Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week 6 of Marathon Training and a Runner's HIGH!

I have a little window of time here, so I thought I'd blog now, as I sit reclined in my "old man chair". I am sure I'll need to get up shortly to make a real meal. Just enjoyed some peanut butter on toast and some chocolate milk. I absolutely love that combination as recovery food after a long run - perfect mix of protein and carbs and makes me feel like I'm a little kid eating a treat her parents don't fully approve of :-)

Completing my Sunday long run today makes it the official end to week 6 of my marathon training. And what a perfect perfect end to this week, with a 20km training run. This is the longest training run I've done since my half marathon in October. In fact, this is only the 5th time in my life I've run a distance of 20km or more. It was for this reason, this little "milestone" that I realized this morning that I decided I wanted to run 20km today, even though my training plan calls for 19km today. Running truly is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport. There's something so much more appealing about the number 20 than there is the number 19.  So why not give myself the boost of doing something awesome-r than what I 'expected' to do!

I think the mental game is some of the biggest stuff when it comes to running a long distance. All it takes is a bad attitude or the mildest sense of disbelief in oneself (even if its buried inside) to make the physical part of it harder than it needs to be. Of course you have to train yourself to be physically ready for the challenge. But if your will and confidence isn't trained too, there's only so far you can go physically. You have to be ok with yourself once the workouts get to be a few hours at a time. Doubting oneself for hours at a time is no good. Enjoying and believing in oneself for hours at a time is a lot more productive!

Today was a great example of this for me. I feel like I've accomplished something with today's 2hour run. It's not that I think completing 20km is a terribly big deal. I mean, a marathon is more than twice that distance. But it's more that I am celebrating small successes from this run today. And I'll admit, I experienced a beautiful case of "runner's high" when I finished as a result of these small victories.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons I love running - I'm addicted to the high running gives me. Not the worst addiction in life, that's for sure. I'm addicted to the ability to come home with a smile on my face and have little victories to celebrate after every run.

So what are today's little victories?
  • It was only the 5th time in my life I've run 20km or more. This was by FAR the easiest of these runs. I could have easily kept going.
  • The route I took today was a major victory. One of the advantages of living in North Vancouver is that there are a whole network of beautiful forest / riverside trails. Today's run was within familiar territory but incorporated a bunch of trails, including a couple areas I'd never run before, and a couple areas I'd only run once before. I didn't notice before how it all connected together so nicely. It was an adventure exploring, and I found some gems that I'm definitely returning to. The trails were busy enough with dog-walkers that I felt comfortable running there on my own. And seriously, my goodness, there is so much natural beauty here. It took me a few years of living here on the North Shore to discover some of these trails yes, but better late than never! Of course the route I took was from home, down to the water in West Van, and back; this means it was gradually uphill all the way home. But it was so pretty, I didn't even notice the climb.
  • I'm getting a better handle on my fueling strategy. Lots of water the day before a long run, and drinking less water during the runs than what I had been drinking before. Of course I'll have to play around with the latter, but I feel this is working for me. I despise drinking too much during and needing to find a washroom. I'm sticking with just my GU gels now - no longer taking "food" with me (ie., things that require chewing) like I had experimented with previously. The gels seem to be most effective for me for giving me sustained energy, and I take one essentially every 7km. It's about that often that I need a quick walk break anyway. Eating more often just feels like a nuisance, and I have no patience for chewing my food when I'm running, haha.
  • I had been feeling a bit nervous about these longer training runs, knowing the furthest I've ever run is a half marathon. I didn't really admit this 'out loud', but it was on my mind for sure. But now, after how I felt with today's distance, I'm very confident that I've adapted, I'm more fit than I've ever been in my life, and each training run I do moving forward will get progressively easier. Next week is 23km, the following week 26km, then 29km, then 32km....then back down again to gradually work my way up again. It actually sounds a LOT more do-able now. I can actually imagine doing 32km now without falling over. It'll be hard, yes. But do-able.  And I realize now that it is in fact possible for me to train for a marathon completely by myself.
So next week's 23km, I can't wait. I'll likely take a similar route to today's run, but just do a bit more of the seaside route in West Vancouver to make the additional 3km a flat section. And 23km will officially be the longest distance I've ever run in my life in one go. Another milestone. Another series of small victories. And it's only going to get longer and longer now. And bring along more and more victories to celebrate. Ya baby, bring it on!


  1. Great post!

    I will admit this: I tend to avoid reading your blog if I have an 'off' day or two in running, or if I skip or delay a run. It increases my guilt about not running to read about what an awesome (and super long!) run you've done. But I am moving beyond that.

    I really needed to read this post, and it came at the perfect time. Running IS so much more mental than I like to admit, and I'm learning more about that as I go on. But I think this is especially true for me. I beat myself up immensely when I don't do as well as I expected or hoped to do..this goes for everything. Sometimes it's a struggle to keep my expectations low and to remind myself that I'm human. Today, my very short but very fast run was all about reminding myself about the JOY of running! Some people wouldn't put those two words in the same sentence but it's absolutely true.

    You are inspiring me to keep on!
    I think I'm where you're at when you were training for your first half...and am hoping it'll get easier for me and I'll adapt quickly, like you did :) So proud of you, girl!

    1. Thanks Jess! That's the beauty of running - you're not a beginner for long, and with dedication and belief in yourself, progress can come quickly. So so so glad you loved your run today. I read about it on DailyMile. I am glad to be able to inspire you to keep on. And you too inspire me! You remind me of me when I was training for my first half and my most recent half too (which was a first in many ways). Glad you see it too! Running does get easier and easier, and you will amaze yourself and love it more as time goes on! <3

  2. Thank you for interviewing at my blog today, Zahida. You are an inspiration to my blog tribe.