Letting go of Timelines

“Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.”

As many of you know, the last time I ran anything longer than a mile was March 22nd. I set out for a snowy 11 mile run and made it 8 miles before this pain in my knee came out of nowhere. Pain that I knew I could not run through. It felt like it was under my kneecap and I remember thinking this is not good. I walked home that day and I think I knew deep down I would be on a running break for a while, but I didn’t want to admit it.

Flash forward to now and I am still not running, but feeling like I am getting closer or at least going in the right direction. Originally this year I had a lot of running goals, first Boston, a 3:10 marathon and breaking a 90 minute half. All goals I knew I could do, if I was in the right shape.

When you are first injured the hardest part is letting go of those goals, letting them slip away and feeling okay with it. For me that started with Boston, my first DNS marathon. I picked a good one to not show up to right? When I let go of Boston I thought, it’s okay this is smart, because if I do this and keep recovering I can still go for a 90 second half in May at Wallis Sands. Then I withdrew from Wallis Sands, my goal half race for the year and then the Shipyard half in June. I am really on a role of DNS’ this year.

At first, releasing your grip on the timeline of your goals is hard, especially for a planner like me. But let me tell you, now I feel free. You can’t come back from injury with a timeline, you have to give yourself a clean slate to come back at your own pace. I still have CIM on the calendar but right now that is the only one and honestly, if I can’t run it I don’t care. If my body doesn’t end up being ready I am not going to push myself through a marathon, I would rather add another DNS to my list for 2018 🙂

Friday I had knee surgery, to remove the plica that is causing me pain. Hopefully in about 3-4 weeks I will be able to try running for the first time in 3 months, which actually doesn’t seem that long, but it is all relative. My only goal for this year, run a pain free mile or two or three! Run pain free and if any of my other goals happen then great, but I am pretty sure if they didn’t I would still finish the year with a smile on my face.

You see, I know I can run those times I have set out for, but it doesn’t mean I have to run them now or this year. Next year is just as good. My body will let me know when it is ready!

“No athlete is truly tested until they’ve stared an injury in the face and came out on the other side stronger than ever”

Boston Marathon Journey

“Nothing in my life has ever broken my heart the way running has. And yet I cannot breathe without it.” – Kara Goucher

My journey to Boston started in 2015 when I ran my first marathon in 3:42 and I qualified for Boston in 2016 with a time of 3:33. I did not know at the time this wouldn’t earn me a number. After getting over the disappointment, I decided to try again and in 2017 I ran a 3:20 securing my spot to Boston. Or so I thought.

Yes, I did earn a spot at Boston, but it never crossed my mind that I might not actually toe the line. I did the hard part I qualified, how could I not start or finish? You see, I always have to strive for big goals and the risk with big goals is you might go too far and get injured. I really have not been injured before to the degree that I could not run or not start a race, so this was a new place for me. I had A LOT of negative thoughts.

Honestly, three weeks out from the race was constant highs and lows of hope and then no hope. I tried so many things and each thing I thought would cure me and I would get there. Ten days out I knew. I knew there was nothing else to do and I just had to call it.

Yes, I could have run and not done more damage to my knee technically, (I think otherwise – compensation people) but would I finish? Would I have to walk the whole thing? Would I ever want to run Boston again? Would I ever want to run again? I don’t know. But it’s Boston, who doesn’t run Boston? Shouldn’t I be running through the pain like others? No. No. No. I have to do what is best for me. Everyone had an opinion on what I should do, ultimately in the end I have to live with the decision I make, so I had to make it for the right reasons – ME.

Once I decided to walk away from the race, I found peace. Yes, it sucks and being here and watching the excitement hurts from time to time but then I get excited because I will be there one day. Boston will be there for me when I am ready. Yes I have to qualify but I have shown myself I can do that. Now I have to figure out how to come back and how to trust running again after injury.

Maybe my Shalane moment is coming…I still have my eye on you sub 1:30 half and sub 3:10 marathon. 

For now, I can’t wait to cheer everyone on tomorrow and be inspired. For everyone running, whatever happens, remember you are running the Boston Freaking Marathon, such an accomplishment and an honor! People will be out there rain or shine to cheer YOU on.

-Jules

February Boston Marathon Training

Training seems to be flying by, I honestly keep forgetting to put weekly training updates up. It has turned into monthly updates. Better late than never!

This cycle has been good but I have also had some setbacks from winter training. I started out with runners knee that felt like it took forever to get rid of. Then I slipped on ice and that caused my knee to ache up until probably this week. No training cycle is perfect but you still have good workouts here and there. I honestly prefer the training cycle where you don’t seem to catch a break because it helps me mentally, some might say the opposite but for me I get to the line with more determination and fight than if everything went swimmingly.

