*You’re doing it wrong*

Adaptation

ad·ap·ta·tion / ˌadapˈtāSH(ə)n/

noun

  1. the action or process of adapting or being adapted.
  2. a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been a little bit of a mental mess when it has come to my marathon training. My intentions have been good but I sort of feel like I’ve been doing the whole thing wrong. For various reasons, each week has found me making adaptations to my training plan… which honestly, I’m starting to think it was never very solid to begin with.

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It’s all “fun and games” BEFORE you run 21 miles.

I’ve skipped long runs (due to an injury of sorts). I’ve run two long runs in a 7 day period. I’ve increased my totally weekly mileage by more than 20 miles in a single week. I’ve bumped my long run mileage from 15 to 18 miles in a single run. And then again from 18 to 20 miles. I’ve beat myself up over the *slow* pace of my long runs when in fact, they are supposed to be run slower. I’ve been comparing myself to other runners and their training plans, mileage, paces, etc. (A BIG no-no!) I’ve allowed myself to think that I’m not fit or fast enough, nor have I worked hard enough, to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself.

Before I continue, I should note that I realize that I’ve done a few things right too. I’ve been trying really hard to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night and naps on the weekend. My nutrition plan has been on target. I’m consuming close to four liters of water each day. My post-run recovery routine has been going well and I’ve been taking one day off completely each week. Also, because early on this week I noticed that I was feeling extra rundown, I backed off my mileage and effort. I skipped my tempo run and opted for a shorter, easy run instead of pushing myself.

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Fueling/refueling like a boss!

I was planning to keep my mileage high… maybe even increase it… for another week before tapering. However, due to how I’ve been feeling during the latter part of my long runs… essentially my body screaming “uncle”… I’ve decided to make another adaptation and am going to call training good. As in, DONE! (I will also note that I believe one of the reasons I’m struggling during my long runs is because I’m running through the city and have to stop numerous times for traffic lights. I lose momentum and I begin stiffening up the moment I stop which makes it hard to get moving again.)

I’ve never tapered for three weeks before. During past training cycles, I’ve run my longest, or close to longest, training run two weeks before the race. I think it’s time to try something new. I’m planning to follow this guide that I found online from Runner’s World. And more important, I’m trying to reframe the messy mental chatter that I’ve been doing it all wrong. Instead, I need to see those adaptations over the preceding weeks as opportunities to become better suited to my environment. I got the mileage in despite the challenges thrown at me. Now, I need to find trust in the final portion of the training process. (And let my body rest!) (And also, you’d think I’ve never trained for a marathon before!)

So, with the Portland Marathon officially three weeks from today, I say, “BRING ON THE TAPER!”

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Ice bath alternative.

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*Weekly mileage ~ Aug. 29-Sept. 4*

Mileage for the week of August 29th – September 4th

Total weekly mileage: 41.25

Total August mileage: 175.5

Total September mileage: 20.5

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 903

Run review:

8/29     44:16 min./5 mi./8:51 pace

8/30     55:03 min./6 mi./9:11 pace

8/31     31:40 min./4 mi./7:55 pace

50:48 min./5.75 mi./8:49 pace

9/1     33:43 min./4 mi./8:26 pace

9/2     32:34 min./4 mi./8:07 pace

9/3     1:20:43 min./8.5 mi./9:30 pace

9/4     33:06 min./4 mi./8:15 pace

Due to some extra time off the previous week when my knee was acting up, on top of moving my long run for the week to today, I didn’t take any rest days last week. On three of the days I ran harder or a bit longer, including a couple of good hills in there too. The other days were shorter and run at an easy pace. Nicely balanced, I think.

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Updated training plan… taking it one week at a time.

I’ve reconfigured my plan for this week to accommodate a second long run next Sunday. What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment. (If I stick to said plan, I’ll hit 64 miles this week.) Rest and recovery is high priority so I will take a rest day tomorrow and aim to get as much extra sleep as I can each night.

Also, I’ve decided to play with my macros just a little bit and see what happens. I love nutrition and I love experimenting with my diet. Essentially, on days that I run longer than an hour, I’ll eat more carbs. On the other days, little carbs (including wine… sniff, sniff) and more protein and fat. I don’t want to over think it and I still aim to keep my food choices nutrient-dense but I’m curious to see how it will affect my body and my training since my objective is to lean out a little bit while maintaining muscle and endurance, of course. I’ll report back on that later.

Happy Labor Day, btw, and have a fantastic week!

*Know when to hold ’em…*

Know when to fold ’em.

This week was a transition week as we adjusted to the start of school. My mileage and training were not quite where I wanted it to be with the changes to our household schedule and a bit of a heatwave early on. No biggie. I’m exercising my flexibility muscle and trying to adapt to the little life challenges that come my way without letting them throw my completely off course.

