After my run this morning, I truly believe that we have bad days or weeks so that we can learn to fully appreciate the good days and weeks when we have them. Today was a great day, and I know this because I have had really bad days for the last two weeks.
Normally I do my long(er) runs on Sundays. However, I have a important graduation party this evening, and I really wanted to be able to relax, eat, drink and thoroughly enjoy myself without having to think about a run tomorrow. So I did my run today. This is my last long(er) run before the half-marathon on July 4.
My goal was to go six miles. I really cut back on running this last week because it is quite possible I was over training, and I really needed to give my body a rest. The only other day I have run this week was Thursday. I did two miles on the track, and two miles of incline work on the treadmill. When I ran six miles last Sunday it was miserable. I wanted to quit the entire way, and nearly decided to not run the half-marathon. So I was a little apprehensive about my run today after how I felt last weekend. I just didn’t want to be back in that place only a week before the marathon.
I did a couple of things differently this week. Although I always try to drink water. I made a conscious effort to make sure I was drinking at least 3L a day, and stayed away from caffeine which dehydrates you. I also decided to try out some energy gels that I will be using during the marathon. This is the first time I have consumed any calories before a long(er) run. About 15 minutes before I left the house I had a Chocolate Outrage GU Energy Gel. I also brought with me Strawberry GU Chomps. These are like jumbo fruit snacks that fuel nearly two hours of activity.
As usual I started out with five minutes of walking as a warm-up. I then started running at a snail’s pace. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to run for. First it was five minutes, then I pushed it to ten, and I made it to 15 minutes. I then walked for three minutes. I decided my next round of running would be 10 minutes, followed by a two minute walk. My next round of running was five minutes. This brought me to a little over three miles. At this point, I took four of my GU Chomps (they were actually good). I then started again with my five minute walk to give the Chomps a chance to settle. After the walk I followed the same routine as described above. I think I may have even run a little faster on the way back!
This plan worked fabulous for me. I finished the run strong, and felt like I had a little bit more in me. I think taking the Energy Gels made a huge difference, or it could just be psychological. Either way, they worked. Another thing I did was pay close attention to my heart rate. I always wear my heart rate monitor, but I never really pay much attention to my heart rate. I really wear it to track how many calories I have burned. Today I paid attention. I realized that I need to keep my heart rate in Zone Two or the low end of Zone Three. For me this equates to a heart rate of anywhere from 158-166 for Zone Two. Running hills will definitely bump me into Zone Three which is 166-174. My goal for the marathon is to stay in Zone Two as much as I can. This way I know I am maintaining a comfortable pace, and not overly exerting myself. I did a pretty good job today. My average heart rate was 160, and my max was 175. I realized that monitoring my heart rate was a good way of maintaining a steady pace, even when I don’t actually know what pace I am running.
My six mile run today took me one hour, 17 minutes, and 30 seconds. This equates to a 12:54 min/mile. I walked for a total of 20 minutes and 26 seconds. Somehow, even though I walked 26 seconds longer this week, I shaved 31 seconds per mile off of my time from last Sunday. Something worked!
I now have my plan for the marathon. I will be taking the Chocolate GU Energy Gel about 15 minutes before it starts. Since I will probably be doing a lot of walking around since I plan on lining up at the back of the pack, I probably won’t do a five minute warm-up walk when the marathon starts. My plan is to run according to this schedule: 15 minute run, 3 minute walk, 10 minute run, 2 minute walk, 5 minute run, 5 minute walk where I will take two of my Strawberry GU Chomps, and REPEAT! This schedule will take me a little over three miles, so I will end up repeating it a little over four times. As far as hydrating, I am not sure where they will have water stops. I will most likely have my hydration pack and plan on sipping some water every time I have a walk break.
I will be listening to my iPod as I run. I came across a great song last night, that I will put on repeat every time I feel like quitting. You can listen to ‘Til I Collapse here.
I am so pumped to finally have a plan in place to get me through. Now I have to get my mind in the right place. I have a few “mantras” that I will also be repeating every time the going gets rough. I can’t let my head give out before my legs.
Do or do not; there is no try.
Pain is weakness leaving the body.
Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever.
Someday is not a day of the week. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, JUST DO IT and correct course along the way. And when you look back at the end of it all you can say: I DID IT.
This last week before the marathon will be a taper week, where I cut down on running to rest my body before the big day. I will be doing a four, three, and two-mile run this week. I am going to follow the schedule I have planned for the marathon. The most important thing I will be doing this week is making sure I get plenty of rest, plenty of water, and plenty of protein for my muscles.
Let the countdown begin!