I’m in a weird place I’ve never been in before – a Marathon limbo, of sorts. A training dark zone. A fitness lull paired with the anticipation of another 26.2. Ok, you’re already asking, what’s this crazy man talking about? Let me rewind and recap the past few months to bring you up to speed on the space between…
Since July I’ve been training for the Honolulu Marathon. I’ll be pacing my running partner Kim, from Team AfterShokz, for the Marathon. She and I have been coached for months by Chris Heuisler (you may have heard Chris on The BibRave Podcast – Episode 25, Episode 77, & Episode 115), and Hawaii has always been the finish line that was way off in the distance – literally and figuratively. Ok – so, let me share some lessons I’ve learned with some training tips & tricks peppered in along the way!
PRO TIP #1: Running your first Marathon? Get a coach or turn to a trusted Marathoner for the things you never knew you didn’t know: fuel & hydration, “the wall,” how fast to run your long runs, etc.
However, around mid-September I was offered up a spot in the NYC Marathon, and my interest to run another major Marathon was peaked! After all, I have a deep love for New York City, my baby sister lives there, and it happened to fall on my birthday weekend – that’s a lot of stars aligning at once! I checked in with Coach Chris to see if I could pull it off, knowing I would need to immediately ramp up my mileage as this NEW finish line was going to be closing in fast.
So, how did my transition to an abbreviated training plan go? Pretty good! I’d give myself 4 out of 5 stars. I’d been executing some new tempo runs, and working on the concept of running with a level of discomfort. I’m pretty successful at running far and long at an average pace, and I’ve learned that I’m not great at pushing my threshold for physical discomfort. Physical discomfort for me is that feeling when your body and breathe feel overwhelmed and want to stop. I worked hard during my tempo runs to start embracing my discomfort, and when my body wanted to say, “No more!”, Coach Chris advised me to “respectfully disagree.” These workouts definitely have improved my overall fitness, but also boosted my mental confidence and rigor. Try it out – you might surprise yourself, I did!
PRO TIP #2: Learn about speed work! Not only will you become stronger, but the variety in the workout routine helps to break up the same ol’, same ol’!
I quickly went from long runs of about 10-11 miles, to a 20-Miler out of nowhere. Then suddenly I was already in a taper. It was weird to taper knowing that I had another Marathon only about a month after New York.
New York quickly arrived, and race day was amazing. If you haven’t already, you’ve got to hear the full recap on The BibRave Podcast – Episode 118. I was able to score my 2nd fastest Marathon out of the 8 that I’ve completed. And, I was able to finish a major race in one of my favorite places on the planet, NYC! All of my training really kicked into gear for the race. I was mentally tough and was ready to live and enjoy my discomfort. Side note – I ran New York with my AfterShokz on and I listened to music for approximately 50% of the race. I really wanted to take in the crowds and engage with the awesome communities in each borough, and my AfterShokz let me transition from music to silence with ease. And, since I didn’t have to take anything out of my ears, I didn’t need to mess with any tech or gear during my run.
PRO TIP #3: Write your name on your shirt or bib – simple, but so clutch! You’ll have all the crowds screaming your name for all 26.2, and trust me, by the end it is totally needed.
And then it was over… but was it?
I knew Honolulu wasn’t far off, but I needed to rest and recover. I took a full week off from running, but I was fairly active during the week – I perform with a cabaret group in Chicago, and we had our opening weekend the week after New York, so sufficed to say, there was lots of dancing active recovery. Again, this limbo was weird. I wasn’t running, but I knew I had another Marathon coming up. You want to be logging miles, but you don’t want to get injured, but you’re afraid you’ll lose your ability or fitness to run, but you know your body needs the chance to recover and repair. So much ping-ponging back and forth!
PRO TIP #4: Let your smarts decide! Our emotions can play games with our heads, but let the science behind the necessity of rest and recovery prevail!
Ultimately, the rest was a nice respite and I’m better for it. Now, I’m back into my routine feeling just as confident as before, and I know I’ll be ready to race in paradise with Kim! No two training journeys are the same, and some can change drastically right in the middle of things. I’ve learned to go with the flow, accept challenges and learn from them, and be grateful for the opportunities that I’m granted.
And when you think about it, aren’t we always 💁🏻♂️ between marathons? Amiright or amiright!