This is the third training cycle I’ve done for a marathon, and by far, it has been the best one up to this point. With the exception of running with the Outer Banks group for one of the weeks, I have run all of my runs solo. I think that mentally, it is tougher to do that. The time may go by a little slower than when running with others, which is good practice for the real race. Although in a way I am running with others at the race, I really am not. There will be runners there that are running with others. I suppose I could run with a pace group, but I don’t really want to do that (although I have with half marathons and usually like it). I will be running solo at Chicago too, so running solo now is good preparation. I still may have occasional runs with someone during training, but I expect to finish my training mostly with solo runs. I do listen to music on the solo runs, but I might not use it at Chicago because last time there was just so much crowd cheering, it was hard to hear music anyway!
My training goals are the following: no injuries, lose weight, experiment with fluid intake and gels, diet, and follow the training schedule I’m using as closely as I can. Here’s how these things are going so far:
I’m doing pretty well with weight loss. Back in January I was as high as 230 lbs. Now I am around 213 as of my last weigh in from a couple days ago. My goal is to be under 200 lbs before the marathon, so I have a couple months to go still. Hopefully I can accomplish this. During my week at the beach, I ate EVERYTHING! But I also ran 32 miles between Sunday-Friday, so that helped me neither gain nor lose weight.
With running experience comes wisdom, but that doesn’t mean I still won’t get injured. I have had my fair share of injuries in the past, and they can be a race wrecker. They can come out of nowhere, literally overnight. I am fully aware of this, and my weekly miles are starting to increase a lot compared to what I usually run. 30+ miles/wk is a lot for me, and it is about to increase into the 40s. So I need to be on top of things like stretching, foam rolling, and doing elastic band walks. I have been trying to do these regularly after runs or the day after/before a run. I usually do not do elastic band walks right before a run. I did once, and my knee hurt on the run. It could have been a coincidence, but I am not chancing it. On this training cycle, I have had a sore quad that took 1+ miles to warm up to where I could increase my pace. I am keeping an eye on that muscle, and on my last run, it did not bother me. I have had pains here and there sometimes, but they all have been temporary so far. Let’s hope that I can just get through the next 4-5 weeks of very long runs and make it to the taper! Usually I get a massage at some point, probably 2-3 weeks before the marathon.
This is something I have struggled with. This time I am training with what they will serve on the course, which is Gatorade Endurance formula. I have bought the powder and have been using it on my longer runs. I usually carry water and Gatorade so that I can alternate with them while running. But I have struggled in the past with symptoms of dehydration in the last part of the race – around or after 20 miles. Symptoms like nausea, as well as “hitting the wall” symptoms. I still need to figure this part out. I had problems in the last 2 marathons with this and haven’t even finished a marathon without some walking involved. It’s never an issue for me in half marathons (except once – very hot weather). Also post marathon race, I still experienced the dehydration symptoms. It is odd, but if I try to take in too many liquids, then I feel worse while running. But I am a heavy sweater, losing up to 3 pounds on a 6 mile run for a 75-80 degree day. I am not sure how fast liquids clear out out of my stomach normally, and in a race, it is even worse because blood is going more to muscles, etc. during all that exertion. For energy gels, I have been using Gatorade chews, but I know the Cliff energy chews (non-caffeine) also work for me.
I know my limits pretty well. For example, I know that I feel worse if I run 3 days in a row. My training schedule has me running Fri/Sat/Sun in a row, so instead, I have eliminated the Saturday run and tacked those miles onto the other days. So I am still hitting the weekly mileage target, just with longer runs. This has worked well for me so far. I am also trying to get some weightlifting in a couple days a week.
So that’s about it. I am satisfied so far with my runs, but it’s about to get intense. My next long will be easy (14 miles – Update – this run went well), but after that it is 18,20,20, 15, 22. If I get through all of that, I will have made it to the taper. The 16 miler that I did last week went very well, but I had good weather on my side. On that run, I felt like I could have run 4 more miles to get to 20. I probably should have! But I am trying to just stick with this Runner’s World schedule.
I forgot to mention that I have been running in Newton Aha shoes for 2-3 years now, and they have discontinued the shoe. I cannot even find a pair in my size online anywhere, so I had to find another shoe. I found a new shoe and will talk about that in another upcoming post.