This post is going to be all about running.
But that’s not too off-beat, I suppose.
I have been stupidly excited about my runs recently. Like, smile plastered on my face, greeting every person/biker/car/rollerblader I see going by with a toothy grin and an in-your-face “GOOD MORNING!”
Here’s an example about how this elation has taken over my better senses: Tuesday, I finished a 10.3 mile run feeling on top of the world, both literally and figuratively. I had just climbed the super steep hill up to my house, and I felt super confident about my overall speed. Also, my IT band/knee was completely unnoticeable, which took my runner’s high to a recovered runner’s high—a whole new degree of giddy. THEN, later as I was driving back down said hill I’d just climbed, I saw a fellow runner girl grinding back up, and you know what my thought was? “I wish that was ME doing that right now! Jealous!”
Seriously, someone cage me.
But overall, I think these euphoric (bordering on obnoxious…I know, you can say it) feelings are stemming from two things:
1) My return from injury
2) My new-and-improved approach to marathon training
Obvs returning from injury (and please knock on every wooden item near you right now) is great reason to dig your runs. You have such a heightened appreciation for running after being away from it for so long. Relatively speaking, I wasn’t away too long, but I think any unplanned time away from running can totally revamp your love for it. I always love running, but there’s something so renewing about it when you come back from injury.
I know I haven’t discussed much about my new training mentality, partly because it wasn’t complete, but I love what it’s been doing for both my physical and mental strength.
So what, pray tell, is this new approach?
Very simple: Take myself less seriously, try new things, and be flexible.
These things are working together quite well so far, and I think they’ve done wonders for my training.
I’m having more fun, I’m looking forward to workouts more, and I’m less stressed out about the whole shebang.
So what are the steps I’ve been taking to ensure that my new approach works correctly?
Well, to begin, I think that the biggest thing I’m working on is very intentionally caring less. This sounds counterintuitive, because…um, hello, doesn’t marathon training take a butt ton of self motivation?
Yes, but hear me out.
As I realized after the Tacoma Marathon, the physical training—meaning the daily workouts, the mileage buildup, and the general grind of it all—isn’t the hard part for me. By nature, I enjoy the physical challenge, and my brain is programmed to go!go!go! all the time in terms of pushing harder and getting stronger. I realize that this can be a benefit, particularly for someone who runs marathons, however it can absolutely be taken to a destructive level. Take the TCM for example, or the fact that to this day I have to force myself to be okay with taking days off.
So, I needed a new mentality. And that entailed letting myself off the hook and focusing more on the day-to-day victories. I realize this may only make sense in my own head, but essentially what I’ve done is I’ve taken the pressure off of performing at an unreasonable standard. I still want to run fast, and I still want to run many miles, but those numbers aren’t the reason I love this sport. What I love more than anything is to just run—fast, slow, long, short, outside, inside (okay…that’s pushing it), alone, and with others. So although I am training with number and mile goals in mind, they aren’t my primary concern.
With that said, I am also trying to get myself out of my normal exercise comfort zones. Sure, I can muster up the energy for an easy run or a gym workout—but within my own agenda. Ask me to go to a class I’ve never been to before or try a crazy lifting move I’ve never seen—fogetta about it!
However, I am a big believer that it is outside of our comfort zones where we find excitement, challenge, and—ultimately—improvement. So I committed myself to trying new things, yes in hopes of building my physical strength, but more so in hopes of shaking up my routine.
And I’ve found that you never quite know what you like until you venture into the unknown. I have absolutely loved trying new things (weights classes, different running workouts (tempo!!), new yoga poses) and I think the best part is that they make me excited for each daily workout. Instead of just being a means to an end (the end being Chicago in this case), I’m taking pride in my day-to-day sweat sessions and enjoying the smaller victories they present.
In addition to trying new things, like lunges, squats, and mountain climbers (I want to go on record saying I HATE THESE), I’m also getting very cozy with my rest days. They are scheduled into my training, and I’m taking comfort in them instead of letting them make me anxious. I’m realizing that if you are training at a hard enough level, you should want your rest days instead of fear them. I think before, when I was avoiding any rest at all, it’s because I was operating on an at-threshold activity level just for the sake of not wearing myself out. I wouldn’t push myself too hard for the sake of not needing a rest day.
I’d much rather work hard, recharge, and stay healthy. Plus, now that I need to wake up a 4:45, days off are like a beacon of light every week.
I know you’re probably getting bored (that’s presuming you’re still reading…and if so, hi!) so I’ll be brief in finishing up my last approach to marathon training.
Be flexible…that’s the motto I keep telling myself.
Flexible, yes, in the sense of stretching and yoga (jk I haven’t been in two weeks). But more so in being okay with the fact that life is going to get in the way of marathon training. And I’m letting it—because when marathon training starts to take over all other joys in life, such as an extra beer or three the night before a long run, a weekend visit to see your friends, or a lazy Sunday, it starts to drain us.
Running is a huge part of my life, but it’s not all of it. I like to use running to enhance the other great things in life, not take away from them. This means that my training schedule is amendable, and I’m not freaking out over hitting every target workout every day of the week.
A perfect example would be this upcoming weekend. BF and I are going down to my Summerhouse to play with my family…meaning LR plans needed to be altered. Ordinarily, this would stress me out. But instead, I rearranged, I front loaded the weekend with some extra miles this week, and I’m allowing myself to be excited about everything else I’ll get to do.
I’ll probably run there, but I feel a lot less pressure to break X number of miles with so many other wonderful things to occupy my time with.
So there it is: Robyn’s New Approach to Marathon Training. I am sure someday I’ll be gunning for a specific time goal, BQ, etc. But for this training cycle, I’m more interested in enjoying the running, fundraising for Girls on the Run, and getting excited to run in one of the biggest races in the world.
Based on my current mood and euphoria about anything involving Body Glide or Brooks, I’d say my new technique is working.
What do you think is the best way to approach marathon training? Relaxed? Goal-Oriented? Nutella in one hand and Nuun cocktail in the other?