In the grand scheme of things, getting mileage in is sort of the easy part of training. It’s all the extra things that take additional time and although you can skip them once in a while and get away with it, eventually avoiding core, flexibility, striders, nutrition (the list could go on and on) really catches up with you.
Over the past few weeks, my runs have felt really sluggish. At first I attributed it to heat and humidity then to the grind of high mileage and finally to school starting again. Even with these attributions, however, a voice in the back of my head started to worry that my slow pace was going to become a chronic condition. At the same time, one of my athletes began to have similarly sluggish legs. Without missing a beat, I asked if she was doing striders after easy runs and we made a plan to make sure she isn’t doing recovery paced days without them. On the drive home, I realized I couldn’t think of the last time I’d done striders. I always have them on my schedule but I don’t always get them done. After this realization, I started doing my striders again and miracle, my legs (and paces) feel much better. Science. It’s a thing.
Every training cycle is full of dropped little things. Now that I’m a little over 5 weeks away from Albany, however, the little things are basically all I have left. The vast majority of my mileage is done and I only have a few workouts left. I do, however, have 40 ish days to make sure the rest of me is ready to run. Here are the little things to which I’ll be attending over the next few weeks:
Tis the saddest time of the year with timing right around my birthday AND pumpkin beer season, but within 8 weeks of a goal race, I avoid all alcohol. If I were really serious, I would avoid it for the whole training cycle but I live in Vermont and near way too much delicious craft beer goodness. My compromise is that once I’m into the final stages, I don’t drink.
It’s also the time when I start avoiding any allergens (milk/dairy) and swap to low fiber versions of food. No more brown rice or veggie pasta; white rice and semolina for me!
Finally, it’s time to dial my in-race nutrition in. Albany doesn’t have bottles like VCM did, so I have to practice with lemon lime gatorade. Thankfully Will rides next to me on a bike and just hands me a bottle when “it’s my time,” so I don’t have to do a lot of thinking.
At this point, I’ve stopped lifting heavy legs in the gym. The muscle I have now is the muscle I’ll carry in the marathon and lifting doesn’t help me hit my workouts at my best. I will continue to do my hip core routine right up until about a week out. I will also continue to lift arms up until about a week out. Core work (which is on pause right now because I stupidly strained an intercostal muscle) will continue until a week out as well.
This is the big one and one I haven’t been as good about in the last few weeks. To rectify this, I’ve been foam rolling in the morning when the dogs eat breakfast and stretching my psoas as often as I remember to.
I had surgery 10 months ago? Right. Right after I finish foam rolling, I spend a few minutes per foot on my foam pad to continue working on proprioception. My foot is feeling ok but I can tell when I’ve skipped my PT work.
This is a hard one when I have to balance school, coaching, training and occasionally hanging out with my husband. As often as I can, I aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. I knew when I signed up to coach again this fall that I have to give up some other things and school is one of the things that I have to be flexible on. We’re lucky to be on an Honors-Pass-Fail system and I constantly have to remind myself that I am not Supergirl and that if I want to be Supercoach and Superrunner, P = MD for me. Even with this attitude, there are days (and stretches of days) where 6 hours of sleep is a luxury.
What are your “little things?” What changes do you make as you begin your final approach to a big race?