Saturday, July 18, 2015

Things I'm Doing Differently

I've just wrapped up my second week of training for this year's Marine Corps Marathon.  Sundays are my rest day so I will be enjoying sleeping in tomorrow (well, as long as the boys let me - my morning helper Tori left for camp today).  Even though this is a repeat race, this year is different.  I'm coming into this training plan and this race in a different place physically and mentally.  I said this before, but I don't want to spend the next couple of months comparing and contrasting my performance from one year to the next.  It won't help anything.  My focus is ahead of me, not behind me.

So, I just wanted to post about a few of the things that I am (or at least am planning on) doing differently for MCM 2015.

1. Go With The Flow.  This one is a biggie for me.  Look, I'm an intense person.  Anything I do, I do it with my heart in it 100%.  This is awesome.  But sometimes this causes me to get all wrapped up in minute details and drive myself absolutely nuts.  It also causes me to shut out little signs and signals that I should do something else because I am so hyper-focused on that one thing.  I'm stubborn like that.  This year, I'm approaching every run with a "let's see what the day brings" mentality and celebrating whatever that holds.  Some days I'm feeling like a speedy Kenyan and the running is easy and it's easy to love it.  Others (like today when it's roasting hot at 6 am) I feel like I'm having to work harder and it's not nearly as fun, but I'm still trying to appreciate the run for what it is teaching my body and mind that day.  I'm not going to beat myself up if I have to slow down because my heart rate spikes or if I just don't "have it" on any given day.  I'm a human, not a robot.

2. Different Plan.  I'm using a totally different type of plan than I'm used to.  Partially to break the boredom and partially so it prevents any temptation to compare myself to last time.  One thing that drew me to this is that there are little to no short easy runs.  Not that short easy runs are a bad thing, but I'm liking the structure of having a Long Run, Recovery run, and then a tempo or pace run, and a Yasso run.  The 5th run day that I'm slowly going to creep in will probably be an easy run.  Last year, the Higdon-based plan I used had a lot of 3-4 mile easy runs. I added my own (well, ok Pfitz-lite) speedwork to the plan.   I learned during my training for Pittsburgh this year that I tend to do well and most importantly, really enjoy longer, more specific runs during the week.  So, we'll see how this goes!  I'm excited because it is all new!

3. Long Run Saturdays.  I've been doing my long runs on Sundays forever it seems.  I think it is because most stock training plans are written that way.  And I'm a creature of habit.  The only times I've really ran long on Saturday were due to running with SCRR or a race.  I just did my long run today (Saturday!) for the 4th time.  I love this.  I am liking having a rest day on Sunday.  I feel like I'm recovering from the week, catching up on sleep, and then I'm 100% pumped and ready to go on Monday.  I hope this trend continues.  I'm also looking at it this way - I'll have an extra taper day!

4. More Strength Training.  I'm still holding on to 3 strength training days a week.  I have had to restructure exercises and set numbers as well as get comfortable lifting a little lighter for recovery purposes.  But I'm still lifting, and lifting heavier than I did last year for sure. I will say that I do see a time in the future where I will have to cut it down to 2 heavy sessions and 1 strictly core/balance session, but I will cross that bridge later.  I believe this strength has really helped my running.  Even in the book Racing Weight it says, "Lifting very heavy loads is exactly what endurance athletes should do in the gym because it complements endurance training".  Now, something I am guilty of that the book states is unnecessary is doing multiple exercises for the same muscle group as well as multiple sets of all those exercises.  Those will be the things that get scaled down as my running increases, however.  So I don't think I'm in the wrong at this point.  Time and patience.

5. More Carbs Sooner.  In my last big post about carb loading, I had mentioned that I normally eat a fairly low carb diet on the off season due to living with a diabetic and that I slowly increase my carb intake as a racing season moves along.  That is still true... However, this cycle I am attempting to add a higher ratio of carbs to my diet earlier on and sustain a carb balance as guided by my training time and intensity.  I will say these last couple of weeks have been a little difficult for me realizing that I eat a buttload of protein and not nearly enough carbs as someone who trains as much as I do is "supposed to".  So, I've been reaching for more fruits and veggies, and trying NOT to load up on bullshit carbs in the form of crackers, pretzels and cake (of course as I'm typing this I'm drinking a beer.  Just being honest.)  I'm used to eating this much carb a lot later, but I have to tell you... I think there's something to it.  I'm not getting fatigued or bonking late in a long/hard run like I had sometimes in the past.  My speedwork is coming along great.  I feel like I have tons of energy to spare.  I took a GU along on my ten miles today and didn't even feel like I really needed it.  I'm even recovering well... which leads me to my next topic:

