Trial & ErrorΒ – Thoughts On Marathon Training

I recently read an article about a runner who was training for his first marathon after 20+ years of running. He talked about how intimidated he was by the distance and how other runners feel the same way. They may not wait that long, but sometimes it takes a few years for someone who picks up running to be able to or even want to run a marathon. This got me thinking, why did I want to run a marathon? I know I started running because I watched a friend run a marathon and I thought it looked fun but I don’t remember why I wanted to take on 26.2 miles. I started training for a half marathon in December 2011 and ran my first marathon in December 2012. So I am always a little surprised at how quickly I decided to take on a marathon. If I knew then what I know now, I may not have done that. No way was I ready to run that distance. I was under trained, and didn’t truly understand what I was getting myself into. Obviously that terrible first marathon experience didn’t stop me – since I am currently training for my 6th marathon (and hoping to BQ). Maybe there is something to be said for just jumping right into something…even if you have no idea what the hell you’re doing.

I will say that I did, and continue to do, a lot of research about running. It started with a subscription to Runner’s World, then I started following running peeps on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook…all the social media venues – which is actually how I met some great friends. Then came the books. Hansons Marathon Method is a favorite, Running Anatomy is great too. I am currently reading ChiRunning which is a becoming a favorite. Oh, The Sports Gene is an awesome read too. Which is not specific to running but is educational and just so damn interesting. I’m sure not everyone gives a shit about all of the technical stuff about running and they just want to go out and run, and that’s cool. But I love learning, I NEED to know the ‘why’. I also am working my to becoming a running coach, so there is that too πŸ˜‰

Another important aspect to training is to have goals. When I am training for a specific race I want to know what I need to do to reach my goal. Since I am talking marathons here, lets say I want to BQ – which I do. I know I need to run a finish time of at least 3:35. Which is an 8:12 average pace overall. I know my speed work, tempo and easy run times too. I am training with a group right now (not to put anyone down) but our coaches will ask what their pace is for the run that day and they don’t know. I’m over here like, excuse me? Okay, more like, are you fucking serious? Running a marathon is a HUGE commitment. Think about this: marathon training is taking up at least 4 months of your life. Take it seriously. I often hear the goal of just finishing. I don’t like that goal. I mean, sure, if you want to just finish you could take all day to do that. Have a time in mind. Having a time goal makes it more real and more likely for you to stay committed. Trust me, I am talking from experience.

My past CIM races. I have also run the SF Marathon and the Napa Valley Marathon.

cim

Of course I don’t know everything, and as I said I continue to learn as much as I can. Here in Sacramento we are lucky to have an amazing running community. Everything from the Sacramento Running Association (SRA), to fun running groups like Sloppy Moose RC. Even our local running store Fleet Feet Sacramento is a great resource to learn about all things running. As the California International Marathon gets closer I wanted to get this out there that if you’re new to this marathon thing it takes time (for some) to get it. After my first one I said I’d never run another marathon again. I had so much negative self talk during my first, and I could barely walk after. I don’t want anyone else to have that experience. But they, maybe even you, will. Trial and error. Personally, I think that is what makes you stronger. Learn from your mistakes.

My biggest take aways in my years of experience (I’m being sarcastic here) are 1. Stay positive 2. Take some time to learn about running and recovery. Learn about what kind of training runs you will be doing and why. You may not want or need to take it to the level that I do, but a basic understanding will help your training to be successful. 3. Understand that running a marathon is a major commitment. 4. HAVE FUN! Get to the start line healthy, happy and injury free. Run strong and be happy for this wonderful thing called movement. Its quite a great gift.

Happy running, friends.

Paying It Forward

Moving is always a good thing in at least one way, and that is getting rid of things you no longer need.  As we get ready to pack up our things I decided I am not going to take my medals with me. I have displayed them in our dinning area for the past year on a home made medal hanger. I was so excited when I found this bed frame to use for my medal hanger. I got to hang my medals, look at them, talk about my races when friends came over and asked about them. However, these past few months I realized I don’t need them anymore. Sure they are fun, you are reminded of your accomplishments but I suppose I am at a place that they just don’t mean as much to me as they used to. This became apparent when I got home from my latest half marathon and realized I didn’t grab a medal at the end! I started to wonder if there was something I could do with them that would be useful to others. 
 

That is when I found Medals4Mettle. Medals4Mettle is a charity that gives runners the chance to pay it forward. You are able to gift your medal to those who, “are battling serious and debilitating illnesses and who have demonstrated similar courage and mettle in fighting those illnesses.” (M4M website). The first time I read about this charity I was so touched. Here is a brief history about how M4M came to be:

“The day after he finished the 2003 Chicago Marathon, Steven Isenberg, M.D., a head and neck surgeon in Indianapolis, paid a visit to a colleague who was hospitalized. The two men were a study in contrasts. Dr. Isenberg, 53, was on a postrace high. Les Taylor, who had prostate cancer, lay flat on his back with tubes running in and out of him.

