Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 4

9 Mondays Until Boston!

This week of training, I struggled with some doubt and body pain, but ended the week with greater confidence.  It is amazing how in one mile of a marathon you feel terrible and are questioning everything and the next you feel like you could run that pace forever.  Things change quickly in marathon racing. You go through so many different emotions in the course of 26.2 miles.

Last week of training, reminded me of how fast things can change, even when it comes to training.  It reminded me to not get overly concerned when I have one bad day of training. Early on in the week, I really struggled with body fatigue and foot/hip pain. These aches and pains are all too familiar.  The good thing about now running for over a decade of my life is that I am very in-tuned to how my body works. I know exactly what I need to do when I start feeling hip or foot pain. Maybe this is the reason the pain does not seem to linger too long.  At least not for this week.

Tuesday, I felt literally terrible.  However, by Thursday, my body felt entirely different and my 8-mile run did not feel nearly as painful. Things change quickly. Painful days and the days full of doubt don’t last forever.  

The interesting thing with feeling so terrible is that last week was actually a slight down week.  We have been slowly building since January, so this week was a 4-mile drop.  I have noticed that in down weeks, my body usually doesn’t feel the greatest.  This pattern also helps me not feel overly concerned with the lower engery and pain I experienced in the past week.  

The doubt of questioning my goal time, mostly came out during my Wednesday workout where pace simply felt way harder than I was expecting.  Doubt is something I really struggle with on and off the run.  It is werid to even admit this because faith is such a large part of my life and who I am.  Faith in God and faith that He has me in His hands comes much more naturally to me (all thanks to grace).  The doubt is more in the form of doubting myself. I trust God with my whole heart, but it is my own abilities that I often lack faith in.  She is faster.  She is smarter. She is better.  A small glimpse of the dialogue that is contantly running in my head.  Not to get overly reflective and spiritual, but I do believe the Lord uses running in my life as a way to help me work through these seeds of self-doubt.  

I want to believe that a 2:48 or faster is possible.  I want to believe that I am in good fitness. I want to believe that I can be competitive come race day.  

The Miles

  • 6 miles with the jogger
  • 6 miles solo 
  • 10 miles. 3 mile warm-up, 3 miles of 20-seconds faster than goal race pace, 4 mile cool-down.  6:02, 6:10, 6:09 (supposed to be all 6-flat). At least, I tried. Also after a mile, I was fully recovered, so this is still an encouragement! 
  • 8 miles with the jogger
  • 5 miles solo 
  • 14 miles with Lance with 3 miles thrown in at slightly faster than race pace

Still dealing with some mileage comparison and anxiety that I am too low in mileage.  I trust Lance and I know he knows me best when it comes to running. Mileage is not crazy high, but I know the quality of work is good.  And there is still so much time to build and get those 20-milers in.

What I am Listening To 

Last week of training, I spent most of my miles listening to the “Love on the Run” series of Ali’s show.  She released a new episode each day of last week with an interview with a professional running couple. I loved it!  

I especially enjoyed the conversation with Aisha Praught and Will Leer.  They might be way faster, but even professional runners struggle with being annoyed at each other on the run.  For Lance and I, we have had way too many fights (always revolved around pace being too fast) while running together, so this very much resonated with me. 

I also loved the conversation with Steph and Ben Bruce.  I am such a Steph Bruce fan and especially loved hearing from both of them.  I am definitely inspired by the way their marriage really functions as them being such a team on and off the course.

How I am Fueling 

  • Hudson’s Z-bars 
  • Coconut water
  • Protein shakes 
  • Heart-shaped sugar cookies and chocolate (the best part of running just for fun: no limits on sugar cookies) 
  • Post-long run sushi! 

Recovery

This week, I really focused on my feet!  Pain in my feet have really flared up (I am pretty sure I have a bone spur in my left foot).  If you were to look at my feet, you would probably be deeply concerned. They are not looking so hot right now.  The left foot is in especially bad shape with what looks like a bone spur and a good sized blood blister. All this to say, my feet hurt.  My strength teacher I go to, used to be a dancer, so she had a lot of good foot exercises for me to do.  

