April 3 – 12 Training

This includes weeks 2 and 3, the final week, of taper. The last week is a partial week because my final run (before a shakeout on Sunday) was April 12. I will run the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17.

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FINAL RUN. I cannot tell you how joy-filled this was.

All in, I ran 906 miles over the past 17.5 weeks. I’m pleased with how the entire cycle went. As with any training, it had ups and downs. One of the biggest challenges was training through a brutal North Dakota winter. We were pummeled with multiple feet of snow through several winter storms and dangerously cold temperatures. My personal limit for outdoor running is an air temp (without wind chill) of -5. 

Most of my quality runs (track work, tempo, race pace) were done on my treadmill, alone, in my dark basement. Beyond the physical challenges, the mental challenge of regular longish runs (up to 12 miles) took its toll.

I did manage to hit every single mile prescribed in the plan. I’m pretty proud of that. 

Through the weeks, I developed one pretty bad cold and dealt with one serious niggle. Luckily, I was able to train through both with slight pace adjustments. Note: this is only recommended if your body can handle it. If you are seriously sick or injured, please don’t run through it. Stop and seek appropriate medical treatment.

The thing that took me by surprise this taper was my hunger. It was/is out of control. I eat just over 2,000 calories a day, which is normally more than satisfying. Through the taper, I usually ate almost all of those calories by 11 a.m. I did go over a few days when I thought it was necessary. I don’t remember experiencing hunger like this before through any other tapering period. Luckily, my weight is stable and I’m at my perfect, comfortable race weight.

Taper Week 2
Monday, 4/3
•8 easy, 8:53 pace

Tuesday, 4/4
•6 easy in the morning, 8:47 pace
•5 easy after work, 8:32 pace
•11 miles total

Wednesday, 4/5
•Rest day

Thursday, 4/6
•9.5 easy in the morning, 8:37 pace
•3.5 easy after work, 8:41 pace
•13 miles total

Friday, 4/7
•7 with race pace strides, 8:05 pace

Saturday, 4/8
•8 easy, 8:28 pace

Sunday, 4/9
•8 easy, 8:30 pace with some race pace blocks

Total miles: 55

Taper Week 3
Monday, 4/10
•6 easy, 8:27 pace

Tuesday, 4/11
•6 easy, 8:31 pace

Wednesday, 4/12
•6 easy, 8:13

Thursday – Saturday
•Rest, rest, rest

Sunday, 4/16
•2 mile shakeout run, very slow

Total miles: 20

I’ve found I like a non-traditional taper, usually running high volume until the final week. This calms my nerves. One change I did make was running the prescribed miles during week 2 of taper (55), but taking out all advised speedwork. In lieu of that, I threw in some race pace strides. This kept me mentally happy.

Another survival technique was running almost all of these final miles with friends. It’s a great chance to catch up and get outside of your head.

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The last week is where I really taper hard – minimal, easy miles. In the few days leading up to a marathon, I become really aware of how much I’m moving and try to limit that as well. I’m normally a pretty active person (20,000+ steps a day) so it can be hard for me to sit more and move less, especially when dealing with pre-race nerves.

I fly out to Boston tomorrow. I know most people are already there or arriving long before late Saturday, but I want to minimize my time in Boston before the race. Pre-race nerves will likely hit me hard once I’m there, so I’d rather have only one day to explore the expo, then run.

I’m so anxious to take in this monumental marathon. It really will be a dream come true.

March 20 – April 2 Training

These were two big weeks: peak week and taper week 1 of 3.

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When you don’t feel like running, throw on the magic colors.

Peak week was amazing: 63 miles of nailing miles and paces. My long run was a huge confidence builder before the taper. Everything went smoothly, except I only lifted once, which is actually pretty normal for me during peak week. From here on out, my lifting will be extremely limited, if at all.

The three weeks leading up to the marathon I like to tune into my body very closely. If I’m feeling sore and/or overly tired, I don’t lift. Not much is lost during these weeks strength-wise, but I could potentially damage my performance by overdoing it. If you’re like me, you don’t want to compromise 18 weeks of hard work!

Peak Week!
Monday, 3/20
•8 easy miles, 8:45 pace

Tuesday, 3/21
•7 easy, 8:49 pace
•Full-body lift

Wednesday, 3/22
•Rest day

Thursday, 3/23
•6 working, 7:30 pace
•all other miles 8:49 pace
•11 total

Friday, 3/24
•8 easy, 8:52 pace

Saturday, 3/25
•Long run day! Ran with a local, super fast group
•16 miles, 7:47 pace
•736 foot gain
•133 avg. HR (great indication that my fitness is where it should be!)

Sunday, 3/26
•13 easy, 8:12 pace

Totals
•63 miles
•1 strength session

My first taper week was typical taper. I’m hungry and physically and mentally wiped. I don’t feel like taking naps, but I have no motivation to do anything except go through the motions of my days, so I do just that.

