Tag Archives: cross training

Swimming is Magic

I need to come out and say up front that I know I overreact, and I know my momentary hysterics of thinking I had a stress fracture was probably more exaggerated phantom pain than anything else.

BUT, there was pain there…and that’s part of why I need to offer up credit to the cross training gods and say…

Swimming is magic.

Before I was even hindered with the really bad shin splint on Sunday, I had planned on a long, leisurely swim for Monday. You see, swimming is an old favorite of mine—and the two of us have always gotten along well. Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting the pool recently in favor of running and spinning, and my only excuse I can claim is laziness. It’s so lame really…but my only hesitation toward a pool workout stems from my aversion to getting in a suit and getting wet. It seems like so much more work than putting on regular workout clothes, and thus my poor goggles, cap, and swimsuit have been left alone in my pool bag from nearly a month.

I was very intentional about swimming on Monday for a few reasons, but mainly because I know how beneficial swimming is to my running, and subsequently my training. I think it was Lance Armstrong who said, “If you want to get stronger cardio-wise, go swim a mile in a pool.”

And you know, Lance is a little more credible than me.

A LITTLE.

It’s very true though. Swimming is positively incredible in terms of what it can do for your fitness. The practice of rhythmic breathing can make a substantial impact on your cardio shape in all other activities, and although swimming laps might seem easier than running—I would beg to differ. If you haven’t swam in a while, I challenge you to go and try swimming a mile; I think you’ll realize it’s a lot better of a workout than it’s given credit for. This is in large part due to the fact that swimming works every muscle in your body. No other activity can accomplish the all-around muscle activity that swimming does, and not only that—it’s all non impact. There’s a reason why people who have been injured in just about every sport are instructed to swim; it’s very easy on your body while still being a very quality workout.

Now, as I’ve said before—there was a time in my life when I had a big huge “running is the only decent workout” stick up my rear. And I admit, today I definitely would prefer running to anything else, however I will also vouch very favorably for cross training, particularly swimming.

Let’s back up to my former running life, when I was reckless and obsessive and demolished my hip.

(I know we’ve talked about this a lot recently, sorry about that.)

Because I decided to quite literally run myself into the ground, I had to accept a fate of cross training or no activity at all. Initially, right after I got hurt, even spinning and the elliptical were a bit too much for my bad hip. Enter, swimming.

I was never “a swimmer,” but I was a lifeguard for many years which means you need to at least be able to bust out a few laps. That said, as soon as I tried swimming with my bum hip, I realized something very quickly; not only could I do it, but it actually made my hip feelbetter.You see, I was so gimpy that I could barely walk—and I began to realize that the days I would swim were much easier to get through (in terms of walking around) than those when I didn’t. Also, when I was swimming it was the only time during the day where I couldn’t feel my injury.

Verdict from this experience?

Swimming=magic

Swimming helped me maintain my cardio shape well enough to jump back into running fairly seamlessly once I was recovered, and I credit swimming for mentally keeping me stable throughout my gimp-hood. There’s a very therapeutic element to swimming laps, and while the monotony can get a bit boring…I’ve found that I can do some of my best thinking while swimming: it’s forced silence that we rarely get to experience.

Oh I frankly can’t say enough, obviously.

I never can though, right?

Anyways, I just want to say that after my lovely 2 mile swim yesterday, I have reconfirmed my belief that swimming has real magical powers.

Remember the post where I decided that in my exercise love life, spinning was my mistress, yoga was the best friend, and running was my one true love? Right, well…if I could fit swimming into the mix, swimming would be the Gandalf. Or the Fairy Godmother, if you will. Yes, Fairy Godmother…I like that. While the other three all argue with each other, my Swimming Fairy Godmother is there to offer relief from the storm and quiet recovery.

And relief she offered.

I definitely was still feeling the shin splint all day yesterday, and even getting into the pool I was a little wary of any aggravation. While breast stroke proved to be a little tricky what with all the foot flexing, I found free style (my go-to stoke) to feel quite good and actually helpful. I ended the swim feeling great, and around 8 pm last night I realized…wait a minute, I can’t even feel the shin splint. Literally the entire day flexing my foot was painful, and just like that, all remnants of pain were zapped out of my leg.

Swimming! Magical Powers! I love my Fairy Godmother!

God I’m such a Disney kid. Sorry.

