I am currently 7 weeks away from running the Chicago marathon for the second time.
Wow. I never thought I'd say that. I find that I'm reflecting a lot on my training as I'm entering these peak weeks–I find myself reflecting a lot back on training my first time for the Chicago marathon. This is the first time I've ever done the same marathon course twice. Last time wa was 6 years ago and I'm finding as I reflect that I have so much more grace for the Jen from 6 years ago then I ever could have imagined.
Life Training for the Chicago Marathon in 2017
Let me set the scene a little bit. 6 years ago I had an eight month old, well she was 8 months at the time of the race, so she would have been about 6 months old. I was teaching full-time. I was not a very consistent runner. I averaged about 11 minute miles and I maybe ran 10 miles a week. When I started to train for Chicago, I was 4 months postpartum. I had run a half marathon that didn't go great because…I was 4 months postpartum. I shouldn't have been running that much then but that's a story for another day.
I had put my name into the Chicago lottery when I was about 7 months pregnant and I ended up getting in and decided that it was a sign from the universe that I was supposed to run the marathon. Training for that marathon was mentally one of the best things that I had done. It was really nice to have something for me in the midst of being a new mom. Physically I was really lucky and that I didn't struggle–I didn't have any real issues physically. I had a really great support system: my husband, my in-laws, friends, who would help with the baby. My daughter also slept pretty decent through the night from an early age which also helped.
That being said, I also went back to teaching in August full time and that is a whole thing in and of itself. I had a really challenging class. I taught in a really challenging area. I was thinking today that I didn't want to go on my 30 minute run, but it was easy to force myself to go because I have a much more flexible schedule. I know that that wasn't the case for Jen six years ago. I had to make myself find the 30 minutes for a run at the end of August and that was really challenging.
When I look back on some of the stats from that time, I peaked at 69 miles for the month of September before the Chicago marathon (Chicago in early October). That August I ran 55 miles. I did a tune-up half marathon at the end of August and it was a 2:14.
Last weekend I ran my tune up half marathon. It was canceled because of the hurricane and so it was a mixed bag of running with a girlfriend in a tropical storm and on my treadmill and I ran it in about 1:58. I have already far surpassed my mileage from last Chicago training cycle. So far in August I've run 102 miles. In July I hit 132. I don't say this to brag or because I think that running a lot of miles is everything (if you have followed me for any amount of time you know that it is not true) I say it because how much you can run and how consistent you are it does make a really big difference in race day, in how you feel during the race and how you feel going into the race and how confident you are in your training and also because this is a little bit of a reflection for me and I can see how far I've come in 6 years of running.
Chicago Marathon Training: What I’ve Learned & My Reflections
I thought that I was going to run a marathon one time as a bucket list sort of item. I never thought I would be here a little over 11 years later and running marathon number five. I never dreamed that I would be flying across the country with my kids to run that Marathon. I'm really excited for it and also like I said have so much grace for the me from 6 years ago that trained with a new baby while I was teaching full-time and managing all of the rest of it. I don't know how I did it and I'm impressed by myself.
So for any of you, I know there's a lot of women that I follow that are teaching full time and training for fall marathons in the midst of mom life and all of the rest of it, I'm so proud of you and I applaud you so much. It is not easy. Don't let anybody tell you that it is.
You are a total badass
What’s next in training
I want to end this post that I've been reflecting in with some things I'm going to continue working on for my next 7 weeks of training.
In the next 7 weeks I am working on:
Mindset: I mentioned this before some of the things that I'm going to be doing which is kind of where this blog came from–reflecting on the wins. Our brains will try and tell us that we can't do something because they want it wants to keep us safe. Trying to PR in a marathon, especially when it didn't go well for me the last time, my brain is going to tell me I can't do it. So I'm going to spend a lot of time reflecting on my training, not just in this training cycle, but over the last 6 years. Realizing how far I've come and making sure that I am forcing myself to keep that front of mind, so that on race day it is there and it's easy to pull from. I tell my athletes it's a bank right? It's a bank of training that went right and so making that bank as easy to make withdrawals from on race day as possible is something that I'm going to be focusing on a lot in the next 7 weeks.
The mental load: if you are a mom, if you are teaching, this is huge right now. The back to school chaos is real. I have found this week I've been in a bit of a funk with back to school. I was not expecting a back to school funk when my kids went back but here I am. So, I am going to be focusing on my mental health and my mental load even more than normal. Taking anything off my plate that can be taken off, asking for help when I need it, asking for my husband to jump in, making sure that I am truly resting and not puttering around or scrolling social media when I should be resting – doing things that actually fill my cup up and are invigorating and are true rest is going to be really important. I'm almost to the point in the training cycle when I start telling my athletes like push off the things that you can so can. Right around that month mark is where I start saying, “that thing at work wait until after the race, that project at home wait until taper,” that kind of stuff. I listened to a podcast with Steph Bruce and she joked that during the taper her friends know she always moves furniture around – like she rearranges the furniture in her house because she has all this physical energy and that she just needs to do something with it. So I like to make a list of projects to work on during the taper.
Thank you so much for sticking around this long if you've made it this far as I reflect a little bit on training and ramble about the comparison between my first training cycle for the Chicago Marathon and now. I am really excited to see where this goes. I hope that you keep following along! You know that I will keep you updated–I will probably do one more pre-race training recap right before I take off and leave town, so at the beginning of October and then you know there will be another one post race, maybe two because it's a freaking Marathon!