Isn’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:
- Total run miles for September: 272
- Miles run, year to date: 1,684
- Number of races in September: 2
- 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?