Marathon Training: Week 6

Yesterday I completed my longest training run so far: 10 miles! Since I didn’t have to work on the holiday, I decided to make the most of my day off and tackle the distance. I ran along the bay the entire run–some of the route plucked right from the Bellingham Bay Marathon course. I’ve found a really nice out-and-back run that can be lengthened as long as I want, so it will work for the longer runs ahead (16, 18, 20 miles). It’s a good mix of roads and trails, which is great for my knees. The first few miles were a bit tedious, but 3-4 miles in, I really started to enjoy myself. The second half of the run was really fun. I also ran with my fuel belt and I am glad I did. I drank both bottles of water and was very grateful for a little snack at the halfway point. What made me especially happy was that I had a negative split and I felt really good after the run… ready for more!

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I ran out of GU, so I ate the Sport Beans instead.

thursday2At the halfway point, and already very sweaty.

Tomorrow I will wrap up Week 5 with my mid-length run (5 miles).

Week 6 will culminate with a half marathon in Seattle, even though the prescribed long run is 11 miles for the week. To avoid overuse, I am cutting back two of the shorter runs and adding those two miles to the long run. Therefore, when all is said and done, the cumulative mileage will be at 24.

Monday: 4

Wednesday: 3

Friday: 4

Sunday: 13

Total Mileage: 24

I hope everybody had a great 4th of July yesterday! I will be back next week to discuss Week 6. Yowza, I can’t believe I’ve been marathon training for more than a month–it is flying by.

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It’s FRIDAY!!!!!!

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Visualizations

Yesterday, I kicked off Week 5 with a hot and sticky run. I ran some of my fastest miles in several weeks. My autopilot is what I would describe as my 10K pace, so I really challenged myself to run a 5K pace yesterday to get just a bit of pacing practice in.

Mission accomplished. Went home and took an ice-cold shower.

I want to share a few visualizations that I’m working with during my marathon training to help me stay mentally strong during my runs. These are little episodes I can play for myself either to get motivated during the beginning of a run, or perhaps to get through a particularly challenging or tiring phase of a run.

  • Getting to the finish line. I imagine, in great detail, what it will be like to round the bend onto Railroad Avenue and cross the finish line for the marathon. I think about the people, the colorful fall foliage, the sound of the announcer and crowds mulling about the food tables. I think about the volunteer putting the medal over my head. I think about the relief and sense of pride and achievement. My family members and friends are waiting for me. It feels so amazing to run toward that finish line and make it to the end. My skin prickles from the gratitude and joy.
  • Other people running in this moment. I think about all the other people, of all shapes, sizes and background who are running along with me during this very moment. I think about how many other people are training for their first marathon. I think about this community of runners that is linked across the world by the shared goal of engaging with our practice.
  • Running in the future, with my daughter. I am several years in the future, and I am running with my daughter. She is running in that lanky and quick way that 8-year-olds do. We are encouraging each other along at a race, enjoying the excitement of the run. This is something special we do together as mother and daughter.

These are the little clips I play in my mind over and over again to feel uplifted when I run. I think everybody has different visualizations that create motivation. In addition to enjoying this positive imagery, I also always run with the anticipation of how great it will feel to finish the run. Physiologically, there are few things more enjoyable than a runner’s high. Lately, when I open the door and come back to the house after completing a run, my daughter yells “Yay! Mommy!” Hands down, the best reward.

 

Week 5: Double Digits and Self Care

On Saturday, I finished Week 4 with an 8 mile long run. I had a good amount of energy the rest of the day, which I think is a positive sign. Yesterday, I rested, even though I wanted to start on Week 5. However, I want to be conscientious of avoiding overuse injury, and so rest days after long runs will become increasingly more sacred as my training progresses.

Week 5 is significant because it is the first week that the long run hits double digits (10 miles), and also the first week that the cumulative mileage goes about 20 (Week 5 amounts to 21 miles). What are some of the important things to focus on this week? Self care–or–hydration, fuel, and rest.

Hydration is an especially appropriate subject to focus on because we are having our first heat wave of the summer over here in northwest Washington. Hydration for marathon training does not just mean steady consumption of water throughout the day; it encompasses strategic compensation for additional fluids lost during long runs by drinking 8 ounces per 20 minutes of running time for each long run. That is in addition to the 6-8 cups a day recommended for good levels. I can usually internally feel when I should drink more water (before thirst hits), but the best indication is urine color. Pee should be light or clear… if it’s on the dark yellow side, that is a warning sign of dehydration. In addition to water, I personally enjoy electrolyte replenishing drinks such as Gatorade during long runs. I think that if I’m going to get really sweaty and the weather is warm, alternating Gatorade and water is a good way to go.

Nutrition for running is a comprehensive and broad subject, and there are entire blogs and books out there that discuss nothing more than this. My approach is pretty simple–it’s to maintain an 80/20 ratio as best as I can. 80% whole and minimally processed foods, 20% other things that are tasty. Marathon training has a way of curbing your unhealthy eating habits even if you don’t try. It’s really unpleasant to run in the evening if I’ve eaten something greasy for lunch. I know that… so if I know I will be running, I really try to eat something that will digest well and won’t give me intestinal problems later on. On the other hand, nourishing sources of higher calorie foods are also important. I like nut butters, Greek yogurt, and granola to meet this need. I stay away from energy bars and try to eat something real of substance instead, even if it means packing and washing extra tupperware 🙂 During runs that are longer than an hour (and that’s about 6 miles for me), my go-to fuel is GU. I know it’s nasty and akin to astronaut food, but it gets the job done. Not much to digest, and the energy metabolizes and boosts the muscles pretty quickly. I also really like the sport jelly beans. Those taste a little saltier.

Rest, rest, rest. Rest is important, but also staggeringly challenging for the first-time marathoner to wrap her head around. I feel so great! Why wouldn’t I run today? Waaaahhhh…. Well, one concentrated memory back to my IT band pain, and I start buying in to the rest day with more enthusiasm. Running makes for sustained impact on the joints, and it’s critical to let fatigued muscles recover after long runs so they can work to protect skeletal alignment and integrity during future runs. Stretching is a huge component of the rest and recovery cycle. Stretching for distance runners is the most important and impactful at the end of a run. I spend more and more time after runs and on my rest days stretching. It really does help.

The second half of the chapter on Week 5 discusses positive visualizations. I hope to share some of my visualizations with you later this week.

Happy running, and keep cool this first week of July…

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Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!