Not Gonna Lie, this Hurt
If anyone tells you that training for a Marathon is easy, they are lying!
Recently I’ve been having more and more conversations at work about what it will take to get ready to run a Marathon. Mainly because several of my friends at work have signed up to run in the L.A. Marathon with me, and we are all realizing that March 24th, 2019, is going to be here MUCH SOONER than we had expected!
With that in mind, I sat down with a calendar and mapped out my training schedule so I knew when I needed to increase my distance, and by how much. My plan is rather simple. I started with the idea that I want to KNOW I can cover the full 26.2 mile Marathon distance BEFORE I show up to the race. This means, of course, that I plan on actually running a full Marathon in training BEFORE I run one in an event. I know there are a lot of trainers out there who will tell you NOT to do this, I’ve read their posts and understand their reasonings. But for me, the way MY brain works, I want to mentally KNOW I can cover the distance!
So I started with knowing that my Race Day is March 24th and figured I should make my 26.2 mile training run on March 2nd. This will give me a full 3 weeks to recover! During those 3 weeks I will taper off my training, staying mobile but allowing for recovery. For example, I plan on doing a 13.1 mile run the following weekend, and a 7 mile run the weekend after. That cuts my long run by 50% each time. This method of tapering is one that I have found highly suggested on a few different ‘coach’ sites, and it makes sense to me, so I’m going to try it!
Next, I worked backward from March 2nd to now to see how many weekends I had to train, and I marked out 1 long run per weekend, extending my distance BASICALLY every other week. Since I was already at 15 miles as my longest run from training for my Spartan Beasts, I calculated that my distance increase would be 1.25 miles. For the runs when I wasn’t increasing my distance, I would ACTUALLY run shorter than my current MAX. The idea here is to give my body a chance to recover from my MAX effort the previous weekend while still getting a good workout in. My runs where I’m extending my distance I try to keep fairly flat so I can keep my heart rate as low as possible in an effort to stay in Zone 2, training my slow twitch muscles. On the days when I am NOT extending my distance I will do hill work which will train my fast twitch muscles AND increase my lung capacity.
I have NOT yet fleshed out what my distances will look like for my short and medium runs during the week, but I’m feeling pretty good about my plan for my long runs.
At least I WAS feeling pretty good about it until today!
Today I increased my distance from 16.7 miles to 17.25, and yes, I know that isn’t an increment of 1.25, but stick with me. . .my 1.25 mile increase is a MUST, but during most of my runs I tend to do a little bit more just because of how it works out, and last run I was only supposed to do 16 miles. So there you have it!
Anyway, the run today was SUPPOSED to be a Zone 2 run, but once again I simply could not stay in Zone 2. Not sure why. I would have had to WALK, and that just wasn’t going to work with my mindset, so I turned off the Zone 2 alarm on my watch around mile 2 and just set a mental ‘cruise control’ that put me at a comfortable pace that wasn’t pushing hard at all. I also decided to explore a new route and ran to a park I don’t normally go, then took the running / bike trails from there to see where they would lead. I find that this type of variety in my routes keeps it fun for me and helps the distance go by quicker. Exploring can be fun!
Everything was going well up until around mile 14 when I noticed my feet were getting a lot more sore than usual. Then around mile 15 I had to start trading off between walking and running because my hamstrings were getting incredibly tight. I’m sure that having just gone to the gym a few days earlier and doing Barbell Squats didn’t HELP my legs be loose! But anyway, I found that by mile 16 I was walking most of the time, and running only a little bit.
By the time I got home I had traveled 17.61 miles and my feet were INCREDIBLY sore, and I was quickly coming to the understanding that 26.2 miles is a LONG distance, and training to run that distance was GOING TO HURT! Of course I’ve heard other runners say that training for a Marathon includes dealing with pain, so it’s not really surprising to discover this first hand. But there’s a distinct difference between ‘book-knowledge’ and ’empirical-knowledge’, and I am now gaining the later of the two!
I made sure to soak my body from the waste down in the coldest water I could get in my tub in an effort to jump start the recovery process and I think it’s working because I was able to walk the 1 mile round trip to 7-11 with my boys. I like to enjoy a Slurpee after a long run. It’s one of the few times when I’m certain that my body will find a good use for all that sugar!
I’m sure you are probably wondering why I chose to include THIS picture! If you have been following the news then you know that there are several wildfires currently raging in Southern California. On my new route today I could clearly see the smoke from one of them. My area isn’t in any danger from this fire since it’s across a ridge from us, but I saw a few of our Fire Crews heading out to help. The pain I have to deal with while increasing my distance is NOTHING when compared to what these firefighters and rescue workers are dealing with. Kind of puts things in perspective.