Pittsburgh Marathon Training Update: Dealing With Annoying Setbacks

Pittsburgh Marathon Training Update: Dealing With Annoying Setbacks

I knew going into marathon training that I’d deal with some setbacks. I mean…I have three children (8, 4, and 10m) and they all have birthdays in March (hello party planning); my husband sometimes travels unexpectedly for work, and I have my own projects on deck that need my attention + my teaching job.

So, I figured it was only a matter of time before I experienced a setback. No training cycle is perfect! This time, mine has been briefly interrupted by a double-ear infection.

I’m at the very beginning of my training cycle for the Pittsburgh Marathon. I just began speed workouts in hopes of getting my gears tuned to run successful tempos and hill repeats later in training. This week, I’ll sadly miss my second scheduled speed-interval run, but in the grand scheme of things, that won’t make a big difference in my training.

Sunday night, I was running on my treadmill banging out three easy miles listening to Gary Robbins discuss his Barkley experience on the Ginger Runner Live podcast. At a little over 1.5 miles, I started to cry because I wanted to be done running. After 1.5 freakin’ miles. I also started to get body aches. I finished the run and collapsed into my bed and slept, slept, slept.

I woke up with more aches and a stabbing pain in both of my ears. “Hmmm. Probably know big deal,” I thought. Incorrect! A trip to the Minute Clinic, one bottle of an antibiotic, and one bottle of prescription ear drops later, I discovered I have a double ear infection. How fun!

So, I decided to skip speed training tonight and rest until at least Thursday. As runners, we can be so stubborn about running, and it’s easy to believe that missing a few days or a week of training is going to cause major set backs.

Scientifically, though, that is not the case. It takes approximately three weeks for your body to lose the fitness that its developed. That’s why you can taper for a whole three weeks when you’re coming to the end of your marathon training cycle! Of course, it’s best to stay on track when you can – but when your body needs rest, you should totally listen. Here are some tips to help you decide if you should take it easy:

TIP 1: When in doubt, sit it out (unless it’s a race – when you’re racing, you tell your body to shut-up). If you have to ask “should I rest tonight” more than once, you probably should. Plus, your run won’t be that great if you’re second guessing whether or not you should be doing it in the first place!

TIP 2: Follow the 2-mile rule. During my training to become an RRCA Certified Run Coach, we learned that knocking two miles off of a workout probably won’t make any difference as far as fitness levels go. If you’re scheduled to run 5+ miles but aren’t feeling 100%, knock two miles off of your distance. It won’t make or break you.

TIP 3: If you’re not there mentally, you won’t be there physically. I get that sometimes we are on the treadmill for hours thinking, “Oh will this ever end?!” However, we are usually able to push through with enough Netflix and podcasts. If you’re crying your way through your miles because you’re sick, you’re not getting anything out of it. Trust me. Sit it out.


It’s winter, y’all. We get sick. Our kids get sick. It’s going to happen. Keep your mental game strong and understand that minor training setbacks won’t make or break your training cycle!


Are you ready to #MOVEPittsburgh? Register for the Pittsburgh Marathon half or full and use code POULLASDSGPM19 at checkout for $10 off your race!

Not a runner? Please consider supporting my fundraiser to help kids at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

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