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NYCM Training: Week 4…and What I’m Doing Wrong

NYCM Training: Week 4…and What I’m Doing Wrong

As promised, I’m back with my “weekly workouts” post! Here’s what week 4 of training for the New York City Marathon looked like…followed by my attempts at trying to figure out why my runs have been so suck-tastic lately.

Mon., July 21: Taekwondo class

Tue., July 22: 3 miles and Thai kickboxing class

Wed., July 23: Downtown Westfield Pizza 5K (recap here!)

Thur., July 24: Taekwondo class

Fri.. July 25: 6 miles and Taekwondo class

Sat., July 26: Rest (and walking around at the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning!)


Sun., July 27: 11 miles

Total weekly mileage: 23 miles

So, last week’s runs were the pits. Really. I’m not sure I’ve ever struggled so much on any given week of training.

I’ve already written about the pretty disastrous pizza 5K that I ran last week, and on Friday’s 6-mile run, my legs were absolutely killing me. They were tight and sore and so, SO heavy, and I felt like the miles just dragged on…and on…and ON. Meanwhile, even though I was running in the morning, by the time I finished (after 10am), it was freakin’ HOT.

And then there was my weekend long run. Todd joined me for the first 6 miles of my 11-mile run. We drove to the local park, ran on some of the trails, and then he went home while I finished running in the park and ran home.

By mile 3, I knew I was in big trouble. We didn’t get started until after 11am, and even though it wasn’t SO hot that day — in the low 80′s — I could already feel the humidity getting to me. No matter how much Powerade I drank or how many times we stopped at the water fountain or how many times I poured water from said fountain all over my head, I was absolutely miserable. My legs were dead and I felt so drained and lethargic and slow. I typically don’t worry about my pace on long runs, but I have to tell you, it is a little discouraging to look at your watch and see an 11 or 11:30-minute/mile and yet be struggling so much. It took me 3 hours, including a pit stop, extended walk breaks, etc. to finish 11 miles, and under normal circumstances, I could have tackled at least 16+ miles in that time frame.

Granted, the trails at this park aren’t ideal for long runs — there are a lot of hills and unpaved roads, which we avoided as much as possible — but even just walking up one or two of the slightly hillier trails made my calves feel like they were ON FIRE. I kept having to stop to stretch my legs constantly, but nothing was helping. After Todd left, things took a turn for the worse, and I found myself having to sit on the ground not once, but twice, since I started feeling a little lightheaded again. I DID finish all 11 miles, but I have to say, it was one of my toughest long runs to date…and I’ve been feeling especially discouraged and frustrated ever since.


There might just be a reason why we’re not invited to run on these particular trails…?

Anyway, instead of complaining to all of you guys, I thought I’d use this opportunity to take an honest look at what I’ve been doing as my first month of marathon training comes to an end. I know from my endless stack of Runner’s World magazines — and the fact that basically all I read are running blogs, running websites, etc. — that I’m making a bunch of rookie mistakes, and I need to work harder to fix them PRONTO. I thought I’d share them here just in case anyone else might be making the same mistakes (because surely I can’t be the only one who has a hard time pounding the pavement before sunrise on the weekends)?

1.) Not Enough Rest

Posting my weekly workouts here is great for accountability and to help me keep track of my mileage each week. But it’s also a way for me to see when I might be taking on a bit too much. This summer, I’ve become obsessed with my Taekwondo training, and since my piano teaching schedule is so much lighter, I’ve been trying to catch as many Thai classes as I possibly can. I know I won’t be able to attend classes as frequently in the fall, so I’ve been “taking advantage” of the situation…and, in the process, rendering my legs pretty much useless when it comes time to run on them.

Not exactly ideal cross-training....

Not exactly ideal cross-training….

Needless to say, martial arts can be really tough on the legs, and between performing countless sidekicks in Taekwondo or slamming my leg against a wavemaster in Thai, and then lacing up my sneakers 4-5 days to put in 20+ miles per week, my body is just not having it. I can see that my full “rest” days are few and far between — and even when I am “resting,” Todd and I are usually out and about and doing something that’s still active. I know I need to be better about balancing karate with running or my training miles will continue to be tortuous…or, even worse, I could end up injured.

2.) Not Enough Rolling

The lack of rest days is made even worse by the fact that I SUCK at taking the time to work out the kinks in my muscles. Whether it’s stretching (which I always somehow “forget” to do) or foam rolling or using my preferred torture device, The Stick, I know I’m not investing enough time in caring for my sad, tired leg muscles after runs.

I tend to only reach for The Stick when it’s too late and my muscles are full of knots from weeks of overuse, mainly because the damn thing hurts like a [insert expletive here]. And don’t even get me started on the foam roller. But I KNOW they do help when used consistently, and I know I have to be better about incorporating recovery time into my running routine.

3.) Not Enough Water

I know now that one of the main reasons my longer runs last week were BRUTAL is because I must not be properly hydrating. I always wear my water belt on any run over 3 miles, and Powerade Zero has become my new best friend, but I think the insane humidity we’ve been having combined with the fact that I’ve always been a heavy sweater combined with the fact that I often “forget” to drink water when I’m not working out has all added up to me becoming a HOT MESS when I’m out running. Literally and figuratively.


Water = My New Best Friend

I know enough about the dangers of dehydration and heat exhaustion to know that when I’m feeling lightheaded or my mouth goes dry or my sweat suddenly dries up or I have the urge to sit down and put my head between my knees in the middle of a training run, then something is out of whack. It’s no joke, and I’m taking this very seriously…and learning to listen to my body a bit better.

