Thursday, April 15, 2010

Marathon Training - A Reflection

For my Country Music Marathon training, I used Hal Higdon's Intermediate I marathon training plan. I've used several different training plans in the past (like the Runner's World online smart coach and training plans from race websites) but I think that I have most enjoyed training with this Hal Higdon plan. He incorporates 5 runs per week - 3 Monday through Friday, 1 Saturday and 1 on Sunday. This worked very well with my schedule, and it was also easy to incorporate swimming, cycling and rest days.

As of this Saturday afternoon, I will have run 415 miles from January 13th through April 24th, which is roughly 100 miles per month. I know of some people who run 100 miles per week, which is crazy. I averaged about 27-30 miles per week, and that was perfect for me. I felt strong on all of my long runs (2 16 milers, 2 18 milers, 1 22 miler) and I tried to really make my shorter runs during the week count - I tried to incorporate speed work and hill work. Overall, I feel prepared. This week I have been trying to rest well, eat well, and think well! My mind is going crazy - but I keep telling myself 3 things:
  1. This is not a big deal. Millions of people run marathons each weekend. Just go out and run with them.
  2. You trained for this for 4 months - you are ready! All the miles and all the hours have brought you to this point.
  3. This is going to be FUN! I will get to meet new people, explore a new city, and hopefully set a new marathon PR. Many people would love to have this opportunity - have fun and keep things in perspective.
That is pretty much what I am telling myself over and over and over. And it is working! I am super excited about the race and the weekend. I found out this week that two of my favorite marathoners, Ryan Hall and Josh Cox, are going to be at the expo on Friday. I really hope that I can meet them and get a picture with them! Ryan Hall just set the American course record at the Boston Marathon on Monday, and Josh Cox is the current 50K American record holder. It would be so cool to meet them!

Back to training, one thing that has greatly improved my training this spring has been my diet. I have really, really tried to be much more careful about what I eat. After listening to several Zen and the Art of Triathlon podcasts where Brett spoke about how much his raw diet was affecting his energy levels, I decided to dip my toes in the water. Now I don't think I can or would ever go to a full raw (or even vegan) diet, but being more mindful of what I am eating has made a huge difference! I have tried to incorporate way more fruits, veggies, and nuts into my diet. I always try to keep dried fruits and nuts, raw almonds, apples, and Larabars on hand in my desk drawer for a quick and easy snack.

I've also been keeping a comprehensive food log since March 15th. I've found that its best if I eat breakfast around 7:00am, have a snack at 10:00am, have lunch at 12:30pm, another snack at 3:00pm, and then dinner around 6:30pm. I've also found from my food log that my definite weakness and craving is SUGAR. When it comes to candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, etc - count me in. I think these things are OK in moderation and I am usually satisfied with one serving, but having the fresh fruit and Larabars on hand really help to curb my sweet tooth. I also like having something sweet after dinner, so I've been curbing my dessert craving with greek yogurt, low-fat Pop Tarts (still not the best, I know) or Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal. This has made a huge difference in my energy levels! One more thing - I try to drink a "green smoothie" with fruits and veggies at least 4 times a week. I usually blend up spinach, baby carrots and 8 oz. 1% milk (or Odwalla Superfood) with two fruits - like apples, strawberries, pears or bananas. I sip on this for a couple of hours each morning for sustained, all-natural energy!

I still have a long way to go with my eating, but I think I am on the right track! I have noticed an incredible difference in how I feel before, during and after a run. I used to crave double cheeseburgers after a long run, but now all I want is an apple and some chocolate milk. I also used to crave Taco Bell, McDonald's, Wendy's etc. all the time, but now I don't even really think about it. I guess my marathon time will show if the proof is in the pudding with my nutrition changes....non-fat pudding that is!

The third thing that has been super motivating during my training has been being a part of Team LIVESTRONG. Thank you all for helping me reach my fund-raising goal to secure my spot on the team. Running for something that is so much greater than myself has been awesome, and I am thankful for the opportunity.

Next the people who are going to help get me across the finish line! Stay tuned.

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