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 4 – Weeks 13-16
Summary: The last quarter of a 16 week training cycle is a study in contrasts – the first week is your peak week of training and the last week features the big day, whilst the middle portion is a period of relative calm and reduced mileage. And by relative calm, I mean the kind that involved less running and more worrying (Will it rain? Can I hang onto my pace? Wait, I feel a tug in my hamstring – omg, please, please don’t let my muscle tear!? Umm, thank you for my change cashier lady, but you clearly coughed about 3 customers ago and now I need to figure out a way to stop letting those dollars act as a vector between me and your West Nile virus – you know what? You keep it! Yeah, I’d like to donate that money to the octopus juvenile diabetes research society that you are collecting money for! What’s that? Oh, no, no need for my name on a star to hang up around the store, I don’t need the recognition, I am just doing this because I really believe in the power of the people to come together for what’s right!). Come to think of it, there is a lot of problem solving in Q4! lol
Peak week was fantastic. I kept expecting to feel beat up and ready for taper, but I just felt very strong. I am not sure what to make of this – either training for an ultra really DOES make that big of a difference (in terms of volume and mental preparation) OR I did not train hard enough this cycle. Guess which Anxious Annie over here is worried about??
Tapering going swimmingly – the first week of taper was 80-90% of peak mileage, so did not feel like too much of a break. Last week was definitely a noticeable decline and this week is just my body being all “waaaaait, a minute. What is going on here?? Where is all the running??”.
Tweaks and Twinges: Everything still feeling good! Last week a weird sensation popped up in my left upper hammie, but I am about 99.9999% sure it is just me freaking out due to the fact that the only time it hurts is when I am thinking about the run, lol. I often get ghost pains during taper, so this is right on schedule!
Mental Runitude: Mixed. I feel very good about the training I did. I did not have to skip any runs (though I did bag two sessions of speedwork and just put the miles in those days). I am happy with the times I was posting and am trying to recall those confident feelings of a few weeks ago. But I would be lying if I said that I was not also worrying about if it was enough, or if I should have picked a harder plan. I won’t actually know that until this time next week, so for the next few days I have to ignore the doubts the best I can, and try to claw my way back to invincible me.
Topic du Quarter: RACE GOALS
Almost everyone who runs a race of any distance has a goal for it – even those of you who don’t get giddy checking things off a list (who are you people?! do you realize what you are missing??) are still toeing the line with at least one – to finish. But for many of us, especially when you start running the same distance multiple times, setting goals is part of the motivation to get your booty out the door on each and every one of your training runs. And as someone who is highly goal-oriented, figuring out what I want from a race is one of the most satisfying parts of the process.
With experience, I have come to realize that if you set a time goal, it is important to set multiple ones for contingencies. This is partly because these goals are so capricious. When many of us pick a time goal, we do so envisioning perfect weather, a course that is easy to navigate, that our bodies will perform perfectly and a million other variables that are impossible to predict and even harder to get to align on race day. So for time goals, I often pick a few. For Philly they are:
1. Finish (best to start small)
2. Break 4 hours
3. Break my PR
4. Run a 3:xx:xx (yes, I am keeping my actual time goal to myself for now, but I will let you know if I make it in the recap!)
I also believe that if you restrict your goals to those of the hourglass variety, you are robbing yourself of other lessons that can be learned. For example, a good goal can also be to nail nutrition, especially if this is something that has tripped you up in the past. It could also be to run the course efficiently and get your Garmy time as close to your chip time as possible (Explanation: when a marathon course is created, the shortest possible route is measured. Almost everyone who runs it will run longer than this distance because it is very hard to run it that well- but you can definitely do things that will help you keep your numbers down, like running the tangents and keeping weaving in and out of people to a minimum. It might not seem like much, but over 26 miles, this adds up! Lots of times after a race you will hear newbies complain that the course was long, that their Garmins had them at 26.4 or 26.5 miles – but it’s not that the course is long, it is that they ran it long).
For me, my overarching Philly goal is to run a well-executed race. I feel like I am building enough experience with the distance that I can start dialing in particular components. For me, this will be nutrition and distance, as mentioned above, but also pacing (I’d like to run by feel and that feel be my goal pace without having to look at Garmy’s beautiful face every two steps!). Finally, I want to get better at making adjustments to my plan on the fly – this is something I am not good at in a race OR in life! If things go wrong, and they will, I don’t want to panic and send all my hard work out the door with negative thoughts of not meeting my goals. Instead, I want to be able to regroup, assess the situation and move on despite whatever obstacle is thrown in my way. I don’t struggle with quitting, so that’s not an impulse I have to fight, but I do have a tendency to lose my shit when things go off plan. This is what I will be working on for this race (and in life, lol).
So that’s it! Come back next week to find out where all this hand wringing led me!
What are your race goals?
How do you react when the wheels fall off?