Hello and happy Monday! I have birthday stories to tell and garden notes plus lots of gratitude and insight to share about the KFOR “Remarkable Women” experience. My heart is full, and I hope you’ll check in throughout the week to see what’s going on at the Lazy W.
But today I have a running and fitness update. This is our first Marathon Monday blog post of 2020, and there might not be many this year. Let’s dive in!
Only 47 days remain before the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. I am one of many local runners who are beginning week 12 of an 18 week Luke Humphrey (formerly Hansons) training cycle, and momentum is building. The easy volume is well established, my body has long since preferred running six days per week, and gradually the “SOS” workouts are not just doable; they are also pretty exciting. I can see that my body is adapting week by week. I feel stronger and more capable of running a good, strong full marathon than I ever thought possible. April 26th will be the day to prove it, ha!
Speedy days can be literally terrifying to me if I spend too much time anticipating them. But, as with every difficult task in life, once they are completed, the feeling of exhilaration is irreplaceable. Learning to speed up and grab that feeling of control over and over again has been disorienting and fun and, again, exhilarating. One of my motivations for pursuing a BQ is that I crave more agency over my own body. More impulse control, more awareness of how things feel, more control over everything from hunger to power and exhaustion, fear and focus and self consciousness, resolution, all of it. Internalizing the sensations of narrow pace ranges has helped a lot with this.
Okay. I could talk about that forever.
I have recently learned a few things worth sharing:
- Do not look too far ahead at the SOS workouts, because stressful anticipation can erode your confidence and ruin the fun. I write them down in my planner a few weeks ahead and try to ignore the details until the morning of each workout. Then, if I feel queasy about it, I consciously fill my head with at least three times as many positive affirmations and negative fears. It’s just good old fashioned encouragement to myself. Nothing fancy, but it helps.
- Stay in the moment and trust the experience. Remember that no matter how hard any interval may feel in the moment, you invariably feel stronger and healthier and somehow magically better at the end of the full workout. Run the mile you’re in. Run the interval you’re in. Be in the moment. Let the next step or interval or mile or challenge bring its own difficulty. Worrying about what is coming next just ruins the current effort. Trust deep down that you have everything you need, that tomorrow and even race day are already well provided for. Every single day that seemed like the hardest test ever, has turned out to be a blip on my radar. I bounce back almost immediately, even as the weeks grow in difficulty. This is good to remember.
- I have been reminded of the crucial little daily habits! Dynamic warm ups are great for cold muscles and joints, slow stretching is magical for an exhausted body, and strength moves are imperative, not optional. My feet are the first to let me know that my hips are getting weak. Pretty cool little warning system built in there. Spend the time.
- Run those speed and tempo days outdoors, no matter the weather, if at all possible, even if it’s very inconvenient to your schedule. The treadmill does not provide the same difficulty as road running, so your body may not reap the same rewards, and the paces are not perfectly accurate. (Apparently the faster you go on a treadmill, the greater the pace discrepancy between its readout and your watch’s. And on Tuesdays especially, you need to know how fast you are running.) Best case scenario? The lingering doubt as to whether you “completed the assignment” will be absolutely haunting. Depressing. And worst case scenario? You will straight up not be prepared for race day. What a waste of all that effort. Embrace inclement weather.
- Nutrition and sleep make a luscious difference, especially on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays! So nice to be well fed and deeply rested for hard runs, haha!
- I have learned to give thanks for every mile, whether easy or hard, successful or embarrassing.
One of the unique features of this plan is that the weekend long runs are capped at 16 miles. Many marathon plans prescribe exhausting runs well beyond that, so runners who have not used HMM before are surprised. But the supporting work leading up to those 16 mile Sundays is so substantive that your body is far from rested when Sunday morning rolls around. Last week, for example, I had already logged 48 miles, 16 of them pretty hard, by Saturday. Then Sunday morning I was able to run 16 at a good, steady pace, not far off of my tempo. If I were to think about that very long, I would make myself tired and sad. But the reality was that, somehow, I felt amazing. Not drained at all, just hungry.
This fact alone gets me excited for how great I will feel at the end of taper week, which has a grand total of just 26 easy miles scheduled. The book explains a lot about enzyme replenishment, the restorative powers of sleep and stretching, glycogen stores, etc. Everything combined? There is a fabled 3 or 4% performance increase at the end of this cycle. I can’t wait!
So including this week, I only have six more speedy Tuesdays, 6 more tempo runs (they gradually longer), and 2 more 16-mile runs. The weekly volume continues to build, but so should both my fitness and my fatigue, haha! Such a funny combination.
Okay. Have you endured enough rambling? The process of marathon training is so interesting to me, even when I am not in the thick of it. But being in the true thick of it again, in a focused way with measurable goals attached, is so fun. So exciting. I am thankful for the experiences of facing nervousness and fear of failure, of flying and being carried by that rippling purple cushion of energy that shows up during a good tempo run, of spending everything I have in my body on a fasted, depletion run and laying flat with a bottle of water nearby. I love the feeling of sharpness it all hones. I am smitten with the work coming next.