Last Friday, I took to the streets in 80-degree weather to meet my goal of finally doing a long run. Of course, I've been doing a lot of 13.1's, but it had been quite a while since I actually ran any sort of real distance outside of racing.
And by "quite a while," I mean November (and by "long run," I mean anything above six miles... "long" to me these days).
Things have kind of fallen apart for me since then. I had a very disappointing marathon, moved, got engaged, and then have kind of struggled to stay engaged in my day job. By the time I'd get home, I'd be lucky to get 3-4 miles in a few times a week, and by the time the weekend rolled around, I had a race packet to pick up and race to run.
So my eight-mile run through my new neighborhood was definitely an accomplishment.
My true goal in this run wasn't just to get in mileage. At this point, less than a month before the LA Marathon, I knew my window for mileage had closed. If I've learned anything from my years of running these, it's that it's better for me to undertrain than to injure myself, which has pretty much happened each time I've given any serious dedication to training.
So far this year, I feel like I've gotten away with murder. My top half-marathon times are listed below:
1) Surf City 2010 - 1:54:12
2) Surf City 2012 - 1:55:56 **
3) Carlsbad 2012 - 1:56:53 **
4) Camarillo 2010 - 1:56:54
5) Laguna Hills 2008 - 1:57:05
6) Pasadena Half 2012 - 1:57:13 **
23) Long Beach 2006 - 2:19:13
The asterisks (**) are races I've done in the first two months of this year. From the looks of it, although my mileage per week has hovered at around 10-15, I've been eating my Wheaties.... or something. Thinking back to my races, it's not that I was busting my guts any more than in the past... it's always painful and sometimes nauseating.
I credit Honey Stinger chews, Jillian Michaels, and Core Fusion/Bar Method for keeping me reasonably fit without going to the gym or running much. Also, keeping my weight down (my "equlibrium" goal) has probably helped; even if I haven't been largely successful numbers-wise, my eating has definitely made an improvement, and perhaps that has kept me decently strong.
But on to the marathon.
The trite "respect the distance" phrase haunts me. From doing these half-marathons, I KNOW that the marathon is a feat. Heck, from doing ten marathons, I KNOW I start cursing myself when my hips start hurting at Mile 18. Given that I don't really want this to be my last marathon, I need to be strategic about it.
My Garmin is now programmed to beep after eight minutes of running a one minute of resting/walking. It was recommended during my physical therapy consultation that I try to "save" my legs by doing a run/walk method so that I don't cramp up like I always do. So I used this strategy on the aforementioned eight-mile run. What did I learn?
- It seems like I mostly get my rest period during parts of the run that I felt were easy (downhills, shade, etc.)... why????!
- At first, the eight minutes seemed like an eternity and the one minute went by too quickly, but as the run went on, I was saying, "Already?!" when the breaks came.
- My overall pace for that run was 9:25/mi, which is very likely faster than what I would have done just running all the way through.
- Even though I didn't feel I was pushing hard, my pace when actually running was pretty close to my race pace.
Given my positive experience with this trial run, I am going to try to strictly stick with this strategy for the marathon. While I know that using this for eight miles versus a marathon means there will be hitches, I'm undertrained, and after my past disappointments am totally willing to try something *new* this time. Perhaps no injuries coming into the race + saving my legs during the race will be more helpful than 18 weeks that have been unfruitful in the past.
I will try to get in a couple more trial runs before the race. I'm hoping my motivation to do so is still there, because I know that ultimately, the final factor will be my right calf.