Marathon Training Week Three: Recovery and the Fear of Internet Shaming 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. Here's last week's. You can also follow him on Twitter

The longest race I’ve ever trained for is a half-marathon. Counting last week’s eye-opening race in Delaware, I’ve run five altogether, and I only trained seriously for two of them. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I have to say I’ve never really made it through a full training program. Three-quarters of the way into the first one, in preparation for the 2015 Brooklyn Half, which I’d hoped to run in under two hours, I was 9.1 miles into an 11-mile-long run, and I suddenly found out what an IT band is and why everyone’s always saying you should foam roll it. I never fully recovered, and the race was basically a giant mess. For this year’s Brooklyn Half, after breaking two hours in my two previous races, for which I did not train at all (there has to be a lesson here, yes?), I set out on a pretty ambitious program in hopes of breaking 1:50. A month before the race, a nasty case of bronchitis knocked me out, keeping me off the roads for a little over two weeks. So much for 1:50. Or even two hours.

Because I’ve never been fully prepared for a race, even the ones where I had my best times, each of them has left me feeling pretty badly beat up afterward, leading to longer layoffs than I’d care to admit — up to two weeks of doing nothing at all and up to a month of doing… almost nothing.

This week, I didn’t quite have that luxury, though I did wind up taking it pretty easy. Easier than I should have, possibly, but I hope not.


After drinking perhaps one beer more than I should have on Saturday night, I woke up on Sunday and walked to Starbucks from our hotel to get coffee and some food for the fam. This was the extent of my physical activity for the day. Unless you count eating Buffalo chicken fingers at a Denny’s on our way home, which I do because they actually caused me to break a sweat.


I’m not gonna be able to make a joke every time I take a day off for the next 13 weeks, so, just… I took Monday off entirely.


Nope. Nothing. I just ran a half-marathon for Christ’s sake.


Alright, here we go. Four easy miles on the schedule, with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call. Got out of bed with no problem, hit the streets and immediately realized I still kinda felt like ass. Only made it 3.6 miles before throwing in the towel. I tried a new shoe-sock combination that wasn’t quite working for me, so I will go ahead and blame that rather than anything having to do with my own lack of conditioning or will power.


Ugh, Thursday. This was the most noteworthy day of the week for me, for both good and bad reasons. I slept through my 5 a.m. alarm, one of those situations where you almost can’t be mad at yourself because you didn’t even consciously hit snooze a million times like an asshole. I have no recollection of hearing it go off, and when I finally woke up, it was after 7 a.m., already too late for me to run before work. I felt miserable and lazy and like a total failure, so, for lack of anything better to do, I just started frantically lifting weights and planking and shit. And in the meantime, I decided I’d do whatever it took to get my run in that night — so I spent my whole day feeling weirdly anxious, with five miles of speedwork hanging over my head. After homework and baths and dinner and bedtime and all that, I finally got out the door at a little after 10 p.m. My program called for a 2.5-mile regular run, which I did at a roughly 9:30 pace, followed by five 1-minute pushes with 30 seconds of slower recovery after each. I got through that part of the workout feeling great, and then slowed back down to regular run pace for a brief cool-down. It was cold, dark, and 11 p.m., so I stopped at 4.1 miles, went home, and drank beer on my couch, feeling a proud sense of accomplishment, but also kinda strange because of the degree to which I had to admit to myself that I engaged in this somewhat extreme behavior mostly because I really didn’t want to admit failure to strangers on the internet.




With 10 miles on the schedule for Sunday, I wanted to take it easy today, but I also wanted to do what I could to make up for the week’s low mileage. A quick three miles around the neighborhood in the morning felt just right. And I was finally under 9:00/mile, too.

Week 3 at a Glance:

Total Miles on the Schedule: 22

Total Miles Completed: 10.6. I should probably feel worse about this than I do, but this is definitely way more than I’ve ever done the week after a race. And there was a weird, mid-week 9-miler on the schedule, which seemed like a glitch.

Skipped Workouts: I don’t know. One, sorta. It’s complicated.

High point: After Thursday night's run, and after guzzling water and foam rolling… sitting down on my couch, comfortable and warm, opening a can of 21st Amendment's Fireside Chat winter ale. Satisfying. 

Low Point: I mean, you would think way differently of me if you knew just how instantly and deeply depressed I became when I realized I'd missed my alarm on Thursday. Not good. Or reasonable. 

Key pieces of gear: Let's focus on clothes this week: I've been putting some items from Ibex through their paces this week, and really liking what I'm seeing. I wrote about their Kilometer gloves (pictured above) over in our gift guide for runners, and I continue to stand by those. I also wore their Woolies 1 zip T-neck base layer a few times this week, and it performed admirably, keeping me warm and dry in some pretty cold weather — and it doesn't smell yet, either. I also leaned pretty heavily on New Balance's Kairosport (also pictured above), a simple jacket that's warm without being too heavy, and reflective enough for early-morning and late-night outings. I also just logged my first run in a very brightly colored pair of Patagonia Borderless tights (yep, pictured above), which could turn out to be my favorite pair ever… more to come next week, I'm sure. 

Next week: Twenty-three miles including a 10-mile-long run and six miles of intervals. Now that the race and a little recovery time is out of the way, it feels like we're entering the meat of things now. 

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.