But for real…the proof gets better. This morning, still pain free, I decided to go along with my Tuesday morning run plan. I figured I would start, and if I felt any aggravations I would turn around and quit. And then all of a sudden…it was the end of my run, and I felt nothing. Nothing! And while it may have just been a seized shin splint that relaxed all at once, I’m giving the credit medal to my beautiful swimming friend.

Oh, and some credit should probably also be given to the fact that yesterday I worked FROM MY BED all day. I was horizontal for the vast majority of my work day (don’t judge…I was freezing and needed to be under my covers), and although I sort of felt like a slug when BF came home and I was literally in the same place he left me…it was worth it.

No more pain! And while I really super hope that this post hasn’t horribly jinxed me and my healthy body, I think it’s safe to end this with a resounding praise for swimming and its magical powers. And lying in bed all day.

Question: What activity do you think has magical powers? Anything goes! Frankly, I think that making chocolate cookies has a fairy-like effect as well.

 

My Running Report Card

Hello, friends!

Okay, so I might have gotten a little overly critical in yesterday’s post in regards to the commercialization of running. The running industry has contributed so much information and research toward the improvement and accessibility of running, and many of the “rules” they’ve come up with are indeed very credible. My point was simply that you shouldn’t presume every new fact, product, and tip that comes out about running directly applies to you. Running is very individualistic (one of the reasons it’s great) and don’t immediately presume that you’re doing something wrong if “groundbreaking” research tells you so.

With that said, there are particular “running rules” that seem to apply to at least the majority of runners. For example, hydration and carbohydrates are two things that I think all runners can agree are must-haves. I’m constantly kind of laughing at myself and shaming myself for the things I think I do very right and very, very wrong in regards to these running “basics.” Truly, there are some things I don’t do stereotypically “right” that I believe has no impact on my progression as a runner. However, there is definitely room for improvement, which is why I’ve decided to do a little analysis of my good and bad habits, in conjunction with the “rules” of being a good runner. The grades I’ve awarded myself are what I believe the whole of the running industry would give me.

 

Rule #1 Thou Shalt Hydrate

Grade: B

I always have the best intentions when it comes to hydrating properly. I carry a Camelback water bottle with me constantly, and I awkwardly ask public places to fill it as often as I can. However, I would say I don’t hydrate as often as should given my activity level. I think I’m hydration-proficient when it comes to the Average Person, however given the excess amounts of sweat I create during the day, I should probably be drinking more water—especially later in the day.

However, I really only ever drink water (and one cup of coffee in the morning), so at least my hydration is coming from the purest source.

Changes Necessary? Yes. I firmly believe that runners should pay a lot of attention to how hydrated they are. I know that above all other factors, if I’m dehydrated on a run it makes the most noticeable difference.

 

Rule #2:Thou Shalt Stretch

Grade: B+

If the “importance of stretching” were limited to pre and post run, I would probably get more of a C in this category. Admittedly, I’m not stellar at stretching immediately after a run, and I hardly ever stretch beforehand. However, I’m a dedicated yogi, and I credit the 2-3 hours I spend a week on my mat toward my stretching grade. This is actually a debatable topic for runners; while many argue for the value of stretching, there are many intense distance runners who claim to never stretch (Dean Karnazes for example…although his “human” credibility is questionable). The science behind the importance of stretching is variable as well, so this is definitely an area where I’d argue to do what works best for you.

Changes Necessary? Not really, BUT that is very dependent on continuing to do things such as yoga and foam rolling. Additionally, BF and I take turns torturing rolling each others’ calves with The Stick (remember that Friday “Favorite”?), which I think helps with our muscle relief. So, I would say my habits are working for me, but the measures I do take to remain stretched and loose must be maintained.

 

Rule #3 Thou Shalt Cross-Train

Grade: A

I have to say I’m proud of myself for this one. I never, ever used to think that anything other than running was a viable workout. I thought a sweat was wasted if it wasn’t spent on a run, so it definitely took me a while to really learn to appreciate (and love!) a cross-training routine. And truthfully, I was kind of forced to—when I got hurt almost a year ago (due to excessive running) cross training was my only exercise option for a solid three months. And I’m actually grateful for it, because now I not only enjoy other activities other than running, I definitely think they make me a stronger and smarter runner. I 100% believe spinning has helped my speed, swimming has helped my recovery and cardio strength, and yoga has helped quicken my muscle repair.

