TCM Training: Week 8

week 8
Marching up and on.

Week’s Theme: Clawing Back Up

This week had some tough workouts and was probably my hardest one yet. One of the reasons it was tough was the volume; this was definitely my highest mileage week in years. I ended up taking an extra rest day to give my legs what felt like a needed break from the grind. Some weird knee and calf tweaks weren’t worth pushing anything, and as frustrating as it was to leave the miles behind, it was best choice to make in that moment.

Day Planned Actual
Monday: 5 + plyos WU + 5k [5]
Tuesday: 2 x (800,1600) [7] 6 easy
Wednesday: Rest Rest
Thursday: 7 @ MP 0
Friday:  7 + strength 6.5 + strength
Saturday: 16 (interval progression) 16 interval progression!
Sunday: 7 7
Total Mileage  50  40.5


I’m not quite back up the blue line, but I’m trending in the right direction and giving myself some leeway. It’s hard not to compare yourself to other people running higher weekly mileage (literally how do you do that and still function in your work/life?), and it’s hard not to compare yourself to previous levels of personal fitness. I’m trying to remind myself that when I was “super fit,” I did nothing but work and run and blog and sleep, and man is that boring. I’m also trying to remind myself that my legs aren’t magically going to feel light and free at 40mpw; that’s something that takes time to build. All of that being said, I’m pleased with my miles this week, and there were some fun changes to my usual routine that made things a bit more interesting.

New This Week: Racing!

I had signed up for a small-ish 5k a while back (because they give you a burger and beer!), and decided that I would swap out the race for my scheduled track workout. My PR (23:35 — 7:36 pace) was from 2015, and while I didn’t think that I could realistically beat that, I wanted to give it my best effort. My goal was to aim for 7:45s and see how much I could push it from there.

Burgers + Beer 5k Results — 24:11 [7:45, 7:49, 7:48]



That’s me trying not to vomit in the pink!

This race has a super easy out and back course (no tangents!), and the weather was shockingly cool (albeit humid) compared to last year’s chicken noodle soup. T and I got in a quick warm-up and some stretches, but my calf was feeling super tight. Despite that tightness in the warm-up, I didn’t feel it as much in the race. The first mile felt good, the second mile felt like it was a little harder, and the third mile was filled with mantras (#grittybitch) and convincing myself to keep my foot on the accelerator. I got passed by a woman just shy of the 3 mile mark, but I was really proud of myself for immediately responding and finding another gear to fly back past her and finish strong. When paired with my warm-up miles, this basically hit the planned mileage for my track workout, and was way more fun.

Long Run: Long Run Interval Progression!

Planned: 2up + 8 @ 9:15 + 4 @ 8:45 + 2 @ 8:30
Actual: [(10:16, 9:58) + (9:16, 9:20, 9:19, 9:20, 9:12, 9:13, 9:21, 9:13) + (9:18, 9:03, 8:38, 8:41) + (8:35, 8:30)]

This workout scared the crap out of me, but I was really motivated to do it… and do it well. This was the longest run I’ve done since 2014, and on top of that, it was far faster than I’d run any of my previous long runs in this cycle. Saturday morning was muggy and warm, but the partial cloudiness kept it from feeling like a furnace. Given the conditions, I gave myself preemptive permission to cut back on the pace if it felt like too much. I wanted to have a great workout, but I wasn’t going to be stupid about it. The first half of this run clicked off pretty quickly, which surprised me a bit. I’ve been doing my long runs closer to a 10min/mi pace, so this was already a lot faster than normal. I also realized about a mile into the run that I was one gel short, which wasn’t ideal given the sweatfest. I tried to stretch the two I had a little bit, but I didn’t want to sacrifice the entire run by stretching too far. I took the first gel around 45min as normal, and stretched the second to around 10. Spoiler alert: I needed one more.

As the last of the 9:15 segment came to a close, I took a quick mental break at a water fountain before kicking off the set of 8:45s. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I could reel it in, and I found myself giving my brain excuses to fail before I had even tried. It took about 1.5mi to really find my confidence in the 8:45 pace, and one of the things that actually helped was utilizing a strategy I borrowed from Jordan Hasay. In her interview with Runner’s World, she mentioned running Boston “with” her late mother, letting her mom “run” certain sections that her mom was better at managing (i.e. downhills). I quickly ran through my running connections and decided that Caitlin @ Fit and Feminist was fast and would probably kick butt at 8:45s. So, “Caitlin” ran the third mile of this segment for me (thanks, pal!). I’m not sure how healthy disassociation is as a training strategy, but it was effective… so there ya go!

I spent 30 min laying on the deck eating cheese and crackers post-run, as God intended.

Just as I was settling down into the pace, a biker skidded out in front of me pretty badly and I waited with him for a good 5-10min while we got an ambulance lined up and some med folk runners stopped to help. I was really glad to help (years ago, random lake path folks helped me when I passed out cold on a long run) but the break totally derailed me mentally – my adrenaline was a little high and I was a little shaken up. I never quite got back on track mentally (lots of convincing myself I couldn’t do it before I even tried), but I was still able to crank out the remaining 8:45s and my 8:30s by bargaining with myself about slowing down if I could get X done. You can string along a good amount of miles by constantly bargaining for the next few steps! I paid the price for missing a gel — at one point, I stopped at an intersection 1/2mi from home and really had to bargain with myself to keep moving. Ultimately, I was able to get the majority of my splits as intended – which feels pretty good given the circumstances – and I’m proud of myself for pushing through a lot of the hesitation or insecurities around my abilities.

Final Thoughts: Pretty Gritty

This week was the first time that I really felt the miles I was running, and I’m not surprised. I was also not surprised that I found myself leaning so heavily on the mental aspect of running when things got hard. My legs are getting there, but I also need to consciously work on my mental endurance and strength; the marathon requires both in large measure. Finding mantras and strategies that work for me is really important in the next few months, and right now everything is a little bit of trial and error.

Do you have any mantras or strategies that work for you?



Add yours →

  1. This was great for me to read. My mileage is still really low but I love hearing about preparing mentally as well as physically–the mental part is something I have started to work on even when the runs aren’t that long. (this part of training also fucks with my head a bit because i think i should be able to just zoom through every run because they are short—and i’m not able, so i get down.)
    Sounds like a great week with a lot of hard work in it–congrats! x


  2. PRETTY GRITTY! You should put that on a t-shirt.

    I can’t wrap my mind around how people are regularly able to run a lot of miles. (To be, 30 is a lot of miles … ) Seriously, when do they do it? Do they get less sleep than me? (I usually get about 7-8 hours per night.) Especially people with kids who work full time and run more miles than me. HOW? WHEN? I guess they are also faster than me so it wouldn’t take them as long to cover 40+ miles.


    • I wonder the same myself! When I hear people who are like “I run 80+ mpw and I have a job and kids” I’m like, Are you some kind of wizard? because I can’t wrap my head around it.


  3. I’m trying to get caught up on my huge backlog of unread blog posts and this was the first one I read – and I had no idea I’d helped you with that kick-ass workout! When I started reading that section I was like, “damn that’s a tough workout” and I was impressed that you hung in there for it. Nice job, my friend.

    And I totally agree with Maggie – Pretty Gritty should be on a shirt.


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