Training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon

Epic Weekend

Sam and I went up to Chicago last weekend and had a great trip. There’s so much to tell…


We woke up before dawn on the longest day of the year

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As soon as we got into the city, I met up with Jess and we went for our long run together. The first thing we saw when we got onto the lake path was this lady running with a dog balloon:

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We thought she was crazy until we saw this sign and realized that there was a race for PAWS going on.

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This ended up being a good thing because we got really thirsty around mile three and managed to convince the volunteers to let us have some gatorade even though we weren’t part of the race. Thanks PAWS!  After 8.5 miles, we went back to Jess’ place to shower and relax with this very snuggly lady:

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That afternoon, we went to a rooftop party celebrating our friend’s graduation from his MBA program at Northwestern. We ended up walking like half a mile so I’m going to add that to my daily total and say I did 9.

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This guy was the highlight of the party. I think you can see that we are in love.

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We watched a storm roll in from the rooftop, then ran inside when it started pouring. This was a bit of déjà vu for me since the same thing happened at our rooftop wedding exactly a year ago.

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The next day I met up with my friend Jess at one of my favorite brunch places, Southport Grocery. I don’t know how I’ve been there so many times without ever trying the grown-up pop-tart:

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Then I went to my favorite cheese shop Pastoral for some goodies

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Which Sam and I enjoyed later on a little anniversary date in Millennium Park

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If you’ve never tried Stiegl Grapefruit Radler before, I highly recommend it. It has a low alcohol content and is just a bit fruity- perfect for summer.

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The next morning, Sam joined me for a short run along the lake path and through Millennium Park





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This is where the start line for the Chicago Marathon is. See you in 3 months!

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We saved the best for last: before we got on the road, we had lunch at Irazu and ordered 3 of their mind-blowing oatmeal shakes! More on that later 🙂

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I miss you Chicago!




Week 1 Training Recap

Week 1 of my official training plan was a success!

I didn’t follow it to the letter, but I got in all 19 miles that were in my schedule.

Here are some stats:

Total Mileage = 19.08

Longest Run = 8.65  miles

Average Pace over the week = 10:06 minutes per mile

Most embarrassing moment = toss up between a kid and his dad seeing me changing into my running clothes in my car and not being able to hold a plank for more than 20 seconds during Insanity.

Caught in the act

I’ve been keeping a pretty detailed log of my workouts. I’m hoping that this will help me identify what conditions (fuel, temps, etc) that work best for me, and those I need to improve on.

Week 1 training log


My goals for this week are to get more rolling/stretching in and to do some speed-work at some point!


Saturday WRRC group before our long run

Hydration Help

Drinking my daily recommended amount of water has always been hard for me.

This cat understands

It’s just not a habit for me to drink from a cup or water bottle during the day, especially at work. For one, I have a thing about public restrooms. I rarely, if at all, use the restroom at work. Don’t even get me started on porta potties. And so I think I have subconsciously trained myself not to drink too much during the day.

It’s harder than it looks

I drink most of my water during meals, probably 2 big glasses with dinner and lunch. But I’m definitely not getting my recommended daily dose of H2O (see, I can do science), and I think that may be contributing to the sluggishness I feel while I’m running even short distances, despite having been running consistently for over a month now.

struggle pup

So I’ve decided to make it a priority. There is a lot of variation among experts on how much water we should be drinking. According to different guidelines, I came up with everything from 64 to 118 ounces.  I’m going to set my goal right in the middle at 90 ounces a day, since I’m consistently working out in high temps. I just downloaded an app called Waterlogged to help me keep track of how much I’m drinking, especially at work.


You just tap the water bottle every time you finish a drink. It strikes me that this would also be useful for a night at the bars. It’s kind of like a drinking game, except with water. And no prizes or competition. I mean, it’s no flip cup….

But anyways, here’s to clear pee!

Thanks for supporting me Leo




First day of training

My 18 week training plan for the Chicago Marathon officially starts today!

Here’s the schedule I created, tweaked from this Hal Higdon Plan

Training Plan

Excel formatting is one of my favorite forms of self expression

Here’s the gist of it:

Mondays: Easy run

Tuesdays: Strength training and yoga at the gym (or other cross training)

Wednesdays: Easy run

Thursdays: Speed work

Fridays: Bike to work- about an 11 mile round trip (or other cross training)

Saturdays: Long run

Sundays: Recovery day and foam rolling

For the Thursday speed workouts, I’m planning to rotate between these drills:

Fartlek: Pick up the pace for segments of 30 seconds to four minutes, interspersed with easy-paced segments of similar duration. Go by time or run them between trees, street signs, or other landmarks during your run.
Kenyan Outbacks: These are like tempo runs—a few miles at a challenging pace—but with the second half much faster than the first. Example: Run an out-and-back route with the “out” in 20 minutes and the “back” in 17 minutes.
Track ladders: Do a track workout up and down the distance ladder. Early in the buildup the ladder range can be 200 to 800 meters; later on it can rise to 800 to 1600 meters. Example: Run 200, 400, 800, 400, and 200. Include an equal amount of slow jogging to recover between each faster repeat.
Yasso 800s: In the early weeks of the schedule, run six 800-meter repeats with 400-meter recovery jogs. Increase the number to 10 during peak training.
Hill repeats: Focus on form, not speed. In the early weeks, run four to six times up a moderate hill of 100 to 200 meters at an easy effort. Walk or jog down. In the middle of the training plan, simply do some tempo and long runs on hilly routes. Late in the buildup, run three to eight hill repeats of 100 to 400 meters at a medium to hard effort.

