Detroit Marathon: Week 16 training recap

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Normally the two weeks before the race are all about tapering — i.e. decreasing mileage and intensity in order to make sure your body is as rested as possible so you can maximize your potential. But since I haven’t run much in the last month, things are a lot different this time around; I’ll actually be trying to slowly (and safely) ramp up in mileage in preparation for race day.

Even though I’m technically out of the woods with my injury, I can’t just jump back in from where I left off because if I bite off more than my body can chew, it’ll only set me back. So I’ve got to slowly start building again to raise my level of cardiovascular fitness, continue to work on my weak links and develop the strength and stability to prevent future injury.

Of course, this makes it interesting when you’ve got a marathon in two and a half weeks…but more on that later.

Here’s what was on the schedule this week:

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And here’s how my actual workouts are panning out:

  • Monday: Elliptical (45 min), plyometric & Bosu stabilization exercises, physical therapy
  • Tuesday: Revocycle class (45 min), PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Swim (30 min, ~1300m), strength training, treadmill run intervals (2 min run + 1 min walk x 10 = 22 min), PT exercises
  • Thursday: OFF, Bosu stabilization exercises, foam rolling, PT exercises, run coach strategy session
  • Friday: Treadmill run intervals (10 min run + 1 min walk x 4 = 44 mins), PT exercises
  • Saturday: Aerobic recovery (long bike ride, 1.5-2 hours), massage, PT exercises
  • Sunday: Treadmill run intervals (10 min run + 1 min walk x 5 = 55 mins), PT exercises

Three things of note this week:

First, my PT “graduated” me; I’m feeling strong and was able to run for 15 minutes without pain last weekend, so she referred me to a running coach at the training facility to make a plan for getting up to 26.2 in a matter of weeks. Frankly, I haven’t a clue on how to go about that, so I’m glad to have help.

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Second, I spoke with the coach yesterday, and together we made the call  for me to officially bow out of the Portland half marathon this weekend. His thinking is that it won’t help me, fitness-wise, at this point and could only potentially hurt me. I totally agree. But I’m still disappointed — and, frankly, a bit scared — being this far behind so close to the marathon.

Third, and along those lines, we had a really open, honest and difficult discussion yesterday. Although I’ve got a good base of fitness and have been racing regularly this year, the fact is, I’m running out of time. To jump into too many miles too quickly might injure me again before race day, yet to not do enough mileage in advance might be damaging to my body when I’ve suddenly got to run 4+ hours on race day.

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We talked about potentially backing out of the race altogether and focusing on another one in the spring…but after a long year of racing, my body needs a break and, mentally, I was hoping to switch things up and focus on getting faster at shorter distances and getting back on the trails. So a slow, steady and cautious build it’ll be in these last two weeks in order to try to complete the Detroit Marathon on October 19.

Notice I said “complete:” I had a rough day yesterday coming to terms with the fact that racing this event simply wouldn’t be a good call. It comes down to staying healthy and strong, advised the coach, rather than digging myself into a deeper hole that I have to spend all off-season getting myself out of. It helps to try to keep perspective in these situations — there will be other races — but it’s still a process of mourning having to let go of a goal you’ve been working toward for six months.

It sucks. I’m angry — mostly at myself for starting an aggressive training program when I wasn’t 100 percent. I know better, but I let my excitement get the best of me. So I’ve got to accept it, learn from it and move forward. And I know if I’m able to run another marathon in the future, it’ll be as a stronger, smarter runner. Which is the cruel irony of this sport!

On a lighter note, one exciting part of getting to run again is trying out new running shoes. I’ve been a longtime fan of my Asics Gel Kayanos, but since my PT was thinking they’re a little too stable for me, I’m taking a new model for a spin: Hoka’s Conquests.

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They may look like a beast of a shoe (seriously, the outsole is huge), but the beauty of them is in their state-of-the-art weight-to-resilience ratio and cushioning. Billed as being “fast, highly-responsive” shoes, the Conquests are light as can be and promote accurate foot roll through the gait cycle — not to mention they’ve been comfy as hell as I’ve been slowly breaking them in.

More time — and mileage — will tell, but I’m excited to see if these might be my new “sole” mates on the road. Between now and next week’s recap, I’ll (fingers crossed) be able to break them in a bit more.

Stay tuned for week 17; thanks for the kind words, encouragement and for following along!

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6 thoughts on “Detroit Marathon: Week 16 training recap

  1. I think what separates comebacks from setbacks is the heart to achieve. Yours is definitely in the right place. I’m interested in reading about your mileage increase leading up to that starting line. I do believe your cross training will help tremendously.

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    • Thank you so much; your comment really meant a lot! I tend to agree with you on the outlook, and my run coach reminded me of that same thing this week. He’s got me ramping up slowly with walk-runs. Friday was 10 min run/1 min walk repeated four times, and today was same 10/1 ratio repeated five times. And I’m taking rest days in between. I’ll be detailing the workouts leading up to race day in the next two recaps, as well. Just crossing fingers that my leg holds up along the way – want to be prepared for the race, but not increase too quickly and re-injure myself. At this point, it’s just about figuring out how to get it done while keeping that delicate balance, which is a challenge!

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  2. Your positive attitude will carry you far, and I have know doubt you’ll run another marathon (injury free!) after this one! You’re being smart about your approach to Detroit, and like Kelsie said above, all the cross training is beneficial. Keep me posted on how you like the Conquests. I was in Gel Kayanos before switching to Hokas and will never go back to Asics (I believe they contributed to my stress fracture earlier this year). Without a doubt, the Conquests and Cliftons have been the best running shoes I’ve ever worn! Happy weekend 🙂

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    • Thank you!! You have NO idea how much I appreciate all of your support/advice/enthusiasm/etc. along the way! Hoping that all the cross training will keep me from bonking too hard, but just concerned about working through that point where the body inevitably starts to shut down & form goes to hell (which could wreak havoc on my calf). So I think the key will be fueling & taking it slow. As tough as it is to abandon time goals, I know it’s for the best. And LOVING the Conquests – thanks for the reco! Took out the extra insole for today’s run & no more blister issues on the left heel, so they are looking good for the marathon 🙂 Do you use one model for training & the other for racing?

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