If you’ve been running for a while now, you’re almost sure to share some of these items we Saltines had in common floating around in our closets. From amnesia tees to zombie gear, you’re sure to have a few of these yourself!
1. Incorrectly sized and ill-fitting tee from your first or favorite marathon
Who cares if it’s an unflattering shade of green, two sizes too big, or cut for someone shaped the exact opposite of you? So what? You went sub-xxx for the first time during that race and you’re darn well holding on to this shirt as a souvenir!
2. Nylon shorts from high school
Is it a pair of split shorts from track team or stretched-out poly-blend from gym class? Either way, there’s no way you’re throwing them out. Too many sentimental memories … all those laps! Never mind that you can’t actually wear them because they’re threadbare and see-through and also nearly 20 years old. Read more >>
This past week completely kicked my butt. Work was a little crazy (lots of projects with lots of moving parts and lots of deadlines all at the same time), and this is peak phase for marathon training. More than once I’ve found myself doing a Jasyoga video or Myrtls on the floor at 11.30pm, instead of sleeping…
Monday – 6 miles easy
Tuesday – 2.4 miles to/from pool (a different pool! just in case the freshman swim tests were still going on – they were not), 30 minutes pool running
Wednesday – Lunchtime: 4 miles with mid 2 @tempo. Evening track group was rained out so I did the prescribed workout on the treadmill: 4 miles as 10min up, 25min alternating 5min each at lactate threshold +5%/ lactate threshold -5%, 4min down.
Thursday – 5.1 miles
Friday – rest
Saturday – I had the most glorious long run I’ve ever had in 7 marathon training cycles. I signed up for the Charles River Marathon, a 10-loop (!) course, for part of my 20-miler, knowing the crowd support and water stops would force me into the faster range of my long-run pace. (I’m entirely capable of it physically – but on a solo run at the end of a long week it’s mentally tough to hold myself to 9:30 miles, y’know? I don’t like pain…) I ran there from home, picked up my bib, waited a few minutes for the race start, and kept trucking, mentally chunking the run into 4 sets of 5 miles. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. I thought I might ramp things up for the last chunk, but apparently ‘ramping up effort’ resulted in running the exact same pace as the previous chunk.
Towards the end my neck mysteriously locked up and I found myself looking, and drifting, to the right. Or not so mysteriously: I carry my water bottle exclusively in my left hand. Nothing hurts, and I’m not injured, but clearly I am such a wimp that clutching 10oz of water for three hours can tire out my left arm and shoulder enough to weigh heavily on my neck. Hmm. After a quick shower it was go! go! go! at the playground followed by a sweet long nap with the kiddo.
Last week, I was freaking out. This week, who cares about the marathon? By the time it rolls around I’ll have accumulated about 200 miles of delightful runs!
Sunday – I had 5.5 miles to get to 50 for the week. Or 8.5 if you don’t count the bit of pool running as ‘mileage’. Did I? Nope. Instead I ran the long way round to the grocery store. Multi-tasking ftw! 3.9 miles.
Every marathon training cycle – heck, every cycle when I’m training for a significant goal – I have at least one freak-out. This one took a few months to arrive, but it hit me over the head with a rock and dragged me by the hair into a dark cave. I’m still not sure what triggered it. Perhaps other people’s anxiety about big fall races was getting to me. Or perhaps because we’re on the cusp of Boston registration season, even though BQing is only a vague and extremely long-term goal right now. I rarely think about it, but the annual debate over qualifying standards just reminds me exactly. how. far. off. that is for me. (1 hour, 19 minutes, and 17 seconds, plus two or three or five minutes of buffer, plus however much the BAA decides to tighten standards in future. Squeak, squeak: is that a runner squeaking in, or the screws turning? At which point I just throw up my hands and think ‘eh, I should just give up now’, which is an utterly foolish and irrational thing to think, for many reasons.)
See, I have an inner ‘turtle girl’. Deep down I’ll always be the girl who took more than six hours to finish her first marathon. Turtle girl says, dafuq are you doing here? Turtle girl says, echoing all those beardy crusty old guys in the deeply speedist and sexist history of the sport, You have no business running marathons.
It’s true, I don’t have a great history with marathons. I cramp, every single time. I happily run the first 20 miles with no ill effects, thinking I’m on track to finish strong and smooth, and then BAM! the quad cramps take over and I hobble home. I have no time goals for Baystate, I just. Want. To. Bloody. Not. Cramp. Is that too much to ask? I suppose I could walk the whole way and avoid cramps, but where’s the fun in that? I’m afraid I’ll just cramp up as usual and be disappointed again this year. I’m afraid I’ll feel like I’ve wasted all this time and effort in training. More than the ‘wasted’ training or the finish time, the disappointment lies in the sense that I’m not really running to my full potential the way I am with half marathons. And trying to push the limits of my potential is part of how and why running makes me happy.