  • Rolling out with a ball and/or frozen water bottle.
  • Foot strengthening exercises, like using toes to grab towel.  This basically just gets me to curl my toes and I can tell this is drastically helping.
  • Yoga toes almost every night seems to also be providing relief. 

Along with foot recovery, also got some jacuzzi and pool time in after our long run at the hotel we were staying at.  We basically went back and forth from the hot tub to the pool. In the pool, we swam and kicked our legs around. It felt so good after our long run earlier that morning.  Perfect afternoon recovery.

Cross-Training

Continuing with my 2 strength classes per week.  My goal for the coming week is to start incorporating more plank work.  Hopefully that will happen!  

What I Keep Telling Myself

The pain is temporary.  The pain is temporary. The pain is temporary.  

This week hurt.  It is easy for me to let the pain takeover my mind.  I am really trying to focus on the fact that it is temporary.  Whether it was a regular run dealing with overall body fatigue or a tempo that felt uncomfortable, my brain needed to remember that it is temporary.  The workout on Wednesday was initially discouraging to me because I did not hit the right pace. I also ended with hands on my knees, breathing HARD. This was just about 14-seconds off my goal race pace.  That really shook me. This should feel WAY easier! I focused too much on the pain, I do wish I could have dug in a bit more and remembered the pain is only temporary. Next time.

High + Low

HIGH

  • Long run with Lance
  • Completing the workout, even though I almost stopped when I was hurting and off pace.

low

  • Overall body pain and fatigue 
  • Feet really hurt! 
  • Tempo pace is feeling harder than I would like.

The Long Run

It is funny how your perspective with mileage really begins to change as you begin marathon training.  14 miles right now feels like not even a legit long run. As I mentioned above, this was a down week. Especially after a week of not feeling great, it was good timing to have a shorter long run.  Lance and I went on a staycation in Newport Beach last Saturday, so we ran in Orange County, instead of our typical PV long run. We ran at Aliso Woods Canyon. This is a beautiful trail and one of my favorite spots to run when we are further south.  We even saw deers on the trail! Since it was a shorter run, Lance decided to run with me. We actually did not have a single argument on our run, which is a big deal. It was a great way to start off our weekend together!

It turned out to be a nice run, especially on the way back.  It was not as hilly and the last few miles we stuck to the road and Lance paced a portion at my goal race pace (6:24).  He paced it perfectly, despite me complaining all 3 miles of it telling him it was too fast at parts and too slow at parts.  Even though I grumbled through it, those 3 miles at race pace were a good encouragement to me. For most of it, my breathing was extremely controlled and conversational.  We hit a 6:21, 6:22, and 6:14. Even in just these 3 miles that would still give me 15 seconds of wiggle room.  

The long run in numbers: 

1 hour 40 minutes

14.03 miles

7:10 min/mile average

Fastest Mile: Mile 11, 6:14 

Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 3

10 Mondays Until Boston!

The thing I love about running, is that it almost always seems to be teaching me something that goes far beyond the miles on the road.  Of all the things running has taught me so far, the biggest lessons are in commitment and discipline. On the windiest days when you are pushing the jogger into a literal wall of wind.  On the days where your whole body is aching and the thought of cutting those 17 miles down keeps cropping up in your head. On the days where stepping out the door feels like a great mental battle.  It is on these days where you still show up, still follow-through, that the real training begins.

This past week of training was the first week where I really struggled to hit my mileage.  The excitement of the early stage of marathon training has already faded within me and I have been hit with the reality of the simple fact: training for a marathon is hard work.  Just like an actual marathon, it is those first miles that are easy and fun. Then somewhere in the middle, you are hit with the reality that you still have 13 miles to go and things become a little less fun.  I am officially over the honeymoon stage of marathon training and not quite yet at the exciting tapering stage. This in-between spot of training can be tough: mileage is increasing, workout intensity is increasing, and long runs are increasing.  The finish line still feels far away. 10 weeks is a bit too long to get super excited. All this to say, last week was a good week in training in the sense that even when I wasn’t feeling it, I pushed through.

