Achieving goals, like anything in life, ebbs and flows. Some months (like last month), you accomplish several large goals, while other months focus on the little things. While these little things may seem insignificant, the fine details always add up over time—you just have to trust the process.
Michele at NYC Running Mama shared a post earlier this week on learning to trust the process. You should certainly read it for yourself (she’s an incredibly talented runner and writer), but I’ll share a passage that resounded with me:
“It’s about staying consistent. Working hard. Following your training plan (slowing down on the easy days, taking days off when you need to). Aiming high but only reaching for what’s within your grasp. Keeping your head down and working hard but occasionally looking up to enjoy the view as you are climbing your way up. Staying the course even when you get bumped back a few steps. Trying to be just a little bit better than you were yesterday.”
That’s what these months of seemingly fewer accomplishments truly are: times in which we learn to trust the process. The process that includes easy runs, strength training, recovery, and building self confidence; the process that makes the pursuit of goals all the worthwhile. At the end of the day, a finish time is merely a finish time, but who you become and what you learn in the process matters.
So how did I do with my 2016 goals in the month of March?
Run a Sub-1:40 Half Marathon
As many regular readers know, I ran a 1:38:40 at the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon on March 5, so this goal is completed. PRs are never fluke races, but I love the half marathon and want to break that mark again. Of course, I don’t like racing during marathon training, because I always like to taper and then push myself to my limits in the race.
Maybe late fall half marathon will happen, although with a shorter and less intense training period now that I’m already in the sub-100 minute zone. Or maybe I’ll emerge on the other side of the marathon with no desire to see another finish line for the remainder of the calendar year. We shall see.
PR in the Marathon
Marathon training starts on Monday! What? How did that happen? Since perhaps preparing my marathon training plan is the most progress I made on goals since the last check in, I’ll share more about that then any of the other goals.
I signed up for the Jack and Jill Downhill Marathon way back in November, when July 31 seemed forever away. Yes, July can be hot, but this is mild Seattle and the race begins in the mountains, where it’s usually cold in the mornings, even in the summer. If it is hot, I’ll worry about that on race day; weather is completely beyond my control so no point in worrying about it.
The race begins at 2500 feet, which thankfully isn’t high enough elevation to affect running and we consistently hike at higher elevation often, so my lungs should be okay. The course then gradually loses 2000 feet, which appears barely noticeable on the map but I know that hill running and strength training will be vital for not trashing my quads. The gravel/dirt trails will decrease the impact of running downhill at least.
If there’s a marathon for me, it’s the Jack and Jill Marathon. It’s scenic, on a non-technical flat trail rather than roads, and small – just like the Lake Sammamish Half which was my favorite race so far. Big city road races are not for me, as much as I enjoyed the Portland Marathon.
Based on my 1:38:40 half marathon time, many race equivalency calculator predict I could run a 3:25:xx full marathon. Ha! Yeah, right. As with half marathon training, I plan on running based on effort, doing a specific endurance test a bit out from the race, and seeing where I end up. Finish time matters less to me than enjoying training and running a strong race.
I do not want marathon training to consume my life, but I also don’t want to cross the finish line and wish I had trained and raced to my potential. Marathons are a once a year (at most) event for me. I want to train with my best effort without letting family, work, and hiking fall out of balance, to trust the process, and to enjoy the journey.
Hike the Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass Section of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Ryan and I honestly have not given much thought to this since we talked about it last year. Right now we’re just waiting for the snow to melt so we can resume longer hikes. There’s several 10-20 mile hikes in Snoqualmie Pass and Stevens Pass that are calling our name. Even if we pull off one 20 mile hike this year, I’ll be happy!
Master Nutrition and Hydration for Races
Besides following a cookie cutter training plan, one area where I struggled in marathon training last time was my day to day nutrition. I probably was not eating enough—not intentionally, but because I was burning a lot of calories with running, hiking, and strength training and couldn’t merely rely upon hunger. Undereating has significant ramifications for marathon training, including increasing your likelihood of overtraining, negatively affecting athletic performance, and/or hitting the wall during the race (not to mention, more seriously, health isssues).
So, this time around, I’m following a loose nutrition plan. I’ll follow the carbohydrate recommendations from Matt Fitzgerald’s The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition and emphasize eating enough fat as well (protein isn’t as much as an issue for me, even though I eat meatless roughly 60% of the time). I plan on writing a whole post on marathon nutrition planning soon, so I won’t go into more detail here.
Grow My Coaching Business
March produced many exciting new opportunities for coaching! I took on more new athletes, successfully launched the first round of my Master Your Fueling and Hydration e-Course, and began working on a very exciting new project.
Fall marathons are wildly popular, and runners benefit enormously both from training with a coach and receiving the support of other marathoners. So, starting in June and extending through fall marathon season (so all fall marathoners have the chance to train, whether they’re running an earlier race like Portland or Wineglass or a later race like MCM or NYCM), I will be offering a marathon training camp for all levels of marathoners to provide coaching and community. The full reveal will happen later this month and sign up will begin in late April/early May, so stay tuned for more details. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited about this project!!
Expand My Pilates Practice
Over the past few months I’ve tried new Pilates videos (and love the ones by Pilatesoloy) and incorporated Pilates usually twice a week into my training. This month, I want to aim to extend the duration of my practice, preferably to at least an hour a week.
I published another article for Women’s Running: 6 Reasons Bad Races Make Good Runners. I also wrote a guest post over at Run to the Finish, which while that’s not freelance writing, the post is one of my favorites I’ve written so far: Master the 10K.
How are you doing in accomplishing your goals? Do you trust the process?
Have you ever run a net downhill race? What tips would you have?