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

Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 2

11 Mondays Until Boston!

Another week of training in the books!  This past week of training was good and consistent, but did take a weird turn with the long run, which I will explain at the end. 

It was a week marked by 50 miles, stroller runs, tempos that felt like I was running faster than my Garmin told me, graham cracker snacking in the middle of the night, and a strange 16-miler that was fueled by kid’s fruit snacks- but hey at least it was organic!

The main take-away from training this week, is the reminder that I want to take this training block as seriously as possible, but this is also not my main priority.  I am a mom first, running quite honestly comes after quite a lot of things. And this is exactly the way I want it to be, but it means training will simply look quite different for me. 

I will always make the mileage for that week happen. If Lance says I have 50 miles, I will run 50 miles, but it is more of a squeezing in, rather than a true incorporating. For example, I will make arrangements to get that 10-mile tempo in and I will do my best to recover by drinking coconut water and devouring a protein bar quickly, but then the day will progress and we will run around at the park and check-out stacks of library books.  There will not be an elaborate stretch routine or an ice bath or rolling right after the fact. When my garmin beeps and I hit my daily mileage, my mom hat goes right back on. My days revolve around Hudson, not my runs.  

mom and son running with jogger
We had some really enjoyable runs out there together!

The Miles

Weekly mileage looked like this:

  • 7 miles with the jogger
  • 5 miles solo
  • 10 miles with 4 miles in the middle at goal race race solo 
  • 7 miles with the jogger 
  • 5 miles with the jogger
  • 16 miles solo with 2 X 2 mile pick-ups on 8 miles back 

As a whole, all the runs felt pretty good and I definitely am continuing to feel more fit.  The race pace work is still not feeling as comfortable as I would like. On Wednesday, it literally felt like I was flying, but then my Garmin told me numbers that were not as exciting.  Like I wrote about last week, the fast and thrilling miles are coming. I am just not quite there yet.

What I am Listening to

This past week did my similar soundtrack of running podcasts for the easy miles + Taylor Swift for race pace miles.  Side-note: I am in the midst of watching the Taylor Swift documentary, Miss Americana and I am so intrigued and moved by it.  But that is another story, let’s get back to my soundtrack on the road.  Here are a few of the podcast episodes that really stuck out to me this week:

This is a really great and motivating episode for a longer run.  It is about an hour and 30 minutes long. There was a lot that I really loved in this episode.  I loved how she ran a 2:42 and got that OTQ. The part that really resonated with me was within the last 7-minutes.  She talks about running with joy and the motivation to keep training and chasing goals when running is not your job. She talks about the girls she trained with and did park loops with in the mornings and all the people that made her goal happen.  Listen to this whole episode, but especially listen to those last few minutes. I was heading back from my tempo and her words struck such a cord. I want to run with greater joy as I train for Boston and appreciate running’s place in my life right now, and not run out of obligation or guilt.

I listened to this episode on parts of my long run and again was very much motivated by Sarah’s story.  I love a good running story, but I especially love it from the perspective of a mom with a full-time job and a lot going on.  As I was climbing a dirt trail from Malaga, she said something that I loved and felt very deeply as well. She talked about how postpartum, running was not an option for her, it was a necessity.  It wasn’t something that she should try to make happen, it was a non-negotiable. The thing that made her more herself.

I love her grit and determination to make things happen, even with less than ideal schedules and a big family. I could go on and on. Sarah’s discipline and overall enthusiasm for getting better, will be yet another story I will certainly carry with me into Boston. 

I loved this particular interview with Neely because not only did it focus on her getting the OTQ at Houston, it focused on the struggles that come with postpartum running.  I really appreciated Neely’s perspective of openly sharing how difficult it was even as a professional runner to get back into running after baby. This particular episode was so good and raw and very much mother runner focused, which I always love.  

If you haven’t noticed, I really only listen to two different podcasts on my runs.  It felt like a special treat when I was going out for my Friday run and saw this new monthly series that my two favorite running podcasts hosts will be doing together.  I really enjoyed listening to this conversation. It was a perfect collision of two worlds and the perfect way to spend my Friday park loops.

How I am Fueling

This week I hit 50 and my body just wants to eat and eat and eat.  I have had an insatiable hunger all week. I even woke up in the middle of the night feeling so hungry that I literally had to make myself a midnight snack.

  • Continuing to hydrate with coconut water, which is my new obsession.
  • Trying to avoid coffee in the afternoon, so I have been mixing it up with an occasional Health Ade Kombucha in the afternoon for a pick-me up + probiotics.  Currently loving the Tropical Punch flavor.
  • I love Maurten Gels for long runs, but I totally spaced and left my Maurten in the car this past Saturday, so I had to take Hudson’s organic fruit gummy pack at mile 10, which I would not recommend. At least I got some sugar to get me through the last 6 miles!
  • Food wise, nothing new, but definitely have been trying to incorporate a bit more red meat as mileage in increasing.  We did ground beef burgers one night + steak salad another. 
sunrise at a park on morning run
Loving my sunrise runs on Tuesday before Lance leaves for work!

When I am Running

Sticking with the normal routine.  Trying to get out the door when I have my runs with Hudson as soon as possible.  It has been really nice to get the run in before 10 am and then end with some time to play at the park.  The quicker we get out the door and make it happen, the better.   

