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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Why I wear whatever I want when I run (and why you should too!)

Happy weekend friends! This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a long time… So, I FINALLY did it! I was inspired after running in “buns” for the first time last weekend. It is a little more personal than I’m used to writing here, but hopefully some of you can relate to it. 🙂

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As long as I can remember, I felt self-conscious about my body when working out. Funny, isn’t it? The one activity that was supposed to empower me and help me develop my body confidence made me feel the opposite most of the time. As a kid, I did not think much of clothing worn during workouts, but once I joined cross country as a 14 year old, to train for soccer (HA!), that’s when I noticed those thoughts more often.

I remember coming to summer running as a scared freshmen, who could only run a mile or two, and was in awe of the upperclassman on the team who ran 6 (or more miles) in just a sports bra and spandex. I showed up in my all cotton t-shirt, cotton shorts, and non-supportive running shoes ready to go on a hot summer morning. The run was not memorable, but what stuck out to me was what the other runners wore, especially the faster ones. Soon enough, my coach and I realized I had some natural talent and had me run  varsity with those girls, but I still wore my cotton outfits initially. I was training for soccer, but falling in love with running. I was starting to wonder if/when I would be “fast” and “fit” enough to wear “real” running clothes and asked my mom to go shopping. We bought new shoes, few new tank tops, some shorts, and sports bras, but still no spandex shorts. I was too scared to wear spandex or to run in just a sports bra initially. I did not think I was fast, fit, or thin enough.

The problem was that at the time, I decided I had to look a certain way to wear certain running clothes. Practicality did not matter- for example, when it is 90 degrees a sports bra or tank top and spandex is the comfiest/coolest running outfit. It just mattered to me that I looked the part to wear the outfit. I remember the first time I ran in a sports bra in high school- I was so scared and self-conscious. It was ridiculously hot that day, so I finally caved. I could not focus on my run, though, as I was too worried about how I looked. I spent a lot of high school running worrying if I “looked” like a runner. By junior and senior year I was our team’s top runner, but still felt like a fraud.

(Some high school running throwbacks)

I remember going to a college recruit visit my senior year of high school and running with that team for a long run. It was winter and they all ran in tights-something I was too scared to do. I often wore running sweat pants for winter runs, which are not as comfortable. After that run, though, I realized two things:

a. I must be doing okay if a college is recruiting me

b. It sucks to run in heavy sweatpants, when winter runs are much nicer in leggings. That was the moment I decided to stop caring so much about what I wore when I ran.

No one notices what you wear what you run as much as you do. It’s so liberating to run in what you are comfortable in.  In high school, I wish I had spent more time celebrating how hard I worked, the fact that I was fast enough to run in college, how strong my legs were, and how running clothes could be a fun way to bond with other runners, rather than as a point of comparison. The same running clothes thoughts occasionally occurred in college, but I got over it quickly (for new readers who do not know, I ran XC/track in college too). I got over it quickly because I cared more about reaching my running goals and having a good workout than how I looked.

(Some college running throwbacks)

Your running clothing choices should not be dictated by how you look, but by what is most comfortable to you. All running clothes are meant for you because if you run, you are a runner! Runners come in all shapes, sizes, and paces. 🙂 You don’t have to have a six-pack to run in spandex and a sports bra! You just need to be confident and comfortable in whatever you wear.

These days, I run in whatever the heck I feel like wearing! Tights, spandex, “buns”, sports bras, tank tops, you name it! Nothing is off limits. 😛 Running in an outfit you don’t think you “should” wear can be exhilarating… because screw what everyone else thinks! 😉 I wore “buns” for a training run last week (just to see how they feel if I decide to race in them in a few weeks) and d**n it was liberating! There will always be a runner who is thinner, fitter, and faster, but you only have one life and one body, so it’s much more fun to accept it, nurture it, and wear what is comfortable!

Three questions: What was the first outfit you ran in? Did you ever worry about wearing certain running clothes? What is your favorite running or racing outfit? In college, I had to wear a certain pair of Nike socks and my blue or black Nike sports bra on XC race days.  Unless it’s really cold, I plan to wear my Oiselle “buns” (pictured above haha) and my neon yellow Balega socks for my 5k in a few weeks or half marathon in a month.

Comment your answers or thoughts about the post 👇🏻

What time of day do you run?!

If I were to pick any time of day to run, I would run during the afternoon.🌞 Hands down! Afternoon runs remind me of my high school and college running days…just as the day was getting long, I would have scheduled break around 3-330 pm to look forward to. 🙂 Gosh I miss those days! Before afternoon practice, I was well fueled from breakfast and lunch, and then the run would rev my appetite for dinner. Also, the afternoon practices (unless they were really strenuous) would give me a second burst of energy without another cup of coffee.  After an afternoon practice, I felt ready to tackle my long list of homework, assignments, study sessions, work etc.

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Nowadays I do not have the flexibility of afternoon runs except on the occasional weekend day (like above). 🙁 I work full time and commute one hour each way.  I’d give anything to leave my desk for an hour in the middle of the day for an afternoon run. :/  I honestly think I’d return to work much more productive after an afternoon run.

So, what have I been doing lately? Well….I’ve been running in the evening/at night. Unfortunately, the days are getting shorter and the time I leave work is not always predicable- it depends on the day’s projects.  I don’t run in the mornings as often, because of my commute time and I like to ease into the work day with a hearty breakfast. I’m not the kind of girl who can just dash out the door after a workout and quick shower with a granola bar. Your girl here needs to EAT! If I don’t eat eat a good breakfast I feel terrible at work, honestly. Team breakfast all the way! 🍓🍳🥞

Anyway, I’m starting to worry about my options for when to run as the days get shorter. It’s almost that time of year when it is dark when I wake up and when I leave work for the night. Not running is not an option on most days…I tried that lifestyle for a lot of 2016 by choice and part of 2014/2015 due to injury and it was not for me…Plus, I am training for a half marathon in November.💪🏻🏃🏼‍♀️

All I know, is that I am happiest and healthiest (physically and mentally), when I am running and sharing my passion for it with others.  Running and nerding out about running is what makes me, me! I even met my now husband through running in high school, but that is a tale for another day. 😛

When do all of you run?! I only have myself to worry about, but I know some of you out there have families, work full time, AND run! How do you do it? When do you run? What time of day would you run if you could at any time? Comment 👇🏻