Hartford Marathon Training: Week 4, 7/20 – 7/26

This was a rough week for me. I was coming off of a tough trail race, ended up with some of the worst blisters of my life, came down with a case of poison oak that landed me at the doctor’s office, and the end of the week was full of social obligations. The only saving grace was that when I train myself for a marathon, after four weeks of solid training I always give myself a recovery week. I reduce my mileage (wherever my mileage is, high or low) by 10% and take the focus off of pace. No tempo runs, no track workouts – just reduced, easy miles. My next scheduled recovery week starts on 8/24, and it’s really convenient because it also ends up being my first week back to work for the new school year. Perfect timing when I need to ease myself back into a work schedule. I had to front load a bunch of my workouts because I knew I had another busy weekend coming up.

I’d been steadily increasing my mileage since Grandmas marathon – starting with 32 miles the week after the race, then bumping up to 43, 47, then 50. Before the marathon, my highest weeks topped out in the upper 50s but I haven’t seen mileage like that since the end of May. By last week, I got myself back to running 6x per week – something I haven’t done consistently in about a year. After hitting 50 miles last week and running 6x/week, combined with three weeks of racing (15K, open water swim, 15K trail race), my legs were shot. I’ve been “training” for my triathlon on top of all of this (I use that word very loosely, I’m really just going for rides and swims when I can), attempting to swim and bike twice per week. Once I hit that 50 mile mark, it all started to catch up with me. I’ve never needed an easier week so badly in my life.

Monday, 7/20 – 2700 Meter Swim + Strength/PT/Core + Yoga
Started the week off with no running after my crazy weekend of miles lat weekend and my body was thankful for the break. I headed to the gym and did a sprint workout for my swim (short distances, fast paces) and followed it up with my usual strength routine. I did a bit of yoga to stretch out at home and tried another new video, which was decent but not as good as my Yin Yoga video from last week:

Tuesday, 7/21 –  General Aerobic 11 Mile Run  + Pole Fitness + 18 Mile Ride + Core + Yin Yoga
My legs still felt pretty heavy but so I headed to the Plainfield Trail for an 11 miler. Figured after the extreme elevation on Sunday and the high mileage weekend, I should go somewhere flatter to give my poor legs a minute to recover. It was a good call, because I felt clumsy and awkward…and my blisters from the weekend, OUCH! I have three, and they were all bleeding again by the time I finished the run. My legs felt pretty whooped, so I kept the pace pretty even and consistent, but managed a fast finish mile. Overall pace, 7:52. Headed off to pole class since it’s conveniently located eight minutes from the trail head! I’m working on a few new tricks, but the newest concept – inversions (like the picture I posted of me upside down on the pole) – is giving me a hard time! That workout is no joke!

If you can’t tell, I went into a bit of panic mode early on this week about my missed bike ride last week and upcoming triathlon. I didn’t plan to ride at all, but I got home and started thinking about it so I grabbed my bike and headed out for about an hour. I was glad I did, because even though it was a little hot out there, it was a gorgeous ride. Finally snapped a picture of one of my favorite barns that I always pass:

imageI think it’s so cute but it’s actually kind of on a main road so I never want to stop! I didn’t feel terrible riding, but about 10 minutes after I finished riding, a HUGE thunderstorm rolled in – glad I didn’t get caught in that! So weird because if you look at my picture above, there is nothing but blue sky and fluffy white clouds. I went home and did some core/MYRTLs/drills and the yin yoga video I posted last week to stretch it all out. I realize the ride was probably overkill. I also realize I have a triathlon on 8/9 and I still keep waiting for my bike legs to show up to the party…although I guess if I wanted them, I should have invited them. I should have been more serious about getting on my bike a few months ago. It’s been tough since I’m more focused on running and getting my mileage to where I want it to be.