But we’re 7 weeks out. There’s no turning back now, is there? I still enjoy training. I still enjoy the act of running. And the only thing more disappointing than training hard and failing is giving up now. I’m still going to do this marathon. The only way out is through…
Monday – 12.1 miles. AM: 4.8 easy. PM: Track – warmup, cooldown, 3mi and 2mi at…somewhere between tempo and marathon pace.
Tuesday – 5.1 miles easy
Wednesday – 6.5 miles including errands
Thursday – 4.4 miles. The original plan was to drop off stuff at the gym (0.5 miles), run a loop around campus (3 miles), and pool-run for 30 minutes, but the pool run was thwarted due to freshman swim tests.
Friday – rest
Saturday – 18.2 miles long run, as 16.6 on a hilly route followed by a quick 1.6 stroller-jaunt with husband and kid on part of their run.
Sunday – 3.3 miles, treadmill. After Saturday’s run I saw that 3.3 would put me at 50 for the week…how could I not?!
When I was just a regular Salty Running reader, I used to skip entire weeks of training logs, marking them as read on my feed-reader, and went straight to the ‘informative’ content. What could I possibly learn from workouts and training volumes designed for people who ran marathons entire hours faster than I could? And likewise, what could anyone else possibly have to learn from reading my training logs? Sure, we’re all runners. We all face the same struggles – stagnation, setbacks, injuries, and disappointments. It was just that…some of the training bore zero resemblance to my training reality. And some of the successes bore so little resemblance to mine.
And yet people (you!) do read them, and are kind enough to respond and comment and suggest and empathise. Thank you. I appreciate it.
The theme of this set of training logs is ‘curveball’. There’s always one, every marathon training cycle. This year’s curveball is microbes.
Week ending August 20
Monday – AM: 1 mile to and from pool, 30:00 pool run. PM: Track workout with group: 2 miles warmup, 3x (1600m with each lap faster, 2x 100m strides, 400m shuffle jog), 1 mile cooldown. Tuesday – 5 miles easy Wednesday – AM: 4 miles with mid 2 @ tempo. PM: 1 mile to and from pool, 30:00 pool run. Thursday – Travel day (we went to Chicago for a friend’s wedding). No run. Friday – Kid comes down with sinus infection, springs high fever. No run. We head to wedding; I take kid back to hotel (he spent the wedding on meds, listless and grumpy) after the ceremony so he can get some rest. Saturday – I’d planned to do my first 20-miler of the training cycle with a Chicago-based friend. He, too, was sick earlier in the week, and I’m inexorably falling sick with kid microbes, so we trim it down to 16 miles.
Sunday – Travel day. No run.
Total: 34 miles run, 60:00 pool run, lots of kid-snuggling.
Week ending August 27: Cutback week – Xtreme Edition
Monday – Wrangling sick kid and work. (He can’t go to daycare with a fever, obviously, and we have zero family nearby, so my husband and I tag-team; I work in the morning and take the afternoon off, he takes the morning off and works in the afternoon, we both work through naptime and in the evening.) Falling sick and feeling crappy. No run. Tuesday – Wrangling sick kid and work. Falling sicker. No run. Wednesday – Wrangling sick kid and work. Definitely sick. No run. Thursday – Kid well enough to go back to daycare. Took myself and my above-the-neck cold out for 4 really, really easy miles to get some sunshine. Friday – Cold subsiding. 3 miles. My yardstick for whether I’m getting better is: am I excited to go for a run? If the answer is yes, I’m definitely getting better. The answer was yes. Saturday – Cold subsiding. Mini long run, 8 miles. Then we packed up basically our entire house and went camping with friends – two other families and their kids. It was dry and clear, but the temperature got down to about 45F at night – brr! Otherwise, our perfect overnight involved lots of food, enough s’mores to feed a small army, and chasing three skinny-dipping toddlers around a lake beach.
Sunday – Came home, ate some more, ran 4 miles to/ from playground with stroller.
Total: I don’t think this is what my coach had in mind when she wrote a cutback week into my plan, but it was what I needed.
Currently reading: Shaun Assael, Steroid Nation. It’s an entertaining look at the colourful characters who dominated the underground steroid world from the 1980s to the 2000s, but barely scratches the surface to explore the why of steroids. Terrifyingly, a ‘related searches’ list when I Googled Steroid Nation included ‘medicine for bodybuilding without side effects’ and ‘how much testosterone should I inject’. Ah, instant gratification without consequences. (GUYS, THERE IS NO SUCH THING. MAY YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE.)
