Goodbye September, Hello Marathon Season!

imageIsn’t that sky gorgeous? That was one of the many beautiful sunrises we had here in September. Even so, I’m happy to be able to say that September is finally OVER! It featured my peak training weeks and ended up going relatively well:

  1. Total run miles for September: 272
  2. Miles run, year to date: 1,684
  3. Number of races in September: 2
  4. Longest run in September: 23 miles

I wanted to get this post out as soon as the calendar switched to October, but this school year is kicking my butt and I’ve had a tough time keeping up. The truth is, I never mind when September is over. I hate to say it, but it’s my least favorite month of the year. Many people think it has to do with going back to work. Of course I love being off in the summer but the reality is – I have to work.  I like my job (on most days), but no matter how much I like it, September isn’t my favorite for a variety of reasons:

  • I’m still getting to know the kids at school and the whole month is just so awkward. It’s like being on a really bad first date that doesn’t seem to end!
  • It seems last forrreevvveerrrr – mostly because we go back to work at the end of August so it my mind it’s been September since August 24th.
  • I think it’s fall and I WANT it to be fall, but usually the temps are some of the hottest of the year. For running, that means a lot of discomfort for me since I have to resume logging most of my miles after work.
  • I get a cold (or allergies, still not really sure) every SINGLE year towards the end of the month. Maybe it’s the ragweed, or maybe it’s the whole going back to school and being cooped up with a bunch of germy kids all day – who knows. This year was no different and I had a week of feeling nasty.

In an attempt to change my tune and not sound like a complete grump, October is one of my most favorite months of the year. It makes me think of cool runs in long sleeves with faster paces, racing, cozy clothing, warm drinks, and comfort food. I love October straight through to the end of December. For me, those three months really are “the most wonderful time of the year”. October means fall race season is in full swing. Even though fall technically began in September, I feel as though the we see the change of season happening now. Where I live, the fall foliage is a thing of true beauty – so much that our town was named one of the best places for fall tourism.

As for September, it came and dragged on with it’s normal baggage. It was more challenging to me this year than it’s been in previous years. My challenges came from trying to juggle life with marathon training. When I planned out my fall training, my highest mileage weeks fell right in the middle of September. Although I just started these monthly recaps back in July, I don’t need to go back through my past years of training logs to know with absolute certainty that this was the most miles I’ve ever run in a single month. Although the month came with lots of obstacles, there was a silver lining. I finally ran a half marathon PR, which I’d been wanting to do for a really long time. I did run a small PR in the distance in August, but I knew on a better course (one that didn’t include mountain climbing), I could really see an improvement in the distance. I was right!

The month was “challenging” because it was not just difficult on me physically, but mentally. I love running and all things fitness, but I also love having a life. While it was easy for me to do a lot in the summer and still get to see my family and friends regularly, adding work to the mix made that hard. There were days where I didn’t want to go to bed early, and I didn’t want to be up running at the butt crack of dawn. As the month neared it’s end, I was still motivated to do my workouts because the end was in sight, but I could definitely feel that I am in need of some rest.

As I ended my final week before my taper began, my legs were trashed. My recovery runs and general aerobic runs were hanging around the slower end of my target ranges because my legs were just so fatigued. I don’t know if running the mileage I ran will help me or hurt me. I know there’s also an argument that sides with quality over quantity. The workouts with target paces usually ended up going okay – so my recovery runs/general aerobic runs became more about logging miles on tired legs. Was this the right thing to do? We’ll see soon enough.

I’m excited to see if I will benefit from the high mileage in my upcoming races. I had my three highest mileage weeks of my training in September, and they fell during the most hectic weeks of the year for me. I’m proud to say that I survived without missing a mile. I don’t say that to brag – that might be a first for the month of September for me. The first month back to work is always an adjustment and fatigue sometimes gets the best of me and I tend to miss a few runs or workouts. This year, September had all the makings of a disaster or a breakdown with everything else that I had going on.