Cross-Training

Same as last week! This week, I was sore from Petra’s strength class, which makes me excited!  I know this extra strength work will be the difference from a good and great result. It is not super exciting getting to the studio at 6 pm, especially as I am beginning to get more tired from the mileage, but I know this stuff is important.  Also still very much enjoying restorative yoga Friday nights. This week, I did not fall asleep in class, so I am taking that as a good sign that my body is recovering quicker! 

What I Keep Telling Myself

Run your pace, run your pace, run your pace.  

It is easy to get caught up when a fast song comes on or you hear paces other people are running or that person passes you on the strand and you feel that urge to shift gears. 

I take a lot of pride in knowing my body really well when it comes to running: I know my limits and I know the pace that makes sense. Right now in training, I am hyper-focused on that goal time of 2:48 and 6:24 pace.  As I run workouts, I literally see these numbers in bright red lights. It is really motivating and pulling me through the miles.

I have never been number-goal oriented, but this goal time and the pace that goes with it is really keeping me focused.  I know with almost certainty that there will be a great temptation to run way too fast at the start of Boston, so hoping this focus on my pace will keep me from blowing up.

High + Low

HIGH

  • Hitting 50 miles
  • Knee has healed 
  • Hudson has been pretty good for our stroller runs
  • Beautiful 16 mile long run 
  • Mid-week 10 miler with 4 miles at race pace.  It felt good to get a 10-miler done during the week, even though the tempo part did not feel as easy as I would have liked.

low

  • Post-long run.  I will explain below. 

The Long Run 

When both you and your husband are training, long runs can be logistical challenges with kids.  It is way too long for Hudson to be in the jogger, so we usually drop him off at my parents’ house. This past Saturday they were out of town, so we developed a plan.

Lance would leave early and run 8-10 miles solo and then meet me back at the park.  I would give him Hudson and he would finish his run with the jogger, as I did my 16 mile route out and back.  

The plan actually worked really well.

I started my run from Valley Park and ran 3 miles with Lance and Hudson.  He flipped it and I continued to go out. We usually do our long runs in PV, but it was actually really fun to start in Hermosa and make it all the way out to the trail cliffs in Palos Verdes, since I had to go out 8 miles.  It was also nice to get in some dirt. Not to mention, Saturday morning was absolutely gorgeous.  

As I was heading back down, I stopped at mile 10, took those fruit gummy snacks and began a couple miles at goal race pace.  Those two miles actually felt great and I was surprised that going back down to race pace felt pretty natural even at mile 10 (I literally hit exactly 6:24, which was encouraging). 

Towards the end of that 2 mile segment, I was feeling fatigued, so I stopped and ran half a mile at normal long run pace. After this half mile of recovery, ran 2 more miles with the aim to be at race pace.  I was slightly off, but it was a good two miles of staying mentally tough as my legs were really beginning to fatigue as it has been months since I have run this long and at that type of pace. This run really worked my legs, but it also was key in building a mental toughness, that I will absolutely carry with me to Boston.

Overall, great long run. 

Then, it took a turn as within 5-minutes of coming home, Hudson tripped on a rug and his sippy cup split his head.  With blood on my shirt, we rushed to the ER, only to wait hours before the stitches.  

Normally, I would like to think I would handle this situation better, but a 16-mile workout does not set you up to be in the best state for waiting in an ER with your baby.  I definitely did not fuel properly after this long run. I had grand plans of a big egg and bacon breakfast when I got home, but that quickly changed. So the long run started great, but then quickly went downhill and was fueled by stress and waiting and cookies.  Hey, not every post-run will be ideal recovery. Things will be okay.

And Hudson now has 5 stitches and is totally fine and looks extra tough! 

If you are still with me and curious, here is my long run in numbers: 

2 hours and 4 minutes

16 miles 

7:45/mile average

8:07 first mile, 8:26 last mile 

Fastest mile: 6:24 aka GOAL RACE PACE

Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 1

12 Mondays until Boston!

In college, of all the responsibilities that came with collegiate running, the thing I always dreaded most was keeping up a training log.  I hated the pressure of remembering to log my mileage, cross-training, and comments every single day. Some runners live for these training logs, but it is just not my thing.  

I am more of a weekly reflective person when it comes to running.  I like looking at the big picture from that week’s mileage and putting to words the common thread of that week’s training. Now that I have full control of my running and my husband now is my coach, I can do things differently.  Starting today, Monday January 27th, 13 Mondays out from Boston, I will be posting weekly with mileage updates, workouts, fueling, things I am listening to, goals, and overall reflection to how I am feeling leading up to the big race.

Honestly, this is mostly for myself.  It is my open training log; a way for me to look back and see progress.  It is a way to keep me accountable to actually record all the training that I am doing. While the motive is entirely selfish, I do hope it can provide some interest to you, whether you would like to run a marathon in the future or just generally curious what training looks like for a post-collegiate, postpartum gal that still has running goals she is chasing after.

Training Catch-Up

Since this is my first Monday post, I want to do  a quick catch up on training so far. Since Christmas it has been all about base training.  I am definitely starting this training cycle at a higher fitness level compared to last year.  That being said, since July (SF Marathon) my mileage has been very low and inconsistent. I love to run, but I have realized my motivation to run comes from having a goal and something to actually train for.  I don’t think I will ever be that person that runs just to run. There needs to be something on the calendar to prepare for. That is just how I operate. I am not going to run a tempo workout just for fun, it needs to be for a purpose.  

