Having run several marathons, I have learned a great deal about how my body and mind work with regards to the training process. I know how many days of the week I can run and how many I need to strength train to prevent injury. I know my knees aching are the first sign my shoes are ready to retire, usually at about 300 miles. I know I can eat oatmeal and peanut butter for breakfast before a long run, but hold the banana, please, until after. And despite the fact that I still think Chocolate Outrage flavored Gu tastes like brownie batter, it makes my stomach do cartwheels, so I stick to Honey Stinger Energy Chews to fuel me during my runs.
I also know that specifically when training for Boston, March is a tough month to get through, both mentally and physically. By mid-March, I have been getting up early almost every day of the week and logging runs or workouts to help me get ready for the race. Long runs take over my Saturdays by this point, including the time to run 18 + miles and then recover afterwards with a hot shower and (hopefully) a nap.
This year, I’m feeling it more than usual. As my mileage and training intensity ramps up, somehow, the one thing I forget to increase is sleep. Add a 2-week long cold and a new puppy to the mix and I am just exhausted. (But check out this post-race congratulations!)
As a result of probably a combination of all of these things, some of my recent runs have been less than spectacular. Logically it makes sense why I have not crushed the last few weeks of training as I felt I should be capable of doing. However, mentally, I keep fighting with myself that this downward slope will keep me sliding through April 21st.
At least to help change things up a bit this weekend, the Run to End Alzheimer’s team did a point-to-point run along the marathon course. We took a bus out to Framingham and ran in to the finish line of Boylston Street. After spending many of the past several Saturdays running out and back along the middle of the course in Newtown and Wellesley, it was good to get back and see another section I’m a bit less familiar with.
As a long run, at least to me, this route most closely mimics the marathon. While I did not run the first 7 miles of the marathon course, starting in Framingham allows for a relatively flat course for about 8-9 miles. The Newton hills come earlier than in the actual marathon. However, this route forces me to practice running the section of the course that always challenges my mental toughness, Boston College to about Kenmore, where I am tired from finishing the hills, but not quite close enough to the finish.
The other piece I had not thought about until Saturday was that this was the first time for several runners on our team to run down Boylston Street since last spring, and in some cases ever. Folks didn’t talk about it too much, but some made mention in photos posted after the run, so it was certainly on a few runners' minds.
My run Saturday was challenging, and not just because it was 20 miles. But it’s that time of year, and I know from experience that this is when the fatigue sets in. For the most part so far, I have had good, consistent training and should feel pretty confident regarding my physical ability at this point. More than trying to improve my speed or distance in the next 4 weeks, I’ll be working on my attitude and preventing myself from getting caught up in a few rough weeks. And maybe trying to get to bed a little earlier.
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