Marathon Training 8 Week Update

Marathon training update1

Between work, the blog, Friday morning long runs and weekend getaways I’ve almost been too busy to notice I’m training for a marathon. That was until last week’s 16 mile slog which was a brutal but timely reminder that I’m half way there, so I figured now was a great time for a check-in!


Garmin Watch

I never could justify splurging on a GPS watch before I started training for the marathon, especially with so many great, free running apps out there. On one hand they’re pretty accurate and totally do the trick for shorter runs, but they’re not always reliable and  can eat up a fair amount of our monthly data plan, so I decided to splurge on a legit watch. Literally one day after I had started researching them, my friends at RunOutlet offered to outfit me with a sleek new Garmin 620. Man-o-man is this thing a dream, and attractive too! I can’t believe I ran without one for so many years.

Saucony Guides

I started off training in the new Mizuno Wave Inspires (my shoe of choice for the last few years) but as much as I wanted to love them, the new design seemed to lack the cushioning I need for these longer runs. I ended up in the Saucony Guide 5 which so far has been wonderful! I like them so much I’m planning on picking up a pair of the Guide 6 to get me through the rest of my training.


With exception of a piriformis flare-up (which I’ve unknowingly suffered from for years, off and on) my training has been relatively pain free. What’s piriformis syndrome? Well, I’ll spare you the details but simply put… it’s a huge pain in the butt! I never bothered to get it checked out before because if it started bothering me I’d simply dial back the running. I knew that wasn’t an option this time, so–pardon the pun–I got to the bottom of it. So far it’s been responding well to stretching, rolling and strengthening exercises!


Experimenting with food-based fuel the past few long has been a learning experience to say the least. I’ve tried granola bars (too chewy), pretzel crisps (too dry), and even mashed sweet potato that somehow ended up all over my shirt last week (clearly, too messy.) I hate to say it but I think real food might just be a bit too complicated for me to handle at this stage in the game. Running 18 miles requires a fair amount of fuel but if I can’t get it in, what good is it? I’ve had blocks before but I think this week I’m going to try a couple of different gels which, again, is unchartered territory. Got any tips or favorite flavors?


8 Miles: The first long run back is always tough. My initial thought afterwards? There’s no way… Pace – 8:55/mile

8 Miles: Thankfully this one felt easier than the first and was quite a bit faster too! Pace – 8:35/mile

10 Miles: Pretty sure I was asleep for this one because I don’t remember a thing about it––but with a 5:45am start time I’m not surprised. Pace – 8:45/mile

12 Miles: My new Garmin’s maiden voyage! I think I was so excited about my new watch I completely disregarded the run itself. Pace – 8:55/mile

14 Miles: Having only run half marathons before, Anne, my grad school BFF, told me 14 miles would make marathon training real–and man was she right. Unfortunately my piriformis made it feel really damn real. Pace – 8:53/mile

Half Marathon: A couple of weeks ago I ran the Muir Woods Half Marathon with Erin, my training buddy, and our dear friend Jacquelyn of Fitsouffle. It was a gorgeous but treacherously steep trail run with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. I wasn’t breaking any records with that incline but did finish in just under 3 hours which was the goal I had set for myself!

12 Miles: We originally had 15 miles on the schedule but traded down for 12 after the 3,000 foot climb the weekend before. It was the right call in the end because those 12 actually felt like 15. Pace – 8:57/mile

16 Miles: I hate to end the long run recap on a bad note but sadly I’m still trying to forget this one. This was by far the toughest run of my life, both physically and mentally. I knew from the start my legs weren’t in it and somewhere between mile 10 and 11, I broke–mentally as much as physically. As I slowed to a walk I felt completely defeated, but looking back that’s exactly what needed to happen. Those 5-10 minutes gave my legs a short break and my mind room to overcome the self-doubt that had crept in along the way. I’ve heard these runs happen to pretty much everyone training for a marathon but let me tell you, that one nearly had me convinced I couldn’t do a full 26.2. Pace – 9:30/mile


  1. Long runs make me want to shop for cute, comfortable clothes and cashmere throw blankets. Like on a weekly basis.
  2. Weekday long runs make the weekends exponentially more enjoyable.
  3. Running more than 16 miles before work is probably not the best decision (see revelation #4).
  4. Really tough long runs will induce feelings of drunkenness afterwards… which is actually quite brilliant.


Marathon training will make you say some pretty ridiculous things. Why not share some of them?

