I'm in shock just typing out that this is my month 3 recap. I really feel like it was just yesterday I was beginning on this training, and now I'm basically about to start the taper process. Part of me is so ready to get started with taper while the other part is starting to get all the pre-race jitters and questioning my training. Crazy how you can feel so amazing one day with training and then the next complete crap.
Anyway let's get into this! Here's this month's recap on how my training is going.
Month 3 Recap
This month was a big volume month for me, which is always tough to get through, especially with the heat. I finished the month with 231 miles and had 2 weeks of 50 mile weeks. For the most part I've been feeling really strong with my runs and I think it's because I've continued to focus on making the easy runs easy. The trick I've been finding to doing this has been switching my watch to my heart rate and not looking at my pace at all while I run (unless it's a speed workout). I aim to keep my heart rate under 155 on my runs, and generally this puts me in a 11-11:30 pace naturally.
One of the coolest things I've started to notice is that my pace has started to pickup while my heart rate stays low! Towards the end of the month I started hitting some 10:45 paces naturally with my heart rate remaining low so it's been encouraging to see that my fitness is progressing. I think it also has to do with some nutritional changes I've made (more on that in a bit) but still exciting!
I did have my first tough workout this month, which was a speed workout. I've done a great job mentally getting through long runs but now I need to work on getting through running faster during speed workouts. While I'm physically capable of doing it, it's like my mind hasn't caught up and I freeze when I'm supposed to do intervals. For short distances (like under 1 mile) I have no problem, but this month my coach had me do longer intervals, at a faster pace, with minimal breaks and it just mentally shook me. I wasn't able to complete one of the laps at the paces and I was frustrated.
I think race day nerves are also starting to pop up so that combined with my frustration from my speed workout just got me down for a bit. Thankfully my coach had me do a speed workout this week that was a confidence booster (3 x ½ mile intervals) and it seems to have shaken off the nerves a bit.
I've also started thinking about my goals for race day and have realized just how much pressure I've been putting on them. This race is my first marathon in 5 years, and first one after having kids and I need to keep remembering that. While I would love to break a 4 hour marathon time, I think I need to focus more on running a strong race. I do think my training has set me up to PR (my previous PR was 4:22) and I think I'm going to focus on that as a timing goal, but primarily the focus will be to feel strong and have a fun racing experience. I started planning out my racing calendar for the next year and that really gave me a new perspective that this isn't an all-or-nothing race, but instead, this can be more of a level-setting race and a way to work back into the routine of racing. It's crazy how you take a few years off and how intimidating racing can be!
I started playing with the idea of not even wearing a watch or timing device during race day so I could truly run based on feel. I might give that a shot during my half marathon this weekend to see if this is something I could actually stick with, or if it drives me crazy (I love my data!). So we'll see about that!
But overall I'm feeling really well and know that I need to trust my training (so easier said than done! LOL) and trust this whole process. I'm really thankful at this point that I have my marathon blanket crochet project because it's a visual reminder to me of all the hard work I've put into this cycle and that all these miles do add up!
Not a whole lot changed with gear this month because what I have has been working! I've been using my Nathan Pinacle Hydration vest on pretty much any run over 10 miles, and a handheld Nathan water bottle on the shorter runs.
For shoes, I'm still wearing the Brooks Glycerin 20s for long runs, Brooks Launch 8s for short runs, and I recently got a pair of Nike AlphaFly Next% on sale that I might try out on race day. I've tried them out on 2 speed workouts so far and do feel a lot faster with them. My only hesitation with them is they're very different than the Glyercins (they have a bigger drop and the foot strike is different) so I'm not sure if they'll be good on my feet for 26 miles. I'm going to test them out at a half marathon before deciding.
Another piece of gear I'm still loving are the Brooks 5" 2 in 1 Chaser shorts. They're compression shorts built into running shorts so I finally don't chafe anymore! They're super comfortable and are my go to for my long runs now.
I am so excited that I've nailed down my nutrition and feel like I have a solid plan for race day! I've been practicing on my long runs each week and it's been working well so I haven't really changed anything this month.
The only thing I did test out was adding Picky Bars to the mix pre-run. Race day mornings are earlier starts than I'm used to and usually include a longer gap between breakfast and my run. There's nothing worse than getting to a start line hungry!
So my plan is to have my usual overnight oats and coffee when I wake up (probably around 5 am) and then bring a Picky Bar to the starting line to have about an hour before start with my Ucan Edge (around 7 am). I did a trial run last week with eating a Picky Bar 30 minutes before a long run and it worked great so I'm hoping this will be the case race morning!
For racing, I'm still deciding if I'll wear my hydration pack or rely on water stations. I'm planning to sip Tailwind at every mile as my electrolyte drink, and then every 5 miles (about every 50 minutes) I consume a Maurten gel. I alternate between a caffeinated one and non-caffinated - no idea if this makes a difference, I'm just a creature of habit and did it one day on training run and this fueling strategy stuck!
One big thing that I have changed this month is reducing alcohol. I actually started back in early July after I read the book This Naked Mind and it's been something that's stuck with me and very surprisingly has been a very easy change to make. I'm not overly strict with it and at some family functions (or like the once-a-year State Fair) I'll have a drink or two, but otherwise, I've pretty much stopped drinking at this point. The first month I did this I didn't really notice any change in my running (besides it was a lot faster for me to recover based on my Garmin Body Battery), but this month I'm starting to notice the improvement in my pace on my easy runs and my heart rate stays low.
Overall I'm feeling really well about the process and have nailed down a pretty solid race day plan! I'm excited to see how training goes in September and my half marathon prep race. I basically have one week of training left before I start my taper for race day!