Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 4: The Reward is the Process

Eek, I’m a week behind on blogging! I just completed week 5 of training and will try to write about that soon! Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

Watching this year’s rainy, freezing-cold Boston Marathon, I thought about what a bummer that weather was for everyone, and especially for the runners who’d put in so much effort to qualify. You work your butt off for that coveted experience; what if it turns out to be miserable?

It’s a reminder that, no matter how hard you work, things can go wrong on race day. Your race may turn out fine anyway (I follow several Boston runners who had great races!), or it may be a big, frustrating disappointment.

Two of my five marathons have been miserable. Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle was very warm, and I both trained and went out too fast. Despite running a PR, I felt like a failure.

The Eugene Marathon was downright hot, and my body felt beat up throughout the race because it was all on pavement and I had done nearly all my long runs on a soft gravel trail. The fact that I even finished that race was a win, but I spent a long time beating myself up about that crappy experience and my bad attitude during it.

It’s a terrible feeling to put in months of hard work and then miss out on the reward of a satisfying race at the end. But my co-worker has a card displayed on her desk that presents a different perspective; it says, “The reward is the process.” It reminds me to not just look forward to some future reward, but to recognize the rewarding moments I experience in my training each day.

Feeling the satisfaction that comes from putting in the miles; pushing through uncertainty and discomfort; realizing I’m getting faster and more confident—those things are the rewards I’m appreciating now. And ultimately, if all the right factors and circumstances come together on race day and I cross the finish line with a Boston-qualifying time? All the better. But I won’t let that define whether or not this training cycle was rewarding.

During and after pregnancy, I worried that I’d never again be the runner I once was. And I’m not; I’m better. Maybe it’s because motherhood comes with time constraints that determine when I can and can’t run. It’s not 100% up to me anymore. Every time I get to run, I appreciate it so much more and want to make the most of it. As much as I wanted to improve my running before I got pregnant, I never made significant efforts to put in the necessary work. Now, if I’m not making the most of my time, I think, “What am I even doing?”

All of that is to say that I was really happy with this week of training, especially my speed workout and marathon goal pace run. It still feels strange to see mile splits that start with a 7, but I can feel it getting easier to run them. This week, Aaron was looking at one of my runs on Strava and said, “Whoa, you’re faster than you were before you got pregnant!”

Who would have thought? That in itself is its own reward.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy treadmill run at 9:14 average pace; Bikini Body Guide arms + abs workout.

I missed strength training last week and it felt great to add it back in this week. I’m going to aim to do it on Wednesdays as well. I just have to commit to it before I start my run so I can’t back out! On Monday, it helped that I shared my commitment on Instagram Stories because I felt like I had to update afterward to confirm that I followed through. If I can’t find the motivation anywhere else, I’ll just do for the ‘gram!

TUESDAY: 6.5-mile easy run at 9:02 average pace.


I worked from home since we needed to have our garage door fixed (the spring broke!), so I wrapped up work at my normal time and ran before Aaron and Evie got home. I hit a nearby gravel trail and listened to a podcast featuring Tiffany James of Running for Carbs, who went from running a 4:57 marathon to a 3:27. She just ran her first Boston Marathon and PR’d with a 3:19! I wanted to learn all her speedy secrets. Turned out she just worked really hard. Go figure! I still found it (and her) inspiring. It’s episode #29 of The Rambling Runner podcast if you want to check It out.

WEDNESDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:07 average pace.

I love that Ali uploads the newest episode of her podcast each Wednesday night, even though it technically “comes out” on Thursday. It usually shows up in my feed right as I’m lacing up for my run! I listened to her interview with Sarah Sellers, the full-time nurse anesthetist who passed every other elite runner besides Desi Linden to finish second at the Boston Marathon. Worth a listen!

THURSDAY: 4 x 5-minute intervals (5.2 miles total) at 8:11 average pace.