6. I'm regularly taking BCAAs.  When I did my heavy lifting program while I was injured I did all my workouts fasted.  After some research I bought some Alpha Amino by Cellucor and put a scoop of it in a big bottle of water to slurp on during my workouts.  This stuff is amazing!  First of all, the Icy Blue Razz flavor is freaking awesome.  But besides the taste - this stuff WORKS.  When I was doing fasted workouts it kept me going and feeling great.  My favorite perk, though, is that it speeds recovery and reduces DOMs.  I used to get terrible DOMS, especially when lifting heavy daily or after really hard runs.  Yeah, the foam roller helps, but not that much.  Ever since I started drinking this stuff?  NO MORE.  I get some mild DOMS here and there, particularly if I know I had shitty form on something or I did something radically new, but it is rare and not debilitating - even after leg day. And I'm not sore after runs at all.  In fact, I can go to the gym at the crack of dawn after a palm full of Cheerios, take my bottle with Alpha in it, and go through my 40+ minute recovery run, and then lift shoulders and arms and follow that up with Ab work and be totally fine through it.  In fact, I feel better when this workout is done than before I started.  I know a lot of people don't like to supplement, and I don't like taking a lot of BS either, but when I hit on something that works?  Heck yeah, bring it on.

7. Donuts.  One of my promises to myself is that this year I will eat the donuts at mile 24.  Last year I was out of my gourd by that point and about to slam headfirst into the wall. Even though I had planned on the donuts, I couldn't stomach them when I got there.  This year it is on!  I want Dunkin' to keep me runnin'!

8. I'll Pass On bRUNch.  As a first timer, I wanted to do all the cool things last year like go to the official shakeout run followed by the breakfast offered by the MCM.  It wasn't a bad event, don't get me wrong, but it was expensive and not something that I feel is worth a repeat.  Due to timing, it also prevented my kids from doing the MCM Kids Race.  A group of people in our Facebook turned Strava MCM club have planned to do our own little shakeout together the day before.  It'll be free, we'll get to meet up, and we can go where we want.  I can also plan to let my kids run their race, if they choose to.

These are different times, but it's getting me pumped up!  I love trying new things and making new goals and starting a new journey!

Here's to being Mission Ready in 14 weeks!



  1. All great things! I love that donuts made the list. We need to see your selfie of that, please! I think I'm going to order that amino acids supplement! I am starving in the mornings and usually feel very weak during workouts. Since I'll be doing longer & harder workouts during this plan, I've been trying to figure out how I'm going to fuel those workouts. Could I drink the whole thing before I go out? Do you take it in addition instead of instead gas during long runs? I also like your carb plan. When I ate more carbs in the last training cycle, I noticed the same thing with feeling string with lots of energy. The problem is I gained weight! This time I need to figure out how to eat enough carbs without overdoing it. Bread is my Achilles heel.

    1. If I am coordinated enough at that point of the race to take a donut selfie I surely will! For the Amino, ideally you should drink it during or after your workout. I do know people that drink half a scoop in about 6 oz of water before they workout and then take the other half scoop either during or after, and that works for them. I haven't used it during along run yet - I'm still using my diluted gatorade, but I will sip on it in the hours afterward. I do want to try it on a longer run, though.. My only concern is that there's no sugar and I think I need it for the long ones. I'll play around with it, though. The bottle I have is 22 oz, I think and I fill it with water and add a scoop. The flavor is great and it lasts me a while. I drink about 2/3 of it during my workout and I will sip on the last third of it in the time afterward. I really do tell a difference in recovery and I wouldn't just say that if it wasn't true. I just re-ordered more last night because I'm about out. I'm trying Lemon Lime next. Oh, and I get it from Amazon.. it's cheaper (I paid $19.99 + shipping versus the $45 they want elsewhere).

    2. Thanks for the info! I need to make an amazon purchase soon so might try it.