A long overdue Chicago marathon training update

Hello friends!

I’m really struggling. REALLY. STRUGGLING. And then I saw this e-mail… but only after I dug through my junk e-mail folder before emptying it.

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It’s like the Chicago marathon knew that seeing this e-mail would not be in my best interest, so it went right to junk. But I saw it and it’s already something I’ve been considering since late last week.

So yes, it’s true I’m considering NOT running the Chicago Marathon as my first marathon. I know this may come as a complete and total shock to you..especially if you follow me on Instagram. There you see that I update my training pretty frequently, but that is not the whole story, especially lately.

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I offically made the decision in April 2018 to change my path and pursue my dream to become a Registered Dietitian. At 26 years old, you could say I’ve never been one to do things conventionally 😉 But my former jobs will only make me a better RD in the long run. I’m two weeks into my classes and new job as a nutrition assistant. I’m loving it, but things have been tough. I don’t want to sound ungrateful-I’m so fortunate to have the ability to take out loans and go back to school, be healthy enough to run, chase my dreams, and rely on the support of others, especially my husband. I could not make this dream a reality otherwise.

But, there have been a lot of doubts.

I keep questioning myself: “Is it worth it to change my career after I already have a BA in a related field and MA in a different field? How do I balance sleep/ training/ work/ classes? What does it say about me if I chose sleep after a late night of studying versus an early run? Am I passionate enough? How can I utilize my time more effectively on my 2.5-3 hour commute? As a future RD, isn’t it ironic that I struggle to eat enough to fuel my training/life sometimes? How can I expect to run a marathon on 30 miles per week when I was doing better mileage  earlier this summer?”

Then, I feel like I turn these personal questions into EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES…

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(My longest run last year since college almost exactly a year ago that resulted in another injury)

I spent most of my college running career and the years after nursing injuries/not running. I got hurt again last year at this time when I was trying to finally make my return to running! I later realized the key for me to staying healthy is doing most of my runs at a very easy pace. It took me until this year to master that. I’ve spent years just wanting to get to this point of healthy, consistent running! And now I’m there (or was, except for last two weeks of training)…

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(throw back to 2011 college cross country)

In college, I had a demanding science major, a very part time job (I was allowed to do my homework during it :P), cross country practice (sometimes twice a day), and a few other extracurriculars.  So, now that I’m older, back in school, and healthy, it’s frustrating that I am struggling to balance my schedule. But I’m only on week 2, so it will get better! It doesn’t help sometimes that when I am talking to other people training for a marathon in person or on social media I see so many who juggle even more than me crushing their training. And the first thing I think after being inspired and excited for them is, how? What is their secret? I don’t mean for that to sound pessimistic. But it’s hard to not to play the comparison game. I know I’m not the only one.

But my husband reminded me that some of you may look at me here, on social media, etc. and think that I too am crushing it and have the perfect training/life balance. I assure you I don’t! I am a firm believer in less is more, but America teaches us to be busy, busy, busy. Who can work the longest? Who can eat the healthiest? Who can run the most miles? Who can do the most extracurriculars? Work the most jobs? etc. etc. It’s not realistic to do everything, all the time, and you never know the whole story until you ask someone. We are all just trying to figure it out.

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I pride myself on being honest in the hopes that others can relate. Last week I ran only 35 miles (instead of my goal of 40-45). I struggled with the timing of runs with my new classes, my 2.5-3 hour commute to school, and the heat/humidity/weather. This week I started working on top of my classes and that further complicated things. I’m still trying to get in the rhythm of a good schedule because this is all new to me. I’m only at 8 miles this week and may reach 25-30 miles depending on the next 24 hours. I’ve been demoralized about my paces during runs and I feeling worn down on more runs than energized. Also, I’m competitive and put a lot of pressure on myself to run a certain time. Yet, I know no one will judge me if I run a 3:15 marathon or a 4 hour one because it’s amazing to just finish one! Although, I cannot decide if I have enough training to still run Chicago, especially if this trend in my training continues…This is why I desperately wish I had a coach and/or team. 🙁

I thought it might help me decide to reflect on the majors lows and highs of my training so far. Lows first, then highs because I  am doing my best to remain positive!

