Going into marathon training, I knew there were two things that could derail even my best efforts at training and racing: an injury or a Crohn’s flare.
I am extremely un-thrilled to report that the latter decided to show up during Week 7 of training which, subsequently, became my worst week of training thus far.
I absolutely acknowledge that over the duration of a 16-week marathon training plan, there will be ups and highs and downs and lows. That’s par for the marathon course, and it’s the reason we have 16 weeks to make things work. But I wish my bad week of training had been on account of tired legs or achy muscles rather than a stomach that has chosen to act up. I first experienced signs of a flare on Tuesday: My stomach was in a lot of pain, and when I finally got out for my run, I had to make a handful of [very urgent and necessary] bathroom stops.
As the week went on, my symptoms got progressively worse, and by the end of the week, there was no question about whether it was “something I ate” or something much more familiar. After two blissfully healthy years, it seems the ol’ disease is back in action. Hopefully not for long. TBD.
With that peppy preview, here’s how the week shook out…
Monday, August 29: Step Aerobics (60 minutes)
Seriously. I was in New Hampshire, and whenever I visit, I try to squeeze in a workout with my mom. So we went to her little gym in Contoocook for a class, and I was hoping for some kind of boot camp-style or TRX class, but what we got instead was a straight-up 90s-style step aerobics class, complete with V-steps, hamstring curls, and a pivot turn move that sent me tripping over my feet and flying off my step in the loudest, most dramatic of fashions. I broke a sweat and had fun with my mom, but it wasn’t necessarily a workout I’ll look back on at mile 18 of the marathon to get a boost of confidence.
Tuesday, August 30: Easy Run (6 miles)
The Track Tuesday Workout That Wasn’t. Instead of doing 12 x 400, I trotted around New Hampshire for six miserable miles. The upside? I made it to Week 7 of training before having a really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run. This run was just bad. I hate running in Contoocook, NH. The town is cute, fine, but I hate running there. It’s boring and hilly and there aren’t all that many options for cool routes. So I wasn’t into this one mentally, and then I just felt like crap. My legs were heavy, my stomach felt awful, and I had to make several very urgent bathroom stops along the way. (Thank you to Storms Fitness and the local Tooky laundromat for letting me use your bathrooms!) A bad run is NBD, so I didn’t dwell on it, especially since this was my first missed workout of training. Onto the next — and onto Vermont.
Wednesday, August 31: Easy Run (9 miles)
Well unfortunately moving “onto the next” didn’t mean “onto the better.” This run, which boasted much better scenery and a lovely route along the Stowe Recreation Path in Vermont, was also pretty crappy. Literally, unfortunately. The path was cute and fun and I liked exploring new terrain, but my stomach, again, felt horrible. I actually only made one bathroom stop, but I took a few walk breaks along the way to give my stomach a chance to settle. Ugh.
Thursday, September 1: Easy Run (8 miles)
This run was better! I went back to the Stowe Recreation Path, this time with two of the girls staying in the house with us for the bike race (one of which is a seriously badass runner who was poised to go to the Olympics until she tore her hamstring).
I was so happy to have their company, though I did have to make a handful of dramatic bathroom stops. One of the stops happened to be in a Porta Potty outside a corn maze where we met some baby goats and cows, though, so that was nice. Again, onto the next. Triple ugh.
Friday, September 2: Long Run (16 miles)
Holy crap (ha), a good run! This run was set up to go terribly: I spent the morning and early afternoon at Brian’s race, so I didn’t even start my run until 2 PM. My stomach felt horrible, and it was my fourth day in a row of running. And yet…it went really well?
After cheering on the BOLD boys during the first stage of the race, I drove to Burlington with the girls to go for a run. We didn’t end up running together because we all had different plans for the day, but knowing they, too, were out there gave me a good enough boost to keep moving. I ran without music for the first 8 or so miles, then listened to I’ll Have Another, which was great, as usual. I made three bathroom stops, which was fewer than I expected, and ate a Honey Stinger waffle at mile 10, which was later than I should’ve taken it, but was fine. I liked the waffle (my first time trying it!), and never bonked.
My first mile was a 9:24. My last mile was, according to my GPS, a 7:45. I don’t know if I believe that, but I did feel pretty good and strong at the end of the run.
Then we got smoothies and proceeded directly to the hot tub at the house, where Brian delivered me a big ol’ glass of champagne. Then I slept for 10 hours.
Saturday, September 3: REST
Spent the day on my feet at the bike race, but no running.
Sunday, September 4: Easy Run [to Ben & Jerry’s] (2.5 miles)
After spending another day on the sidelines at the Green Mountain Stage Race, the girls were ready to break a little sweat of our own…by running to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory down the road. It was a slow trot, and the line at Ben & Jerry’s was stupid long, so we ended up getting ice cream elsewhere.