I had a lovely long run the other day. Cool temperatures, a slew of podcasts lined up, and I even managed to sneak out of the house before the rest of the family woke up. I covered 14 delightful miles and ran into several friends along my route.
And then I ruined it: I scrolled through social media.
“22 miles and time for a bath with a cup of coffee,” said one friend’s Instagram post.
“15 miles at 8:39/ mi,” said another’s Strava entry.
By the time I was done stretching and rolling out my calves and IT band, I was tense again — this time seething with resentment that other people could spend so much less time on their long runs than me.
You see, I’m not setting any land speed records. I do my long runs at a solid (but right-for-me) tortoise pace which slows when the weather is warmer. That 14-miler? It took me more than two and a half hours. I’d love to be done with my runs sooner to stretch, roll, spend more time with my family, relax, and just get stuff done, but it just doesn’t work that way. Read more >>
Monday – Lunchtime – 1 mile to and from pool, 30:00 pool run. PM: 2 mile warmup, 2x 2.5mi at tempo (8:25/ mi), 1 mile cooldown Tuesday – 2.5 miles to and from playground with stroller Wednesday – 6.5 miles easy! hot! humid! Thursday – 5 miles: 3 at tempo, 0.25 @ asthma attack, 1.75 @ plod home Friday – Very hot and humid. 30:00 pool run, followed by 30:00 splashing around in pool with kid, followed by inhaling large burrito Saturday – Long run. Humid again. 15.2 miles in just under 3 hours (ack).
Sunday – Long way round to the grocery store, 2 miles
Week ending August 13
This was week 8 of an 18-week lead-up to Baystate, and I was pretty darn happy with the way my workouts went. In terms of everything else happening in the world, though – for both women and people of colour…it was an emotionally exhausting week.
Monday – 7 mile tempo run at marathon goal pace (actually nailed it for once!!!) Tuesday – errand run with a couple of stops, 5 miles Wednesday – Lunchtime: 1 mile to and from pool, 30:00 pool run. PM: 2 mile warmup, 4×800 (3:48 – oops too fast, 3:53, 3:53, 3:52) with 400m recovery, 1 mile cooldown. These 800s felt a little faster than ideal Yasso pace, which seems to be around 10K-HM pace for me, but hey, there were only 4 of them…! Thursday – 6 miles easy Friday – rest Saturday – Long run, 17 miles. Started on treadmill because it was pouring rain at 5.30am…and never left. Hour 1: between 5.1-5.3 mph (11:45 min/ mile to 11:20), treadmill reset itself at 60 minutes, took quick bathroom break. Hour 2: between 5.3-5.8 mph (11:20/mi to 10:20), gel at mile 6, gel at mile 11. Hour 3: 5.8-6.6 mph (10:20 to 9:05/ mile). The goal was to do the last 5 miles at or close to marathon goal pace…nailed it!
Sunday – Bodyweight strength work at home, and a longish Jasyoga reset video
Currently eating: Ginger molasses cookies, some nice peaches, sliced cucumbers, little pieces of cheddar cheese
Currently reading: Mary Roach, ‘Grunt’, about some of the quirkier aspects of military science and research: addressing sleep deprivation on submarines, preventing diarrhea in the field, and how to scare off sharks (!).
The whole tragic piece has so much truth in it, from how people lost their trust in the food system:
“In prosperous countries, large numbers of people – whether they wanted to lose weight or not – became understandably scared of the modern food supply and what it was doing to our bodies: type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, not to mention a host of other complaints that are influenced by diet, ranging from Alzheimer’s to gout. When mainstream diets start to sicken people, it is unsurprising that many of us should seek other ways of eating to keep ourselves safe from harm. Our collective anxiety around diet was exacerbated by a general impression that mainstream scientific advice on diet – inflated by newspaper headlines – could not be trusted. First these so-called experts tell us to avoid fat, then sugar, and all the while people get less and less healthy. What will these “experts” say next, and why should we believe them? “
To the losing battle of trying to separate the truth from the snake oil:
“The true calamity of clean eating is not that it is entirely false. It is that it contains “a kernel of truth”, as Giles Yeo puts it. “When you strip down all the pseudo babble, they are absolutely right to say that we should eat more vegetables, less refined sugar and less meat,” Yeo said, sipping a black coffee in his office at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge, where he spends his days researching the causes of obesity. Yeo agrees with the clean eaters that our environment of cheap, plentiful, sugary, fatty food is a recipe for widespread obesity and ill health. The problem is it’s near impossible to pick out the sensible bits of “clean eating” and ignore the rest. #Eatclean made healthy eating seem like something “expensive, exclusive and difficult to achieve”, as Anthony Warner writes. Whether the term “clean” is used or not, there is a new puritanism about food that has taken root very widely. ..