This Boston Marathon training cycle really began right after Christmas, Dec. 26th, just under 4-months from the race.  With lower mileage leading up to this point and only a few short tempos in preparation for the local turkey trot, I needed to first build my base back.  Lance is coaching me, and I trust him completely. Every Sunday before bed, we will fill in the calendar together and he gives me my daily mileage and workouts for the week.  

I am still pretty low in mileage.  Last week was 45 miles, week before that 40, week before that 40, and the week before that 33.  This whole month of January has been about building up a base and February and March will be all about getting to peak mileage and incorporating longer tempos and SPEED!  

Base Training + First Workout

The reality of base training is that it not very fun or exciting.  It is a lot of slow and painful miles. Like with a lot of life, it is the base phase that is essential for the more glorious and glamorous aspects.  The boring and hard and slow miles lead to the fast and thrilling miles. Like a marathon, this early stage of training requires a tremendous amount of patience.  These slow miles will lead to the fast ones. You just have to keep showing up. Keep logging those miles day in and day out. The exciting miles are on the horizon.  They are coming.  

Last week, I did my first workout. 

2 miles warm-up, 4 miles tempo-ish pace, 2 miles cool down. 

I say tempo-ish because for my goal marathon time, which I am just going to go ahead and put it out into words or I guess numbers…2:48, tempo pace would need to be around 6:04 pace.  I am not there yet, so I ran goal race pace. Those four miles I was anywhere from 6:24-6:30 pace. And the truth is, it did not feel easy or natural or very comfortable.  My normal logic of thinking is wow that is the pace I am expecting to hold for 26 miles?  But after the workout, I felt confident.  I know this is just the beginning. I have a confidence that in the next 3 months of training, I will get to the point where I can hold 6:24 for 26 miles.  It will come together.

What I am Listening To 

I have never been a fan of running with music.  I have always taken pride in my ability to go out on a solo run and not rely on the company of a playlist or audiobook.  This is all beginning to change now that I have AfterShokz headphones. I could literally go on on and on, but to keep it short: these headphones are seriously amazing.

Since getting these headphones, I have really been enjoying listening to things on my runs. It is making running feel a bit less lonely since I do the majority of training solo.  So here is what I have been listening to during last week’s mileage: 

The Playlist of My Miles

  • Road to Olympic Trials- Jared Ward- Ep. 39  This one got me excited about my own goal and reminded me the power of goal-setting, especially for running.  He talks about creating exciting goals that get you out of bed training, but also do not produce anxiety. It is a balance of creating goals that feel like big reaches, but also at the same time feel obtainable.  He also talks about his mantra for Boston 2019, which was “Because I Can.” This inspired me to come up with a mantra I can use to pull me through the tough miles in the race. Still need to figure out what that is.  
  • Road to Olympic Trials- Ann Mazur- Ep. 36 As I listened to this and ran park loops at 6-something am, I felt so inspired.  She just qualified for the trials with a 2:44! The part that really inspired me was how her mileage is more similar to mine.  She does not run crazy high mileage and does a ton of yoga. You really should listen to this. It is a great reminder of the importance of being an overall well-balanced athlete and human.  It is not just about the miles.
  • Road to the Olympic Trials- Peter Bromka- Ep. 33 This episode was another powerful one for me in my training 2 weeks ago.  It reminded me of the beauty in chasing after dreams and it also reminded me of the heartbreak that can come when you fall literally 2 seconds short.  A beautiful episode that I will definitely carry with me to Boston.
  • Ali on the Run Show- Ep. 199 This is my other go-to podcast to listen to on the run.  She usually interviews runners, but this one was about looking ahead to 2020 and I can specifically remember running up a hill with half a mile left in my run and feeling inspired and thankful for her own intentions and goals that got my on wheels churning.  
  • And last, but most certainly not least, Taylor Swift’s Reputation album on shuffle for the segment of miles I ran a bit faster.  Literally, when “Ready for It” comes on, I start sprinting. 

Can you guess a goal I may or may not have for 2024 from what I am listening to?? Not quite ready to type it into words, but you might be able to connect the dots.

How I am Fueling

  • Coconut water every day. 
  • Kirkland protein bars.  
  • Coach’s Oats with brown sugar + banana pre-run. 
  • Toasted everything bagel with whipped cream cheese post-run (emphasis on whipped!).

When I am Running

  • 6:30 am park loops to get in soft surface and get a run in without the jogger.
  • Later morning runs with our NEW BLUE BOB jogger.  If you have run with me with our old orange 2008 BOB, you know why this is so exciting.  I have written about running with the jogger in the past, so you can find running with baby tips here. Now that I have an active toddler, those tips have changed slightly, so I plan on putting together a running with toddler guide soon!

Cross-Training

Goal is to make it into my local Yogaworks studio 3 times a week.  This past week I went to 2 TRX, core-based classes and Friday went to restorative yoga.  This is a perfect balance for me. It is the perfect blend of intense and relaxing. The restorative class with the essential oils and long-holding poses is my new favorite way to enter the long run.  It gets my body ready for the long, grueling miles less than 24-hours in my future.  I actually am attributing the restorative class to be a key factor in my 14 miler feeling so good.

What I Keep Telling Myself

Slow Miles Lead to Fast Miles. 

My biggest focus at this point in training in to stay patient.  I am getting a bit antsy with such slow and low mileage, but I know this is all part of the plan.  

