I have a definite love-hate relationship with marathon training. I have only done one full marathon and my training was a bit unorthodox because the opportunity presented itself to me with only about six weeks to train (I did, however, have a solid base at 14 miles at that point.). So in reality, this is my first time really following a full-length marathon training plan.
My thoughts so far:
1. I feel like I am finally getting my endurance back — That feeling (that if paced correctly) of being able to run forever. This is oh-so-welcomed. I honestly was starting to think I had lost this feeling forever. Sure, I ran some long runs at various points in the summer, but they were always hard as the miles became double-digits. I have now been able to string together a few runs in a row feeling like I could keep going if I needed to. (Unless you are a distance runner, this probably sounds like crazy speak right now — sorry!)
What have I changed? I have come to terms with intervals. I have always been a runner. I was that person that thought to say you “ran a race” you had to run every.single.step. I would run through water stops. If I had to walk it was a total fail in my book. At some point in the past months I had some conversations with several runners about the use of recovery intervals. I was beginning to wrap my mind around it, but still wasn’t ready to try it. About three weeks ago I had the opportunity to run with a similar paced friend that runs 10/1 intervals, meaning she runs for 10 minutes and then walks for 1 (and repeats this cycle for the duration of her run). I ran almost 14 miles with her using this strategy and when I finished I realized two amazing things – First, our pace was very respectable. It was pretty much the same overall pace that I would have run had I not have taken the walk breaks. But secondly, and most amazingly, I felt awesome! I felt like I could have easily busted out several more miles despite this being my longest run in over a year. I thought it might be a fluke. So I tried it again. And again. It is not a fluke! I have not had a bad long run since that day. (I’m sure I will at some point, but hoping this will keep them to a minimum!) And guess what? My long run pace has improved. It’s amazing what you can run those ten minutes at knowing you get a short “recovery” period. Last weekend I ran my fastest double-digit run since last September. There are still those moments I feel like slightly less of a runner for taking those walk breaks, but I can’t argue with the results so I am trying to accept it.
2. Recovery is huge. I take my recovery almost as seriously as I take my run. I have resumed weekly ice baths. This is pretty much the most awful 10-15 minutes of my entire week, but soooo worth it for the help in recovery. If you ever decide to brave an ice bath, my most important tip is to dress warmly on top! I am usually buried inside a warm hoody. Plus, I leave my socks & pants on. Afterall, if you were applying ice to an injury it wouldn’t go directly on the skin, right? I have been icing a second time (or two) with my new “ice pants” from 110 Percent Compression that I picked up at a race expo a few weeks ago. These things are amazing. They ice those hard-to-reach areas like the hips/IT band area.
3. I am crossing my fingers that the harsh Chicago winter stays at bay at least until Christmas week when I will do my last long run pre-marathon. I realize this is a complete long shot, but I can hope! I don’t actually hate running in the cold, I hate not being able to warm up for hours on end after the run. (I’m sure the ice bath thing doesn’t help me with this…) I will keep running outside (at least for long runs) as long as I can humanly stand it, but if we get another Polar Vortex or a foot of snow dumped on us you will find me on the nearest treadmill. I did have to dig out my winter running gear this week for a couple runs and brave a day with a 40+ mph wind advisory. Bad weather is definitely looming.
4. I do not love long runs. I think I will always be a half marathon sort of girl that dabbles in a marathon very occasionally. My ideal “long” run is 10-12 miles. Once I cross over that threshold I find it a bit all-consuming of my life. You actually have to block out a significant chunk of the day to get your run, recovery & shower in. I have had to adjust some things and even miss a couple boot camp classes (which I am NOT happy about) in order to fit some runs in. It is a sacrifice I am willing to make right now, but if you run multiple marathons a year I give you a huge shout out. I could not do it.
5. Last, but definitely not least, I am excited that I am actually hitting some leg-based lift PR’s during marathon training. My goal was always to keep lifting, but I thought I might have to ease off. I may still at some point, but have managed to hit PR weights for deadlift, front squat and back squat in the past two weeks while running upwards of thirty-five miles. If you follow us regularly I’m sure you have gathered that I love to run. But I also really love to lift, so I cannot express how happy this makes me!
So there you have it. My thoughts as I am about halfway through a 16 week training plan. The next eight will definitely be the toughest eight, but I feel ready to brave it at this point.
I am signed up for several halves in November to help me get those long training runs in. On Friday I head down to Florida to meet up with a running friend I haven’t seen since last summer. We will have a fun “girls weekend” running style, including Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon. This race is unique in that it starts at 10pm. The other times I have done this event this has freaked me out a bit. Two Ragnar Relays later and I’m going into this with a “whatever” attitude thinking “at least it’s not 2am…” I think I will enjoy this race a lot more this year! Once I return from Florida, I leave the following Friday for Disneyland. My husband and I are running the inaugural Avengers Half Marathon. (If you look really close in my lifting photo on the right you can see a sneak peek of my “costume” for this race. I busted it out on Halloween.) Once we return from all the travel, I am also signed up for two Turkey Trots — an 8K on Thanksgiving morning and a half marathon the Saturday after. Should be a fun and busy month!
What are YOU running this month? Will I see any of you at either of those RunDisney events? I would love to say hi in person, so let me know if you will be there!