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The Weekly Mile: Week 1 (The 26 Week Road to Running the 26.2 Miles Ahead)

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's just my luck that an odd sequence of perfectly timed events all happen round about today.

#1 - Today is the first day of my THIRD year on Spark People and thus the beginning of what I'm deeming the 3rd stage in my weight-loss journey. In my first year here I lost exactly 100 pounds to THE DAY. You can read my blog about it here:

My second year here started out with a bang and I continued to lose fairly quickly until I hit that magic 125 pounds. Then I ran SMACK into the wall of Plateauville - the place I have been hanging out in for the remainder of the year. It needed to happen. I've learned a lot. But I'm done, and definitely ready to move on. I know I'm not meant to stay here. And I know there are more things for me to learn. Just not here. So I'm forging a new road - be it at the same physical weight or not. Which brings me to:

#2 - 26 Mondays from now, I will have officially completed the 2012 Chicago Marathon. Funny, a marathon is 26.2 miles. That works out SO well to start my training journal right here on Spark and bring you all along with me. Am I right? Woohoo! And...

#3 - Today I officially am picking up where I left off (distance-wise). To get everyone up to speed you need to know that unfortunately, at the end of 2011, I injured my right knee and was unable to run for about 6 weeks. That was after running a glorious 11 miler and feeling like I was totally invincible...until I wasn't. I stayed active and did other things- swimming was really important, and I even enjoyed a few days of downhill skiing. But every time I tried to run, my knee would lock up, I'd have searing pain in the joint itself, and my leg would render itself unusable for any speed faster than a dull limp. Boo. Well - after a few months of amazing chiropractic therapy and massage and training THE RIGHT WAY this time as far as increasing weekly mileage goes, I completed another 11 miler on Saturday and I FEEL AMAZING! My legs are strong and in shape. The only pain I'm experiencing is the exhaustion of running super long distances (for me) and not being able to sleep 10+ hours a day. Awww, poor baby.

So here we go...

Obviously, seeing as I just ran 11 miles over the weekend, you can probably guess that my training isn't officially starting today. Nor will it start at the 18 week mark that Hal Higdon sets as being enough to do it. This is my training, my way - taking into account a number of different, but excellent resources (including a few fellow Sparkers who have run this road before themselves), and a variety of different training schedules - the most important of which is my own body and the rate at which it wants to learn, to build and to get better at doing what it is that I am determined to do. So far, so good.

I'm going to venture out there and jump on the band wagon of people that suggest that it might not be the best idea to train for a marathon if the longest distance you currently run is a 5K. No one is saying you can't. In fact, a lot of people start from nothing and learn to run while training for a marathon. But not me. I'm still considered overweight, and I personally feel like starting from ground zero on this one would have been WAY too much stress on my body. I'm stressing it enough as it is - but right now I feel like it's a good stress. It needs to stay that way.

I started running a few months into my Spark journey. I thought I was crazy at the time. I thought I'd NEVER like it in a millions years. But everyone else was doing it, so why not try, right? I was wrong about hating Zumba (I frickin LOVE Zumba, and my cuter than cute, spunky and fantastic instructor Christa, who has been my inspiration and cheering squad through 100 pounds of sweat and booty shakin'). So maybe I would be wrong about hating running as well. The fact that I am writing this blog right now should tell you how that turned out.

Like a lot of people, I started with the C25K program, and then worked up to Bridge to 10K, and then completed my first 15K in November of 2011 with my super-fit boyfriend at my side. Actually - that's inaccurate. I passed him on the way and left him in my dust. He finished a couple minutes after me. But we don't talk about that...hehehehe....

I thought I was well on my way to finishing out 2011 with my first Turkey Trot Half Marathon, but then the aforementioned knee injury struck me hard, and I was benched for the year. So much for perfect records. But that's ok. What I learned from that injury was that my training style was ALL wrong, and that in order to train for even longer distances, I was going to have to train smarter...and much, much slower. Maybe this blog will help me and others keep that in mind, and we can all come out of this feeling good and injury-free.

So I've been officially training for the marathon since February 1st of this year - the day that I officially registered. Even though that's almost 5 months before other people will start training, slow and steady WILL finish this race. And I've also chosen a Half to help me break up the monotony, pretty much right at the half-way mark for my full 9 months of training. Coincidence? Maybe not - I am a sucker for schedules and perfect timing :)

Currently I'm running 3-4 times a week, using roughly the schedule that Hal Higdon dictates in his book, times two (since I have so much extra time). The goal for me is not to overtrain or tire myself out, but to take double the time working up to the longer weekly mileage and thus fitting in more full rest weeks and low mileage weeks to allow my body time to adjust and recouperate properly. So my schedule looks a little like this at the moment:

Week 1: Long Run - Rest - Short Run - Massage Therapy/Chiropractic/Cross Train - Short Run - Rest - Cross Train

Week 2: Semi-Long Run - Rest - Short Run - Semi-Long Run - Short Run - Rest - Cross Train

I repeat Week 1 & 2 for 3-4 weeks at a time and then do a "Rest Week" where I cut my mileage by a good 20-25%, cross train more and do my recovery therapy.