Alright enough talking, time for the recaps.

January 29 to February 4

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 10 miles easy and 30 minutes of strength

Wednesday: 2.5 mile run with lyla and walks with lyla – knee was bothering me

Thursday: 7.25 treadmill miles and no pain! Then yoga 🧘‍♀️

Friday: 6.8 miles with strides

Saturday: 6 easy and my first sports massage!

Sunday: 3 mile easy warmup then the midwinter classic (1:08:30 PR) and 2.35 cool down for 15.35

Total miles 48

February 5 to February 11

Monday: 8 easy – was sore from the race

Tuesday: 8 easy – soreness was better

Wednesday: 2 mile warm up – 4 miles at 7 minute pace – 1 mile down

Thursday: yoga for 45 minutes

Friday: rest day!

Saturday: 8.5 easy miles

Sunday: 7 miles easy – 10 miles at GP 7:20 – 1.5 mile cool down for 18.5 miles total – did this one on the treadmill

Total miles 50.1

February 12 to February 18

Monday: rest day!

Tuesday: 2 easy – 3 miles at 6:55 – quick cool down due to stomach problems and added in an arm and core workout

Wednesday: 8 easy and a leg workout

Thursday: yoga and rolling

Friday: 7.8 miles – stopped short because my foot hurt and did some rolling instead

Saturday: 10 easy some of the miles were with lyla – then strength and mobility

Sunday: HIIT workout

Total miles 31.25 for a cutback week

February 19 to February 25

Monday: 9 miles easy

Tuesday: 10 easy with 10×20 seconds fast

Wednesday: 8.5 easy with leg workout

Thursday: rest day

Friday: rest day – chose sleep over running

Saturday: 7 easy – 11.25 miles at GP (7:26, 7:28, 7:02, 7:19, 7:13, 7:21, 7:14, 7:40, 7:16, 7:13, 7:30, 7:23) – cool down to 20.25 – wasn’t crazy about how this went but got a sports massage and did two rounds of an upper body/core workout after

Sunday: 7 easy plus running mobility and strength

Total miles 55.75

February 26 to March 4

Monday: 8.65 easy miles and leg workout

Tuesday: rest day

Wednesday: 9 easy plus strength and mobility

Thursday: 1 mile up – 6.75 miles at threshold (6:42, 6:49, 7:09, 6:58, 7:08, 7:04, 7:05) – cool down to 8 miles

Friday: 20 minutes of yoga and rolling

Saturday: 16.6 miles easy

Sunday: 8 easy miles with friends and arms and core workout

Total miles 50.45

Now you are all caught up on the last month for me! On paper it looks good but I definitely have had some setback and struggles that are making my confidence lack a little bit. We shall see how the next month goes, one day at a time!

Jules

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!

Jules

The Beginning – Boston Training

I have been meaning to write a blog post for weeks now and meaning to give everyone a training update for Boston, but if we are being honest, during busy times blogging is the first thing to go for me. So, apologies for my absence!

Anyway, I will take you through the last two weeks because they were good ones 🙂

After taking all of November and December to heal my runners knee, it has finally been better and I have felt strong the last couple of weeks!

January 1st- 7th: Week 1

Monday: 7 easy miles (9:20 average) & TRX

Tuesday: 5 miles easy at lunch

Wednesday: 2 mile warm up – 5k time trial (19:30)- cool down (6.5 miles total)

Thursday: 45 minutes yoga & abs/hamstring exercises

Friday: 4.5 snowy miles with Lyla

Saturday: 50 minutes of yoga

Sunday: 16 hilly treadmill running miles

Total: 40.5 miles

January 8th-14th: Week 2

Monday: unplanned rest day

Tuesday: 7 easy with strides & planks

Wednesday: 2 mile warm up, 4 miles at tempo (6:40, 6:53, 6:59, 6:45), 1. 25 cool down (7.25 miles total) & 40 minutes of AM biking and rolling

Thursday: 5 easy miles at lunch

Friday: 5 easy with Lyla & planks

Saturday: 7 easy, 8 miles at tempo (7:27, 7:28, 7:11, 7:17, 7:08, 7:09, 7:17, 7:15), cool down to 17.5 miles & foam rolling – this weather was crazy windy and 20 degree change – mentally tough

Sunday: yoga & mini strength routine

Total: 41.75 miles

January 15th- 21st: Week 3

Monday: 4 miles easy

Tuesday: 2 miles up, 8×800 (2:58, 3:12, 3:01, 3:10, 3:05, 3:16, 3:07, 3:22 – all on rolling terrain), cool down for 8.1 miles total

Wednesday: 2 snowy miles (can’t resist a snow day!) & yoga & strength

Thursday: 10 snowy hilly miles

Friday: Rest day, cross country skiied at lunch

Saturday: 20 miles easy & 25 minutes yoga

Sunday: 6 miles easy & yoga & planks

Total: 50.1 miles

January 22nd- 28th: Week 4

Monday: 5.3 miles easy

Tuesday: rest day!

