I’m ready to roll.
It’s been a great training cycle. The best yet. The most quality and the most miles. But, more importantly, the most fun for me. I can honestly say that out of the 71 runs that I’ve done in this training cycle, I only felt like skipping maybe one or two. Virtually every time I turned off the alarm and laced up my shoes, I did it with a smile on my face. I wanted to get out there and run. I loved the sense of accomplishment that I got each week when my miles went up, my paces came down and things just started to click.
As you know, I followed the Advanced Marathon Grandma’s Training Program that was put together by the Grandma’s organizers. It was perfect for me. Just right on the mileage (72 peak miles). With lots and lots of quality workouts.
Weekly mileage (and long run) for Grandma’s Training:
- 50.1 miles (18 long; 9:35)
- 56.1 miles (16 long; 9:05)
- 51.6 miles (HM race; 8:24)
- 65.6 miles (20 miles; 8:59)
- 68.7 miles (18 miles; 9:04)
- 62.5 miles (22 miles; 9:11)
- 65.7 miles (16 miles; 8:52)
- 41.3 miles (10.6 miles; 9:07)
- 72.3 miles (20 miles; 9:14)
- 52.9 miles (15 miles; 8:50)
- 36 miles (9 miles)
- (Will be 8 miles before RACE DAY!)
- Tempo pace went from 8:05ish pace during week #1 of training down to 7:45ish pace during week #11.
- Hills, hills and more hills! This training plan did hill repeats during earlier weeks of the plan. I also did most of my long runs on hilly routes (Baker and Carver). This should help tons with Lemon Drop Hill (which actually isn’t all it’s hyped up to be; I barely noticed it last time I did Grandma’s and that was without hill training!)
- Intervals! Lots of fun interval workouts each week, with a big variety. Ranging from 200m all the way up to mile repeats. I think my least favorite (but probably the best for me) was the 6x1600m intervals. Followed closely by the 12x400m intervals, which seemed to last FOREVER! And how come it always seemed to be crappy weather on interval day?
- Having 3 or 4 quality workouts a week (hills or intervals; tempo; medium effort – which usually ended up being marathon pace; and long run). This kept the training super interesting for me. It also has made me feel like I’ve improved a ton.
- My paces on ALL my runs have come down. Tempo 7:40 – 7:50, depending on length of run. Easy runs are now usually 8:50 – 9:05. Medium effort runs are usually 8:25 -8:35. Long runs usually 8:55 – 9:15. Most importantly things just FEEL easier.
- My core is stronger from the pilates I’ve consistently done this time around (2 – 4 times a week). Though I still eat too many sweets, so those six-pack abs remain hidden under layers of s’mores and cake. Sounds dorky, but I do think I could notice the strength of my core during the later miles of my long runs and hard workouts.
My mental game:
My mental game has hurt me in previous marathons. I my earlier marathons I didn’t have the confidence to go fast and far. In more than one marathon I’ve completely fallen apart, mentally, when my pace faltered (and I fell back from pace groups, or got passed by pace groups). I have also let weather interfere and derail me, mentally, from what I know I could do.
This time around I have been working on my mental game too. And I’m happy to report that I am in a MUCH better place, mentally, than I was with previous marathons. For all 6 of my previous marathons my feeling in the weeks leading up to the marathon was a combination of excitement, nervousness and dread. I really just felt like I wanted to get the race itself over with. This time around I’m just excited. I am looking forward to getting out there on race day because I’m excited to see what I can do and how I feel doing it. It’s hard to explain, but I have the sense that because my conditioning and training has been SO much better, there is not only the potential for a faster time, but also for a better overall experience.
What have I done to improve my mental game?
Read a bunch. I read a book called Boston Marathon or Bust, that is supposedly this step by step plan to ensure a BQ. I didn’t follow it to a T, but I incorporated some of the mental stuff. Like visualizing yourself on race day from the starting line to the finish line, including the pain and how you’d deal with it, etc. According to the book, you are supposed to visualize this twice a day. I didn’t come close to doing it that much (I tried to do it at bedtime and most of the time I’d fall asleep by mile 10!), but I did it often enough. The other technique that the author swears by is mantras while running, to get you through hard times. I did this alot during my runs, when I would get bored or they were hard. My chant/mantra was just a series of “I am strong. I am fast. I am fit.” Over and over. I don’t think it changed my attitude about myself, but I think it worked to get me up tough hills or through boring spots in a super long run. I think it will be helpful during the marathon to repeat it over and over when I’m in pain and want to slow down or quit. I also read Kara Goucher’s new book and, while I found alot of it to be simplistic, there were some good take-aways that I think have improved my mental game and overall attitude about training and racing. I also think my mental game has improved because I’m physically in better shape, which gives me more confidence to meet my goals.
Obviously I hope that this kick-ass training cycle translates into a kick-ass marathon too, in terms of both clock time and fun times! My body and mind are definitely ready for Saturday.