Testing 1, 2, 3. Is this thing on? After basically not blogging my whole training for Tokyo- and sticking to insta posts, this feels different. ;-)
So we are within TWO WEEKS of toeing the line in Tokyo. I am thankful to be at this point. Thankful to have survived another marathon buildup, thankful to be injury-free, thankful to have gotten through what has been a tough emotional season with confidence that has taken a beating after 3 bad marathons back 2 back.
So what HAS this marathon season looked like??? Here's the RUNdown.
1. I stuck to 5 days a week of running/5 runs a week. During Boston I ended up overtraining. Running 80 miles a week for 5 weeks straight- took a toll on me and I showed up at Boston with dead/flat legs and nothing to give. Ever since that, I am cautious about overtraining - KNOWING now the fatigue that comes hand in hand with that. I decided to dial it back and maxed out on 5 days of running a week with no more than 60 miles- manageable for me. It hasn't felt like too much- especially compared to 7 days a week of running with MULTIPLE double days. (I'm sorry - does ANYONE look forward to a 6 miler after a 20 miler in the am??!)
2. I did my best to keep to my schedule/but was flexible & rolled with what life threw at me. This season hasn't been ideal to say the least. I had to bounce back from Berlin (September 27th) and pretty much take a week off from running and then start running again to get the base to set myself up for a good Tokyo. I had three weddings (that I played a role in) and other commitments during this training season. I was SUPER ill and was in bed for 8 days around Thanksgiving (forget running, I didn't go downstairs in my house during that time). I traveled to South America and was out of routine/couldn't get the hard workouts really done there- so just ran easy. Then I spent Christmas in Tennessee/went to Alisa's wedding in Virginia/went to Jacksonville, Florida to run a workout while Tyler went after his OTQ dream. These are just some of the main events of this season.. but through it all- I really worked to make sure my main workouts were hit. Part of making sure everything could be scheduled in was switching my long runs to Thursday morning (because running 20 miles before work sounds nice). I'm really proud of the fact that despite all of the craziness of my personal schedule/life- that I did my best to get my training in. Life & training is never perfect- and I just did the best I could.
3. I tried to eat clean- most of the time. I really have been putting my nutrition as a priority- focusing on cooking and making sure I eat lots of veggies- whether that's in the Vmix or cooking them. I have been inspired from Instagram accounts focusing on nutrition- and just seeing the huge role that nutrition focus has made in Kara Goucher's turnaround in her fitness. And if I lose a pound or two- that wouldn't be the WORST thing ever. HA.
4. I've been faithful to my tempos. Tempos are just the work that needs to be done in order to regain speed for a race. I honestly look forward to them now. Kinda get nervous for them- but I just know that that is really the workout I do that makes the biggest difference. I have done really varied workouts- short segments at a faster pace (for example: 3 by 3 miles), and then the next week longer work at a slower sustained pace (2 by 5 miles or an 8 or 10 mile tempo). I'm happy I'm coming into this race feeling pretty strong- but so ready to keep doing tempos after this and keep making progress.
5. I've got those long runs in. I hit 4- 20 milers, and probably 3-18 milers this season. I don't think I even did 1 -20 miler before Berlin (ugh)- so it makes me feel so much more confident to have done some great long runs- with some pretty quick paces- and some with some fast marathon paced last miles. Long runs are a lot of work - and I'm just proud that I got them in even with how exhausting life can be.