The real question is how to fight this kind of diet absolutism without bouncing back to a mindless celebration of the modern food environment that is demonstrably making so many people sick…”
And to the systemic inequalities that enable the affluent to indulge in the luxury of ‘clean eating’ and other nonsense, while leaving everyone else with no other choice:
“Our food system is in desperate need of reform. There’s a danger that, in fighting the nonsense of clean eating, we end up looking like apologists for a commercial food supply that is failing in its basic task of nourishing us. Former orthorexia sufferer Edward L Yuen has argued – in his 2014 book, Beating Orthorexia – that the old advice of “everything in moderation” no longer works in a food environment where eating in the “middle ground” may still leave you with chronic diseases. When portions are supersized and Snickers bars are sold by the metre (something I saw in my local Tesco recently), eating “normally” is not necessarily a balanced option. The answer isn’t yet another perfect diet, but a shift in our idea of what constitutes normal food…
“Among the affluent classes who already ate a healthier-than-average diet, the Instagram goddesses created a new model of dietary perfection to aim for. For the rest of the population, however, it simply placed the ideal of healthy food ever further out of reach. Behind the shiny covers of the clean-eating books, there is a harsh form of economic exclusion that says that someone who can’t afford wheatgrass or spirulina can never be truly “well”. “
I’d add one more caveat: even balanced, ‘normal’ healthy eating is a luxury. It’s easier to be balanced about food, with no hang-ups, when society deems your body to be a desirable shape and size, *and* when you have full access to a wide variety of foods. And when you have the ability and time and freedom to move and exercise.
These were weeks 5 and 6 of an 18-week marathon plan. It’s starting to ramp up now and get into the 40s in mileage this past week! As a Completely Average Runner, I get to peak at 50 mpw (which, being a completely average runner, still takes me no small amount of time) :)
Week ending July 23
Monday – ~7 miles (?) with 6 at tempo. My Garmin went crazy midway through this run and started beeping for laps when I was neither hitting a mile or pushing the lap button, so I turned it off midway and winged it. Luckily I was on a familiar route so I knew the distance! I know I definitely did 6 at tempo effort and a half-mile warmup; not sure how long the cooldown was because I was shuffling it.
Tuesday – Solo parenting, work was busy, life was busy, winged it, 30 minutes pool running.
Wednesday – 6.5 miles with 6 at tempo on the treadmill
Thursday – late afternoon: 4 miles easy
I actually ran without a shirt for once. It did not feel especially empowering, revolutionary, life-changing, or otherwise different from running with a tank top on. It did feel slightly cooler, but then, being the chronic worrier that I am, I worried about exposing a greater surface area to UV rays and then I worried about waist-belt chafe.
Friday – early AM: 2.5 miles easy with stroller (basically part II of Thursday’s easy run and then a rest day). Evening: flew to Cleveland to hang out with Salty, Cinnamon, Bergie, Ginger, and Pumpkin!
Saturday – 8 miles
Sunday – 10 miles: not ideal but we ran out of time, and 10 miles after an 8-miler the day before definitely counts, I decided, as cumulative fatigue. Spent the afternoon with my friend and her new baby! Flew home in the evening.
Week ending July 30
Monday – rest
I meant to do a tempo run today because I ‘always’ do my workouts on Mondays and Wednesdays! BUT: Life happens, work happens, scheduling conflicts happen, hormonal stresses happen. So I took a rest day, and it was totally fine.
I think there’s no such thing as 100% compliance with a training plan prescription, so the best plan for you is the one that maximises compliance. I’m not a machine; I can’t just write down all the numbers or mileage goals or workouts for each day of the week and then go ahead and crush them. Neither can I just wing it day to day. That’s why I love the current training plan I have – the coach who wrote it said ‘go ahead and switch days around each week as you need to’. It certainly maximises my compliance.
Tuesday – 7 easy miles in the AM, 3 easy PM because the weather was so nice and I was feeling strong (which always happens the first week of my period, because both estrogen and progesterone are low! )
Wednesday – 2.75 easy with stroller, 2.75 easy solo after daycare drop-off
Thursday – 7 as progression run, met arbitrary goal of all miles under 10:00 except mile 2 (goose poop and I stopped to stretch a grumpy ITB), last 2 miles at 9:04 and 8:10 (! wait what?), myrtls
Friday – 5.5 easy
Saturday – 14 long run
Sunday – 30 min spin bike and glute strength work – was supposed to be easy run but my ankle was still unusually sore from long run
Week 4 of 18. Motto for this week: just keep showing up.