At any rate, as is typical, my mileage ramped up the closer the weekend got. About three days ago, I started experiencing some tightness in my left quad so I played the precaution card and tried to make sure I was stretching a bit more and practiced extra mindfulness when I was running as to not aggravate it. That said, I was feeling really well prepared for my long run this morning. Adequately fueled, hydrated, mentally prepared and optimistic that I’d feel better than I did last week.

I ventured out about 6:10 this morning. The air cool, the streets still fairly quiet, the sun tucked behind the hills to the east. The plan was to run a 9.5 mile loop that would bring me back home to meet Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking who would run the last 6.5-ish miles with me. All was going according to plan when at around mile 7, I became plagued with a tightness above my right knee. RIGHT (not left) knee. I stretched and massaged it at every intersection that insisted that I wait to cross and pushed forward.

Somewhere in the 12-mile zone, we came upon a hill that forced me to change my stride. The tightness increased and things fell apart soon after. The discomfort migrated into my knee and I was forced to stop multiple times in an effort to stretch it out. I kept pushing forward, on the verge of tears, knowing that I was ultimately doing more harm than good. My pace dropped and I was limping. I told Mr. WJTWT that I’d run to 13 but then I was done.

I cried out of frustration, more than pain, for a few blocks and then walk/limped toward home, which at that point was about three miles away. We formulated a plan. My mister would run back home as I made my way to the Starbucks a few blocks away and then he’d come back and pick me up. I can’t recall, in all the years that I’ve been running, that I was forced to fetch a ride home because I couldn’t continue. But then and there, it was the most brilliant remedy to the situation.

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Long run cut short and I end up at Starbucks icing my knee.

While I waited for him to return, I iced my knee while drinking my latte and silently cursed at every person that ran by. (I know, not nice.)

He came with ibuprofen in hand. I’m such a lucky girl!

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Pity flowers. A total score at $2.49 for the bunch!

We sloooooowly walked over to the grocery store. It wasn’t pretty. I was feeling a ton of discomfort and pissed in general. In addition to dinner (and school lunch) provisions, I bought myself pity flowers and a bag of ice. (There may have been a very large bottle of champagne in the cart too.)

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Once home, I filled the tub about halfway with cool water, got in and added three pounds of ice. I’m not sure if the ibuprofen kicked in or it was the ice bath itself, but I could barely walk just a couple of hours earlier and while I could still feel the tightness and soreness to the touch, I was able to walk without limping not long after I got out. What a difference a few hours makes.

The moral of my story is this: know when to hole ’em, know when to fold ’em.

I don’t know what the next few hours, or next few days, will bring but I’m certain that my decision to stop when things fell apart was the first smart choice I made this morning, no matter how frustrating and disappointing it was to cut my training run short. The second was icing as soon as possible and following that up with an ice bath once I returned home, not to mention the ibuprofen. (I rarely take ibuprofen or pain relievers but in this case, I could feel the inflammation and knew I needed something to help relieve it.) The third smart choice was the champagne. Just kidding. It is the recovery techniques that I’m diligent about following to aid in recovery… a post-run recovery meal, compression sleeves, a topical muscle pain/soreness ointment (I use Tiger Balm), legs up, rest, etc.

I’m moving cautiously but optimistic that because I chose to “fold ’em”, along with a chill afternoon and complete rest day tomorrow, I’ll be feeling good as new by Tuesday and ready for another week of training.

*Weekly mileage ~ Aug. 8-14*

Mileage for the week of August 8th – August 14th

Total weekly mileage: 51.5

Total August mileage: 85.5

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 792.5

Run review:

8/8       No run/rest day

8/9       33:11 min./4 mi./8:18 pace

24:49 min./3 mi./8:15 pace

8/10     55:57 min./7 mi./8:00 pace

8/11     50:53 min./6.25 mi./8:09 pace

8/12     45:26 min./5.5 mi./8:16 pace

16:51 min./2 mi./8:23 pace

16:49 min./2 mi./8:22 pace

8/13     29:14 min./3.75 mi./7:48 pace

25:26 min./3 mi./8:29 pace

8/14     2:11:42 min./15 mi./8:47 pace

I’m incredibly proud of what I accomplished last week. Like, holy shit! I nailed the workouts on my training plan, ran more than 50 miles, and left my comfort zone to attend a running group which proved to be a really great decision. All this while in the midst of a week filled with frustration thanks to miscellaneous life crap. BOOM!

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This. Magic! (Venice, California)

This coming week brings a new set of challenges (school starts tomorrow…Boo!) but after some rest following my long run yesterday (which was awful, btw), a super awesome evening on the beach with my boys, a recovery day today that included sleeping in and a slow start, and a new week on the horizon, I believe anything is possible!

*Marathon training update – 9 weeks to go*

The countdown is on! Like, for realz!

The Portland Marathon is exactly 9 weeks from today and after a lackluster start to training (if you can even call it training) I’m feeling that itch… the itch to dive deep into training and start hustling towards something more. Something bigger than my current level of ability at least.