This workout isn’t on my Hal Higdon plan; it came from Hallie, who used it to train for this marathon last year with great success. It’s actually supposed to be 5 x 5-minute intervals with one minute of recovery in between, but I started with four since I didn’t know if I could hang in for five. It was hard, but I definitely could have done five and will do the full workout next time! I aimed for 7:30 or faster average pace for each interval and ended up with 7:13, 7:24, 7:30 and 7:18. Including the one minute of slow jogging between each interval, the middle three miles of this workout clocked in at 7:30, 7:36 and 7:39—the fastest consecutive miles I’ve ever run!


SATURDAY: 6-mile marathon goal pace run at 7:56 average pace.


I ran this almost all on gravel travel and pushed my pace a bit because I always think I need to compensate for the slowing effect of the surface, but I guess that’s not an issue anymore. Anyway, the pace didn’t feel too hard—just a solid effort. I was happy! I cooled down with a wagon ride around the neighborhood with the fam. ☺

SUNDAY: 13-mile long run at 9:14 average pace.


I ran 6.5 miles up the last stretch of the marathon course and then 6.5 back down. On the way up, I listened to the Mia Michaels episode of the Ali On the Run Show, which I had been skipping because it’s about dance, not running—but she is a hardworking, inspiring woman, and I found it motivating. On the way back, I listened to my favorite chill music to avoid bombing down the hill: Gregory Alan Isakov’s album The Weatherman. It was a gorgeous day, and with the sun filtering through the trees and making them glow, it felt almost like a religious experience—the church of the Sunday long run.

Total weekly mileage: 36.7

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Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 3: Keep Showing Up

First thing’s first: Des Linden won the Boston Marathon!!!

I, like everyone else, wanted so badly to see an American woman break the tape for the first time in 33 years, and I fully cried at my desk at work as I watched her turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston with no one else in sight behind her. Talk about running inspiration! GET. IT. GIRL!

I also want to give a shoutout to my friend Meg, who ran a PR of 3:21 despite the miserable rain and wind! Ah-maz-ing!

Back to week three of my training, which now seems very boring in comparison. ☺ I’m still plugging along, putting in mostly easy miles. Since I’m running slowly Monday through Wednesday, I find myself feeling paranoid that I won’t be able to run fast during my speed workout on Thursday—but I just have to relax and trust the process.

This week’s big lesson came in the form of a comment Hallie left on Instagram after I expressed doubt that the splits from my Thursday speed workout were fast enough. She said: “I was reminded the other day, by a very speedy lady, to not get hung up on the paces of one interval workout, but to focus on the consistency of showing up for each workout each week.”

Thinking back on my past marathon training, I don’t think I’ve ever done consistent speedwork, so the fact that I’m even doing it this time is a win. And Hallie’s speedy friend is totally right: consistency is the most important thing.

Funny that Des’ advice is pretty much the exact same thing:

MONDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:11 average pace.

The sun came out and it was downright warm, which felt like a nice preview of all the shorts-and-tank-top running I’ll be doing this summer. I even wore my sunglasses, which slipped down my sweaty nose every 10 seconds and made me realize I need a better solution for sunny-day training! Any suggestions for sport sunglasses or croakie-style attachments that don’t look silly?

I also intended to do BBG or lift weights, but since it was so nice out, I spent the rest of the evening weeding our backyard. It’s definitely not my favorite chore, but it was lovely to get even more fresh air.

TUESDAY: 6-mile easy run at 9:12 average pace.

Nothing notable about this run except that I’m loving my new Distance long-sleeve tees from Brooks! When it’s not warm enough for short sleeves but too warm for layers, this thin tee is the perfect in-between piece. I bought it in two colors because I love the style and fit so much. It’s not super loose or shapeless, not super form-fitting—just right. I wear size medium (as I do with all Brooks gear).

WEDNESDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:06 average pace

Another day, another Distance tee. Aaron got new wireless headphones and I promptly swiped them for this run. They’re less than $30 on Amazon, and they sounded pretty good and stayed in my ears! He decided I should have this pair and ordered another pair for himself. ☺ I’ve really enjoyed listening to podcasts on my easy runs to keep from getting bored. I think sheer boredom is a big part of what caused me to do my easy runs too fast in the past!

THURSDAY: 4 x 800m speed workout (5 miles total) at 8:21 average pace.

