Thursday, April 7, 2016

Running lessons: Training well sometimes means running less

The big news last week was that I turned 54. How the heck did that happen? It feels like only yesterday I was 25. On the upside, at least I'm still running regularly - something I could never have imagined when I was 40 years old and 25 pounds overweight. It seems some things really do get better with age. :-)

I was more than usually busy at work and at home last week so there wasn't much time for celebrating. However, Husband made one of my favourite meals - homemade pizza - and gave me a huge bouquet of flowers (so huge, it filled three vases!) and friends and family from all over the world sent messages so it was a nice day, all in all.

Even Her Highness got in on the act - deigning to let me take her picture without being too grumpy about it.

I'd hoped to do a little more celebrating on the weekend but, as it turned out, I was too pooped to do much besides prepare to go running, go running and recover from running. :-)  I'm only half kidding. If fact, I slept in until 10:30 Saturday morning - a sure sign I was tired. By the time I awoke, the sky was filled with dark, threatening clouds so I rescheduled my long run to Sunday and opted to do an 8k with Husband instead.

I used Saturday afternoon and evening to rest up for my long run. By the next morning, the weather had cleared somewhat so I hit the road early and managed to finish most of the run before the rain started again - just ahead of the polar vortex that roared in late that afternoon bringing high winds and snow. Ugh. Needless to say, I was glad I finished before the weather turned truly nasty.

It took a little under 3.5 hours to run 28k so I had plenty of time to think about what more I need to do to prepare for the Calgary Marathon. Since I'm already logging long distances, I feel good about my chances of completing 42.2k, though there's still lots to do.

First, in order to get to the start line healthy and uninjured, I need to avoid viruses and over-training. My resting heart rate's too high at the moment, which likely means I've been pushing too hard and making myself vulnerable to both. Given that, I've altered my training plan for this week so that I can run less and get more rest in anticipation of returning to more intensive training next week.

Second, I need to do more work on strength, flexibility and form. Hill training is helping to improve strength and form, but my legs and hips are still too tight so it's clear I need more time on my yoga mat. I also plan to do this core workout once or twice a week. I completed it once last week and was surprised at how challenging it was. I had no trouble doing the exercises but my shoulders and hamstrings were unexpectedly sore the next day. Fortunately, I felt much better following my first session this week.

Third, I need to do more runs on flatter routes. It may sound strange but I've always found hilly courses easier than flat ones. My personal best marathon time is the 4:36 I clocked in San Francisco! The problem with flat courses is that, since there's no variation in terrain, the muscles in my legs don't get to much chance to change things up. Calgary appears to be the flattest course I've ever run so I want to do what I can to prepare for it.

Finally, I need to work on mental preparation. Anyone who's ever run a marathon can tell you that running 42.2k is as much a mental feat as a physical one.  The confidence that comes from training hard and consistently is a big part of it, but you also need strategies to deal with all the things that can happen on race day - illness, bad weather, lost gear, you name it. Something won't go as planned - guaranteed - so the goal is to be ready to handle whatever that is.

For me, the biggest part of my mental preparation for Calgary will be setting reasonable expectations and focusing on enjoying the event as much as possible. As a friend reminded me yesterday, Calgary is a little over 1000 metres above sea level, and it's very possible I'll find running at altitude harder than I expect, so it will be more important than ever to listen to my body and focus on having fun rather than finishing in a particular time.

In closing, here are a few photos from my long run last Sunday. The trail by the river has been extended 2.5kms past Cookville Bridge now. I hadn't been that far up the river in a couple of years so enjoyed checking it out. The views were lovely and peaceful - even on a grey day.

I finished my run with a loop through Peace Park, one of my all time favourite places. Though the day was so grey, the subdued colours reflecting on the river had their own appeal

Hope everyone has a great week! If you have marathon training tips to share, I'd love to hear them.

Happy running and writing!

1 comment:

  1. 54! Nobody will believe it. I don't celebrate birthdays much. I figure, why encourage them to come any faster? Some of the Calgary run will be beside water, perhaps that will be reassuring.