Wednesday: 4 miles easy, 10×20 seconds fast with 60 second recovery, cool down for 7 miles total

Thursday: unexpected rest day

Friday: 4.56 easy lunch run

Saturday: 15 hilly miles in south berwick & 1.5 mile walk jog with Lyla (slipped and hit my knee)

Sunday: 6.7 miles easy – called it quits because knee was sore from yesterday’s fall

Total: 40 miles 

So far it has been a solid January, although I am hoping my knee stops hurting. I just got it to a good spot, but I can’t control that. You can be cautious like me and still fall on ice, clearly.

I have also been practicing fueling on my runs a lot lately. I have been drinking generation ucan before my runs and using rungum and maple syrup gus during my runs, it has been going well! Treadmill long runs are perfect for practicing fueling.

The next couple of weeks I have some exciting workouts coming up, crossing my fingers my knee allows me to do them.

Side note, when I know I took enough time off between hard training, its when I honestly feel excited for all the workouts and all the training, it’s not just a grind, it makes my day!

Thanks for following my journey!

Jules

Fueling on the Run

Hi everyone! 

My name is Megan, I am Jules’ twin and also a Registered Dietitian at Spaulding Rehab in Boston!

Have you ever hit a wall? Not literally, but figuratively. That feeling where your body just can’t anymore? I have. Multiple times. Take my marathon for example. I was all giddy and chatty until about mile 17. And then I couldn’t talk because every breath was too much effort. I couldn’t chew my gummies because the act would take too much energy. And every step felt like I was moving in slow motion and hurt like hell. Because of that wall, and because I made my time goal oh-so-perfectly (thanks to Julie, or Jules as you know her), I likely won’t be running another marathon. It’s not for everyone and as I like to say “to each his/her own.”

No matter what race you’re running, you’ll want to do what you can to avoid that wall. That comes with training, but also with fueling your body appropriately. Previously we talked about what to eat before a run but that can only last you so long. For short to medium runs eating adequately beforehand will suffice, but any run that will last over an hour may require some extra fuel.

What I found to be key during my training is thinking of food as fuel. You want to eat before you hit the wall, just like you want to fill up your gas tank before you hit empty and have to pull over on the side of the road. Hitting empty slows you down no matter what, even if you have some fuel (gummies or gas) on hand, you’re still losing precious time. There are times to eat when you’re hungry, but there are also times to plan ahead and fuel up even if you aren’t hungry.

That being said, you should fuel every 1 to 1-½ hours. It depends on the person and what you ate prior to leaving the house. The first time you fuel up depends but then after that I would recommend every hour if not sooner if you’re feeling sluggish. The recommendation is to have 30-60 grams/hour. What does 30 grams of carbohydrate look like? 2 slices of bread. 1 english muffin. 2 pieces of fruit. That can be a lot to eat while running, therefore, many people choose concentrated sources of carbohydrates such as dried fruit, candy, or even maple syrup. Julie drinks maple syrup and I relied on fruit snacks. You do you. Looking back I would have switched to maple syrup or some kind of liquid carbohydrate since it’s easier to swallow in touch times. Live and learn.

Choosing a fuel.

Simple carbohydrates. Skip the whole grains and the fiber. Your stomach will thank you later.
Skip the fat and protein, it takes longer to digest. Although a little won’t hurt.
What do you like? Don’t choke down something just to be like the other runners out there.
What’s easy to carry? Do you have a belt that can hold 4 bags of fruit snacks?

Examples.
Dried fruit. Skip prunes…google it if you don’t know why.
Chewy candies. Don’t choose hard candies, choking hazard.
Energy balls. Make your own or buy some, look in the granola bar aisle.
Pretzels or crackers. Maybe try unsalted unless you run with a water belt.
Sports drinks if, again, you have a water belt.
Liquid sugar! Aka maple syrup (Julie’s favorite!), a creation of the God’s or my favorite farmers in Vermont. Please choose real maple syrup, we can’t be friends if you use the fake stuff.

I’ll leave you with this advice. Try it and if it doesn’t work try something else. Or give it another shot. Our stomachs don’t react the same way day in and day out even if we eat the same foods. Don’t give up. Just like a long run can seem impossible one day and a walk in the park the next, fueling can be equally unpredictable.


Megan Morris, MSD, RD, LDN