Catch up:  The Road to Chicago (i.e. what to expect from this series)      |     Marathon Base Building     |     Week 1     |     Week 2     |     Week 3

Week 4: Womp Womp 

I’m combining my Week 4 and Week 5 notes because quite frankly, Week 4 didn’t have much of note worth writing about besides the fact that I was hungry – a lot. I had 6 workouts, 26 miles of running at various paces + strength training, and I simply checked  them off one at a time. Maybe that in itself is the lesson. Check the box and move on.

So I did…. to Week 5.

Week 5

Straight out of a light(er) recovery week, I headed into Week 5 knowing I would add 10 miles to the total mileage by the end of Saturday’s long run. That could have been intimidating, but I kept my game plan:

look at the full week once, then focus only on the next workout, which began on Monday afternoon.

Doing all the wrong things 

My training plan called for 4 miles at tempo pace. The good news is that I’ve noticed my fitness improving and have adjusted my paces as a result. Tempo is about a minute faster than race pace, both are now 30 seconds faster than a few weeks ago. Progress🙌🏻

Insomnia hit me hard on Sunday night which is par for the course when a lot is on my mind as has been the case recently. (More on that in a minute.) So instead of getting up to run with my sunrise crew per usual, I opted to take advantage of the sleep I had finally found and run later in the day. That would be Mistake 1.

I knew I had 7 miles with speed work on Tuesday morning’s calendar so I couldn’t run too later in the day on Monday or my legs wouldn’t be fresh(ish). That left me with a window for my tempo run around 2 p.m.

I headed downtown to run on a flat course and waited for a short downpour to either pass or turn to light rain, either of which would be more favorable conditions (i.e. cooler and/or shaded) than a normal 2 p.m. run in July.

Well, the downpour passed and took all the clouds with it. I got blue skies and  ZERO break from the direct sunshine on the running path. Even with a hat and a short distance, this would prove to be brutal and I’d spend half the run calculating all the things I did wrong that led me to feeling so rough.

When You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

This old high school teacher mantra definitely popped into my head after Monday’s run. Let me explain why.

Mondays are usually super productive days for me. I am recovered from Saturdays long runs, my head is in the right space for a fresh week and creativity flows. This also means that I can easily get lost doing “just one more thing” before taking a break for lunch and next thing I know I’ve gone 6 hours without nutrition. Not ideal in a regular circumstance and really freaking poor planing when I have a run to do.

I do NOT run fasted. In my early recreation running days I did and then I heard a coach say,

“Would you expect your car to run without gas? Clearly not. So why do you expect your body to perform without fuel.”

How as this not 100% obvious to me before?? 🤯 So even when it’s small, I put something in my tank that my body can actually use on the run, whatever the distance. Monday however, I did not have enough.

Additionally, my miscalculation about how the rain chances would help with temperature control meant I did not bring my hydration pack on a course that I am fully aware has little shade. To recap, here’s the scene list of mistakes I’ve made before the run even began:

              1. Lack of sleep
              2. Improper fueling
              3. Lack of hydration
              4. Poor choice of course for the conditions


Despite all of this, my desire to check the box on the run so I could move on had me set out with the goal of keeping my tempo pace for the four miles. Worth a shot right? Ha! Here’s how my inner dialogue shifted as the miles (aka linear feet) ticked by:

(Mile 2.75) “Just get to 3 miles then you can walk back.”

(Mile 2.80) “But if I get to 3 that’s only 1 mile shy of completing the full distance so I might as well do all 4.”

(Mile 3.25) “OMG!!! It’s so hot. I want to just be done.”

“Don’t walk, just run slower. Less than a mile to go”

(Mile 3.4) “I’m close to 3.5 miles. I can walk back after that. 3.5 is fine. I’ll make up the other half mile later this week.”

(Mile 3.5) “You’ve come so far. Just finish to 4. It’s only a half mile to go.”

(Mile 3.75) “Only a quarter mile left. You can do anything for a quarter mile.”

(Mile 4) “For the love of all that’s holy. DONE!! Not pretty, but done.”

Being Intimidated and Doing It Anyway

My usual Tuesday speed run partner Karen had other plans this week so for the first time I set out to do intervals on my own. I have NEVER done speed drills on my own (ever!) so this would be a big deal. Would I be able to self motivate when it go hard? Would I be able to run as fast as I do when I have Karen to chase? Would I be able to stick it out through all 10 intervals?

