Week 5 - Chicago Marathon Training and a Long Run Fueling Recap

It's getting so much closer! And I'm not feeling any more confident this week. I mentioned a few weeks ago that back to back hard days (interval/speed workout followed by a track day) made me so much stronger in my training for LA and Vancouver. Not the case this time around. I've been trying to do track on Tuesdays and a speed workout on Wednesdays for the last 3 weeks and I always end up moving my speed workout to Thursday or not even doing it, which is what happened this past week. I always get torn between "listening to my body" and "pushing outside of my comfort zone." I feel like I'm capable of so much more, but I also get scared of injury and nagging pain. Maybe I'm not a 60 -70 mile a week athlete no matter how much I want to be.

Enough of my whining. This past week was another tough week of training where I set lofty goals and didn't achieve them all. I nailed my track workout (at least I did all of the repeats) on Tuesday with Peter, but it left me a little sluggish the rest of the week. The main focus for me was my long run and attempting a new fuel, so I wasn't too upset with missing my speed workout. Friday night, I started prepping my food for my long run. I cut up several dried apricots into fourths and packed them in a snack size ziplock. When I cut into my sweet potato though, the inside was rotten. Bad luck I guess. I decided to just try the apricots on this go around.

I allowed myself the option of doing anywhere between 18 and 20 miles with my long run. I think it's helpful to give yourself a range on some days because then you don't feel like a failure if you opt for the lower mileage. I opted for the 18 :) I wasn't sure how long it would take the apricots to digest and I wanted to get used to chomping on them, so I started taking a piece each mile starting at mile 1.5. I was relieved it wasn't too difficult to chew them and, because of their texture, they didn't just slide to the back of my throat like chews normally do.

I picked up the pace at mile 7 because I wanted to run 10 miles at goal marathon pace. For some reason, it's super difficult for me to run my marathon pace. I either go too fast or too slow. Either way, I gassed out around mile 12 and thought it was a good idea to stop and take some fuel (2 more apricot pieces + a swig of water). I tried to do a 1 mile recovery and then back into marathon pace, but I couldn't recover. I think the real struggle besides the fuel is hitting paces. I'm learning or I'm completely crapping on myself right now and I can't figure out which yet! We'll find out in 5 weeks.

Another thought was that I'm doing too many hard workouts each week and the buildup of lactate acid is too much for my body. I shoot for 3 hard workouts a week once I get my base training back after about 3-4 weeks of easy running. The long run is considered a workout whether you incorporate speed or not because it is putting stress on your body. A track session and an interval/hill/fartlek/marathon paced run is considered the other 2 in my schedule. Some weeks I would run a hilly trail run and still do my 2 speed sessions + my long run. I've done that at least 2 times in the last 4 weeks and I think it's catching up to me on my hard days. Maybe I need to do a 3 hard, 2 hard, 3 hard set and see how that goes.

I'm racing this weekend, so while the mileage will be reduced for my long run (something I'm looking forward to), it will be taxing on my legs. I'm doing the Run Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon in Utah. This is a notoriously fast, downhill course that tears up your quads and calves, but is easy on your aerobic system. I ran part of the course with my friends Kim and Aaron (who are both doing the full this weekend) when I was out in Salt Lake last month for the RRCA coaching course. My legs were torn up the day after. I'm hoping to PR, but I'm also not trying to hurt myself with just a few weeks left to go before Chicago.

I've already fallen way off my schedule this week. I got a massage on Tuesday afternoon because I was having so much nagging pain in my back and hips, I thought it would help. The masseuse said that since I didn't know how the massage would affect me, to pay attention to how I felt afterwards. Well, I felt super groggy the rest of the day, so I did 6 easy miles that night. I met up with Peter last night for our track workout, but wasn't feeling it, so we did an easy 3. My hips feel much better, but I still feel like my muscles in my quads and hamstring are just not connecting when I want them to go fast. So, needless to say, there's no point in posting my schedule this week because it's already fallen off. I'll be lucky to get to 45 miles this week. I have 3 more weeks of speed, and then a taper week left to go. I'm ready to go all out this weekend if my body wants to cooperate.

I'll have to revisit my fueling strategy in my long run next week since I generally don't take in fuel  (except water and electrolytes if it's hot) during a half marathon. Wishing everyone a good week of training and racing!

Have you ever raced a downhill course?

How many hard days do you include in your training each week?