Learning From the Marathon

I learned a few things running my first marathon, things I hope to remember next time I run one. Oh yes because the first thing I learned from the marathon is that I like it. Yes some miles were tough but I very much want to run another one.

The Training Plan

I decided early on not to be too concerned about my pace while training. I ran by feel instead. Oh I’m sure I ran some workouts too fast and some too slow but overall I did great and I don’t regret my choice at all. Now if I was trying to break a certain time then I may want to look at my times a little more, if only afterward to learn from it.

The Taper:

I frankly enjoyed it. It was good to give a rest to my body and have more time for myself. I’m glad I followed the training plan for it.

Carb Loading:

It’s impossible for me to carb load according to what I found I’m supposed to do. I simply can not ingest 400g of carbs a day. I did however get a lot of snacks that I munched on for the last two days prior to the race. Kashi’s oatmeal dark chocolate cookies, homemade trail mix, pretzels, etc. It worked out great.  I choose to cut off dairy a few days ahead. I missed it,  but I think that was a good thing for me to skip it prior to the race.

Pre-Race meal

I think I’d rather have a homemade meal before a race since it’s easier to control. I feel that I should have practiced a little more on what works best and kept a log of pre-long run dinners. I’d love to avoid an other porta potty break during a marathon (downhill didn’t help either). I think a little more plain food would have been better. I had pasta alla vodka which I think contained cream, that wasn’t my best decision.

Banana, bagel and almond butter worked out great in the morning

Race Fueling and Hydrating:

I think I did good when it comes to hydration. I didn’t care much for the electrolytes drinks when came the time. I was very thankful I had my hand held bottle with me. I could drink when I wanted and refill it at the aid stations. I learned that I can’t rely on meeting my husband on the course and it’s best to have everything I need with me.

Fueling I didn’t do so well. I’m terrible at eating gels when I should. I never eat as many as advised on the packaging. I did good for the first half, starting around 45 minutes and taking a sip every 20-3omns. But after mile 15 I just forgot to take some. I don’t know if I need to set myself reminders or practice taking them better during training race. I do think however that 1)I like Clif gels better than GU.  2)I do better sipping a little gel at a time rather than a whole packet at once. I am honestly surprised I did as well as I did with the little fuel I had during the race.

My the end of the race I was craving sliced oranges and icy cold water.

Chaffing

It will happen. I used a natural version of body glide. Most of my body part were fine. Some light chaffing on the lower back but nothing that I even noticed or felt until a few days later, so the SkinFood Topical Nourishment worked. I did experience some chaffing from a poorly designed seam on my sports bra. I could feel it at the beginning so I knew it would be a problem. Somehow my body tuned it off and I only realized it at the very end.

Post-Race Fueling and Stretching

Having my husband bring me a smoothie was one of the best post-run fuel idea I had. It was easy to drink and I know helped with the good protein/carb ratio.

Making use of the massage table is a must. I’m also glad I mostly followed my usual cool off/stretch routine.

Post-Race legs

Overall they felt good. However after 20 minutes of walking, during the first two days after the race, I had to sit down. It’s good to know your limits.

Recovery week

That would be my other failure (first one was fueling during the race). It’s not because you feel good that your legs have recovered. Recovery week is not the time to try out a new trail, especially not a technical one. I feel very stupid because my first two recovery runs went very well, so I was a lot more careless on my third and the result is injury. Lesson learned: no new trail (easy smooth trails are ok), no new shoes post race. I think I would have been better off logging a few more miles on my old trail shoes while my legs recovered.

What lessons do you take from race running? Any wisdom to share?

 

 

Post Marathon Recovery

We’re now a little over ten days after the marathon and I’m still supposed to be in recovery mode. It’s both relaxing and weird to have such  low weekly mileage. I’ve been attempting to follow the McMillan Running recovery program. And yes, attempting because I’m not always doing such a good job at it.

I remember when I first looked at it, before the marathon, I was just thinking there was no way I would only run 20 minutes right? Ha! I quickly found out that past 20 minutes of walking in the first few day, my muscle hurt. I should probably say that I was also crazy enough to go back to Mill Mountain and the true summit of Roanoke Mountain the afternoon of the race. Yes I went on a mini hike the same day I ran 26.2 miles. Did it hurt? A little. Do I regret it? Nope, it poured the next day and I would have missed it altogether.

