How much is Mental?
Recently I read this interesting marathon RP by an ultra marathoner named Alicia. She ran a 3:16:19 marathon PR after reading her friend's race report, where her friend, Tracy, ran 3:16:20. This was a significant PR for her. Alicia questions how much of running must be mental. I mean why 3:16:19? Her previous PR was 3:28. I find it interesting because I've been thinking about how
Then I met AM. She was getting faster. And faster. We ran together a few times, and I mentioned that I'd never be as fast as I once was. She said, "Why not?" And I listed several very logical reasons. As time has past, I've watched her get faster and faster, but not just her. I've followed a number of other blogs, where ladies are just getting faster. If not in the marathon distance, then the half, or the 5K. And though I didn't consciously think about it, I think I must have started to believe that if these other people could do it (get faster), then so could I. I mean really, where did I get a 7:20 marathon goal pace from? Looking back on it, I think it must have been from AM. Her goal pace in 2011 was 7:20. Don't get me wrong, I trained hard, but I don't think the idea of running a faster marathon would have occurred to me if I hadn't been reading so many other marathon stories.
So what the heck is my point? Do I think running is completely mental? No, not by any means. Running is hard, and besides having to work hard at it, there is a certain amount of potential that goes along with it. What I'm writing (I think) is that with all the fellow runner bloggers out there writing about their experiences, we see more and more "normal" people pushing the envelope of their running potential. Think about it, how many regular people ran marathons 20 years ago? I have no idea where to find those statistics, but when I was growing up I never heard of anyone running marathons. The thought didn't occur to me until a college friend decided to run one. Now my kids think it's typical to go for a 20 miler.
It doesn't matter how fast you're running compared to other people, but think about how far you've come since you started. Who gave you that idea? I am fairly certain that I've gotten those ideas from a number of you. At times, I find blogging cumbersome. There's life to be lived. Splits to run. Chores to do. Kids to play with. But at the same time being able to reach out into the virtual world and see so many others' running stories makes me a better runner. So, thank you for sharing your stories...
It's been about 2.5 weeks since the marathon. It seems like a lot longer than that. Anyway, the week directly following the marathon I only ran 16 miles. While I noticed the intensity of my soreness was less than in past marathons, the duration seemed to last a bit longer. For example, I generally get so sore that walking down the stairs backwards really helps. Once I actually had to scoot down the stairs on my butt for a couple days. You could say that the days following the race tell me I ran as fast as I could have. This time I didn't get that sore but I was still a bit sore by the next weekend, which hasn't happened before either.
Last week, I was back to speed training. There's a 5K I want to race in a 1.5 weeks, so while I'm "recovering", I'm also running really really hard. I ran 45 miles last week, and felt good about that. I'm not sure what will happen this week. I just went to a podiatrist today to get an ingrown toenail cut out. Right now I'm having trouble walking because I can't feel my stupid toe. I asked him for some advice regarding the general state of my traumatized toes. He said "yeah, stop running." I think he was being funny. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Anyway, my toenail issues had nothing to do with the marathon, but I guess it's probably caused by my running in general. As the doctor said "running can cause trauma." You said it doc! I'm totally traumatized when I can't run! Oh wait, you meant actual running...
So, I'm sort of recovered. Recovered from the race, but now recovering from having my toe sliced open.
Lingering Training Thoughts:
Some of the comments to my last post, as well as finding more running blogs (of typical runners, not elite) had me thinking a bit more about training. Michelle asked about long run pace, which is something I struggle with. I usually want to run faster. It's a mental thing. If I did 20 miles at 7:30 pace, then it stands to reason I can do 26.2 at 7:30 pace (or really close to it). Except that didn't happen for me at Providence in May. In 2011, the average pace of my long runs were 7:47 pace (two 20 milers and one 22 miler), and I still ran slower than 7:47 pace on race day. Arguably, maybe I just had a bad day. For both races. Or maybe race pace long runs aren't a method in which I can expect to achieve optimal performance. What has been striking a chord with me recently is how different we all are when it comes to what works for training. I've run into a few blogs of people that run 35-40 miles a week and are in the 3:20 range for a marathon time! I've already written about how that didn't work very well for me.
Raina mentioned that Pfizinger (super famous runner/coach) suggests 10%-20% below your goal pace for long runs. I did out my averages and I was about 6%-10% below my goal pace for my long runs during this last training cycle. I feel fairly comfortable with that. My long runs were always on the last day of a build week, so my legs were never fresh, and my long run course is hilly. But I am not sure that anything much slower than 10% would work for me. I can't say for certain, because I haven't tried it, but I have a feeling 20% is way too slow for me. As it is, the average heart rate for my long runs was about 136. If I were running 20% slower, I imagine my HR might barely be in the 130 range. Raina also mentioned running the second half of the long run faster than the first half. I didn't mention that previously, but that's how I run my long runs. I run the first half very easy, and the second half harder. The last couple miles were usually slightly faster than MP.
Then AM mentioned running 16 miles really hard versus 24 miles really slow. And I've seen this in other places too. There are some training plans that don't go over 16 miles. Here's the deal though, that might be an awesome training technique for some runners, but I know that I can run 16-18 miles really hard, and I'm pretty sure if I trained like that and didn't run 20 milers I would surely hit a brick wall during my marathon. In fact, I think I need longer than 20 milers in my training plan.
The point is there are so many different training possibilities, and what works for one runner doesn't necessarily work for another. And the implication of one training plan over another becomes more important as we get faster and closer to our potential.
One last training thought. Pam asked about my treadmill running. I really haven't mentioned this, but almost all my hard running is done on the treadmill. I wouldn't say that TM running is ideal, but I do believe it has helped me stay injury free. I did all my MP runs on the TM with no incline. I haven't been using an incline because I was having issues with Achilles Tendinitis, and the incline seemed to exacerbate my issues.
Feel free to share your long run thoughts. I love to hear what works for other people, and I'm still all over the map with how I feel about my long runs and how I should be running them.