Wednesday, 7/225 Mile Hill Run + 8.5 Miles Hiking
I woke up and got my run in early so I could go hiking with some friends. Since I had to run from my house, my choices are running on a relatively flat main road or running over a mountain. I chose the mountain since my runs were all pretty flat last week. But running the mountain is no joke – my 5 mile run climbed 966 feet, and the elevation profile looks like this:


The first climb starts out my back door and ends at the 1.25 mile mark with no relief – it’s crazy! It’s great to practice running uphill, but also to get some time running steep downhills. Your quads need that because it’s easy to burn your quads out in races that have a crazy descent in the course. I haven’t done this run since late December – the last time I did it was around the time I hurt my Achilles. I actually like to do an eight mile version of this run – I keep going and climb an extra hill – but since I haven’t done the run in a long time I kept it at five. Overall pace, 9:41. Not really a run you do for pace – it’s more or less a strength workout. I really only wear my Garmin so I can see the pretty elevation chart (also because I’m a huge geek with data). I did my MYRTLs and drills after.

I’ve been friends with Jenny and Kate for most of my life – since fourth grade. We’ve stayed in touch and though we don’t see each other often, we are still very close. We went to Alaska together a few years ago when I ran the Mayor’s Marathon. Jenny used to live in Vancouver, BC but just moved home. We took a day trip to hike a bit on the Appalachian Trail. I thought we were hiking 4-5 miles, so all I brought was some water and a protein bar. Oops. Ended up being an 8.5 mile hike! I was starving by the end, and limping from my stupid blisters being stuffed into sneakers between running and hiking, but it was such an awesome day!

Thursday, 7/2311 Mile Fartlek Run w/12×30 Seconds @ 5K pace + Pole Fitness + 18 Mile Bike + Core

Basically a repeat of Tuesday without the yoga. I headed out a little later than I wanted to get started on everything, but the weather was great so it was fine. My current 5K PR pace is 6:15, but McMillian says I should be able to do 6:09 based on my 3:06 marathon, and 6:25 based on my more recent Boston marathon time. So my range for the day was 6:09-6:25. I managed all of my intervals to be in the range or faster except for the second one, but I don’t remember being off pace or feeling like it was hard. I don’t even remember looking at my Garmin and thinking that I was off pace. At any race, my paces for each interval:

1 – 6:01
2 – 6:34 (???)
3 – 6:02
4- 6:03
5 – 6:10
6 – 6:14
7 – 6:17
8 – 6:20
9 – 6:07
10 – 6:19
11 – 6:07
12- 6:12

They are only 30 seconds, but I was happy with them. Honestly, I was still feeling pretty fried and 30 seconds was all I could handle anyway. My legs still felt heavy so after my run, and I felt DONE. But I hopped on my bike and had an awesome ride, managing to average 16.5mph which had me stoked. I thought last week was a fluke.

I promised one of my sister in laws that I’d go to pole class with her. I was pretty beat, but I went anyway. When I got out of the shower and started getting ready for class, I noticed the streaks of itchy redness on my left forearm. Uh oh. I knew what that meant…poison something. It didn’t seem too terrible so I swabbed it with alcohol and went on my way. Class ended up being great, and we nailed a few new tricks:

Friday, 7/245 Mile Recovery Run + 10×10 Second Hill Sprints (.5 miles total)

I woke up super cranky and irritable, thankful that it was just a run on the schedule. I had plans to swim only if time permitted, but I wasn’t so concerned with the swim. We leave for vacation this Friday, and we go to my husband’s family lake house. I’ll swim every single day on the lake there, and that’s actual open water swimming – better than swimming in a pool, anyway. I was so cranky about my foot – the damn blister on my toe was just not getting any better – and I was developing poison all over my legs, arms, and stomach. I did a slowwww 5 mile recovery run, still feeling like absolute shit, and called it a day. Overall pace, 8:43. Before heading out to my run, I had been catching up on the blog world. The super speedy Hollie, from FueledbyLOLZ, posted an awesome article by elite runner Tina Muir about running easy. I’ve posted about easy running before, and believe running significantly slower than what you think you should be running on recovery days is key. It just doesn’t make sense to push the easy days, especially when you are trying to build a base, and the article Hollie posted is awesome! Check it out:

3 Ways to Run Easy

The coolest bit of information in this article was when she talked about how she goes out and runs with elite women who average 5:20s for a 10K and they run at an 8:30 pace. Um, my 10K PR is about a whole minute slower than that and I am running 8:30s on my easy days. Should I be running even slower?! This just reaffirms how I feel about easy running, and as I move forward with my base building and training I’ll be focusing on this just as much as I will be focusing on running hard on my hard days. I’m secure enough in myself and my paces to be able to go out and slow myself down, and I don’t need to answer to anyone anymore about my paces so I don’t feel guilty if I go a little slower. I think I lost sight of easy running when I was working with a coach.

