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Jul 02

One Down (A Richmond Training Report)

Sign with #1 posted on treeI wrote earlier this week about beginning my training cycle for the Richmond marathon. I’ve now managed to survive the first of 20 weeks and run a total of 42.8 miles over the course of 6 days.

42 miles is a little less than an average week for me in 2017, but it’s not bad for the summer time. I was running 50+ mile weeks in March and April, which is a world apart from July.

I tend to run hot. That means I’m usually the woman you seeing running in shorts and a t-shirt in 40 degree weather. Running hot is not a problem when it’s 40 degrees outside. Or 30. Or 20. Or . . . But it’s not 40 degrees out these days. Or 50. Or 60. I usually run in the morning, so the temperatures are relatively lower (and by “relatively lower,” I mean 70s), but the downside to the cooler temperatures is correspondingly higher humidity (90% or more). I’ve been experimenting a bit this summer, trying to find the sweet spot where the humidity is dropping and the temperature is rising but not yet too high to try to get the “best” of both worlds, but let’s be clear: when I say “best” here, what I really mean is “least worst.” Because there is no such thing as actual best during the South Carolina summer.

The week went relatively well. I was kind of dreading it because I’m still getting adjusted to running in the heat. Conventional wisdom suggests that acclimation takes 2-3 weeks. The more that you can stand without overdoing it, the faster the adjustment, but it’s a fine line to walk. Either way, by July, I should be good to go, but I spent a week in British Columbia where it was humid but cooler out while I was running, and then I took a week off, which put me pretty much back at the beginning having to go through acclimation all over again. I am now 2 weeks in, and I’m expecting to need a 3rd to get fully adjusted. And the kicker is this: while the adjustment period SUCKS, once you’ve made it through, summer running is still really difficult. It simply sucks less. 

So this week’s mantra was “Embrace the suck.” Pull on the shoes, fill up the water bottle, and get out the door. This time last year, I was struggling with shin splints, and they were terrible. I don’t think I would even let myself admit just how bad they were at the time, but they were bad enough that every single step was painful. Every step. This struggle is not that struggle, and for that fact, I am grateful. Running is hard right now, but it’s a different kind of hard. It’s a hard that is psychological rather than physical. Fall marathons, I’m told, are forged in summer training. Summer training is tough, and it requires a kind of mental fortitude that doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But so too do marathons, so summer training provides ample opportunity to practice.

Here’s the breakdown of my week:

  • M: 6 with strides (6). Can I tell you just how much I did NOT want to do strides on Monday? A lot. It was hard enough to get out the door and then to add 15 second pick-ups into the mix? Ugh. Core, hips, etc.
  • T: Regular 6. I was happy about this one because NO STRIDES. Tuesdays are going to be hard soon enough, so I welcomed the easy one. More core.
  • W: Off!
  • R: 6 w/ strides. Again. Which turned out to be 7.5. Guess I felt okay since I did a mile and a half extra.
  • F: 6 easy. Overcast and a little drizzle at the end. I swear it started legit raining as soon as I was in the door. Core, hips, etc.
  • S: 6 easy. 79 on the thermometer, but felt like 91 according to Accuweather. No wonder I felt like my face was melting. Got cal-called by a guy in a minivan about a mile from home. No idea what that was about–minivan?! And not even the driver or front seat passenger but dude leaning out of a middle window. I was too confused by the whole thing to even think about a reaction (though my standard response is to pretend I didn’t hear and ignore).
  • Sun: 10. Oof. I just kept chugging along.

My struggle this week, in addition to the weather, was running slowly. That might sound counter-intuitive, but as hard as it can be to run fast, it’s just as hard to run slow. Or maybe for me it’s even harder? I have a shiny new Garmin with a wrist-based heart monitor, and it confirmed something that I have long suspected: I run most of my training runs too fast. So my goal this week was to keep the easy runs super easy. I was aiming to run 9 minute miles or more. I came close with averages of 8:50s a few times, but never managed to get my overall average pace down to where I was hoping that it would be.

Other observations:

  • I need to do better with my diet (less carbs, more plants)
  • I need to hydrate even more so I splurged on La Croix at the store this week for variety’s sake. It seems to help.
  • Went through two audiobooks (The Secret Place, which was a reread, and Children of Time). If you have suggestions for compelling novels, especially murder mysteries, please share!
  • Finally, I think 6 miles is my least favorite workout distance. I have a great 5 mile route but 6 is either a little to long or a little too short.

All in all, a good week. One down; nineteen to go.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Dave McLear]

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