Friday, July 31, 2015

Racing Reflections

As I sign up for my next race, I've been had the change to reflect on the Chicagoland Spring Marathon: what went well, what I might alter, and what totally bombed.

Let's start with the good.

My training was spot on as far as number of runs and hitting my mileage for the week.  I missed a handle of workouts due to fatigue or not feeling well.  The majority of the time I at least attempted the run and often was able to complete my workout.  I definitely put in the work and my legs were marathon ready.

My nutrition was also very good while training.  I stuck with my staples of a green smoothie in the morning and a large salad for lunch.  Dinner always fluctuated, but my cooking usually revolves around a lean protein (fish, chicken, steak occasionally), a carb, and lots of veggies.  More vegetables than you think it possible for a human being to eat.  Once a week we ate salad dinner as well.

What I would do differently with my food involves the weekend and sweets.  Weekends we eat out once or twice usually with a glass of beer or two.  I also eat less frequently on the weekends, though bigger meals.  My smoothies are exchanged for something heavy on the carbs.  There tends to be overall less fruit, whole foods.  I also LOVE to bake.  I keep premade, pre-scooped cookie dough in freezer bags so it can be baked as wanted.  We all know processed sugar doesn't help our athletic goals and my goal for my next race is to decrease it to two or three times a week.

Here is what went wrong.  Really, really wrong.

I went out with too fast of a pace.  And I knew it.  The whole time.  I was too excited about running 8:00 miles and hitting all my splits.  When I do a training run, the first 1-2 miles are the warm-up and I usually start off with an 8:45-8:30 pace.  After mile 2 my legs start churning and I find that 8:00 mile easily.  The pacer I was following for the first few miles was hitting 7:45, 7:30 miles, nothing was near the pace I needed to hit and it was too fast too early for me.

While I hit my mileage during my training, I ran too many of these miles too fast.  With a race pace goal of 8:00 miles, I was hitting an 8:30 at my slowest for an easy run.  I was not letting my body recover enough in between race pace efforts and speed work.  Coming from a soccer and lacrosse background, when we ran during practice I would run as fast as I could to get it over with.  I'm still running with that mentality during my marathon training and it is the wrong way to go.  My goal for my next training cycle is more easy runs at 8:45-9:00 pace and race pace efforts no more than once a week.

Totally wrong.  But seriously hilarious.  Please DNF before you die.

Other changes I would make?

Besides the nutrition and better pacing, I would like to run more miles on the surfaces the race covers.  I ran a lot of crushed limestone trails when the marathon was completely on asphalt and my legs felt it.

I am going to strength train more consistently.  I usually lift weights 2-3 times a week, but when the mileage increased, strength training was exchanged for couch time.  I notice improve posture, running efficiency and endurance when I am incorporating more lifting into my routine and it is something that is too beneficial to ignore.

I also am going to make time for more yoga.  Yoga makes my back happy and keeps my hips loose while I can't achieve with only stretching after a run.

What have you learned from a bad run or race?

How many easy runs do you run a week?


  1. How many easy runs do you run a week?

    All my runs are easy :)

    And by that I don't mean I am some sort of running god who puts out 6 minute mile ultras

    I run slow.. really slow all the time. What makes a run easy/hard for me are usually external conditions... too hot too cold.. forgot to eat all day <- actually did that one once.

    1. My plan had at least 3-4 runs easy. The problem was I wasn't actually running an easy pace.

  2. Appreciate the honesty in this post! Can be hard to admit our shortcomings. I feel ya on the weekend thing.

    1. Thanks Kelly! Weekends are so easy to sit back and relax and just eat what is closest.