Having had about a week to reflect on Boston, I’ve also been reflecting a lot about the 20 weeks preceding the actual race. Every marathon training cycle is generally a long enough span of time that puts you into enough challenging situations that you WILL learn something new about yourself.
- Not everything has to be perfect. I am the first person to say, “done is better than perfect.” But sometimes I forget that in my own training. I used to really worry about not getting enough sleep, not eating enough vegetables, not doing everything just so. But as long as you are giving it a good shot, it is ok to live your life. Have a glass of wine, stay up too late here or there, it will all even out.
- You CAN perform well even when the conditions are not ideal. Given the race conditions, you may (reasonably) think that this statement is referring to weather on race day. Ironically enough, this was something that I learned over and over throughout this training cycle. For example, this was the first time I’ve ever done 2 runs a day. Normally, I like to do my run first thing in the morning before I eat any foods that will be too heavy, get mentally tired from work, or get pulled in another direction by various responsibilities. But when there is a second run that you have to do in the evening – you don’t get to have everything *just so.* It was an AMAZING lesson to me in just getting s**t done. I can’t tell you how many times I ate the wrong thing too close to my second run, didn’t eat enough before, got busy doing something else and then had to cram it in before dinner, after dinner, whatever. The point was, I could still do it. No matter what.
- The plan is a guide, and it is not written in stone. I did my quality workouts (speed or tempo), every Tuesday. But sometimes, shifting them to a different day in the week would allow for me to do a better job – have enough time to do a dynamic warm up, run when it was light out instead of hitting the treadmill, recover appropriately afterward. As long as you are still making sure you recover between hard efforts, there is nothing wrong with shifting things as needed.
- Speaking of workouts – failing at them is actually positive. Before this training cycle, I had never failed at hitting my paces in a speed workout. The first time I failed, I brushed it off, as it happened more often I would get so frustrated I would cry. Why wasn’t this working?! And then I ran a half marathon PR in a workout. And was ready for another hard effort in 2 days. That’s when I realized that I was pushing myself to a new level. In order to do that, you have try to run paces that aren’t quite within your grasp just yet. The coolest part about having a coach through this process is that now when I see fast paces in my plan, I believe I can do them because Sarah knows I can. She knows the work I’ve put in and she’s knows her stuff. So if she says I can do them, I don’t even question it anymore.
- This is not so much a training cycle thing. But more a race weekend thing. Everyone’s FAVORITE piece of advice pre-marathon is, say it with me, “DON’T WALK TOO MUCH.” This is especially important at the World Major Marathons, they say. Really take it easy. Don’t play tourist. Because I am not gifted with moderation, this well intentioned advice completely freaked me out. To the point that I was in tears at the Chicago marathon because I was terrified to walk anywhere. And I don’t know if you know this, but traffic in major cities is not the best – especially the weekend of a World Major Marathon. So taking Ubers 6 blocks isn’t always the most conducive way to get around. And taking trains and buses still requires some walking to the actual train or bus stop. Here is what I’ve learned after running Chicago twice and Boston twice: do your best, but don’t freak out. I walk a lot at home. 20k steps is a normal day for me. So if I walk 13k steps around a city the day before a marathon, that’s no big deal. So while yes, you probably shouldn’t walk 3 miles to dinner in high heels, also don’t become a basket case about it. Maybe I am the only one who didn’t realize this.
- Fuel and your body will thank you. This is the first training cycle where I’ve truly done a good job eating intuitively. And I can feel the difference. I felt better, recovered better, and slept better.
What I’d like to change for the next training cycle: While I’m not going to really dramatically change anything, there are things I want to keep working on.
- Embrace being flexible. Summer is coming, and that means weekend trips, visiting family, and I was starting to worry about doing a bunch of 20 milers around all the fun. Which is dumb. I love running, so I’m going to let it worry me. I can move it to a Friday morning, and I can still run anywhere I am. Take it one day at a time.
- Continue running with people. I love training with my Arete team and really felt like it pushed me. I want to get better and better at keeping up with them!
I would love to know anything that you learned or are changing for your next training cycle!