NYC Marathon Training Recap Week 3
Week 3 By the Numbers:
Miles Run: 28.6
Longest Run: 14 miles
Gym Sessions: 1
Miles Biked: 68.6 (4 commutes)
This week’s training was a bit of a setback: I ended about 15 miles short of my intended weekly goal, after skipping several of my midweek runs.
During my long run last Sunday, I hopped down into the road to dodge two little dogs in the middle of the sidewalk and rolled my ankle on grass at the curb’s edge. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but by Monday I started feeling a sore shin and ankle. I bike commuted that day but didn’t run — so I was in for a rude surprise when I went out for my 10-miler Tuesday morning. I could walk comfortably, but running and pushing off the ground with any force was agonizing. I barely made it a quarter mile before I realized there was no way I could do my planned run (or if I did tough it out, the potential for doing longer-lasting damage was too great).
I was devastated, but wanted to make the most of my early morning, even if I was unable to run. I turned around and hobbled back to the gym to lift (push day) before heading into work. Because I usually run in the morning and lift at night, I didn’t know what to expect — but the gym was nice and empty. However, I was reminded that while I don’t mind running fasted (before eating or drinking any coffee), I don't lift as well in that state, and I think my evening lifts are usually stronger. But with that said, I haven’t tried a morning lift with any preworkout to wake me up: maybe one day I’ll swap my usual order and see how that goes. When I have medium-long midweek runs of 13-15 miles, I prefer to do those at night instead of getting up early enough to fit them in, so perhaps at that point I'll flip-flop my usual workout routine.
I didn’t bike commute Tuesday because of a stormy forecast, but I made sure to bike in on Wednesday after skipping my 5-mike recovery run that day as well. I made the same decision on Thursday, because I still felt quite stiff and sore when I woke up and I had a lot of work to do before my week-long Vermont vacation coming up (a pretty good problem to have!). My plan to get to work early hit a bit of an obstacle when a steam pipe exploded in Manhattan and caused pretty severe traffic jams when roads were closed as a result — but a few extra minutes on my bike was nothing compared to the delays I've seen on the subway after similar accidents!
Four round-trip bike commutes put me at nearly 60 miles bike for the week, and my legs were feeling it by Friday afternoon, but I couldn't put off Thursday's postponed tempo run any longer. Plus, the only way all these bike commutes will benefit me is if I get used to them in addition to my runs! So after getting home Friday afternoon, I went right back out for the 8-miler that I pushed from Thursday, with 4 lactate threshold miles at half-marathon pace.
I knew as soon as I got moving that HMP was going to be difficult, and sure enough, I was barely able to hold 8:30 miles when I reached that portion of my workout. But my shin was only a little sore, and I toughed out the workout even when I wanted to dial it back, so even though I didn’t nail my goal paces I came away from the run feeling better than I expected. Marathon-pace miles are notoriously difficult, but I have a harder time with half-marathon pace. The knowledge that I should be able to hold those paces for a half-marathon distance intimidates me, where marathon-pace feels a bit more attainable (and sustainable) over time. I've got to up my mental game as well as my physical fitness, and make the most of workouts like this on both fronts.
The week really caught up to me by Saturday. I slogged through one of the slowest, most painful recovery runs I can remember, barely able to shuffle more than a 10:00 mile (and with some in the 11:00 min range). Stopping for water, to complain to my patient boyfriend who came along (and was just as sore from his own workouts), and to massage my aching quads only prolonged my misery, but in the end I made it through 6 brutal miles. I'd added two to the distance on my training plan, to try and make up some of the mileage that I cut earlier in the week, but I knew I wasn't going to make back the full 15 miles. Given how rough I felt, perhaps I should have stuck with the lighter distance to let my legs recover better.
My boyfriend and I had long-standing plans to bike to Brooklyn Cider House for dinner on Saturday, and despite our miserable run in the morning kept our date. The ride there was pleasant, and we got absolutely drenched coming home in a rainstorm that hit — but the 13 miles we added were low-key and didn't feel as difficult as our run in the morning! An adventure to try a new restaurant, sample ciders inspired by the Basque ones we tried in Spain earlier this year, and get out of our usual neighborhood made the weather worth it. And 13 more miles on the bike flew by, putting me at almost 70 for the week.
And despite the extra activity, I didn't feel too sore by Sunday's long run. I haven't run more than 13.1 miles in quite a while, and was nervous about this 14-miler after my difficult week (I didn't run much, and was still feeling quite beat up by the end). However, my run around Astoria and over to Randall's Island went smoothly, and I didn't push the pace very much. I certainly felt the effects of the past few days in my legs, but I felt strong while still feeling heavy: I felt capable of pushing through each mile and never felt completely drained. I also took a gel without many ill effects — I have trouble stomaching such processed fuel, but am making a point to try out a few new kinds this training cycle. I would like to find one that works for me, because relying only on whole dried fruits has its own downsides, from digestive issues to the sheer bulk that I have to carry on long runs. The powerade gel I tried tasted terrible, and left me a bit queasy, but I didn't feel too nauseous overall. I think staying well-hydrated also helped it go down easy.
The miles I ran around Randalls Island were particularly enjoyable this Sunday; sometimes that strange little oasis feels crowded or hectic when there are crowds, festivals, or sporting events to navigate —especially after running over the enormous TriBoro (RFK) Bridge— but it was fairly empty and not too busy. Temperatures cooled down over the course of my run, so the waterfront and relatively scenic path were also a nice change from hot, humid city miles. I eventually made it back to my neighborhood, and with just minutes to spare: the storm that had kept my run overcast let loose when I was just blocks from my apartment.
This coming week I'll be on vacation in Vermont: running and hiking are central to my plans, but I don't expect to take training as seriously as if I were home. I do want to fit in enough miles and time on my feet to feel like I'm staying in shape, but I won't be as structured on the trails (hopefully with quite a bit of elevation) than if I were on my usual urban routes back in New York. I want to enjoy my time away and soak up these new runs, not just view them as part of my training. While next week will be productive, I don't think I'll be able to really settle into my training plan until I'm back in New York and my summer vacation gives way to fall routine.