I went home and got myself ready for the wedding. I was too itchy and cranky to add on anything else, and it was a recovery week anyway. Though I ended up barefoot most of the night at the wedding because the stupid blisters KILLED my feet, we had a blast:

Saturday, 7/25 – 8 Mile General Aerobic Run

We got home late from the wedding and had to be back in the Poconos by noon for a whitewater rafting trip with the wedding crew, so I headed out for an 8 miler – no frills, just a run. Overall pace, 8:10 – right at the slower end of my general aerobic range. The bride and groom are huge river people – they kayak, raft, SUP, etc. Though I teach high school with the bride, she and her new husband are also river guides part time. They work for a local company and take groups out on the Lehigh River during the peak months. So as a thank you to everyone for coming to the wedding, they invited the guests to come for a nice paddle down the river the next day. We had a great group, and it was nice to relax on the river for the afternoon:

Sunday, 7/26 – 27 Mile Bike

Woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday in tears – my poison on my arm had escalated to huge blisters that were just nasty, oozing…EW. It felt like my body was on fire and nothing was helping. I was basically awake from 3am, impatiently waiting for the CVS Minute Clinic to open. Side note – those things rock. It was a Sunday, so of course I couldn’t get in with my PCP and I wasn’t feeling waiting for hours at an Emergicare center for some poison. So when CVS opened at 9am, I signed in at the kiosk, and the nurse practitioner on staff took me right in. She took one look at my arm – didn’t even ask to see the other huge blisters forming on my legs and stomach – and said, “prednisone for you”. She couldn’t believe how awful it was. She also confirmed my suspicion that it was not, in fact, poison ivy – it was poison oak. Makes a hell of a lot of sense because I can identify poison ivy and sumac, but I have trouble telling which ones are poison oak. She also told me I could take something like Claritan or Zyrtec to help with the itchiness, and that the only thing she recommends to put on the rash is calamine lotion. After all these years, we still have to resort to calamine and walking around with pink crap slathered all over our bodies. You’ve got to be kidding.

I was so not feeling a bike ride but I promised my brother in law I would take him out riding. He just got a bike and wants to get into it. He did great and we managed 27 miles – I don’t know the pace because my Garmin did this weird thing where it froze and stopped calculating distance, but it was calculating speed and time. So weird. I did a soft reset and it worked for the rest of the ride, but I hope it isn’t time for a new one yet. I’m not ready to part with it! By the time we were done riding, the prednisone and Zyrtec were doing something right because the nasty oozing blisters on my arm had crusted over and the swelling had gone down tremendously. I was still itchy, but I was seeing a significant improvement. Thank GOD. Spent the rest of the day relaxing by my pool and then at a local sangria joint with some local runner chicas for some drinks:

imageSo for me, this was supposed to be a nice recovery week that was made a little more difficult by other variables…but that’s life. Heading into week 5, I will still be base building but the real running starts here. These first four weeks were about getting some kind of a base back, and I believe I was successful. I’ll be adding in some intensity (hopefully – if my body cooperates!) and bringing the focus back to my diet and sleeping habits. I get a little lax during those recovery/base building weeks, but moving into some more intensity means I need all of the other variables to be under control.

I have another two weeks of triathlon preparations, but once that’s over I plan on reducing my bike miles to just one ride per week, and continuing to try to get in the pool twice per week. As I begin the new school year, my goal for fall is to pick one day per week and make it a complete rest day. The only thing I would do on that day would be some easy yoga. When I was out with my friends on Sunday, I was talking to Megan (the blonde seated on the left). She is the girl with the course record at Quadzilla and also the same girl that won the Steamtown Marathon years ago and qualified for the Olympic Trials. She said her best years running were the years that she took a complete rest day each week, even though she hated it. At the end of the school year last year, I was taking Friday as my rest day and had really good long runs on Saturdays, so I want to try to work that into my schedule. Now, to move forward and put this rough week behind me…onward!!

