Though I’m about to run my fourth marathon—one week from this Saturday!—and I’ve run a good number of shorter race distances throughout the past seven years, this latest training effort marks just the second time I’ve wanted to really, truly, well, own the race. More specifically: I’ve not only wanted to own this race, I’ve also been willing to put in the tough work to (hopefully) achieve this ambitious goal.
Which is why I gravitated toward the Train Like A Mother—you guessed it—Marathon: Own It training plan.
Did I mention yet that I am beyond excited-nervous about my big goal and this race that’s just 10 days away? I am. Very much so.
My heart reminds my head (and the butterflies fluttering in my stomach) that I have put in the hard work and that I need to trust my training. There they are, those three words we all repeat in the days and moments leading up to toeing the start line. There are a lot us mother runners partaking in races this spring and summer, and some of us have been cheering one another on over on Twitter with the hashtag #TLAM2013. I turned to this group this week to ask what’s stood out in their trainings. One thing I’ve experienced, and that I tweeted to my fellow BAMRs: speed work isn’t nearly as intimidating to me as it once was. (Whew)
Being deliberate about speed work—dedicated tempo runs, race pace workouts, strides and pickups are all part of the Marathon: Own It plan—has been new for me, and I’ve found that the more I do, the more familiar they become. (Notice I didn’t say they get “easier.” Familiar, yes. Comfortable, not so much.) It's not that I hadn't incorporated speed work into past trainings; I just didn't do it as consistently. This time around, it all feels so intentional.
A few other training takeaways from me and other mother runners following TLAM training plans (did you know there are plans for the 10K, half-marathon and marathon?):
1.) Ann Deak (@MamaDeak), who is training for a half-marathon, says following a TLAM plan has led to her believing greater distances are in her future: “Long distances are achievable bit by bit. Convinced me I can do a full!” Ann also says she’s learned to listen to her body: “Be graceful toward yourself if you miss a run. Pick up where you left off and go!”
2.) Jenn, a.k.a. @thegreenparent, offers this sage been-there, done-that training advice: “Follow the plan 1 day at a time. Don't look at the last weeks and freak out! ” I couldn’t agree more, though I know some of you may like the idea of knowing what’s to come. I found that taking a peek at my longest runs—the Own It Marathon Plan, for example, calls for three 20-milers (gulp)—was helpful, yes, but worrying and ruminating over tougher workouts (for me, tempo runs and other speed work) wasn’t all that wise. Better to mostly take it as came.
3.) Nicole (@nmh1970) shared she liked discovering her race pace through her training: “I love how some of the long runs incorporate RP in the middle. Great to know how that pace feels.” Yes, Nicole, I'm with you. Even after seven years of running and racing, I've found race pace to sometimes be elusive, not to mention somewhat changing as your race distances fluctuate season to season and goals evolve as you grow as a runner. It's been helpful to have training runs that get you focused on race pace.
4.) One of my BRFs, Holly, who is training for a June half-marathon in northern Michigan, is following the Finish Plan for the second time. "I'm in week 10, and I love it," she tells me. "I have learned that I actually enjoy the speed work day. I especially love the 3 mile + strides. And I think this will be easy to incorporate when I am not training for anything specific." She says following this plan also has challenged her to run four times per week. "I have always stuck to every other day for 3 days each week. Never would consider running two days in a row - just because I have been so worried about getting injured again. With this plan having the 3 important runs + a 3 mile easy that I can skip if necessary has been great. I can actually say that this round on the plan, I have gotten really comfortable with running a couple days in a row and enjoying having a fourth run. I think it helps my sanity, too." One final perk for Holly: getting back into a pre-kids cross-training exercise. "Having the XT or fun workouts on the schedule has gotten me back into Pilates. I loved Pilates before kids and hadn't really done it much since. I have been doing it every week during the plan and I love it!"
5.) Finally, I'll end with SBS, who kindly shared with me her own experience following the TLAM Marathon: Own It training plan (three times total: Boston, Twin Cities, and most recently, Vancouver). "During every other marathon training, I always reached a burn-out stage. Not on the TLAM plans, despite them having three 20 (or more) mile runs on them (whereas some plans "only" have two). There's enough variety in the workouts to keep me interested, engaged, and relatively fresh." I love that she says the training plan's effect is her ability to finish strong. "Not to #humblebrag, but I feel that's become my signature move in the last 18 months or so. My finish times are slower than they used to be, but the final quarter of my races are stronger. It's a joy to pass scores of runners in the final 10K stretch of a marathon!" Amen to that. I could go for that, for sure.
If you'd like to join the #TLAM2013 conversation, head on over to Twitter! We'd love to hear how your training is coming along--the good, the not-so-good, and everything in between. (And if you'd like to wish me luck on my marathon on May 25, I'd happily accept it! I'm @michrunnergirl)