About a month ago, I wrote this post about the “excuses” I made while training for my first postpartum marathon, Celebration. Not only did I complete that race strong, but I achieved my A+ goal when I ran a 3:40 (a 3-minute PR), which I am still so happy and proud about, but I had to keep the momentum going for another 26.2 (plus 10K + 5K) just two weeks later.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons in the years since I first laced up my running shoes, but I have to say, it was not until this training cycle that a few clear themes presented themselves, so I thought I’d share! So, here’s what I did…
- Took the Pressure Off
- Not to be confused with “taking it easy” or “not having a goal,” for me, “taking the pressure off” meant affirming to myself that I COULD reach the goal I set for myself, but that goal did not DEFINE me. Race morning(s), I reminded myself of the training I had completed, and the potential I KNEW I had within – forget disappointing others, or feeling “not good enough” – those kinds of thoughts are just a waste of time.
- Focused on My Core
- I’ll admit it, in previous marathon training cycles, I slacked on the “strength training” components. I’d do a few planks here and there, or attend some yoga classes, and call it a day. I mean..I was running 40-50 miles a week back then, wasn’t that enough? Well…maybe not. This time, I averaged closer to half that mileage (20-30 miles a week) but took advantage of my Beachbody on Demand subscription and worked out 5-6 days a week, and balanced out the workouts. My favorites were 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and Core De Force – and before I knew it, I felt the improvement in my running. My posture was better, and not only did that help my training runs, but I truly believe that stronger feeling within is what got me past those harder marathon miles.
- Balanced Preparation with Adaptation
- From the training (switching days around, choosing sleep over easy workouts when I felt too wiped out), to race days, I kept my mind and plans flexible. One example? As it turned out, I ended up not running a single run in the rain during my training, but race day was an all-morning downpour. What to do? Well, roll with the punches! I wore plastic bags on my feet, a garbage bag, and a smile on my face. Stressing would not have helped me at all!
- Went Minimal on Race Day
- In my 16 marathons, I’ve gone back and forth on what I carry…phone? iPod? Fuel? Race belt? I’ve done it all…and for me, I’ve found the best has been the least. For Celebration, I carried a small bag of Glukos tabs and my iPod shuffle, and for DONNA, I went totally ‘naked’ – the only thing other than my clothes I had was my GARMIN. Having less to worry about, was just that…less to worry about!
- Fueled Smart
- In race prep and race day, I tried all sorts of things to see what worked best for my body. Some of the observations were healthy ones (I made a habit of drinking Shakeology daily – perfect for my busy days where I could inadvertently neglect certain food groups) and some not so much (my perfect pre-race fuel is still a donut!). I watch my portions (which has been made so much easier with 21 Day Fix containers) but also don’t deprive myself of cravings – because let’s be real, my sweet tooth ain’t going anywhere!
Now that my two big races are behind me, I have a smattering of fun runs and events before the short Florida racing season is over. I plan to take each one as its own challenge, and truly enjoy every mile. Running is an ever-evolving element in my life, and as I advance through more “stages” of our special relationship, I am thankful for it all.
What lessons have you learned in training and race preparation?