Hi and good morning! I hope you all had a great weekend! My sister and her boyfriend were in town visiting so we spent a lot of time out and about that I’ll share later this week! In the meantime, let’s talk about running and the Boston Marathon.
A few announcements, too! Head on over to Nicole’s page today where I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes! And Happy Birthday to my #1, Ed!
Thank you all for your comments and encouragement on last week’s marathon recap post. I’m happy to share a little bit more about my training cycle for those of you who have asked.
I ran my first marathon last November in 3:41.57. Nearly 6 months later, I ran my second marathon in 3:31.05. That’s a pretty substantial difference – and I think I took some key things away from my first marathon that I was able to put to use for my second.
So, what was different?
Well firstly, I think it’s a totally different mindset doing your first versus subsequent marathons. I certainly had a little more confidence going into my second training cycle, and didn’t stress out as much about missing a run here or there, or shortening a long run. But, here are some of the things I focused on that I think made a big difference, in no particular order.
Find a group to run with
Though I only did this a handful of times, I really feel that it has so many benefits. Aside from socialization (running alone sometimes can be isolating), group runs certainly helped my confidence and pace. Plus, you learn things from other runners, and learn more about yourself.
Work on your core
I did make an effort to do more core work in this training cycle. I tried to include some exercises 4-5 days a week. And not even long or intense exercises. My favorite core workouts are 4-6 minutes long. I actually hate core work so if it’s long, I know I won’t do it. Short and sweet is effective for me!
Eat at any sign of hunger
The week before the marathon, I was eating like a madwoman. And it wasn’t an increased appetite from increased running or calorie expenditure. I obviously had my lightest taper week, and only ran 2-3 days that week. But, preparing my body for what it was about to experience was paramount – I wouldn’t let my body feel any sign of hunger. I nourished hunger, even if it meant 3 breakfasts like I had 2 days before the race.
If you need encouragement or understanding of why hunger is important to listen to, read this post.
Don’t forget about FAT
Yes, we all focus (and maybe overly focus) on carbohydrates and carb-loading the weeks up to the marathon. But, it’s important not to forget about the healthy fats too. Not only do they help with inflammation in the body (hello, running causes inflammation in our cells and muscles), they are another macronutrient our body will draw from when it runs out of fuel and glycogen (carbohydrates). Plus, it tastes pretty good too!
I took two days off a week, completely, and included one day of cross training where I’d do hot yoga, cycling or elliptical. It was too much stress on my body to do more than 4-5 days of running per week. Each person is different but there’s no magic number of days you HAVE to run per week. Time on your feet is very important too, so engaging in other exercise counts.
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Seek out supportive partners/friends
Obviously, you are making sacrifices in your training cycle. You want to have people in your life who understand these sacrifices (they don’t necessarily have to be runners). You shouldn’t feel bad about the time you are committing to reach your goal, so people who understand that are paramount. Surround yourself by those people who lift you up!
Be consistent with your speed work and mirror the course
I did longer and harder tempos/speed work than my first time around. I still don’t think I did enough speed work, I guess that’s one thing we can always self critique as runners. But I did do some longer workouts (like this and this). I also found it helpful to do some speed work that mirrored the course, which was mostly downhill. I practiced some downhill running so I could practice keeping my arms relaxed and leaning forward.
Don’t do much the week of the race
This is the ideal time to rest and taper, and make sure you do it. People have different views on tapering, but I think I ran 8-10 miles the week of the marathon. To compare, most of my weekly training had me between 30-40 miles per week. The final week, I did all of my runs at a 9-9:30 pace. My goal marathon pace was 7:50-8:05ish per mile.
I didn’t taper as much in my first marathon, and I think I was a little more active the week of. Clearly, the extra rest served me well.
Obviously, always a big one. I’m a pretty good water drinker and probably drink about 11-12 cups a day, plus the water I get through food. But the week of, I drank sooo much water that I was peeing multiple times throughout the night. I actually had a hard time adjusting to altitude and no matter how much water I drank, my pee was very concentrated, so I knew I had to do better. Sorry for the TMI, but this one is super important. If you’re not hydrated, your cells aren’t getting the nutrients they need and you’ll have a hard time feeling good.
This post discusses more tips on hydration during the warm, summer months.
If you’re shooting for a time goal, try to stay with the pace group.
I settled in with the 3:35 pace group and stayed with them for the first 7-8 miles. That helped me figure out what pace I wanted to maintain and helped me realize I felt good doing that. The pace groups are great if you’re aiming for consistency in your running.
Choose the right course
I would tell everyone to pick a down hill course if you’re trying to qualify for Boston! Although too much down hill can be killer on your quads and require a lot of energy, a net downhill course definitely helps. The last 4-5 miles were all downhill, so I was still maintaining the same pace with less effort, and it really helped.
Obviously, nutrition plays a big part too. I’m a big proponent of recovery foods, and nutrient timing, one thing I work with all of my running clients on. I’ve spoke about my nutrition during the race before, but I’m a big proponent of Huma gels and Honeystinger chews (taste like candy) and rely on them the most.
Most importantly, I think remaining calm and being prepared can bring you a long way. And realize what you are capable of is probably more than you think. If you do the work, eat well, rest well and hydrate well, your body will thank you.
You May Also Like:
- Race Day Nutrition – The Ultimate Guide to Pre, During and Post Race Nutrition
- How Inadequate Nutrition Affects Training
- How Nutrition Helps with Running and Recovery
- The Best Recovery Foods for Runners
- 5 Nutrition Tips to Help with Runner’s Gut
- Hydration for Summer Training
What’s your favorite way to recover?
If you’ve qualified for Boston, what’s your top tip?
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