While my training for this marathon has been less than ideal because of my EHL strain, my mom has been powering through the plan (an intermediate level Hal Higdon plan for any curious runners out there), and doing fantastic! In today’s post, she is sharing some of the lessons she has learned since stepping up the mileage for the marathon.
We did a little more research to prepare for this marathon than we had done when training for our first half, and so after a runner friend of Nora’s dad recommended a couple of books, we were on our way. We settled on Jeff Galloway’s running /walking method. (Galloway says the mix of running and walking is what prevents injury – despite all the added miles – and that appealed to me!)
I decided to try running a one mile followed by walking a minute – and this interval seems to work for me. It’s gotten me through a 17, an 18, and a 20 mile run (a little more about this one later). Even after running further than I ever have before, I ended the runs feeling great, and more importantly, I was able to walk just fine the next day.
(I also decided to keep taking my walk breaks during the shorter runs during the week, reasoning that since the goal was to keep my legs fresh for the long run on the weekend, it couldn’t hurt to take it easier during these hot, humid mornings. Which brings me to the second thing I learned: WATER.
Drink it! One of the other books we looked at encouraged runners to walk through the water stops as they hydrate. (I like this because it’s hard for me to drink and run at the same time. Without choking at least.) So in addition to carrying a bottle on the longer runs, I started carrying a small bottle on short runs, and sipping as I took my one minute walking break. What I discovered was that, between the walk breaks, and sipping some water, I could run between 4-8 miles on a hot, humid summer morning and still feel really good, whereas in the past, I would have been drained and cranky. I was also surprised to discover that when I looked at my watch, I was only off my normal pace by 20 to 30 seconds, so despite the walk break, my times were pretty similar.
Eat it! Training for the half marathon three summers ago, Nora and I just did some carbo-loading the night before and that was about it. But for this race, we had purchased Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners, and began paying close attention to what we ate – and how much – and making sure we had good snacks, especially some carbs, frequently during the day.
But as it happened, on the two consecutive days before my scheduled 20 mile run, I had “special outings.” I ended up eating late lunches (in one case just pizza, so not balanced) and then just having ice cream for dinner!! (this is occasionally something that happens in our household). Now these are not things you have to avoid when training for a marathon, but these meals were not complete and so I learned the hard way that my muscles hadn’t been fueled properly. At about mile 12 of my 20 mile run, I felt my legs tiring, and even a few cramps. This was surprising to me since I had run the 17 and 18 mile runs without any discomfort! I kept fueling during the run, and managed to keep a positive attitude all the way to the finish. But later that day, as I realized I had messed up my diet during the two previous days, I realized just how important it is to maintain a good diet. This Sunday, I will make sure I eat balanced and nutritious meals in the days leading up to my last 20 miler before the race. And lastly: Ice.
Though I haven’t been able to have a full-on ice bath yet, I have enjoyed filling a basin with water, some ice, and a couple of my frozen Dassani water bottles (I also use these alone sometimes, rolling them under my feet as I watch TV). This modest ice bath feels really great after a hard run, and though it can’t help with the blackened toenails (that’s what dark red nail polish is for), it cools your toes and feet, and gives you an excuse to sit back and relax and think about how amazing it is that you’ve just run so far!!
So there you go! Have a wonderful long weekend (and maybe go for some long runs if you can!) 🙂