Marathon Training: Hiking Edition

So, sometimes, marathon training can get tedious. I mean, think about it, running miles on miles on miles, week in and week out, trying to find new routes, trying to avoid others, battling heat and humidity… It has a tendency to wear a runner down. Literally and figuratively.

How does one fix that kind of nonsense?

Find a fun way to cross train.

Typically, my cross training is cycling, but I usually do spin classes at my gym, and while that’s a great workout, it’s inside. Being inside all the time when it’s gorgeous outside is stupid. And I’m a little crunchy granola child who needs her trees and water and alive things to be happy.

Fortunately, my training partner Sarah feels the same way. Sarah is also the friend who will go backpacking with me for days on end, so it should be no surprise that the two of us decided that despite our very busy summer schedules, we needed to get at least one hike in before the fall.



Great Falls Park. Gorgeous.

Due to the aforementioned summer schedule craziness, an overnight backpacking trip wasn’t in the cards (poo), so we determined that a day hike would be the next best alternative. Living in Northern Virginia, we’re fortunate to have a lot of hiking trails relatively close – a fact that is a little surreal when you also consider the fact that the nation’s capital is also a stone’s throw away.

We got a date on the calendar, invited some friends and last weekend took a short jaunt up to Great Falls Park to get our hike on. Mind you, we did this the day after running a very hot and sweaty 9 miles. Sarah, myself and my friend Courtney are all training for the Baltimore Marathon in October – and we all needed a little bit of a break from the monotonous mileage.

Though the morning was very warm, it was a beautiful day to be outside. The park was pretty busy – lots of folks hit these trails because of their proximity to the city – and we saw everyone from families out for a walk in the woods, to people running with their dogs.

The trails in the park run along side the Potomac River and offer some beautiful vistas. It’s such a nice change of pace to surround oneself with nature after days on end of office buildings and city streets.


Sarah and the Hon Monster.

It’s also nice to get to play with Sarah’s dog, Honey, since I don’t have a pup. I’ll use any excuse to get puppy time – and hiking is always a good option!

While our hike wasn’t super long, we were all pretty beat by the time we stopped to eat the lunches we packed with us. It was a hot day and our legs we pretty tired from our run the day before. We tried (unsuccessfully) to map our mileage for the hike, but gave up after Courtney’s Garmin kept losing the satellite. Oops.


Training Partners. Hiking Partners.

Sarah and determined that we might be heading back up to the park to do a trail run or two before training season is over – the hills alone would be good for us, and the scenery can’t be beat. Mostly, it’d be something different than the bike paths and streets that we run on every other day.

Mostly, I just want another excuse to go run around in the woods and see things like this:



I seriously can never get enough. Give me all the nature. Always.

Embracing the Dread… mill.

After five long months – yes, five – I’m finally able to run again.

Like, really run. Not “run for a mile or so and have to stop and walk because my ankle gets sore.”

new shoes

Because, let me tell you, that version of running barely counts. And is super frustrating. And no matter how much cross-training you do, it’s just not the same thing.

This week marked the longest run I’ve been able to do since #bustedankle happened – granted, it was only a little over four miles, but I felt really good. I didn’t have to stop at all, and my legs and lungs (and ankle, duh) were strong.

I’ve been doing almost all of my running on the dreadmill because 1. pacing is way easier and 2. it’s a lot harder (though not impossible, trust me) to roll your ankle on a flat surface. But, the upside to all of the treadmill running is that it makes speed work a lot easier.

My goal this summer is to really work on pacing and speed. I’m running the Baltimore Marathon in October and I would love another PR and love negative splits even more. So, I’m prepared to embrace the dread. Good ol’ Tready and I will likely be getting very familiar this summer.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be plenty of running outside. I can’t handle long runs on the treadmill. Nothing good could come from that. I would go insane. Also, I like the sunshine.

But, I don’t like humidity… and I do live in a swamp. So, inside running doesn’t sound so terrible. Especially in July. Or August. Because DC is terrible then.

So, here’s to a summer of many more miles and much fewer injuries! Cheers!

What are your favorite treadmill workouts? Tabata? HIIT? Endurance?