20 Miles and Tapering

Last Saturday was my peak training run, and the first time I’ve ever run 20 miles. Since moving to The Heights, I’ve been able to take advantage of some good elevation changes while running. I planned it out so I’d hit a really big hill around the 16 mile mark. I was a little nervous about it, knowing that most of my training has been pretty flat, but I knew that it would be a HUGE confidence booster if I could do it. One of my biggest fears going into Marathon day is how I’m going to handle the hills on the bridges. I’m happy to say, even 16 miles in, I was able to conquer that hill without issue. All in all, it was a pretty good run. I finished in just under 4 hours and I felt pretty good after….just really sore ankles and knees. Assuming I’ll run a bit faster during the Marathon, I’m really hoping to get in under the 5 hours mark. It’s not a lofty goal, but it’s my first marathon so I’ll really just be happy if I’m able to finish without hurting myself!

This weekend I was supposed to run 12 as part of my taper. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards for me. Sean and I recently got engaged (yay!!) and we spent the weekend looking at venues and worrying about furnishing our new home. I just couldn’t bring myself to get up early to run before venue shopping. I haven’t been getting the best sleep lately (likely due to all the stress of having to do a million things) and I needed to take it easy. I’ve also been feeling pretty sick and the last thing I want is to make it worse 2 weeks out from Nov 1. This morning, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was starting to burn out pretty hard a few weeks out from my 20 miler, and I really just felt like I needed a break. That, and I hurt my neck on Friday morning during a 5 mile run. Instead of the 12 miles, I ran 2 with Sean on a pretty tough course that goes up a VERY steep hill. I felt like my breathing recovered really well after the hill, so I was happy with the effort I put in even though I couldn’t do 12 today. Tomorrow would usually be my rest day, but I’ll probably get in a couple miles before work to make up for this weekend. I’m not too stressed about it. I have my base and I’m ready to go. If I can add on some extra miles this week, and maybe do 10 instead of 8 this coming weekend, I think I’ll be set!

I just got my bib # and start time from NYRR this week. I’ll be starting at 11 am (and hopefully done by 4 pm haha). In just 2 short weeks I’ll be running in the NYC Marathon!

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When Life Gets in the Way of Training

The weather’s changing so I’m feeling a cold coming on. I’ve been training 5-6 days a week for 14 (or more) weeks. I’m planning a major move that will leave me and my boyfriend and the kitties (and all our stuff) temporarily without a home for a day/night. I’m exhausted.

But I’m still waking up every morning and doing SOMETHING.

In the beginning of this training plan, I mapped out my goals. The plan actually calls for 2 days of rest a week, but my goal was 1. I built that in with the caveat that if I’m having a rough week I can still take 2 days off. I needed that more than ever last week.

Last week’s training culminated in a 13 mile (recovery week) trail run because I was out at my boyfriend’s parents’ house getting some moving logistics taken care of. I don’t do a lot of trail runs…and I never wear my glasses when I run. Needless to say, 2 miles in I tripped over a really sneaky rock and fell. I finished the run but it wasn’t easy. Usually, the day after my long run I’ll take a nice easy 4-5 mile run. I elected to skip on Sunday, and let me tell you, it felt great. I NEEDED that day off.

As I sit here with my lentil soup, next to my Throat Comfort Yogi Tea and my honey, lemon, and ginger, planning out our move, I am anticipating an ugly week ahead. Moving in a week and a half and dealing with closing and money and moving out on day and moving in the next–on top of a possible cold–it’s all pretty stressful.

But I still wake up and run. And hopefully I will next week too. Maybe getting a cold now is a blessing because I’ll get it out of the way for the fall season before Nov. 1.

Life happens and you get sick and you get busy. It’s important to build in at least 1 optional rest day into your training. Mentally I see it like this–every week that I’m able to get 6 workouts in is a huge win because it’s more than what my plan calls for. Every week that I need to take an extra day feels great and I don’t feel guilty for skipping a day.

Since you’re training for a marathon, are you losing a ton of weight?