Swim:  2700 meters ♥ Bike: 63 miles ♥  Run: 40.5 miles

How was your week? Ever have severe blisters? Poison ivy, oak or sumac? Tell me some of your gory stories!

54 Replies to “Hartford Marathon Training: Week 4, 7/20 – 7/26”

  1. All things considered, you had an awesome week!!
    Last summer my sister grew zucchini in her garden and gave me some….i cooked and ate it only to find out I’m allergic ! Running while covered in hives was not enjoyable! No more zucchini for me lol

  2. For a recovery week that was impressive! So glad you have yourself on a plan you feel good about and can listen to your body. But major bummer about that poison oak. Ouch! That pole class sounds so fun and like something this uncoordinated lady would make a total fool of herself in! Love the pics!

    1. Thanks! I feel a lot better about everything I’m doing with myself vs. what my coach had me do. Will it make me faster? Who knows, at least it’s back to being about fun and enjoyment!! And I am SOOO uncoordinated – you could totally do pole class, so fun!

  3. I think it’s so easy to put so much pressure on ourselves that even when we should be resting and recovering, we still expect more. I think you had an awesome week of training and a lot to be proud of. And girl… I don’t know how you can hold your body on the pole like that… I would be all sorts of flailing and awkward : )

    1. Thanks, Jamie! So easy to put the pressure on. I’m really taking things one week at a time right now. You could totally do pole class. I’m so clumsy and awkward and I can do it – so you’d be great!

  4. You had an awesome week!! If you ever feel bad about easy running, come find me. I’m all about doing both and never stress pace. 🙂 With my HR training, it’s all about running easy. My paces are all over the place. lol Just this morning, with my max being 145. The first mile was 10:45, the next 9:23?! Same max HR, different paces. It’s a wild ride but I love it! It’s making me such a strong runner. When we listen to our bodies, we have the most success. You are doing that!! Well done!

    1. Thanks, Melanie!! I know you are right. My body feels better when I add easy runs in there. I really should try some HR training. It sounds so interesting and very aligned to my beliefs, to listen to your body!

  5. What a week – blisters all around for you! Thankfully they are temporary. I love my rest days – I never really rest though – I’ll do PT exercises or core work – nothing too strenuous. I did some of your MYRTLs this morning, since I was already doing clams and lateral raises as my PT. The MYRTLs seem to be a nice change up. All the other legs swings we do with the training group before our runs already.

    1. Dear god thankfully they ARE temporary, today I got to run without a bandaid on the really bad blister and it was like seeing light at the end of a tunnel. Glad you tried the MYRTLS, I love them! I never really rest either. No rest for the wicked 😉

  6. I would say that was an awesome week of training! It’s definitely important for the body AND mind to take easy weeks once in a while. I know when I do this that I get excited again for the next challenging week. Keep up the great work !

  7. Great week! I can’t believe you packed FOUR workouts into a couple of those days. What a beast! I’m continually amazed at how much work some athletes can pack into one day/week. You should become a pro runner 🙂 Glad you could enjoy a recovery week when you really needed it 🙂

  8. The poison oak sounds awful 😦

    I’ve been struggling a bit with easy runs lately. I have been really slow for the past few weeks, but I keep trying to remind myself that of course I am running slower, it is hot as hell! I ended up running without a watch a few times this week so that my recovery runs could be as slow as they needed to be, without causing me to freak out.

    1. It’s so awful and gross!!! I hate being itchy!!

      I hear you on the running lately. I’ve felt slow for the past three weeks, and just having a rough time. I think it’s partially heat and I also think I am dehydrated. I am sucking at hydrating lately!

