Things I want to do differently for the upcoming marathon cycle

While things are still relatively fresh in my mind, I wanted to get some thoughts down on a few things that were different between the two marathon training cycles to see what I can change for the next time around.
man_vs_vic
Left to right: Manchester to Victoria. I ran 20 minutes slower in Victoria and looked like a hot mess while doing so.

So here goes…

Sleep
I didn’t get enough of this. One or two “off” nights isn’t too concerning, but when we first came back to North America, I was going through weeks of insomnia. I blame it mostly on stress, the oppressive heat with no air conditioning which made my eczema flare up worse than it has in 10 years (ugh, the WORST), and constantly moving from temporary accommodation to accommodation until we finally settled down into our own place which made me feel unsettled. Back in Europe, Mike and I were working remotely, but if we had trouble sleeping during the night, we’d just allow ourselves to sleep in and wake up when we felt ready. I can’t do this now (newsflash to Alison: the majority of the working population can’t, either), so all I can do is take note and try to be more disciplined about going to bed earlier and at least resting if I can’t fall asleep.

Nutrition
Eh, because I’ve had some ED issues in the past, I try not to come down too hard on myself here. Several years ago, I thought I would get faster if I leaned out, so I cut down my portions to a dangerous low and ended up getting slower and with a stress fracture. I still believe you have to watch what you eat to an extent no matter where you are in life. Having said that, all the running I’m doing does make me crave lots of sugar (imagine that), and sometimes Mike and I can go a little crazy with our sugar binges (yes, I’m calling them sugar binges). Running lots of miles does not cancel out bad eating decisions. I know this, but I’m still learning how to balance. We eat pretty healthy outside of our sugar habit, but I think this is the main thing I need to stay on top of.

Maintain a solid base in the off-season
I don’t want to go crazy and jump right back into speed work or 50-60 mile weeks, but I also don’t want to get so relaxed over the next month or so that I feel myself playing catch up when I start marathon training again. I know I can’t technically control this, but I am hoping another solid Spring season will help me run faster than I did in Manchester, rather than getting back to where I was when I ran Manchester.

Strength training
Yeah… I sucked royally at this. I always drop it until I start to feel an ache or pain that won’t go away. Mike told me the last time this happened in Switzerland that I had no excuses to be lazy about it. I listened, started doing my strengthening exercises and I made it through to Manchester injury-free. But then I fell off track again, and haven’t been able to motivate myself to make time for it. It was always the wrong day of the week (the day before a hard workout) or the wrong time (I was too tired after a hard work out). Basically, I let myself get away with every excuse and it stopped being a habit. I trained through a lot of non-serious, but nagging pains that hindered my progress this summer. It affected my range of motion in my legs. I was sore all the time (but I didn’t *run* in pain, I just adjusted a little which meant running slower). I’m working really hard at forming a habit during the off-season so that I’ll be strong enough to keep it going when I start training again.

Paying attention to taper week / race day
Although I didn’t log everything, I’m quite certain I ate a lot more leading up to Manchester. It’s not like me to under eat – I’m always finding an excuse to eat! But I was stressed out, I was sick… I just didn’t really want to eat food so I didn’t eat as much of it. I really didn’t pay attention at all to my diet during my taper week. I didn’t really make a solid plan for the meals we ate once we were in Victoria (and without access to a kitchen). I just went with the flow in terms of restaurants and meals – and I made some poor choices, in my opinion. It’s hard to say how much this affected my race, but next time I’m going to err on the side of caution and be over prepared. I’ll probably choose an AirBnb over a hotel so that I can cook my own pre-race food.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m also going to do a short warm up so that I’m not panicking over my breathing or pace in the first few kms.

alison

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