4.) Not Enough Fuel

So, I haven’t really written about this here yet…because I’ve sort of been keeping it on the “down low.” I’m trying to lose weight again. Not in the “I need to drop 20 pounds because a BMI chart says I have to” kind of way, but more in the “why are my running shorts from last year fitting tighter?” and “why do I look heavier in photos?” kind of way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not starving myself by any stretch of the imagination (ask Todd how much I can pack away if you don’t believe me, haha) but in reverting to my old “Weight Watchers mindset” to help shed the few pounds I put on over the course of marathon training earlier this year (note to self: just because you’ve run 17 miles and have ‘the rungries’ doesn’t mean you can eat everything in sight) my guess is that there’s a chance I may be cutting back slightly too much — on carbs, especially.

I will have to be really careful about balancing what my body needs to power through 14- and 17- and 20-mile training runs with watching calories enough to feel good about my body again. It’s definitely working, as I’m finally able to button the capris I wore last year again (victory!)…but if I want to get back to where I was and continue to run long distances, then I have to be smarter about my nutrition.

5.) Not Enough…Waking Up Early

Yeah, so, think this is my biggest problem yet. I’ve never really trained for distance in the summer, so I’ve never had to log upwards of 10+ miles in the heat before. I’m used to rolling out of bed whenever I so choose on the weekends (although, to be honest, I rarely sleep later than 9:30am) and on my last few longer runs, I’ve definitely headed out a lot later than I should have.

When it’s 12pm and I’m not even halfway through my mileage for that day, and the temps are steadily climbing and the sun is beating down on me, I know I’m in for a real treat. Every step becomes a struggle, and I become a hot, miserably, whiny mess who HATES running.

The face Todd claims I make when I'm out running and it's too hot for my liking. Verrry fuuuunnny. ;)

The face Todd claims I make when I’m out running and it’s too hot for my liking. Verrry fuuuunnny. ;)

So for my next long run this weekend (12 miles!), the plan is to yank myself out of bed much, MUCH earlier and log those miles before the hottest part of the day to see if that makes any difference in my performance. My guess is that it will. Worst case scenario is I hit the couch for a nap later that day, right? Or spend the afternoon snoozing by the pool, which is pretty much what we’ve been doing on Sundays, anyway. :)


What are some mistakes you’ve made while training for a race?

Who has tips/suggestions/advice for me?!


  1. My legs have been feeling heavy lately too and I am not looking forward to my runs longer than 10 miles! Which training plan are you using? I started the Galloway plan on July 1 and my longest run so far this month was only scheduled to be 5.5 miles. I feel I need to be running further.

    • Jennifer says:

      Ugh, I hear ya! I’m using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan. It has you jump right into longer runs — my first week was 8 miles. I figured it would be a nice “step back” after using his insane plan for Dopey, LOL.

  2. Definitely getting up earlier helps! And, this may or may not be relevant, but have you had your iron levels checked recently or ever? You may just have low iron and that can make running suck. I hear you about the clothes fitting tighter. Do some intervals–helps me shed a few pounds when I run faster.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Amy! I know I need to stop being a baby and start my long runs waaaaay earlier.

      I haven’t, and I appreciate the advice! I’ll try anything. It definitely wouldn’t hurt for me to make sure all is normal, right?

      I’m definitely trying to incorporate at least some intervals in my runs each week, so hopefully that’ll help do the trick! Although, I’ll only do it when I’m not forced to run in the middle of the day when it’s crazy hot, haha.

  3. I am so sorry to hear your training hasn’t been great over the last week, but it sounds like you took charge and really analyzed how things were going and know how to fix it now!! It definitely helps with a sense of control knowing you can change things to make running better! :0) I am sending positive vibes your way this week that your runs are WAY better and make you happy!

    Btw, that photo of you in kickboxing totally makes you look bada**!!

  4. Sorry your 11 miles didn’t go well. I’ve definitely had runs like that.
    For me, waking up early is a must for long run days. It’s hard to get out of bed at 6 am on a Saturday, but I’m always so glad I did. And let me tell ya, that nap after it’s all over is the best!
    I also drink EFS during my long runs. (Electrolyte Fuel System) I got it on Amazon. I can tell a huge difference between drinking that and drinking gatorade or something similar. I love it. Good luck on your 12 this weekend!

  5. I wish I could offer you some advice on running during the summer, but it is seriously kicking my butt too. I can’t wait until it’s fall!

  6. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve been making this summer is not drinking enough water. If I’m leaving the house for more than an hour or so, I’m trying to be better about taking a water bottle with me. If I don’t have water with me, then I won’t drink it!

  7. Drinking water is just about the ONLY thing that I’m doing that I’m supposed to! I completely understand how much it sucks that you’re runs are working out like that, but at least you see your speed demon self returning, and it’s great that you are able to recognize what you might be doing “wrong” and therefore can fix it! Yay! Keep up the kick ass work! :)

  8. I will have to echo #2 and #5 – I would love to be a morning running since my calendar has been filling up!

  9. Honestly, I struggle getting back into “training mode” every time! Once you get into the habit of doing all those things you’re not doing enough of right now (and once the humidity takes a break!) you’ll hopefully start to find your groove again!

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. [...] Hi, all! So, another week of New York City Marathon training is in the books, and I am very, VERY happy to report that week 5 was DEFINITELY an improvement over last week. Which is a very good thing, because there’s no WAY I would have survived 10+ more weeks of the monstrosity that was week 4. [...]

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