I feel like I’m in a weird place with my goals at this point in the year. I’ve reached a put-in-the-hard-work-and-see-what-happens point in my training. I’m focused more on the little achievements and how I’m progressing right now than obsessing over finish times. I like the journey of training hard and the experience of racing smart and pushing my limits.
PR in the Marathon
I am growing more confident that I’ll be able to beat my current time of 3:49. CIM is supposedly an easier course than Portland (and Portland really didn’t seem that hilly to me, minus the St. John’s Bridge), the weather will be cooler, and hopefully I’ll be well trained.
What’s funny is that my marathon goal pace will be an 8:05-8:10, but not this time because I care about qualifying for Boston. Essentially, I’m focused on doing well by my own standards, not external standards. I want to run a race that feels strong and good, not one that creates a rough experience in pursuit of an arbitrary finish time. I feel comfortable at that pace in training, just slightly more moderate than normal. Even if I run an 8:15-8:20, which is the pace I hit for my long run at 10-20 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace, I’ll be very happy with that pace!
My goal is not so much on a finish time, but on running at strong race at a pace that is the right balance of comfortable early on and challenging later in the race. I want to have a breakthrough race, which for me means focusing less on the time and more on smart pacing, successful fueling and hydrating, and enjoying the challenge of pushing myself. The fun for me is in racing hard, but as I learned at Leaf Peeper, that experience can come even without a PR or super fast (for me) finish time.
I’ve worked hard over the past year of moving past the comparison trap of race times and paces – and that includes working past the obsession over qualifying for Boston. The Strava mentality is present even for those of us who don’t use Strava. I don’t want to compare times: I want the community that I’ve found through running (including running with my sweet husband), the joy of hard work, and the longevity I hope to obtain in this sport.
Don’t get me wrong: I want to qualify for Boston someday. But it will happen when it happens – and it will mean much more when it’s part of a journey of becoming a better runner, rather than forcing it to happen before my body or mind is ready.
In other exciting news, I realized that fall foliage may still be present in Sacramento in early December, based on photos from previous years. Yes, I’m that obsessed with fall colors on my runs.
Improve Fueling and Hydration
I have been consistently using this fueling pouch on my long runs to “sip” on my fuel, rather than take an entire gel at once. I find that this gives more sustainable energy and minimizes stomach upset on the runs, since there’s not a large quantity of sugar (or a large volume of anything) hitting my stomach all at once.
I found that once my long runs increased over 15 miles, I needed a little extra food before my long runs. At the Leaf Peeper Half Marathon, I ate a bagel with peanut butter and a banana as breakfast, since the race was later in the morning and I didn’t want to be hungry. I was sort of laissez-faire about my pre-race eating as it was that weekend, so I didn’t worry too much if the fats upset my stomach. The peanut butter turned out to work remarkably well, so my new pre-run snack is whole wheat toast with a bit of peanut butter and honey and a banana.
Improve Running Form
I’ve been including strides during 1-2 runs per week, which is an improvement for me since I will so easily skip over those. I’m not currently doing any form drills, but I have found that doing a challenging Pilates workout once per week and running hills during harder workouts has helped my form improve slightly.
What exactly has Pilates done? My hamstring extension has always been a bit lazy, so I’ve been focusing on my hamstrings during Pilates. I rely on side lying leg kicks to practice extending my leg further behind me and single leg kicks to strengthen the hamstring. I don’t know how much better my stride actually looks, but I feel the difference when I run!
I really appreciate my Pilatesology membership (thanks Mom & Dad for the gift!). I feel like my core has become very functionally strong – I can hike, run up and down hills, and complete long runs without feeling fatigue in my core or back. Once marathon training is over, I hope to bump up to doing Pilates twice per week and doing longer workouts.
Optimize Nutrition for Peak Performance
I can feel my body beginning to lean down towards racing weight, but I feel energized and able to handle my training load, so I think I’m doing fairly well on my nutrition. We’ve been eating more grass-fed beef recently to make sure I get iron, vitamin B12, omega-3s, and protein. I feel like I’m eating squash, kale, and eggs by the pound.
I started supplementing vitamin D, per the recommendation of my doctor. There’s simply not enough sunlight during rainy season to meet my vitamin D needs without supplementation.
I am obsessed with tea as well after my runs – especially after those cold, rainy runs where I finish and I’m soaked from head to toe. I’m hoping a cup of Earl Grey with a squeeze of lemon keeps my immune system healthy during these final few weeks!
Lift Heavier Weights Once Per Week
For me, this goal simply isn’t sustainable during the peak weeks of marathon training. Instead, I’ve opted for strength training moves that focus on glute activation, hip mobility and stability, and core strength. I’ve incorporated lateral movements into my training as well, which honestly made me feel sorer than heavy weighted squats did.
For the remainder of marathon training, I’m focusing on strength training once per week and doing Pilates once per week. With less daylight, our apartment gym is more crowded so I’ve started strength training at home while Ryan runs Ollie (because otherwise Ollie gets excited and gets in my way). The resistance band is my current favorite piece of equipment – I use it for squats
The resistance band is my current favorite piece of equipment – I use it for squats, clamshells, leg lifts, lateral walks, and upper body strength training. Resistance bands are perfect for marathon training – I get a good strength workout in but I don’t have to worry about being too tired on my next run.
Grow My Coaching Business
I launched my budget-friendly, year-round training group this month and have already had athletes sign up! Many of my athletes ran their goal races this month, and I am so proud of them. Achieving my own goals is fulfilling, but there is something incredibly meaningful about helping others achieve their own health and fitness goals.
How was you doing on achieving your goals for this year?
What do you eat before a long run?