Lots of questions, definitely intimidated by the distance + the intervals, and yet equally committed to doing it. Only way to get the answers to those questions is to get out there and try.

I learned from all my failures on Monday though and prepared better this time.

                            1. 6:15 am target start time
                            2. Morning fuel (coffee & biscuit)
                            3. Hydration pack
                            4. Less clothing (i.e. No shirt. When it’s this hot, modesty matters less than avoiding heat stroke or too high heart rate.)
                            5. Interval timing cues logged into my watch


And off I set!  A couple miles to warm up, 10 interval rounds at my 5k (or just under) pace, and a couples miles to wrap up and I hit my goal. 7 miles and 10×1 intervals SOLO 🙌🏻

Well, partially solo. The real truth is that even though I didn’t have anyone physically running with me, I had the words of multiple people in head pushing me forward.

“You are more fit than you realize.”

“You are a strong runner.”

“You can do anything for [insert interval time and/or distance left].” (Repeated over and over as much as I needed it.)

From Starting Rough to Finishing Strong

My body got a bit of a break of after those two intense workouts to start the week before catching up with Casey for Wednesday night’s brewery run club. Rather than the traditional 5k the group does though, we’ll be adding an additional mile (or 2) over the course of the next few weeks. Again, I learned from Monday and ran with my hydration pack. Even at 6 p.m. at night, it’s still brutally hot out there.

Thursday I rejoined Mark for some OTF and brought Jody, my Marathon 1 training partner, along for the fun. It truly makes me so insanely happy to have people I love who love to workout with me. They legit motivate me when self-motivation is hard to come by, which can happy more often than it seems.

Case and point: we ended our training session Thursday with a choice, in theory at least, between burpees or something called Dead Bugs. Well, in my mind ANYTHING is better than burpees, which of course meant Mark decided we would do burpees 🙄 Leave it to your friends to kick your a** when you want to take the easy route – even if it’s just once.

Checking Off Miles

Despite the burpees and the all-too-many-backwards lunges (with additional weight!), I wrapped up the week with 7 miles at race pace, a good 15 seconds faster on average than my previous race-pace goal, followed by a 14 miler on Saturday morning. That long run didn’t need to be pretty. It needed to get done.

As Casey and I hit my mile 10 marker, I started counting down what we had left out loud.

“Just 4 more miles to go!”

“3 miles left!”

“Only 2 miles. 2 miles is nothing”

Kicking It Up

A little under 12 minutes later we turned a corner to get back on the Riverwalk for our last mile. My hamstrings and glutes were screaming and tight, but instead of calling out the “1 mile left!” I came up with a new challenge. Well, a challenge for me at least as Casey’s fresh legs would be able to handle what I proposed with no doubt.

Challenge: When we got to .25 miles left, we’d kick it up a notch (on pace) until the finish. You know, just to see if we can.

“Let’s just see” That’s the phrase that had me signing up for Marathon 2, with it’s 1,200+ feet of elevation gain , just to see if I could do it.

This has become the anthem of my life these days. Could I run [insert faster pace for a longer duration]? Eh, let’s just see. Do I really want to go on this date? Eh, let’s just see. Can I lift a heavier weight? Eh, let’s just see.

Here’s the thing though: every time I “let’s just see”, I do and that doing leads to learning, and learning leads to growing and growing leads to a happier, enriched, challenged and fulfilling life. In other words: my true goal.

Oh, and as expected, we did kick it up on that last quarter mile and sure enough we shave over a minute off the pace. We came, we saw, we pushed and we, as the Saints did in the 2009-2010 season, finished strong.


Channing Muller is an award winning marketing & public relations consultant and the principal of DCM Communications, a marketing consulting agency based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. She works with event professionals and business owners to grow and scale their businesses with refined marketing strategies developed through one-on-one and group consulting, customized marketing programs and public relations. She has been named a "25 Young Event Pro to Watch" by Special Events magazine and "40 Under 40" by Connect Meetings. Channing is an avid runner, lover of labrador retrievers, good food, delicious drinks, and an advocate for the American Heart Association.

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