July was a busy but fun month full of some backcountry adventures and travel. The result was that my training was a bit wonky, to say the least. It didn’t feel like training at all, but rather maintenance. The bare-minimum if you will.

I took some time this weekend to plan out what the next two months worth of training will look like, breaking it down into 7-day blocks. Each week will include one rest day, a tempo run, a long run, a speed or hill repeat run, and a few easy runs in between. I’ll also continue to strength train at least four times a week and am going to try my damnedest to do at least 10 minutes of yoga/stretching per day in addition to eating clean and doing all of the other self-care rituals that come with high-intensity training.

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My high-tech system for creating training plans.

I dove back in today and tackled my 14-mile long run which went well and I’m feeling pretty stoked about getting back on track. I was skimming through my Believe Training Journal today and read this on the final pages:

“Let the benefits of being engaged and committed to your passion increase your self-esteem, deepen your joy, and raise the quality of your life!”

It pretty much sums up how I feel about running and training. I’m looking forward not only to the marathon on October 9th but every single day between now and then to be fully engaged and committed to my passion.

*Weekday long runs*

Busy summer weekends has required that I rearrange my training schedule around a bit. With a race last weekend (speaking of, I moved up to the 7th place, overall female spot!), a backpacking trip this weekend, and traveling home to Oregon next weekend, I’m going to have to get creative in order to stick to my plan and get those long runs done.

I’m very fortunate that my work schedule is part-time and allows me the option to get it done before I work later in the day. But that said, I realize weekday long runs can be a huge challenge for anyone working an 8-hour day or is juggling the demands of a family and responsibilities at home.

While I was trying not to look at my watch every 10th of a mile this morning, I came up with a short list of suggestions to help make the occasional long run during the week manageable.

  • Plan it a week out, minimum. Don’t expect to just wake up one morning and decide to do it. Being mentally prepared is a huge part of the battle so schedule it, put it on your calendar, and make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare. Also, don’t schedule it on a super busy day… like say when you have a presentation to give at work first thing in the morning.
  • Prepare in advance. Don’t wait until the night before to restock your fuel. I’m bad about keeping a supply on hand so I’m either trying to track something down the day before or realize the morning of my long run that I only have two Clif Shot Blocks left in my stash. (Yeah, that was this morning.)
  • As you would for any long run, get your gear in order the night before. Make sure you have clean socks, all of your gadgets are charged, you know where the lid to your water bottle is…
  • Calculate how long your run will take and add a few minutes so you’ve got some wiggle room if you get delayed or have to stop at a trillion traffic signals. Set a departure time and stick to it.
  • Plan to get up early enough to allow yourself the time to do whatever it is you need to do to prepare. Coffee, a light breakfast, Chakra cleansing meditation, whatever. It might mean you have to get up at 4 AM, but it’s not the end of the world and it’s not a regular occurrence so suck it and set your alarm.
  • Make sure you allot enough time to cool down and refuel before you need to get ready for work or whatever activities you have planned.
  • If the mileage you need is pretty high and you truly don’t have enough time before work or you get stressed at the thought of trying to squeeze it in, there’s nothing wrong with breaking it down into two runs. Split it up and run half in the morning and then the other half during lunch or later in the evening.
  • Don’t skimp on a post-run reward because you’re pressed for time. You earned that decadent smoothie or stop at Starbucks!
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Reward yourself for those hard-earned miles!

*Weekly mileage – June 6-12*

Mileage for the week of June 6th – June 12th

Total weekly mileage: 37.25

Total June mileage: 59.5

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 508

Run review:

6/6      25:37 min./3 mi./8:33 pace

6/7      36:56 min./4.5 mi./8:13 pace

6/8       34:34 min./4.25 mi./8:07 pace

6/9       22:07 min./2.5 mi./8:51 pace

6/10     1:27:31 min./10 mi./8:45 pace

6/11      57:40 min./7 mi./8:14 pace

6/12      49:35 min./6 mi./8:16 pace

I’m happily starting to feel like a runner again! The focus of having something to work toward, to train for, to plan on… it must do something to my brain chemistry because I feel clearer. Even though my motivation wanes from time to time, I feel it guiding me right now to put is some solid effort.

While I’m currently running 7 days a week, as part of the Runner’s World run streak challenge, and carefully building my long run distance, my real focus right now is building strength. I’m doing weight-bearing training at least four days a week and trying to take advantage of the November Project workouts once a week. Later, I’ll bring in some speed work and maybe more hill training later but I still very much feel like I’m building a solid base and honestly, I want to be STRONG! I want a sturdy foundation to build upon. I’m hopeful that it will help keep me from suffering from the little annoying pains that have plagued me throughout previous training cycles and being leaner and faster wouldn’t hurt my feelings.

Cheers to a great week of training!

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