6. I'm taking those quick steps now. So my cadence is something I'm REALLY proud of. To the normal runner, maybe it's not that big of a deal. But being a pretty tall runner with long legs- I tend to lope along. Since we have been dating, Tyler has been telling me my cadence is really low and I need to work on it. I kinda just brushed it aside. Then I did a workout with Kevin McCrarey- and he pulled me aside to tell me that was quite a stride I had- but that my turnover was soft and I needed to work on it. I think nail in coffin of my slow cadence days was seeing myself in Tijuana in the final kick of the half marathon when this girl REALLY thought that she was going to outkick me in the final 200 meters- and then when I realize she is passing me- I kick it into gear and pass her to the finish. Adri recorded a video of me and seeing how long and slow my stride was mortified me. So beginning of August, I made my cadence a priority- even over pace. I made it so that cadence was a top field on my Garmin so I could keep my lil eye on those lazy legs of mine. Prior to working on my cadence all my runs were mid-150s to low 160's on a GOOD day. Every single long run I would look at my cadence- not even looking at pace- and anytime I saw it dropping, I would quicken my steps. For anyone who has low cadence, THERE IS HOPE FOR YOU. But it IS work. In the beginning, it felt ten times harder to run fast & with quick cadence. It just felt like I was working overtime. And it made the tops of my legs really sore. It has all been paying off though. With 6 months of focused work on it, pretty much every workout now is around 179 cadence (180 being ideal). I did a long run last week and told Tyler- my cadence was bad- it was a 177. He was like DO YOU EVEN REALIZE WHAT YOU'RE SAYING? That's when I realized how far I have come. My bad day of 177 cadence literally was an impossibility in my slow cadence days. I know that there is no way that I can reach my dreams of running real fast if I don't get my cadence quicker- so I'm really proud that I have focused SO hard on it and seen such progress. ;-)
7. I do 7 hours of strength training a week. Because I love to workout (no, really!) but can't be running excessive miles (see: Boston Marathon), I like that I can get some energy out doing barre & Kayla Itsines workouts. I do one of those two workouts each day. It keeps me strong & flexible. I am proud of the things I can do now that I wasn't able to do before- whether it is greater flexibility- or actually being able to do a pushup. I'm coming along. I would like to start lifting after this season.. but got to figure out what that would even look like.
8. I've fought the mental battle. Everyday. Marathon training is hard. Marathon training and getting up for all those runs and workouts is THAT much harder when you have had no positive validation for over a year and a half (it's been that long since my last PR in ANY distance at the Lululemon Seawheeze Half in August 2014). It makes it a very thankless position to be in. I've been disappointed, I've cried, I've been nervous and had tremendous anxiety before big workouts- but through it all, God has been a constant- even when my running hasn't been. I am thankful for amazing people in my life who have reached out and encouraged me during this season. I've needed it all. It's felt very vulnerable and raw to be back at this point where I so desperately want to get back in shape- but my poor little body is still coming out of the fatigue that I threw it into after Boston. I've worked hard to to stay positive & confident throughout the process of coming back. Getting through this season has only taken probably 1000 pep talks from my amazing bf & some incredible friends. It would have been really hard to keep at it without those. Never underestimate the power of your words to impact the lives of others. ;-)
So what does this all mean for TOKYOOO???
I feel pretty good about where I am going into Tokyo. My tempos have been consistent and strong. My workouts have been where they need to be for me to finally have a marathon PR. I haven't felt fresh all season (the freshness comes after taper, right??!)- but I have felt strong. Before Boston, I was running so many miles and so tired/fatigued, that I wasn't able to hit any of my paces really for tempos. They were a nightmare. I can be really tired now, but consistently, I've been hitting what I need to hit on tempos, even a day after a 20 miler. That's encouraging. A year and a half ago- going into Big Cottonwood, I was hoping for a 3:15 and going into it with that goal. That course ruined my body (4500 feet descent in 16 miles while at 9500 feet altitude, with flat/uphill for last 10 miles). I am not aiming for that fast of a race in Tokyo- it's insane how long it takes a body to recover from overtraining and extreme fatigue- but you know, coming away with ANYTHING faster than my PR (3:28) will be such a win for me. I just want to turn this train around and give myself a mental break from having to manage disappointment and turn that into motivation after every single race. With God's help & a strong mind, I hope to come away from Tokyo with a new PR and a little confidence booster. I'm a tougher & wiser runner from going through what I have the last year and a half.
Tokyo is 12 days away...