MCM Training: The First Five Weeks

by - Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Back when I started training for MCM in early July and before the race got canceled and switched to a virtual event, I had planned to summarize each week of training like I had done for the run streak.

But after the race went virtual, I was really on the fence about whether or not I was going to do it, and it seemed weird to recap every week of training while I was still so undecided.

So here we are five weeks later, and I'm still pretty on the fence about whether or not I'm going to actually do the race. I just can't quite wrap my head around running 26.2 miles with zero support. A marathon without aid stations and spectators just seems really, really hard.

But despite all that, for the last five weeks, I've still been following a marathon training plan. 


Overall, training has been going OK. I'm following a plan from Women's Running, and there are two things I really like about it. 

First, it incorporates strength training, which I've learned over time is really important for me when it comes to injury prevention.

Second, I really like the way this training plan approaches long runs. As you build mileage over time, every other week you drop back to a long run of 10 miles. That's good for me both mentally and physically to help prevent burn out. 

I've been struggling a bit to run in the heat this summer. It's been brutally hot and incredibly humid in DC this year. We've set all sorts of records for highest heat indexes and the longest stretches of time without a night dipping below 70 degrees. That makes running really hard, even in the early morning.

On top of that, my new neighborhood is incredibly hilly. And I'm not talking some little hills here or there or even one or two really big hills. I'm talking constant up and down. My legs never catch a break and it's really demoralizing sometimes because of the impact it has on my times.


But I'm trying to keep these two things in perspective. All the heat and hills will make me a much stronger and faster runner come fall. So for right now, I'm trying not to be too discouraged by my times. 

Here's a closer look at how my first five weeks of training have gone.

Week 1: I love the first week of a marathon training plan. The runs are all pretty short and just feel like normal runs for the most part. Total mileage: 14.75.

Week 2: My second week of training was at the beach. This was such a treat because it was fairly flat and running along the boardwalk gave me a nice breeze even on the humid days. Typically I don't follow a training plan too closely while I'm on vacation, but since the runs were all pretty short this week, it aligned with the amount I normally run at the beach. Total mileage: 18.


Week 3: This was the week DC was under constant heat advisories. I actually think I skipped one of my mid-week runs this week because the heat was just taking so much out of me. This was also the first week of a double digit long run. Total mileage: 19.

Week 4: I ran my first ever virtual race this week. It was the BTN 10K and I finished in under an hour. I intentionally tried to find a route that wasn't insanely hilly so I didn't have to post a super slow time. I was also supposed to do a long run of 12 miles this week, but I ran out of water part way through and had to turn back early and cut this short. I ended up with 11 miles and didn't have an ounce of extra energy left. This long run was a strong reminder that I need to remember how to properly fuel for long runs. Total mileage: 25.


Week 5: This last week felt really hard. The titles of some of my runs in Strava were "this run sucked" and "supposed to be a tempo run." Some of it was the heat for sure, but I think some of it was just that I was in a bit of a funk last week with this whole pandemic and that just impacted a bit of everything. I wasn't sleeping well and in general just felt blah about everything. Throw in some slow run times and it just made for a rough week. Total mileage: 26.

I'm super grateful that week six is a bit of a cut back week. Only two weekday runs and then my long run. After a rough week five, it's definitely what I needed.

So that's how training is going so far. I think I'll likely plan to post more frequent updates on how training is going. Whether or not I end up running this virtual race, I'd like to document how my training goes. This is the first time that I will have trained for a marathon with basically nothing to distract me from my runs. With the pandemic having basically shut the rest of life down, I have no excuses to not stick to the plan. 

You May Also Like


  1. Welcome to North Carolina! We get that kind of heat and humidity every summer. it sucks and makes everything impossible in a very "I can't even" kind of way. But it has to break soon, right?