Given a crazy summer schedule, I am not planning on doing weekly training recaps for my Mesa Falls Marathon training. HOWEVER, I had a shockingly spectacular — dare I say, breakthrough — training week last week, and so I wanted to share some of the changes I made to my training that worked for me.
(1) Sleep! I’ve been talking about this a lot. Mainly that I’ve been trying to get into bed by 10 pm. I’ve done really well over the past few weeks and I can feel a HUGE difference. Getting up in the morning is easier, and when I workout, my legs feel fresher.
(2) Mixing it up — but running a lot. I’ve always been pretty good at integrating cross training into my workout routine. But sometimes that can come at the expense of running. This past week I found a good balance. First of all, I ran most days, which is atypical. But that included running (uphill, 4 miles, in the heat) to get to a 1.5 hr. (exhausting, exhilarating, body-aching, body-loving) modern dance class. Another day, I ran to Orangetheory, where I really focused on pushing the pace more than I have in the past few weeks. A couple of other days during the week I did some shorter runs, and I’ve found that those shorter run can really make a difference in fitness, calorie burn, etc. And of course there was my long run, which I’ll talk about in a minute.
(3) Eating well. I’m working to get back to my 2011/2012 PR weight. I re-started using MyFitnessPal a couple of weeks ago, and this week I did a really good job sticking to it. I feel good, and the pounds have started to come off. I’ve definitely noticed a change in my belly area — woohoo. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t have Chipotle and ice cream and Stacy’s Pita Chips this week, but I did a good job of balancing those things out with my workouts and some “cleaner” foods (although Chipotle is pretty darn clean in my book).
(4) The mental game. Two big changes here. First, I dove headfirst into the Ultrarunner Podcast. Not only is it new, entertaining content, it is incredibly motivating and inspiring to hear folks talking about their longer distance races. A 20 mile training run? NBD. Second, I’ve started reading “How Bad Do You Want It?” by Matt Fitzgerald. I heard about it on the Ultrarunner Podcast, and I’m a few chapters in. I’ll do a full review when I’m done, but I’m already putting some of the mental strategies outlined in the book to use. In particular, for my hard workouts this past week, I used this mantra: It’s going to be hard, but that’s OK. Huge, huge transformation to my mental game. (Full list of the podcasts I listen to or have tried is here.)
(5) OK, last but not least: fuel. I am notoriously rebellious when it comes to fueling. I went to buy Gu for the first time in 2007, a few weeks before my first marathon. The woman at the running store asked me what I had been using for my long runs, and I said “water,” and needless to say, she was horrified. I’ve improved since then. Or at least I know more about fueling now. But I don’t always put that knowledge into practice. I rarely take more than a few sport beans on my long runs, and I’ve run many marathons with very little fuel or primarily unconventional fuel: candy corn, freeze pops, donuts. But if I want to run my best (aka BQ/PR), I really need to stop being so cheeky and listen to the near-universal advice to fuel my runs with maltodextrin. So for my long run this weekend, I had a arguably healthy Dr. Praeger’s uncrustable before going out, took a Gu around mile 5, and popped Stinger gummies every few miles after that. OK, OK. Y’all win. I get it. This makes a difference. Especially that Gu around mile 5. I felt totally fresh for way, way more miles than I usually do. Was it delicious? Nope. But we put up with a lot of “unfun” things for running (e.g., chafing), and this is just one more.
Add this all up, and you know what I got? Not only a 40+ mile training week, but A 20 MILE RUN. That’s right, folks. I ACTUALLY RAN A 20 MILE TRAINING RUN. That hasn’t happened in a long time. AND, this wasn’t even my scheduled 20 miler. AND, I did it EVEN THOUGH IT WAS 92 DEGREES AND HUMID. Excuses? Adios. I’ve got my podcasts, and my mantras, and my fuel, and my lithe well-rested body, and ain’t nothing going to stop me.
In fact, I might just do another one this training cycle!
What factors have caused breakthrough training weeks or races for you? Do you use mantras? Do you fuel the same for your long runs as for race days? Give me all the deets in the comments!