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Taper feels. I’m hungry. I’m tired. I’m dying….

 

I’m working hard to release myself from the “shoulds” until after race day. You know….I “should” bake some healthy breakfast muffins. I “should” deep clean my shower. I “should” spring clean. NOPE – saving that until after.

Recovery is just as much mental as it is physical.

Since I was exhausted this week, I made the call to not lift. My legs and entire body are sore, which is such a strange feeling after not lifting. Hello, taper, my old friend.

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The fast group I ran with during the long runs made these little leggies RUN.

Taper Week 1
Monday, 3/27
•6 easy, 8:47 pace

Tuesday, 3/28
•10 easy, 8:21 pace

Wednesday, 3/29
•Rest day

Thursday, 3/30
•6 working, 7:08 pace
•5 “cool down,” 7:52 pace
•11 total

Friday, 3/31
•6 easy, 8:51 pace

Saturday, 4/1
•Long run day! Ran with the same local, super fast group
•15 miles, 7:48 pace
•224 foot gain, basically one steep hill and the rest flat

Sunday, 4/2
•8 easy, 8:52 pace

Totals
•56 miles

March miles
•253

With only 14 days to go, I made the call to scrap speed and run the rest of my miles easy until race day. On the days speed is prescribed, I will throw in race pace strides at the end of each mile.

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My favorite torture devices.

Dear cell phone, we’re breaking up…

At work today, while scrolling through Facebook (my job requires it), I saw this blog: The Only Remedy for FOMO (fear of missing out) 

With coffee in one hand, phone in the other, all while replying to an email, I scrolled through it.

  • Saying yes when your heart says no? Check.
  • Scrolling endlessly through social media? *looks down at cell* Check.
  • Constantly checking phone? *see above* BIG check.
  • Sleeping less? Yes.
  • Compromising self-care? Unfortunately.
  • Rushing? Yep.
  • Choosing convenience over quality? *rips protein bar open* Nodding.
  • Feeling like you’re missing out on things? Yes.

It struck me – I am on my phone way too much, scrolling social media, not even looking for anything. I don’t even like Facebook. From the second I roll out of bed until my head hits my pillow at night, I am attached to my phone like it’s my life source. Texts, apps, browsing….

I need a break. It’s peak week for Boston prep: 63 miles. On face value, that’s not bad, but considering total time commitment, it’s a lot. Fueling, sleeping, mobility, strength, driving, showering…..All in, it’s quite a chunk of time, not to mention the accompanying mental and physical exhaustion.

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This is more time-consuming than it looks.

I need to be focused and refreshed to successfully navigate my week. If I added up all the “5 minutes here, 5 minutes there” cell  time, it would be an embarrassingly large number.

What could I do with all the time I mindlessly squander?

What instantly comes to mind:

  • Spend five minutes applying makeup in the morning
  • Do more yoga
  • Spend more time being present with my boyfriend at home
  • Pet and love on my dogs
  • Read a book
  • Journal
  • Cook/meal prep
  • Meditate
  • Clean
  • Blog
  • Take an epsom salt bath
  • I could just sit and do nothing, aka relax

The sheer amount of time I spend being “connected” changes my mindset. I’m hardly ever relaxed (unless I’m running, about mile 12 or so). Everything feels like an emergency, always go, go, go. I instantly respond to texts and notifications, being available 24/7.

I can’t remember the last time I had a meal with no interruptions – just me sitting at a table, enjoying food. This realization saddens me; It’s a big wake-up call.

Marathon training, especially peak week, is a naturally busy, exhausting time. Why am I making it harder on myself? My self-care is slipping. I’m not spending as much time on critical things as I should. This isn’t surprising, but I need to help myself more and cut out the crap, especially the special kind of crap that adds no value to my life. *looks over at cell phone*

I need an intervention.

I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to work, but I am committed to spending less time being “connected,” instead being present and living life, the one not obtained through a screen.

I want to come home from work and set my phone down, not picking it up again until I leave my house the following morning. I want to eat dinner with Derek and have an actual dinner – food, conversation, relaxation. No phones allowed.

I want to be able to just sit and BE without feeling like I need to be doing anything at all. My mind is constantly going the way it is. I don’t need to add fuel to that already-burning fire.

Parameters, which are bound to change to make this sustainable:

  • One hour of phone access per evening
  • When not in use, place phone in bedroom
  • Use an alarm clock (not my phone)
  • Turn “do not disturb” on my Garmin (it buzzes with every notification, instantly alerting me)
  • Possibly others I’m not thinking of now – I use my phone a lot…

I’ll notify my close family and friends that I’ll be doing this, so they don’t text or call and wonder if I’m dead. (Hi, mom!)

