Marathon Training, Week 14

Things are going well! I’m having an absolute blast with the group I’m training with. I can’t believe I’ve made it all the way to week 14, which includes hill training of up to 10 repeats and 32km long runs that span 4 hours. I’m doing things I never imagined I could be capable of doing! Especially considering the fact that I’ve never been particularly athletic – I went from couch to runner about 19 months ago, and basically moved up from 10k training straight to full marathon this January. The original idea being that I would hang in there for as long as possible, and that all of this would at least help me become a stronger runner for my 10k race in May. I wanted the challenge, but I was ok if I wasn’t yet strong enough to complete the full training. And now here I am four weeks out from Race Weekend actually considering switching up the marathon – a thought that both thrills and terrifies me in all the right ways! 😉

Highlights from my training so far include going beyond the 6 hill repeats of my 10k training, and tackling the never-ending hill on Trim Road. By the time I had completed 8 repeats there, I had reached an elevation gain of 189 metres, or 620 feet! I felt so badass! I’ve definitely been getting some sort of sick, twisted enjoyment out of the otherwise tortuous hill training, lol. My approach is to just zoom up those things and get it over with as fast as possible. In doing so I’ve become a much stronger runner and people think I’m crazy, bahaha.

Sunday long runs have also been enjoyable. Particularly because the people running the marathon clinic at the Orleans Running Room love to come up with ‘themes’ for our outings. For example, one Sunday we ran around town keeping our eyes peeled for the motivational posters they left out, and we had to collect our tag from each one (I run with the 4:45 group). We also dressed in our Canadian gear because it was the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It’s little things like that which bring a whole new dimension of fun to our long runs. Plus the water stations where people volunteer to set up food and drinks for us are amazing. The treats are greatly appreciated on these runs where we’re now burning over 2,000 calories. (I never realized how much fuelling up during runs helped give me the energy to keep going until now!!) And the enthusiasm of the people running these water stations is so uplifting. Neighbours get involved, many selfies are taken. Then we’re back on the road with big smiles on our faces.

I really don’t think I could’ve handled these long runs if it weren’t for my group by my side. Not only do they help keep me at a pace that allows me to keep running these longer distances without burning out, but the conversations help keep me out of my own head and focused outside of myself too, which I really need. Thoughts like “maybe I should cut this run short and turn back” just can’t enter my head anymore.

It feels absolutely amazing to be part of Run Club and connecting with so many fantastic new friends. I’m so happy that I went for it! I walk in now and see the familiar faces of people I trained with in the 10k clinic last year, and my marathon group this year, and it’s like we’re all a big family. I love it.

Group photo with our Boston Marathon runners!

“I Can’t Believe I’m Marathon Training” Update

We completed “only 19km” for our long, slow distance run at Run Club this Sunday morning. I can’t believe it was only a few weeks ago that I was struggling to even get to 14km!

Since starting marathon training I have worked my way up to the 20km range – our longest run so far has been 26km! Something that I think was only made possible thanks to having great runners by my side the whole time. And amazingly I’ve been feeling great afterwards too! I’ve grown to love my Power Gels, which I use to fuel up along the way, and Run Club members will volunteer their homes as water stops too – leaving out food and drinks for us as well. This really helps keep us motoring along during the 3-4 hours we are out there running.

Our training schedule had us scaling back on our long run distance a bit this week, but next week we’ll be back at it working our way up into the 30s! I can’t even wrap my head around it! But I am feeling more confident that I will be able to do it. Just as long as I take it slow and steady, as I’ve been doing so far. 

Emotionally, life is still a bit of a wild roller coaster ride – which actually included an trip to the hospital not too long ago, to finally get myself set up with the resources I need to help manage my moods.

In the meantime, my training schedule has become a means to help keep me centred through it all as much as possible. Though there are some challenges ahead, I do feel like I’m headed in the right direction now. I am hopeful.

It’s a New Year

I finished up 2016 with 823km under my belt. My first full year of running, and quite the improvement over my 168km total for 2015!

My longest single run for 2016 was 21.2km, and I clocked the most kilometres during March, April, and December – just over 100km in those months!

The winter season arrived but that didn’t hold me back from continuing with my training. I had all my layers ready, and my best purchase ever was the IceSpikes I got for my shoes.

The IceSpikes allow me to stomp my way through the iciest of conditions without slipping, it’s amazing! (There is nothing more frustrating than having to waddle your way through a winter run!)

Then for Christmas we got a treadmill – which was the best surprise ever! This allowed me to squeeze in quick runs at any time of day over the busy holiday season – and probably the only way I would have been able to keep up with my training over Christmas/New Years!

Because I was able to keep up with my training, I decided to sign up for my first winter race in January: 10k at the Richmond Road Races. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being able to PR my 10k time in the winter, but I did!! Such an amazing feeling!

My training on the treadmill shows me running at a much slower pace than when I’m outside on the roads, despite the fact that it feels like a much harder workout. I sweat buckets working out on the treadmill! But all those indoor runs must’ve done some good after all. I don’t take 10:1 walking breaks on the treadmill, so I definitely noticed an improvement in my endurance, which may have been the key factor to my faster race time.

Another challenge that I decided to take part in was Run Ottawa’s January run streak, where we run every day for the entire month of January.

Because I have the treadmill now, I knew hopping on for a quick 1 mile run those days in between training sessions would be easy for me.

I amazed myself by being able to hang on to my running streak for those first three weeks ..but then was hit hard by an unexpected bout of depression.

I could feel it coming on in the weeks prior, but because there was always so much going on I would try to distract myself with the next task or activity. And at night I would blast tv shows into my head until I fell asleep so that I didn’t have a chance to think too much and trigger that downwards spiral. Every morning I would wake up with a start, as if someone had sent a current of electricity through my heart. Just a pure jolt of anxiety to start my day. It was inevitable.. Each day I became more and more anxious and it became harder to repress. I stopped being able to sleep and even eat, and dropped a good 20 pounds in the span of a few weeks. Then one day I woke up with the darkest of thoughts swirling around in my head, and I knew I was done fighting. I had reached my absolute lowest point.

The next couple of weeks are a blur for me as I immediately fell ill with a fever too, which lasted for a few days, then developed into bronchitis; lots of sleeping, lots of blasting sounds into my head so that I wouldn’t have the chance to think or feel. I went back on medication to help bring me back, but it didn’t feel like anything was helping this time around. I had never hit such a low like this before. And I was wracked with such guilt and shame because all I could do was sleep and lie in bed for days on end.

I don’t know how many other runners out there also suffer from debilitating mental health issues.. How you manage it and how it impacts your training. But for me I was at the point where I was just done and couldn’t picture myself getting back into running ever again. Having just become a member of Run Ottawa’s Team Awesome, My Peak Challenge, and Oiselle VolĂ©e, I felt like I had failed and let everyone down. I had also signed up for the full marathon clinic at the Running Room and had already missed the first two weeks of training. I felt like I was in way over my head and should probably back out of everything.

Fast forward to today and I’m doing a lot better than I was before. Though I’m taking on a whole lot less than I had been previously. Trying to keep myself from getting too overwhelmed; trying to stay stable. My life is very simple these days.

I did venture out to join my marathon clinic for a run yesterday evening, however. I quite enjoyed the outing, though I still feel incredibly terrified by this challenge I’ve set for myself – marathon ready by June when I’ve only run a half marathon distance once?!? But I guess it doesn’t hurt to try and see how long I can keep up, while at the same time benefiting from the training.

I feel my enthusiasm for running coming back, and so I’m just going to take things one day at a time.