Note: Week 11 was June 4-10.
I recently remembered that I wrote weekly recaps while training for my first marathon back in 2011, and I pulled up the week 11 post to compare it to the training I just did in week 11 of training for my sixth marathon, seven years later. Here’s what week 11 looked like back in the day:
- Monday: Strength training
- Tuesday: 7-mile run
- Wednesday: 3-mile run + strength training
- Thursday: Rest (skipped a 4-mile run)
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: 10-mile run
- Sunday: Rest
Total weekly mileage: 20
In comparison, I ran 55.7 miles this week. My long run was 21 miles—farther than I ran in a cumulative week seven years ago.
Okay, maybe that week wasn’t the best example since it included a trip to NYC, where I did a lot of walking and sightseeing rather than running, but still—I skipped a 4-mile run for no good reason?? My long run was only 10 miles??
But here’s another example: My peak week in that 18-week training cycle was week 16, when I didn’t run at all for three days, did a 20-mile long run and ran 40 miles overall.
To be fair, it was my first marathon and I followed a beginner training plan. I was still a new runner, so I didn’t yet have the experience or grit to push through unideal circumstances and make time for every run. And my goal was to run a 4:15 marathon, which I did, down to the minute. So there was nothing wrong at all with my training back then.
But I’ve had this mentality for a long time that I’m a 4:15 marathoner at my core. Prior to getting pregnant, my goal was to gradually chip away at 4:15 to get to sub 4:00, which I did at the Chicago Marathon in 2013 with a 3:59. I never believed I could progress much further than that.
Now I realize I can be any kind of marathoner I want to be if I put in the work. The training I’m doing now is on a whole other level from the training I did back then. I was a 4:15 marathoner because I trained to be a 4:15 marathoner. I’m now training to be a sub-3:35 marathoner. Time will tell if I will be, but I believe it will happen—maybe this time, maybe next time, but it will happen.
MONDAY: 4-mile easy run at 9:32 average pace.
I didn’t post on Instagram about this run, but I titled it “Sausage Legs” on Strava, so my legs must have felt heavy and swollen from Sunday’s long run. Ha!
TUESDAY: 10-mile easy run at 9:14 average pace.
10 miles on a weeknight will never not seem like the longest run ever, but I ran with Hallie and that made it totally bearable. What would I do without running buddies?!
WEDNESDAY: 5-mile easy run at 9:05 average pace.
THURSDAY: 5.6-mile tempo run at 7:56 average pace.
I went to bed late every night this week, and it all caught up to me on Thursday; I felt wayyy too tired to do a successful tempo run. I snuggled with Evie in her crib for a few minutes before she went to sleep, and it took all of my willpower to not fall asleep myself! But I got up, got out there and ran my tempo miles in 7:35, 7:35, 7:36 and 7:32. I was amazed that the pace felt manageable and consistent. A major win over the Thursday-night sleepies!
SATURDAY: 10-mile easy run at 8:51 average pace.
I ran this one a little fast because (a) I got caught in two downpours and just wanted to get the run over with, and (b) I saw a coyote! It ran out onto the trail, saw me coming, then ran back into the woods, thank goodness. I’m very lucky to live in a beautiful forested/mountainous area, but it’s also home to wild animals who may not like me running through their backyard. The trails I run are frequented by humans and close to suburban neighborhoods, but this was a good reminder that animals are always around and I need to be cautious.
SUNDAY: 21-mile long run at 8:54 average pace.
I run the last 7ish miles of the marathon course all the time, but to get some experience with the earlier part of the course, I had my husband drop me off at the Hyak parking lot (just past Snoqualmie Pass) and started my long run at the actual start line.
The coolest part of the course is right at the beginning: the Snoqualmie Tunnel, which is 2.25 miles long and pitch black. I wore my headlamp (as I will during the race) and braved it alone. It was FREAKY. I really had to concentrate on the little patch of light my headlamp created in front of me and not look around too much or imagine what might be in front of or behind me. I could see how a claustrophobic person would NOT have fun in there because it felt like the darkness was pressing in around my body. But it should be fine on race day, with lots of other runners’ headlamps to brighten things up a bit!
The other notable feature of the course is its gentle downhill pitch. The word “gentle” sounds very nice, but after 20 miles, it doesn’t feel so gentle anymore. I struggled to keep my pace above 9-minute miles even though I was running at about my usual long-run effort, which ranges from 9:15-9:30 pace. So even though my 8:54 average pace seems too fast for a long run, I swear I was taking it easy.
This is great news for race day; it means I won’t have to put in as much effort to keep up my goal pace. I will have to be careful not to go out too fast, though. I’ve made that mistake before and paid the price in the back half of the race. My favorite marathon advice—which leads to success when I actually follow it—is: “It’s a 20-mile warmup for a 6.2-mile race!”
Total weekly mileage: 55.7
Follow along in real time on Instagram @dev.on.running.