Friday, April 3, 2015

Marathon Training Update

I was looking at my most viewed posts the other day and I noticed that "What Did I Get Myself Into?" was pretty high up on that list. But in all honesty, I had no idea which post that title was referring to. I clicked on the link to check out what exactly was going through my mind over a year ago, and I realized that it was in reference to joining SacFit. Boy, was I nervous at the time. I hated running then and was really hoping to learn to somehow like it enough to get some regular exercise in. A month later, "I did it..." and registered to run my first marathon. I remember back then, doubting that I'd be able to finish the entire 26.2 miles. Knowing myself though, I had to take that huge leap and sign up in order to hold myself accountable. Well, it worked. Training and practice really do pay off. Even though I was in an immense amount of pain right after the CIM, shortly after I signed up for SacFit Ultras and registered to run my first ultra marathon with just as much uncertainty about finishing the race. During those three long months of following the rigorous training schedule, I finished the 50 mile race, reveling in all its glory. I even ran a half marathon race not too long after that, and PR'ed! But then the running pretty much stopped.

My body was exhausted; I was was exhausted. I didn't want to look at another schedule of planned daily runs. I was done at that point and really just needed a break. I definitely took my much needed break from running, although it ended up being a wee bit too long. From May till September I only ran whenever I felt like it. I still participated in SacFit's Tuesday and Saturday group runs during the Summer, and even joined in on a few long trail runs every now and then. While I didn't completely lose all the progress I made during the grueling ultra season, I definitely didn't push myself to become a better runner either. This past fall as I was starting to get back into the habit of running again, I realized how easy 15 miles used to feel while at the time, I was currently struggling to hit the 10k mark. Mind you I was running quite a bit faster than I had in the past, but I just couldn't get over how easy running to be.

Lauren and I talked about this and immediately realized that we needed to have races in mind for the next year in order to make running easier and more enjoyable again. We used to spend almost all weekend just running and we actually liked that. Now, the terrain here in Philadelphia is much different than California's. On the West Coast, drive an hour in any direction and you'll find yourself some pretty good sized mountains and hills to run. I know of one "trail" in Philadelphia, and without a car, just getting to that location is a long run in and of itself. Even though we desperately wanted to finish another ultra distance, we knew that wasn't a smart decision right now. We eventually decided to train for another marathon and focus on speed more than distance. We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get back into shape and really train hard. The San Francisco Marathon happens to fall in July, right around the time we were looking at completing our first race "post-retirement". It also gave us a good excuse to come home to Sacramento for a few weeks.

We decided to use our old SacFit marathon training schedule because we were successful with it the first time. We're a lot faster than we were when we originally started the program, so we chose to use a faster pace group's schedule which meant adding on an extra few miles every week. We signed up for the SF Marathon in early January and I immediately bought a year long calendar from the dollar spot at Target to use as my running schedule. I find that I'm much more successful when I'm able to actually see what I need to do on paper versus my phone/computer. Every month I go through our old SacFit schedule and write down the respective workouts for each day. Every day that I complete a workout, I highlight that day's task. At the end of each week, I add all my miles for the week and circle the total. Then, at the end of the month, I calculate my monthly mileage and write that number really big on the top of the page to remind myself of how far I've come. This has been working so well for me.

In January I missed just one run. Lauren was sick the whole first week of the month and really couldn't run. I got myself to the gym even when Lauren wasn't able to. I did skip one run that week and like a good best friend, stayed home and made her chickenless noodle soup instead. That's basically one huge excuse for missing that run. I could've easily run and cooked, but I was just lazy and refused to put my running shoes on. Then in February I got pretty sick and even needed to go to the ER. It wasn't that serious, but it was bad enough that I needed to miss two days of running. Even though I so badly didn't want to skip another run, I truly needed to. There was no point in stressing my body out at that time; I really just needed to rest. In March my family visited for an entire week. Even though there was a gym with dreadmills (I mean treadmills), we only used them once. Lauren talked me out of running almost the entire week, saying that it was more important to spend time with family than go running. While I was hesitant to skip a week's worth of training, she was completely right. We started training for our July marathon in plenty of time, so it wasn't that big of a deal pushing our schedule back one week.

The real reason I don't like to skip runs (besides feeling guilty all day long), is because it's so much harder to get out the door and run the next day. From personal experience, I know that when I miss one day of running, the following day I'll tell myself, "oh you skipped yesterday, what's another day?". Then the horrible no-running cycle continues until it's just too late and you show up the morning of the race, completely unprepared. True story.

Luckily though, that hasn't happened so far. This time, I'm a lot more motivated. I've run this distance before, heck, I've run much further than a marathon. I know I can do this. I actually want to do this for myself. I don't have to prove to anyone what I'm capable of. Even though it takes a few miles to get in the groove sometimes, I actually do enjoy running most days. I think that, so far, Lauren and I have been successfully crossing off our daily workouts because this is our big goal and we want to devote a lot of our time into it. We know how much work and energy goes into training for something so daunting, and yet we still want to give it our all. Even though many days it's so hard to push the start button on my watch, once I get going, I'm so happy and proud of what I've done.
We both also signed up to run the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia half marathon on Halloween and the Philadelphia marathon (along with Marissa, Heather, and Leti- they also ran CIM with us in the picture above) towards the end of November. I'm hoping that will multiple races planned throughout the year, I won't fall victim to the way-too-long running break that typically follows the "big race".