While I didn’t go back and review my logs from every single year I’ve kept track, I did look at what I did last year versus this year. Last year, September was when I first started working with my former coach and I ran a total of 117 miles for the month – not even half of the 272 I ran this past month. However, last year I also did an early September half-Ironman and ran a disappointing late September marathon so there was some tapering and recovery time in there. It’s hard to compare these months from year to year since the race schedule was so different. The difference in my own plan compared to how he trained me so far was that for my late summer/early fall races deals with the tapering and recovering. He had me taper/recover last year, which is completely valid. This year, I treated the early races like workouts, and that was my intention when I signed up for those races. Of course I always line up at a starting line with the hope of a PR, but I’m training for a marathon. If a PR in another distance happened in the process (which it did, with the half marathon!), then that’s icing on the cake. I don’t know if my way was the right way, but what I was doing wasn’t working so it was time to try something new.

Moving forward, when the calendar changed to October, the temperatures almost immediately dropped. I’ve worn long sleeves on several runs so far! Mostly because of the rain we have going on – really, it’s still t-shirt/tank top weather for me. It’s been chilly, windy, rainy and dreary over the past few days, but I’m enjoying this weather MUCH more than the heat and humidity! Walking outside to find a chill in the air is so much more exciting than walking out to find the air so thick with humidity you could almost drink it. Ahhhh.

I’m officially tapering and planning to recover briefly from Hartford before a few shorts weeks of training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Following Indy, I will finally take a much needed rest. A real, true, honest to goodness recovery period. I’m really looking forward to that. Marathon season is officially here. I feel like I just started training for these races, and now they are fast approaching.

How was your month? What’s your favorite month of the year? What race is on your horizon?

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41 comments

  1. Awesome running Allison! You may not like Septembers, but you sure have had a successful training month – congrats. You’re going to be in tip top shape for marathon training! 🙂

  2. I don’t know if I have a favourite month of the year but I do know it’s taken me way to long to except that fall is here! I normally love the fall season but not this year – maybe because I was enjoying my early morning long runs in the heat vs the dark and dingy temps now. Sounds like you had a great month even with all the changes of getting back to school/work. Fun times ahead!

  3. My favorite month is October by far 🙂 I think September went fairly well for me! I’m not running as long or as frequent as you are (Go Girl!) but I think I handled the month pretty well but I already know some tweaks and things I’ll do better on my next training schedule.

    1. Yayyyy for October!! I am so happy it’s here. I love these training cycles because I feel like we learn so much from what we are doing and from each other so we can tweak it around for the next one!!

  4. I am with you in feeling that September was loooong due to going back to school mid August. I enjoy October but not as much as I think other people enjoy it! I mean, I like a good fall activity here and there but Christmas is definitely more my season. I love the smells, the lights, and most importantly, the music!

  5. The heat and humidity have been crazy here too and September didn’t feel like Fall, except for maybe 3 cool days we had. October is one of my favorite months ever because of my birthday, cooler temps, and football! You will rock your marathon out especially with the cooler days and training in the heat.

  6. Marathon season is the best but I haven’t done a Fall marathon in years, so I always feel like I’m missing out. It usually lands on Canadian thanksgiving here so I’ll be sitting at the table stuffing my face with turkey and pie while everyone else is drinking beer after running their race. 😦 I get to live vicariously through you though, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how you do. Your training has been perfect. I have no doubt you’ll do amazing.

  7. I can’t believe your fall marathons are HERE already. I really think you are going to do well. You say you’re not sure if making yourself run higher mileage on tired legs will work, but almost everyone I’ve met who trains this way (including me!) has seen great success on this type of training, at least in the marathon distance. Either way, you clearly have the talent, the strength, and the speed – now it’s all about race day and executing a smart pacing strategy once you cross the finish line! You can do this!! Can’t wait to stalk you this weekend to find out how it went.

    I think my favorite month is November. I like October, but it’s a little too busy and in-your-face for me these days. November is perfect because it’s still fall but its not as busy as the months before it. It’s a great time to reflect, relax, enjoy the last of the fall foliage and weather, and chow down on some amazing food.With October and December being so hectic, November is kinda like the calm eye in the middle of the hurricane 🙂 What’s weird is that I used to hate this month. Now I look forward to it!

    1. Oops, I mean “starting line” not “finishing line.” Obviously pacing doesn’t really matter anymore once you cross the finish line!