This is actually another debatable point in terms of “proper” running training. Many people vouch for it, however there is a large number of people who think the only way to be a better runner is to run, and that’s all. I definitely see both sides, and while there are days I’d much rather run than anything else—I know my body really thrives most when there’s variety in my workout routine.

Changes Necessary? Not right now. If there is a time when I’m really looking to amp up my training (either for increased speed or increased race length) then maybe I’ll need to tone down the cross-training, but for now I think that as long as I’m getting my marathon-prep miles in, there’s no reason to cut out the cross training.

 

Rule #4Thou Shalt Fuel

Grade(s):

Pre-run: B, Mid-run: D, Post-run: A

So, I’ll leave the debate of what to fuel with for another discussion, but in general I would say that the grades above are pretty much how the running industry would rate my fueling abilities. If I have a long run in the morning, I’m better about pre-run fueling for sure, but for just an every-day run I normally only have a handful of cereal and a few sips of water. It could be better for sure, but it does work for me and I have a persnickety digestive system to begin with, so I don’t really care to experiment.

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I’m really bad at fueling during my runs. Honestly, I’ve tried the whole gummies/gels/etc gunk, and all it does is make my stomach hurt. I wish they worked, and I think I might be able to condition myself to stomach them a bit better, but I really prefer a sports drink instead. That said, I only actually bring fuel on a run if it’s a really long run—another reason for my D grade.

As for post run re-fueling, I think I’m pretty good about the whole “carb-to-protien” ratio or whatever it is we’re supposed to do. I almost always eat within an hour of running, and I make sure that it’s something at least marginally substantial. I can really only credit my voracious appetite to my skills in this category, in that it only takes about 20 minutes after a run to set my appetite a-flame.

Oh, and in terms of calorie replacement after a long run—I have no issues there. See: My addiction to cookies.

Changes Necessary? Some. I would like to be a better mid-run fueler, and I think that as my marathon training increases, I’m not going to have a choice but to get used to the gummy energy thingers—unless I want to feel like total crap by the end. Also, I’ve started to get hungry during my runs more frequently, so I’m thinking I’m going to try adding something a little more substantial beforehand.

 

Rule #5 Thou Shalt Take Rest Days

Grade: C-

I am really, really trying to get better at this—and I think I am, but as I’ve said it’s not in my nature to intentionally take rest days. I know I justify my lack of rest days with cross-training… as in: well, I’m not running—therefore it’s okay. And actually, there are days where I’ll only do yoga or a light swim, but overall I would say I must be more programmed to completely let my body regroup and relax.

Changes Necessary? Yes, and it’s a work in progress—I promise!

 

So there you have it. Five very basic rules that I would say the majority of the running world agrees upon. I didn’t even get into shoe replacement, speed work, and proper training plans, because there’s way too much variety and—again—I don’t think there’s one right answer. I actually don’t believe there’s necessarily a “right” answer for the rules I’ve stated.

However, my goal is to show you that sure, there are some guidelines to this whole running thing, and as an active distance runner, I’m both sub par and exceptional for different ones. The point is that while I’ve acknowledged the areas I could improve upon, there are certain nuances that I don’t abide by and it’s no big deal. Not that my running career is scientific proof of anything (English major folks, and a liberal arts school one at that), BUT I hope that I’ve shown the importance of analyzing what works best for you.

So listen to the experts, read the studies, and buy the books, but remember that the most credible source of information is your own body. It knows better than anyone else what does and doesn’t work for you as a runner—and in the end that’s who you should be abiding by.

 

NOW YOU! What grades would you give yourself for these running “rules”?

 

 

 

Cocoon of Cross-Training

I had the full intention of writing a post today about how I’m feeling lazy, I’m cheating on running too often, and how I’m complaining but I shouldn’t be complaining because my life could be worse and blah blah blahhh.

However, the sun came out, my productivity has been stellar, and just like that my writing has switched gears.

Mostly.

I will admit that I have been cheating on running a bit too much recently, and while cross-training is great— it isn’t necessarily beneficial to increase the XT while decreasing the miles when marathon training. I think my problem is that I’m not actually following a strict running schedule for this bout of training, so I’m taking advantage of the mornings where I’d rather be inside than tromping around in the cold rain.

