Before I start recapping these last couple of weeks of training, I wanted to thank those of you who left thoughtful comments and responses to my Week 5 recap about motivation. In hindsight, I realized that the post made it sound like I was struggling with running motivation in general, which isn’t the case; instead, I meant to say that I’m having trouble getting out the door for ultramarathon training. I still love running, I just wish I didn’t have to do so much of it. The good news is that I’m already 7 weeks through a 16-week training cycle that has 3 weeks of taper at the end… so, I’m already halfway done with “real” training. Hooray!
A quick recap of the first 5 weeks of 50K training:
- Weeks 1-3: In NYC for work (and a little play), I fell short of my mileage goals, but still managed to do most of my runs.
- Week 4: Back home and back to training. 5 runs for a total of 36 miles.
- Week 5: Struggling with motivation, but I still grind away. 5 runs for a total of 41 miles.
I should note that I jumped up from averaging 21-27 miles per week (mpw) in the first 3 weeks to 36 mpw in week 4 — which is a big red flag according to running conventional wisdom, which states that one shouldn’t increase by more than 10% of weekly mileage from week to week. Then, when I added a 41-mile week to the mix in week 5, well, no wonder I was feeling low on motivation. Adding a few stressful non-running things to the mix only made things worse.
I started Week 6 of training just fine, getting up very early on Tuesday morning to get my 6 miler in. I felt like I was sleep jogging, with my eyes closed, for the whole run. When I continued to feel tired the rest of the day, I chalked it up to waking up early. However, when I was still feeling really run down on Wednesday, I knew this wasn’t just normal fatigue. I ended up skipping Wednesday afternoon’s 8-miler in favor of happy hour with coworkers, reasoning that I needed to balance my life out a little bit… plus, one skipped run wouldn’t hurt, right? I went home, ate dinner with the Gypsy Runner, and promptly fell asleep at 7:45 p.m. I slept until almost 7 a.m. and still felt exhausted. That’s when I decided to take a sick day. I stayed in bed and rested/napped almost all day. I very briefly considered going for an easy jog around the block, but then thought better of it. I knew that rest was the most important thing, but I also felt incredibly guilty about skipping another run and falling 14 miles short of my weekly goal. However, looking back, I realized that rest is exactly what I needed, and forcing myself to go on those 2 runs might have dug a deeper hole that would’ve required even more rest in the long run.
By Saturday, I was feeling a lot better, so I went out for 7 miles at Lake Chabot. Then on Sunday, JT and I both had to fit in a long run, so we ran Bay to Breakers (12K or 7.4 miles) followed by another ~10.5 to make it 18 for the day. (Race recap coming soon!) Last Sunday’s 18 was my longest run of the training cycle so far. Even though I felt tired by the end, my cardiovascular system and legs were still going strong and we managed to do the last mile (flat along the Embarcadero) at ~9:50-10:00/mile pace. (Our average pace for the whole run was 11:24/mile — B2B was our slowest section, actually!) So, despite 2 days of rest and skipped runs, I finished Week 6 with a solid 31 miles for the week.
On to Week 7! Because the GR and I had plans to go away for the weekend, I rearranged my schedule that resulted in running 5 days in a row. I don’t usually like to run so many days in a row, but desperate times call for desperate measures! Going into the week, I was a little skeptical about that plan, especially since I had to run 10 miles on Wednesday and 14 trail miles early Friday morning. To my surprise, everything went smoothly – even the midweek 10-miler was better than expected. I think my body is finally adjusting to the training load. I was also really careful this week about going to bed early and getting enough sleep. On Saturday, I had 6 miles on the training schedule, but because we were away on vacation, I didn’t want my running to get in the way of our plans — even if that plan was just to sleep in and relax. When the GR suggested going on a short run together, which we haven’t done in ages, I thought that was a perfect compromise. I’d still get a few miles in while spending time with the GR and we could explore Sebastopol together. We decided to do a quick out and back on the Joe Rodata Trail, which is a multi-use greenway that connects Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, Graton, and Forestville. The section we ran was very flat and went through a mix of woods and rural land, so it was quite pleasant, though I wish there were water fountains as it was pretty warm out there! With that run, I finished Week 7 with a total of 39 miles.