2017 Chicago Marathon Training: Week Five

Woof. Week five was a tough one both physically and mentally.

I struggled a lot at the end of week four on my long run. It was a cutback week, but my legs were heavy and I was just tired.

The holiday really messed with my schedule in week 5. Since Tuesday was a holiday, I went to my strength class on Monday with my sister. It was with a different instructor and it was great, but also rough. We did a ton of squats and lunges which is a tough way to kick off the week.

Tuesday I met up with my training team for speed work in the morning. It was about 90 minutes later than I normally run, humid, and my legs were tired. The workout was 3×1600 and the pace was intimidating. I did fine on my first, bailed halfway through my second (then finished) and struggled through the third. I got it done, but I was feeling pretty unsatisfied after the workout.

My Wednesday tempo was supposed to be at marathon pace. I was happy about that because it’s considerably slower than what I’ve been running for tempo. I didn’t do anything for the 4th, so I wasn’t up late. Regardless, I struggled hard the entire run and, mentally, just felt like crap after.

I know not every run will be a good one, but a few bad ones in a row gets hard to shake. I was feeling down on myself and was having a hard time pushing aside the negative thoughts. Why do I struggle so much in the heat? How can I properly train if I can’t make myself push through and keep going? When will things start to click? Will the entire summer just feel horrible? Realistically, heavy strength work followed by an interval workout, followed by a MP run was likely the reason for my struggle. I strive to be a no-excuses runner though, so blaming my previous workouts for my crappy performance just didn’t feel like an option.

In an attempt to salvage my week, I continued my routine of heading to the gym on Thursday. I did my 60 minutes on the treadmill while watching Bloodline and it was honestly the best run all week. I felt strong the entire run.

My training group decided to change our start time from 7am to 6:30 am to help a bit with the heat. Since Chicago is a few weeks before Richmond, I have been meeting some other runners early to get in extra miles. The new start time meant a very early start time for us, but I prefer getting it over with as early as possible!

For this week’s long run, I decided to switch up my hydration to Skratch Labs. I had a feeling part of my struggle had to do with my run nutrition. Moving back to Virginia, I knew summer training would be warmer, but I started out with similar nutrition and planned to adjust as needed. It was pretty clear I needed to adjust, and Skratch Labs seemed to do the trick. It was a little less humid, but overall I felt really strong during my long run and was able to push out a fast finish final mile. Hopefully sticking with Skratch will help moving forward.

My husband had to worked a LOT the past two weeks so we hadn’t gotten to spend much time together. Saturday, we went to brunch and then continued checking out some of the local breweries. The weather was really nice on Sunday, so we headed downtown to explore some of the cool outdoor things Richmond has to offer.

Like I said, week 5 was rough. Finishing up the week strong did mentally make me feel better. I’m feeling good heading into week 6 and ready to refocus and think more positively about my training. 

4 thoughts on “2017 Chicago Marathon Training: Week Five

  1. Hanna @ minimal marathoner

    I don’t think it’s making excuses to consider the possibility that your hard workouts and thrown-off schedule affected your runs. They probably did. I get what you’re saying re: no excuses running, but I don’t think that has to mean you never give yourself the benefit of the doubt. There is obviously a limit to how much external blame we should throw around, but if we never questioned why certain runs might have gone poorly, we’d never learn or be able to correct mistakes and grow in our training. I think you can give yourself a pass with this one and still qualify as a no-excuses runner 🙂

    I hope you get some better weather this week


    1. Sometimes I can’t tell if the heat is really affecting my running, or if I’m letting it mentally get to me and that’s what’s REALLY affecting me. I did believe that my nutrition was messing with my long runs and, after Saturday, I do think that was spot on. I know the heat affects us of course, but sometimes I wonder how much it’s more mentally than physically!


      1. Hanna @ minimal marathoner

        Everyone responds to heat differently, but I’m sure it’s a combination of both. While a lot of it is surely mental, there is no denying that heat has physical effects. I’ve tried my best to stay positive about heat this season, and I’ve mostly succeeded, but no matter how positive I am going into a run, if it’s hot/sunny, I will suffer. In addition to the unpleasantness, heat causes me to fatigue much more rapidly, and no amount of mental willpower will undo that. It’s a matter of science. I’ve found that the best mental strategy isn’t trying to be more “tough”, it’s accepting that heat will kinda suck and not letting myself get discouraged by it. It’s still miles in the bank!


  2. Jennifer @ Dashing in Style

    In addition to echoing what Hanna said, I’d also emphasize that you are doing a very tough training plan! On its own it would be really tough, and when you add in brutal summer conditions, it compounds it exponentially. That you are still getting out there, giving it a shot, and getting your miles in is what counts. Good that you ended the week with a good run too. I’ve never heard of Scratch Labs. Need to look into it!


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