Marathon Training Week 10 – Assessing A Bump In The Road

This week’s update is going to be a little bit different but this week’s training ended on an unusual note.  Please note:  I’m going to go into some details in this post which may be a little unpleasant but I’m recording them so that I have a record of what happened for future analysis.

The TL, DR  version of this blog post is:  my mid-week training went OK, but the weekend long run ended poorly and that, plus some other scheduling concerns, are making me re-evalate my marathon plan, such that I probably won’t run my first marathon when I planned to do so.

So here’s the long version:

I ran three mid-week training sessions per my week 10 schedule:  3 miles on Tuesday, 7 miles on Wednesday and 4 miles on Thursday.  Results were pretty consistent with other runs, generally sticking to my planned pace and feeling reasonably good.

A few things to note which may have had an impact on the weekend long run:

  • Work has been more stressful during the past few weeks due to a project that I was recently assigned to, taking extra time and effort to get some things done in a short period of time.
  • I’ve been seeing signs that I haven’t been hydrating well enough… in the way that you can see whether or not you are hydrating enough.  (Hint:  it involves a toilet bowl.)
  • I don’t think I’ve been sleeping as well as I could during the past few months, I seem to wake up a few times per night, rarely sleeping through.  Probably not always getting to bed at a good time, either.
  • I could be eating better… ’nuff said.

So I’m keeping these things in mind as I go into my long run.  I try to work on hydration and nutrition a bit, try to get to bed at a decent hour and work stress… well, it comes and goes, right?

So, the long run:  the plan was to run 15 miles at a pace between 11 minutes/mile and 12 minutes/mile.  For a change, I was going to run one long run on reasonably flat terrain instead of several loops with some hills.  I had my water, I had 3 gels (one gel every four miles) and my other gear.  I had a big bowl of Harvest Crunch for breakfast – my normal breakfast – plus about half a cup of trail mix.  Good to go.

So I started my run.  Felt pretty good at the start and throughout the first half of the run.  Once I got to about mile 6 I did start running uphill a bit but it wasn’t a huge grade.  No problem.  I drank water periodically and had my gels.  I did not immediately swallow the gels because they had hardened a bit with the cold (-15 C) so I chewed them up first and then took some water to help them digest.  I normally slow down to a walk to do this but I wanted to practice fueling up while running, so that’s what I did.

I maintained my preferred pace for the most part but didn’t watch it too closely, I think I went a bit faster than 10 minutes/mile at times, but not a lot more.

Had to sneak out for a quick bio break around mile 8… well, it happens, right?

Around mile 9 and 10 I started to feel more fatigued than normal and was breathing harder than normal.  The feeling got worse as I kept going.  When I got to mile 11 I really wanted to take a break.  I pushed myself to mile 11.3 and then started walking.  OK, no biggie, right?  I really haven’t had to do that before, not during a 12 mile run or my half-marathon training run, unless I was slowing down to eat or drink.

So I walked for about half a mile and thought I’d try jogging again.  I managed 100 yards or so but then a combination of fatigue and heavy breathing forced me to start walking again.  Whoa.  Hadn’t experienced that run down feeling in… a long time.  So I walked some more and tried another jog… again, I had to slow back down to a walk.

Meanwhile, it’s still fairly cold outside and although I’m wearing three layers of clothing on my torso, I’m soaked in sweat and getting chilled when I slow down.   Great, so then I want to jog to try to warm up… but again I can’t maintain a slow jog.  So I wind up walking most of the 3.7 miles back to my car:  exhausted, cold and wet.  Sorry if it seems like I’m whining, but I’m just trying to depict what  happened.

Finally I get to my car, still freezing and breathing harder than normal.  In retrospect, it took me awhile to fully get my breath back after my half-marathon training run a couple of weeks ago but I was running at a faster pace that day, plus running up more hills.  Hindsight.

So I pick up one of my kids after a drama practice and head home.  Still gasping for air and at one point things got very bright in my eyes, almost like seeing stars, I guess.  So we get home, still feeling as I had before plus I was hungry.  I’m worried that I need food so I head up to the kitchen and get some water plus a handful of Craisins (sweetened dried cranberries) to try to get some food into my body.  Foreshadowing:   this may have been a huge mistake.

So I head to the bedroom to try to get cleaned up… and spend the next 2 – 3 hours either collapsed on the bed or getting ill in the bathroom.  I’ve had runs that didn’t go as planned before, but not very many… and definitely none this bad.  Definitely the least pleasant running experience I’ve had so far.

So, between feeling like crap for several hours and freaking out my family, I felt it was a good time to step back and assess how things were going in my training plan.   🙂

As the miles per week have increased, I’ve certainly felt more tired, irritable, etc. but at the same time I can tell that I’m getting better at running longer distances.  Plus I’ve heard that you’re going to feel some discomfort as your body adapts to the stress that you’re putting on it.  So that’s all understandable.