But I did avoid to run until 3 days after. My first run was scheduled for 20 minutes and that is exactly what I did. I was completely ok with it. I wasn’t hurting per say, just sore and fine with taking it easy. The next run after that was an easy one too, on trails with my new trail shoes, perfect. Both were around a 9:30 pace. But not the third…

Nope, I made the mistake to pick a trail run which while short turned out far more technical than I expected. While on the trails I had a blast. Jumping up and down, walking where needed, speeding where I could. My average pace 10:14. Once would think that’s taking it easy, but it really doesn’t take into account the trail itself. I almost twisted my ankle a few times and my husband actual sprained his. While I felt fine at first I realized all the ankle twisting had actually pulled on the knee. It’s not a make you want to stop running feel, but I definitely did something. I’ve been stretching it and it’s getting better, but looking back I think that trail was a mistake. My muscles were better but still weakened by the marathon. I should have stuck to easy known trails.

I still probably run too fast on most of my runs, but I just can’t help myself. It’s hard not to when you feel good.

Recovery Week 1: 12.36mi

 Day  Run  Miles  Time  Pace
04/29/12
3.66
00:28:40
07:49
04/28/12
3.48
00:35:37
10:14
04/26/12
Untitled (Trail)
3.05
00:28:50
09:27
04/24/12
2.17
00:20:26
09:24

I’m slowly going to continue to increase my mileage. I miss the long runs. I miss the trails too. Plus I need to start getting my body back for the Biltmore Kiwanis 15k on May 20th.

Now I just need to resist signing up for another marathon. I’d love to run another one but with some recent car repairs it would not be a sound financial decision.

Resuming Training After a Break

I found this great information on <u>Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running</u> and thought I would share. When I was side lined in October, it was one of those things I wish I had known. We all get hurt, get sick or have to take a break at some point. It’s hard when you are a dedicated runner, but harder is this fear of not being able to run again or even how to ease back into it.

So here is a simple set of rules to follow based on how much time was taken off running.

  • 1 week off: Resume at previous distance
  • 2 weeks off: Resume at half of previous distance
  • 3 weeks off: Resume at one quarter of the previous distance
  • 4 weeks off or more: Start from scratch with the alternate walk/run.

It may seem hard to cut back, but ultimately your body will thank you. And remember that even if you start over, you will likely catch up much faster than a true beginner.

Failing to Fuel

MST Folk Art Center-Cravens Gap

Winter view from Lunch Rock on the Mountain to Sea Trail

Ten days ago was one of my worst run ever. Sure I was a little ambitious, picking a 10.22 mile run which went way uphill (1000 feet) but I could have done it. My  biggest mistake was not eating enough and not taking something with me.

You see I’ve done long runs of 9-10 miles where I don’t need anything, so I completely underestimate what this one would do to my body. All I had before I left home was a Cliff gel. One. That’s it.
I’m an idiot.

The run started fine. My goal was to do the Out and Back from the Folk Art Center to Cravens Gap following the Mountain to Sea Trail. It starts flat, then a light uphill, followed by somewhat flattish, a good uphill (which I stupidly thought would be the worst one, Ah!), then the trail follows the crest so it’s a little easier, and suddenly you hit this steep section. It was relentless and I walked most of it.You think you’re almost done, but then the trail goes downhill (which you know will be uphill on the way back) and then it goes on and on and on until you reach a crossing of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The uphill took a lot of my energy out. I think if I had taken some energy gels with me and had proper food prior to running it would have been hard but doable. Instead I started stopping a lot on the last 2 miles, checking the directions I had recorded on my phone, thinking the BRP would be right there. Well not so much. It took me  a whole hour to do 5.11 miles. I took a break at the gap and texted my husband so he wouldn’t be worried that the run was taking me longer than planned. But the rest was not enough, I needed energy and didn’t have anything to fuel because I left it all in the car.

I have to admit that the whole way back was a daze. I was low on energy and I knew it. I was only focused on returning to the car and eating the Larabar I had in my purse. I was worried about the risk of fainting but thankfully that did not happen. I did however walk in section I would normally run without any problem. I did stop. But I knew I was somewhat ok since I could still talk to the people I met on the trail.

Back at the car I chewed the Larabar slowly and processed to drink even more water. That was my second mistake. I think so much water on an empty stomach and a tired body did not go too well. Not to mention the smoothie I drank on top of that for fast refueling. I ended up feeling nauseous for the next three hours and so low on energy too.

So lesson learned, next time I go on a long hard run I need to have a running snack with banana and more and pack things with me. Better to have it and not need it.

Have you ever gone really low on energy during a run? What was your solution?