I can get so obsessed with what my Garmin tells me.  I want to hit the exact mileage every single time. I want to be within a pace frame.  I want to hit my faster miles when I am doing a workout. This past week, my garmin was not my friend.  It died on runs. I forgot to start it after stopping it. It kept telling me “6:10” when all I wanted to see was “6:00.”  It told me “12” when I still had 5 more miles.

With all these Garmin issues, this week I learned to be okay with being flexible.  I stopped when I knew I was right around 8 miles, even though my Garmin told me otherwise.  I was okay with that 6:07 mile that was supposed to be 6 flat. I stopped at 6 miles on the windiest running day of my life as Hudson just kept screaming.  I am all about pushing through, but sometimes when there is another little guy involved, you have to stop. Similarly to what I wrote about last week, things don’t revolve around me as the runner, but as the mom that runs, which is very different.  Cutting weekly mileage by 2 miles seems like no big deal, but it really bothered me.  I was planning on running 2 miles sometime later in day, but it just never happened and I never had the time to add it on to the other mileage in the week.  2 miles will not kill my training.  

So, in that case I adjusted, but later in the week on the long run when I was dying at mile 12, I pushed through and hit the 17 miles.  It is all about knowing when to push and when to stop. Monday, I needed to stop. Saturday, I needed to push.  

This is a lot of reflection to say one thing: running felt hard last week.  Once I hit 50 + miles, all my typical issues start rolling in.  My mind starts telling me how tired I am. My right leg starts flaring up.  My right hip starts tightening up. My feet start feeling extra fragile. It is on weeks like this, that the commitment and discipline start to really develop and for that, this week of training can still be deemed as a good week.

The Miles

53 miles was spread out like this:

  • 6 miles in the WIND with JOGGER.  Big mistake. 
  • 6 miles of park loops solo.
  • 10 miles with 2 miles at race pace and one mile faster.
  • 8 miles with jogger. Long. Some extra cardio involved as I had to sing to H to stop some of the crying.  Running with a jogger is WORK! 
  • 6 miles of park loops solo.
  • The big 17 miler with lots of uphill trails. 

One quick tangent on mileage.  This week, I was hit with mile comparison.  Sounds weird, but this is totally a thing. Let me explain.  I was listening to a podcast interview with this one runner who was trying to get an OTQ last fall.  She talked about running 90 mile weeks and how this is basically the mileage you need to hit to be super competitive in the marathon.  This got me feeling a bit panicky. I am still building in mileage, but even in my peak for this training cycle I will not be anywhere close to 90 mile weeks.  For one, I feel like I would really struggle being present to Hudson and secondly, I know my body pretty well and I think that would put it over the edge.  

I was struck with the fact that mileage comparison can even steal your joy when it comes to running.  The doubt immediately began to sink in and I began to question if some of my future running goals are even possible with running 60-70 miles at my very peak.  All this to say, weekly mileage is such a personal thing. The numbers that work for one person, might be way too little or way too much for the next. Run your mileage.  Do workouts that make sense for your season. Don’t get too focused on what all the other fast people are doing.

Really loving these sunrise runs. It is hard to see but there was a beautiful layer of fog on the field.

What I am Listening to

Not as much to say in this section this week.  Nothing that really stuck in my mind like previous weeks.  I will say, I had one solo run where I could not find my phone so just had a silent sunrise run and it was refreshing.  Especially with all the noise in my days, it is necessary to have some runs with nothing going on in the background.

More so than the podcasts I listened to, some of the conversations I had on the run stick out even more.  With all the solo running I do, I am always thankful for the miles that are made up with conversation and company.

How I am Fueling

  • Already over the bagel and cream cheese phase.  
  • Still into the coconut water.  
  • Trying a new protein powder, Orgain Organic Protein Powder.
  • El Gringo’s breakfast burrito post-17 miles.  

Recovery

Things are beginning to hurt.  Recovery is becoming more and more important.  As I alluded to before, when my run is done, I need to jump into mom things and don’t have a ton of recovery time.  With that said, here are a few things I have been doing this week to recover:

  • Hot showers. I know, weird type of recovery, but hey it’s practicable. The heat helps with my muscle tightness.
  • Epsom salt baths every Sunday night.
  • Lower back pain and tight hip flexors has brought me back to rolling out before bed.
  • Two words: Yoga Toes.  I have used these for years.  I put them on for a few minutes before bed.  I deal with a lot of foot pain and have a pretty bad bunion, so the yoga toes really helps provide needed relief! 
  • Naps.  Usually only get one per week, but this weekly nap really helps with my energy levels.