Training lows:

The Rock ‘n Roll Chicago half marathon (week 8) where I ran much slower than I expected, but it was a tough day for all in the monsoon-like conditions:

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My first “true” long run of training cycle was 14 miles (week 10) where I learned that 12 ounces is not enough water, you need to wear sunscreen, and one gel is not enough:

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Last week’s long run (week 14) that was supposed to be 14-15 miles and I only completed 12. It was my worst run this training cycle and left me feeling defeated and questioning if I have what it takes:

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Training highs

The first tempo run in the training cycle (week 11) that felt good/strong. I did a 4 mile tempo in 6:51, 6:54, 6:40, and 6:49:

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My first ever 16 miler (week 11) with my husband while on vacation in Michigan, where I nailed my nutrition and first started feeling like the possibility of me running a marathon was not so crazy:

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My mile repeat workout during week 12 of training where I exceeded my expectations and ran a 6:24, 6:13,  6:11, and 6:22. I realized I am in better shape than I thought! Nowhere near where my mile repeats in college, but this is a new era of running for me, so I was proud of myself that day:

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My 18 miler (week 12) where I ran 12 miles with my old college teammates and 6 miles on my own. I nailed my nutrition on this run! The run made me realize I am tough and can run further than expected:

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My 20 miler during week 13 done all on my own. I nailed my nutrition on my run and ran it at an easy pace, but was able to pick up the pace a little at the end, despite it being 85 degrees out.  The run was actually pretty fun and it made me realize I am mentally and physically strong enough to run farther than I though!

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The Nike race last week (week 14) where I ran a decent 3.4 mile race (22:04) in the middle of my first week of school where all my other runs that week were subpar. It was fun! It reminded me that I miss racing, especially the shorter ones and training with a team. The positive energy at the race was contagious!

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If you stuck around to read this…thank you! 🙂 It was helpful for me to formulate how I have been feeling. I have until Sept. 18th to decide what to do. As of tonight, I do not know the best decision, but know that your support of my running, my new career path, and me means the world. Know that whatever I decide about Chicago, I am still rooting for all of you! Keep crushing your runs and workouts! At the end of the day we run for fun, so what’s the point if it’s not fun? I am taking the pressure off myself and thinking through this decision. I have a feeling that even if I don’t run Chicago I will find another race to do since I have increased my fitness a lot the last few months 😛

Have you ever deferred a major race (or any race)? Why did you make that decision? 

 

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15 thoughts on “A long overdue Chicago marathon training update

  1. so much of this resonated with me! I too am in the middle of a career change/pivot and oh dear lord the timing has been awful. I completely underestimated how stressful it would be and how long it can take to adjust to a new schedule. Argh!!! My runs have been sucking big time. You are not alone! It is tough because this will be your first marathon so I get wanting it to be great! I also think it wouldn’t be terrible to run it anyway, learn some things about the marathon and take some of the pressure off for #2. You are doing awesome. Keep showing up one day at a time!

    • First of all, congrats on the career change Amy! That’s amazing, but stressful for sure. Second of all, what race are you training for? I’m sure the hot weather hasn’t helped, but I promise your runs will get better! Especially now that the weather has cooled off this week! You ran a 2:59 marathon a few months ago, so you definitely will see improvement soon. I’m rooting for you 💜 Thank you so much for your support! 😊

  2. I deferred my entry into the Detroit Half. The race is in October but I knew coming back from my ankle sprain, it wouldn’t be smart for me to push myself to do it. I’m disappointed, but there is always never year.

    HOWEVER, when I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2012, my highest mileage week was like 35 Miles. Granted, my goal was to just finish and my marathon time was 4:55, but in my unqualified opinion as a hobby jogger, you are definitely doing enough mileage to finish the marathon. I do not doubt that at all. Just review the runs where you nailed your nutrition and keep doing that.

    Also, your husband is right, it might SEEM like everyone else is doing everything AND crushing their training, but you don’t know who is sleep deprived and/or who is on the verge of injury and/or feeling super stressed out. I’m with you on trying to find my rhythm of school, work, workouts, and just living life. It’s hard! But the hard makes it worth it. You can do this!! If your heart isn’t in it, that’s one thing, but I fully believe your training is enough to get you to the finish line. It’s ok to be a little bit undertrained. You did 20 miles. You can definitely do 26.2.

