Week 9: Try Easier

What does my training bible say about Week 9? The authors refer to overcoming the halfway mark in the training as crossing the emotional threshold. The past eight weeks have required an intense mental effort–for me, this is true. Because this is my first marathon, the last eight weeks stretched me to new limits. I internalized my locus of control, ran even when I wasn’t in the mood for it, spent many hours looking at my feet pounding the surface, and began to intentionally create flow. This process requires concentrated effort and lots of time–both during the runs and between the runs. Crossing the emotional threshold is taking stock of this all, reconciling the achievement of running a distance longer than a half, and knowing there are eight weeks of physically demanding training ahead.

The temptation is to try harder. Perhaps if one expends more effort, the task at hand will follow more rapidly. But trying harder will work against the marathoner in many ways. It will promote a hostile attitude toward the journey, it will possibly lead to over-training, and it will make it more challenging to find transformational and joyful opportunities in the next two months. So, as strange as it sounds, now is the time to try easier. Recognize that the marathon is not something that I must do but something that I choose to do. Recognize that the training is allowing my body and mind to accumulate net benefits. Even if I did not see this goal through, even if I stopped my training today, I am in much better mental and physical health than I was eight weeks ago. Knowing the value I alone have perpetuated for myself makes me want to keep going. I want to go forth with an appreciative and inquiring spirit. I want to go forth dwelling in possibility. I want to try easier.

My mid-week runs are going well. I am looking forward to Saturday’s 16-miler with a sense of adventure and enthusiasm. It’s not every day that you get to run 16 miles.

14 Miles–Complete!

I did it! I ran 14 miles on Saturday… and I kept up my 10 min/mile pace through the entire endeavor. Very happy! I don’t have a lot of time to write today, but just a few thoughts right now:

-Running 14 definitely changed my perspective to believing I can run a marathon.

-My longest run (18 miles), is just 4 more miles than what I ran on Saturday. That seems really doable.

-I willed myself to achieving flow multiple times. It was incredible.

Tweaking the training schedule I initially posted at the very beginning of this journey because I flipped back to the beginning of my book and realized I somehow miscalculated the days. So this Saturday will be a 16-mile run, not a repeat 14-mile. And although I initially felt that I should best the book by making my longest run 20 instead of 18, I am no longer doing that. I will trust the book and now also feel that 18 (two times in a row) will be enough for me to build necessary strength and endurance while keeping me energized for race day.

I am now in the second half of training and while there are some long runs ahead, there is also tapering (!!) to look forward to. Oh yeah, and the marathon of course!

I hope to be back tomorrow with some thoughts on Week 9.

 

Marathon Training: Week 9

…Crossing over the halfway point, and it feels good and also daunting at the same time. Many miles ahead before the marathon in two month’s time.

Tomorrow I will complete Week 8 with a 14 mile run. This is the longest run I’ve ever done!

My plan for Week 9:

Monday: 4

Wednesday: 6

Friday: 4

Saturday: 16

Total Mileage: 30

The weather is supposed to cool down a bit next week (maybe even some sprinkles of rain), so I look forward to a break from the heat.

Happy Friday and I hope you all have good runs this weekend!

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Ready for a little rain…

Week 8: Flow

I am back in the saddle. Last week I was able to wrap up my sick and miserable Week 7 with a 13 mile run. Then I had a lovely vacation hiking around the Olympic Peninsula, disconnecting from my work and distractions, and focusing on some self-time and family-time. The GRE went really well, too. I return to my daily work with a full tank!

I am halfway through Week 8. Monday should have been a 4 mile run, but I swapped it out for hiking throughout the day wearing my 30 lb daughter. Yesterday was my mid-length run, about 6 miles. Tomorrow will be another 4 mile run, and Saturday is my first ever 14 mile run. I am feeling a little less intimidated by the 14 miles after last weekend, when I had such a good 13 mile run (all trails!). I really experienced good Flow during Week 7’s long run.

What is Flow? Flow is what my training book calls the state I refer to as The Zone. I think every runner might have their own term for it, but it’s that special point during a run where the preoccupations subside, and you are just running without trepidation, difficulty, distraction… You don’t think about how far you’ve gone or how many more miles you have to go, you just simply are. During a long run, I usually experience Flow somewhere between 5 and 9 miles. I hope as my runs grow in distance, that the length of Flow follows suit. Up until this point, Flow has been an organic treat manifesting spontaneously on longer runs. However, Flow is something that can be intentionally created when you combine the mental exercise of positive self talk and internalizing the locus of control with the physical repetition of strong running practice.

In the weeks ahead, I have a lot of long runs. Runs that extend for lengths without fanfare. Two consecutive weeks at 14. Two consecutive weeks at 16. Two consecutive weeks at 18. August will prove a rigorous month for training. I hope to use this opportunity to learn the art of crafting Flow for myself. I hope to learn more about my body and my mind during this stretches of many hours alone, one foot in front of the other.

What are the things you do to make a long run enjoyable?

