Week Two Update

Oh man, last week was a big fat failure, and it’s the lowest mileage week of the program. I may have bitten off more than I can chew here, as far as the time commitment is concerned.

First, the mileage recap for the week:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 2 miles, treadmill
Wednesday: 3 miles, treadmill
Thursday: 3 miles*, treadmill (*I think. About 20 minutes into the run, I touched the treadmill screen and a static charge zapped it and it stopped the belt and reset the display to the time, as if it had just turned on. I wasn’t looking at the time or the distance when it shut off, though I remembered to stop my watch eventually. The watch does distance indoors, but it does it incorrectly [either that or my treadmill is poorly calibrated], so I had to guess at the total distance I did. I guess there’s something to be said for staring at the treadmill display the whole time after all!)
Friday: rest (GI issues)
Saturday: 5.58 miles, road
Sunday: rest (studied)

Whoops. 3 rest days. 13.8 miles. I had planned to recoup the lost miles between Saturday and Sunday, running 6 on Saturday and 4 on Sunday, instead of 5 and 3. Saturday’s run ended up being unpleasant. I wore my chains and for the first bit of the run, I thought it was silly, because the sidewalk was relatively clear, but eventually I ran through slush, snow, ice, and all manner of combinations of the three, so I was glad for the traction as well as the feet protection. I was all excited for the downhill on the 5th of 6 miles after trudging miserably up Arrowhead Road, but the wind was so brutal I was running at about the same pace I had been going uphill. I mean, not quite, but I was running 16:xx and 15:xx paces during a downhill, and my heart rate wasn’t even that low. I am slow, but not usually that slow. I cut the run short by about half a mile due to the cold, and also due to overall anxiety about the rest of the stuff I had to do that day.

Sunday I got up, planned on sandwiching my run between homework sessions, and even put on some of my running gear early so I could jump right up when I was done with my homework. The homework took so long that I realized I couldn’t justify running 4.5 miles, which would take over an hour not including transit time (I was going to go to the Lakewalk since I know it’s 4.5 miles), when I had additional work to do on my take-home test, due the next day. (I finished with plenty of time left, the panic was unwarranted.)

I have to re-think something here. Either I have to reconsider running the marathon in June, or I have to reconsider how I’m approaching my training. I am running slowly, but I also haven’t hit my target heart rate in two weeks, so I’m not really accomplishing anything. I am not dedicated enough to meeting that target heart rate, and it is too cold out to make that heart rate easy to accomplish, even at a slow pace. In short, I am running slowly for no reason. My runs are taking too much time, time that I don’t have this semester. I still think this training is extremely valuable, but I think I’m going to have to abandon it or modify it for this training cycle.

Here’s my plan, which is basically arbitrary:
I am going to continue training for Grandma’s Marathon in June.
I’m still going to monitor my heart rate and my rate of perceived exertion in order to make sure I am running easy on easy days, hard on hard days, and medium on medium days. I just can’t commit to 142 bpm as a maximum heart rate.
Whether or not I run Grandma’s, when this training cycle is over, I will give this training another shot, as the weather will be warm enough that I’m not struggling to balance heart rate and homeostasis.
I’ll use metabolic efficiency training to train for the Mankato Marathon in October, assuming I don’t have an injury or a miserable and traumatic experience if I run Grandma’s.

I don’t plan on ramping up speed like crazy, I don’t have anything other than an “easy” run until the end of March, so I will still be running conservatively. We’ll see how things go after my first run this evening! Enthusiasm!

We’re Not Worthy!

I had a decent (but slow) trail run today (2 full loops of Bagley Nature Center and one short loop for a little over 4 miles), and while I was running these slow miles, I was once again wondering how I am ever going to complete a marathon before the cutoff. I mean, really, I know I could, because I could just walk the whole way and probably do it in fewer than 7 hours. Maybe. Not at the pace I was going today, but of course that was through snow. I’m not sure if that made enough difference though. We’ll see.

I read a lot of random message boards, social media, and articles about running, especially those that are long-distance running-related, and it seems like there’s a weird attitude about marathons and those who run them. Specifically, there’s an attitude that everyone and their mother runs marathons and everyone and their mother shouldn’t be. I do think it’s stupid to make a goal of running a single marathon just to check it off a bucket list, but I don’t think it’s stupid for more people to get interested in a sports. There’s also a weird attitude about slow people, like slow people don’t belong on the course. This attitude seems to come from people whose times I could only dream of, but who are solid middle-of-the-packers. Slow runners don’t belong in the first corral or at the front of the starting line of a race, no. Slow runners need to watch where they’re running and not clog up the course, but so do medium runners and fast runners. All runners need to be respectful of others on the course, but it’s usually the slow runners who take the heat for making mistakes or being rude on a course.

I also see people question individuals who are running marathons, wondering why they would want to. Why not run a 5K? Why not start out with a little bitty race and leave the big marathons to those of us who were running marathons before it was cool (aka they’ve run like four of them)? Maybe I’m projecting a little. I can’t answer this question on behalf of all runners, but I can answer it for myself.