High + Low

With any week, there is always the good and the bad.  Training is no different.  

High

  •  First workout back and the deep confidence it reminded me I have.
  • The long run.
  • NEW stroller!
  • Naps

Low

  • Falling on my run home and crying.  Hello, Buzz Lightyear bandaid! 

The Long Run

Last Saturday marked the first 14-miler of this training block and it actually felt really great.  I can distinctively remember how I felt after my first 14-miler for the SF marathon training block. And let’s just say, I was on the couch for most of the day and was whining to Lance about how terrible I felt.  This first-time 14-miler was a different story. I drank some coconut water, ate my bar, picked up our boy, and we were off to the Children’s Museum. These miles did not stick me on the couch, like last time! My body is definitely more used to the miles even at this earlier stage in training, so this is encouraging!

One of the great joys of the long run is getting to look over all the miles after the fact.  It is always amazing to me that I run significantly faster on these runs compared to my regular run in the week.  There is something about these long PV runs. It could be the extra company or those beautiful cliff views or the fact that the long run is ingrained as super important in my brain.  Whatever it is, I love it.

The Long Run in Numbers

1:48

14 miles 

7:46 average 

9:20 first mile, 7:00 last mile 

As I was looking over each mile, I noticed that the first mile was the slowest and the 14th mile was my fastest mile.  If you run in PV, you know this is partially because that first mile is an uphill trail and the last one is downhill and on the road, but still, I love how I am starting slow and finishing fast.  This is definitely going to be goal for all the long runs in this training block. Finish strong.  

More Than a Marathon

26.2.  This is the number that has pushed me out the door.  It’s the number that reminded me of my strength and endurance that I thought I left behind in college. It’s also the number that filled my postpartum days with rhythm, cadence, hope and a sense of purpose.  Don’t get me wrong. Being a mother to Hudson is purpose enough, but training for a marathon gave me something that was just for me. It pushed me to prioritize my own sanity and well-being. It gave me goals. It gave me something beyond changing diapers and making meals.  In many ways, the choice to sign up for the San Francisco Marathon, allowed me to finally feel more like myself.

I get it.  Running a marathon might not be your postpartum remedy.  Maybe for you it looks like going on that yoga retreat that you have been dreaming up.  Or drafting that book idea that has been roaming in your head for years. Or taking up gardening, cooking, knitting.  Whatever it might be, I am convinced that as new mothers, it is essential for us to find something beyond our roles as moms, wives, and workers. Find the thing you are most passionate about and chase after it.  It is so easy to say, I will pursue that passion when the kids are older, when I have more time, when I actually sleep through the night. A few months ago, before I signed up for the marathon, that is exactly what I said.  Running a marathon doesn’t make sense now.  I have a baby, I barely sleep, I will run one later. The more I thought about it, later was not going to be any easier to train for a marathon.  Later, likely means, more kids, more schedules to balance, and even less sleep. I realized that right now, was actually probably the simplest our life will be.  Now was the time for 26.2. Life would not become any less crazy if I waited. Postpartum life is exhausting and draining, and in a lot of ways it might not feel like the best time to pursue that passion project that has been brewing in the back of your mind; however, I am convinced this is exactly the right time.  Pursue that passion. Set personal goals for yourself. And chase after it wholeheartedly. 

The marathon has been much more than just a marathon.  In a lot of ways, it was never really about the marathon.  Not fully. It was about me. It was about that girl I used to be.  The one that was competitive and driven and passionate. It was about running back to her.  It was about getting back some of those traits I seemed to let go of for a bit. It was about re-meeting her, but also about showing her this new woman I have become.  It was getting back some of the fierceness I had let go of, and showing the old me the strength and confidence new motherhood has given her. In a lot of ways, it was a blending of worlds.  It was never about getting back to that girl I was in high school or college. I would never want that! My life now is a million times more full and beautiful; however, it was about grabbing back that thing that drove me and pushed me and made me better.  It was about reaching out back to running and squeezing it to fit back into my current life of diapers and nursing and baby snuggles.

It hit me the most about how different my life is compared to when I used to compete and race, when the couple days before the race, I was concerned not about a sore hamstring or calf, but my chest, specifically my left breast.  My body seemed to just not want to give up on producing milk, so even though I stopped nursing nearly a week before the race, one side was entirely still engorged leading up to the race. And I was freaking out about it. Every time I ran, it hurt.  After prayers and hot showers, it ended up being fine for the race, but this is the perfect picture about how things change. And I love this change. I still can compete and race and train my heart out, but there are realities of my life, like milk supply issues, that keep me grounded and remind me that running is a good thing I can still enjoy and pursue, but it is not the thing. Being a good mother is my focus right now, but that doesn’t mean I need to throw out my other passions. It just will look different.

As I ran the marathon yesterday, I felt very proud. Of course, I was proud to finish it and finish well with a 6th place female finish and a sub-3 hour time, but my pride went far beyond that.  I was proud I stayed committed to the intense training even when my life of less sleep and chasing after a toddler, is not the best training conditions. I was proud that I could run competitively and put myself in the race, but still smile throughout.  I was proud of those countless runs with the jogger that made both my arms and mind stronger. I was proud of those longer tempo runs where I pushed myself into uncomfortable places and was reminded that I still have speed left in these legs of mine. I was proud of those 20 milers completed in Malaga Cove and always hitting the mileage even when my legs wanted to stop.  

