Marathon Training Week One: An Aborted Long Run, a Turkey Trot, and 5 A.M. Wake-Ups

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That's me all the way over on the left, struggling to breath about 100 yards form the start. Senior Editor Mike Conklin is running his first marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon, on March 11, 2017, and he’s documenting his training here with weekly posts. Click here for last week’s introductory post.

I am now officially seven days and 18.4 miles into training for the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon. Week one had its share of ups and downs, but I’d say it was a net positive: I slept unusually well all week; I drank (a little) less than usual; and I’m not yet 100% convinced that I will fail miserably at this whole thing. So all in all, it could be worse.

But despite having hit my mileage goal for the week, I’m still feeling like it’s not quite real yet, like I haven’t actually begun. Because of the long weekend, I got off a little easier this past week than I will over the next 15 weeks, each of which will typically include two very-early wake-up calls for pre-work runs, whereas this week only included one. And this current week is a strange one too, because I’m running a half-marathon (for which I am wholly unprepared, by the way) this coming Saturday, so I’ll be taking it easier than usual over the next few days.

Anyway! Here’s how week one went down…

Sunday, 11/20

My first day of training was a “long run” of seven miles — not terribly long, of course, but longer than I’d gone in quite some time — and it was, in every possible way, just terrible. I knew the weather forecast called for increasing winds as the day went on, but it was family observation day at oldest daughter’s gymnastics class, which meant we were actually able to go in and watch her rather than sitting in a waiting room staring at our phones with all the other bored parents. And then after that I had to go food shopping, because, whoops, we ran out. So by the time I got to run, it was afternoon and the wind had picked up like crazy. I set out to run around my neighborhood, which features a number of small hills that feel way bigger when the wind is blowing directly in your face, which is leaking snot because you’ve been fighting the colds and bronchitis that have been ravaging the rest of your household for what seems like a month. Just after five miles, I was back in the general vicinity of my house, so I decided to pack it in. My total for the day was a disappointing 5.3 — my first day, a failure. Fantastic.

Monday, 11/21

No running on the schedule today, but I woke up early and attempted some light bodyweight exercises — planks, squats, lunges, plus some good, deep stretching and some foam rolling. 

Tuesday, 11/22

A four-mile run was on the schedule today, but with my coach’s permission, I moved some stuff around, resulting in a second straight day without running. I did an upper body dumbbell workout in the morning, though — everyone in the world seems to understand that strength training is integral to any good running program, but I have 100 percent neglected it in any training I’ve done until now. Which is probably why my arms have traditionally felt even worse than my legs during any of the half-marathons I’ve done.

Wednesday, 11/23

My first super early-morning wake-up call of marathon training, and it went off without a hitch. My alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., I was out the door by 6 a.m., to log three easy miles, which wound up being exactly at my marathon goal pace, which… is definitely nothing to be particularly excited about, given that running 23.2 more miles at the same pace was… definitely not an option for me. But I got up early and did what I was supposed to do. So, a minor success.

Thursday, 11/24

Along with a few family members, I’d signed up for a five-mile turkey trot in Long Island, where I’m from. My wife and I were up for a bunch of hours in the middle of the night with my younger daughter, who’d decided that rather than sleeping, she just wanted to sit in her crib and repeatedly rattle off the names of every member of our family. My wife was in there with her most of the time, but because I feel extreme guilt in situations like this, I sat awake in bed and watched the entire thing on our baby monitor, Blair Witch style. By the time the race started, at 10 a.m., I’d essentially been awake for six hours — which I would like to say is why I ran so poorly but is probably not. I set out to run easy, but not quite as easy as the 9:28/mile I wound up at. Even still, it was nice to be in a race environment again, and even nicer to be there with family.

Friday, 11/25

The most physically demanding thing I did on Friday was eat a bunch of boneless buffalo wings. So, moving on…

Saturday, 11/26

To make up for that run I’d moved earlier in the week, Saturday called for four easy miles, which I finished by 8 a.m. at a pace of 8:49/mile — still nothing to write home about, but certainly quicker than I’ve been moving of late. And I even tacked on an extra tenth of a mile, for a total of 4.1. Look at me go.  

So, week one at a glance:

Total miles on the schedule: 18

Total miles completed: 18.4 (including a .9-mile warm-up for the turkey trot)

Skipped workouts: None! Though I did cut one short because I am weak and lack resolve.

High point: Finishing my three-mile run on Wednesday morning and sitting on my stoop for a minute, just after the sun had come up, before going inside and getting on with my day.

Low point: Every single second of Sunday’s bullshit long run. 

Key piece of gear: I’m not yet totally sure which shoes, or which combination of shoes, I’ll stick with for this training program, but I spent some quality time with the Mizuno Wave Rider 20 this past week, and they treated me well. Ample cushioning plus a welcome degree of firmness thanks to Mizuno’s Wave plate technology. There are lighter shoes, and there are more cushioned shoes, but these sit nicely in the middle, and I could see putting an awful lot of miles on ’em. 

Next week: Twenty-five miles on the schedule, including a short long run (which, spoiler alert, I did yesterday and actually went really well!), my first speed workout, and, ugh, the aforementioned half marathon, which happens to be conveniently located within walking distance of Dogfish Head, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. See you back here next Monday for a full recap — in the meantime, follow me on Twitter for intermittent updates. 

For more info about the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Marathon, follow them on Twitter or Facebook, and to join in the conversation, use the hashtag #RNRDC. And if you want to sign up to join me on March 11, use the code RUNNINGDC to get $15 off your race fee. 

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