I finally did my first interval workout of this training cycle! I did an easy one-mile warmup, ran 4 x 800m between 7:15 and 7:24 pace with 400m of easy jogging in between, then finished with a one-mile cooldown.

Have you heard of Yasso 800s? The idea is that someone who can run a certain marathon time (say, 3 hours and 35 minutes) should be able to run 800m repeats in the equivalent number of minutes (3 minutes and 35 seconds). That’s what I aimed for, but I ended up running 3:38, 3:37, 3:37 and 3:42. Not too far off, especially this early in training. But I did feel a little down about it anyway, prompting my lackluster Instagram post about this workout and Hallie’s wise response. Going forward, I’ll try not to get too wrapped up in numbers, but it’s hard to do when you’re shooting for a big non-goal.


SATURDAY: 6-mile marathon goal pace run at 8:02 average pace.

Rain, rain, rain. I’m sick of running in it, you’re sick of hearing me complain about running in it. But the downpour gave me a lot of confidence on this run because I nailed my goal pace in less-than-ideal conditions. I didn’t think it was possible when I started, so I felt very accomplished when I finished. I also did the middle 4.5 miles of this run on a gravel trail (just like the marathon course), so that was another confidence-booster: I can run fast on gravel, you guys!

SUNDAY: 8-mile trail run at 14:44 average pace.

This was a stepback week with a shorter long run than the previous two weeks. Hallie is running a trail 50K this coming weekend, so she was down for a short and easy trail run with me! We did a fair amount of hiking, which left my glutes sore and my right piriformis tight (something I’ve struggled with in previous marathon training cycles), so I made sure to visit my chiropractor on Monday for an adjustment and some soft-tissue work. If you’re in Seattle, I’ve been seeing Dr. Devine for years and highly recommend him! When I’m training, I usually see him once a week for routine maintenance.

Total weekly mileage: 31

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 2: It Feels Easy Now

This was the kind of week I had hoped for in week one: straightforward, uneventful and—dare I say it?—easy.

Most of my running was at a relaxed pace; my speed workout felt really short; pushing my 30-pound kid in the running stroller one day felt pretty effortless; and my long run was mentally challenging due to the conditions, but definitely not the worst long run ever.

It feels easy now. I know it won’t feel that way for long, so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

I’m trying not to make the mistake of running too fast, too often, which is a mistake I’ve made plenty of times before. The only runs I’m trying to work really hard during are my Thursday speed workouts and Saturday marathon-pace runs (although they’re not every Saturday; this week was an off week). Every other run—especially my long runs—I’m going easy.

It seems like a counterintuitive method for getting faster, but I’ve read enough articles (like this one) to convince me it’s worth a shot. I’ve never tried it before, and I’ve never made huge leaps in my marathon finish times before, so why not? Plus, I’ve never run six days a week for a marathon training cycle before. I need to take it easy at the very least to avoid burning out partway through.

Not every run feels like a sweaty, breathless, confidence-boosting rush of endorphins—and that’s OK. I’m focusing on being patient, sticking to my strategy, and really going for it when it counts.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy run at 9:06 average pace.

I used to take Mondays off running to recover from my Sunday long run, but now I do a short recovery run instead. I don’t think I could run fast on Mondays even if I tried. ☺ My friend Stephanie had five miles to do, so I joined her for the last three. Her first marathon is on April 21—so soon! I’m so excited for her. I also lifted weights and did some ab exercises.

TUESDAY: 5-mile easy run at 9:08 average pace.


I haven’t run with headphones since I very first began running in 2010, but for some reason on this day, I didn’t think I could get through these slower miles without something to entertain me. I listened to my friend Ali’s podcast, The Ali on the Run Show, which I’ve become obsessed with. She interviews a great mix of pro runners, regular runners, celeb runners (like Andrea Barber, aka Kimmy Gibbler!), doctors, nutritionists and more. Ali is one of those people who can chat with anyone and make it fun and engaging, so listening to her show on the run is sort of like listening to a good conversation while running with friends. I ran on a gravel trail, and the show was a million times better to listen to than the crunch, crunch, crunch of my footsteps.