But there’s a few things that I need to consider:

  • I’m 45 years old, firmly in middle age.
  • I’ve only been running since May 2014 and although I had been practicing Kung Fu for about 3 years before that, it was only 1 – 2 hours per week and I was very sedentary the rest of the week.
  • I’ve been overweight and out of shape for well over a decade, closer to two decades.
  • Despite losing a lot of weight during the past year, I’m still at least 30 lbs overweight, probably closer to 40 lbs overweight.
  • It’s been strongly recommended to me that the day or two before the marathon should be extremely low activity.  HOWEVER, some family events have recently crept into the schedule on those two days, including a bunch of driving around and stuff, so it’s going to be a hectic weekend and then adding a full marathon on top of that…  might not be the best idea.

So all of this leads me to think that:

  1. I need to take a couple of days of running and then come back at it at somewhat lower mileage, then work my way back into it.
  2. I’m not going to be ready to run a full marathon when I planned to be, I might be pushing myself too hard too soon and I may need more time to work my way up to full marathon distance.
  3. It’s going to be a crappy weekend to run a full marathon anyway.

Therefore:

Although I haven’t changed my marathon plans yet, I am strongly leaning towards running the half-marathon (or even the 10K race) that occurs on the same day as the full marathon.  Then I will turn this into a longer training plan to run my first full marathon, either in the summer or the fall, while I run a few other races between 5K and half-marathon length in between.

How do I feel about this?

I have mixed feelings for sure.  I’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into my marathon training program and I’ve been telling a lot of people about it, so it feels kind of crappy to back down from that goal.  There’s always the danger now that I might abandon the full marathon goal.  I don’t want to think that I’m backing down just because I had one bad run.  A big part of my decision is being driven by the family commitments that have arisen during the past couple of weeks.

On the other hand, I do feel relieved about switching to a lower distance race.  My original plan, months ago, was to run the half-marathon but I wanted to see if I could successfully challenge myself to complete the full marathon instead.  So it’s kind of like I’m reverting to my original goal.  Changing my training plan around a bit will make the next couple of months a bit less hectic and allow me to do more training outside.  It will give me more time to get up to the necessary level of fitness.

So I think the best course is to scale back my short term goals in favor of having a better first full marathon.  Again, I have mixed feelings about doing this but I think it’s better to err on the side of caution.  In the end, the only person I have to satisfy is myself.

Have you ever had to change your marathon training goals?  How did things work out for you?

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9 Responses to Marathon Training Week 10 – Assessing A Bump In The Road

  1. Scott M says:

    I’ve had to change my marathon training goals basically every time I have started to train for a marathon, to the point where I have yet to manage to run one. And this year will be no exception thanks to some surgery I have coming up. I wouldn’t stress too much about it; do the half for sure if you are up to it, and keep slowly building the endurance for the full.

    A friend of mine who has run many full marathons was telling me once that these days, he prefers to run halfs; he said it feels good to accomplish the full, but the actual physical experience of it is miserable, whereas with a half you can finish and not lose the rest of your day or more.

    Like

    • markdykeman says:

      Thanks Scott, your friend’s feedback is similar to others that I’ve heard. We’ll see. I still want to run Boston someday but it’s definitely a long term goal, at least 3 – 5 years down the road.

      Like

  2. Steven says:

    Mark, been watching your progress and you have been doing great.
    Interestingly enough, had a tough 15 mile run last year around this time of the year. It was march 29. This particular run was the week after I ran my first successful HM. On this tough run, I was experimenting with food and drink and ended up feeling bloated to the point where I could not easily run about halfway through. By this time I was in trouble. I was sweaty, and because I slowed, I was no longer generating heat, and because I was wet, I got cold really fast. I think it was made worse as I was running into the wind on the trip back. Anyways, I was stuck out in Bulls creek attempting to run/walking back to my car. But, I just couldn’t get back up to running speed, I was tired, and I was freezing! I may have been okay if I could have got back up to speed and generating heat, but I just couldn’t do it. I’m guessing that I was hypothermic. I eventually managed to get back to the car, completely miserable, cold and wet. Oh yeah, I think my car was stuck in the snow, so I had get it out, making for more misery. So this sounds a little bit like what you experienced, although your experience sounds a lot worse. Just guessing, I would say that you were experiencing hypothermia as well.
    You may want to read up on the symptoms of hypothermia, and see if that was what you experienced.

    If you aren’t sure, You might want to consider eliminating the “elements” from your next run, and see how you feel running on the ‘mill. I’m guessing that you will be just fine.
    Steven.

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    • markdykeman says:

      Hi Steven, your experience from last year does seem similar to mine. I am thinking that my stomach reacted badly to the Craisins as well, maybe that caused some of my other problems.

      I’m going to research the hypothermia angle, too – hadn’t really thought about that

      Like

  3. Steven says:

    One more thing. You should have gone to the hospital!

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    • markdykeman says:

      Probably should have, but honestly would have been a huge struggle at that time. Fortunately, no chest pains, no arm pains, no pains in the jaw area, etc.

      Like

  4. Steven says:

    Interesting post about someone who got hypothermia during the LA marathon on a 50F rainy day in LALA land. Conditions were not nearly as fierce as you were facing, but they still lost the ability to regulate their core temp. http://triathletediva.blogspot.ca/2011/03/how-i-got-hypothermia-on-50-degree-day.html

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Race training of some kind continues | Keep Taking Another Step

  6. Pingback: The 26.2 mile method to achieve fatigue, pain, triumph and closure: the story of a first marathon | Keep Taking Another Step

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