RUN DAYS: 5
CROSS-TRAINING DAYS: 1
REST DAYS: 1
TOTAL MILEAGE: 41.5 miles
TOTAL ICE CREAM: I lost count. Oops.
Because when you arrive at your Airbnb and there’s a note from your host saying “beer in fridge, ice cream in freezer,” you proceed directly to the freezer to dig a hole in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and then you keep digging away at it a bit more each day. Plus a scoop of Vanilla Chocolate Chip at the Lake Champlain Chocolate store. The ice cream didn’t make my stomach feel worse, so I went with it.
TOTAL ALCOHOL: 4 glasses of champagne
Two big ones in a hot tub in Vermont after my long run, and two more at dinner Sunday night. Is alcohol good for you when you’re Crohnsing? Probably not. Did it make me feel worse? Nope.
What went great: My long run, surprisingly!
Where I need to improve: In my intestines. And core stuff. I didn’t do any core stuff this week, and only foam rolled once. Getting that stuff in while traveling is hard. I got my miles in, but not much else.
Motivational quote that best summarizes Week 7 of training: “Yeah, no, don’t put me down for cardio.” —Fat Amy, Pitch Perfect
Stopping by for the first time? Catch up on training so far!
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR TRAINING THIS WEEK! What went awesome, what went less awesome, and how many times did you need to make urgent mid-run bathroom stops in inconvenient, potentially embarrassing places?
Ugh, so sorry you have to deal with a new flare up… and that when you were at such a beautiful place (for running + relaxing!) .
At least, the ice-cream part didn’t have to suffer. Ice-cream FTW!
Step aerobics is no joke!! I have fallen twice off of those dangerous little things.
Hi Ali. I enjoy your marathon training summaries. I have followed your blog since your early days as a first time marathoner, and this in part inspired me to start down the marathon rabbit hole. 🙂 I am now currently training for a marathon in October (Chicago). Thanks for the motivation and inspiration.
Question- how do you handle taking breaks during your long runs? I struggle with this, because on one hand I want my time to reflect that of which I am running. But I also am very aware that the time I take to walk/catch my breath will add to the clock on race day.
Curious what your thoughts are – to pause your watch or not, that is the question. 😉 Do you think I am skewing my perception of training if I do pause my watch when I stop?
Best of luck with the rest of your training. I hope this flare goes away immediately (and never returns). Look forward to continuing to follow your training.
I love the Vermont pictures. I grew up there and always love hearing about people’s vacations.
I’m a rower in maintenance training at 22+ weeks pregnant–no more racing until next year. 🙁 But I count every week I’m still on the water as awesome!
What did *not* go awesome this week was learning that my hips have started widening…by tearing holes in both sides of my trou in stroke seat and getting abrasions to boot. I was able to move two seats back and do the workout, but it made me sad. No more stroke seat for me…and those were my favorite trou.
Fingers crossed for your stomach, Ali–I hope this is a minor flare!
Really enjoy reading your blog. I’m training for a marathon too – am currently in Week 9 of 16. The run is on October 29th.
Good luck for yours and please do keep posting.
I’m one week ahead of you (just finished week 8) of training for Dublin marathon and I think we are at quite similar places as I also had a 16 mile run – except I didn’t do nearly as many runs as you did! REally enjoying reading along with your training and your beautiful pictures. Really sorry you had a Crohns flare-up… I was with my mum running on Monday and she had to stop four times! The last time she had nowhere to go as we were on a main road so she just had to sit down until the feeling subsided…!!!
I used to be totally obsessed w/ step aerobics! I kind of wish my gym still offered it. Haha. I had a rest week, which was so very nice. No urgent, mid-run bathroom stops for me this week, but hey … it definitely happens (even to non-Crohn’s folks). I’m sorry you are dealing with a flare! I hope it gets better soon.
I’ll be in Vermont next month for training so I’ll definitely have to check out that trail in Stowe. My run last week sucked because I thought it cooled down but it was 95% humidity (and of course the next morning it was 65 degrees and perfect). Hope the Chronsing improves- maybe it was just the stress of travel and not sleeping in your own bed and etc.
It’s been a difficult few weeks for reasons I can’t share yet….but could I get some prayers, hugs?
My long run went surprisingly well also! About 3 miles in, I was NOT feeling it and thought I’d just turn back around, but then I made up a more exciting route and was able to do it and actually felt good the rest of the way!
Ugh, man, that sucks about Crohn’s coming back. But hey! If you can tolerate wine, ice cream, and 16 mile runs, maybe it will get better fast? Fingers crossed for you!
I also fell of my step once. It was back in my Marketing days and the coolest girl in the office happened to be in my step class. Unfortunately I misjudged my step and fell off it, landing on the floor and sending it skidding across the room. The cool girl obviously saw the whole thing. I died. As far as I know, the Cool Girl never told anyone, so I always loved her a little more for that!