Monday, July 31, 2006

Marathon Training, Take 2

I've been thinking a bit about why Leah and I have struggled with our Marathon Training since coming back from England. Was it the trip that did us in? Was it the time off?

I honestly don't think the Englad trip had any negative effects on our training. If anything, our legs needed the rest and we needed the break (especially Pukey Magoo). Besides, the trip was fun. No, I think the problem has been with our approach since returning. That being said, I'm going to break down the problems as I see it in the hopes that putting it out there will force us to address the issues for real.
  • Nutrition - Initially, I think this was the biggest problem. When we came back from England, Leah and I had lots of shifts and this screwed up our eating habits. There was lots of ice cream and chips, and very little fruit and healthy calories (and not enough calories, besides). As a result, Leah lost her appetite really badly and it took a long time to recover. This effected lots of our runs and we are just now getting back to eating healthy.
  • Focus - Did we really think that it would be okay to just run 18 miles at 6pm after driving back from Indy and doing stuff all day in the heat? In order to do a long run, it has to be the complete focus of that day. One must mentally prepare for the run and make it the daily conquest, with the reward being the sense of satisfaction and a nice nap. We should never have tried that 18 miles run at night, especially given the heat.
  • Sleep - you can't fool your body into training for a marathon. Everything must be done properly and that includes sleep. We have to make time to sleep, especially since we haven't had time to nap after the long runs.
  • Regiment - This is what pulls everything together. Obviously it has been harder for us to stick to a schedule given the constantly changing shifts, but that is no excuse as we were doing fine before England. Now, suddenly, we are trying to train for a marathon as an afterthough and just "fit in" the runs. That doesn't cut it.
Okay, given the problems, here's what we have to do if we want to survive the rest of the training and succeed in our goal (the goal simply being to get through each week):
  • Regiment - Leah's generally really good at this, so it should be something we can handle. This week our shifts are going to be 4-midnight, so we will get home at 1am, sleep until 9am, wake up, eat breakfast, run, go to work, rinse, repeat. Obviously there will be a few hours in there for doing other stuff too, but it has to be the same every day. And once the annoying shifts are over, everything will be shifted to an early schedule to beat the heat.
  • Focus - Here's the real problem. Marathon training has become a chore for us. No longer is it our "outdoor time" where we don't have to sit in front of a computer, but rather we've had to drag ourselves outside. This probably has something to do with the heat as "outdoor time" has become very similar to "bowels of Hell time." Until it cools down a bit, the training will probably not be super fun. We just have to get through this nasty period by not looking ahead in the schedule and not looking ahead in the run. Just run the mile that we are in and don't worry about how many miles there are to go or how many we've completed, that's the surest route to defeat. We have to laugh at the heat and enjoy getting ridiculously sweaty and not worry about how it would be more fun to swim because, you know what? Forgoing swimming now will result in rewards as we cross the finish line. I'm not sure that the training will be fun until being outdoors is more pleasant so, for the time being, it will have to be more about beating a challenge and not wanting to lose in the training.
  • Nutrition/Hydration - This is going to be a big part of beating the worst of the heat. It will be hard enough as it is, but even worse if we are tired and/or thirsty. The heat just gets doubly bad without proper hydration. We've already made a healthy dinner this week and had a bigger lunch. We've both been drinking lots of water and I really think this is going to help. This has to continue, though. Despite the heat, food must be eaten. The hardest thing in the world right now is cooking in our furnace of a kitchen, drenched in sweat, but it must be done. And besides, what's a little more sweat and heat if you are just going to take a shower anyway? Might as well earn that shower.
  • Sleep - This goes along with regimen. No staying up late, sleeping in, or any of that. Just get 7-8 hours and go.
We are officially out of buffer weeks, but I'm happy about that. Our backs are against the wall and we know that, if we don't gut the runs out, we are going to be sorry come October. Besides, we can't let all the other Pfitzers win, right :)

On a personal note, I have to be mentally stronger. I have only ever run with Leah at my side and I've never built up my own mental toughness. If I'm running by myself, I generally don't self motivate enough to finish the run at the proper pace. When we ran the 11 miler separate, I started out at a comfortable pace and it ended up being way too slow. This is because I don't push myself, but rather I rely on Leah to push me. Granted, this is why I married Leah (besides the obvious beauty and brains part), she makes me a better person and doesn't let me take the easy way out. But I have to realize that I can do it on my own and, when she tells me to run ahead of her because she is having a rough time, to just run out ahead. It's very hard for me to do as I worry about her, but in the end it will make us both better runners.

Tomorrow we have 10 miles with 5 at lactate threshold. This will be our third try at this run, and third times a charm. We will start out slow, pick up the pace, and then gut out 5 incredibly hard miles. Why? Because that's what we do. We're marathon runners.


Firefly's Running said...

Hang in there. The heat will end soon enough. Getting rain here in MN and will hopefully coming your way. Marathon training is a time of learning about yourself and testing the limits.

Full Metal Lunchbox said...

The heat is supposed to break by tomorrow.  If you guys pull off your 10 miler today (and I know you will) the rest of your runs over the next few days should feel much easier--and you'll have a springboard into the rest of your training.

Even as an inexperienced runner, I know what you are going through.  It seems like this part of the summer is testing the discipline of everyone I know who is training for the marathon.

You and Leah make a great team, but I think you are also both strong as individuals.

Anonymous said...

Way to get back in the game, not that I thought you were ever out of the game. But, nice strategy for the remainder of the training. Good luck.