It has been a long, crazy, hectic, and draining week for me as I started my official training program for the Chicago Marathon. But I was totally excited to get it underway. It officially started last week…exactly…on Sunday, June 9th. It was…a rest day. Naturally. But I used that time wisely and started taking some steps that I hope will only better my training and my running in the long run.
That morning, I met up with a sports nutritionist. After getting a good physical report back from my check-up at the doctor and the okay to start marathon training as I was in very good health…I had inquired about talking with a sports nutritionist because…well…I am horrible when it comes to fueling and hydrating while on the run. And I wanted to go into this training doing everything possible to do right by my body. And that meant learning to fuel it properly before, during, and after running.
The problem was…we couldn’t find a sports nutritionist in this area. Strange, as we have the University of Louisville, which has a great sports program, right here. But…nope. Nothing. On a whim, I contacted Ken Combs Running Store and they put me in touch with one. Her name is Donna…and she’s awesome. She’s just like me – a gluten-free, vegetarian, long distance runner. She said she wasn’t taking on new clients at the time, but given my circumstances, she would definitely take me on.
In our first meeting she spoke to me about the importance of fueling my body correctly…not just on race day, but during the entire time I’m in training. This meant changing the way I looked at food…nutrition info…and changing up how I ate. We laid out a plan, which involved me drinking 16 ounces of water before heading out for a run, and getting something in my stomach. Prior to that, I would run my mornings on an empty stomach and not even bring water with me. I’d just go run. Worry about the rest when I got back. She emphasized how important it was to get something in my stomach so that my body is feeding off of the fuel rather than taking away from my muscle strength. It made sense. She’s moving me more towards a clean eating diet as well, which means less processed foods (aka: bad carbs) and more natural foods (aka: good carbs). And she is having me hydrate and fuel while out on every training run. This means not just water…but Gatorade to with giving my body electrolytes, sodium, and potassium that is lost while running…and giving an energy boost to the muscles with the carbohydrates it offers too. Fuel. I am also to take a GU or Sports Beans packet every 3-4 miles (about every 30 minutes) to really train my body to take in fuel while I’m on the run. It all made sense…so I vowed to start doing it.
I learned a lot from her and we’ll be meeting up again in a couple of months to see how I am progressing.
My charity group that I am running the Chicago Marathon with, Team Healthy Kids – part of Action For Healthy Kids, sent me a training program for my marathon training. I had one originally, but after looking at it, I felt that the mileage was too low. I’d been running 35-40 miles a week, and was being dropped down to half that. I contacted them to see about getting it changed up. They said that since this was my first marathon, they put me on the beginner plan, but they saw my point and moved me to the intermediate one. That being said, my first run happened on Monday morning.
Five miles…and it was raining. I heard the rain when I woke up that morning. But I didn’t make plans to head to the gym to hit the treadmill. I got dressed, laced up my shoes, grabbed my reflective gear and headed out the door. Marathons happen in all sorts of weather and as long as there was no lightning…I was hitting the roads. I noticed that Cathy had placed a sign up on the door. It had words of encouragement on it. And in marker she wrote me a message. I love that she is so supportive of my running and really is making sure I do my training as well. It means less time to do other things, but she seems willing to take on the sacrifice as well at times. The sign was the encouragement I needed. Monday morning…5 miles at an easy pace completed…in the rain. I felt really badass! I hated my time, but as the run specifically was meant to be done at an easy pace, I focused more on the pacing than the time.
Tuesday was my Cross Training day. I hit up the gym for a 45 minute session on the Arc Trainer, set to the hill setting. That was tough, but I got through it. Then I put myself through 10 minutes on the rowing machine. My arms were tired and sore from doing a yoga DVD on Sunday night…but I got through it and moved down to the weight room for some strength training.
Wednesday was supposed to be my 6 mile run in the morning, but…I was running a 10K on Saturday…when I was supposed to be running 9 miles long. So, I flip-flopped those days. On Wednesday, I spent my wee morning hours knocking out 9 miles in some pretty crazy humidity. I fueled every three miles and took Gatorade for hydration for the first time…since the Chicago Half Marathon. It all settled fine in my stomach and I finished the run feeling good. I was proud of myself.
Thursday meant it was Speed/Pacing day. And the schedule called for a 4 mile tempo run. A tempo run, for those of you who might not be familiar with the term, is simply running at a quicker pace than the easy pace, but at about 15 seconds slower than your 10K time. I managed to actually hold a rather steady tempo on my run, despite throwing in some hills to make it a bit tougher. I came out of that one surprised. Especially since I was also dealing with 15 mph winds that morning as well.
Friday…was the day of rest. I respected it and kept it holy.
Saturday was race day. I was participating in the Capital City Stampede 10K…which is why I moved my 6 mile run to Saturday. It just sort of…worked out that way. I went to the race, knocked it out with a new PR, and had a great time running. Races make me happy…but they are about to take a back seat to my training sessions.
And that rounded out my first official week of training for the Chicago Marathon. At the end of it…I feel good. I’m ready for this coming week where I work on my fueling, rehydration, and pace/speed as well. I have a goal…and I’m working hard to reach it. And…I have to say, I am very proud of myself for going out there on my first official day of training in the rain.
All-in-all…a draining, but very exciting week for me. On to the next…