And of course this drill:








Good Form

I just want to say, there is an appalling lack of Hook GIFs on the internet.

Let’s all just remember how the Dustin Hoffman Hook always said “Good Form, Jack!” God I love that movie.

My Eyebrow Idol

Anywho, I am here today to talk about good running form.  Last week, I participated in a Good Form Running Clinic with the folks at Tri-N-Run, a great local running store. In addition to offering a variety of shoes and gear, Tri-N-Run hosts training runs and races in the community. Glad to learn more about them.

For the form clinic was led by Tri-N-Run experts Sam & Travis. They started us out with a quick run to gauge our starting point, which Sam recorded on her iPad. Then they took us through the basics of good form:

1. Posture

You want to look something like this

Keep in mind while you’re running:

  • Head is looking forward, not down at the ground
  • Stand tall as if a string is attached to your head
  • Shoulders comfortably back, not hunched forward
  • Arms moving straight back and forth, not accross your body (this one is hard for me, I guess I run a little bit twisty)

They suggested that every once in a while you clap your hands straight overhead to “reset” your posture

2. Strike

The best part of football

You actually want to hit the pavement midfoot when running. Try marching (like you are in a marching band) to get the feel. Apparently I strike too much on my heel.

3. Cadence

Get on up, It’s RUNNING time

Cadence is the rhythm of your feet hitting the ground- you don’t want too long or too short of a stride. The ideal cadence (for most people) is around 180. To improve your cadence, you can download a metronome app and try to match your steps to it while you run.  My cadence tends to be pretty good because I have short little legs.

4. Lean

Lean In

So true Sheryl

Lastly, you want to lean forward from your ankles- don’t bend at the waste. Pretend like your superman and use gravity to propel you forward.

Our group practicing doing a drill against the wall to practice leaning while running (that's me in blue)

Our group practicing doing a drill against the wall to practice leaning while running (that’s me in blue)

After we reviewed the elements of good form, they took another video of us running to see if we had improved. Pretty cool experience all in all- you can review these tips and more at the Good Form Running site.

The next day I tried putting these pointers into practice on my five mile run. I found that for the most part, I forgot all about my form. It’s hard to keep thinking about all these things while you are running. But every once in a while, I would realize that my arms weren’t straight, or that my shoulder’s were getting slouchy, and would “reset” a bit. It’s something I’ll have to keep working on.


Finding a Running Club

Recently I’ve been looking for a running buddy. Running the same old routes by myself day after day gets a little old.  My friend H, who recently moved to a new city, has had great luck finding a friendly and supportive running group to go on training runs and travel to races with. After asking around at a local running store, I found out about the Wabash River Running Club. They host a few yearly races and organize free training runs several days a week.

I was a little intimidated initially, I expected this “official” running club to be full of experienced, elite athletes. I was pretty sure things would end up like this:

puppy stretch

So when I attended a training run on Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised to find a friendly group of mixed abilities. They were so welcoming and I got a bunch of new running technique and route tips! I’m planning to continue to join weekly training runs and attend their events.

Last night, WRRC hosted the first race of it’s Farmer’s Market 5k Series. On the third Wednesday of the month from May-September, you can compete in a timed 5k around Cumberland Park. I’m planning to use these races as speed workouts, and to track my progress leading up to the marathon.

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It was VERY muggy last night- one of the hottest days yet this spring. I tried to push myself, and managed an average pace of 8:28, finishing in 26:15. I’m not going to lie- it was a hard run. My heart rate was pretty much the highest it’s ever been, and I felt like I was going faster than I actually was. I have a long way to go if I want to maintain a pace only slightly slower than that for 26 miles in October. Maybe I need to re-adjust my goal times.

Anyways, it was a fun event. I ran behind these two goobers for a good part of the race, so my mind was pleasantly distracted with daydreams of running with my future puppy.

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Afterwards, I needed some fuel to recover- you know what that means:

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Extra sprinkles.

Cross Training

My usual workout routine is pretty varied in terms of activities. I’ve hopped on a lot of bandwagons, including:

In the last few years, I’ve mixed running with group fitness classes pretty evenly. But lately, I’ve been concentrating so much on getting my running routine down that I have not been keeping up with other forms of exercise*. I know that I need strong arms and a strong core to increase my running power and to prevent injuries. Right now I can barely do a push-up.

30 Rock


And so I have declared a new Holiday:


Big Reveal

Big Reveal

Every Tuesday, I’m going to get to the gym after work and take a class or two. Yesterday, for the inagural Cross Training Tuesday, I started with something called “Insanity”. Have you ever heard of Insanity? These classes all have crazy names and I figured it was just another version of the resistance training routines that I’ve attended many times. It’s probably a good thing that I had not heard of Insanity, because if I had I might not have gone. What I learned was that the class is basically 50 solid minutes of jumping:

What the professionals look like

It pretty much killed me. We did star jumps, alternating lunge jumps, criss-cross jumps, push-up jumps, crunch jumps, basically just take any workout move and add a jump. It made me sweaty/tired/hungry like crazy.

Then I decided to treat myself to a nice relaxing yoga session. I haven’t had a good long stretch in a while, so this was quite enjoyable.

I really need a dog.

*Sign you should not be writing a running blog: you spell exercise wrong every time.