This 2013 marathon training season has flown by. I started phase 1 in late May and have been gradually building mileage and speed-work ever since. Today I ran another 20 mile training run which tops off a total weekly mileage of 48. My legs have been very fatigued and achy in odd spots. I know these aches. They are the aches of marathon training. Having already run 2 marathons this past year, I’ve learned how to listen to the moans of my body. I know which sensations are muscle moans and which are yelps of pain that cannot be ignored. I’ve complimented my training with bi-weekly physical therapy sessions. Initially to treat plantar fasciatis (a painful tightening near the arch/heel of your foot) and now mainly for tune-ups… my left hamstring, my right ankle, my left shin, my right IT band…all runners have their list.
I also know when my brain is tired from building mental toughness. Sometimes my runs are all just a long series of arguments with myself. It’s tired from arguing with me! My brain tries to coax me into modifying my training plan. For example, it will tell me to slow down just a notch when I’m doing speed-work, or to make a 6 mile training run a 4 miler. Or it tells me to stop for 5 minutes to drink and stretch instead of pushing through the discomfort. It will tell me not to run the hill or to stay in bed.
I’ve learned how to listen and decipher the nagging, negative voice. I know when I need to shut it up and when it’s time to truly listen. When I really do need that extra rest day and when I need to push harder and keep moving forward. My technique is nothing fancy. I simply tell myself at the start of a run that I WILL do this. I WILL finish. (That Under Armor commercial was definitely created by an athlete!) I think of this technique as being similar to when I turn on my internal alarm clock. I can go to sleep and tell myself I must wake-up at 5:30am. It works every time. I am up just before the alarm sounds. It’s the subconscious at work.
Yesterday I ran 8 easy miles. I debated running just 4 but when I got to the park I hit 6 miles and decided to just go for it and squeeze out 8. As my coach likes to say – money in the bank. It wasn’t my best run, it certainly wasn’t my worse run but I still got it done. What did I expect? Why bother worrying? I still got it done. Money in the bank.
Today’s 20 mile training run began at 7:00am in thick fog and high humidity. I train with an awesome group of runners. We pair off into various pace groups. I have a running partner who is a great conversationalist and a strong runner who helps make the time fly by.
We ran along the Staten Island boardwalk, starting at the Fishing Pier, went out to Miller Field, Cedar Beach and then turned around in the opposite direction and ran along the boardwalk towards Fort Wadsworth (which was closed due to the government shutdown) so we ran Lily Pond Avenue down to Bay Street, all along the water down to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, past Staten Island Yankee Stadium and the 9/11 Memorial, and further out to the promenade near Jersey Street, turned around and ran back to the boardwalk’s Fishing Pier.
It was extremely humid and we were soaking wet from head to toe. My hair was as wet as if I had jumped in a pool. By mile 16 we did a quick pit stop for water, I took an energy Gu and we decided to crank on our iPods and stepped up our pace for the last 4 miles. It felt amazing!
I’m especially happy with the strength we had to finish strong. This was one of those runs where I finished feeling like I could run not just another 6.2 Miles (Marathon) but easily 10 more miles! I could actually imagine myself running an Ultra Marathon! This is the kind of thinking I had after finishing my very first Half Marathon (Brooklyn) in 2011. I was astounded that I had just run 13.1 miles and looked beyond the finish line thinking, hmmm, maybe I could run a marathon. Maybe an Ultra is in my future? Anything is possible.
Here are my splits:
Total Runtime: 3:28 Average Pace 10:24
Mile 1 10:35
Mile 2 10:21
Mile 3 10:30
Mile 4 10:36
Mile 5 10:22
Mile 6 10:42
Mile 7 10:41
Mile 8 9:24
Mile 9 11:00 – Stopped for water (2min break)
Mile 10 10:38
Mile 11 10:52
Mile 12 10:41
Mile 13 11:21 – Stopped for energy supplement (2min break)
Mile 14 10:41
Mile 15 10:25
Mile 16 11:19 – Stopped for water (2min break)
Mile 17 9:26
Mile 18 8:50
Mile 19 9:00
Mile 20 10:00