Chicago Marathon Training: Week 1

This week kicked off my training for the Chicago Marathon and it went pretty well! I managed to run 22 miles, and although most of it was at a slow recovery pace, it felt good. My legs are still pretty exhausted from the half marathon last weekend, so I tried to keep things nice and slow. I didn’t want to push myself too hard, since my next weeks are going to be tough.

Monday: 4.0 miles at 9:23/mi
This was my first run since Hospital Hill last Saturday and I took it as a recovery run to alleviate some of the soreness I was feeling from conquering those hills at the race. Massachusetts is pretty hilly, so it certainly wasn’t super easy, but I still felt pretty light. I stopped once or twice to take some pictures and make sure that I wasn’t lost. Overall, good run.

Tuesday: Rest Day + Hiked a bunch
Frank got Tuesday off so we decided to go to Vermont to do some hiking. We did about 10-12 miles total and made it to the top of two mountains.

We also found this waterfall. So pretty!
We also found this waterfall. So pretty!

Wednesday: 6.0 miles at 9:15
I did another day of a pretty chill recovery pace. It was nice to keep it slow and steady and explore some areas I’ve never been. Frank and I have been in Westminster, MA this week, so I got to try out some new running routes. This one was through the small town. There were lots of people out and it was a beautiful day.

Another beautiful Massachusetts lake.
Another beautiful Massachusetts lake.

Thursday: True rest day
I rested. For real.

Friday: 8 miles LSD at 9:52 min/mi
This run was brutal. It was so bad that I wondered if I was even going to finish it. The route was straight up Mt. Wachusett and I gained about 500 feet in the first half of the run. By the turn around point, I was so tired that I had having trouble running even on the downhill. Now, I am sure a lot of this was fatigue from the half marathon, but it was a bit of a demoralizing run. Hopefully my other long runs are not this bad.

Saturday: Hiked at Acadia National Park
Frank and I went hiking around Acadia and climbed a few mountains there. Maine is incredibly beautiful. We probably did about 7 miles total.

We climbed that beautiful mountain at Acadia!
We climbed that beautiful mountain at Acadia!

Sunday: Climbed Mt. Katahdin
So…Mt Katahdin. This is a 5200 ft beast of a mountain. I’ve certainly climbed mountains that are much bigger, but this one was pretty hard. In total, we hiked about 8-9 miles, but a large part of that was scrambling up and down big boulders. I’ll write more about that later, but it was pretty awesome. I was going to run afterwards, but I was way too exhausted to do it.

Summit shot from the top of Katahdin.
Summit shot from the top of Katahdin.

I think I did well in my training this week, but that long run really messed with my head. Next week I have a 10-mile run scheduled and I hope that things go a lot better then. I am heading back to Manhattan, KS on Tuesday for a conference at KSU and then on Saturday I’ll be traveling to Florida to see my parents. Despite the busy schedule, I am determined to still get all of my runs in.

The first half of this training cycle is going to focus a lot on hills. I am an avid hiker and I hike up a lot of mountains with relative ease. I never have trouble with altitude, but for some reason running on hills is very hard for me… even little ones. I learned the hard way at my half marathon that struggling on hills can cost you many minutes. In yoga, the postures that we have the most trouble in are usually a good indicator that they are something we need to work on. I am going to take the hint from these hills and make that an important part of my training. I know that Chicago is a pancake (I lived there… it is like a super pancake), but training on hills will make me a better runner in the long term. Getting good at hills will make me better in Chicago and it will make me faster everywhere else. So… from here on out, if I can take a hillier path, I will. Each week will feature some sort of hills training either at Konza or in town.

This week will look something like this:

M: 5 miles Tempo MP
T: 3 miles recovery pace with running group
W: ~4 miles at Konza Prairie Trail (I consider this hill work)
T: Rest
F: 10 miles LSD
S: Fly to Florida
S: 4 miles
Total: ~26 miles

So, with fall training cycles beginning, what workouts are you most excited for in the next few weeks? How do you do on hilly terrain?

18 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training: Week 1

  1. Great job this week! Looks like you had a great trip, your photos look beautiful!

    I’m also pretty bad on hills, but that’s probably because I don’t practice them enough. It’s on my to-do list for the next couple training cycles 🙂

    Sorry you had a bad long run – some of them are just like that. The important thing is you got it done! Try not to beat yourself up too much when your long runs aren’t that great – even if it is slow and hard, the point is to practice being on your feet for a long time and you are still getting that benefit, plus, teaching your body to push through on tired legs is a valuable skill for the marathon. Every slow, hard run in training is helping you even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.

    Great start!!!


    1. Thanks! I’m hoping that my coming long runs are not like that. Hills are so tough when you are from somewhere that doesn’t have them. I imaging Milwaukee isn’t the hilliest terrain.


  2. I’m excited to follow your training! I’m also jealous of all of the hiking you did!! I wish we had more mountains closer around where I live. Hills are pretty much the bane of my existence, but I really have been trying not to avoid them. But, it depends on the day for me. Last week I ran a very hilly trail race and felt like I was knocking on death’s door. Previous weeks I have incorporated hills into looped runs and done well. I need to focus more on hills too!!


  3. What a great week!! I’m excited to follow your training because it’s getting me pumped up about mine, too!

    I hope you enjoy your time in FL…where will you be staying? Our weather has been totally crazy. Very hot, very humid, very stormy. I hope you have some really nice days!


    1. I’m excited to hear about your training! I’ll be in Coral Springs, which is a suburb of ft lauderdale. I grew up down there and my parents still live there.


  4. I live in Albuquerque and we have lots hills on the trails I run. When I first started running in January I avoided them but finally decided to tackle them istesd. Every training run has elevation gain and I have learned to love it. I have no doubt that my improvement is because of attacking those hiils. I never worry about time. Just worry about getting up that hill! Good luck. I look forward to hearing about your hilly runs!


  5. Nice job this week! Recovery pace in week 1 of marathon training is exactly right. Build your base, then your speed will follow 🙂 I’m super jealz of your hike at Acadia!!!! I want to go there.


  6. I am so so so so so so so so so happy to hear you say that Chicago isn’t just flat but that it’s pancake flat! That is exactly what I want it to be! 🙂 If I lived anywhere that had hills I think I would run them as often as possible because I love flying down bridges and I bet that would translate to hills.

    That waterfall you came across is really pretty. I think the only time I have ever seen a waterfall in person was when I hiked Mount Si. in Seattle. That was also the only mountain I have ever hiked so … that probably explains why I have rarely come across a waterfall!


    1. Yeah, Chicago is a pancake. The only hill is at the end… and it’s like maybe 20 feet. The only problem is that you will have been running on a flat surface for such a long time that by the time you get to the little blip of a hill, you really notice it.

      I had never seen mountains or waterfalls until I moved out of Florida. It’s just too hard to go anywhere like that from Fort Lauderdale (without a plane).


  7. Great work! We both just finished week one of marathon training. Are you following a certain plan? Funny you mention hilly terrain, I did hill repeats this morning (about two miles of my six mile run).


  8. Love all the outdoor pictures. Exact reason why I prefer trail running, the views are amazing. I’m looking forward to tempo runs, they are no fun but I love seeing flat even splits after a hard work out. Helps build my confidence.


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