When you run an average of 35-45+ miles a week, people probably expect that you’ll lose a TON of weight. If weight loss is your primary goal, training for a marathon probably isn’t the best method. That amount of exercise will destroy calories, absolutely. However, calories are energy and energy is what you need to complete a 10-20+ mile long run–so you need to eat, and you need to eat a LOT.

I’ve never exercised this much or this consistently in my life–even before my NYC Half PR a few years ago my longest run leading up to the event was 10 miles. Not only am I running 40-ish miles a week (I’m up to 17 miles for my long run), I’m spending at least one day a week cross training. With the amount of calories I’m zapping, my body is BEGGING me to replace them. After a long run, I’ll immediately replace calories with coconut water or a smoothie before I eat my first meal of the day. On a good day, I’m hungry every couple of hours–but I typically find myself hungry again an hour after I eat. I find myself eating constantly, and needing to consume larger meals, and snack frequently in between meals. I find myself seeking out the most filling foods (which also happen to be pretty calorically dense)–beans, hummus, carbs. My appetite is a result of my body needing to replace the calories I burn working out so I can keep going. Increased activity leads to increased calorie intake leads to a relatively stable weight.

In the beginning, I shed quite a few pounds pretty easily, but now I’m evening out. I’d say overall in the last 2 months I’ve lost maybe 10 pounds. That’s not so say I don’t LOOK a lot more fit. I’m gaining muscles I’ve never seen before and I’m losing fat. But I’m not losing a TON of weight. And I didn’t expect to. I would never deprive my body of the calories and nutrients it needs to perform its best leading up to the marathon. Lately I’ve been worried about whether or not I’ve consumer enough the night before a longer run to ensure my energy level is high enough to get me through the run.

If you want to run a marathon, prepare yourself to eat a lot during training. Don’t expect to lose a ton of weight. If you do, you’re going to deny yourself what you need to perform your best. Eat when you’re hungry and make sure you’re getting enough calories. You’ll still lose a little weight and you are going to look and feel fit. Just think about all you can eat without feeling guilty, and ENJOY it. You’re going out on 3-4+ hour long runs and working out almost every day. You’re experiencing aches and pains you never thought were physically possible. You are sacrificing hours upon hours of your free time. You’re going to sleep early on Friday nights (and waking up early on weekends). You’re missing out on countless happy hours and drinks with friends. You DESERVE to eat and enjoy things you’d normally feel a little guilty about. Pasta and bread, yes please and thank you!

NYC Marathon–the 9 week countdown

The end of this week will mark my official halfway point of my NYC Marathon training. I’m starting to write about it a little late in the game, but, you know, all this training means I’ve been PRETTY busy…but now that I’m getting into the real swing of things, I can start to make the time now! I’ve been loosely following the Hal Higdon Novice 2 program. This will be my first (and maybe last) marathon, but I’ve run several half marathons in the past, and I’ve been running in some form for the past 3 or so years, so I thought Novice 2 was the right fit for me. By “loosely” following I mean that the program suggests workouts 5 days a week with 2 rest days–and I’ve been working out 6 days a week with 1 rest day. I also switch around some days to suit my needs, and for any of the 3 mile days I’ve bene doing 4 instead. I think, when training to run 26.2, the minimum mileage for a single run should probably be 4.

This past weekend was my longest run ever. Since I’ve only ever run half marathons, anything beyond 13.1 is new territory for me. I ran 15 really tough miles along the Hudson River on Saturday, stopping once to fill my water bottle in a fountain. Yes–I do bring water with me if I’m going over 8-ish miles. I needed it. Summer running has been brutal this year. It’s been ridiculously hot and humid this Summer, of course. This is the first year I can remember that I’m actually excited for the Fall. Those last 2 miles this weekend were probably the most brutal 2 miles I’ve ever run in my life. Getting to past 15 and running another 11 is going to be a challenge. I’ve also found that working out 6 times a week is taking a toll on me. I’m pretty exhausted, and it definitely takes a lot of getting used to . Especially when you don’t want to compromise on going out, having a few drinks, and sometimes staying out a little (too) late.

While I’m no running expert, I have found that, throughout my training, many of my friends have been asking me advice about getting into running, training for events, nutrition, etc. Soooooo I figured I’d start writing it all down. Over the next 9+ weeks, that’s exactly what I’ll start to do here.