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.

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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.

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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!

FRIDAY: Rest.

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

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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.

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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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