I’m not interested in training for a 5K right now. I am signed up for one, but that’s really just a training run and a chance to figure out how to behave at a race before I get lost or miss the bus or show up late for a marathon. I just don’t see the point of training for a 5K as a goal race when I am so slow. Most people could just drop by a 5K on the day of, wearing jeans and flip-flops, and throw down a better time than I could. Well, maybe not most people, but enough that I find it embarrassing. Plus I don’t have any interest in doing speed work and track workouts in the middle of winter. I also want to get into trail and ultra running once my endurance and speed have improved, so training for a 5K isn’t going to do much good for me. I’d rather race through the woods for 12 hours than get stampeded by a bunch of zippy 5Kers.

I’m still not sure I want to run a marathon yet. I’m not sure I’m fast enough to complete the training without it completely taking over my life. Obviously I am one week in and I am still running based off my goal heart rate of 142 bpm, so I am not sure where I’m really at. My plan right now is to continue with the heart rate training restriction until Week 6 of the marathon training plan (so the week of March 23rd), when the training plan has its first medium run as well as its first planned hill workout. I do think the training has been working, as I didn’t have such a heck of a time getting up the large hill at Bagley without my heart rate shooting through the ceiling, but I have decided it’s not going to work very well for this training cycle. I’m still going to keep 142 bpm as a goal heart rate for any “easy” run, but I’m going to have to abandon that pace for medium runs and tougher runs.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to do an entire training cycle with heart rate training, but as of now, these sad 17:xx paces aren’t going to cut it. I suppose if I see some significant improvements in the paces I can achieve once the snow is gone and the weather warms up a bit (and I mean to the 30s and low 40s, I’m managing my expectations) maybe I can revisit that plan, but I don’t anticipate becoming a (relative) speed demon just because the windchill isn’t torturous.

No matter what I decide to do, I would like to extend both of my middle fingers to anyone who looks down on slow runners. We’re all slow relative to someone else.

Week 1 Update

I’m mostly through my first week of “marathon” “training,” which actually feels like “slightly shorter than a normal week” “training.” I had to take an unexpected rest day on Thursday when I came home from work at 6:00, took my coat off, and realized it was really cold in my house. 55 degrees, in fact. The furnace blower had gone out, and I had to wait to get that fixed, then wait for the house to warm up again. I huddled under the covers with my cats and the heated mattress pad on while I waited for the house to heat up, dressed in my workout clothes, planning to take advantage of the slightly cooler house so I didn’t have to turn a fan on. Unfortunately, being cold basically all day (since it barely got above 0) left me sleepy, and I decided to skip the run.

Yesterday I forced myself to run outside since it was in the teens and not too windy. Since it snowed, the sidewalks were mostly horrible. I wore my shoe chains in order to give myself some traction, but it was an unpleasant run. My legs were burning from the effort of running in the new snow, although it’s still preferable to running in sand! I ended up with all 4 (well, 3.93) miles in the 17:XX pace (actually no, the final 0.93 miles were at an 18:26 pace, ew), which was disappointing, especially since I didn’t hit my heart rate target (average BPM was at 147). Overall I was just thrilled to be running outside rather than on the treadmill. I keep looking at the 10 day forecast and it only looks like a few more terrible days are in the forecast… unless there are some lurking just over the horizon. Some mid-40s temps by mid-March would be glorious, especially after last March was still so bitterly cold.

On another note, I need to buy a new winter coat because my current one is about 10-11 years old, is dirty, and the zipper is wearing out at the bottom. They are a lot more expensive than I thought, even on end-of-season clearance (this is what happens when one goes a decade between coat purchases), which is annoying, because there are a couple of running accessories I want (a hydration vest, a new top layer for running outside in cold weather that actually has ZIPPERED POCKETS, and a new sports bra) and those will have to wait. Unless I end up with a teeny tiny tax return, in which case the coat will have to wait, too. I have a backup coat somewhere that’s even older than my current coat; it is orange and I won it at the all-night party after graduation. It’s a nice coat but is also kind of dingy. With all the salt and sand and dirty slush around, it’s hard to avoid. Here’s hoping I only have another month where a winter coat is required!

The Best-Laid Plans

Today I begin marathon training.

There I go, throwing out the gauntlet. Using the m-word. I’m not sure if I’m actually going to run a marathon, but I’m going to start a marathon training cycle. Last year I had planned to run Grandma’s Marathon and had signed up for the free training emails. I had a strange, minor injury to my hip that wouldn’t go away and so I scrapped the idea. Plus I wasn’t really that dedicated to begin with. I saved the training emails for future use, and today’s the day to start the 18-week plan in order to sync the plan up with the race date (June 20th). So, I’m diving in with a 2 mile run this evening, as indicated on the plan. (Don’t worry, I had an unplanned rest day on Saturday because I felt gross.)

Why train for a marathon if I’m not sure I’m going to run it? I don’t know. It’s something to do. I do want to run marathons in the future, so I do want to give a training cycle a try. I’m just not sure I’ll be able to dedicate enough time to the long runs, due to homework. It will be warmer and lighter out later by the time many of those long runs come along, but I’ll also be in the thick of exams, projects, and general fatigue from yet another grinding semester as an engineering student, so I am going to have to play it by ear.

I have given myself til March 31st to decide if I’m going to enter, as the entry fee increases again on April 1st. I might have to extend that date and just eat the higher entrance fee, because the training time commitment increases quite a bit in the middle weeks of the program. I will have to see how the first 6 weeks go and how my body and my schedule handle the increased mileage.

A prescribed two mile run sounds like a great end to my day… at 8 pm. Today is the first day of the rest of my semester, I guess.