It’s silly really. I love running, and once I stop being such a baby and get my butt on the road I am always happier than when I decide to sit on a spin bike instead. However, the ability to constantly check the weather report and the promise of a hot and sweaty spin session from my favorite instructor seems to have derailed my undying love for the run.

You see, I live in Seattle. You knew that, and if not…let me fill you in on some of the facts I face on a day to day basis:

-It is dark

-It is rainy

-It is windy

-It is humid

(These are mostly only true for the winter months, but that’s where we’re at, so go with it)

These four factors make my strong willed runner self curl up in a pathetic “I don’t wanna!” fetal position. Okay, I’m exaggerating. I do normally (wo)man up and hit the road, but not without an internal grumble fest every time the temperature is below 40 and there is the potential for a little rain.

These past two weeks I’ve been really bad about it, and I’ve been swapping a few runs for a spin class/stair stepper workout that I (admittedly) love. It’s hard workout, I’m dripping by the end of it, and I can always tell myself that “it’s good cross training.” I also like that with spin, I don’t really have to will myself any further than getting on the bike seat. Once the class starts, I don’t really have to think and I just follow Jeoff’s militaristic screaming encouraging instructions.

However, I’m getting to the point where the only way I’m going to really up my mileage and get into serious marathon mode is by foregoing a bit of my cocoon of cross training. Sure, it is really good to alternate running with some other activities, but not necessarily when those activities are starting to replace runs. I think part of this has to do with the brain games my mind plays on me. If I know I have a 20 mile run on the weekend, I don’t want any part of me to dread doing it, so I save up my “running energy” in order to ensure that I can commit to the long run 100%.

Again, silly. I’m always happiest when I’m running more often. I think I get scared though that there will be a feeling of apathy toward running that I can’t shake. I love to thoroughly enjoy every run I go on, so I think I set myself up to make sure I’m anxious and ready to run every time. This is probably a good strategy for a non-training routine, however it’s time to get down to business.

So, to my mindless spin bike, my sweaty stair stepper, and my calming pool, I need to put you guys aside a bit. I’ll still hang out with you every so often, however running and I need to spend more  quality time with one another if my goals for Eugene are going to happen.

In other news, Lent starts today, and while I’m not Catholic—BF is, and he’s committing to do what I consider the impossible: He’s giving up sweets.

I think the only thing harder for me to give up than sweets would be giving up peanut butter, and I think this yearly practice of Lent just reminds me to hold on even tighter to the things I love. So much for sacrifice, huh? But I don’t like to think of the things I love as vices. I do have self-control, and there have been periods of time when I’ve given up these things for the sake of my health, so I know it’s do-able. Also, BF’s lack of sweets consumption will lower my own just by default, based on the fact that I have zero willpower when someone says, “Let’s get dessert” as my all-knowing, loving boyfriend often does.

So, I’ll look forward to when BF and I can once again go on late-night fro yo dates. But until then…

Girl Scouts are the February equivalent of Santa

Sorry babe. I guess I’ll have to make this a solo mission.

I hope you have a great Wednesday! Remember, tomorrow’s Thursday, which pretty much means it’s the weekend. Right? Good.

Questions: Do you worry about getting in a running rut? What types of cross training do you like to do? What is your favorite kind of Girl Scout Cookie?

An {Exercise} Affair to Remember

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you have spent the day doting on a loved one, or simply doting on yourself. I personally see nothing wrong with showering yourself with love on Valentine’s Day, because—after all—shouldn’t we show ourselves the same kind of affection we show others? I think so.

If you’ve read this blog for more than 9 seconds, you know that I have a mild obsession for activities that make me sweat. Running is my numero uno {Read: The title of this blog.}, but as you know there are other physical activities that get me all giddy inside as well.

That being said, I’m realizing that my feelings for each of these activities is very parallel to stereotypical romantic relationships. Say what? you ask. Well, allow me to explain it to you in my Valentine’s Day Tribute to the Three Lovers in my exercise life.

SPINNING

Oh spinning, you dirty little Casanova.

Spinning is the essence of a steamy, infatuous, lustful relationship. You all know the kind. It’s gets you all hot and bothered (yes, literally) and you find yourself somewhat addicted after just a few meetings.

