6 Marathons Later – What am I doing differently?

I just realized Boston will be my 7th marathon over the course of three years! My first marathon was March 2015 (3:42) then I rode off that training with another attempt in May 2015 (4:00). After those two I took time off until my coworkers convinced me to run Sugarloaf in May of 2016 (3:33). Then I took the entire summer off after that and dedicated myself for training for Napa in March of 2017 (3:20) then came Burlington in May with my sister (4:00) and Chicago in the fall (3:23).

Now that you can see the timeline, I am going to get into some things I am doing differently this training cycle. No training cycle is the same for me, I always add in some new elements to see if it helps.

  • Nutrition

I am going to admit something here for all my past marathons I was terrible with nutrition and fueling. Don’t believe me? Only 3 of my marathons I ate something before the race and only one I fueled with maple candies during the race. Luckily one of those I did both, Napa 2017! I have always had trouble with fueling and I never took the time during training to really try to find something that worked for me.

This training cycle, I have tried generation ucan, tailwind, untapped maple syrup and waffles, run gum and english muffins with peanut butter for breakfast! Right now I really like to have Generation Ucan before my long runs around 30 minutes before, then I use Tailwind during my run. If I don’t decide to use Tailwind during, I will use the maple syrup gus or candies during. My current plan for Boston is to bring a waffle to have before the start since the start time is pretty late.

What’s worked for me? Testing my fueling on a treadmill run, especially if you get stuck indoors for a long one!

  • Strength

One of my first training cycles I did Kayla Itstines BBG workouts and found myself totally burnt out following that as well as doing my running workouts. Every since then I have done one day of TRX a week and one day of yoga which has worked well for me.

This training cycle I am working with Crystal Seaver to get stronger! She builds my strength plan around my running workouts so that I still have enough time to recover. I have loved it so far but it is a lot to try to find time for two workouts a day some days. Hopefully it pays off for Boston!

  • Hills

I don’t think I have ever focused on hills until this training cycle and I still could be doing better. I have added some short hill sprints and some longer runs on rolling hills. A little later I am hoping to do a tempo on some rolling hills, granted where I am that’s still not bad but its something!

  • Mileage

50-55 miles a week is my sweet spot, it is where I like to be most weeks although most other training cycles I have been more in the 40’s. This cycle is turning out to be better, already I have had 3 solid 50 mile weeks and another one is coming my way next week. I hope to get to around 60 this training cycle, that will be my most ever!

Side note, I definitely play the comparison game and see people running 75-95 mile weeks and feel inadequate sometimes but that only lasts a few seconds before I tell myself to snap out of it. Maybe one day I will get there, but right now I am not there and no way am I forcing it and getting injured!

  • Long run workouts

For Napa when I ran a 3:20 one of the workouts that helped me the most was 10-15 mile mid-week tempo workouts and long runs with workouts! I didn’t have much of those in my training cycle for Chicago and I did not feel prepared for that race, but also mentally because long run workouts make me more confident in my training even if I struggle with the paces!

This training cycle I have done a lot of these workouts and I am already feeling like things are clicking more than in the past. Next week I have a 20 miler with 12 at GMP, wish me luck!!

  • Sports Massage & Recovery

I have never focused on recovery and maintenance enough while training, until this year! Since my runners knee I have gotten into the habit of foam rolling every day, especially before I go out for a run. I also just bought an AMAZING foam roller from Trigger Pin – the Vector, it does wonders for those hard to reach spots. My IT Band loves it because it hits the muscles around the IT band unlike a typical foam roller.

I have never had a sports massage until last month and it is now going to be part of my training. She made my legs feel amazing. She was also so knowledgeable and gave me pointers based on what she was feeling and seeing with my muscles. The money was definitely worth it. I went to Knead to Run Massage in Exeter, NH for anyone local!

Anyway, right now this is what I am doing differently for Boston, hopefully it pays off but even if it doesn’t there is always another day to chase a goal. There are always more chances, don’t forget that!

Mid-Winter Classic 10 Miler – Recap

As the buffalo chicken dip warms in the crockpot and I wait for the Super Bowl, I decided to write a race recap as it was fresh in my mind!

So first lets go back to this week. Last weekend I slipped walking my dog and caught myself with my knee. The same knee that I just got rid of my runners knee on. I spent most of this week discouraged as I tried to run and had strange pain I couldn’t pinpoint. I tried to get in to my PT but he is only in Portsmouth one day a week now 😦 (so sad!!). So I decided to try a sports massage on Saturday before the race. GAME CHANGER!

Saturday, I went to Knead to Run Massage in Exeter, NH. I told Sara what was bothering me and she was able to pinpoint the tightness. She worked on it, but not too much because she knew my race was today. I was very impressed with her knowledge of runners and where I feel pain just based on my ankle break in high school and my recent knee pain. I will be returning! Already booked my next appointment. It was a splurge for me, but I realized after going that it will be a necessary addition to my training.

Anyway, I was contemplating not racing this weekend up until my massage. Then afterwards I felt great. I slept amazing and I decided I would give it a shot, worst case scenario I would just run easy and go for miles.

I left my house around 7:30 because I wanted to have time to add a few miles in before. I got to Cape Elizabeth High School at 8:30. When I stepped out of the car I noticed the wind and started having my doubts, it was also cold! I grabbed my number and went out for three easy miles. Even in the warmup miles I was unsure what I would go for today, the miles didn’t feel easy and I was running around 9 minute pace. 2 minutes off what I was aiming for as a pace the first half of the race AND I knew the course would be hilly. I headed back to the gym went to the bathroom again and then did some rolling and headed to the start.

I always tell myself the faster you run the sooner its over before I start. Before I knew it we were off. I should add this race only has about 1,000 runners but less showed up today probably because of the weather and Super Bowl plans! In the first mile I aimed to settle into a pace. The first mile is one of the easiest on this course because it’s downhill. So it was a little fast at 6:48, but then I pulled myself back and settled into a pace around 7. There were a lot of hills in the next two miles so I aimed to stay comfortable and not really focus on pace. Something I do in most races is I find someone around my pace in the beginning miles and settle in behind them so that they can do the work and I can just relax and stay calm and run behind them. I did this in this race too. For the first 5 miles I stayed behind a girl around 7 minute pace and just made myself stay with her no matter what.

When I crossed the mat at mile 5 at 34:46 (6:58 pace) I knew I could stay where I was or start pushing it. My goal for today was sub 1:10 because I have been going for that for a while. I don’t run many races but it has been my 10 miler goal since 2017. I decided it was go time. If I couldn’t hold on to it, that’s okay but I was going to try. I set my sights on another person and spend the next two miles chasing them (6:50, 6:55). Still not as fast as I hoped but I decided to keep pushing but not go all out until the last two miles. Mile 7 was a 6:51. It was go time, only 2 miles left. I can do it. I can do it. I repeated it over and over. It started to feel uncomfortable. I no longer felt calm and in control, but that’s because I was pushing myself and that is what racing is for!

Around mile 7 I was 6th girl. Now I was chasing the 4th place girl, I was determined to catch her. Mile 8, 6:39 pace, got into 4th place. No other females in sight so I knew I probably wouldn’t catch them but set my sights on the next people in view and went after them. I never did catch them but I am super proud of my last mile being a 6:32!

Came in at 1:08:30 4th female and 1st in my age group and a huge PR! I mean I say huge but a 2 minute PR on a windy cold day, I will take it. I did a 2.5 mile cool down for 15.5 miles total for the day.

Also, NO KNEE pain!!! Knead to run massage gets credit for that one 🙂

Now time for the super bowl. I have all the snacks and beer!