    • I’m sorry your ankle caused you to defer your entry to Detroit-I’ve heard good things about that race! I agree with your choice! It’s best to be smart, so you can continue to run healthy 😊 I know that you are right about my ability to finish-as long as I get done find in between then & now…my hesitation is will I still be able to do well in school & get enough sleep? Will I be okay with my time and just happy to finish? My original 3:15-3:20 ultimate goal seems pretty far out there now 😭 This is s big decision & I appreciate your support! 💜

  3. I am going to base my comment off of what you wrote for your training highs. You miles and pace look great from my point of view. You nailed your nutrition which is difficult to do as the miles increase. You did those runs in a variety of temperatures and overall weather conditions. Now, you should ask yourself how important is your marathon pace? Will it be that difficult to maintain with your current school/work/life schedule? My first marathon was Chicago as well, last year. I have since run the Illinois Marathon this past April. If you should renounce your entry to this year’s Chicago, will you wait until next year to make that Chicago your first or will you sign up for a different marathon before then? I ask that because if you told me the Illinois Marathon would have been my first ever marathon it would be a letdown compared to fanfare that is the Chicago Marathon. Don’t get me wrong, Illinois was great and the people were great (and I know you know that since you ran the half there and your husband did the marathon) but it doesn’t hold a candle to what is an internationally known marathon. I believe you should keep grinding as best you can (as long as it doesn’t enter the realm of exhaustion for you) and keep you entry in the Chicago Marathon. Run the race and have fun. Don’t forget that you have owned your nutrition on those longer runs of yours. You’re ahead of the game.

    • If I didn’t run Chicago I’d run it next year and run a different marathon as my first one. I didn’t know Chicago last year was your first 😱 Thanks for your support! 😊

  4. Two of your three “lows” were more or less weather related. And everyone has bad days on long (and short) runs. Your highs are almost all the toughest workouts and long runs in any marathon training cycle. Your first 20 miler went well, which is more than a lot of people (including myself) can say about their first ever 20 mile run. Your Half at Rock N Roll, along with your long run, should put your Full time in the 3:30 ballpark which would be an excellent marathon debut. Always keep in mind, the paces you’re running while not feeling great are paces that others lining up at Chicago would kill to run and consider it “easy” or “struggling.” But at this point you are 100% physically able to finish, no doubt. If I were you, I’d do something resembling a long run this weekend (15-20) just to get a bit more distance in the peak weeks, do some speed and tempo work, and taper it down. Like I said, you’re physically there to run a pretty solid time, you just need to be mentally there

    • I just found your comment in my spam folder Ben! Idk why… h Anyway, thank you for your belief in my training and me! You are absolutely right, which is why (as you already know), I decided last Sunday that I will run. We are almost at the taper, which I cannot believe. We’ve got this!

  5. I’m too stubborn to ever defer or DNS. I know that’s not smart. You’re right that most of us only put our “best” on social media. It’s nice when some share struggles. That helps us all feel like we aren’t alone and that training isn’t easy for anyone. Whatever you decide, we’re all with ya. You do still have to run with me when I stop in Chicago this month. 🙂

    • I used to be very stubborn as well, but it left me hurt on/off for many years. ☹️ I’m glad you can relate to the training struggles- I share things how they are because we are all in this together! I will absolutely run with you when you visit Chicago this month-just let me know! Thanks for your support! 😊

    • Thank you so much! 😊 You’re right- it was pretty strong until last week. I can still fit in some decent training over the next month should I decide to run 🤔

  6. I would say it sounds like you are crushing it.. you have so many more highs than lows AND one of your lows was just you didn’t know what you needed for your first long run, which is pretty much always the case. Still that’s A LOT to be dealing with all at once. Really think about what would make you feel best: possibly slowing it down but still completing a marathon or focusing on the other parts of your life and crushing your first full a little later! Hope this helped and you make a decision that makes you happy!!

    • Aww thank you Sam! I appreciate your support! :)That’s true about my first long run…I feel like I went into expecting to have things figured out even though it was something I had never done before. That has been my attitude for the training so far…

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