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.

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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.)

WEDNESDAY: Rest.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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