New Training Cycle: Return to Habit

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I started a new training cycle last week. I’m 20 weeks out from the Grand Rapids Marathon, with plenty of shorter distances to train for and get me to the start line of my 4th marathon (what the what?!). Last week was the first week I ran 5 times in 7 days since the beginning of April.

It turns out my legs still know what to do. My lungs, on the other hand, are still getting the hang of it. It doesn’t help that Chicago’s weather has been incredibly bipolar lately. One day it’s 50 degrees and rainy. The next it’s 77 degrees with 70% humidity. I keep telling myself that things will become easier once the weather decides to be somewhat consistent and we can all acclimate to the heat around here.

I can’t believe that Boston was 7 weeks ago.

Time to get back to it and get ready for a strong cycle:

Less beer, more Nuun.

I love a good brew. I normally drink a beer with dinner every night of the week and clearly, enjoy more than one brew on the weekends. With the heat of the summer coming, that’s probably going to change. The last thing I want to do is sabotage my workouts by consuming too much beer and forgetting about hydrating properly. (It definitely helps that I recently tried Watermelon Nuun and have a new favorite, tied with Citrus Fruit. Tasty hydrating concoction, I love you!)

Hellooooo, Jillian Michaels!

In preparing for Boston, I did something I never thought I would do. I purchased a Jillian Michaels DVD, complete with her airbrushed abs and flowing locks on the cover. 6 Week 6 Pack Attack! In all seriousness, it’s a crazy hard workout. (I’ve been humbled more than 10x with this 30-minute workout.) Even on days when I don’t have time to spend some quality time with JM, doing core work needs to become a routine again, not just an afterthought or something I “forget to do”.

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Morning, sunshine!

Gone are the days when I can lazily wake up at 7:30 and hope to squeeze in a workout before starting work (that never really worked for my anyway!). The morning alarm is going to have to happen a lot earlier. Training for Boston was different than any of my previous cycles because I fought the winter elements on the lakefront, which usually meant that I waited until the late morning or early afternoon to run at the warmest point of the day. (That’s a luxury that I truly appreciate.) One good thing about the summer is that you *have* to wake up early in order to avoid melting into a puddle of sweat any later than 8 AM. I’m willing to set my alarm to 5 or 6 AM just so I don’t feel like I’m going to die on the run. As another “nudge”, I’ve written myself angry messages as the titles of my alarms on my iPhone. Whatever works, right?! (One of them is actually nice. It reads: “Coffee is waiting“. That’s a nice thought.)

Get in my belly! 

I think I’m getting back on the smoothie train, guys. I’m not sure how I managed to enjoy frozen smoothies when it was 10 degrees and snowing outside, but I did. Now that it’s getting warmer, I think I’ll look forward to putting them in my belly again. I don’t have any super tasty recipes to share, but my favorite lately has been:

  • frozen black cherries
  • frozen mixed berries
  • greek yogurt (with honey)
  • almond milk
  • Tera’s Whey organic dark chocolate protein powder
  • chia seeds
  • and a banana or avocado.

I don’t think it’s any accident that I started to feel stronger when I began adding more protein and fat to my diet. (I also add Udo’s omega oil and Floradix liquid iron to my shakes!) Last week, I also made a point to go to the grocery store with a list that made actual MEALS. Saved money for the entire week and made some delicious dinners including: salmon with yogurt-mustard-dill sauce with egg noodles and steamed broccoli, breaded pork chops with mashed potatoes and sweet corn on the cob, and chicken with sautéed onions, roma tomatoes, and jalapeño with brown rice and asparagus. I doubt that will happen every week but it felt so good to cook fresh food at home each night of the week.

I finally sat down to read two months’ worth of running magazines & came across this quote in the May issue of Running Times:

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Getting back into a routine is tough at times but all of these things make me feel more productive and energetic. How do you trick yourself into following a routine again? Do you find it easy or difficult to start a new training cycle?


24 thoughts on “New Training Cycle: Return to Habit

  1. Pete B says:

    Good luck with the marathon training cycle. Very exciting. I agree that lots of drinking and training don’t necessarily go hand in hand for me. I hate missing a long run just because I decided to have that extra beer the night before. Love the RT quote!

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Pete! I haven’t gone too crazy the last 6 weeks but just crazy enough to cut down on the beer consumption. Besides, there’s plenty of beer to drink once I chase down those PRs!

  2. Susan - Nurse on the Run says:

    It’s time for me to get back into marathon training mode too! Time goes so fast. I longed for the heat of summer when it was cold, and now I’m just a giant puddle of sweat…but I love it. Definitely need to add in some strength training this time around…

    • Jenny says:

      I can’t believe how fast recovery has flown by! I’m looking forward to acclimating to the heat. My body has been so confused with this weather! I forget–what’s your next race?!

  3. Karen says:

    I’ve tried the 6 Week 6 Pack DVD too! It’s so tough, but love how my core feels afterwards. Plus, it’s not terribly high-impact, so even though you’re working hard, it doesn’t suck quite as much as it probably could. Good luck with your training!

    • Jenny says:

      It *is* tough! But not so tough that I absolutely dread doing it. I actually think it’s helped strengthen my hips and quads in the past too, so it’s a great strength workout. Thanks Karen!

  4. hyedi says:

    I totally just bought that Jillian Michaels DVD also. Ha — I was trying to decide between that one and this one:

    Anyways, after my half yesterday, I’m planning to take a couple of weeks off before starting my training cycle for Twin Cities on June 17 (which will be 16 weeks out). I’m planning on using the time to do a lot of the things you talked about, like cleaning up my diet and getting up earlier. I think that’ll help ease me back into a new cycle!

    • Jenny says:

      Oooo! I haven’t checked that DVD out! Might be my next purchase….

      You deserve to rest and recovery now that you’ve joined the sub 2:00 club!! Congrats again, Hyedi! Sounds like you perfectly timed your races this season

  5. cisforcourtney says:

    It sounds like you have some great plans lined up to knock out some summer training! Also, JM is NO JOKE! I bought one of her DVD’s two weeks ago after seeing it at Target! I remembered you mentioning it before and decided to give it a whirl! Can’t wait to see what you do in marathon training cycle #4!

    • Jenny says:

      Dude, JM is tough! I was doing it consistently each week before Boston and I got the point where it wasn’t too difficult. Now I’m starting from scratch again 🙂 I’m really excited about racing season this year (even that’s year-round for us!)

  6. Leslie @ TriathleteTreats says:

    It sounds like I need to get that video!!
    Good Luck with your training cycle. I will be starting one soon also. I have already been knee deep in triathlon training so I “should” just be able to cruise into it! 🙂

  7. Dominick S. says:

    New training cycles are great but like you, once NYC training kicks in my free flowing running routine will have to become strict and my wake up times will be much earlier…difficult but I learn to love the routine. I am also with you on the beer front, training is a great excuse to cut down my weekend intake, maybe I should switch the beers for JM…a complete 180. Good luck and I’ll be reading to remind myself whats coming my way in training! BTW what plan are you using?

      • Dominick S. says:

        Agreed. Oh yes, I forgot you have a coach! Mine is the Hal 9000…I mean, Hal Higdon App for my iPhone…cookie cutter program with additional core work added but maybe I should consult a coach to increase the speed. Good luck!

  8. Evan says:

    Good luck in GR! I grew up in the area (Holland). GR is a pretty cool up and coming city and I’ve only heard great things about this race.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks! My mom actually bought a lakehouse in Holland recently so I’m really excited to go up there and feel more like a “local” after spending time there this summer. I’m excited for a small race!

  9. Holly says:

    Looks like I need to jump on the JM bandwagon; I have no doubt it will be a humbling experience 🙂 ha! Sounds like you have a great plan…I love routine, and starting my day with a run…sets the tone for the rest of the day!

  10. runner1313 says:

    Great post! I am just coming down from Spring racing season, and somehow in the sometimes brutal Summer heat of NC, I need to start right back up with training for the Fall. I will be running the Asheville City Marathon in September, and the City of Oaks Marathon in November, plus a bunch of Halves. I don’t drink alcohol at all, my vice is ice cream, and will have to cut back on that some, as I would like to lose about 7-8 pounds before September. Happy training.

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