In the unpredictability of motherhood, it is nice to have one thing that you can control.  While racing and running can also be unpredictable, you still have control leading up to the race.  You have the control whether you complete the runs or not. You have control of the pace. You have control of the moments you push yourself and the ones you hold back on.  Those first few months postpartum, I was drowning and overwhelmed by the fact that I felt I had lost all control. I could not control when or how he wanted to eat. I could not control when he slept.  I could not control when he decided to cry. This loss of control brought me down on my knees to the bathroom floor. Motherhood has been my very needed lesson and reminder that I am not the one in control, God is.  It showed me how I needed to let go of my very tight grip on things. While my ever-controlling heart learned to let go of things outside of my control through motherhood, running reminded me that there are certain things I can still have control of.  I still have control of my attitude and whether I step outside and push myself or not. Attitude and miles. I have control of that.  

So if you have recently entered postpartum life and are drowning, like I was, I hope this can serve as encouragement to sign up for something! It doesn’t need to be a marathon, but it could be! Sign up for any race distance. Sign up for that retreat I mentioned above.  Sign up for that hip hop class. Sign up for that calligraphy class or that ceramics class or that knitting class. Sign up for something that fills you up and reminds you of your unique giftings.  You are more than a mother. You are more than a wife. You are a daughter of the King and he made you with a great purpose. Live out that purpose. Sometimes to follow that purpose and His will, all it takes is signing-up.  He will take it from there.

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.

Favorite Products for Training

One of the reasons my heart is so fond of running is the simplicity of it all. Compared to a lot of other sports, running does not require much. There is not a lot of equipment or gear required. You don’t really need to drive to a specific arena or location. All you need is to lace up shoes and make that initial step out the door. You, shoes, pavement, some level of commitment; that’s really all that is required. When you begin to start adding the longer miles, this simplicity remains the same, but there have been a few products we have used in this training block that have kept the legs feeling good and our bodies energized. We were fortunate enough for a few companies to send us free products as we trained for this marathon. Some unexpected, like coffee, but let me tell you, even the coffee you drink makes a difference. From coffee brewed at 5 am to protein smoothies post-workout, these little choices matter. The running part only can be done for an hour or two per day. Obviously, that part is largely important, but think of all the other hours in a day. There are so many things you can use and consume in and out of the act of running that will absolutely impact your performance. Here are some of the products and brands that sponsored us that we have really loved.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.maurten.com

Maurten Gels

Prior to marathon training, the only performance gels I had used were Gu Energy Gels. While I loved the different flavors of Gu, they always left my stomach feeling weird and my mouth feeling dry and dehydrated. Then enters, Maurten. If you haven’t heard of this company, you really should check them out. There is science behind their gels. They are specifically crafted in a way to avoid the GI distress that a lot of other performance gels, packed with sugar and extra flavors, can cause. They are still packed with carbohydrates, but the hydrogel technology of Maurten makes it soft and smooth on your stomach. For all of our long runs over 15 miles, we have been taking these Maurten gels. They give energy when mine begins to fade around that 8th and 12th mile. We really have been loving these gels and excited to use them come race day.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.primalkitchen.com

Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel

I have finally found a protein powder that I can feel good about. In college, our training room fridge was always stocked with Muscle Milk drinks, so that is what I drank. It was accessible, free, and convenient. I did not particularly love the flavor and I tried to just not look at that long ingredient list that I could not pronounce. Then enters, Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel. I love this protein powder for two main reasons. For one, it is both dairy and soy-free. This is a big deal in the protein world, where it seems like tons of protein powders are milk-based. For most of my training I have needed to be dairy-free. Primal Kitchen’s collagen fuel has been the perfect dairy-free recovery drink. Primal Kitchen’s protein powder is coconut-based, which gives it a really yummy and natural flavor. The simple ingredients and very natural coconut flavor mixes really well in smoothies and even coffee. I usually put the vanilla flavor in my smoothies and it adds a really nice creamy flavor. Secondly, I love that it is collagen-based. If you are unfamiliar with the benefits of collagen, you can read about them here. Collagen is amazing for your hair, skin, nails, but I mostly love the way it makes my joints feel smooth and strong. I typically have issues with my lower back and hips, but the pain literally went away once I began consistently taking the collagen fuel. Everyone’s body is different, but I know that collagen is key for my body, especially when it is under the pressure of a ton of miles.

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Photo Courtesy of http://www.zensah.com

Zensah Compression Socks

Of course the running shoes are important, but you can’t forget about the socks. Good quality socks matter. They are even better if they help promote faster recovery and prevent injuries like shin splints. Prior to this cycle of training, I never wore compression socks much. Now, after trying out Zensah’s compression socks, I am a huge believer in the value of them. There are tons of compression socks on the market, but I really love the quality of Zensah and the super fun designs. They also sent me a pair of race socks with flying pigs on them, which I am pumped to race in. I have really noticed a difference in my legs from wearing these compression socks. I have even done a couple tempo workouts and a long run in them. I actually felt faster wearing them. I love how my legs feel so much more supported. After super hard workouts or the really long runs, I would go to sleep in the compression socks and definitely noticed a difference in the freshness of my legs the next morning.

