Around this time during marathon training — about the halfway point — many of us ask, “Why am I doing this?” Regardless of the plan you follow or how often you are running, this question just seems part of our daily routine.
Because by now, the novelty of a fresh, new plan has worn off. It was fun at the beginning when we had shorter, easier runs. We were fresh, our legs rested, and we still weren’t so exhausted to lay out all our gear the night before the run.
Now, it’s almost November. It’s darker. It’s colder. There is Halloween candy and Pumpkin Spice everywhere, and some days, we’re just lucky to get in the run.
Welcome to Marathon Burnout, where it’s no longer fun, and we have a long way to go. Before we get into Block 3 of this plan, let’s look back at the last 4 weeks.
Challenges and Victories from Month Two
In a nutshell, Block 1 was like the honeymoon — a fresh new beginning, a new way of doing things. Now in Block 2, I found a routine with the running, and I liked the way the week was laid out: short runs early in the week to build to a Medium and Long Run back-to-back progression by the weekend. That worked out quite nicely. Even the cross training was fun. I’d mix it up with strength sessions, or yoga, or swimming, keeping things interesting…at least for a while.
But the 4:30 am wake up calls? I got over that real quick. The biggest problem with those early mornings was not so much getting out for the run at all, but the mad dash and the time crunch I felt when I barely made it back in time to get my son to school. Many times, I would be running so late I would skip over my recovery — foam rolling and yoga. That came back to bite me in the butt (literally) by the end of October with piriformis inflammation.
Also, my resting heart rate was floating back up. I started feeling fatigued and a bit more worn out. During my runs I was having trouble staying in zone. I’ve been a runner long enough to know the signs of overtraining. I’ve had to back off the intensity in favor of smarter recovery and rest practices.
As with Block one, most of my running was in Zones 1-2, but percentage wise, a little less than previously. 78% of time in Zones 1-2. Is this the reason for the overtraining? Probably not, but it’s important to keep that trend from continuing. More time in those upper zones can be attributed in large part to the Hot Chocolate 15k I did earlier this month.
So now what? Block 3 — October 26 to December 1
In Block 3, we start to shift a few things around. Instead of adding mileage on the long run every week, we drop back again before adding more; alternating a progressively long run one week, with a drop back week the next. In addition, only those 16+ mile long runs are preceded by a medium run. The drop back weeks have an easy 3 miles the day before. Cross training is still in the plan twice a week, and the evening walks become longer and more frequent.
However, because I’m flirting with overtraining (with injury always threatening), I really need to prioritize workouts by importance, refocus the nutrition/hydration, and get more and better quality sleep.
The first to go will be the evening walks. I was going to make these a “requirement,” but I need to take that pressure off of myself — it’s just one more thing to cram into an already busy day, adding to stress and increasing overall heart rate. Long cross training sessions would be the next thing to go when I need more rest, but I want to ensure that I’m staying strong. I’ll dial back the intensity/time on those workouts a little bit, focusing more on total body strength. Lastly, the running is the most important, but I am going to keep a very close watch on my day-in-day-out heart rate, sleep quality, and hydration in this block. I will adjust time and intensity if it feels like I’m fighting illness or feeling overly fatigued.
Overall, I’m still feeling pretty good. I’ve had some great runs, and actually wish I could run more frequently, but I’m getting what I need from the training plan. I’m just not getting enough rest to balance it out.
November is the toughest month for so many of us training for Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Holidays, shorter daylight hours, colder weather and adverse conditions, not to mention the emotional stress that many of us feel at this time, all adds up to a daily slog to just get through it. Commit to just getting one thing done every day…that’s where it starts. Whether it’s getting out for at least 10 minutes, or getting on the foam roller, or sleeping a bit later…one thing good for yourself everyday goes a long way to staying healthy.
The most exciting thing happening in November is a quick trip to Walt Disney World for RunDisney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend. I’ll be participating in the half marathon, but hope to also get in an easy training run or two while there. If you are headed out for these events, I hope you join me and my fellow YouTube creators for a meetup over in Epcot. We will be meeting at 7:00 pm on Sunday, November 3rd in front of Journey into Imagination. Please join us!
Thank you for following along on my journey. If you are following this plan for yourself, please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear how it’s working for you.