As I near the end of my marathon training cycle for the 2016 Mount Desert Island Marathon (I’m two weeks from taper y’all! WOAH!), I am also dealing with some serious distance during my Saturday morning long runs. Since I’m an avid Crossfitter, my coach designed a marathon training program for me that’s a little different from what a strict runner might use. As I’ve previously mentioned, I only run once a week; my long; and the rest of the week I spend doing work to strengthen the muscles that my legs need for dealing with the marathon distance. The theory behind this is that my body is making the most of rest periods in order to recover from the damage that a long run can do. It’s a great program for me because it keeps me from getting bored. While I love to run, doing it four or five days a week for LONG periods of time can get a little repetitive. My training program keeps me on my toes and, while there is a pattern to it, it also makes sure that I’m mentally engaged in the training rather than piling on a constant barrage of “junk miles” that do nothing but needlessly tire my overworked muscles.
This weekend, I tackled my last 20-miler of the training cycle. It was my second time at the distance, and while I can’t call running 20 miles “easy,” it definitely went down a bit smoother than my last 20-miler. I tend to hit the wall right around mile 8, get a second wind, and push through. What I hadn’t counted on was re-hitting the wall (mile 18 for those who were curious). I hit it hard on my last 20, but this time it was less of a slam and more of a tap. I was able to push through much better thanks to some adjustments my coach and I made in my hydration routine, also thanks to the weather being a little less brutal.
All that said, it was really hard to get myself going at 5:30 AM this week. Since it’s been so oppressively hot, I’ve had to roll back my wakeup time to get some mileage in before the sun beats down. This has been surprisingly uncomplicated; it means going to bed at around 7:30 the night before so I give my brain plenty of time to shut down and then get the requisite 8+ hours. Unfortunately, it also means I don’t get the best sleep in the “early” phases of the night (before midnight or so). This week, I was asleep by 8, but inexplicably awake from 9:30 – 11:00 and suffering from some mild GI distress which wouldn’t go away no matter what I tried.
When the alarm went off, I was under slept. I was also cranky, and still thinking about the scarier bits of the “Supernatural” episode my honey and I had watched the night before. Since I’m a wicked chicken, this was pretty disturbing to me in the pre-dawn hours when it was still pitch black outside and I was all alone in a shadowy house trying not to make noise while I got ready for my run. Much to my dismay, that whole “it’s autumn and thereby daylight happens later” thing is also kicking in. I’m used to pre-dawn light starting right around 5:30, when I leave, so I don’t actually run in darkness. This weekend, it was bumped back by about 15 minutes (due to cloud cover and also the natural rhythm of dawn being later in the fall). As a result, my run started in the dark.
So I was scared, it was dark, and when I stepped out the door it was both hot and humid. This did not make for ideal long run conditions. I tried to bargain with myself; just run the first half outside and then you can come back and finish the last 10 on the treadmill in the air conditioning if it’s really that terrible. Just keep going until you feel like you should stop and then you can come in, get cool in the air conditioning, and maybe finish up on the treadmill. Thankfully, and counter to all intuition, it actually got cooler after the sun came up and turned into a nicely temperate overcast day. By mile 8 it was obvious that while I was going to suffer a little bit, I would be fine to finish the run outdoors.
Recently there’s been an article circulating my Facebook feed about how telling yourself you can do something (out loud, and in the definitive positive voice) gets you pumped up better than anything else. I tried to riff off of that and tell myself that not only can I do this, but I would feel SO AWESOME when I was done. Long runs do that; there’s something about running an unreasonable number of miles before most people are even awake on a Saturday that makes you feel like you can do pretty much anything.
Sure enough, while I was completely pooped afterwards, I felt awesome. My wonderful honey even treated us to lunch from Noodles & Company because I was craving pasta (gee, I wonder why?). This was our first time trying their food and we both gave it a rousing thumbs up. One great thing about that place is they have detailed nutrition information about all their dishes available on the website. Since I’m constantly managing my nutrition, this is key for me. I really wish all places would do this; calorie counts are useful, but not as useful as macronutrient breakdowns.
Since Saturday was long run day, Sunday has been mobility, stretch, and rest day. The
arches of my feet have been tweaking lately and I’m hyper paranoid about plantar fasciitis. There are some really tender spots right now, so I’m subbing in a nice long walk for my recovery run in order to reduce impact and give my muscles a chance to recover from whatever inflammation is going on down there. I also made sure to do a nice long stretch and foam roll session, and I’ll get one more in before bed.
What are your favorite recovery regimes?