So I am now approaching the 3-month anniversary with my Garmin Fenix 5s (link to the watch here) and being the finance nerd that I am deep down inside, I’ve spent a number of hours downloading and analyzing my running data, steps, heart rate and even my stress rate. Needless to say, the data points collected by this watch is enough to keep anyone fascinated with their progress.
As I approach the end of the 1st week of official marathon training (post physical therapy portion), I have been reading lots of articles to ensure I am both mentally and physically aligning myself with this Chicago Marathon goal now 30 weeks away (and counting).
After 9 weeks of physical-therapy-geared training, a lot of time reflecting via the meditation challenge, properly hydrating myself, cleaning up my diet and strategizing, I now can clearly see where I went wrong during my first marathon.
Here’s what I learned:
- Strength training MUST be a focus – incorporating barre classes, physical therapy exercises and strength training 2x per week, I can already feel the difference in my pace and more importantly my recovery. The strength training plan is still in play and can be found here on fit-nerd –> strength training. Watch for updates to the plan around Week 5 (week beginning April 9th)!
- Your Tank Should be Full-ish – that means food + sleep – running on zero or little sleep and bad choices in fuel not only prolong the pain during a run but deplete you entirely over the course of a few runs. The hydration challenge in January really shined a light on how much my body needed water – cheap, easy and not a mind-blowing fix but over the last 2.5 months, my afternoons are no longer plagued by sleepy/binge-eating attacks, I feel a more consistent level of energy throughout the day, and no more annoying chapped lips (yipee!).
- Your Mental Game is the Toughest Hurdle – ever have those runs where you want to just turn around and head home or spend the whole run thinking how much you don’t want to be out there? I’ll raise my hand and say that trying to change my routine to become a morning runner has been hindered by a few mornings of negativity. As challenging as it can be, I keep telling myself a single mantra to try and get myself grounded (again) instead of “I have to run”, I use “I GET to run” – not my own material, I think I grabbed that from Runners World a few months ago while sitting on the couch procrastinating before my day job – it turns my mindset around in 2-3 minutes every single run.
- Carbo Loading Is Not for Me – I’ve realized especially after training last year and switching up small areas of my diet, such as my breakfast. I, like many other runners, picked up a copy of Run Fast.Eat Slow. and have found breakfast salvation in the form of the make-ahead breakfast burritos. These EASY + tasty breakfast burritos are quick, portable and pack a whole lot of punch every morning. Rewind 2 months ago when I was reaching for berries + yogurt with my 2 cups of coffee. For me, I would start circling the refrigerator around 9:30am hungry again – fast forward to the last 2 weeks of the breakfast burritos: zero cravings/hangry feelings until right around lunch time. We all metabolize food differently and have different tastes/cravings/etc. the berry parfait can work wonderfully for some, but as I have paid more attention to my fuel + energy levels, it’s clear that I need a more protein-focused breakfast in the morning. Carbs leave me feeling hangry a few hours later and tie back to point #2 about fueling importance.
So what’s next? As Week 1 of the “official” marathon training plan unfolds, what else will be added to the routine?
My excel downloads from Garmin Connect have yielded some interesting data with respect to my cadence — the current average is somewhere in the range of 164 steps per minute (SPM) — the goal is a 5% increase of 173 SPM
Here’s the plan of attack (thanks to Runners World.com) for the next 6 weeks…
For folks following along with the 30-week marathon training plan posted here, these routines are meant to be included on the Wednesday runs + strides
- Week 1 – Fast Feet (Using short, quick strides, take as many steps as you can in 10 meters. Keep ground contact as short as possible. Jog for 10 meters. Repeat five times.)
- Week 2 – Downhill Sprints (After an easy run, do five accelerating sprints down a gentle grade of 150 to 200 meters, reaching top speed at the bottom. Walk up for recovery.)
- Week 3 – Fartleks (Run fartleks of 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 1 minute at 5-K pace. Jog one minute between reps. Do two sets. Count your steps or use a metronome during each rep of the second set. I’ll be using my Garmin watch to assess the tempo)
- Week 4 – Fast Feet
- Week 5 – Downhill Sprints
- Week 6 – Fartleks