Training runs aren’t just about conditioning your body and toughening your mind. Often, once you have the energy to reflect back on them, they provide valuable lessons to take with you on race day. Things to do--and things not to do.
Take this weekend, for example. With several popular marathons on the propitious date of 10/10/10—like Chicago, Portland, and Steamtown—there were a lotta ladies out logging their longest training runs. My running buddy Sheila and I included. On Sunday morning, we were graced by the weather gods: Dire predictions of thunderstorms had monopolized the airwaves, but the sky was partly cloudy with intermittent sprinkles that graced us with three partial rainbows. (I’ve rarely seen someone get SO excited on a run as Sheila whenever we saw colored stripes in the sky. You’d think she’d spied a shirtless Bradley Cooper running toward us…) Sheila and I hadn’t run together all month, so we had plenty to talk about. Our loop-course that was mostly on paved multi-use paths, so we rarely had to stop. As we happily churned along, I had to remember to ask if we could stop so I could GU-up. (I always walk when I take in energy on a training run: I'm no good at multi-tasking while exerting myself!)
Toward mile 17 and 18, I contemplated doing my final Roctane, but figured we didn’t have far to go. (Ah, the warped marathon-mindset!) Idiot-girl: By mile 20, I was dragging and out of water. (I don’t down a gel unless I have liquid.) The previous week, when I ran 20 solo, I had finished strong and triumphant. Now, sitting at my desk, rested and refueled, I realize it’s because I’d done two energy gels with a lot of water at mile 15. (Thanks, Portland Fit rest stop, for helping out a rogue runner!) I finished Sunday’s 22 miles, but at the end, I was chunking it up into tiny, bite-size portions as a mere mile seemed daunting. My take-away message for myself: Take in energy in the last quarter of the race, no matter how good—or queasy--I’m feeling. Suck it down, Sarah, you’ll be glad for it later.
As I said, I wasn’t the only one learning lessons. My RLAM pals Ashley and Julie are also training for Portland Marathon, following the advanced training plan. As Julie recounts, she realized, “No cowboy boots, no more races, no amusement parks. Things have to be cut out, sacrifices made, if I want to perform at my best. I haven’t learned the balancing act quite yet.” And Ashley grasped she needs to take in more fluids, especially an electrolyte-laden one, if she wants to stay speedy (and away from the medic tent, or at least the porcelain god). What have your long runs taught you?