Marathon Training Week #2 – From speed work to slowing down…
It’s amazing the lessons you learn through life. Every day brings a new discovery, a new chance to improve on something, a lesson that needed to be learned, and everything in between.
Last week, I revealed that I was diagnosed with (granted) the most common form of skin cancer. And while it is “common”…the fact that I had a nurse tell me I had any form of cancer broke my spirit. It hurt. It bothered me. I didn’t let on…but when the reality of it struck…it really threw me off my game. I no longer felt centered. I was no longer focused.
What I had to do was strive to regain my equilibrium. And I worked on doing that, staying positive, and focusing on something that truly made me happy. My running. Thank goodness for my training plan because it is keeping me accountable and keeping my mind off of things.
This was my second official week of marathon training and I was already looking forward to some of the scheduled days I had in front of me.
Sunday I went out for an easy run. It was Father’s Day, so I dedicated 7 miles to my dad. I called him later to tell him that, and that, ironically, I managed my fastest 7 miles to date without even trying. And that the last mile of it was spent carrying a bag that had some almonds and an avocado in it, as I stopped by the grocery store while I was out. Yes…I am that runner.
Monday morning meant I was back to the running in the dark. I am continuing to fuel and hydrate according to the instructions that my sports nutritionist laid out for me and have been quite successful with that. I have, however, discovered that I hate my hand-held water bottle. I carried it with me on the shorter runs and just found it annoying. But I don’t feel like wearing my fuel belt with water bottles on the shorter distances either. But I need the hydration in order to follow the plan that she has laid out for me to guarantee my body will function right and properly under race conditions when I get to my marathon. So…I carry the handheld bottle. And hate it. Monday morning was a scheduled 5 miles at an easy pace. I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to race every run I do, which is a huge problem for me. So, I often have to remind myself to slow down and take it easy. It really is important. So, I did the scheduled miles…then later that evening did an even easier run through the hills of Cherokee Park with my Monday fun run group. It was good. And I had a great conversation about my marathon from someone who has run it 6 times as well as other marathons I might want to look at in the future. It was a good Monday.
Tuesday was the scheduled cross training day. I’m so not used to waking up without going running, so this day usually throws me off. I did 45 minutes on the Arc Trainer with hill intervals and on Level 5 and really rocked it out. I was proud of myself. Then I hit up the Cardio Wave machine for 10 minutes, which is like an elliptical machine, except that your feet move from side-to-side and instead of moving forward and back. It is a welcome change for the legs. While it is only 10 minutes, I worked it hard, upping my resistance and speed every minute. It really works up a sweat.
Wednesday is the speed work and pacing day. And this week was fartlek week. Five miles worth. Now, I attempted fartleks once before…but didn’t properly warm up and ended up with a nagging pain in my ankle/calf muscle for about 2 weeks. This time, I used my first mile as a warm up and ran the fartleks the remaining 4 miles. For those of you not familiar with the term, fartleks are where you alternate irregular fast and slow intervals, either by time or by markers on the course you choose to run. As I run in the early morning when it is dark out, I couldn’t really keep track on my watch, so I chose different places to speed up and run through and then other places to ease back into an easy pace. I ended up breaking a 5 mile PR by an entire minute. Maybe there is something to this speed play stuff. I had a great and fun run that morning. It was nice to change things up.
Thursday rolled around and that was another easy run day. This time it called for 6 miles. So, I went out and logged those, once again reminding myself that I don’t need to race on these runs. I took it easy, and ran at a decent pace for me…and finished strong. I’m trying to work on that finishing kick…but I still usually don’t have the ooomph at the end of a run, no matter the distance, to really kick it into high gear. I’m hoping my speed work days will help with that in the end. After that, I hit up the gym for some cardio and strength training. I felt strong that morning. It was a good feeling.
Friday…the day of rest. I dread Friday for this reason. It is not easy for me to take a day off of running. I get antsy and fidgety. But, rest days are important for the muslces, the body, and the soul. Honestly, it gives the body a chance to repair itself. These days are vital when in training because these days help the muscles build up strength. I know that sounds weird, but with each workout you fatigue your muscles and giving them a day off means they repair themselves and grow stronger. And I definitely want to be a stronger runner. So, once again, I respected the rest day and kept it holy. I did opt for an easy walk at the gym on my lunch hour. Nothing strenuous.
Saturday is the day of the long run at the Long Slow Distance (LSD) pace. I am so lucky to have fallen in with a group of runners who have taken me in and are able to take me on new routes and new runs on these longer running days. I was really getting tired of looping my neighborhood. BORING! I met up with a great group of people on Saturday morning and we logged my 11 mile training run in 1:36:10. I was talking with one of the runners, someone who has just logged his 32nd marathon in his life, and he was telling me the importance of these runs being taken at a slower, easier pace. It does help build up strength and speed in the end. Just like rest days. There will be those days where my training calls for Marathon Pace…but on these LSD days…I try to honor that longer slower distance. I was so happy to have the company and the conversation on the long run. It made the time fly by and the effort feel effortless. Loving it. I finished strong too. Already looking forward to doing it again next weekend.
So, overall, not a bad training week at all. I already see in the next few weeks, due to events and appointments, where I will need to tweak my training schedule, but I’m so happy with how this week went. I am definitely focusing more on feel and my body. I used to put so much emphasis on time, and a part of me still does, but through the training and through learning from other seasoned runners, I am discovering that the pace will find you at the race itself…you train right, and you’ll be ready to run one of the best races of your life. Train too hard…and you get burnt out or injured. And that is the last thing I want to have happen. So, training smart and keeping my mileage and my pace in proper check.
Loving every run. So that means I must be doing something right.
I am not sure if or how my procedure will affect my program, but I will find out on Wednesday when I go in. The most important thing right now is to remain positive and do what is right for me and my body. And right now…it’s getting rid of the basal cell carcinoma, healing, and having that weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m going to keep on smiling.