How Not to Train for a Marathon

I started writing this post in my head as I was walking home from what was supposed to be Day 1 of my new marathon training cycle, when all I could think about was “Kristin, this is definitely how not to train for a marathon”.  Notice I said “supposed to be”?  Yes, well, I’ll be pushing that back a week.  I haven’t run at all since the Bainbridge Half, which was March 22nd, so roughly three weeks.  My achilles tendonitis has been bugging me and to be honest, I wanted a break.  I’ve been running and racing non-stop for a while and my body was not holding up well, throw in my crazy work schedule lately and it just wasn’t in the cards.  It was a much needed and very welcome break.

I didn’t have a plan for when I was going to start running again, I knew I wanted to work on improving my 5K time before I got back into another long distance training cycle, but when a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in trying out a new marathon training plan he was working on, I figured why the heck not.  The first workout consisted of 8x400m repeats with 400m recovery intervals, and a half mile warm up and cool down.  Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong!  You see, I haven’t done speed work in a while, a LONG while.  And I think I have runners amnesia (is that a thing?).  In my head, I ran a marathon, then another, then some more, so this should be easy..

(Side Note:  I’ve never watched How I Met Your Mother, but with all of the hoopla on Facebook surrounding the finale, I got curious and started watching it from the beginning.  This scene seriously cracked me up when I saw it!)

So, back to this workout.  I went out to do it Tuesday night and for some reason my watch reset itself and no longer had any GPS data on it, so it didn’t recognize the distance I was running.. and said I was at a 35 minute/mile.  I know I’ve slowed down, but I’m not that slow!  So I came back home, updated the software on my watch, and figured I’d try again the next day.

I headed out last night and felt great during my warm-up.  Then when I started my first 400m, I got about halfway through it when I realized I forgot to reset my watch to show my lap distance instead of total.. so in my head I thought “this is less than a 5 mile workout, I’ll just walk back to where my 400s start and fix my watch and start over”.  So I did.  Then I ran the first 400 in 1:47.  Mike had told me not to run all out, to run faster than normal but to try to run as efficiently as possible, to lengthen my stride and use my arms more.  I tried to do that, but since it’s been so long since I’ve done speed work I wasn’t really sure what pace I should be at (and I know I wasn’t supposed to be worried about the numbers on my watch, but it’s hard not to!).  I learned very quickly that the pace that felt okay for the first 400m would not feel okay for the others.  I jogged back to my starting place and started the 2nd one.  Ohhh it hurt!  I ran it in 1:55 and spent the last 100m or so wondering what I was doing to myself.  I felt sick and almost immediately regretted the pre-run whoppers and beer with dinner (don’t judge, our ‘fridge was leaking so the filtered water was turned off, what’s a girl to do?!).  I jogged back to the start again and considered throwing in the towel but I wasn’t even halfway done so I decided to do another.  I ran that one in 1:50 and my body was screaming at me the entire time.

2013 space coast marathon running my first marathon – my goal this time is to blow that time out of the water!

I know I ran these too fast.  Those paces were fine for me a few months ago, when I was consistently running 4-5 times a week and doing speed work once a week.  I was running 800s in 4:00 and had built up to 6 of those, so these would have been cake then.. but then is not now.

So, new plan.  Instead of calling this Week 1 of marathon training, I’m going to still do the rest of the workouts this week that Mike gave me, but make a conscious effort to not kill myself or make myself miserable.  Then next week, I’m going to officially start marathon training, and I’ll run all 8 of the 400s, even if I do actually puke at the end.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

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12 thoughts on “How Not to Train for a Marathon”

  1. Um yeah. Running is hard. I am reminded of that often. You started though and that’s what counts. Personally I think 8x400m is too much for week 1 of marathon training unless one is advanced.

    1. Thanks, Marcia. I’m definitely not advanced and I know it was ambitious after a break. A few months ago, I could have done it without a problem, but since I let my training slide, I got my toosh handed to me. Hopefully easing back into it this week will make the 400s go better next week. I just have to remember to start slow and build to running them faster, instead of trying to start too fast. That’s a big problem I have :(

  2. You will ROCK your next marathon!!! Go you for running more than one marathon!!! Whew, I’m still not sure if I’ll ever do another 😉 PS, I’m going to register *I THINK* for the disney world half, does it fill up super quick??
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted…That Run Where Everything “Clicks”My Profile

    1. Ohhh I bet you will! :) I wasn’t sure that I’d want to, but two of my friends wanted to do it (it will be their first) so another friend and I (she’s run 1) agreed to do it with them — I’m looking forward to training with them and then hopefully doing MUCH better on race day. I need to work on my mental game, mentally I’m a wimp and when it gets tough, I am no good at pushing through. Definitely something I need to work on!

      Registration for the Disney World half opens next week, on the 22nd! I haven’t run that one, but I think it’s the same course as the Princess and that one is a blast. Marathon weekend is so much fun, it’s great to be surrounded by so many runners in the happiest place on Earth :) If you definitely want to do it, I’d sign up early, Disney races have been selling out crazy fast.

  3. Speed work is always my least favorite part, and I am horrible about skipping it.
    Good luck on the 800s.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…All Blinged Out: Jewelry TimeMy Profile

    1. I like doing it on the treadmill, but not so much on the road where I have to pay attention to how fast I’m going. It’s hard to pace yourself, run hard, and not die all at the same time! :)

  4. I have phases where I’ll tackle speed work and I’ll have a blast, but then other days I want to pack up and go home. It happens sometimes. You have the right attitude and that will take you a long way. Good luck on the next training week.
    Haley @ Running with diapers recently posted…Good Friday NewsMy Profile

    1. I’m the same way — some days I love speed work, others I reaaaally hate it.

      Work has been insane this week, so I haven’t run at all. Ughh! Our deadline is next week though so hopefully that means things will calm down at least a little bit so I can get to work.

  5. I am just learning how to do “speed work”, though I am not really running all that fast. Since I have a treadmill, it helps break up the time.

    Which marathon are you training for? Best of luck!!!
    Meghan recently posted…Am I Delusional?My Profile

    1. The Disney marathon! I convinced a few of my girlfriends to train for it and run with me — I can’t wait!

      I usually do my speed work on the treadmill, it’s easier for me to stay on pace there.. I just have to set the speed and try not to fall off instead of constantly checking my watch. I like taking my iPad to the gym too, then I can watch a movie or show while I do it and not focus on how much it hurts :)

  6. Hi Kristin! I found your blog through Kristina’s Blogaboutrunning site. Looks great!

    There is always next week to ‘start’ officially. Just think of this as your warm-up, pre-training week perhaps?

    I hear you re: the feeling like you’re going to spew during speedwork. I have left up 3.5 hours after eating when I’ve attempted speedwork at night and it STILL made me feel really sick and unsure if it was all going to go wrong.

    Hate speedwork (I know, strong word yes?), but love the feeling at the last lap or when I’m cooling down. Your legs will remember those 800s soon enough and get right back into the swing of things for sure. Happy training Kristin!

    1. Thanks so much, Lou! :)

      I was swamped at work this week, working 12ish hour days, so I didn’t get to start this week either. Thankfully our deadline is next week so at least there is an end in sight!

      The last lap of speed work is the best! :) I usually do mine on the treadmill and for some reason the last one is always easier than the middle ones. Hopefully my legs get back to where they were soon, I’d like to cut a nice chunk of time off of my marathon PR!

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