Marathon Training Week 20: A Tale of Two Halves

Weekly Summary: 5/4/15 to 5/10/15

This was the last week of hard training before taper, and I went into it on a high after a great rebound-from-injury week. I felt hyped and ready to destroy this week of training. Yeah, not so much.

The week was supposed to be a slight decrease in mileage but an increase in intensity, going from a weekly total of 48 miles to 42, with a long run of 16 miles (13 at MP) and an 11 mile tempo run (9 miles at 9:20 pace). The other filler runs were to be an easy 4-7-4.

Well, I started like I usually do with a relative rest day on Monday, meaning I did strength training but no running. Cool, so far everything is on schedule. I didn’t really care which day of the week I did my tempo run, so long as I had at least a day in between before having to do my long run. Tuesday rolled around, and my legs were still fatigued from my long run, which was done on a Sunday rather than my usual Saturday, so I just did an easy seven, super slow. Still, cool.

Wednesday rolled around, and …an unexpected rest day. What? Just didn’t feel like it. I actually felt rebellious. I have not had one “I don’t feel like running, and I’m not going to, so there. Go kick rocks.” day at all in this training cycle. I’ve only missed a run due to injury, but Wednesday morning, it was one of those days. Fine, I guess, but not on the last week of training! Especially after having missed a couple weeks because of injury! My timing for staging a mutiny blows.

Now I had every intention of getting this tempo run done on Thursday. I even did two miles at tempo pace, but then I realized that I didn’t have any gels or Endurolytes with me. Arggh. I would have pushed through if I felt great, but I didn’t. I started doing the math in my head, and then the bargaining with myself began, and, well, I ended up back at home after six miles.

I was now down to three days to get my 16-mile long run and 11-mile tempo run done. Pretty daunting at my age. Friday, I went out again, ready to get this tempo run done, dammit. But my legs! My legs were so heavy and tired. I really couldn’t figure out what was going on. Was I depressed? (I’d had a weird experience the night before – later post.) Was it the weather? (We’d had a bit of a late winter push here in LA.) Now, in addition to Wednesday’s rebellious no-run, Friday was a defeated seven-mile easy run.


So that’s how the week started. Midway through Friday, I was pretty down about how my last hard week of training was going. I thought for sure that between the two-week injury layoff and the knowledge that this was the finish line, I’d be killing it on my last week of training. Not only was I not motivated, my legs felt like shit. Tired and logy, from what I didn’t know. Oh, and P.S., since I’d blown my diet during the Pacquiao fight, I figured WTH, and proceeded to eat dessert and carbs during the week. F-ck me. What the hell kind of way was this to enter into taper? I started spiraling down about how crappy my marathon was going to be, how I was never going to get faster, how I didn’t have what it took to be a semi-competitive runner, and that I should just give up running marathons. Have you been there? Geez, that was miserable. But then something *clicked* and I had my Scarlett O’Hara moment. I was not going to give up so fast. I would get that long run and tempo run in even if it meant ending my week on a Monday. That night I texted my buddy and committed to her that I was doing my long run the next morning, which pretty much, if I tell her that, then it’s happening no matter what.

Set in stone.
Set in stone.
Ugh. Saturday. Wasn’t feeling it. Decided to change things up in my gear, and lo and behold, I found the culprit to my heavy legs. Sometimes the things you think will help you, end up hurting you.


My knee had started feeling wonky towards the end of last week’s 20-miler, and I thought it might be a mechanical issue, so I slipped my orthotics back in. I got them about seven years ago when I got plantar fasciitis, and I’ll wear them once in a while if I think something feels off. Well, they may help mechanical issues, but they are heavy and hard on the feet too. I took those puppies out, and my legs felt totally different. I had a strong 16-mile long run and after taking a break from marathon pace for a couple weeks, did my highest total of MP miles at 13. Actually, I didn’t quite hit all 13 at sub-9:55 (9:52, 9:50, 9:45, 9:50, 9:50, 9:56, 9:41, 9:36, 10:01, 9:52, 9:56, 9:50, 9:23), but it was close enough, and a good/bad thing is that even though these paces are slower than the weeks prior to my injury, they are consistent, and they are actually near my goal marathon pace, so there’s that. Looks like I won’t be in danger of going out too fast. Ha.

Gray skies, gray shoes. Last long run done!
Gray skies, gray shoes. Last long run done!
Took another relative rest day on Sunday but did weights and took a hard Pilates class, and texted my friend one more time to make one last commitment. Monday morning (!), I finally tackled that last tempo run. Damn, fam. My legs were still tired from that long run and Pilates class, but I told myself that I’d do the best I could, and I never gave up. I was supposed to do my paces at 9:20, and they were more at 9:30, but I kept pushing (9:25, 9:33, 9:28, 9:30, 9:13, 9:34, 9:10, 9:30, 9:05). After that, I took my last ice bath and smiled. I’d met my commitment, and I’d completed the hard part of the training cycle.

The look of a woman who's finished her last hard training run and taken her last ice bath!
The look of a woman who’s finished her last hard training run and taken her last ice bath!
This was a weird way to end training. Plans changed from day-to-day. It was supposed to be a 42-mile week; it was 47. I was supposed to do a faster-paced tempo run; it wasn’t. Yet I managed a lot of fast-ish miles anyway. The thing I’m taking away from this week and tucking away for future training is that I can change things mid-week. Even though Mon-Fri was sucky, I was still able to pull out a productive week, and I can enter taper on a solid note. Yay.

Hope everyone has a great running week!

Total weekly mileage: 47
Long run: 16 miles (13 MP)
Abs (10x); Upper Body (4x); Leg Strengthening (12 exercises)

3 thoughts on “Marathon Training Week 20: A Tale of Two Halves

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