Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fear of Commitment

The first time you train for a marathon, it almost doesn't matter what plan you choose.  If you're like me, your sole goal is to finish. Sure, you want your time to be respectable, but if you do poorly it's okay because you can always say, "well, it was my first one!"  But your second marathon....oh no, uh huh, no excuses this time.  You've done this before.  You should know better.  If you're doing this a second time, there are expectations.  Both for yourself, and others you tell about this momentous decision.  And by "others you tell" I mean everyone in the free world and beyond because dammit your entire life is going to revolve around training for this race.  So once you've crowed the news of your decision across the social media masses, called your grandma so you can hear how proud she is and told your parents (and in some cases, talking your parent into running it with you) you realize you need a PLAN.

There's just so much PRESSURE.  How many miles a week?  What should the weekly mileage be?  Should you incorporate strength training? Yoga? Speed work?  What will your nutrition be?  Should long runs be on Saturday or Sunday?

I was almost exhausted thinking about it. And in the last two months since clicking the little "register" button on the Run Disney website and paying the exorbitant amount of cash they extract from you in order for you to slap on a pair of Mickey ears and run through the Magic Kingdom, I've "decided" on four different plans.  I felt like freaking Goldilocks.  This one is too short, this one doesn't have enough weekly mileage, this one just doesn't feel right, this one offended me in some indefinable way and is now dead to me....I swear, people probably spend less time picking out names for their unborn children than I have picking out a marathon plan. I've even declared in this very blog that I had chosen a plan.  Only to input it into a Google calendar and decide I wasn't so into it after all.

But now the start date for Official Marathon Training is only a week away.  Next Monday (which is a "rest day," so super anti-climactic) begins my training for marathon number 2.  And I've decided on a plan recommended by the New York Marathon, identified in a somewhat demoralizing  fashion as the "First Time and Casual Marathoner" plan.  I'm not sure how I feel about being a "casual marathoner."  Regardless, it's a good plan. I hit several weeks at 40 miles, have three 20 mile runs and a nice mix of during-the-week runs.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sneaky, Evil Blisters

I haven't been posting much because life has been kind of crazy - with good stuff, to be sure, but there still hasn't been a lot of time left in the day to blog, unfortunately.

Saturday's are normally my long runs.  This past Saturday, I suited up and went out, to a relatively nice morning. Unfortunately, I neglected to pull up my left sock all the way.  I realized this when my Achilles started to ache from the collar of my shoe rubbing one little spot raw.  I stopped, fixed the problem, and tolerated the discomfort of a budding blister for the rest of my run.

Through a series of unfortunate athletic events in the proceeding days, what was an uncomfortable little blister became a gaping flesh wound.  I discovered this (and I think mostly caused it) by roughly pulling my bike shoes off after my ride on Sunday.  When I put on my Newtons to get in a quick post-bike ride, it felt like someone was stabbing hot knives into the back of my ankle.  Sounds nice, doesn't it?  I spent Monday and Tuesday dutifully applying band-aids and Neosporin, letting it air out when I needed it and mostly just being annoyed by it.

Then came Wednesday.  Not one to let a little blister (or gaping flesh wound) deter me from a run (which it had already done for a few days), I slapped on one of those nice, thick "no-slip Blister Band-Aids."  I made sure it was really stuck on there.  Put on my socks and shoes and I was off.  I felt great: my legs were fresh, it didn't feel like an oven outside for once and it was just an all-around nice evening.  I planned to do about 5.5 miles.

A little less than two miles in, I started to feel a little rub.  And then I began to feel pain.  I glanced down and saw that my no-slip Blister Band-Aid (it was even name brand) was poking out of my sock, length-wise, and waving in the breeze like a merry little latex flag.  I stopped to try and jimmy it back into place, but it wasn't having any of it (safety note: when adjusting workout wear while running, try to avoid stopping in the exit lanes of parking lots so large black trucks don't honk their horns at you).  So there I was, cotton from my sock scraping my Achilles raw.  Good times.

Defeated, I cut my run short and ran, hobbled, and skipped my way back home, thinking of all the ways I wanted to punish this evil little bastard that has taken up residence on my ankle.  I see pre-wrap and bandaging in my future.  I'll probably go out looking like an idiot, but I will not let this thing beat me!

Also, if you haven't checked it out, E over at Tristarter is raising funds for Ulman Cancer Fund.  Every little bit helps. Ulman helps out kids and young adults living with the disease, and it's really a great cause.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

An Ode to the Run

Don't get me wrong - I really love triathlon, too.  I like the challenge of three disciplines, I like the variety it brings to my training, I like how I get more of an all-over tone rather than putting too much into just my legs.