Vacation and Week 8 Plan

Hello! It’s been a slow week over on my end; I am still working on recovering from this nasty cold and I’ve had to sacrifice some of my miles as a result. I went on an easy-going run last night, and that was still a bit difficult for me because of the congestion. Today and tomorrow I am going to aim for smaller distances with a slower pace. Hopefully I am back to my usual self by Saturday and can complete my 12 mile long run for Week 7.

I take the GRE tomorrow and then I will be out of town for a few days, so I am taking a little break from blogging for the next week so I can decompress, unplug, and enjoy family time. Hope to go on some scenic runs on new routes and get the rest and relaxation I need to feel 100% healthy by the end of next week.

Saturday, I will wrap up Week 7… officially the snottiest and most exhausting week of this journey. I look forward to putting it behind me and starting Week 8. My plan for Week 8 is:

Monday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 6 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Saturday: 14 miles

Total: 28 miles

I hope you have a wonderful week. Stay healthy and happy!

Week 7: Stay Focused

The runs that seem to fly by? The ones that take your mind into the zone and you don’t notice the time or the miles passing by? Those are actually the runs that demonstrated the best focus. Because when you are truly focused on the run, when you can let the noise and the worries go, the calm takes over and the enjoyment begins.

Week 7 is asking me to stay focused, and the timing couldn’t be more appropriate. I’m recovering from a cold, and it’s tempting to make that the excuse to take a longer than necessary break. I just ran a half marathon, and a big part of me is used to taking time off after a race of that distance. The weather is warmer and more humid, demanding earlier or later runs. I have a week of vacation beginning tomorrow and I am scrambling to make sure I complete work projects before I go. I have to finish studying for the GRE and take it this Friday so I can apply to doctoral programs in the fall. My daughter is growing what seems like inches overnight and requiring constant feeding, nurturing and attention. So it’s a good time to anchor back into the practice of running; to reaffirm the marathon training goal.

Week 7 is inching up on the halfway mark. And as runners, we know how magical or how difficult the halfway mark can be, depending on the context. I can think of several examples of out-and-back runs in which reaching that middle point was so liberating, because I knew I only needed to run the previously accomplished distance one more time. I can think of times when reaching that point was sorrowful, because I was already so tired and wanted to be done. My intention for the middle period ahead is to be excited about the second half. To greet the opportunity to finish this goal strongly. To tell the sources of distraction that “it doesn’t matter” when it comes to my running practice.

Stay focused, and stay strong. The other half of the journey is still to come.

 

Race Recap: See Jane Run Half Marathon

I wrapped up Week 6 of training by running a the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Seattle. It was a lovely race–well organized, and the weather was sublime. Not too hot, but sunny and warm and it was a pleasure to run alongside Lake Union glimmering and shimmering on a beautiful July morning.

This was the first time I ran a race of this distance with a cold. I was a bit worried on Friday, and as things got worse on Saturday, I actually promised myself that I wouldn’t run on Sunday morning if I woke up feeling too gross. I was relatively congested on Sunday, but I decided to go ahead and run the half anyway. I decided to just take it slow and easy.

Miles 1-5 went by relatively quickly. The adrenaline and endorphins from the running acted as a decongestant, and I was feeling pretty good by the 5 mile mark. The race was very flat, and mostly pavement. Occasionally there was an opportunity to run on trail surfaces, and I relished that. I wore my hydration pack and drank a few tablespoons of Nuun about every half mile. Additionally, I drank both water and Gatorade at every hydration station (about every 1.5 miles).

At the halfway point, I consumed some GU and started to slow down just a little bit. My miles went from 10 minute miles to 11 minute miles. I allowed myself to walk a bit here and there as I needed to.

Around Mile 8, I got a second wind and had a fairly pleasant run for a few miles. Miles 11-13 were a dusty and warm out-and-back with fairly industrial scenery on one side and the ship canal on the other. I really struggled through the last few miles, even though my pace remained at around 11 min/mile. Because my long run for Week 6 was really supposed to be 11 miles, I was just kind of checked out after Mile 11. Additionally, my cold was catching up with me after running for 2 hours. I kept drinking and kept slogging away until I made it back to Gasworks park (finish line). I was surprised by how I involuntarily became emotional and tingling as I ran toward the finish line. I assume I will be used to finishing a half marathon, that the novelty will fade, but finishing this one felt as incredible as ever. I am proud of myself for powering through the race and wrapping up Week 6. I also know that, no matter how nervous I am about the marathon in September, I will be healthier and feel better that morning than I did yesterday! If I could run a half marathon with gnarly head cold, I can run a marathon.

I’ll be back tomorrow to discuss Week 7. I started reading the chapter about it last night but fell asleep a few pages in. Today I am taking a full rest day (and eating soup and drinking lots of tea), and will hopefully start my Week 7 runs tomorrow.

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I saw quite a few fellow Half Fanatics yesterday! What a fun source of encouragement during a race.

Marathon Training: Week 7

Creeping up on the halfway mark… oh yeah!