Tackling this makes me excited, even a bit nervous. I want to see what positivity I can add to my life. I know I can be a better girlfriend, dog mom, friend, daughter, employee, runner, human.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing inherently wrong with technology and social media. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’ve gained a lot through both – ideas, people, connections. But I need to have a healthy balance between screen time and real life.

March 13-19 Training

Week 14 was an interesting one! I felt the beginning of a cold on Friday, March 10, which worsened over the weekend and was full-blown by the start of this week. It was so sick on Tuesday that I barely got out of bed. Luckily, I rested that day and was able to complete all of my mileage for the week.

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Spring in North Dakota – only one layer of thermals!

The good: I hit all my mileage (plus an extra 1.5 miles!).

The bad: My cold made it hard to breathe. My lungs felt like they were being compressed with a 500 pound brick. I also went out way too fast for both my strength and race pace runs. When I get nervous, I tend to run too fast.

Monday, 3/13
•5 easy miles, no idea on pace, slow

Tuesday, 3/14
•Impromptu rest day – sick with cold so stayed in bed most of the day

Wednesday, 3/15
•11 easy miles, 8:40 pace
•Full-body lift
•5 minutes of planks

Thursday, 3/16
•6 miles tempo, 7:06 pace
•8 miles total

Friday, 3/17
•9 easy miles, 8:30 pace

Saturday, 3/18
•9 “race pace” miles, went way too fast, 7:15 pace
•1 cool down mile, 10 miles total

Sunday, 3/19
•12 easy miles on schedule
•ran 13.5 miles, 8:15 pace, 664 ft. gain
•Full-body lift
•5 minutes of planks

Totals
•56.5 miles
•2 strength sessions

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Any day the sun comes out is a good day.

Overall, I’m pleased with the week. I wasn’t sure what my body would allow me to do since I was sick.

My focus going into this next week is to actually hit race pace (7:45). I need to calm my nerves and dial it in. Next week is peak week and I have 63 miles on the schedule.

I’m feeling excited, ready, and hungry for a PR. I cannot believe Boston is only 28 days away!

March 6 – 12 Training

Week 13 is done! I’m pleased to say it was a great week overall.

The good: I managed to hit all my miles and paces. Not too fast, which is my biggest struggle. I lifted twice, which I’m happy with. The further you get into training, the harder it is to fit this in. Also, it feels SO much heavier on fatigued legs, but it’s important to do it anyway.

The bad: The weather took a turn for the worse (winter storm, sub-zero temps), so my quality runs were on the treadmill. I also started getting sick at the end of the workday on Friday. This was made much worse by a long outdoor run on Saturday, and another outdoor run Sunday.

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Most of this week’s runs were this – COLD, windy, snowy, gloomy. Mother Nature doesn’t care how close Boston is. How selfish!

Monday, 3/6
8 easy miles, 8:47 pace
Real feel of -15 – yikes!
5 minutes of planks

Tuesday, 3/7
6 miles at strength pace, 7:36
11 miles total

Wednesday, 3/8
Rest

Thursday, 3/9
9 miles at GMP, 7:42 pace
12 miles total
This run felt amazing, even on the treadmill!
Full-body lift
5 minutes of planks

Friday, 3/10
7 easy miles, 8:38 pace
Another real feel of -15

Saturday, 3/11
16 miles, 8:11 pace

Sunday, 3/12
5.5 miles, 9:06, outside during a winter storm!
2.5 miles on the TM, no idea on pace, but slow
8 miles total
Full-body lift
5 minutes of planks

Totals
62 miles
2 strength sessions

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-15 degrees. Why are we smiling?

I am looking forward to warmer temperatures so I can get outside for my quality runs, namely my marathon goal pace runs. I am getting down to the final weeks, so I’d like my body to become really familiar with a 7:45 pace out on the roads.

This coming week, I’d like to work more short strength sessions in instead of two larger, more intense ones. From here on out, it’s all about maintaining strength up until the big day.

February 27 – March 5 Training

Week 12 was a great training week. It was a cutback week, only 5-6 miles, but was a welcomed mental break.

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Running past my house, probably in circles to get to an even number.

The good: nailed all my hard runs and the paces felt easy! Did some climbing on my long run and that also felt easy.

The bad: because of weather, I rearranged my schedule and put too many quality runs close together. My body is feeling the effects of that. Note to self: do not put quality workouts back-to-back. Bad, bad idea. I also didn’t finish my mileage from Tuesday, so I put 3.5 easy miles on Wednesday morning, my rest day. So, I didn’t have a rest day last week. Also a very bad idea. Even though they were short, easy miles, my body needed a day off.

One more thing I shouldn’t have done was allow myself to run my easy 10 on Thursday too fast. Even though an 8:13 pace is easy, I shouldn’t went slower to allow my body recovery time. I also ran my “race pace” day too fast. My goal marathon pace is roughly 7:45, but I ended up doing all nine miles at a 7:20. FAIL. Normally, I’d be excited, but this isn’t good because I need to dial into race pace.