The first month of marathon training is always exciting. It’s a thrill, like starting the first page in a new notebook, or perhaps getting your calendar organised for a new year. (Fine, I was a nerd.) But then five different teachers announce their first quizzes of the school year, give you 250 pages of reading, and assign two papers all at once, and the semester begins to lose its shine. Well, I can tell you that the end of week 4 in an 18-week training cycle is when you realise, oh, I have to settle in for the long haul. Sort of like mile 6-7 of a marathon. Man, it’s a good thing I actually like to run.
Monday – speedwork on treadmill. Warmup, cooldown, 8x 5min @ 8:00 mile pace with 2min walking/ jogging recovery; total 6.5 miles. This was a pretty satisfying speed workout: a little more mental toughness in the bank.
Tuesday – 5 miles easy
Wednesday – 4.5 miles easy with stroller. I was supposed to do 6 tempo today but I got to Wednesday and decided my legs needed an extra day to recover, so what do I do on Thursday but…
Thursday – 10min cycling warmup + lifting. A sure sign that I haven’t been keeping up with my #extrasalt – I was sore for two days after repeatedly lifting weights only a bit heavier than my son. (How does that even work? I lift him all the time.) Gym session was followed by 40 minutes of tempo-effort pool running. I figured I’d try this since I was going to the gym anyway and didn’t really want to do my tempo in a thunderstorm…
Friday – AM 2.5 easy with stroller, PM 2.5 back and forth to lunch. I felt like I was waddling; my legs were still sore.
Saturday – 13 miles with miles 10-12 speeded up (9:20, 9:40, 9:58) and then back to ambling mile 13.
Sunday – rest
Currently reading: The World According to Star Wars, by Cass Sunstein.
Currently eating: Chocolate ice cream with a…ahem, generous sprinkling of chocolate chips.
I don’t have a running tribe: no running mentors, no #runnergirlgang, no best running friends. I have no matching motivational wrap bracelets, no cute “mother runner” slogan t-shirts, no wings, no hashtags.
You see it all over Instagram or Facebook, or maybe Strava lets you know four or five people went on a run together. Group runs with a coffee stop afterwards. Group-runs-with-the-stroller-plus-playdates-afterwards. A standing Friday morning run date with a training partner. I just don’t have that.
Week 3 of 18 for Baystate. Motto for this week: consistency, consistency, consistency.
I went back and looked at my old training logs for the last two marathons I did (Perth, in August 2013, and Gold Coast, in July 2014). I was nominally using the Hansons beginner plan, but not really adhering properly to it, and my peak mileage was maybe 45 miles due to work and…seriously, a 2.5-week trip to Italy in the middle of one cycle. Seriously.
But now I’ve been running consistently (like 20-30 miles a week), trained for three half marathons in the last year (May 2016, October 2016, May 2017), and actually run 5 half marathons (May 16, Oct 16, Nov 16, March 17, May 17, some as training runs for the others)…so maybe this round I’ll be somewhat more prepared for a full marathon? Something like that?
Monday – AM: 4 miles easy with stroller. PM: track with the group. 2 mi warmup, 3(1200,400). Total for the day: 9 miles
Tuesday – 3.2 miles easy with stroller. We went to a northern Massachusetts farm in the morning for some end-of-season strawberries, and had to drive 45 minutes back. Uh-oh! Any time the kiddo has a car ride after 10am, he takes a mini nap that ruins his real one. Inevitably, he took a 30-minute car nap. 1pm rolled around, and still no real nap. 2pm…no nap. So in the heat of the day, I loaded up the stroller, slathered us with sunscreen, and took the kiddo for a run…all the way to the ice cream shop. Happy Fourth of July!
Wednesday – Warmup, cooldown, 5 miles tempo: 8:58, 9:12, 8:48, 9:22, 9:14. Tempo runs are HARD, y’all. Total 6 miles
Thursday – Ran with Caraway who was visiting from out of town! (Thank goodness for flexible hours so I can do things like this; I tend to make it all up at night, which suits me fine.)
Original plan: run downtown to meet her, run 3 miles, run home. Got stuck doing work. Made up new plan: take the T downtown to meet her, run a bit, run home. Then I was stuck on the world’s slowest bus and there were delays on the T (oh, Boston). Ran downtown to meet her, ran 3 more miles, took the T back and ran to daycare pickup for a total of 6 miles.
