Tag Archives: training

Marathon Training Recap – Weeks 5-8

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)!

Miss Update 1 – Weeks 1-4? Read it here!

Update 2 – Weeks 5-8

Quarterly Report

Summary: The good vibes of the first quarter continued and were joined by the new sensation of really sinking my teeth into this training cycle. These weeks are probably analogous to what I hear the the second trimester of pregnancy is like – the reality has set in, you are feeling like things are progressing, but it’s not too uncomfortable yet. Long runs ranged from 11-16 miles,which are lovely distances – not so far as to be intimidating, but most more than half the big day and that is great for confidence. The weather in September was nothing short of spectacular, which gave many of the runs a utopian quality.  Hill work was the name of the game this quarter, which can be hard to come by in these parts. But I did the best I could, running up and down many of our coastal bridges. Also started with more tempo work, which gave me some anxiety. I ran less with friends this quarter and after so many group runs through the summer, I really missed it. During a training cycle I have a tendency to get wrapped up in my plan and found myself declining invitations to run with others because it did not fit perfectly with what I was planning for the day. This is something I am going to work on for Q’s 3 & 4 – flexibility (gasp!!).  Overall, though, a solid quarter that prepared me well for my monster month (running lingo for the peak training period of a marathon, characterized by high volume, high intensity and lots of wondering why you are doing this to yourself in the first place).

Tweaks and twinges: Happy to report that my plantar fasciitis is on the mend! I spent the last 4 weeks stretching, rolling and icing the hell out of it. It really is amazing what you can do with problems like PF with a little consistency. Tight hammies and butt muscles continued to do well – never perfect, but also not getting worse (as was the case when I trained for Chicago). Again, it is the constant rolling and icing I have to thank for that, and will continue to do both for Q’s 3 & 4. One of these days I am going to get my gait analyzed and see what’s doing. Until then, it’s me and my foam roller against the world!

Mental Runitude: Remains high! As mentioned in the summary, I battled some anxiety but that is to do with worrying about hitting my goal times and not about with motivation or anticipation for the race. There are about 8 of us doing either the half or full this year, and plans are already in place for a group dinner and other pre-race fun. Knowing that these folks are also out there, grinding out their workouts and dreaming of PR’s, has really kept me excited this quarter.

Topic du Quarter – MENTAL TRAINING

You often hear that “running is a mental sport”. While I think my legs and heart would beg to differ, I have to agree that an awful lot of what happens between the start and finish line is determined by what goes on up in your own little grey globe. I have learned along the way, however, that you must train your mind just as you train your body. You cannot simply assume on race morning that your brain is capable of  getting you through dark periods when the rest of your body is screaming, “for the love of god please let it be over!” if you have not properly prepared it. Just as you systematically log long runs and intervals, you so must get your mind ready for the task you set before it. The following are the ways I prepare my grey matter. I use all these techniques throughout the training cycle, not just in the days or weeks leading up to the race, to ensure they are good and ingrained in my brain (I might even be doing some right now!).

Visualizations – It’s time to get new age-y and bust out some visualizations. You can pick whatever you like – one that I often gravitate towards is to picture the race clock flashing the number that is my goal time. I like to picture myself running towards the finish line, seeing the clock and realizing I am going to make my goal and letting myself imagine how amazing that is going to feel.

Fake Outs, or if this were 1992 SIKE! – I also like to trick myself mileage wise – for example, if I am runing an 18 miler, instead of thinking at mile 13, “only 5 to go!” I think, “halfway!!”. At mile 18 instead of  “this is my last mile!” it is “only 8 more to go, hang in there!”. This helps me wrap my brain around the idea that 26 is the goal and to work out what each of those miles will feel like as I am out there running them and what I will say to myself to plow through them.

Mantras – Back to our hippie selves… again, you will hear runners tell you to pick a mantra to use during the race when you need something to help you refocus or to help pull you out of a painful period. These work well, but again, you must practice them during training, or it will just be a meaningless phrase that makes you think “mantras are for suckers, this is not working at all!!” I prefer a variety pack of mantras and use them in different situations. I also like to use different ones for each training cycle so that it feels fresh and personal to that race. For Philly 2012, I have been using these: “dig deep” (whilst picturing a shovel in soil, love me some visualizations!) when I am feeling tired, “dial it in” when I am working on marathon pace runs and “good girl” when I hit a split or if I get back on a pace I fell off of. Since I will have been saying these things to myself for 4 months by the time 11/18 rolls around, my mind will be plenty used to what I mean when I say each one.

Positive Reinforcement – From a very young age, my dad introduced me to the concept that you really only have yourself to rely on.  I can remember even from the time I was in elementary school him saying things like “you are born alone and you die alone” (this was sandwiched in between quizzes about percentages and American history. There is no one on this planet quite like the Franksters and I would not have it any other way!). Far from being morbid or depressing, these on-going conversations left me with a strong sense of self and the feeling that if I wanted something out of life, it was up to me to make it happen. The love and support of family and friends are crucial, he taught me, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to make the donuts.  This can be easier said than done, especially when facing a challenge as daunting as a marathon. I often give myself pep talks (out loud) during training cycles. I was also struck by the advice Sherry’s coach gave her when working on making her feel like a runner and am planning to steal some of the ideas. Get ready for post-it notes telling me “You can do it!” all over the house, GD!

So there you have it – a few simple things you can and should be doing in the months leading up to race day. You may have other techniques that work (if so, please post below!) but the important thing is that you do something to prepare your mind. It is easy to be self-deprecating and negative about your race (“I’m not fast enough”, “I’ll never make it, it’s too far”, “My training is going terribly”etc.) but I am here to tell you that it is okay to believe in yourself, to work hard for results and to lay it all on the line. What do you have to lose? So gooo, you! And me! And all the other nutters out there for whom 26.2 miles on a Sunday morning is just the right amount of crazy!

How is your training cycle treating you?

What are your mental tricks?


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Marathon Training Recap – Weeks 1-4

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:

This chart depicts my utopian training cycle where blue = pain and red = speed

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

Quarterly Report

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.

from go.liverfoundation.org

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)?


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