I’m wrapping up Week 6 with a half marathon on Sunday. I am glad it’s on Sunday and not tomorrow (Saturday is typically my long run day) because on Wednesday I started coming down with a cold. My goal for today and tomorrow is to drink a lot of water and tea, consume hearty amounts of garlic, and hope for the best. Really, the thought of running a half with a slight cold doesn’t really worry me. It might be a bit tedious, but, meh–I’ll be okay.

I am playing around with how the runs are distributed during Week 7 because I will be out of town for the first part of Week 8. So I need to cram recovery time from Week 7’s run in with an earlier long run for Week 8. Plan for Week 7:

Monday: Easy 3, at a recovery tempo

Wednesday: 6

Friday: 4

Saturday: 13

Week 7 is the last week of running previously accomplished distances. Week 8 will be my first ever 14-mile run. And, I have to say that while that seemed immensely daunting in the beginning of this journey, I am warming up to the idea that I very well may survive to tell you about the run.

Wish me luck on my half this Sunday. There will be lots of sweat, and lots of snot. Next week I’ll recap that one a bit and start psyching myself up for new frontiers… Happy Friday!

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A few days ago I got even more chopped off!

 

Training in Warmer Weather

Yesterday I enjoyed a fantastic and easy 4 mile run. It was a great way to welcome Week 6. Now that 4 is my new 3, and 5 is my new 4, I don’t dislike the 4-mile distance as much. Makes sense, right? Sunday I get to run a half marathon and I am so excited! Okay, moving on to my topic…

Running is slowly helping me to overcome my aversion to shorts. Two-thirds of the year, I am dressing for dark and cold weather. I remember wearing full-length running tights under fleece leggings in the dead of winter several months ago. Summer is here, however, and it is a steadily warm and clear (some years we have very cold summers). It’s time to shed some layers and run in cool comfort.

Here are some clothing items I like for summer:

1. Long Shorts. My good friend owns these, and they are phenomenally flattering. I love these Danskin bike shorts–they are great for running and also provide good coverage.

2. Breathable Singlets. I am obsessed with my new singlet from Janji. My favorite running t-shirt is also from this company. Great quality clothes and profits go to admirable causes. It’s a win-win.

3. Quality Socks. I love my SmartWool socks. They treat my sweaty and tired feet so gently. No blisters. No raw spots. When I am going on a shorter run or cross training, I am loyal to my cheap and numerous Champion socks from Target. I did not expect these socks to be wonderful, but I really like them and they have never caused me problems.

4. Hydration belt. I love this hydration pack. I wear it with the bottles/pack on the small of my back and I don’t even notice it is on.

5. And where would I be without my Mizuno shoes? I am on my third pair now. Also, I feel one degree closer to the awesomeness that is Wendy Davis.

What summer gear is a must for your training?

Week 6: I am a marathoner.

I finished Week 5 on Saturday, with a 5 mile run. I am not going to lie, that 5 mile run was really bad. I don’t think I’ve ever looked down at my watch so many times during a run. I waited until too long in the day to run, so it was already too warm/humid, and I was still trying to digest lunch. I didn’t have a good route picked out, so I just kind of looped around the greater neighborhood area aimlessly… but, I finished, and that’s all that matters. Not every run is good, not every run is exciting, but every run is another drop in my jug. The one thing I can take away from this crappy run is a revelation I experienced around Mile 4 (so, a little late in the game). By this point, I realized just how loud the volume was on my internal complaints. It was like my whining about this and that was SCREAMING inside my head. I stopped in a shady patch for a moment to stretch my calf. Why are you running with all this junk? I asked myself. And then realized… I am free to run with nothing. When I made the decision to dial down the volume to zero, my run was very different.

Here we are–Week 6. Week 6 requires a lot of mental work to support the physical tasks that are required during this journey of marathon training. The training plan I am following anticipates that this middle part of the training is particularly difficult, as the excitement of committing to the marathon wanes and the finish line is not yet in sight. Now, more than ever before, positive self talk is the skill to practice. In addition to keeping a watch on the locus of control and staying engaged with visualizations during runs, it is time for another motivator. It is time to write a manifesto for the marathon training.

Yesterday, I took a rest day and, after letting go of some of the frustrations from Saturday’s run (or, perhaps, emboldened by some of those frustrations), I sat to journal my marathon manifesto. I wrote two copies; one is pinned up on the wall right by my bed so that it is one of the first and last things I read every day. The second copy is folded in my wallet, so I can easily access it on the go.

manifesto

I am a marathoner. I run 4 times a week, no excuses. I spent hours alone, just me and my feet, running distances 99% of people would use a car for. I am STRONG. I do NOT give up. Even when I feel lazy, I lace up my shoes. I run with my heart. I run to be the best version of myself. I am a marathoner. Running is my prayer. The marathon is a rite and honor. I prepare myself each week to partake of the rite. A jug fills drop by drop. I will bring a full jug with me to the starting line on September 29, 2013. I AM A MARATHONER.

I foresee a good week ahead, concluding with a celebratory long run. While it is difficult at times to go out and run again and again, for hours and hours, there is something so incredible about charting distance with my own human body. The sense of awe I am left with after an exercise like that never looses its luster.