DAY | PLAN | ACTUAL
MON | REST | REST
TUE | 3M/STRENGTH | 3.2M (8:56/MI)/STRENGTH
WED | 6M | 6.2M (10:26/MI)
THU | 3M/STRENGTH | 3.1M HILL INT (9:20/MI)/STRENGTH
FRI | REST | REST
SAT | REST | REST
SUN | 13.1M | 14.0 (10:23/MI)
TOTAL |25.1 MILES | 26.5 MILES
A blogger friend commented so rightfully the other day that she doesn’t really fret about “bad” weeks in training anymore, because she knows a good week is coming up right after it. I feel like I’ve been following a similar pattern. While there haven’t really been any “bad” weeks, there have been tough weeks that have been followed by a gorgeous string of strong runs where I feel like I can fly.
Enter week 8–the most challenging son of a bitch thus far! While week 7 was a real confidence booster, I did end the week feeling a bit drained. My body and my brain were exhausted since the beginning of last week which meant running and writing were a serious trudge. I need a massage, but I haven’t been able to fit it in. I’ve forced myself to foam roll all week but I’ve still maintained a fair amount of soreness. On top of that, I finally had to say goodbye to my last pair of Clifton 1 running shoes. Cliftons are by Hoka and I have stockpiled the 1’s from EBay and have been wearing them for several years. Sadly, I was at over 400 miles on my last pair and I knew it was time to say goodbye. (It seems like my whole body starts to feel sore early on a run when I need new shoes so I go based on that and mileage.) So, that means this week was spent breaking in my new Clifton 3s. I’ll be honest, I don’t love them. At all. It’s kind of making me sad just writing about it. The Clifton 1’s changed everything for me–they were like running on pillows– I just felt like they really forced less impact on my body when I ran. My new shoes are not as light and not as cushiony. I think I’ll soldier on in them for the next few hundred miles of training (how fucking crazy does that sound!) but look for something I feel better in for my taper weeks and the actual race.
One thing I’ve learned about training–and about life for that matter, is that a bright spot always seems to emerge from the fog. In spite of feeling stiff, sore, and tired all week, my 14 mile run on Sunday was a definite triumph. While my training plan called for a half marathon, I was anxious to push past that threshold for the very first time and run the furthest I have ever ran. Besides my feet feeling sore earlier than I feel like they should (I blame the new kicks), the run felt great and I was really happy with my pacing. Check out those last 4 miles! I am always happy when I am able to push it at the end of the run and pick up speed, it makes me feel like I have fueled correctly and conserved my energy efficiently. As the runs get longer, I’m really focusing on slowing down even more, especially earlier in the run. It’s an immense confidence builder to be able to finish strong and fast. (Yeah that’s right, I called myself fast. You heard it.)
I finished this 14 miles in the park and forced myself to walk a mile before heading up the hill to my apartment. (I’ve been making this extra mile of walking a practice after long runs and it has worked to relieve a good bit of my muscle soreness.) I’m not gonna lie, I was in some pain. In some ways it was a humbling experience for me. It’s as if I had gotten so wrapped up in training, I had forgotten that I was trying to do something that I have never done before, something that was actually sort of, well, hard.
So many of you people that I have had the privilege of getting to know through my blog and yours, are superstar athletes. I know you don’t call yourselves that, but I consider people who have run multiple marathons and/or are dipping their toes in the ultra world, to be seriously impressive. And the triathletes, forget about it. Since my emergence into this new world I think I briefly fooled myself into thinking I was one of you! As I limped around in the park after my long run I felt confused and disappointed. Why am I so sore? I wondered this, probably out loud, since I have a tendency to not filter or stifle myself when I’m exhausted. Then it hit me–running 14 miles is a big deal! I’ve never done it before! I think with getting into a real groove in training and going back and forth with people who basically live in race prep mode, I had taken for granted that all of this was new for my mind and my body. I had lost sight of the fact that I am pushing them both further than they have ever gone before.
When all these thoughts finally came together for me on Sunday it made me insanely grateful. The second half of my cool-down walk was spent talking to my body. I told it how awesome it was and how thankful I am that it’s hanging with me and continuing it’s willingness to grow. I reminded it that this was week 8, and that I needed it to keep on this path and prepare for even more intensity over the next 2 1/2 months. I promised it that I would continue to treat it well. I would rest plenty. I would fuel it with whatever it told me it needed. And most of all, I would listen.
I walked out of that park feeling complete; like my mind, my body, and my heart, are all working together now. Every part of me is all in. When I got home and logged my last miles of week 8 on the fridge, I glanced at my chicken scratch that now covered a good chunk of the page, and that thought came to me again: It’s for real…you’re doing it. This is pretty cool.
Whether it’s training for a race or starting a new job or having a kid–when did you realize the big thing you were trying to do was really big? At what point did you go–“Ahh, I see why not everyone does this?!” Come on, I want some stories…
header image: vance osterhout