WEDNESDAY: 3-mile easy treadmill run at 9:15 average pace.


When I was dealing with my foot pain last week, one of the things I thought might help was replacing my orthotic insoles. I was originally fitted for them at a running store in Colorado, where we went on vacation last summer, because I had packed my running shoes but not my insoles. Anyway, I ordered those same insoles from Amazon, and realized when they arrived that there was an option to heat them up in the oven and mold them to my feet! (Or you can just let them mold to your feet over time, but where’s the fun in that?) I followed the directions, then did a super-easy treadmill run in my freshly baked soles. They feel great so far, and this method was definitely cheaper than having custom insoles made at Road Runner Sports, which is what I used to do. That costs $80 now! Noooo thank you.

THURSDAY: 4-mile tempo run at 8:34 average pace.

It was super rainy, but also warm, so I wound up ditching my jacket midway through and just getting soaked during this run. That was no big deal, but maybe it was being too warm/messing with my jacket that made me feel a little off. I spent the 15 minutes of running at tempo pace (7:50ish) doubting that it was fast enough for my marathon non-goal. But I ran comfortably hard at a pace I felt I could sustain, like I’m supposed to, so I don’t know. I just never settled into a good enough rhythm to feel satisfied with this run.


Rest day is the best day! We got a babysitter and went out for a kid-free double date with Stephanie and her husband at The Attic. Pizza, BBQ ribs and beer, oh my.

SATURDAY: 5.3-mile run at 8:38 average pace.


Aaron went for a bike ride first thing in the morning, and I decided to attempt a stroller run with Evie since we hadn’t done it in a while. (I say “attempt” because she’s almost two… you never know what will happen with a willful toddler.) 

Luckily, she was happy as a clam for most of the run since she had a snack cup full of Goldfish and plenty of people and animals to say “hi!” to along the way. It started pouring rain about halfway through, but again, it was warm rain. I’ll take that over cold rain any day! And we literally ran into Hallie as she was heading out for her run, so we enjoyed the last two miles with her. 

SUNDAY: 11-mile long trail run at 11:51 average pace.


Speaking of pouring rain… think of the most intense, relentless rain you’ve ever seen. Now imagine that going all day long. Welcome to Sunday in the Pacific Northwest! 

I was soaked within the first five minutes of this run, and it was not warm rain. Once I got onto the actual trail in the woods, the trees helped a little to mitigate the downpour, but not as much as I’d hoped. I also climbed nearly 2,200 feet, so it got reallyyyyy cold as I neared my 5.5-miles turnaround point and my hands went numb. I think it’s time to invest in some lightweight, waterproof running gloves! I borrowed Hallie’s for the Orcas Island 25K and they were so necessary. 

With the cold, the rain and the steep trail wearing me down, I had an internal battle with myself over whether I should keep running up the trail to hit 5.5 or turn back early and make up the mileage on the flat gravel path to the parking lot. The latter would have been easier, but I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I chose to do that. During the Tiger Mountain Half, I won’t have the option to run some of the miles on a flatter trail. 

I’m glad I chose to push through my discomfort and keep going. It reminded me that, in addition to the physical rigor of running a race, at least half the battle—if not more—is totally mental.

Total weekly mileage: 31.3

Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.

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Jack & Jill Marathon Training Week 1: Stumbling Out of the Gate

I’ve officially begun training for the Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon on July 28! This will be my sixth marathon, and my first since having a baby. I’m excited to work hard and see how much I can (hopefully) improve on my PR of 3:59 (2013 Chicago Marathon).

I was so excited to jump into my 18-week training plan this past week, and then things went… not quite as planned.

On the Sunday before day one of marathon training (Monday), I went on an 8-mile trail run wearing trail shoes I’d only run in once before. When I first put on these shoes, they felt a little small, but they were my normal size and felt OK while running, so I shrugged it off. After I completed my first run in them, I had blisters on each of my big toes (very unusual for me). I shrugged that off as being the consequence of having not been trail running in a long time. On this second run, I finished with blisters again, and also some pain on the top of my right foot that would haunt me throughout the week. The lesson here is: when your first instinct tells you that your shoes might be too small, they are probably too small. In other words, don’t ignore your instincts!