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Photo Courtesy of http://www.mrespresso.com

Mr. Espresso Coffee

Dreams really do come true. We are officially coffee sponsored! For the past 3 months of training, 4 bags of free coffee beans have been sent to our house. I will always run if free coffee is on the line. In all seriousness, Lance and I have become huge fans of Mr. Espresso coffee. When getting prepped for marathon training, you might not be thinking about what coffee you are drinking, but all the details matter, and if you are a running, coffee drinker; you know the important role coffee can play pre-run. Let’s just say, coffee is absolutely necessary for any day, but especially prior to runs. It is part of the routine to get ready for a run. I really am not that big of a coffee snob, but quality does matter to me when it comes to coffee. You can taste the quality in Mr. Espresso. We have really enjoyed tasting their variety of flavors. Just by a quick look at their site, you can tell that they take coffee really seriously. They are all about quality and the taste of their beans really sets them apart. Our coffee for the past few months has absolutely been better than our typical Trader Joe’s coffee. Morning routines matter pre-run, find a coffee that can help get you energized and ready for the miles.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.tracksmith.com

Tracksmith Singlet and Shorts

In high school, it was green and gold. In college, it was crimson and white. These were the colors on my singlets that I raced in. Now, it is Tracksmith. To say I’m excited to race in our beautiful, cream-colored Tracksmith jerseys, is an understatement. If you haven’t heard of this running apparel company, you need to click on that link above and read all about them. Their mission, their high-quality, their unique style, and overall love for the distinct running culture, sets them apart. One of the many reasons I love this brand is how deeply rooted they are in the running culture. This is a brand for runners by runners. As someone who is not an elite runner, but takes running seriously, their brand and mission really speaks to me:

“We honor the Amateur Spirit upon which the sport was founded and champion the Running Class — the non-professional yet competitive runners dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. We offer well-considered and authentic products for training, racing and recovery. In everything we do, we aim to celebrate, support and add to running’s distinct culture.” -Tracksmith

The non-professional, yet competitive runners dedicated to the pursuit of personal excellence. That is me and I love how they put language to my relationship with running. Tracksmith has much more than just racing singlets. They have a wide selection of running gear that all gives off that vintage, running feel. I am obsessed with the style. It is simple and classic. Their products really are beautifully designed and their packaging is top-notch. You feel important as you open their boxes. Every detail is carefully thought out. I could not think of a better brand that I would want to represent in our race.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I love the simplicity of running. You don’t need much. I am all about running and training with a minimalistic mindset. I don’t want to be overloaded with unnecessary products. Every single brand I mentioned above, I believe in and highly value their quality. You don’t need much to run well. Just you, shoes, pavement, commitment. But hey, a good cup of coffee, gels that don’t kill your stomach, well-designed compression socks, dairy-free protein powder, and a beautifully-designed singlet, can’t hurt either.

Marathon Training Tips

So you want to run a marathon, but you have no idea where to start? Then, you are in the right place. I am going to break down my training to give you some tips and inspiration when creating your own plan. The idea of 26.2 miles can feel very daunting, even for someone that has been a runner for over 10 years. The key is to start small and build from there. Especially if you do not regularly run, you cannot just jump into high mileage and workouts. You need to slowly acclimate your body to the mileage. There are tons of training programs you can access online. A popular one is the Hal Higdon training programs, which I am linking here. There are different plans based on the type of runner you are. I think these plans can be a great starting point, but I also think it is important to craft the plan to your specific body and life. Don’t be afraid to get a plan and then make the proper adjustments that make sense for you. Don’t be afraid to change around days or to increase mileage on certain days and take days off when you are struggling. I am not training with the same intensity I did in college; therefore, I am not in as good of shape. However, this is one of the first times where my body feels genuinely good and strong. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I am in charge of my own training. The truth is, you know your body best. If you are disciplined, there is no better coach to have than yourself. Who knows your body better? With that said, no one should train for a marathon alone and isolated. Even if you are largely making decisions on your training, you should still absolutely consult with someone else to make sure you are on the right track. Marathon training is hard work, if possible, find a tribe that helps keep you motivated and consistent.

If you are postpartum and beginning to train for a marathon, you can go back and read my specific tips for postpartum marathon training, here.

Today, I want to give more specific training tips for marathon training. I am not a coach or by any means a marathon expert. This is my first ever marathon! So, I get it, maybe not the most credible, but there is this quotation that makes me feel a bit more credible when it comes to marathons:

“To run your best marathon you have to be in your best 10K shape. To be in your best 10K shape you have to be in your best 5K shape.” -Randy Thomas, Women’s XC Head Coach at Boston College

I have lots of experience when it comes to training for fast 5Ks. This is really the base of good marathon training, but of course the mileage and longer steady states must be added. So this might be my first time training for a marathon, but I have years of 5K training under my belt. I also believe a huge aspect to good marathon training is patience. You can’t jump into that 20 mile long run. You have to build and build and patiently await the 26th mile. It will come, and you will be ready.