Just think of the kind of music that plays in spin. Fast, upbeat, invigorating, Britney…you get the point. It’s not true-love-let’s-have-babies music, it’s “You’re hot and I’m interested for tonight” music.

And the sweat. Oh, the sweat. Spinning can get your pores going more than any other cardio workout there is. I can run for 18 miles and never sweat the way spinning for an hour does. It’s not that running doesn’t know what it’s doing, and in fact—I do sweat a lot—but there’s really nothing quite like a good drenching from a spin class.

{Sex joke inserted here}

In the end, it’s not going to work out. The gym isn’t always open, classes and instructors come and go, but you never forget the jolt you get from spending an hour atop that bike.

I realize I’m walking right into these, but I’m not sorry?

 

YOGA

You know that best guy{or girl} friend you had all through those rubbish relationships? (Yep, Adele reference right there). The friend that had your back no matter what, and even if you didn’t talk for a few weeks, they were right there to pick you up.

That’s yoga.

Reliable, dependable, and ready to pick up your pieces when I’ve been spit out by my other lovers.

You see the other lovers, despite being debonaire and flirtatious, have a way of breaking me down. That’s the problem with intensely deep relationships—they can hurt just as easily as they can make me feel invincible. Luckily, yoga is there—ready to swoop in and cradle me in its loving, non-judgmental arms.

Yoga brings me back to life when things get rough, and many would argue that it should be yoga that I end up with when all is said and done. The problem is, though, there isn’t any passion with yoga. Sure, it brightens my spirits and is fun to hang out with, however it doesn’t quite have the ability to get me going the same way my other lovers can.

Think Johnny and Marissa from the OC, Gustav the farm boy from Ever After, or Dan Humprey in this season of Gossip Girl.

All of them are {this} close to nabbing the leading lady, but at the end of the day, they are cast into the “we’ll always be friends” role.

By the way, if you didn’t understand any of those references, I’m slightly judging you.

Kidding, but for real you should watch Ever After. Or, hit up Netflix and let Gossip Girl ruin take over your “I’m way too old to watch this show but I can’t stop” adult life.

Running

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the leading man in the production of my Exercise Love Life.

Running is the sappy love songs you pretend to hate in public but secretly belt in your car.

It’s the yin to my yang, the Noah to my Allie, the Mickey to my Minnie.

Okay, maybe that didn’t totally translate, but you get the point: Running is the love of my life, and no matter who else tickles my fancy, there will never be anything quite like running.

Running does all the things that a perfect mate should: It knows when I need it most, it challenges me to do my best, it helps make my days better no matter what, and—most of all—it’s unconditional. Running will always be there to rejuvenate my love for life and for myself. Sure, it can be tough on me, and sometimes I may even think I’ll give up on it. But even if my back is turned, running is still right there, ready to guide me when I need a hand to hold.

Being a runner is one of the titles I pride myself most on, not because I think it’s impressive or somehow gives me leverage, but I love the feeling of encompassing myself with an activity that is so simply happy.

Because in the end, all we want from our relationships is to make us happy. And although spinning and yoga can liven my mood, there is nothing quite like the overwhelming joy of a good run.

 

So there you have it. I’ve learned a lot from each of these relationships, just as we learn a lot from our relationships in our real lives. Certainly, the complexities of romance are far less simplistic than “How do I want to work out today?,” and I know it’s a lot harder to typecast actual people quite so stereotypically. However, when we strip relationships in our lives to their bare bones, both with people and the things we partake in, we can see the ways in which they build us up, knock us down, and how they have shaped our experiences.

And to those of you who know my history a bit, I must add this side note: BF might have held the best friend role in high school, but he has also been all three of these aforementioned relationships at one point or another, which together has given us a wonderfully dynamic, passionate, and all-around wonderful romance that I’m so grateful for everyday.

Hey, it’s V-Day. I had to give at least one sappy shout out.

 

Now, go eat your weight in truffles, and know that no matter who you may or may not be celebrating with, the most important kind of love is the kind you have for yourself. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over my 23 years, it’s that the ability to make ourselves happy is the most valuable Hallmark card of them all.

 

And yes, I do still watch Gossip Girl and have no intention of stopping.

 

NOW YOU! Tell me some of the loves in your life! Running, Ryan Gosling, Chipotle burritos, Harry Potter, anything!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training for 26.2

Hi!