That being said, here’s how the week went down.

MONDAY: 3-mile easy treadmill run at 9:15 average pace.

It was nasty outside, so I happily hit the treadmill and watched some very fine programming: The Bachelor Winter Games. If that show is not made for the treadmill, I don’t know what is. My foot felt fine during this run.

TUESDAY: 5.6-mile easy run at 8:52 average pace.


I misjudged my route and wound up running an extra 0.6 mile to get home, but the real problem was that my foot started hurting in the last few miles, which left me feeling very upset and confused about how my training was already going off the rails on day two. (I hadn’t yet made the connection between the pain and those too-small trail shoes.)



This should have been an easy 3-mile run, but considering my foot hurt just walking around during the day, there was no way that was happening. Instead, I spent quality time on the couch with a frosty bag of peas on my foot.

THURSDAY: 3-mile easy run at 8:54 average pace.

During the day, my foot felt much better, so I was optimistic that I could do my planned speed workout Thursday night. However, I knew within the first half-mile that running far and/or fast was not meant to be. I clicked off three easy miles, not in a ton of pain, but just knowing I shouldn’t push it.

FRIDAY: 2.2-mile family bike ride at slower-than-slow pace.

Friday is my regularly planned rest day, so I was more than happy to take it in the hopes that more rest would help my foot would feel good enough to tackle my weekend runs. Evie’s daycare was closed, so Aaron and I took the day off and we had fun at a local farm, petting baby animals and hunting for Easter eggs. Later in the afternoon, the weather was lovely, so we hopped on our bikes and rode to a nearby park for some playground time. I ride my bike maybe once a year, so I’m ridiculously unsteady and slow. Aaron was dumbstruck by my lack of skills. The phrase, “It’s just like riding a bike!” doesn’t apply to me, apparently. ☺

SATURDAY: 10-mile long trail run at 12:05 average pace.


Since I have a trail half-marathon in May, I’m planning to do all my long runs on trails until then. I switched back to my tried-and-true trail shoes for this run and my foot was just fine! It felt like a freakin’ miracle to go from three painful miles on Thursday to 10 pain-free miles on Saturday, but I don’t need to understand it… I’ll just take it. The weather was great and there were lots of other cyclists, hikers and runners on the trail. I appreciated that because if I’m trail running alone and don’t run into anyone for 10-15 minutes or so, I start to get a little freaked out about wild animals! We have bears and cougars out in these parts—not that I’ve ever seen either of those, but you never know.

SUNDAY: 5-mile goal pace run at 8:00 average pace.


We had a crazy-busy Easter Sunday, leaving home at 8:30 a.m., making three different stops and returning around 6 p.m. I originally planned to run first thing in the morning, but I decided to give my feet a full 24+ hours of rest and attempt to run in the evening. I didn’t expect it to go very well, given that I spent the whole day chasing our almost-two-year-old, eating candy and drinking (mimosa at brunch, two glasses of wine with dinner). Miraculously, this run was awesome! Again, I don’t need to understand it! I aimed to run about 8:04 average pace and wound up going a little faster because (a) I didn’t feel like I was working hard enough to hit the pace I wanted, but I guess that pace just feels easier than I thought, and (b) it started hailing halfway through the run and I wanted to get home ASAP. And then it SNOWED a bit later that night. Nice April Fool’s joke, Mother Nature.

Total weekly mileage: 26.6

It was so nice to end the first week of training on a huge high after feeling frustrated and uncertain for most of it. In the end, I only missed one run, which should have little to no impact on my training in the grand scheme of things. I was upset to have my excitement and momentum interrupted, but the positive outcome of this minor setback is that I’ve realized how lucky I am when I’m healthy/not injured, and that whenever I feel like skipping a workout, I should remember to be grateful that I have the chance to run at all. A lot of people are dealing with injuries, illnesses, etc. that are far worse and don’t have that opportunity.

Now, on to week two. You can keep up with my training in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running. Thanks for following along!