And just like that, I’m in the thick of the 4th week of marathon training.
While I haven’t had a set out schedule that signified The Start of training, mentally there was a signal. After two weeks of taking it easy because of hip pain, my body and most certainly my mind, were ready to start training with focus, purpose, and at a higher intensity. The first two weeks after the half marathon I was focused on recovering my lower half and preparing to train, but once that was taken care of I immediately shifted full focus on the long term goal: The Chicago Marathon.
My focus for the first month has been getting used to 4 runs each week plus one day of CrossFit Endurance, which may or may not include running, all while increasing my mileage safely for a strong base. I started off approximately at 16 miles in the first week, then moving to 18 and finally 20 before taking a recovery week right now. Since I’m still hovering at a low enough intensity, this week’s recovery consists of a 3rd rest day with 20 miles again.
Overall I feel really good, which is surprising to me. I’m so used to feeling drained or injured, which leads to extra days off in an effort to stave off injuries. Instead I’m feeling stronger each week, intrinsically motivated to do whatever it takes to get my runs done, and any flare-ups I experience (tendonitis, hip, or otherwise) get nipped in the bud rather quickly and disappear. I’m so grateful!
I’ve had a couple runs that left both shins and my posterior tibialis upset but not in the concerning nature it used to be, and my hip has maintained it’s soreness at the ends of runs and workouts. To battle back, I’ve used ice after runs, excessive compression, and keeping mindful of how I’m increasing runs, plus a follow-up visit with my physical therapist, Chris. I’m lucky enough that he works out of the gym I visit for CrossFit so I see him every time I go in passing, but it’s also easy to get an appointment. After my evaluation, we determined that I’m so much better than I was two years ago and no longer do I look like “just” a person who sits at their desk and runs for fun, but an athlete overall. Thankfully my hip pain doesn’t stem from any sort of trauma or require physical therapy at this point – just a reminder of the exercises I need to be doing and a few modifications on exercises I’ve perfected since last year.
On top of that, I make sure I’m not increasing my intensity beyond my means from week to week. I look at my last speed session and do something comparable – similar mileage, similar intensity. I check my last couple long runs and avoid increasing by more than a mile or two. The longest run I’ll have hit since the half marathon is 9 miles, but instead of feeling like death after (which I did during most 7+ mile runs before my half), I feel good.
I didn’t think training was going to be as exciting as it has been so far. I’m not as fast as I was two years ago yet, but my body feels and looks stronger. Next month I’ll be running miles I wasn’t able to maintain without breaking down previously and that’s exciting to me. Working the carnivals all weekend for an added 20-25 hours on my feet but still squeezing in 4-6 mile runs at 5:00am or 11:00pm without feeling like death is exciting to me, too. Finally finding a routine that has enough time for work, second work, cooking food for the week, and spending time with family/friends has been key. I haven’t quite worked in the whole “cleaning the house” thing into my routine but one thing at a time, right?
One last busy weekend to go before a weekend to myself with only a 5k to focus on — I can’t wait for the break from work!