Thursday, August 30, 2012

5 Weeks

As I wrote the title of this blog, I realized the Chicago Marathon is only about 5 weeks away!  That's not where this blog post was going's definitely worth noting!  I cannot wait for it to be over to run my 3rd and final marathon!

But what I really intended when I wrote "5 weeks" was to talk about how much a certain 5 week period typically sucks.  The 5 week period I'm referring to is the point in marathon training from about the week where you run 16 miles on your long run (on the novice 1 schedule) until you run your 20 mile run.  That is a 5 week period which, for me anyway, sucks. 

I've been hearing a lot of the first time marathon runners that I know complain about tired legs or how their runs having been sucking lately.  They are starting to not like running very much anymore.  I remember this feeling OH SO WELL!  In fact, even though this is my 3rd and final marathon, I still feel that way.  My first marathon training, for the 2011 Chicago Marathon, I remember talking to my personal training (who had run 7 marathons) about being so tired.  I told him that my pace seemed slower.  I remember saying over and over, "After this marathon, I will never run again!"  He told me that this is a completely normal feeling at this point in training.  He even felt that way during his marathons.  In fact, I've seemed to feel this way during this same period every marathon training, including this one.

Granted, not everyone may feel this way, there are a few running friends that post on our facebook run group page, "I just had the most wonderful 18 mile run!"  I want to trip every single one of them!  lol.  But running does come more naturally to some people and maybe those are the people that have "wonderful 18 mile runs"! 

So this is my words of wisdom to my first time marathon training friends.  It is hard right now.  It's the 5 week slump that we are smack in the middle of!  Hang in there!  It will definitely get better.  I always say about this time, "Just make it through the week of the 20 and I'm golden!"  And there is definitely some truth to that.  Running will get more fun again.  It won't seem as much of a chore as it does now.  And hey...the marathon is only 5 weeks away! 

I was thinking of some ways that I get through this 5 week slump.  Here are a couple of my ways:

1. I change up where I run.  I'm never running in the same place twice during one week.  I run my long runs in Yankee Woods (some flat, some hills).  I run my Thursday runs usually on Old Plank Road Trail (completely flat and straight).  I might switch it up to some hills.  I might run along the lake.  I might run on the streets in my neighbor.  But I think changing up where you are running is one of the best things to do for yourself mentally.

2.  Run some runs solo and some runs with people (if you have the option).  Running solo is great.  You can clear your head.  You can depend on just yourself (which is good because that's really all you have during the marathon).  It can be therapeutic.  But let's face it, if you are like me, after an hour of running solo, it can really get to you mentally.  So try to find a run group or a run friend that you can run with on occasion. I run about half of my runs solo and half of my runs with other people.  Again, it's the change that's good and helps break up the monotony of running so many miles.

3.  Run with music sometimes and run without music.  Again, I like change.  Listening to the same boring playlist all the time for hours can get dull.  It's also not the safest to do if you are running alone.  But I like listening to an upbeat, fast tempo playlist while I'm running.  It can take your mind off things for a while.  I also run without music during my long runs and my Thursday group runs (usually).  I like knowing I can run without music if I have to.  Case in point, during my second marathon, I had trouble getting my bluetooth headphone to turn on and had to run the ENTIRE marathon without music.  Did I panic a little at first, yes!  Did I hate it for a while, yes!  But I did it.  You can't rely on something like music to be able to get through a really long run, because you never know what will happen on race day!

As far as my running goes, my running has been better than both marathon trainings that I've done before.  Even though I'm tired, my legs are tired, and running is a chore right now, I feel much better.  Knock on wood, my injuries have been holding off.  My iron leveled has slightly improved.  I've been working on better hydration over all and better food intake than during my second marathon.  I've been trying to stretch better and foam roll more than during the second marathon training.  All of this probably contributed to my injuries.  I'll admit though, it's easy to get back in old habits of not drinking water and not stretching!  I'm struggling with this right now.  I've also lost about 8 pounds in the last two months.  I know that's not an ideal thing to do while training for a marathon.  And trust me, I'm sure I won't lose any more between now and the marathon.  There were days I probably needed to eat more food and I felt it.  But I tried to eat enough to fuel my body. And when I didn't, I felt it during my long run.  Now that my long runs are...well, long (18 miles this weekend), it more important than ever to make sure you are eating a good amount of food.  So I'm definitely trying to make sure I'm consuming enough of the right foods on Thursday and Friday preceding my long runs.

As I mentioned before, my 18 mile run is this weekend.  I am reaching back to my previous 18 mile runs and I've always had pretty good ones!  I'm holding that with me while I run my 18 this Saturday (possibly in the pouring rain from what I'm hearing). 

I've also been thinking a lot (A LOT) about my marathon strategy.  I'm probably obsessing internally about it and I shouldn't be.  My friend Shelby and I were discussing how to make this marathon our best marathon (we both ran the same first two).  We are thinking of starting slower this time than the first two times.  Right now, we are thinking of starting at a 10:30 pace.  I just have a hard time wanting to start slower because I think, "If I start slower, I'll just keep getting slower!"  I always think that I'm not going to speed up!  But right now, my best marathon pace average has been an 11:11 pace.  Ultimately, I want to beat that pace.  What I wrote at the beginning of the season was a 4:35 finish time.  That's my ultimate goal time.  That's a 10:30 average pace.  So, I'm just not sure how to make sure I achieve this time.  I guess I'll never know until I do it. 

Are you running a marathon this year or have you run one in the past?  Do you have this 5-week slump the way I do?  How do you cope with getting through it?


  1. Yes, I am running the Chicago Marathon. The slump is more of a mental hurdle where I don't look forward to the high-mileage and the three long runs that the last 5 weeks before the taper entails. However, I know from experience at the end of those 5 weeks I will be the fittest I have ever been (as long as I don't get injured) so that is motivation enough for me!

    1. That is so true Pete!! Great comment!