These tips are definitely more geared to the busy person that is trying to squeeze marathon training into an already hectic schedule. This is for those that love running, but running is not everything. This is for those that want to hit their goal, whatever that might be (BQ, sub-fill-in-the blank hours, or just crossing that finish line), but do not want training to take over their lives. So if you’re still with me, and saying yes, yes, yes, that is me, then here are 5 tips to consider when beginning to marathon train:

Start Where You Are

There are tons and tons of training plans to choose from, but I think one of the best ways to create a training plan that works for your body, is starting exactly where you are and slowly building from there. I am not going to get into the technicalities of the training plan because there is so much variation based on running background, but I think a general rule of thumb is to start with what you have been doing. So for example, if before you decided to run a marathon, you were running 4 miles, 4 times a week. So, 16 miles per week. Start that as week 1 of training. In terms of start date, that will also vary based on running experience, but as long as you aren’t going from zero running, 4 months out is plenty of time to build. If you are going from literally not running at all, I would give yourself an extra month to just work on getting used to running occasionally. Back to my example. If you start with week 1 at 4 days of running per week, averaging about 16 miles, then each week, you will want to slowly increase by no more than about 4 miles. Again, this is a very basic way of thinking of it, but that number 4 was a helpful tool to help me build. I also started at running 4 days a week. I naturally increased this to 5 and then to 6 days a week. You will reach a point where it is easier to increase weekly mileage by having a really easy 4-5 mile run on one of the days you typically took off. You will also want to choose the maximum volume you wish to hit. There is definitely a point where more miles is not necessarily the answer to a faster marathon time. This is known as the law of diminishing returns. Choose your number and try to not go over it. This is again very much based on experience and your personal body, but for me, I am finding that 60 is a good number. Again, I have built to this type of mileage and I have only hit 60 for the first time about 6 weeks out from the marathon. I am staying at 60 for about a month of training and then will taper (cut back on mileage) last 2 weeks before the race. While this is definitely not crazy high mileage for a marathon, I know my body, I know my life, and right now 60 is what makes sense.

Designate a Day for Tempo Runs and Long Runs

And stay consistent! Every Wednesday is my workout days. I am at the point that I don’t even think about it. I just know that Wednesdays I need to push myself. I also then know that Thursdays and Fridays, I recover and just run based off of effort. That leads to the big long run days, which I choose to run on Saturdays. I treat Saturdays with extra care and importance. To me, these are the most important days of training. I think it is essential to have this type of training rhythm. Our bodies are smart and I believe they respond well to the same patterns over and over again.

Be Particular About Pace

Depending on your goals, pace will play a different role into your training, but regardless if you are going for the Boston Qualifier time or want to hit sub- 4 hours, pace is important. Again, lots of theories on how to pace, but based on my college training I am used to using VDOT pacing. Here is the link to the best VDOT calculator. I love this method of training because it makes pacing very straightforward. Even if you have not run a race recently, you can put your goal marathon time in and it will calculate your pace for the race, but if you click on the “Training” tab next to the “Race Paces” tab, it will give you the mile pace for easy/recovery runs, T-pace (threshold or tempo pace), I-pace (interval pace, so think mile repeats), and R-pace (repetition pace, so think hard and painful). If you get anything from this whole piece, this should be the takeaway. This is a great to make sure you are on target to hit your goal pace. Final thing on pacing, pay attention to it on workout and long run days, but really try to go off of effort on the other training days. On my easy runs I rarely look down at my pace. There is something to having runs where pace is not the focus, just feeling good and getting in the miles.

Train on Terrain Similar to Course

Know the course you are running ahead of time. Each course is different, so do your research to find out what type of course you will be dealing with (flat, hilly, rolling, down hill). Based on the course, make sure you are getting in runs that expose you to those elements. If you are running a really hilly course, it doesn’t make sense to only run on flat surfaces. Find the hills in your area and incorporate them into your runs. You can also incorporate hill workouts by doing harder effort hill repeats. The best situation of course, is to get to train on the course, but for most of us, this is not always possible. Even if the race will be your first time on the course, try to replicate it as best you can on training runs.

Take Days Off!

Your body needs rest. It is easy to fall into the more is better trap, especially when you are training for 26 miles, but your body needs proper rest to be able to absorb training. I am the type of person that sometimes struggles with rest days, especially when I am anxious about hitting my goal time. It really helps me when I think about taking days off from running as a way to get better and help my body absorb the training. Changing your perspective on rest and days off make it so much easier to allow your body the rest it needs. I often think about how an extra 8 miles will not do me that much more good, but it can definitely cause injury or burnout.

I hope these tips can help as you start your marathon training! If you do have a marathon on the calendar, I would love to hear which one and how training is going. Leave a comment below!

Marathon Wednesday Series

Happy July! July over here in the Capel household is a big month. It is marathon month. We are just 25 days out from our first marathon. In just a few weeks, we will be flying to San Francisco, leaving Hudson for the first time (more on this on this to come), and celebrating our 4th anniversary the best way we know how (running 26.2 miles together!). Every Wednesday, for the month of July, I will be posting all things running and marathon training related. This will be a 4-part series that will cover the following topics:

  1. Marathon Training Tips
  2. Best Products for Training
  3. Recovery (this will be specifically geared towards the non-elite runner that does not have same access to recovery facilities that a pro runner has).
  4. Marathon Motivation (this will be a special post filled with responses from people I surveyed about what motivates them to get to that 26th mile).

If you are beginning to train for a fall marathon (Chicago, New York), I hope this series can be a helpful resource for you! I think this will be a fun month filled with (hopefully) helpful information, but also just filled with stories and inspiration that can help get you out the door and lacing up your shoes.

Marathons are not everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. Even as a runner, training for this marathon has been pretty brutal. It take a lot of time and a consistent effort. So, I get why not everyone has the desire to run a marathon. However, I really hope that this series can somehow inspire you to put something on the calendar a few months out. Put something on the calendar that will require you to work on a consistent basis. Create a goal and a plan. This could be a 5k race, it could be a local triathlon, it could be a challenge you make up for yourself (choose a distance and a mode of travel). Whatever it is, put it on your calendar and take it seriously. I cannot emphasize enough how impactful and important it has been to me, especially as a new mother, to have this marathon as a goal. It has been an outlet. More than an outlet, it has given me a purpose outside of changing diapers and making snacks. It has reminded me of my deep love of running. It has given me back a confidence I forgot I lost.