Today, I thought I would talk a bit about the marathon training schedule that I followed, as I’m about to start it up again in the new year. As you may know, I was injured for 3 months before I started my marathon endeavor, so as I was deciding on a training routine—I was pretty careful to make sure that running wouldn’t take over all my time.

After recovering from being hurt (bad hip flexor strain) I knew that my body needed lots of different forms of exercise to keep it healthy. Running is a beneficial, fulfilling, and all around glorious sport, however it comes with a hefty “handle with care” caution tag. In order to stay a sane and injury-free runner, there are—in my opinion—three essential things to incorporate into your running routine: Yoga, Cross Training, and Rest.

Yoga

Sure, you can consider this cross training, however I believe that practicing basic yoga at least once a week is essential for distance runners. Yoga offers your muscles a lot of relief from all the heavy impact of running, it helps prevent excessively tight leg/back/core muscles, and it centers your mind in the most deliciously peaceful way. It took me a long time to start liking yoga, but once I finally figured it out I can’t imagine my running routine without it. Plus, if you’re a runner, I can guarantee yoga will feel really damn good.

Cross Training

When I was injured, I learned to love cross training, and I found that once I was out on the roads again, the muscles that I had strengthened from participating in other activities actually helped my running. Developing the smaller muscles around your big running muscles helps prevent injury and it can improve your flexibility and speed. I can honestly say that doing sprints in spin class helped with my marathon finish time more so than my long runs.

Rest

Again, this realization took a while for me to come by, however resting from exercise is not only essential to preventing injury and burnout, but it makes you a smarter athlete. Even the most elite athletes and runners in the world still take a rest day to allow their muscles and minds to relax.

The fact of the matter is simple: if you never rest, you will burn out—and you don’t want burn out to come in the form of a sidelining injury.

 

Anyways, integrating these three essentials were very important in my marathon training. I got my 12 week training schedule off the internet, and tweaked it a bit to match my own timeline and mileage. With that said, a typical week in my schedule looked like this:

m: rest

t: 8-9 miles, lifting/core work

w: cross train and yoga

t: 10-12 miles, lifting/core work

f: cross train and yoga

s: 6 mile “shake out” run

s: long run (ranged 14-22 miles)

 

Now, keep in mind that when I designed my training program, I was already running a decently high weekly mileage (appx. 35-40 miles/week). Therefore, I was able to use a shorter training time frame (12 weeks as opposed to the standard 16-20), and I trained up to 22 miles instead of the more common 20 miles.

This schedule worked really well for me. I felt like I had a great balance of running and cross training, and because I wasn’t running 5-6 days a week (like some programs) I mostly enjoyed all my running days. I was fearful of starting to loathe my long runs, however by sandwiching them between a shake out run day and a rest day, I found that they were a fantastic challenge to look forward to each week. Sure, I had very little social life and they took a good 2-3 hours out of my Sunday, but in the end it was totally worth it.

So worth it, in fact, that I am currently in the stages of planning my next few marathons for 2012!

As of right now, I am planning on doing the Vernonia Marathon in April (a small race along a gorgeous course), potentially the Seattle Rock’ N’ Roll in late June, and the Bellingham Bay Marathon in September.

Wow, writing that down seems daunting.

However, I am really committed to establishing a competitive running routine. I’ve been an athlete and competitor my whole life, and running offers a great way for adults to still compete with others but mainly with themselves. I never plan on winning a race, however continuing to push myself, lower my times, and continue improving is incredibly rewarding and gratifying. Does it come without hardship, bad runs, self critique, or all around shitty experiences? Absolutely not. But the bad only makes the good that much better, and I’m a big believer that any experience is good experience.

Yes, even if it’s being forced to not run for 3 months after overdoing it.

We learn this way, and ultimately we become better runners.

Anyways, enough psychological jargon.

As I take on my next marathon, I am planning on actually increasing the distance of my long runs, and will perhaps train (gulp) past 26 miles. This is a training method used by some, and as long as I go slow and build even slower, I am thinking that this technique could work for me. I want to do the Seattle Rock’n’Roll just over 2 months after Vernonia, and I’m thinking the only way to do this successfully is to up my overall mileage.

We will see though, nothing is set in stone—and with the other distance races I have planned, who knows what will happen.

What marathon or half marathon training plans have you used? What were some successful side activities you did to help your training?