As I tackled my long run this morning (another eight miles, finished 55 seconds faster than last week! What what!), I realized that much of training for this race has been similar to my last training experience, but there have also been some drastic differences. I know I’ve only ever trained for two races, so I don’t have much of a basis for comparison of what’s “normal” and what’s not (or if there is such a thing as normal), but here’s what I’m noticing so far.
What’s Been Much of the Same:
- No matter how much I stretch, my quads feel like they are going to snap after more than five or six miles. This is bad not only because it’s uncomfortable, but because it is slowing my pace pretty dramatically on long runs. I’m trying to take more stretching breaks (usually one every 2.5-3 miles), but the tightness persists regardless. I think I need to try foam rolling, but I’m wicked intimidated for some reason.
- The feeling of exhaustion after a long run lingers for hours. I felt this the last time I trained, too. It’s like my body hates me and wants me to curl in a hole and die. Dramatic, much? But seriously. As much as I feel like I’ve totally kicked ass after a long run, the desire to lay in bed for the remainder of the day kind of puts a damper on things.
- My mental block is a MUCH bigger issue than any physical blocks I may have. This is something that’s at least improving, but it is still an issue. No matter if I’m running two miles or eight miles or ten miles, I cannot stop psyching myself out for at least a portion of the run. Usually this fun event happens every half mile leading up until the halfway point of the run, and then persists until I have a mile or so left to go. I saw some improvement today when I tried to distract myself with music (and didn’t let myself look down at my Garmin too much), but it’s definitely something that needs work.
What’s Totally Different:
- During my last training, my hunger was out of control once I started running more than 15-17 miles a week. It was borderline embarrassing how much I was eating, and no matter what, I couldn’t seem to quell my hunger. I tried to fill myself up with good stuff (ie. veggies and whole grains, not more ice cream), but even still, I put on a few pounds of training weight. This time around, my hunger has stayed totally steady—if anything, my hunger is weaker than usual, especially on long run days. I’m still making myself eat, and I’m trying to fill up with lots of fruits/veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. I’ve lost about two pounds in the last couple of weeks, so maybe my weight loss goal is actually attainable during this training?
- On a related note, my stomach doesn’t hate me during long runs. Let’s just say I had some very uncomfortable issues during my long runs last year. Thank goodness I haven’t had any of those issues just yet (and I’m hoping it stays that way!) I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve nailed down a pre-run breakfast that works for me (a little bit of coffee, PB+B toast) or if my body is just better acclimated. Whatever it is, I’m happy with it.
- My hips don’t hurt, and my knees feel surprisingly great. I completely attribute this to a change in training shoe. During my training for the Baltimore Half, I was running in New Balances with very little support. About two months after the race, I couldn’t ignore the intense pain in my left hip and knee anymore, and I went to get professionally fitted for new running shoes. After a full analysis of my running style (heel striker!), the girl at the store suggested the Aisics GT-2160.I’m now on my third pair (these ones!), and I LOVE them. Just enough support, lightweight, and super cute. Bonus? No pain! Winner.
- I’m not bored…yet. During my last training, I started to hate running a little bit. This was sad because, in normal circumstances, I enjoy running a lot. I guess I just burned out and needed some variety? This time around, the boredom hasn’t quite settled in just yet. Again, I still have eight weeks of training to go, and quite a few miles to get in there, but I’m happy with the amount that I’m running right now. Maybe mentally preparing myself for what was ahead really did work!
Eights weeks down, eight weeks to go. And so far, so good!