Here I am… mid-October and 16 weeks into training for my return to 26.2! I’ve logged nearly 400 miles, and day after day I’m feeling stronger, physically and mentally. Being back in the training saddle is actually very nice - I’m loving the routine and all the “me” time. I wanted to share a few recent (and exciting!) updates, and provide some important lessons I’ve been forced to face.
Lesson #1: Change is the Only Constant
This is basically my mantra for life, and my marathon training experience can’t escape the clutches of change. Everything was going completely as planned for almost 12 weeks - I was checking run after run off my calendar, Kim (my training buddy) and I were chatting about our progress, and my coach was there to monitor my growth. And then… WHAM! I was offered an entry into the 2018 New York City Marathon. Yea, that marathon. It seemed too good to be true, but could I even manage to get up to speed in time for the November race? Could I handle two marathons in two months?
After my previous bonk at Chicago 2017, all my nerves around running 26.2 miles came flooding back. However, I was also filled with excitement around the opportunity to run this iconic race. So after consultation with my coach Chris, oh, and my husband, I decided to go for it!
My training plan was adapted to accommodate this earlier race by immediately ramping up my long run mileage. I was hanging around 13-15 miles, with those 20-Milers off in the distance. Now I’ve already completed a 20-Miler and I’m getting ready for another. Things are feeling strong, and the NYC surprise was a pleasant change to the schedule.
Lesson #2: Own Your Weakness
Because I’ve been able to work with my amazing coach (shout-out to coach Chris!), I’ve been pushed to try training techniques I’d never used before for marathons. I had always relied on running 3-4 times a week, and I slowly worked up my mileage - nothing more complicated than that. Now I’m being challenged to incorporate speed workouts, and tempo runs weekly. Wowsa - what a change!
Coach Chris has identified that I’m just fine at running long distances for a long time (to be honest, I think I knew this already, but it’s nice to have someone else validate it). But it turns out that the new tempo workouts are a newfound weakness for me. My first efforts with tempo runs were frustrating and inconsistent. My second efforts with tempo runs were… frustrating and inconsistent. I’ve exposed a weakness that I didn’t know was lurking under the surface: I really don’t like existing in a state of discomfort during my workouts.
It was time for me to put on my big boy boots and dig deep. I’ve started to 1) identify general discomfort from other pain, 2) own the discomfort and measure it (mostly by mentally judging my threshold), and 3) test the limits on how long I can carry that discomfort. I recently did this during a 5K race, and my hard work paid off with a new PR! I’m owning my weakness, leaning into it, and fighting back to grow stronger, develop my mental grit, and just be more badass.
Lesson #3: True Success Requires Sacrifice
My last lesson and training update is more about lifestyle than my workout routine. Being in the thick of training is taxing and time-consuming, so I needed to assess how to mitigate some of these issues. I’ve been working on a more consistent sleep schedule, and I recently did a 14-day Whole30-like dietary experience. All-natural foods, nothing processed, mainly no sugar, dairy, or grains, and no booze. It was really awesome because I felt great, still had the energy to run, and the sleep was mind-blowing. Try it… it’s worth it.
My “sacrifice” now comes because I’m going to shift to this all-natural diet starting now through New York, and then continue this until Honolulu, with a small break for Thanksgiving. The eating part isn’t as hard as it seems, but the alcohol part is my vice. I love me some wine with a movie or the delicious cocktail when out at dinner. But, I know those things will still be there when I’m done with this adventure. I’ll have more to celebrate knowing that I made sacrifices to find my true success.
So, that’s where I’m at right now… surprise marathon, tempo run realness, and putting the cork back in the bottle. I’m excited to see where the next couple of months lead. As always, follow my journey on social and share your own training experiences with hashtag #262squad.