Sunday, February 26, 2017

Learning From Doing: Part 2

Hey running friends! It's February 26 and, coincidentally, today's long run was 26 km. One word to sum it up: ouch. But I had a few thoughts to keep me going which I figured I'd share with y'all here.

Garbage in, garbage out
Today's run was pretty sluggish overall, which came as a surprise since last weekend's 23 km long run felt generally okay. The only thing I could chalk it up to was having a friend in town last week, which meant eating a little worse and drinking a little more than usual over a seven day average. I'm not saying my eating habits are great anyway (this body ain't no temple, that is for certain), but after slogging through the first 16 km, and then bonking hard between 17 and 19 km this morning, I figured my poor nutritional habits from the last few days probably played at least a small part. 

Run the tangents
My GPS map from the Royal Victoria Marathon in 2009:
the longest distance I have ever run in my life. Ever.
I ran my first marathon in 2009. A marathon distance is, of course, 42.2 km. My actual distance covered in that race, based on my Garmin GPS data: 42.7 km. That's right - a whole half a km more than necessary. Ever since then, I've learned to run the tangents: the shortest distance or line in the curves/corners. Around every bend and every curve, I reevaluate and change things up to make sure I'm running the shortest distance possible for that route because - let's face it - these long runs are ass kickers and I don't want to be running any longer than absolutely necessary.

Love those hills
Okay, so maybe "love" is a strong word. But I'm a firm believer that every hill, while daunting, is a moment of fantastic opportunity - to set a new goal e.g. to jog or run the entire hill without stopping, to refocus one's position in a race e.g. to try and pass someone up ahead, or to decide what you're made of e.g. to walk or run. Next time you find yourself looking upwards at another bridge or incline, instead of thinking, "Oh holy jeebus", try thinking, "I'm gonna own you." It's an attitude adjustment, for sure, but you might just surprise yourself in how you approach that hill. If nothing else, remember: for every up, there's a down. So, there's that to look forward to. Right? Ahh, the yin and yang of running.

Today's run: 26 km long run. Weather: started out around 2°C and overcast, but warmed up to about 6°C with scattered sunshine by the time I was done (yup, I'm pretty slow). Feeling: tired but good. Looking forward to the distance backing off next week... "only" 19 km scheduled for the long run, yippee!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Learning From Doing

I'm up to 19 km on my long runs, so I've had a lot of time out there to think about what's helped me be successful in completing the marathons I've run over the years. Here's what I've discovered.

Stick to the schedule
A general rule in increasing to long distances is to not run more than roughly 10% of the distance you ran the week before (although there is some debate about the validity of this rule, generally I think this can be a sensible starting point). Marathon training programs are designed to gradually increase the distance a person is running from week to week. Skipping a run here or there is one thing, but to miss a week or two, or even a long run here and there, can easily throw your schedule off track. Hey, life happens and sometimes it's not possible to make every training run. Learn how to adapt, but get the mileage in as needed.

Go the distance...
I've been out on my share of long runs where I get to a certain point, and all I want to do is totally ditch. I will admit, I have been tempted more than once in the middle of a long run to just hop on a bus or flag down a taxi and go home. But somehow, I've forced myself to stay on my feet and make the distance for that day. Sometimes it's by telling myself to just make it to the next kilometre, or next walk break. Sometimes, I need it to be even simpler - like, committing to one step at a time. I'm a firm believer that whatever you need to tell yourself at that time, that day, in that run to keep going, is exactly what you need to hear

...unless your body is saying otherwise
When I got injured in 2012 training for #3, it was devastating. But that injury didn't come without its warning signs. Fatigue, pain... these are all precursors to injury and they should not be ignored. 

Be open
In running, there will be good days, and there will be bad days. And very rarely have the rest of the days been just "okay" or "meh". I've found running is either glorious, or heartbreaking. Incredible, or soul-sucking. For all the awe-inspiring runs I've had, I've had just as many that were plain awful. But you know what? I learned something from all of them. I became stronger. I found confidence, courage, belief - and more - simply by putting my shoes on and going out there. As long as you are open to the possibility of what running can bring, I believe you will gain as much or more than you give.

Be kind to yourself
Lastly, running can be hard to do - not just for beginners, but for everyone. It doesn't matter whether you're starting from scratch, or if you've been running for years. Struggles befall us all - in life, and in running. Don't forget that this is something you are doing for yourself, to be fitter, healthier. So remember that. If the going gets tough, give yourself a break... and then get back out there the next day.

What are the things you've learned while training?