Plot twist – this marathon training reflection is going to be a little different than my first one.
For the first 4 weeks of marathon training, I was so determined to keep writing in my Believe journal and logging my workouts every day. I wanted a log of my marathon training from start to finish. But since then, the semester has started and life has gotten BUSY. Suddenly, I was rushing off to class after my workout instead of heading upstairs to journal about it. Surprise, life is more complicated sometimes!
Instead, I’m going to go through each week in my Garmin log and reflect that way. While it’s cool to know exactly how I felt after every single workout, I think it’s just as cool to see how I feel about the last 6 weeks retrospectively.
Plus – it’s just proof that this is real life and I am more than just a runner. While my identity is very wrapped up in my running (running community, unite! HA) it’s good to remind myself that I am also a student and a person.
Speed – Where I was, Where I am now, and how I’m dealing with it.
When I first started running, I got pretty fast pretty quick. That being said, I started running right after high school with NO running experience. I got hooked the summer before college and haven’t stopped since.
During my first year of running, I got faster at a dangerously fast pace. I didn’t let my tendons and joints get stronger. I didn’t know enough about running to know that I needed to give my body time to adjust to the stresses of running. It’s no surprise that this resulted in injury after injury.
Being a college student in a town where there was one local food store and nearly no options for vegans, I lost quite a bit of weight too. I was my happiest, healthiest, and fastest. Then I came home from college, gained about 15 pounds and got slower. Ever since, I’ve been chasing my weight and my times from that year with little success. How am I dealing with this slow-down in speed?
Well… that’s a loaded question. I’m still trying to deal with it. That means me trying to remind myself that I need to meet myself where I am, not where I was. I won’t get faster but crossing my fingers and hoping that my weight will drop again and my pace will magically improve.
The process of getting faster is requiring a lot of patience and understanding – which is not something I’m good at allowing myself. It’s also requiring a lot of hard work and trust. I have to trust in the process: I am training hard every day, I am working on my weight loss goal, and I WILL get faster if I keep it up. Now that is only if I don’t do too much at once and get injured. Patience.
Tune-Up Races – What are they and are they important?
I think it is super important to have tune-up races scheduled into your training plan for a goal race. Take this for example: I am training for the 2017 Philly Marathon in November but I had a 10K in August and a half marathon in September.
Now, these races aren’t meant to be PRs…they are meant to prepare you for race day. I always have to remind myself that a tune-up race is supposed to be fast, but relaxed. In other words, they aren’t high-pressure races like your goal race is. Tune-up races are simply a good way for you to test your race-routine, nutrition, and speed.
The best example I can think of is nutrition. I can practice eating before a 17-mile long run, but the nerves aren’t there. Everyone knows that nerves impact your digestion, so I might not digest a banana before a 17-mile training run in my neighborhood the same way I would digest it before a half marathon.
This was my second time running this particular race. Last year, I ran it on a whim and fell in love with it. The race is put on by Philadelphia Runner and the course is awesome. It’s in the last week of August so it is exceptionally HOT, but the course is super flat so it (kind of) makes up for the heat.
This race went fairly well. I didn’t PR in the 10k or the race, but again, that’s not the goal! My dad and I got a little extra practice getting into the city before a race, which is great because my goal marathon is in the same city! I didn’t practice nutrition for this race because it is only 6.2 miles and the nutrition strategies are very different for 26.2 miles.
Ocean City Half Marathon
Now this race was a DISASTER. I signed up for this race because I loved it last year (2016). It was sunny but cool, I felt great the entire run, and I immediately put it on my training schedule for 2017.
That all being said, this year was HOT (in the low 80’s) and SUNNY. There are no tree-lined streets in OCNJ, so the heat was completely inescapable. I knew at mile 4 that this wasn’t going to be a
- Mile 4: I knew at mile 4 that this wasn’t going to be a successful race, so I mentally switched from racing to simply finishing it as a training run. I slowed down, started guzzling water and pouring it all over myself.
- Mile 7: At mile 7, I saw my dad and really had to talk myself out of not stopping and telling him I wanted to go home. I kept running, kept pouring water all over myself, and wanted to quit more with every step.
- Mile 9: At mile 9, there was some relief! A water station was handing out rags from ice buckets and I grabbed one and carried it with me to the turnaround point at mile 10.
- Mile 11: At mile 11, I passed the same stop with the ice buckets. No more rags, but they did have ice! I took dirty ice from this bucket, started shoveling it into my sports bra, and ate the ice right from my bra for the next 5 minutes…desperate times call for desperate measures.
- Mile 13: At mile 13, I saw the finish line. This was the first time in my life that I ran faster towards a finish line because I wanted to be DONE instead of wanting to shave a few seconds off of my time.
Not only was this an unsuccessful race, it was simply an unsuccessful run. I was averaging a 9:09/mile (not including all of my stops for water) and I missed my goal time by at least 15 minutes.
All I can say is: I’m glad my marathon is in November!!!