Training for the Chicago Marathon

It’s been too long since I last posted anything and even longer since I wrote about running. Partly due to my intense training schedule and partly due to work getting busier and busier, I did not have the time and really the desire to analyze my training and put it into writing. With the Chicago Marathon only 15 days away, and the taper process started I am starting to get excited and anxious for race day. Training this time around was totally different in compare to when I trained for Boston at the beginning of the year. In fact for this race I decided to ask Coach Rick Muhr to be my coach.

I have been thinking about getting a running coach for a while and felt that with a coach I would be able to reach my full potential as a runner. And not because I needed the push or the motivation, I am very motivated and dedicated to my training and definitely very hard on myself, but because with the help of an experience running coach that would make and adjust my  training plan based entirely on how my body responds to the training, I believed he would help bring out the best in me and helping me to realize my potential and dreams.

I met Rick through lululemon early this year, during one of the Boston Marathon Training meeting/run for the Marathon Coalition Team that he coaches and immediately loved him! I was just so impressed with all that he had accomplished and all his knowledge about marathoning that right after Dustin & I came back from Italy at the end of June I decided to ask him to be my coach and help me prepare for Chicago. He accepted my offer and since then I met him once for the initial Transformational Running clinic where he covered every aspect of running focusing quite a bit on proper running form and efficient running and he updated my training schedule weekly.

Learning the proper forward lean (from the ankles)

Since day one I found his training challenging as I’ve never really done much speed work and it was quite frustrating when I had planned to run 7-8 miles at 7:00 min/mile and couldn’t really meet this standards. It was a really mentally hard journey as lots of time I felt I was failing. I couldn’t stand those days of not so great performance and knowing that Rick believed that I could run that fast and the feeling that I was disappointing him. Such a struggle! During this journey I also had a swollen ankle to deal with. It started to hurt about a month ago, I applied the RICE (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation) method minus the R and it definitely got better, but even though now it doesn’t really hurt it is still a little swollen. It was a bit encouraging to see the improvement in my running though, especially the last few weeks when maintaining a 7:15 pace when no racing wasn’t as challenging as the beginning of Rick’s training.

Another habit that Coach Rick had me get into is to check my resting heart rate first thing in the morning. An elevated resting heart rate can be a sign of not enough rest, sleeping, bad eating, dehydration, over training. It was hard at first as I usually jump out of bed as soon as I open my eyes. After few days I got into the habit, and and I have consistently been between 44-48 beats per minute (Bpm). This is definitely a great tool that every runner or athlete should use. It helped me learn to listen to my body and immediately know how I am feeling that day.  The measurement of resting heart rate (the number of heart beats per minute) should be taken after a few minutes after waking while still lying in bed. The more you workout the lower your resting pulse is, and the lower your resting pulse is the less hard your heart has to work. The best way to think about is to view your heart as a muscle, and the more you work it the stronger it gets. A stronger heart means more blood with each beat, and the same amount of work can be done with fewer beats.

I did tons of workouts on the track and Dustin couldn’t be more supportive and showed up every single Saturday with water (for those crazy hot and humid days) and snacks but most importantly a big smile. Few times he brought Luna cause he new that would distract me. Last time he surprised me and just showed up running on the track. All of a sudden, I noticed another crazy man running on the track right after a big storm passed by but didn’t  recognized my own husband until when I was about to pass him and caught myself thinking: “This guy had the same Nike red sneaks as my husband…oh wait that is my husband! ” Well, that was the best moment ever, I burst into laugh, slowed down gave him a kiss and continued running with a huge smile on my face. That made my day…The little thing this man does. Love him with all my heart!

I am determined to get my confidence and mental toughness back in these last two weeks before game day and get as strong as I’ve always been and really enjoy the journey.

At this point, the physical preparation is done. I have done all the work I could possibly do and all I have to do now is recover and get to race day as rested as I can be. Here is my training in numbers:

Weekly Mileage

Week 1 –  July 2 – 7 ~ Total Miles: 56.29 Miles

Week 2 –  July 8 – 14 ~ Total Miles: 56.55 Miles

Week 3 –  July 15 – 21 ~ Total Miles: 58.92 Miles

Week 4 –  July 22 – 28 ~ Total Miles: 60.31 Miles

Week 5 –  July 29 –  August 4 ~ Total Miles: 62.91 Miles

Week 6 –  August 5 – 11 ~ Total Miles: 63.03 Miles

Week 7 –  August 12 – 18 ~ Total Miles: 53.18 Miles (Vancouver Vacation)

Week 8 –  August 19 – 25 ~ Total Miles: 71.86 Miles

Week 9 –  August 26 – September 1 ~ Total Miles: 72.54 Miles

Week 10 –  September 2 – 8 ~ Total Miles: 73.24 Miles

Week 11 –  September 9 – 15 ~ Total Miles: 76.93 Miles

Monthly Mileage

July  255.10 Miles

August 280.49 Miles

On Tuesday night I received the Confirmation Ticket number for the Chicago Marathon and I am starting in Wave 1 beginning at 7:30 a.m., my Start Corrall is B and my BIB number is 4440…a little reminder that this will be my 4th Marathon. They have my age wrong though as on October 7th when I will be running Chicago it will be my last day in my 38 ah!

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon, now in its 35th year.

Last but not least, on Wednesday September 12th while I was at work my hubby registered me for next year Boston Marathon. And in less than few hours I received an e-mail from the BAA notifying me that my entry into the 117th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013 was been accepted!

Boston, I am going for number 3!!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  ~ Aristotle


2 thoughts on “Training for the Chicago Marathon

  1. Natascia,

    Great post! Thank you so much for being so disciplined in your training. You have been the perfect student. Your work ethic and positive attitude are important ingredients in the formula for success…in running and in life!

    I’m proud to be YOUR Coach!


  2. Natasha hi i think I met you briefly either at the Catz 5k or the chilly half running with the Catz team. My name is Maureen and I have run a few marathons with coach Rick. He is the best. I am excited to see how great you will do with his training plan in Chicago. I remember from the race I did with you that you are a crazy fast runner and there is no better Coach than Rick so i think the combination is going to be great! Your mileage is impressive! Best of luck. Enjoy the taper and the race. I love Chicago

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