Time flies when you’re having fun. I know this is an overused idiom, but the weeks in this training cycle are going by so fast, and my mileage is piling up just as rapidly. And guess what? I’m having fun!
I have an Excel document that contains all of my runs since 2012. From this training log, I know that I have averaged about 636 miles per year over the last six years, although this is slightly skewed by two lower mileage years in 2014 and 2017 with my pregnancies. Regardless, so far in 2018, I’m already 49% of the way to this yearly average just 2.5 months into the year. 2018 is going to be incredible. I can feel it!
I’m 8 weeks away from my goal marathon, and am coming off the highest mileage week I’ve ever completed at 60.3 miles. This week also included my first 20 mile run of the training cycle. Over the last 8 weeks, I’ve completed three 13 milers (including a winter half marathon), two 16 milers, an 18 and a 20 miler. I have one more week of hard work, then I get an absorb/step back week next week, which I’m looking forward to.
Training through Minnesota winter can be challenging, but so far I haven’t let that get in the way. I’ve braved the elements (including one wipeout on the ice – ouch!), and when I felt the cold or the snow was too intense, I’ve taken the runs to the treadmill with minimal complaint. At least one of the 13 milers and one of those 16 milers were done on the treadmill. I call that mental strength conditioning!
What is going well:
- I’m feeling strong on my long runs – Long runs have always been my downfall. Previously, no matter how consistent I was in my training, when I got into the upper teens I always ended up crashing regardless of how “slow and steady” I would keep the miles. This training cycle is completely different. I have hit all of my higher mileage runs, including the long runs with workouts built-in, and haven’t hit the wall. I finished my first 20 mile run of this training cycle over the weekend at an 8:35 average pace and seriously felt great. I have never felt strong on a 20 miler in my life, so this was a huge win and confidence builder. Next weekend I have 18 miles with 13 at race pace (8:00/mi), so this will be a huge test of my fitness and I’m actually more excited for it than I am nervous.
- Hitting my mid-week longer run/speed workout – Wednesdays are my tempo/speedwork days which tend to creep into the 10-11 mile range. These are my favorite days, as I love the nervous feeling that I get after looking at the paces and splits I need to hit before heading out, then the feeling of accomplishment after nailing those paces. I’ve had some scary workouts, including 10x800s in 3:30 (also known as Yasso 800s). The idea behind these workouts is to run ten half mile repeats in the amount of time in minutes that you hope to finish a marathon, so in my case 3 hours and 30 minutes. This is a big, scary workout, as you are somewhat validating your fitness and the work you’ve done to date. I’m happy to report that I finished all ten repeats with an average completion time of 3 minutes an 29 seconds. Boom.
- Fueling – Although I am still needing to improve on my daily hydration, I am feeling good about my overall nutrition and fueling for the long run. I have started using my Orange Mud hydration pack on the regular, filling the bladder with either Nuun Electrolytes or Nuun Performance, depending on the distance. I really believe Nuun Performance has been a game changer on my long runs, as it provides the perfect balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes to support performance on longer, strenuous efforts. I have also been focusing on my pre-run fueling and post-run refueling, trying to balance carbs and protein within the right windows of time to maximize the benefits of each. Admittedly, I still have a lot to work on here, but I am being smarter and doing better in this area than ever before.
What I’m going to focus on improving:
- I need to get back on the horse with my core work – I was really consistent with core work for the last few months, but over the last three weeks I have started dropping the ball on this piece of my training. Skipping core work is a slippery slope for me, as I always seem to get injured when I slack in this area. This week will be the week where I get back on the horse!
- Foam rolling – I need a new foam roller. Mine is old and has lost a bit of its punch, and I don’t really even like it. I need a nicer one that just plain works better. Meanwhile, I really, really need to start using what I have and stop making excuses for why I am not getting my butt on the floor and inflicting pain to reduce pain. My calves and IT bands are tight, and I know if I just took 10 minutes a night to roll them out my body would be extremely grateful!
- Sleep – It seems like the first thing Erik and I say to each other when we get into bed each night is, “we really need to start going to bed earlier!” We always have the best of intentions, but by the time we get the girls to bed, clean up from the day and sit down for the first time that evening, our early bedtime potential is gone. Sleep is so important to the recovery process, and I do notice a significant difference in my training when I get a good night’s sleep, but it is so hard to make happen. New goal: get into bed before 9:30 at least three times during the work week.
The next 8 weeks need to be just as consistent and successful as the first part of my training. I have momentum behind me, and I’m putting in the work to get to my goal. I need to refocus on the little things that can make a huge difference, like foam rolling and core work, but overall I am feeling really confident and I’m excited to do the work on my plan each day. Although I have felt like I have “done the work” before, I have never had the confidence in my abilities supporting the work like I do this time around. That is what I feel is the difference, and a BIG difference at that!
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford