Edit: I wrote this post on Wednesday morning. Less than 6 hours later I came down with an awful stomach bug. Maybe I jinxed myself, but not sure if today’s workout will be happening!

I feel like I have been a little M.I.A lately. I’ve been here for my normal 3 posts per week, but my mind has just been so all over the place, so I apologize if my posts have been getting a bit random and jumbled. I’m trying to get caught back up!

I am really trying to focus on slowing down this week and take things more in stride. Why am I so bad at doing that?

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Speaking of slowing down, I’ve been really trying to focus on that with my running this week. On Monday morning when I got up I felt awful. I think it was a combination of a tough night of sleep and the delayed on-set of soreness from my Saturday long run.

I really don’t like looking at my watch when I am not doing a workout. The problem is, especially last week, I was going much quicker than I really should have been doing. I felt great last week, but eventually that catches up with you.

Monday even though I was tired my legs still manged to go too quickly. Tuesday I decided I had enough. I made myself start slower and I made sure to check my pace at least 1-2 times per mile to avoid going too fast. I ended up right on pace at the end for where I should be. The only reason it shows a bit faster is because I did 6 x 10 second strides at the end.

Not only did my body feel much better, but it made it so much easier to relax. Or, at least relax as much as you can at 4:30 in the morning!

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If you didn’t already know, the Boston Marathon is officially under 4 weeks away. While I wish so badly this could be my year to run it, I’ll have to hold off until 2016. However, I’ve been following a lot of other people’s training as well as helping my husband get ready for the big day!

One common trend I see in a lot of people’s training around this time is that the constant weeks leading up until now are finally starting to take their toll. It always happens at least a couple times in training, and since most people are reaching their peak I am starting to see it more.

My husband has had a tough week as well, mostly due to the post-22 mile run tiredness from Saturday as well as too many 3:00 AM wake up calls, workouts and 12 hour work days. However, he has kept at it in hopes it will pay off come April 20th!

One thing I struggled with during marathon training and I’ve seen others deal with, is when to push through a workout and when to cut it short.

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There is no shame in cutting a workout short. During my last 20 week marathon training I cut my workouts (or adapted them) 2-3 times. It happens and is just part of putting your body through the tough weeks.

 

Here are some keys I always look for when trying to decide how to handle a bad workout:

1. Is it a mental or physical struggle?

There are usually two different struggles we face during a workout: mental and physical frustrations. If my body is physically not able to do the workout for whatever reason, then I will cut it. One workout is never worth an injury

If it is my mind that is giving up, then I will usually push through. A lot can happen during a 16-20 week training period in someone’s life that can change our mental strength. Pushing through those mentally tough runs is what makes you stronger come marathon day.

 

2. Are you altering your form?

The first thing that happens when we become tired or are forcing ourselves is that our running form changes. We adapt bad habits, tense up, over-stride etc. to try to compensate.

If I notice that the workout is too much of a struggle to where my form has changed, I will either adjust the workout (slow down/shorten) or cut it all together.

Poor form can lead to injury, and once again a workout is never worth an injury.

 

3. Do you need a stimulus change?

During the heart of my marathon training I ran my tempos on the same course every day. This was mostly due to having to run them so early in the morning.  It was mentally challenging, but I pushed through.

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Now that I am back to doing tempos, even short 5 miles ones, I am finding running that course is making the workout so much more difficult. I changed up my course last week and it made all the difference!

Sometimes we have to play tricks on ourselves to complete workouts.

 

4. Are my paces slowing dramatically?

I remember specifically cutting one tempo run during my marathon training. It was supposed to be 9 miles and I cut it at 7.

The first 3-5 miles were fine, but then I noticed my paces began to slow dramatically.  Your pace during a tempo or speed workout aren’t always going to be exact. Some miles you’ll be off a few seconds here or there, but when your paces begin to change dramatically that’s a different story.

If you are off your target pace by 20-30 seconds, I usually take that as a sign to either alter the workout or cut it. Pushing yourself through the workout will do more harm than good if you are that far off pace.

It doesn’t mean you can’t try again later in the week or next week, it just means that day wasn’t your day.

 

We all have bad workouts. Especially as the cumulative fatigue builds up and our bodies are under a lot of stress. Keep pushing forward, keep focused and know when you can push through and when you need to stop. That is a big key to staying healthy.

 

What is your warning sign you need to cut a workout?

What is the worst workout you’ve ever had? 

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