Friday – rest
Saturday – long run, 12 miles.
Sunday – unplanned rest day, because I honestly needed that extra hour of sleep more than I needed a few easy miles today; we went to the beach in the morning and then to a toddler birthday party in the afternoon.
Total: 36.2 miles, which is a nice gentle ramp-up for me instead of trying to jump straight into 40+ miles a week.
Yes, the 0.2 mile does not drive me crazy. I’m a Type A in life and a Type B in running.
Currently reading:Commencement, about the friendship between four young women during and after college. The characters sometimes tell, not show, rather clumsily, but it’s not terrible. Unfortunately I saw the ‘reveal’ coming from a mile away, but it was a sufficiently entertaining summer read; I especially enjoyed how spot-on the portraits were, and how exactly the book captured the sense of dislocation that college freshmen experience.
This week’s log is short and sweet. My legs are beginning to adapt to the rise in mileage. I say this now, but in a few more weeks I have 49 miles on the schedule and then I will be grumpy, sweaty, hangry, and sore (just missing a few dwarves here to round out the full complement).
Monday – off
Tuesday – Track. Warmup, 2×400, 2×800, 2×1600, 2×800, 2×400. Let’s be honest, I only finished this because it was on my training plan. This is not the sort of workout one prescribes oneself, at least if one is not a masochist.
Splits: 1:56, 1:53, 3:49, 3:48, 8:11, 8:24 (here you begin to see me getting grumpy and giving up), 4:07, 4:10 (pause here, as the sky became very dark and lightning crackled suddenly in a way that suggested I should not be out on a great big open space…like a track), 1:56 (mad dash home), 2:06 (final 400 completed on treadmill next to a very surprised woman on the elliptical). Total 6 miles.
Wednesday – 5.5 miles easy
Thursday – warmup, cooldown, 5 miles tempo really struggling with paces. 9:03, 9:28, 9:06, 9:55 (traffic light), 9:21. Total 6.5 miles.
Friday – 5 miles easy
Saturday – 11 miles that went by faster (mentally) because I went haring off exploring a new route. Up hills, down hills, into a new and much greener part of the city that I hadn’t known existed, along a river, a slightly hairy highway crossing, around America’s first ‘rural’ cemetery (Mt Auburn), and home. I ran at 6am but the humidity was already at Singapore levels, the sort of weather where you break a sweat before leaving the house. I still can’t fathom people who run, voluntarily, at midday or late afternoon in the summer…
Sunday – 2.8 miles total, stroller, in 3 parts, kind of like a symphony (you know, four movements) that was missing its allegro, because my legs were once again dead.
Total – 36.8 miles
Currently reading/ listening to:
Robert Macfarlane, Landmarks, which is this glorious book that rambles across England and Scotland and Ireland and Wales collecting stories and old forgotten nature-words
Modern Necropolis on the podcast 99% Invisible, in which I learned why people began to move cemeteries out of the city (churchyards, hillsides, etc) into their own separate spaces. In Boston, a city so old it predates the original Brexit by nearly a century and a half, you can still see historic burial grounds right downtown, next to the local churches and chapels. Later, epidemics of disease and a general sense that being so close to the dead was unsanitary forced burial grounds out of the city and into more rural areas.
or, Marathon Training for the Completely Average Runner
I fully realise what day it is. Pretty far from June 25, is what. Sorry about that…
I’ve been, in the past, resistant to either a structured training plan or to working with a coach beyond a running-group situation. What, little old me? I’m not remotely fast enough to deserve personal coaching. There’s so much low-hanging fruit – if I ran more, slept more, or ate better, I’d be faster.
Truth is, as a working parent, I need a PLAN to run more, or to really capture any of that low-hanging fruit at all. I don’t want to have to think about how far or how fast I have to run on any given day. I want to look at the plan and just go. I have enough to think about already: from weekend social plans and longer-term work travel and vacation planning, to whether daycare needs an extra shirt or sun hat, to meals and grocery shopping for the week, to the status of client projects at any given time. (Who says parents make bad employees? We’re masters of logistics and problem-solving. And we get sh*t done.) I don’t want to be out there second-guessing myself or thinking ‘Maybe I don’t have time for 7 miles today, how about 5?’ and then short-changing myself and stressing out about making it up on the weekend.
So, I’m outsourcing my marathon thinking to one of my running-group coaches; she’s given me a fairly detailed and sensible-looking plan, with instructions to switch things around as needed (but not run hard two days in a row, duh), and some apparently very ambitious paces. (Yes, I already told her I have no marathon time goals!) What’s the worst that could come of it? If I manage to stick to the plan and go into the race feeling more prepared, so much the better.