  1. My legs are not looking forward to tomorrow. -Me
  2. Fingers crossed it doesn’t downpour. (It downpoured…) -Erin
  3. I’m definitely wearing flip flops with a blouse. #dontcare -Me
  4. I’m falling asleep at my desk. -Erin
  5. Coca Cola tastes like liquid gold… Maybe I’ll put that in my water bottle next week. -Me
  6. P.S. I still feel drunk. (4 hours after we finished our 16 miler, still at work) -Erin
  7. The drunkenness has worn off! [Insert balloon & confetti emoticons] Although my coordination is a joke so maybe not…(9 hours after finishing our 16 miler, on way home from work) -Me

After doing a bit of reading and chatting with a few experts about training fatigue, I’m taking this week off, with the exception of light walking and bike riding to/from work, and some stretching/yoga. Hopefully giving my legs a more serious break and time to recover will make this week’s 18 miler better!

Marathoners: How do you recover from those runs that leave you feeling mentally and physically beat up?

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  • hey elle! i just remembered reading this post and am wondering if you have any half-marathon trail running tips!? i am running my first one this weekend in wisconsin, and it looks like the total elevation gain is abut 1500 feet, so nowhere near what yours was, but given that i typically run on pavement in chicago i’d love any help!!

  • I like the gels, pref strawberry or vanilla. Although once I get back into long disance running (currently training for tri so I only need to build up to 6 miles) I want to dry dates stuffed with nut butter.

  • Maybe fueling your body with carbs, sugar isn’t the way to go. Prof Tim Noakes who wrote the Lore of Running last published edit 4 in 2003. Has now said all the chapters about fueling with Carbs is wrong and that the body’s preferred fuel is actually FAT. Seems to make sense as fat has about 2.25 time more calories per gram than carbs or protein. Given that the body has approx. 2000 calories of glucose stores (glycogen). And the average male runner weighing 75kg with 8% body fat has a store of 54,000 calories. As an example a Male running for 10k at pace of 3min 30 sec per k would burn approx. 2000 calories. He would need to feed his body with carbs during a run as that is what his body is used too but if he was fat adapted he might need just a life saver to get up a steep hill near the end of his run. Note this example is just short of a ¼ of a marathon. What would happen if he ran one fat adapted as opposed to glucose adapted. 54,000 calories on tap to burn. At approx. 1,333 calories per hour he could run for 40 hours.
    Yes this is a simplistic example there are other factors ie VO2 max etc I’m just trying to paint a picture that maybe we have gotten this carbs = fuel wrong.

    • Sorry not 10k but 25k approx ie running for 90 min at 3.5 min per k or a marathon in 2 hrs 27 min

  • I love love love Honey Stingers (chews and gels)! Pretty much tastes like eating honey (not so much gross “I’m eating gel” feeling…).

  • Have you tried the Honeystinger gummy chews? I have yet to go beyond 13.1 miles but they are my favorite fuel by far (I can’t stomach gels), plus they are portable and relatively mess-free. :)

  • Sounds like you are rocking training!! For fuel I encourage you to check out the sports jelly beans. Personally, I could not handle the texture of the gels–had to wash it down with tons of water. The beans worked well for me, they’re easy to transport and you can also pace yourself on how slow or fast you want to finish the pack pending on your energy levels. Oh, and it’s like eating candy!

  • I try to eat as much real food as possible, so I too struggled with fuel for marathon training. I love the Honey Stingers gels – they’re as close to real as you can get–it’s basically honey–and I don’t get the sickeningly sweet feel from them as I do with Gus. I alternate the Gold Classic and the GInsting Classic Energy gels for a caffeine boost. Oh and for my 20+ mile runs and marathons, I break up a Honey Stinger waffle and eat pieces of it!

    Good luck and hope that helps!!

  • I don’t really have flavor preferences when it comes to gels…they can only taste so good, ya know :/ BUT, I suggest choosing ones that have caffeine in them. Caffeinated vs. un-caffeinated made a HUGE difference for me during my long training runs.

  • Even with “only” a half marathon under my belt I can definitely relate to some of these! I can’t imagine running 16 miles and then going on with my day, but I’m sure you just get into TOTAL rockstar mode! Nobody else is doing what you are doing and even through the tough runs you are owning it. :)

  • Can so relate! I did dates or raisins on some of my long runs – alternating with gels. They are a bit chewy, but I’d just take a quick walk break through water stations and eat them. Recovery – my favorite is always legs up the wall pose – such a nice break for your legs & very relaxing.

  • I LOVE this post so much! It is such a fun and unique way of recapping your first 8 weeks! Que the Journey song…oooh you’re half way there.. :) You’ll rock your marathon!