That being said, there's just something about running.  Maybe because of the three, it was the one I came to first.  Maybe it's because of the simplicity of it; I don't know.  But as much as I love training for tri season, and knowing that I'm getting better and faster and stronger in all three disciplines (the other night I uttered the phrase "I think in the next couple years I'd like to do a half," words I swore I would never say) running has a siren call for me.

The ritual of it - from the simple nights of lacing up my shoes and putting on my Garmin to knock out a couple miles, to the long weekend runs that see me loading my spibelt with ipod and gels and packing a cooler with water bottles, it's just great and simple.  I get outside in the early morning and love the soft morning light that filters through the trees around our neighborhood.  I love feeling part of that community of runners, seeing others out getting in their mileage before the day gets going.

Out of all of the random running accessories that I've amassed (it should be a prerequisite that a home with two triathletes needs a spare room to store all the parts and pieces of the sport), my Garmin 305 and my shoes are the things I look at with the most affection.  My Garmin in particular because it's there with me on my runs and my rides and my walks but my shoes because they carry me where I need to go.  Retiring a pair for a new one is a sad but exciting process.  Bidding goodbye is so bittersweet, even though at the same time I look forward to the new additions to the family.

Currently, I run in Newtons, and I'm a huge fan.  I can see myself sticking with these for years to come (though I might rotate in some minimalist shoes for variety).  I look at my shoes with all the affection I imagine a child holds for their favorite stuffed animal or a dog for his favorite chew toy.  I'm just attached; I like to have them with me (when running is in my future, not in a creepy, I take them to work with me kind of way).

I'm getting all sentimental I think, knowing that training for marathon #2 starts in just a few weeks.  I know I have sore muscles, ice and foam rolling in my future, and many hard hours on the road.  But I'm looking forward to it.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Marathon Training Plans

I've gotten a lot of questions about marathon training plans, what I chose and why.  So, here is the plan that I chose:  http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/marathon-training-program.html.

I looked through A LOT of plans before I found this one.  For my first marathon, since I didn't want to do the Galloway method, which is what the marathon was associated with, I downloaded the plan for the Chicago marathon.  It was great for a first marathon plan, and it got me through.  Weekly mileage didn't destroy me or burn me out, and I finished, which was pretty much my goal.

For this one, I feel like I've learned a lot, just in the past 6 or 8 months.  With E's training for Cedar Point, I started doing running drills with him, which I had never done before.  Strides, intervals, bridge repeats, I tried it all.  And for the first time...I noticed a difference in my running.  My stride improved, and I actually got a little faster.  Which, as most of you know, I'm like turtle-fast when I run, so I was pretty stoked about this development.  Granted, I know some of this improvement is also from strength training and cross training, but still.  It's made me a firm  believer in drills and not just going out and running, which is what I've always done.

That's a really long way of saying I chose the above plan because it caters to my new-found love of structured workouts.  It incorporates a track/interval day, a couple short runs at different paces, strength training and a recovery day.  It also has a Friday rest day, which I'm a  BIG fan of.  I don't know why, I just really, really like having Friday's off.

So, training starts September 5.  I've been bumping my runs up a bit on the weekends and during the week so it doesn't all start as a complete shock, but I'm pretty pumped.  Marathon #2, here we come!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


A lot of my posts lately have been about new stuff and not really about my training, which is something I need to remedy.

This past week, I had my biggest training week ever, logging 75 miles.  Earlier in the season, almost every workout made me feel like I was making progress, getting better, stronger, faster.  Then it felt like I peaked a bit after my sprint tri, which went so well.  My long bike rides felt slower and harder, my runs felt ok, but I also was barely making it to the pool.

I think I just burned out a bit.  Of course, in a vicious cycle, as work entered a hectic few weeks, I let it take over, so I wasn't working out much, and in turn, not sleeping much either, so I started to feel so tired all the time, and like everything was a bit of a relentless onward march.

So, a little time off, a little time focused at work, and I feel ready to be back in the game.  I finally chose a marathon training plan, so now I have some focus to my runs.  The training plan doesn't officially start until September 5, but I need to work on getting my mileage back a little before that, which has been going really well.  It feels so good to be running more again.

I went out this past Saturday for a 6-7 mile run that turned into almost 8.  One of those where I just sort of misjudged the distance between two points, and needed to stop and get water.  The great thing was, I felt really good.  Being able to stay in the shade for most of the time was huge, it made it so much cooler.

So now I just need to get back to swimming - I've been enjoying sleeping in a little too much in the mornings.  I do still have an olympic distance I'm planning to do at the end of the month!