Just about 5 weeks until The Big Day, until the SLO Marathon, until my third 26.2. I’m feeling okay about it… ish. My training has been going fairly well, save for the month I took off to grieve and eat all the carbs and all the sugar. Had to be done. 2 weeks ago, I accomplished a 3 hour and 15 minute 16 mile training run and it went surprisingly well after all that time off. Those 16 miles gave me just the boost of confidence I needed to get back to my training- I completed that run feeling surprisingly refreshed, very happy, and (after a long ice bath) not sore at all!
As a proud SLO Marathon race ambassador, I was lucky to be introduced to Greg McMillan of the McMillan Running Company. After completing a very detailed questionnaire about my running history, strengths/weaknesses, and time/distance goals, Coach Greg crafted a training plan for me that included my upcoming races plus a lot of fantastic advice about recovery, increasing speed, and running efficiency. Since this marathon will be the first I have done without the support of Team in Training, having a (virtual) coach to guide me through plus a new, custom plan to follow really helps to increase my confidence about this impending 26.2.
Now that I have an actual plan to follow, I have to follow the plan. Easier said than done when life is just getting in the way all over the place nowadays! That’s certainly not an excuse though! In completing the multi-page questionnaire for Coach Greg, I learned even that much more about my running while reviewing my stats since I began racing in 2009 and found that I was at my best (that is, my fastest and still achieving PRs) when I ran on a consistent weekly basis as well as incorporated a weekly track work out for speed. I was at my “best” in 2011 and 2012. That’s a long time ago, wow.
In my 6 years of running, I have never asked myself what I consider to be my strengths and weaknesses or what my favorite and least favorite workouts are until Coach Greg asked. I usually just pick a training plan and do what it says whether or not I actually want to. My strengths are definitely mental fortitude and hills, my weaknesses are currently stamina and endurance (I’m blaming all the carbs and sugar on that plus being injured all of 2014). My favorite running workouts are long runs and trails, my least favorite are tempo runs, mile repeats, and anything with the word “treadmill” in the title. Greg geared my training plan to reflect all that, focusing on re-building my endurance plus giving me the workouts I LIKE to do as opposed those I didn’t- sure makes for a MUCH more enjoyable training approach than I have ever used in the past!
After I sent Greg my completed questionnaire, he wrote me back saying that I “have great potential”. Tee hee hee.
One of the most important things I learned with Coach Greg’s plan is to follow a difficult run or workout with an easy run or workout. I have NEVER done this before! I have always considered training “work” and figure I have to push myself past the point of comfort constantly to get better at my sport so hard workout after hard workout, 6 days a week used to be my goal. (And I wonder why I was injured for so long! AH HA!!!) While I am still working hard, I have also taken the expert advice of taking it easy too. I am injury-prone plus incredibly fearful that I will get injured again, so this advice is now my Golden Rule. If I run a really hard, hilly, fartlek on Monday, then on Tuesday I will strength and cross train, lower my weights a bit and spend a little less time on the elliptical, then ramp back up on Wednesday, rested and ready for a steady state run. This way, I’m still getting great workouts that meet my training goals while finding a lot more balance, and allowing my body to recover completely from every more-than-difficult effort.
With training back on track, I now face the task of getting my mind right. I admit I am nervous, fearful, worried, dubious about my ability and my strength, wondering how I will get through without Team in Training support, convincing myself that no one who is injured for over a year heals and then runs a marathon, thinking half marathons are just fine and challenging too, what’s the big 26.2 deal anyway??? With that month off, I figure I haven’t really followed the plan per se and that makes me doubtful… 5 weeks to go… I keep reminding myself of how elated I felt after completing those 16 glorious miles…
But then last weekend, I ran 8 miles and hated every single minute of it. Didn’t want to run, didn’t feel like, but I went out the door anyway, tortured the entire time, spending miles thinking about how to push over a cyclist and steal his bike in order to make it back home NOT on my own 2 feet. You wanna run a marathon, hunh, Laura? Interesting…
Consistent weekly runs and another 16, then 18 and 20 and if all goes according to The Plan, I’ve got this. I think I can, I know I can, just follow Coach Greg’s advice and envision that finish line. I think, I can, I will… I hope…
Related articles: Journey to 26.2, Part 1: Beginning Again