Just over five weeks into my training for the Chicago Marathon, my body is starting to gently remind me that marathon training does, in fact, take a lot out of you. Coming off a 5K PR (24:36!) and a relaxed, perfect half marathon, I entered the training already on a runner’s high. I outlined my plan—a hybrid of Hal Higdon’s Novice for the long run & twice weekly ‘easy’ mileage along with Runner’s World Smart Coach for a mid week tempo or speed workout to keep me on my toes. For the first four weeks I was nailing paces and tacking an extra mile onto the long runs just because I felt damn good running.
A day after a 12 miler that was supposed to be 11, my hip was nagging me. A day after that, hamstrings. The following weekend, calves. And so it has gone on for the past 10 days. Each day I wake with a new, just-present-enough-to-be-annoying nagging in some part of my lower body. Part of me thinks I’m crazy as the aches and pains vary by day. But the other smarter, more cautious side of me sees this as a wake up call—my mileage is increasing and I’m running harder & faster than ever before. Perhaps as the mileage moves up, I need to dial back the intensity.
Luckily for me this week happened to be one of the weeks my mileage scaled back in the schedule, so I’ve taken full advantage…no tempos, no speedwork, no extra miles for “funsies.” Just easy, comfortable miles to be wrapped up by a reduced long run this weekend. I’ve even cut my time in the gym too. Blessed with a fab gym in the office, you can typically find me there over the lunch hour working my abs, arms, and legs in rotation day after day. Yesterday I skipped the gym all together, announcing to my workout partner-in-crime that I was enjoying a “rest day.” She snickered and asked, “But didn’t you run this morning?” Yes, I had. Oops.
And so, five weeks in, I get it. Marathon training is no easy feat and rest and recovery is just as important as putting in the miles. My exercise prescription for the coming weeks—focus more on the mileage, less on the speed, and cut strength training to 3 days per week. And rest days? Bring ‘em on.