Cross-Training

The same.  I realized on my long run that my usual weak glutes are beginning to affect my hip flexors and lower back.  Hoping that continuing to go to Petra’s strength classes will help my very, very weak glutes. I am planning on incorporating even just 5 minutes every other day at home to use the bands and do some targeted glute strengthening exercises.

What I Keep Telling Myself

Stay in it. Stay in it. Stay in it.

This might be the mantra for Boston.  We will see. This is what I said when I kept looking down and seemed to not be able to break that 6:10 barrier on my tempo.  This is what I told myself at mile 12 when I wanted to cut the long run short. Stay in it. Yes, physically, but more so mentally.  When the pain sets in and things start to get really hard, it is easy for me to check out. I really want to focus on this and stay in it, mentally, even when the pain starts to settle in.

I am already picturing myself running up Heartbreak Hill and the words: stay in it, stay in it are pounding in my head and propelling me up.  

High + Low

HIGH

  • Pushing through and running 17 miles.
  • Wednesday workout and feeling controlled and confident.

low

  • Monday’s run in the wind and my sister and mom having to pick us up! True story.
  • The last painful few miles of my long run.
  • Overall more tired and less excited.

The Long Run

17 miler in Palos Verdes on Telephone Trail.  This is the last long run I will run on this trail.  There is so much soft-surface uphill. It is brutal. There is also a lot of rocky trails and I almost rolled my ankle multiple times.  These early hard miles put a greater fatigue on my body and made the final miles a real challenge for me.  

Even though it was a bit painful, I am proud I finished it.  I was very close to rounding up.   It will be nice to drop a bit next week and come back in two Saturdays and run an 18-miler and then the big 2-0.

The long run in numbers (there was a a few meters that I forgot to start up Garmin again, but I did do 17, I promise!)

2 hours 13 minutes

16.91 miles

7:54 minutes/mile average 

Fastest mile at mile 12: 6:49

10 Things To Do Week Leading Up to the Marathon

This is the week.  Marathon week. As promised, this is the final post in my Marathon Wednesday Series.  This post was originally going to be a compilation of marathon inspiration from interviews I gathered from people who have completed marathons, but life happens and that idea never happened.  So instead, I am sharing a few things I am intentionally incorporating into my week to help with my performance come Sunday. While at this point there is not much more I can do that will change my fitness, there are a few small intentional choices I have made this week to help me feel both physically and mentally ready.  So, if you are gearing up for your fall marathon and have all the weeks of training carefully laid-out, but feel a little less certain about what that final week should look like, this one is for you! Here is a checklist of 10 things you should consider doing the week of your marathon.  

1. Run Less Miles

Depending on who you ask, people will have different opinions of what your mileage should like in that week leading up to the big 26.2.  Most schools of thought can agree that cutting back on mileage is a good and necessary thing; however, there are some that don’t believe in a full-on taper.  The thing with training is that especially after all the major miles and workouts have been put in, the final week is more about your mental state. For some, they might feel better if they don’t cut back a ton in miles.  For others, a significant cutdown helps them mentally feel ready. While I was initially resistant to cutting back a ton on the mileage, I have cut my runs this week down to either 4 or 5 mile runs. This is about 3 miles less per day.  I am also taking the Thursday before the race off. This is putting me at about 21 miles before I race the 26.2. While there is definitely still a temptation to squeeze in a few more miles this week, I know that those miles won’t help. If anything, they could keep me from fully recovering and feeling my freshest in the race.  