Since running a marathon is as much about brain strength as body strength, it's also interesting to note that because of the way I have derived my schedule, my shorter run weeks also have MUCH more actual running in them and serve to "burn me out" enough that I look forward to my long run weeks like crazy. Same or more weekly mileage run, but fewer days of running on the schedule and I also get therapy and cross training in there which are both things that I look forward to with intense glee.

Currently, I am cross training with swimming and Zumba. I will add in biking to replace Zumba after my half marathon since it is lower impact. I have already prepared Christa for the fact that I will be in class less as we get closer to the big day. Though Zumba IS a form of cross training, it is SO high impact that I'm often sore from that class for at least a day afterwards, and I can't consistently pound on my legs that much as my miles get higher. But I will look forward to a triumphant return to booty shaking in the fall with a 26.2 Mile Finisher's Medal around my neck. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I'll remove the medal for class - don't want to injure myself or anyone around me with all the bouncing and swinging! Haha.

For therapy, I have been seeing my chiropractor regularly since I started Spark. I credit my proper alignment for a lot of my ability to lose weight and lose weight quickly during that first year. She kept me active and pain-free and there is no underestimating how much that has helped me along the way. Just this past week, I have started alternating my chiro sessions with sports massage therapy. OMG. It's SO good. Very different from just a standard back massage - she specifically targets the muscles I'm using in my legs and my back to run hard and long, and I felt like a million bucks after only 30 minutes. Next time, I'm booking the hour-long session!

And finally - Food. This is going to be the most interesting segment in my training log. So far it's been elusive and tricky - but it's not just training that has me overeating right now (there's a reason I came to Spark in the first place - and I'm still working on those issues while I train). So stay tuned. What I can tell you right now with all honesty, is that my training diet still involves FAR too much, erm...brew. Because nothing feels better than washing down 11 miles with one, or two...or five, cold drafts. I've earned it, right? Heh.

So journey with me - the countdown to 26 (.2) miles in 26 weeks. It's going to be a wild ride. Ups and downs a plenty. Let's see if I can get this beer habit under control. Let's see if I lose some more pounds. And let's see what kind of guts, inspiration and raw focus it really takes to commit day after day to this massive goal.

At the end of every blog, I'll list my weekly schedule, and my last weekly weigh-in number, just to keep track. If you are interested in more details, please check out my public food logs and exercise logs (they're available on my Spark page).

Week 1 Schedule (Completed):

Sun - 6 miles
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 miles
Wed - Massage + 5 miles
Thu - 4 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - 11 miles (did long run a day early to allow for 2 rest days if needed)

Total Weekly Miles: 18 (+11 - but that will be counted as part of next week)
Total Weekly Calories Burned: 2505 (4047 with the 11 miles)
Weekly Weigh-In: 187.6

Week 2 Schedule:

Sun - Rest
Mon - Rest
Tue - 3 miles
Wed - Chiro + Swimming
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - Zumba
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog and great training plan!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2561 days ago
    26 Mondays from now... I love that. Rock Chicago!


    And happy Third Year. Good things come in threes. Right? :)

    2561 days ago
    Wow, look at you. You've become a serious athlete this year. Maybe there's a plateau in the scale numbers, but there's no plateau in your continuing transformation of yourself.
    2562 days ago
    GIRRRRL, you doing fantastic! You are connecting all the way . . . mind AND body. I remember starting C25K at the same time and now look at you run. I admire your determination and dedication to the sport. Enjoy the journey ahead of you and as you have been doing - take care of you.
    2563 days ago
    Happy third year! *clink* Water toast! ;) (Mine starts tomorrow. ;) )

    I love your "Slow and Steady" plan. From one injured runner to one in recovery - get after it, girl, but take care of you! Hope to be joining you back on the road soon! ;)
    2564 days ago
    This is great information!
    2564 days ago
    This is fascinating. I don't know that I will ever do it but I take inspiration from you as far as just getting better at my 5K goes! Gradual and changing up the routine and listening to your body. It's VERY interesting. I know you will do well! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2564 days ago
    AH-FREAKING-MAZING! Seriously! You are so inspirational! Keep it up, I can't wait to hear about your success on the BIG RUN!

    2564 days ago
    Great plan and great attitude! You've totally got this!
    2564 days ago
  • KARVY09
    So excited to read about your training!

    (and yes... Beer after a run = divine !)
    2564 days ago
    You seem to have an amazing training plan - Good luck!! emoticon
    2564 days ago
    wow Jenn, what a great outlook. I have all the confidence in the world that you are going to OWN this race. I can totally see it in the quiet confidence that you project and the lessons that you have learned.

    You got this.
    2564 days ago
    YOU are AM AZING! I love that you are sharing your training logs with us, and I am so excited for you!!!
    2564 days ago
    Just reading this exhausted me. I can't see your plateau holding out under this onslaught! You go girl! I'm anxiously awaiting updates.
    2564 days ago
  • KBARRY23
    Congrats to your amazing progress so far!! It sounds like you've got a solid plan and training schedule in place. I'll also be running Chicago this year for my first marathon. I did a 10 miler this past weekend, so looks like we are on similar plans!!! Good luck - let's keep each other motivated!!
    2564 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.