Anyway, June 12 to 18 was a down week before marathon training really kicked in.
Monday June 12 – Track. 2 mi warmup, 3 (800, 1200) at 8:10ish pace. Total 6 miles. Tuesday – off Wednesday – 8 mi easy Thursday – warmup, cooldown, 3 miles at 8:40-9:00 pace. Total 5 miles. Friday to Sunday – not a single step. We went to my 10-year college reunion, where there was lots of catching up with old friends and making new ones, food, sunshine, kid-chasing, other-people’s-dog-patting, beer, and ice cream.
Total: 19 miles
Week ending June 25– week 1 of 18 and probably the toughest week of the 18! Motto this week: survival mode.
This was just hard all round. I was solo parenting this week, and had to squeeze in all my workouts (speed, tempo, long run) during daycare hours. Easy runs could be done with or without the stroller, whichever. I had calls for work most mornings so running right after daycare drop-off was out of the question; I wound up doing a few mid-afternoon runs and a few hiding in the gym on the treadmill, which is a last resort for me but at least it’s convenient and efficient.
Monday – warmup, cooldown, 8×800 at 7:55-8:20/mi pace. Coach didn’t specify a rest or recovery interval, so I improvised: 2 minutes of walking in between reps. (She later suggested equal rest or recovery. I do not plan that well – see above – and therefore never have time for that.) Done at 2pm on treadmill. Total 6 miles.
Tuesday – easy 5 miles
Wednesday – warmup, cooldown, 3 tempo miles at 8:30-8:50 (ran by effort – it was hot). Total 4 miles.
Thursday – rest!!!!
Friday – Long run. Had to split this: 4 AM, 6 PM. Again, hot (30C/ 86F) and humid – I went by pure effort. By Thursday morning I’d run 15 miles and slept roughly the same number of hours, so on Friday morning I woke up almost too exhausted to move. I did a quick stock-take: Tired? Yes. Injured or about to be? No. After daycare drop-off I hauled myself out for 4 miles and actually felt much better by the end. The afternoon 6 miles that had to be accomplished before daycare pickup and a playdate, though…that run left me questioning my life decisions.
Saturday – strength workout and impromptu easy 4.5 miles to and from the splash pad in the afternoon.
Sunday – easy 4, in small pieces, with friends. My Strava is veritably littered with weird short runs on easy days and weekends. 1.5 miles to the subway station. 2.5 miles back and forth on a bike trail with a friend, and then afterwards our kids played together…and then I still had to get back home from the subway station after that playdate. And so on, and so forth. Legs: toast.
Charmaine Donaldson is a woman of many talents: originally trained as a vet, she wrangles a veritable menagerie, makes dance, skating and gymnastics costumes, bakes astonishing cakes, has raised three grown sons, has a cheeky sense of humor, and runs, of course. But it’s her activewear business, Run Amok, that’s been her focus for the past two years.
The Queensland, Australia sport costume designer made herself a few pairs of running tights, people started asking where she got them, and ta-da! Run Amok was born. Since then, Run Amok has built a modest online presence on its website and Instagram and been picked up by the Intraining running stores in Brisbane.
In this interview, Charmaine tells us how running helped her smile through some difficult life challenges and gain the confidence to do big scary things, and how she hopes a pair of bright, bold high-performance tights can help other runners do the same. Read more >>
I have, I think, a bit of a summer-training secret weapon. I’m a complete wimp about cold weather, a nervous Nellie when I run in slush and snow, and the worst at wind sprints, emphasis on the wind. But I do know how to deal with heat and humidity. And here’s my secret… *drumroll* : I’m just resigned to being a soggy puddle within 10 minutes of stepping out for a run.
That’s it. Full stop. The rest is common sense. Freeze your handheld water bottle, take in electrolytes on the run, stuff ice in your bra or bandana, wear sunscreen and a hat, run before dawn. The secret is there is no secret. The secret is that what you’re really training is your mental toughness. Remind yourself: fall PRs are forged in the summer heat.
In high school, we’d often have PE classes and sports practice at 8.30am or 4.30pm. After the morning PE sessions, we’d all change and have to trudge off to class, still perspiring long after the running was done. (Don’t get me started on enduring a classroom full of sweaty teenage boys!) There was no secret then, either. You just endure.
I’m often tempted to compare my summer-pace self to my winter-pace self. Part of me still believes deep down that this is my real fitness level and that in the winter I’m just getting a cold-weather discount. Most people believe the inverse, that their winter self represents their true fitness level and they’re just slapped with a summer ‘heat tax’. Neither is quite accurate…
But my intent for this summer is ‘Run the season you’re in’. And that’s not just summer or winter, but also the stage of life you’re in, whether you feel up for a few sustained seasons of challenging and competing with yourself, or are pregnant but still want to jump into some fun races, or if you have other work, family and life commitments. Don’t compare yourself this season to yourself in another time. Just run the season you’re in. So – here we are.
This was a much lighter week than usual because of weekend fun plans and because I needed some rest.
Monday – Recovery after Sunday’s 5K. 2 miles on treadmill, 2 on elliptical = about 45 minutes. Tuesday – off, started on my summer reading pile
Wednesday – 4.5 miles out and back to the grocery store. 0.75 mile walk home. Thursday – 4 miles easy Friday – 4 miles easy in the morning (11:00ish pace) – 2 miles with a friend, got home, kiddo was awake, 2 miles with him in stroller at his request!
Friday afternoon was my only time this weekend that I could possibly have done my long(er…ish) run, but by Friday afternoon I was toast. Skipped the long run. No regrets. Saturday – off for an idyllic toddler-paced Cape Cod day: breakfast at a bakery, trails, petting all the dogs, seeing the seals at the aquarium, nap, ice cream, and beach, with a stop at a pub for dinner on the way home.
Sunday – Warmup + 1 mile in a 26.2×1 relay on the track. 7:13 (insta-PR – the last time I raced a mile was 5th grade). By late morning it was 34 degrees C/ 93F. Scorcher. We had to sneak out because the kiddo was under the weather and grumpy (isn’t cold season over yet?). I’m never there for the group photo any more, but I am there.
The next marathon training cycle begins for me next week (the week of the 18th). I’m trying not to psych myself out. I actually registered for the marathon the other day. Stuff just got real.
When we left off, I’d just run the Providence half marathon, which ended up being my second fastest half ever! After that, I took a week off running. Not because I’d pushed myself very hard at Providence, but just for a mental change of pace. Then I eased back into running whenever and wherever I wanted, and right now I’m getting my bum back into gear and building a base for my next marathon training cycle. I’ll be doing the Baystate Marathon, a small, flat and ferociously well-organised local race, and marathon training starts June 19!
I’m starting to develop some strategies for getting the miles in.
First of all, I have a regular 5-miler that is my bread and butter, my baseline don’t-think-just-go route. It’s boring, but there are few stoplights and I know where all the water stops are. If I had to, I could run multiple loops.
Next, killing multiple birds with one stone, I’ve decided to run with the toddler every time he wakes us (me) up before 6am. He’s awake? Throw on some clothes, hand him some toast and string cheese, pop him in the stroller, and go. That way I often get a good 3 or 4 easy miles and quality toddler time before 7am and he gets some fresh air and outdoor time. I like to invite friends for some extra accountability should the kiddo not wake early.
And then, I’m going to try to commit to track every week, usually Monday night if not Wednesday. You’ll see all of these in my summer training logs: some days will say ‘AM stroller 3 miles, PM track workout’, and so on. You’ll see a lot of double days, but at least one of those runs will be easy. And when I rest, I rest.
Anywho, here you go. My training log for the week ending June 4. Or…
I Ran A 5K On No Training* And The Result Was Surprising!
* Oh, yeah. I’m still running. Like 25 miles a week. I just wasn’t trained specifically for a 5K. What do you mean, that’s clickbait?
Monday – off. Memorial Day hanging out with friends and munchkins at the local children’s farm. Tuesday – AM: 3 miles with stroller. PM: 2.8 more miles of errand-run. Wednesday – off Thursday – 5 miles. Legs felt completely flat, bleh. Friday – AM: 2.4 miles with stroller and a friend. PM: 3.8 miles with errands tacked on. Saturday – 8 miles Sunday – 2 miles warmup to race start, 5K race, 1.9 miles home.
We ran the Cambridge Freedom Run 5K with some friends and their kids; the dads lined up in back and pushed strollers while the moms found a spot a little further up front. I gave the munchkin a kiss for good luck and threaded my way through the crowd up to the 8:00/mi corral.
I went out sort of hard, trying to temper it by chatting with a friend. I’d never actually run with her before so I didn’t realise exactly how fast she was…and then she picked up after the first mile and zoomed off! Accidental PR (24:23), a 10s/mile improvement from my previous best – that was a nice present! I do feel fitter now than when I ran my previous PR in early 2014, so I’m not completely surprised, but I had no real expectations for the race.
Yes, I am clutching my phone like a total twerp because I originally thought I was going to stash it in a stroller pocket. And then I didn’t want to short it out by stuffing it in my bra.