2. Run a Workout that Brings Confidence 

While there is no need to run a crazy workout during Marathon Week, a very short and easy workout, is a good thing to incorporate to help give you confidence going into the race.  I ran a workout on my normal workout day, Wednesday. It was just extra short. I ran a 2 mile warm-up, 2 miles at my goal marathon pace, and a mile cool down. This workout was solely for confidence.  I ran the two miles about 10 seconds faster than my goal pace and that was intentionally trying to go really easy and controlled. This was a huge boost in confidence. I finished those 5 miles feeling amazing. I highly suggest creating a light workout, like the one above, to help remind you that even in your tiredness, all those miles and hard work paid off. You are fit.  You are ready.

3. Drink Lots of Water

This is an obvious one, but especially if you are not great when it comes to hydration, this is the week to be extra intentional about it. Carry that bottle everywhere. Have a cup of water by your bedside.  I used to be really great at drinking water, but ever since becoming a mom, I so easily forget to drink water for myself. I am constantly putting Hudson’s sippy cup in front of him, but don’t do the same for myself.  This week, I am all about the water. I just sit and drink whole glasses and actually think about how that water is getting my body ready for the race. 

4. Take an Epsom Salt Bath, Sleep In Compression Socks & Roll

I just wrote a post about the importance of recovery, if you missed it, you can check it out here.  Recovery is essential throughout training, but this week, especially, I have been making sure I dedicate daily time to recovery.  We just had our bathroom remodeled, so we can now take baths! Taking an epsom salt bath is a great way to relax your muscles and allow for blood flow.  Every night this week, I have been sleeping in my compression socks. Again, increased blood flow. While I have not been great at rolling out during this whole training block, I am trying to spend a few minutes rolling out before I go to bed.

5. Listen to Inspiring Marathon Stories

While I typically listen to a variety of different podcasts, this week my ears are being filled with inspiring marathon stories.  While who knows what I will be thinking about during the race, I like to think that I will carry bits and pieces of the motivation and inspiration I have listened to throughout my week.  

6. Try to Conserve as Much Energy as Possible (early to bed/naps)

I like to keep my days full and busy.  While we still have had relatively full days with getting runs in and then going to our church’s Vacation Bible School, I am working really hard at trying to not use up too much energy.  I am letting certain things go this week. I know they will be there for me next week. While this one is harder for me, I am also trying to get more sleep in. We are working on going to bed slightly earlier.  While I am not really a nap taker, I am taking my afternoon rest time seriously this week.

7. Focus on Nutrition (but still eat cookies!)

Since I am really just running for fun right now, I haven’t been going crazy with nutrition, but this week I really am focusing on making sure I get good, healthy calories in.  Lunches are the hardest for me. I always make Hudson a nice, big lunch, but for some reason I always find myself just snacking or eating random leftovers for lunch. This week I am trying to put together more comprehensive lunches for myself.  Our dinner meals are usually pretty healthy, but we are especially focusing on getting in good proteins and healthy carbs. Think salmon, chicken, steak, rice, quinoa, pasta. Like I mentioned in the title, I still am eating sweets! Those cookies are necessary. They won’t ruin a race. 

8. Visualize the Race 

All week there has been a background track in my mind of me racing the course.  I am present, but there is still part of me that has my mind racing. I am playing out different situations. I am imagining feeling super strong. I am thinking of scenarios that could go wrong and how I will respond. I picture running in a pack and holding on when the pace changes.  A healthy dose of visualization, regardless of the type of runner you are is important. Even if time does not matter to you, and the major goal is to get to the finish line, thinking about running through the course, is important. Think of any big, important thing you do. You visualize how it will go, you plan, you prepare.  Running a marathon is a big, important thing. You must visualize. Also, if this will be your first time on the course, I highly recommend finding a YouTube video or resources that takes your through the whole course. We watched the course video a couple months ago, but we will definitely watch again the night or two before the race.

9. Break In Race Shoes 

If you plan on racing in marathon flats, be sure to break them in! My pretty white and pink New Balance flats just came in the mail last week.  Each day this week I have been wearing them. I did one workout in them and the other days, I have just worn them for a few days out on errands. 

10. Do Strides 

Last, but not least, do strides.  These could be longer strides, like a minute or they could be super short, like 20 seconds.  The idea is to give your legs a little feel of moving quicker and getting some turnover in. I also use strides as confidence builders and work on my form.  This week, I have not had a ton of time to do strides after my run, so instead I have used the last portion of my run to incorporate a few strides where I pick up the pace. This is a great sharpening tool. It is the cherry on top to weeks and weeks of hard training. Side note: strides are a great idea to do throughout training, but it hasn’t been something I have been very consistent at during this training block.  

To those running San Francisco this week or to those running a fall marathon, best of luck! Enjoy this final week of training.  As my college coach used to always say, “The hay is in the barn.” It is. You’ve done the work. You’ve got this. Enjoy it. Push yourself. Believe you can. 

5 Ways to Recover When You Aren’t a Pro Runner

One of the things I miss most about college running is having the access to the training room. I took it for granted back then. I could finish a hard workout and then just walk over to the training room and step into the ice bath. Not only was this facility easily accessible to me, it came with a whole team that was also going to the ice bath or rolling or stretching, which further motivated me to do the same. It is one thing when the ice bath is a social event with good friends and an entirely different thing when you have to buy the ice, fill up your own bath tub and painfully enter the cold water all by yourself. I much prefer an ice bath that is already set up for me and comes with friends to chat with. Needless to say, I have done zero ice bathing in this training block. I have done a fair amount of ocean dips. And sure, not the same benefits, but a dip in the relatively cold and salty ocean is better recovery for my legs than not. When you no longer are running in college and are not a professional runner, it can be logistically more challenging to get in proper recovery. Recovery is essential and it matters, but for the non-elite runner, it can feel like too much. For me personally, it feels like enough just to get my runs in. It can feel overwhelming to also figure out a way to spend time recovering post-run. Recovery for the non-elite will look different, it may even involve some ocean dips, but there are small and easy things you can do to help ensure you are still allowing for proper recovery.

1. Bring a Bar

They say the ideal window for allowing your body to recover post-workout is within 30 minutes after completion. If I don’t plan ahead, I will often miss this window and not even eat anything for an hour or so after. This is not good. Bringing a bar with you is a really easy way to allow for recovery. I try to always leave the house with a bar packed in my bag, so I can have easy access to it. If I am home right after a workout, I will typically try to make a smoothie and blend in protein powder. This is the ideal recovery drink, but a bar is definitely always the better option than an empty stomach.

2. Sleep in Compression Socks

When time is the limiting factor, this hack of sleeping in compression socks, allows for increased blood flow to your tired muscles as you do what you need to do every night: sleep! If you’re anything like me, even this act of putting the socks on before you go to bed can be difficult to remember. Set out your compression socks on your bed to help remind you.

3. Incorporate Rolling into Evening Routine

The hardest part of recovery is finding time for it. We find time to brush our teeth every night, so why can’t we prioritize our muscles? Remember, routines do not need to take a large chunk of time. I know I easily have 5-minutes in the evening that I waste on social media that I could put to rolling out before I go to sleep. Make this a routine. Make it something as routine as brushing your teeth. Leave out your roller by your bedside to help make this actually happens. If you don’t have a roller and are serious about recovery, I highly recommend that you get one. Here is the one we have and love.

4. Ask a Friend or Spouse

When you no longer have access to trainers to massage out your tried legs, you ask your husband. At least that’s what I do. Most of us average, everyday runners will not have access to trainers, nor do we want to spend the money on weekly massages or adjustments. The things is, you don’t need to be a professional trainer to help muscles recover. Use the people in your life to help you out.

5. Ocean Dip

As I alluded to in my introduction, oceans can be your ice bath. I can sense the eye rolls, but in all seriousness, spending sometime swimming around in the ocean post-workout, especially if it’s in the winter and extra cold, is a perfect, easy and fun way to allow for recovery. I live near the beach and I understand that this is not possible for everyone, but if you don’t want to go through the hassle of buying ice and making an ice bath, get creative. Take a really cold shower. Put ice packs on your calves. Freeze water bottles and roll out those tired feet. Is this always going to be as effective as those ice baths in training facilities? No, but it is so much better than nothing.

Recovery is just as important for the pro runner as it is for you! It is just going to look a little different and might involve more trips to the ocean. Recovery does not need to be overwhelming or expensive. Make a few small choices that gives your body the recovery it deserves.