One of the joys of marathon training is watching your weekly mileage grow and grow and grow. There comes a point, though, when my body can only handle so much, when I start to feel aches and pains and worry about the potential for injury. For me, the magic number is 45 miles per week; as I get closer to and above 50 weekly miles, my body feels like it is starting to break.
A few years ago, my coach and I worked around my aches and pains by adding a few shorter runs to my week when I was in the late stages of the marathon cycle. This meant that once or twice a week, I would run in the morning for 20 to 30 minutes and, again, for my usual evening run. This let me add 3 to 6 miles to my weekly total without any extra stress – and it let me get use to the idea of running on tired legs. That year, I was able to reach 60 miles a week (twice).
Last Wednesday was my first double run in my Chicago prep. In the morning, I ran an easy 5k when the sun was high. As I started, I was quickly reminded how tired my feet feel when they have less than 12 hours of rest. This forced me to run at an easier pace and work on my form. I thought about stretching my stride and how to land. By the end of the third kilometre, I felt that I had my rhythm back and ended my run feeling much more comfortable than when I left. In the evening, Monica and I hit the trails for another easy run. We finished 11K later, leaving me with a daily total of 16K.
This Wednesday, I looked forward to my double run. After a morning physio appointment, I ran a comfortable 5K and diligently did my calf exercises. Rather than do my heel drops inside on the stairs, this Canadian running mama grabbed one of the boy’s hockey stick for support. Standing on the curb, I slowly lowered my heels and raised them to stretch out the muscles in my lower legs. Like last week, I felt great when I finished my morning workout.
I headed out for my second run in the late afternoon which, due to family commitments, was the only time I was able to run. I felt fine when I started but when I got to 5K, I was starting to have trouble breathing. By 6K, every step was effort; soon after, I realized that I was overheating so I turned towards home. By 7K, I called it a day. My breathing was completely off as I was having trouble running for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time. Home I walked.
I checked the temperature when I got home and was not surprised to see that the humidex had it at 35C. Finishing my run when I did was a smart decision, but it angered me that I didn’t hit my mileage goal. One side of me told me to let it go; the other told me that I had to make it up before the end of the week.
The only thing that I was certain of is my need to drink more water. Between the hot yoga classes and the runs in humid conditions, I need to make more of an effort to drink more water and make sure that I am replacing electrolytes with Gatorade.
Walking away positively, I was glad that I still managed to run twice in one day, even if my second run didn’t go as planned. Last year, when training for the Goodlife Marathon, I only had 2 weeks with double runs and I’m already at that point now. With 7 weeks to go until the Chicago Marathon, I should be able to have a few more weeks to play this “daily double” game. And if things go well, I might even try it twice in one week.