Training for and running a successful marathon is more than simply logging the miles. You can religiously log every mile on a training plan but I promise that if you choose to ignore the details of recovery and proper nutrition you will not only limit the quality and experience of your weekly workouts but also hinder your race day performance. It takes true commitment and focus to maximize your race day potential. Seemingly minor details like how many hours of sleep you get each night, how you refuel post run and your protein consumption are not so minor after all. It is those minor details that I highlighted in a past article called The Other 23 Hours make a huge difference in the success of your workouts and your race day performance.
This training cycle I’ve been logging the miles- no problem. It’s all of the “extra” that has been falling to the wayside. Some nights I get 5 hours of sleep, other days I eat too much trail mix (like a politically incorrect amount of trail mix) or eat out more times than usual. I started to feel incredibly stressed out and overtired. I was getting the miles in but they rarely felt like quality training miles.
A few weeks ago Coach Beth and I had a heart to heart about my training. I gave her my typical sob story of how stressful life is… blah blah blah… how I wasn’t getting enough sleep or eating right… boo hoo hoo and how I didn’t feel like I was making progress in training. Beth lovingly and honestly called me on my BS. Sure I was going through a hard time, but life IS hard. Tough. If I wanted to enjoy this training cycle, reduce my stress and make progress on the road then I needed to start actively making better choices for myself in regard to my food consumption, my sleep patterns and my training runs. Beth promised to help support me on the way to my goals and together we came up with a supportive system that works!
Beth helped me put myself back in the drivers seat of my life and my training. She helped me realize that I choose what time to go to bed. I choose what food I consume (and when). I choose what pace to run my recovery runs at. I am in control! We both agreed that there was enough time to turn around this training cycle and start to make some progress!
Last week was the first week of our refocused training program where I did more than just log the miles. Here are a couple of changes that I made throughout my day to help support my marathon training:
1. Aim for a minimum of 7.5 hrs of sleep a night (yes! I got 9 hours most nights!)
2. Pack my meals for work to minimize eating out at Whole Foods. (I only ate out 1x last week with Lillian!)
3. Enjoy one “cheat day” after long run day where you may eat unhealthy, but try not to eat too too much (Saturday we ate out!).
4. Limit daily sweets to something small in middle of day ideally post run when your metabolism is high. (Yes and no… I limited my daily sweets but really prefer to have them at night).
5. Refuel post run with Endurox R4 chocolate 🙂 within 30 minutes of completing run. (yes!!)
6. Increase protein intake throughout the day. (I struggle with eating enough protein so I didn’t care if I repeated dinners this week, I just wanted to get the nutrients in whatever way possible).
It took about 4 days of eating cleaner and getting SOLID nights sleep until I started feeling truly rested in the mornings. It also seems that reducing my daily sugar intake has helped me feel cleaner and overall healthier (hmmm, imagine that)!!
This past week I had killer runs: a tough tempo run and an awesome long run with my good pal Molly. Overall I found my mood to be better and the quality of the runs to be improved!! I don’t know if I’m running better or if I’m finally just feeling in control of my training again. Somehow training just got fun again 🙂 Turning around this training cycle had to start some time and it’s officially begun!
Let’s do this!! Boston T-8 weeks!!
Here’s how last week shook out: 2.15- 2.21
Miles: 3 recovery miles @ 11 min pace on tread.
Meal: BBQ grilled chicken (Lillian’s FAVORITE) with string beans, corn and roasted potatoes.
Miles: 7 miles @ zone 1 (comfy) @ 8:12 pace
Meal: Homemade pizza with roasted red peppers, onions, and a wheat crust from Trader Joes plus grilled asparagus
Miles: 7 easy miles @ 8:34 on tread
Meal: Dinner was BBQ chicken…again 🙂 But I wanted to share my new breakfast! All week I ate 1/2 cup of oatmeal made with 1 cup milk with 5-6 cherries, flax seed and a half to whole banana. Whoa! This ENERGY PACKED super healthy breakfast fueled me for my 8 am long runs and miraculously didn’t bug my tummy (oats are not technically an ideal pre-run meal… but this worked out swimmingly! I’ll take it!)
Miles: Planned run: 2×12 min tempo … Results: 9 miles with tempo intervals at 7:12 and 6:38!!!*
*For some reason these runs have been REALLY hard this training cycle! I have been having a hard time pushing harder and running faster for the 17 minute intervals. I don’t know if it is mental or physical but coach and I decided to shorten the interval to 12 minutes for this week to truly nail the pace and get the HR up there!! PRESTO!! During the second interval my body seemed to transform into a machine and all I did was focus on the next step, then the next one and so on… This feeling of being so focused on the task at hand that I actually get lost in the run is exactly what I’ve been aiming for all training cycle. 🙂 Ahhh, all is right in the world again.
Meals: A tough morning run means a protein recovery drink after, followed by extra protein at lunch (top pic)! For lunch I ate a packed spinach salad with sliced turkey, red peppers, avocado and carrots and purchased some extra grilled chicken and pineapple. For dinner I ate a little heavier and had leftover pizza with peas (bottom pic).
Miles: 2.5 recovery miles @ 9:35 pace
Pre-long run Meal: Gnocchi with ground turkey and steamed broccoli.
Miles: 17.2 miles @ 8:07 pace (1 mi cooldown back to car @ 9 min pace)* goal was to descend the splits
8:52, 8:24, 8:18, 8:12, 8:08, 8:16, 8:30, 8:03, 8:01, 8:10, 8:20, 8:06, 8:07, 8:08, 7:45, 7:40, 7:14
Meal: Post long run I immediately refueled with a chocolate protein drink. About an hour later I commenced my “cheat day” and noshed on gnocchi and turkey leftovers from the night before. Lillian and I went out to dinner at the Fours in Quincy where I ate half of my BBQ bacon cheddar burger (drool) and baked beans. For some reason I didn’t want the sweet potato fries (I know, I know what was wrong with me!!!), so I went home and had two small scoops of Trader Joes chocolate ice cream with whipped cream and sprinkles (phew! all is right in the world again).
*I have this weird tradition of putting my ice cream in a small coffee mug. It helps me to manage my serving size, plus I can drink it up when it melts!!
Miles: 3.7 recovery miles @ 9:17 pace
Meal: I’m well aware that this meal looks sad… and it was my third night this week eating essentially the same thing. I honestly don’t care. 🙂 Why? It’s Lillian’s favorite meal on the planet right now. It’s healthy. It’s easy. Some days life is more about efficiency than creativity and I’m okay with that. Boom done.
Total miles: 50
Up next: Another build week of heavy miles, high intensity and another long run in Bridgewater with Molly! Yay!