So with that, happy July and happy marathon month! I will see you back here tomorrow for all my best tips for marathon training.

To Believe She Can

This mama needs to believe she can.  I have always struggled with self-doubt.  I am not pretty enough, fast enough, smart enough, bold enough.  I can’t run that fast— I am not strong enough.  I can’t possibly get that job position—I am not qualified enough.  The not enoughs and cannots have been running through my inner dialogue for years now.  In some ways this inner voice of self-doubt has created a character of humility (at times, but of course I also am not humble enough).  But in a lot of ways this internal voice of mine has really beaten myself up.  It seems to show up the most when it comes to running.  In high school, I really loved running.  I had a coach I looked up to and teammates that pushed and encouraged me.  I was on a really great team and for most of my time in high school, I was anywhere from the 7th to 4th runner.  In a lot of ways, I thrived in this position.  In cross-country, 7 make a team and 5 score.  One of the things I loved most about the sport is that your 5th runner was just as important as your top runner because even if your top runner won the race, as a team it would be difficult to win if runner number 5 was high in place.  That is why it is so important to have a small gap between runner 1 and 5.  I work best in a runner number 5 position.  On the course and off.  I don’t like the pressure or the responsibility of being the best, but I crave to make a difference and impact.  As a number 5 runner I could do this.  I could still help my team without being the one that everyone had their eyes on at the front.  Something changed when I went to college.  Maybe it was the coach.  Maybe it was a newfound pressure I didn’t have in high school.  Maybe it was me.  The sport I loved slowly became an arena of self-doubt.  I ended high school, on a high.  I no longer was the 5th runner, I was the first.  It turned out I also could be a number one type of runner.  I gained a lot of confidence my senior year as I was running the fastest I ever have.  This confidence for some reason did not seem to translate over when I began running for an NCAA Division I team.  I suddenly felt lost in the fastness, in the talent.  They were so much faster than me.  This self-doubt carried itself over to racing as before races that voice was its loudest. You feel tired.  You feel sore.  You aren’t mentally or physically ready to run that pace.  You can’t hang on to that front pack- they are All-Americans, you are not.  While I still had moments of confidence where I ran well and even surprised myself, each race was an internal battle.  My coach used to always tell me I was not mean enough.  As if my ability to be super competitive in races depended on having to be mean. Throw a few elbow jabs.  Cut a few runners off.  Glare down the competition. This has never been me and I hope it never will be.  It was never a matter of meanness, but more so a need to have a stronger and more firm belief in myself. I had to believe I was fast enough, talented enough, determined enough.

All this to say, I still am not quite there yet. Self-doubt still very much creeps in to my daily dialogue to myself.  As I was running today, I was hit with the all-familiar feelings and nerves I was met with before races.  It feels funny to even say but I am nervous for tomorrow’s turkey trot.  For the past 2 months I have been training with the turkey trot as a goal. By training, I really mean running 3-4 times a week for 30-40 minutes at a pace much, much slower than I ran a few years ago.  No workouts, just squeezing in runs when I could. Whether that be early in the morning before Hudson woke up and Lance left for work or during nap times when Hudson was with his grandparents.  The first few weeks were hard.  I had to quickly come to turns that my body was not the same.  I could no longer roll out of bed and run an 8 miler with ease.  I needed more time, more coffee, more sports bra support.  Things were different now.  But I ran.  It started with running a couple times a week for 2 miles (it felt like 12).  Slowly, very slowly, with each new mile I felt a little stronger.  It was in this place of running not for a coach or really for any particular reason at all, that I have begun to mend my broken relationship with running.  This took weeks, but these past couple weeks, I have enjoyed my runs.  Like actually enjoyed them and craved to be out running again.  My body missed the miles, the steady rhythm, the fresh air.  So just as I am getting into this healthy place with running, I found my brain wandering on my run.  You shouldn’t even get towards the front of the start line.  You are going to go out too fast and blow up.  You haven’t done any true workouts.  You won’t be able to maintain a fast pace.  The voice is back.  All of this sounds and even feels a little silly because it is not like I am running at Nationals tomorrow.  I am running a local turkey trot.  But all this to show, that it doesn’t matter the situation, the voice of self-doubt is real.  But, there is a voice that is greater. Jesus.  This voice of self-doubt I have been referring to is most definitely planted by Satan.  He loves my self-doubt.  Why?  It pulls me away from the truth.  It pulls me away from seeing myself the way Jesus sees me.  It also makes me focus more on myself and less on Jesus.

I need so much grace in this area.  I need grace to fill all these holes of my not enoughs and cannots.  I daily need His grace to remind me that it is not about me. No one cares how I run the turkey trot tomorrow except for maybe Lance.  So tomorrow, I hope to run with confidence. Confidence not in my own abilities or training, but confidence in Him.

UPDATE: Turkey trot ended up being a lot of fun! Did I win? Not even close. Did I die in last mile? Yes.  But, I hit my goal of at least being under 20 minutes. The photo above is our little family post-turkey trot. Even Hudson raced!