      1. Thank you so much, Hanna!!! I’m doing a pretty good job of resting this week but a terrible job at relaxing – definitely have anxiety that I did too much, too little, not enough of this or too much of that. I need to just chill out and your comment helped relax me for sure!! I can’t believe it’s here, either. It seems like we were just celebrating your PR at the finish line of Grandma’s in June! My biggest problem in marathons IS pacing. Partly because I get impatient, and partially because I don’t know what I’m capable of without taking it too far. That’s what happened to me last year at the Lost Dutchman and at Grandma’s – I started at a pace that I wasn’t prepared for. Here’s to hoping I can be well rested and make some smart decisions on race day! Thanks so much for your support 🙂

  8. Happy October. I get everything you said about September. I always get sick when I go back to school or when we start teaching classes because of being around the kids again. Ooooh, Indianapolis! That is on my bucket list. I moved there when I was 14 and lived at a training center for figure skating. I haven’t been back since I was 20. I have heard that it is an awesome race! Ahhh, marathon season!

    1. Happy October to you too!!! I think feeling under the weather has everything to do with being cooped back up in the school again. I’m really excited for Indy but right now I have tunnel vision with Hartford! Eeeeek!!!

  9. September felt both very quick and sooo looong. I don’t know what happened in september, it arrived… and now its gone. I love october, I also love autumn and cooler weather and all that. I’m not a fan of winter, so the cooler weather in LA is nice without thinking ahead to snow hahah.

  10. I enjoy September because of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, but I love October through December as well. Thanksgiving (I love Thanksgiving foods!) and Christmas tie for my favorite holidays, and nothing beats the cool, crisp weather of October.
    I’m so excited to see how you do at your fall marathons – your training has been so strong! I can see why people love fall marathon season – I just ran my first one and now I’m itching for another fall marathon already, but I’m extra excited to see how other runners do at all the upcoming races!

    1. I really think I love those months because I love all of the food! Thanksgiving foods…mmmm! Best meal of the year. Now that you’ve done a fall marathon, you need to sign up for a spring marathon! 😉 Congrats on your first 26.2!!

  11. It does sound like your month was really successful for training though. I’m proud of you and everything you accomplished. I cannot wait to see the results pay off!

  12. You had quite a big September, lady! I see it paying off for you very soon though. I’m not the biggest fan of September either. But October is definitely my favorite month!! It’s the best. Leaves change colors, there’s pumpkins and apples everywhere, the air is crisp…ahhh love ❤

  13. September was actually a super low month for me in mileage, only 90 miles total! I had a marathon in the middle and due to taper and resting, the miles didn’t happen. I like September because I like the organization and schedule it brings when my kids go back to school. I need structure!

  14. I would have to agree that October is my favorite month. September was an amazing month of training for you though! I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming races. 😃

  15. What a training month! That’s awesome! I’m not sure if I have a favorite month, I’ve been sitting here thinking about it but coming up blank. I love fall foliage but rarely get to see it. Out here we tend to go straight from summer to winter. We’ve have some low 40’s mornings but still in the 90’s in the afternoon. Grrr. Good luck this weekend, you’re going to do great!

  16. What an awesome running month you had, despite it being your least favorite!! I do like September….my favorite is end of Sept. through December, which is followed by my least 2 favorite months, Jan&Feb!!! RW 5k is my upcoming race and I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a race lol.

    1. I don’t love January and February either – I am a skier so I do like the cold, snow and skiing, but in terms of work everyone at school is CRANKY during those months! I am going to cheer for the half marathon for the festival but I’m going to try to come to the 5K and 10K too – I have a baby shower that day which is making it tough!

      1. I feel like there is so much going on Oct. 17th!! Well…maybe we can meet at the Christmas city 5k/5miler. You said you do that every year right?
        And lol…yes, everyone is definitely cranky at school during the winter months for sure. Snow days are fun….until its time to make then up 🙂

  17. i actually am such a September lover — it’s my fave word, my fave weather, my fave birthstone, my fave time to run…just love it. you totally killed it with the running! omg girl, ALL THE MILES! amazing.

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