Instead of recapping my marathon training on a daily or weekly basis, I am going for the corporate-style quarterly update. I am hoping to provide some business style charts, a la:
Since there are 16 weeks of training there will be 4 updates. Each one will be comprised of the quarterly report (like in business, but with less corruption and pantyhose. oh, and no bogus bonuses) and a topic germane to marathon training. So check out how I have been making out and then let us all know how your training is going (marathon or any other distance/race)!
Update 1 – Weeks 1-4
Summary: Feeling really good to be back in the swing of a training plan! I incorporated some speed and tempo work this month, which was pretty great considering I had not been doing any in over a year. I am sure by the end of this cycle I will resume my normal love/hate relationship with tempo runs. But for now, it is honeymoon central! My long runs this month seemed, uh, not really long. Weeks 1 & 2 were 9-milers, week 3 was bumped because I was on vacation and it got split over 2 days and Week 4 was 11 miles, run while I was combating jet lag. So this month’s long runs? Meh. On the plus side, my average pace is already faster than during ultra training, which helped stymie my fear that I would never run my normal pace again (yeah, I know that is dumb! the paranoid mind of a runner, what can you do?) and the runs only get longer from here, so I am looking forward to that!
Tweaks and twinges : I am in a constant battle to keep my upper hammies/butt muscles loose, which means I am always stretching, icing and foam rolling. As long as I am good about that, they stay happy. Since around our Rhode Island trip, I have also noticed some plantar fasciitis creeping in, which is something that comes and goes with me since around my college years. However, this time I am feeling pain in my heel instead of arch, so that is something new. I have been lazy about it so far, but am committing to stretching to get it sorted out (I even booked marked a stretching exercise page in my iPhone, so you know I am serious!).
Mental Runitude: Excellent! Feeling highly motivated and ready to work. This month has been pretty easy, so no sign fatigue yet.
Topic du Quarter – NUTRITION
Nutrition is something many runners struggle with that takes a lot of time to figure out. There is so much to say about this topic and since brevity (ahem) is not my strong suit, I am going to limit my comments to long run nutrition and what works for me. For me, long runs at this point are anything over 10 or so miles. Feel free to leave questions about all aspects of nutrition in the comments section, though, as this is a tough nut to crack!
Night before: As with many thing in my running life (ok, life period) I am a creature of habit and ritual. The night before a long run almost always means a bowl of whole grain pasta, red sauce, broccoli and some sort of protein (sometimes chicken, but more and more often a soy-based one). I eat enough so that I feel a little fuller than normal. I have a sensitive stomach and can’t handle eating too much right before I run, so I have found it easier on my digestion system to front-load rather than cramming in calories the morning of. I also leave a glass of water on my nightstand and drink every time I wake up through the night.
Morning of: I am jealous of the people who do the banana or bagel with honey and PB combo, as that is delicious! However, through trial and error I have realized that nuts and long runs are not BFF’s when partying it up in my duodenum. I have to stick to really bland, easy stuff. I often do my long runs first thing, and on a run of ~10-13 miles, I will eat a few large handfuls of dry cereal and maybe a ShotBlok or two beforehand. I love me some GU Chomps and ShotBloks, but I find their chewiness hard to deal with as I run, so I rely on them pre- and post-workout. For runs longer than 13-14 miles, I eat the cereal as well as a piece of toast or an English Muffin doused in honey and cinnamon. I drink a few sips of water, but not too much.
During Run: Depending on the run and how my stomach is feeling, I vacillate on how/what I eat and drink while I run. A quick note here – it does not matter too much what you eat (GUs, chomps, homemade gels, candy, etc.) but it is very important that you eat on these longer runs. Yes, your body has lots of energy stored, but not all of it is easily accessible and as you get into runs that are hours long, your body will greatly appreciate the calories/carbs/electrolytes that you provide to it. I know some people like to tough it out sans food, but don’t be a hero here. Food is fuel and you will have a much better run with a properly filled tank. With ultra training, I would often wait until I felt like I wanted food (sometime around the 1.5 hr mark) and eat as needed. With marathon training, though, I am actually pushing my body a little harder pace-wise and I do better on a schedule. For me that means 1/2 a GU on the 45 min mark, the second half on the 65 min mark and repeat as many times as hours I run. I am not a fan of carrying my own water on my person on long runs, so I stash it the night before on my course. Every 5 miles, there is a bottle of water waiting for me and I drink as needed (I go back and pick them up after). I have long learned that a set amount of water is silly for me – what I need varies widely depending on weather and how grouchy my stomach is that day so I just drink by feel.
Post-run: I immediately grab a large glass of ice water and add a Nuun tablet to it. I find this reduces any chance of a headache later in the day, which used to be something I would regularly have after a long run. My stomach takes awhile to settle, so I will typically spend time stretching, icing and foam rolling and then take a shower. By about an hour after I run I am ready for food, and my go-to is almost always a large bowl of cereal ( 3 types mixed together ideal!). Throughout the day, I try to drink quite a bit and eat a protein heavy dinner to help with the micro tears in my muscles.
Foods that work for me before/during runs: Any type of gel (GU just happens to be my favorite), animal crackers, watermelon with salt sprinkled on it, pretzels, Honey Stinger waffles, hard candies (including ginger flavored when nausea hits), straight shots of honey, water, diluted Gatorade.
Foods that have my stomach screaming bloody murder before/during runs: dairy products (esp yogurt), nuts, anything heavy or spicy, anything with too much fiber, sushi (that’s a “before”, not a “during”, lol), chewy candy (like Swedish fish. I had high hopes for candy as I love it so, but during runs it just makes me feel ick – but lots of people find that gummy worms, etc, work well!), salt tabs (wanted to like these b/c they offer easy electrolytes but they give me heartburn).
If you also suffer from a persnickety stomach that has you wondering what its damage is (yup, that’s a Heathers reference), this link will help you figure out hydration and electrolytes. Scroll down and look at the table at the bottom to help you zone in on what your issue is and how to solve it.
I could yammer on forever about this stuff, but as it is this post will take you almost as long to read as it did for me to complete Weeks 1-4, so I will shut up now 🙂
How is your training cycle treating you?
What foods do and don’t work on your runs (of any distance)?