  9. Wow! You had a great week of workouts! I’m amazed at how much you fit in on Tuesday and Thursday! Thankfully I don’t have much experience with poison ivy. I had a very mild case once, but my dad has horrible reactions to it. I hope that you are feeling better. I’m starting to think that my evil blister will never go away. I don’t think it helped that my daughter kept stepping on my toes on Saturday. I thought I might cry.

    1. Thanks! I finally ran without a band aid on my blister today. Still painful but less painful to stuff in my shoe without the band aid. Soooo gross!! OUCH – your daughter stepping on it. EEEK! Heal fast!

  10. Pretty productive recovery week! That stinks about the poison oak 😦 but way to push through despite all of that. Fridays are my rest days and I usually throw a Sunday in there too for good measure. 🙂

    1. Thanks! A little recovery fell at the perfect time, for once. I like the idea of a Friday rest day. Bust it out all week long, rest Friday in time for a good Saturday or Sunday long run 🙂

  11. Wow, that’s an amazing week despite all your problems. I would have just curled into a ball and cried. I have troubles running easy sometimes since I feel like I am slow to begin with. Plus I have more rest days than run days right now so I feel like I should be running faster when I do run. One day I will master easy. 😃

    1. Thanks!! I did curl into a ball and cry – that was my Sunday!!! I would have totally bailed on biking except I promised my brother in law I would take him out and I felt bad canceling. I was so miserable!

  12. Poison oak just sounds so painful. I’ve never run into Poison oak or ivy – and am thankful for that. Still you had a pretty great week! I managed all my training runs last week though I struggled through a few. This week is going to be all over the map but it’s all good – vacation is supposed to be that way 😉

  13. I have wanted to try a pole fitness class but never had the guts to do it! That’s good you are giving yourself a recovery week when school starts. I am a teacher too so I know how that goes… I have slowly started sleeping in really late this summer so when school starts again, the early hours are really going to be a shock to my system! You had a great week of workouts! I have a longish run scheduled for tomorrow so reading your workouts this week is really motivating to me!

    1. You should definitely do it – you would LOVE it!!! What do you teach? I’m high school computers – I teach Web Design and Photoshop classes! Ohhh and I tried to comment on your Weekend Wrap Up post but it wouldn’t actually let it post!! I’ll try again today. Noticed that you live near Harrisburg! I’m in the Leigh Valley!!!

  14. Wowza that’s an epic week. Just reading about it made me tired. Lol!! I still struggle with running ‘easy’. I guess it boils down to confidence in your pace and remembering to truly recover. That hike looks absolutely beautiful. You run, bike, hike, pole workout, and swim… I’m good to just get a run in!!! 😉 you go girl. Hope your blisters are healed 100.% soon. I got one during my relay trail race (3 River crossings didn’t help) but it’s not too terrible.. Just annoying. I’m in my second week of training for Savannah. Finally hit higher mileage since late April!!

    1. Thanks! I really am all over the place with my workouts. It’s a lot of overkill right now because I have an olympic distance tri coming up on 8/9 so I don’t want to sacrifice run miles to go bike or swim, so most days I double up. I’m ready for this tri to be over!!

  15. Whoa that is a seriously busy week. WOW. I don’t even know where to start! But the thing that stood out to me the most are those mile repeats! INCREDIBLE! I could never run them that fast and that many! And you did it with a rash and blisters?!?! You’re amazing.

    1. LOL ohhhhh I wish they were mile repeats – they were 30 second fartleks!!!! But I love that you thought I did 12 full mile repeats at those paces. It would not have ended pretty if I would have done that!

  16. I hate blisters. I get them a lot and have had a hard time finding shoes that work. After many gross and terrible blisters, lost toenails, and a whole lot of pain, I figured out that I am a different shoe size than I’ve been wearing for years. I thought I was an 8, but it turns out that I’m an 8.5 narrow, which was causing all sorts of problems.

    By the way, you are kind of a rockstar. Those workouts are intense!!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 And WOW! A whole different shoe size would make a HUGE difference! I was such an idiot. I’m terrible with socks and the morning of the race put a pair on with a hole in the pinkie toe. I get tons of holes in my socks and never really care – it never bugs me. But this time, it did! Lesson learned…and time to buy new socks!

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