When I wrote up my custom marathon training plan about 10 weeks ago, I knew I needed to have a flexible attitude. Things happen. However, I am happy to report that so far “things” have been manageable and basically injury free. I don’t say completely injury free because I have had a couple of small flesh wounds and a bruise. These have not slowed down my training, and have been minimally discouraging to my barefoot training, since my regularly shod and experienced husband/coach has had similar issues. Life is rarely totally injury free, even if a body holds still.
For me, the things to be flexible about have included camping (somewhat against my will) and other travel, accommodating my husband’s highly variable work schedule when he wanted to run with me, weather, female hormones, unexpected scheduling conflicts, and my body’s needs for rest. Most of these issues have been more noticeable as I have worked on ramping up my mileage, which obviously takes significant time and in larger chunks. And, even though I have been increasing the physical load gradually, it still uses more energy than running fewer miles. This means that the need for adjustment became more crucial during the last 3 -4 weeks. What needed to be modified did not become apparent all at once, but that is okay, because I benefited from waiting to see how some issues would settle out, and time to problem solve a bit at a time while I kept working on things.
Camping and travel and my husband’s work schedule ended up making me shift my first of the week long runs, which in turn meant I couldn’t space my other runs for the week quite the same way and get in my weekly mileage, which my husband/coach tells me in equally important to increasing the length of my long runs. So, I discovered that I could actually run three days in a row at this point in my life, if they are medium to short runs. That was a confidence booster.
Another thing camping did was add some elevation and trail running to the routine. I plan to describe this more in a later post. For now, I will say that this was very refreshing to my training, both mentally and physically. Who would have thought that about running at twice the elevation I am used to?!
These training schedule changes made us consider the order of my runs compared to their length. I decided to regularly switch the medium-long, mid week run with the short run on Friday, to give me more of a rest after my long run. Again, this only became important after the long runs passed 18 miles.
My husband also counseled me to spread out my mileage between my medium and short runs more, so that my medium one didn’t get long too fast. At this point, four or five miles feels pretty short, so it was not hard to increas the shortest 3 mile run to do that. I have done that for two weeks now, and it has helped me.
I have not been able to increase my swimming time the way I had hoped. This is partly due to not being home on some camping weekends, and the rivers were icy, hypothermia inducing cold. All that went in the water, other than the hot springs, was my feet. Still, swimming 2 – 3 times a week has been unexpectedly relaxing since it is not part of triathlon training this summer.
I had hoped to get out on my road bike more, but almost all of my bike rides have been on the spin bike. I find this to be acceptable because I can do it early in the morning without dealing with rush hour traffic. And, as I have mentioned before, it doesn’t have to be time exclusively dedicated to training, as I can get other things done while riding. It has been surprising to me how much a spin on the bike post long run helps my legs recover, I am assuming by getting the blood circulating, but letting the harder working running muscles ease up.
As I wrote about when telling about accomplishing my first 20 mile run, things are looking hopeful. Still, I wonder how anyone trains for a marathon in less than 20 weeks, especially their first. Even with two half marathons under my belt, I feel like to stress my body with more training would be fool hardy. And pretty much incapacitate me for any other aspects of life. I want this to be part of my life, but I don’t want relationships to suffer from it, or for this to be all I do. I am happy to say that I am already looking forward to how it might be different for a second marathon, when my body is somewhat used to longer distance, so, again, a good sign even though I am only half way through my training period!