Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Training Better (and smarter!)

This is is my first official training cycle. For my first half marathon.  I've run races before, so how is this the first time I've trained?  Well, up until now I wasn't all that serious about my running nor was I tackling distances that required actual training.

A view that's becoming entirely too common
for my husband and my children. :(

During this training cycle (this is week 8 of a 15 week plan) I've been injured twice (sprained ankle and a sprained LCL).  After two injuries it finally clicked - I need to adjust my thinking when it comes to training. Until recently I'd treated training the same as running for enjoyment, just doing it more frequently with a plan dictating distances to shoot for. Now I realize:  training is serious.  The more serious you take it and the more you put into it, the more you're going to benefit from it. 

I'm dressed, my head is
 if only my body would cooperate!

All that being said, I've come up with a few rules I'm going to try to follow to train better (and smarter.)

1.  Plan, plan, plan. Just like each of my workouts are meticulously planned, my meals and sleep need to be just as well planned or else I tend to skimp on one or both, mostly due to being busy.  As I get closer to classes starting again I worry I won't be able to keep up the dedication to training.  But, I also know from experience that when you want it bad enough you'll find a way. (Hey, I made it through my first year of grad school while my husband was deployed with an infant and a toddler; I CAN and WILL plan meals and get up early to train!)

2.  Eat well, rest well. My training runs have run the gamut when it comes to how good I felt during and after each one.  Some were great, some I wondered why I had even bothered.  Looking back on the bad runs I notice that most were prefaced by a day or multiple days of poor nutrition and/or poor sleep.  I'm still experimenting with sleep habits and nutrition combinations that will work best for me. (I can tell you, Mint Chocolate Gu is pretty darn tasty!)

3.  Be careful when trying new activities. Both injuries have resulted from jumping into new activities without consideration for how my body will tolerate the stress of new/different muscles being worked.  Trail running is one of my new loves, yet parts of my body are not accustomed to the demands it makes of me because I don't do it all the time.  Boxing was so much fun, but because I wasn't properly trained in how to work the heavy bag without hurting myself I caused a small injury to my knee. Lesson learned:  Try new things.  But, be careful and know when to back down a little. 

4.  Negative self talk will be turned to positive as soon as it's recognized.  I've read a lot about running lately.  Hey, what can I say?  When I get involved in something I like to know as much as I can about it and I'm in grad school - research is part of life right now. ;)  One of the things that has stuck with me is "Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to a friend."  Easier said than done, let me tell you.  I am my own harshest critic and terrible about praising myself or recognizing my accomplishments.  Given the chance, I will always downplay what I did do as not good enough in comparison to others. In my own mind, it's never good enough. Part of this, I'm told, is part of a runner's mental make-up.  However, I also know that part of it is me being a jerk to myself because no one tells me to stop.  The longer my runs get, the more I realize how critical the mental piece of running really is.

4. Listen to your body.  I'll say it:  I suck at this.  Big time.  I am stubborn to a fault and will push through pain rather than "quit".  But, that being said, this is what's gotten me injured both times.  During long runs, my friend, who is training for her first marathon, has been educating me on how important it is to listen to my body.  Like I said, she is training for a marathon and has yet to be injured.  Why? Because she LISTENS to her body.  I push through and end up INJURED.  Point taken.

I wore my first pair out and got to buy NEW SHOES!  
I'm dying to take these pretty babies out for a RUN!

Have I learned?  Yes, I think I have.  At the end of Saturday's 10 mile long run I had a spot in my foot that was "talking to me" near the end. It's still bothering me today, so I sit writing a blog post and enjoying the relief of ice and rest.

I've learned: training plans are a guide.  The rest is determined by me and my body.  Today, this body rests in hopes of running tomorrow.

Gotta Run (as soon I can) :)


  1. OMG, this. This. THIS:
    "Until recently I'd treated training the same as running for enjoyment, just doing it more frequently with a plan dictating distances to shoot for."
    It's EXACTLY what I've been doing. Geez. Now I feel like an idiot. I was not differentiating at all between my "regular" running and training. I really need to look at what I'm doing and, while still having fun, approach it more systematically.

    Oh, and facing my first injury, I am realizing that the mental aspect is much more difficult to handle than the physical part. Pushing through the pain and doing something like a trail race would be easy compared to having the prudence and restraint to make myself stay home and not aggravate the injury. It's way more difficult than I would have thought, pre-running.

    1. I know...I've been fighting with myself all morning not to go out and do my 6 miles. I know my foot needs another day or two of rest but I REALLY wanna run!

  2. 1st off... LOVE the shoes! Pretty!
    2nd... yes, always listen to the body and don't worry about deviating from "the plan"

    1. Thanks Jess! As an experienced marathoner you telling me it's okay to deviate from "the plan" somehow helps me cement the fact that it really will be okay and I'm gonna rock this half marathon. :)