Running: It's actually more expensive than therapy
I completed my first marathon back in November 2020. Although I am mostly happy with my results, I was still 10-15 minutes away from my goal time. I've reflected back on my training and have come up with a few mistakes I made and wanted to share them with you and hopefully correct them on my next training block.
1. Running a 50k a month out from the marathon
Even typing this out is embarrassing. I really thought I could do it all. To go back a little bit everything shut down in spring 2020 so the first opportunity I had to race was October 2020, and that was a 50k I had my eye on. The marathon in November was my goal race however, I thought I could run the 50k just for fun and a long run. I mean long runs can be 20-22 miles so what's an extra 10 right? Wrong! This ultra absolutely killed my body. The course was so technical that it took over 2 hours longer to run than I thought it would. My body was so destroyed after that I had to take a week off of running completely and that's not something anyone wants to do a month out from a goal race. So running an ultra for a training run is not something I will ever do again and not something I recommend.
2. Long Run Paces
Okay I realize this is a controversial topic. I ran my long run paces at 8:30-9:00 so I felt that I didn't really have the endurance to run 26.2 miles at a pace under 8 minutes. I know that long runs are slower in order to avoid injury and stuff, but I am going to run them a little faster next cycle. I think maybe closer to the 8 minute marker. I felt during the marathon I was slipping back to my comfort pace which was around the long run pace not the marathon goal pace.
If you read my recap of the marathon, you saw that my nutrition was lacking during the actual race. I took a gel at mile 8 and immediately threw it up. I ran the entire race on half a gel. I couldn't even stomach having another way later on. For my next marathon, I will take a gel earlier on before I get sick to my stomach. This is tough because I really had no problems during training. The race itself is what got me probably from nerves. I also wish that I would have at least tried some small bites of a gel during the second half the race before I could feel the wall.
Those are my three biggest mistakes from my last training block. I want to correct them when I start training again in July for my next marathon.
My 5k fall training plan has unfortunately failed. My recurring hamstring injury has made it impossible to hit any speed goals or even complete speed workouts without the pain or cramping. It's not severe or anything but I need it to heal completely before taking on new PR goals. I am unable to run at a fast pace, but longer slower distances are okay for me. I have decided to forego the 5k training and racing this fall in favor of training for longer distances. I have committed to the Tomoka Marathon in March 2020 and plan on a 50k in the spring.
In the meantime, I have found a marathon training plan I want to start in October. It focuses more on longer, easier running and the mileage is less than what I am used to. It's also a much more flexible plan. I will be running in a few longer races as fun runs and by no means pushing the pace. My body is thankful for the break that I needed both mentally and physically. I have been pushing myself for the past few years and need to rest. It's going to feel weird not running 5ks for speed this fall and missing a number of my favorite races. I look forward to the spring marathon season. Running and racing is still a huge part of my life and always will be which is why I want to stay healthy.
Since I'm relatively new to competitive running, I had no idea that overtraining was a thing in non-pro athletes. I mean how can someone running only 30 miles a week overtrain? Well it's actually a real thing and it can happen. As I learned, it's more about the intensity of the workouts than the mileage. I personally had too many intense "race pace" workouts back to back without letting my body have time to recover, so of course instead of getting faster I crashed and burned. That's why most running plans call for "easy" days after an intense speed session. It's important to run at slower paces to let your body recover. Recovery is key. Luckily I found this out before it was too late and was able to find a great training plan.
So what are some symptoms of training too much or too intensely? Here's a list of some common symptoms.
1. Constant Fatigue
2. Emotional changes such as moodiness or depression
3. Poor performance including inability to get through a workout
4. Elevated resting heart-rate
5. Muscle fatigue which includes "heavy legs"
6. More injuries
7. Changes in immune system such as more common colds
8. Running isn't fun for you anymore
Since I began training with the Hanson's Marathon Method Plan using the 5k specific model, I have not only gained speed but have found a new appreciate for running again. There are so many aspects of this plan that I love and wanted to share my favorites.
1. The 16 miler long run- You're probably thinking why in the world would a 5k specific plan have such a long run in there? The long runs in this plan range from 12-16 miles. This scares a lot of people off however, all the long runs are at a slower, manageable pace. The sense of accomplishment alone after such a workout is enough to keep coming back for more. If you want to run faster, you have to run more.
2. The recovery workouts- A lot of the plan calls for "recovery running at an easy pace." You will not only get used to running on tired legs from previous faster workouts, but you will also look forward to "resting" your body on these easy days.
3. The overall mileage-The mileage ranges from 40-60 miles a week depending on how close it is to race day. This can sound scary at first, but keep in mind most of this running is at easy paces. A lot of the mileage also comes from warm-up/cool downs before and after speed work.
4. The speed work/tempo runs- The plan calls for specific speed work times which you know is essential to gaining 5k speed. It's definitely not at a crazy pace, so you still feel like you are in control of it. The calculators they provide are excellent and accurate tools in helping you find your paces.
5. The variety of the workouts- The workouts never get boring because of the variety. One week for speed work you may be running hills while the next could be something like 400M sprints. It all helps to keep your mind fresh.
Overall, this is an excellent plan for me and my running goals. So far I would seriously recommend to to any runner looking to take their training to the next level.
For those following my training, you've probably noticed I've hit a wall and cannot get any faster. Well after an extremely disappointing race last weekend (so bad I can't even bring myself to write the recap about it) I have decided to change things up. I've been doing research and all signs have pointed to over-training. At first I didn't think this was even a possibility because of the low mileage I was putting on (never over 35 miles a week), but the truth is you can over train at any mileage. It's all about the intensity of the workouts and how long you are giving yourself to recover that matters.
I was putting way too many 5k pace workouts and speed sessions together in a week and training at a pace that I could not ever fully recover from. Basically all the mileage I was putting on was essentially useless (which hurts to hear because of how hard it all was to complete haha).
I began to research 5k specific running plans and decided the perfect one for me was the Hanson's Marathon Method 5k advanced training. For those who are not familiar with Hanson's it's basically putting on a ton of mileage a week (mine will average about 50-60 miles a week with no days off and my long run will be 12-16 miles) which trains your body to run with cumulative fatigue. I've build up a base for putting on mileage so I feel positive I can do this. You can view a sample week from my schedule here.
It's important to stress this is different from over-training because most runs are at a easy pace even though they are much longer. I welcome these longer runs because it's a manageable challenge for me. I will continue to post updates with my progress. Let's go!