My goals are bigger and more specific than ever before. This is the first time I've ever trained to race a marathon instead of training to finish a marathon. Prior to this, I wanted to finish and hoped to PR, but my mindset is very different this time and it has really influenced my training. Here are some things I am doing differently.
- Higher mileage: I've increased my average weekly mileage up from the mid 30's to the mid 40's. I plan to get it up to the high end of the 40's and maybe low 50's by the end of the training cycle. While it is tempting to go higher, I'm trying to be very cautious of how and when I increase my speed and mileage so I don't end up injured.
- More longer long runs: In this training cycle, I am doing more 16+ long runs and three 20-22 milers. I have also tried to build more fatigue going into my long runs.
- Running all runs at specific paces: My easy runs are easy and slow and my hard runs are hard and fast. I used to go out and run however I felt and would often end up running most or all of my runs pretty moderately - nothing too slow and nothing too fast. Now my runs are very pace specific, regardless of how I feel.
- Speedwork: I normally do some form of speedwork two times a week and I tend to stick to longer distance speedwork. The workouts I am doing during this cycle include: tempo runs, alternating tempo runs, progression/cutdown runs, goal pace runs, and finishing long runs at marathon goal pace. I haven't done much track work and, when I have, I keep my repeats between 800 and 1600.
- Not stopping during runs: I feel like this seems so obvious and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit it, but this is kind of new to me. I began running by taking breaks and, therefore, I always assumed I needed to stop….so I did. When I started to test whether or not I really needed to stop, it turns out I didn't need those breaks as much as I thought (shocker, I know). The biggest surprise to me has been during long runs. I no longer stop at all unless I need to refill my water bottle or need to go to the bathroom. When I do stop, it now feels like an interruption and I make the stop as quick as possible….whereas before I kind of welcomed them.
- Finishing runs strong: I try to finish all my runs strong with my last 1-2 miles being slightly faster than other miles, even on easy runs. It's natural to slow down and assume you feel tired and are worn out at the end and that influences your thoughts and how you feel. By finishing strong, your body gets accustomed to making the push at the end and it creates a subtle change in your mindset because it feels good to finish strong and it helps builds your confidence.
- Sticking to the schedule: It has been a long time since I've had a specific training schedule and I picked up bad habits as a result. I would plan out my week, but I frequently changed the plan based on how I felt, what I had time for, or any number of reasons. This time I am sticking to my schedule and I do whatever it calls for. Anytime I get tempted to change it the day before or morning of, I pretend I have a coach who I would have to answer to and explain why I didn't do what was on the schedule.
Other than running
- Recovery: This is one area I have never been great at and I still have lots of room for improvement. But I try. I have always loved Epson salt baths as a means of recovery and still do. I also try to eat within 30 minutes of finishing a run and wear compression socks/sleeves for longer runs and/or afterward. Things I could still do a lot better at are getting more sleep and foam rolling.
- Weights: It's no secret I'm not a fan of the weight room and that I would rather run than lift. But I know it is important for me to do some strength training on a regular basis so I can keep running, I can challenge myself with my mileage and paces, I can set big goals (like a BQ) all while minimizing my risk of injury. My current goal is to do weights a minimum of once a week, but ideally twice a week.
- Core and body weight exercises: I believe runners need a strong core and this is an area where I have tried to improve. What I found works best for me is to fit in a few minutes of core and body weight exercises (push-ups, dips, mountain climbers, etc) several times a week. My goal is to spend 5-10 minutes at least 3 times a week, but ideally 5 times a week.
- Yoga: It's also no secret that I love going to yoga. I wish I could go 4-5 times a week, but my goal is to go a minimum of once a week, ideally twice. The classes I like the most are challenging power flow/vinyasa classes, preferably in a heated room. So I consider that a bonus form of strength training and core.
- Diet: I haven't changed much about my diet, but I try to stick to how I like to eat best. I really like Matt Fitzgerald's philosophy and try to keep it simple. I like to eat foods that are good for you and as close to their natural form as possible. I try to stay away from foods that are overly processed or have many additives. I don't eliminate anything from my diet and I am a big fan of moderation. I also like chocolate and have at least a little bit of chocolate almost every day :D
What are some of the most important things you try to do in your training?
What things do you incorporate other than running?