I thought I would take a break from the steady stream of race reports to share some of my Chicago Marathon training. If you were hoping to find some pie charts and bar graphs you will be sadly disappointed. It’s all I can do just to stay on top of updating my training log. This will be a brief summary of the workouts, the racing, the mileage, and any other random training tidbits!
My Chicago Marathon training cycle has been a total of 14 weeks. It started July 6, right after the Firecracker Fast 5k. (Yes, this is one of those race reports I still never got around to writing!)
I’ve run an average of 57 miles per week. My lowest was last week at 46 (tapering!) and my highest was 70. This is not my highest mileage training cycle to date (I’ve peaked at 80 before) but the quality has been the best. Typically I run 6-7 days per week. It took me about a year to get back to this point after plantar fasciitis. Sunday is my off day or easy (3-5 miler) day. Saturday is my long run or race day. Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on weekend race schedule) is my hard effort workout session. The rest are all easy run days.
During this 14 week training cycle I have raced 9 times. Yes, I know that’s a lot. One of my favorite things about running is competing and racing. Most are local races and the distance always varies. My favorite distance to race is the 5k.
These tune-up races included:
My older two children and I are involved in the Arkansas Grand Prix racing series so we’ve done quite a few races as a family. I know that as my kids get older and involved in more/ different activities my racing schedule will change. For now, the kids are enjoying it and we’re just going with it!
This is the earliest fall marathon I have ever trained for and I’d have to say the heat was the biggest challenge. It affected every run. Easy runs never felt that easy (until recently) but I got them done. I would say the average temperature for this training cycle was in the mid 70’s with dew point in the low 70’s. There were plenty of times in July and August when it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things started getting better in September and I’ve been loving the cooler temps ever since.
I’ve run 800+ miles these past 14 weeks and only 46 miles have been on the treadmill. I go through different phases every year when I’ll run more or less on TM’s and this training cycle was definitely more on the road. Obviously all of my races were outside. I knew if I did most of my training indoors I would have had a difficult time adjusting to the summer temps. (It was hard enough as it was!)
Every marathon runner knows how important the long run is. My long runs ranged from 14 (when I started) to 22 miles (a few weeks ago). I only had two runs that were 20+. I’m sure my racing schedule had something to do with this. All my long runs ranged from 7:15-7:35 min pace. I was fortunate to be able to run most of my long runs with a good friend who is also marathon training. This really helped! I can’t remember the last marathon training cycle when I had this much company on my long runs. Thank you Natalie!! She made early Saturday morning long runs in the heat much more bearable!
These are the workouts that really pushed me. Sure, there were times when I would look at the week ahead and think, “Can I really do this?!” This is one of the reasons why having a coach is so helpful! It’s a collaborative effort to help you reach your goals by pushing you to reach your potential. This training cycle I really focused on starting on the slower end of my target pace range and picking it up each set. A few of the hard effort workouts I did included:
At least 4-5 days a week I had easy runs. No doubles. Most easy runs ranged from 6-10 miles. In the summer heat these runs typically ranged from 7:45-8:15 pace. I follow a lot of runners on Instagram and many seem to be running their easy runs very close to race pace. That isn’t an easy run! My easy runs are AT LEAST 1-1.5 min per mile slower than my half marathon pace. One of my college teammates who happens to be a 2:18 marathoner posts his workouts on his blog and his easy runs are about 1.5-2 min per mile slower than his half marathon pace. That’s a true easy run.
This summer I usually stopped for water at least once during any 8+ mile run because of the heat. This hasn’t been as much of an issue the past month but in the thick of summer training there was no way around it. For any long run more than 14 miles I would have half a banana or toast before and then have a gel somewhere along the run with water. Before every hard effort session, long run, or race I drink a spark. I’ve tried several other types of pre-workout drinks and this by far has the best taste and works well.
Shoes / Gear
Ever since my injury last year I have been wearing Asics. The Asics Gel Nimbus has been the perfect shoe and helped me during my recovery and comeback.
This is hard one to write down because it means putting it all out there and I’d hate for anything to go wrong. Obviously a PR would great (anything sub 2:58:56) but I’m ready for more than a few seconds PR. I’ve put in a solid training cycle, done every workout, and hit all of my target paces. I’m going for a 2:55 and leaving it all on the course.
For anyone interested- I’m bib number 169 in Chicago this weekend! Runner tracking is available. It will be my first time in Chicago. I always say what better way to see the city than by running 26.2 miles in it!