"I am still learning."
at age 87
Next week, barring any issues, I'll be running my 12th marathon. In many ways, I have this whole training thing down to a science. It's typically a four month cycle and while I do make small tweaks here and there, I rarely deviate from my standard routine. You know the saying....if it ain't broke, don't fix it. My workouts are basically the same (long runs, intervals, hills, track), I tend to use the same fuel (Picky Bars, NUUN, chocolate milk, coffee), and I always wear the same clothes and shoes (Oiselle, Skechers, Feetures). This week, however, I've been reflecting on my past race experiences and I'm realizing that while much of my training typically does stay the same, there have been quite a few changes over the years, too. I started running marathons in 2007 when I was 32. Back then, I was running just for the hell of it; because I thought the marathon was a bucket list item that I wanted to cross off and be done with. Today, despite the fact that I'm 40 or maybe because of it, my passion for running and racing has increased tenfold. My goals are a bit loftier and my commitment to the sport is stronger than ever. At the same time, over the past 8 years my body and it's response to running has changed quite a bit, my kids have gotten older and so much busier and my life, in general, is significantly less predictable and more chaotic. So, I continue to do what works. And I do my best to recognize what doesn't and embrace whatever changes need to be made so that hopefully it can. In the end, we learn from experience and every single one of my marathons has presented something new. As long as I continue to do them, I'm guessing this will always be the case. Thank goodness.
MARATHON #12: KNOWLEDGE GAINED & LESSONS LEARNEDLots of it. And a hell of a lot more than I used to. My 32 year old self could run, work, parent and then head out with friends for a night on the town. My 40 year old self, not so much. I can't train, much less function as a mom or coach when I'm running on fumes. It's a recipe for disaster and a sure fire way to get sick.
~ Recovery is critical. I can no longer run 20 miles, jump in the shower and then throw some food in my mouth as I drive to work. I need to allow time to cool down, stretch, roll, re-fuel and then do all the other stuff required of me. If I don't, I pay. Big time.
~ Food is my friend. I absolutely have to eat breakfast and often a second breakfast before heading out for a hard workout or long run. Coffee and a GU no longer does the trick. If I don't get fuel in me, my body will literally shut down mid-run. And that sucks.
~ It's okay to try new things while I'm training. Case in point, I used to use vanilla GU only during my training and on the race course itself. And if I didn't have it or couldn't get it, I would freak out. This time around, I've tested at least 10 types of mid-run fuel. GU, RunGum, Chews, Chomps, candy, all of it. The beauty of this is that my stomach can now handle almost anything. Thus, if I'm out of something at home (which happens a lot lately) or out for a run in a new location, I don't have to panic. I can literally grab almost anything and I know it will work.
~ My kids are starting to get it. At ages 10 and 8, they now understand, to some degree, why running is important to me. Instead of giving me a hard time about leaving or not being able to make it to something because of a race, they send me off with good wishes, hugs and high fives. When I come back, they ask how it went. They're not always there in person. I don't ask that of them or my husband these days. But, they are there in spirit, as I am for them. And that makes such a difference for me.
~ A long run is just a long run. I used to dread the long run. I built it up to this monumental hurdle that I couldn't possibly get over. By the time it was time to head out, I'd be miserable before I even started. In my last few training cycles, I've done multiple 20+ milers. I wouldn't say I love them now, but I do get so much more out of them. Because, really, when you break it down, the long run is just another run. Sure, there are more miles to tackle, but the joy of running is still a big part of the run. And when I look at it this way, I find myself looking forward to them which makes them a hell of a lot easier. Sort of.
~ Just run the mile I'm in. In the past, I would head out for a 10 mile tempo run and find myself thinking about miles 8,9, and 10 while I was running miles 1, 2 and 3. As a result, some part of the workout would always suffer because of my lack of focus on the present. This time around, I've learned to take each workout, break it up in pieces, and focus on the mile I'm in. Because of this I've noticed the quality of work and my general enjoyment of each workout has increased dramatically.
And finally, I also learned that when my iPhone's camera lens is dirty because it has fallen on the ground and I have failed to take good care of it, it takes really cool photos. (see top photo of my glowing sneaks) Who knew??
Listen to this:
3AM - RAC (feat. Katie Herzig) or listen w/