Don’t forget the rest day

♪♫♪ Now I’m laughing at my boredom, at my string of failed attempts / because you think it’s important, and I welcome the sentiment…

Despite classes and work going on, it actually hasn’t been too hard to carve out some time every day for a good workout – and I really need to if I want to keep up with this marathon training. But even now after several weeks, I’m still behind the designated schedule when it comes to the long runs (this is week 5 of 16…and my long run is supposed to reach 14 miles. I think I should be able to hit just about 11…yikes.) But it’s true that I haven’t been strictly following the schedule either, and I’ve been treating it more like a guideline to training rather than a strict regimen. I just have the feeling that if I followed it to a tee, I’d probably get bored really quickly or worse, push myself too much and get hurt. So I’ve been changing up the workouts here and there to match my own pace, mostly depending on how much time I have that day and how tired I am from getting through the day. I’m nervous because it’s kind of risky taking my chances by “modifying” my weekly mileage since I’ve never done a marathon before. I really hope it works out down the road in October!

Even though this summer has been reasonably hectic,  I’m really not nearly as busy as I usually am during the school year when I’m juggling many more classes, working as a Peer Mentor, and keeping up with all the extracurricular activities going on. So even though it’s been an 8 AM to 5 PM daily schedule, I feel like it’s still a much lighter load. I don’t have to bring my research lab work home with me, and I only have two classes to worry about, so I actually find myself not as stressed and actually sleeping at decent hours! When I head to the gym either before classes or after work, I’m running at least 50 minutes a day on the track inside the student rec center.

That is something that makes me nervous though–running on the track instead of outside on real pavement. I am worried that by the time the marathon comes around, I won’t be properly acclimated to running outside, which in my opinion is about a thousand times harder than running in a flat, temperature-controlled track room. I know that I should be practicing my long runs outside, but I actually really dislike running outside in the city. At home, in the suburbs, there aren’t many cars in the subdivision. But here in Chicago, it kind of feels like I’m always running into stoplights and cars and have to stop or jog in place until I can get going again. I also don’t like feeling myself breathe in all of the smog and car exhaust around me…I’m not sure if it’s a myth or not, but I’ve been told before that it can actually be more damaging to your lungs to go running in the city than it is to just not workout outside at all. I don’t know if that’s an exaggeration, but the thought has always stuck in my mind, and now whenever I run outside in Chicago I always wonder if my lungs are actually suffering from all the smoke I’m inhaling. So whether it’s for peace of mind or the sake of not becoming a traffic accident, I almost always run indoors. I know that’s probably going to come back and bite me on race day, but I guess I’ll try to deal with it then like I usually do.

Just a fun picture of what my roommate Chevelle and I do with our time off :)

One big thing that I tend to forget is the all-important, necessary rest day. When I do have more time than usual on my hands like I do this summer, I pretty much want to squeeze in a workout every day no matter what, weekends included. I get addicted to the workout high and it feels wrong to skip even a single day. But, as I’ve learned the sad, hard way before, rest days do not equal cheat days at all — they’re recovery days. And my body needs them, whether my brain wants them or not. I like to lie to myself and tell myself that I can take it, that it can’t hurt to push myself a little more–and sometimes this is very effective. I hit new best times and personal records with this kind of mindset. But after running for about two years now, I’m wiser enough to know now that it’s not always a sustainable kind of thinking. Some time ago, when I was a beginner runner, I once pushed myself way too hard by not taking any rest days at all throughout the whole week. Then one day during a casual run, when I hadn’t even hit 5 miles yet, I felt something in my knee kind of go pop and I felt a terrible strain when I tried to continue. A cold sweat ran through me and I immediately stopped, terrified that I had finally risked too much and injured myself by not properly caring for myself.

But I was extremely lucky. I slowly stretched out my knee, feeling awful soreness and no agonizing pain. I considered a good warning from my body, and I ended my running that day and did some yoga to just relax, feeling like I dodged a bullet. I learned my lesson from then and would always factor in a rest day sometime in the week from then on. It would be a nightmare to injure myself seriously or even slightly because of the huge setback to my fitness and health, regardless of whatever training I’m doing. I’ve been a lot more careful to stretch since then and to make sure I alternate between hard runs and easy runs–and of course, incorporate at least one rest day a week.

So with all that, here’s kind of a sample of a week of marathon-training-running for me right now…

  • Monday: 4 miles run
  • Tuesday: 7 miles race pace
  • Wednesday: 4 miles run
  • Thursday: Rest Day
  • Friday: Long Run – ideally 10+ miles
  • Saturday: 5 miles run / Cross training (usually swimming)
  • Sunday: 3 miles run

Andddd essentially repeat the above but slowly adding to the mileage each week. I’m following the 16-week marathon training plan loosely, and hopefully it’s not a case of me thinking I know better though. When October comes around, I’m determined to be physically and mentally prepared to make it through that 26.2!

So we will drink beer all day / and our guards will give way / and we’ll be good ♪♫♪ 

(Be Good - Waxahatchee)

Picutre of author

About Sarah Lee

Hi, I'm Sarah! I am a junior Neuroscience student in GPPA Medicine who is still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do in my life. One day I want to be fluent in Russian and explore Eastern Europe. In my free time, I love running, playing piano and guitar, and reading. I currently live in Courtyard residence hall as a Peer Mentor but my home is in Naperville.

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