At a loss for words, Dr. Isenberg pulled his finishers’ medal from his pocket and placed it around Taylor’s neck. “I want you to have this,” he said. “You are running a much more difficult marathon than the one I completed.”

Before he died, Taylor told Dr. Isenberg how much he treasured the medal. Those words inspired Dr. Isenberg to start Medals4Mettle in 2005, as a vehicle to collect runner’s medals which could be donated to those who are battling serious and debilitating illnesses and who have demonstrated similar courage and mettle in fighting those illnesses.

Certainly everyone cannot run a marathon, but people who are battling life-threatening illnesses and severe disabilities demonstrate mettle everyday. Marathon runners experience the cheers of support from total strangers as they run through the streets, and these same runners cheer the wheelchair competitors that they may pass on the course. Medals4Mettle celebrates our collective human courage, and our innate desire to reward and support each other as we all face life’s challenges.”

There are others that can get what they need from these medals. They have already given me what I needed. I love the idea of paying it forward. I will, however, be keeping all of my CIM medals and my SF Marathon medal because I ran that on my 30th birthday and it is really special to me.
Oh, and I’ll be keeping my Sloppy Moose RC medal too. It doubles as a bottle opener so I’ve gotta keep that. Necessities.   

Donating your medals is really easy! I packed them up and drove them up to Roseville Fleet Feet. On the Medals4Mettle site they have a list of chapters (places you can drop off medals) and I am lucky enough to live by one.

IMG_0077

It is a little weird to have an empty wall where I once hung all of my medals. I now have NO idea how many half marathons I’ve run. I am sure one day I’ll forget how many marathons I have run too. I had a great experience as I removed all of my medals off the hanger though. As I took them down and placed them in the box I remembered each race. I remembered where I was in my life at that time, remembered how I felt crossing the finish line, the PR’s I received or even how shitty a race was…even if they weren’t great I am grateful to be able to run them. It was a nice walk through memory lane and it made me super thankful that I began running.

I’ll never know who gets my medals or what kind of adversities they are facing but I know that running a marathon and having complete strangers cheer for you is an amazing feeling of support and in my own little way I can pass on that feeling to others.

Midway CIM Assesment – Urban Cow Half

Tough race today. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in myself but I’m going to learn from this experience and let this one go. I was 7 minutes & 9 seconds from my goal time (1:40) and slower than my PR at this race last year (1:43). I think 3 major things happened here. Number 1 I was cramping by mile 4. I held onto a sub 7:50 pace until mile 7. That’s when it started getting to the point of my right quad wanting to just stop. My whole right side was just off today – shoulder, quad and calf. Number 2  The reason I was cramping, I didn’t warm up 😁. Sorry coaches! I went to our spot to meet up & wasn’t really paying attention so I think they all left to warm up & I missed them. I did a few leg swings but not even close to what I needed to do to be prepared. Number 3 I gave up. Ugh. This has been a thing of mine lately. I saw 1:43 on my Garmin (which was my PR last year) and I just deflated because I still had a bit to go. I was pretty upset. I didn’t give up 100%, because that would have been me not finishing. I did, however, give up trying to push myself.  At least I was told I looked strong at the finish…didn’t feel strong.

Have you ever had a dream where it feels like you are running through water? That is how I felt from mile 10.5 on. Everyone was passing me. I wanted so badly to run faster, but I just didn’t have it in me today. Here is my race:

Urban Cow Half Marathon

 Here I am about mile 12. I was looking forward to this point in the race because I knew my KaiaFIT SSC crew would be there cheering us on.
And they didn’t disappoint!! This is not even everyone that was there. They had signs, cow bells, flags…they had it all and were the reason I kept trying to push. Thanks ladies! Just as last year, I got teary-eyed hearing you cheer me on.   So I could make excuses as to why I didn’t reach my goal (umm like our 1:40 pacer sprinting out the chute…jeez! Or the stupid wind) but ultimately it is all on me. And this isn’t a bad thing. I know what I need to work on, and that is awesome because I know I can improve.

As you can see my CIM midway assessment did not go as planned. There is just over 2 months until CIM so plenty of time to improve. Physically I have no doubt…it is all the self doubt in my head. I psych myself out. I have made huge jumps in improvement in the past so when I have little jumps or nothing at all I doubt all of my training and my ability to even be a good runner. So lame, I know. One really good thing about today – I wore my new Lululemon shorts and they are awesome. I tested them out yesterday so they wouldn’t be “new”. Runners all know we don’t try new things on race day! 2 thumbs up for the shorts! You know, always look on the bright side of life!

 life
(sorry, that was lame too! I’ve been watching too much Monty Python lately πŸ˜‰ ) But for realsies, I am thankful everyday I am able to move, get outside and do what I love to do. Happy running, friends.