When I get nervous, I tend to run too fast. I know it’s a ways out yet, but running the Boston Marathon has me both excited and freaked out at the same time.

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Love me some deadlifts. Don’t mind all the crap in my garage.

Monday, 2/27
•Easy 6 miles, 8:48 pace

Tuesday, 2/28
•Strength run day, 7.5 miles total
•6 at strength pace, 7:36

Wednesday, 3/1
•Easy 3.5, 9:04 pace

Thursday, 3/2
•Easy 10 miles, 8:13 pace

Friday, 3/3
•Easy 3, 9:14 pace

Saturday, 3/4
•Easy 14, 8:22 pace, 639 foot gain
•5 minutes of planks
•air squats and push-ups

Sunday, 3/5
•Race pace day, 11 miles total
•9 miles at GMP, 7:20 pace
•Full-body lift
•5 minutes of planks and additional core

Totals
•55 miles
•2 strength sessions

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My treadmill and I have a complicated relationship.

So, overall it was a successful week, but I made many mistakes this week, too. My goal for Week 13 is to dial in and stick to the plan – no switching days/mileage around, and not running any prescribed paces too fast.

My experience with disordered eating

This week, as I was logging food into My Fitness Pal, it hit me: I’m at a calorie level I’ve never been at before (while being in control of my food).

I’ve been reverse dieting myself through marathon training and am currently sitting at 2,111 calories a day. That may not sound like a terrible lot to you, especially with running 60-mile weeks, but it’s huge for me. It’s been a long, bumpy road to get here.

When I looked at that calorie number, I teared up. I then found this Runner’s World podcast and listened to it. At work, nonetheless – not recommended, by the way. It stirred deep emotions.

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It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I’ve been seeing Instagram posts all week, and each one instantly brings me back to a different place in my life.

I’ve talked about it a bit, but I’m never admitted it out loud to anyone. I am a disordered eater and have been since childhood. I’ve never perfectly fit into one of the categories, but I’ve been through a lot of them:

  • severe restriction (think 500-800 calories a day),
  • binges (where you physically can’t stop eating and feel like you will explode),
  • purging,
  • orthorexia,
  • and different combinations of everything listed.

At one point, I attended Overeaters Anonymous . No one knows this other than those at the meetings. I digress….

I felt out-of-place, judged almost. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was very nice, but I did notice the sideways glances.

“Why is she here?”
“She can’t POSSIBLY know what binges are.”

I can’t know for sure these were their thoughts, but it felt like it. I quit going, but it was the  first step to admitting I had a problem. Even though I wasn’t diagnosed, I knew I had to face my demons, or they would continue to follow me.

My eating patterns came in waves; sometimes, I’d go without restricting for months, but when a stressful situation came about, bam, back to restriction. The same went for all the other food issues.

Binging is the hardest for me. If you’ve ever binged, you know what I’m talking about. Binging is not simply indulging in unhealthy food or even overeating something. When you binge, you physically lose control. It’s like another power takes over. You keep eating and eating until thousands of calories are consumed and you feel physically unwell. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world.

It makes you feel so weak…so vulnerable. Then you promise yourself next time you’ll be better. You’ll be stronger.

I feel somewhat okay sharing this, because I know I’m not alone. You cannot judge a book by its cover. If we all knew what others were facing, we’d feel much less alone.

Running has helped my disordered eating, but there are also some things about the running community that could change for the better. Disordered eating is far too common among athletes.

  • Skinny is a dirty word. I never use it anymore. Why do we culturally aspire to skinny or thin?
  • Thin does not equal better, faster, etc. 
  • Running should never be used as a punishment or as a way to “earn” food. Food is not earned, it’s a basic need.
  • The idea that low-calorie diets are healthy. Especially if you’re an athlete, you need to be eating far more than 1,200 calories. Low calorie does not equal healthy. A lettuce salad is not a meal.
  • Empower everyone, especially women, to learn about nutrition. Don’t listen to the fads. Actually learn the science behind food.
  • The whole “negative space” concept. Women are not better when they are smaller, always striving to take up less space. Women are powerful. We deserve to take up whatever space we feel appropriate.

Even though I’m at a place of relative control now, all the same thought and behavior patterns remain. Now it’s a matter of whether I act on them.

The feeling of being so hungry you’re hollow inside still gives me a sick sense of power and being “in control.” I could still easily binge on a regular basis if I had one little slip. I’m not sure if that’s normal, but I think those feelings will be with me forever.

If you are struggling with any type of disordered eating, know that you are not alone. Please reach out and seek help in whatever form you are willing and able to. You are not weak or lacking some special willpower everyone else seems to have.

Please don’t be ashamed. Seek help. You are worth it.