would have gone for the final 4 at 8:40 had I actually been running 8:40s but my legs were dead after 3 (and finishing on a healthy incline). 

I really needed Saturday’s fast finish to feel some speed back in my legs but it was a little discouraging because it felt a hell of a lot more challenging than I thought it would. The amount of running I’ve been doing on the treadmill has been mentally tough because my paces feel so much harder, too. I keep telling myself it’s because it’s upper 60s in my basement and probably a bit humid, so if it were outdoors running in those temperatures, I might be feeling that way anyways. It should get easier the more I do it. I hope. 

I took a pretty significant amount of time away from training, so I know I should be easier on myself as far as where I’m coming from and getting to the start of Carmel. I still have like 12 weeks to get me to the start of the marathon and truthfully, that’s a lot of time to get into peak fitness, right?  After being sick for a couple weeks, I’m just ready to be 100% and start to see the gains in my legs and lungs for some encouragement. 

Oh, but good news did come this week! Another year with Nuun!  Which is obviously exciting to me considering how much of this I drink on a daily basis. Without it, I’d probably only drink water immediately after a run and who knows what during the day. 

My New Love: Essential Oils 

Maybe I’m late to the game. I heard about how great essential oils were but I was always kind of like, “really, how good can that be?” Apparently the answer is really good. 

I am currently taking a bath with eucalyptus and peppermint oils because this sickness won’t quit. I think the worst part of it all is that I simply don’t get sick (I attribute that largely to the copious amounts of Nuun I drink on a regular basis.) So me getting sick enough to not have the energy to even take the dog for a walk is, well, stupid. 

Back to the essential oils. 

A year ago when we were going through all the separation anxiety and scratching with Dunkin, we took him to a homeopathic vet who regularly used essential oils (among other remedies), especially for calming pets down when they came to appointments. Maybe it was the acupuncture, or maybe it was the lavender oil she used, but D was always so relaxed. I bought a set of oils, which included some lavender, to use  on his itchy pits and when he was anxious over noises and storms. I never really noticed if it actually worked, though. I also never opened the other five oils I received. 

Flash forward to this Christmas and J’s mom gifted me a diffuser for my oils! I was mostly just thinking about how my home would smell nice, but not about the benefits the oils would have. We started to use the lavender to calm Dunkin down when we left the house, which in conjunction with his Prozac (yes, we finally had to go to the vet for additional help) seems to be working amazingly. Check. I’m a fan of lavender. 

Now I started to look into the other oils I have. I’m not a fan of ice baths, especially in winter training months, but Epsom salt baths? I can get down with that regularly. So I took some Epsom salt baths, then that turned into adding oils instead for relief. I’ve been fond of peppermint oil and lavender oil to relax and soothe muscles after my long runs or hard workouts. Typically I’ll shower after my long run as usual and then the following day/night, soak in a bath as hot as I can stand it with 5-6 drops of each oil. 

Does it work? I don’t know, but I sure like the way I smell and I do feel relaxed afterwards. I haven’t been hitting any crazy runs yet for cumulative fatigue, but my legs feel refreshed for almost every run.  Ask me how I feel in a couple months!

PS – a day after the bath & day of EOs, I feel fantastic, so I’ll keep doing what I do, I think.