The Marathon

9.05.2013

We're approaching marathon season and for those of you who are taking on the challenge of either the full or half this fall, you're probably in the "meat and potatoes" of your training. If you're like I was during this point in the build up, you're probably feeling a bit tired. Maybe your stride resembles the shuffle of an old man? And perhaps that geriatric gait is echoed by a grumpy demeanor? Good. You're training for a marathon and need to get used to the feeling of running tired. You will, after all, be covering 26.2 miles in one day. And spectators will be expecting you to finish, looking dewy and composed while sprinting across the line. So how do you maintain that putative "runner's high" all the way to the illustrious finish line? Therein lies the challenge of marathon training. It is a delicate balance between running more than you ever have and being overtrained. And now is the time when you really need to pay close attention to all the little things because this is when you are most vulnerable to injury or burnout. 

Just to be clear, overtraining is when the volume and intensity of your training exceeds your recovery. Now, most people think of recovery just in terms rest, but that's only one component. What many do not realize is that recovery also involves nutrition, dietary supplements, massage, physical therapy, and maybe even scaling back for a few days. The classic analogy is to compare your body to a car - to ensure that the engine runs smoothly, you need put the best fuel in it. What drives the machine though, is more than just the gas. Now is the time to go in for a check up. Wheels need rotating? Get a new pair of trainers. Fluid needs replacing? Schedule a massage to get the blood circulating and lactic acid build up out of your legs. Alignment needs checking? Visit a chiropractor for an adjustment. All these factors can contribute to your physical performance. If all this sounds a bit excessive or too luxurious for your ambitions, that's OK. I can't afford weekly massages either. Instead, use a foam roller to work out knots in your legs. Or buy a carton of Epsom salts at CVS for five bucks to soak in a couple of nights of the weeks. You can also or swap an easy run day for a restorative series of yoga poses (YouTube has all kinds of blissed-out videos to follow but, my personal favorite is: Yoga with Adriene). And making the drive to a park where you can run on some soft, dirt trails can do wonders for your asphalt-pounded muscles, as well. 

Overtraining can also have effects on non-physical factors of an endurance runner, such as their emotions and behavior. People are funny when they are depleted. We get very primal when our basic needs are neglected; reason and emotional control go out the window and we revert to our childlike selves, fussy and grouchy. If you've been getting called out on your attitude or sass, you may be on the verge of over doing it. Aside from the very real and goal-crushing possibility of getting injured, you could lose motivation, which is almost as bad. So please, for the sake of your loved ones, take care of those ancillary details and remember that your friends and family are innocent supporters. Go easy on them.

Finally, I'll address the psychology of long distance running because, you know, "mind over matter" and what not. See, when your body wants to quit, it's your mind that will keep you going. That means you have between now and race day to convince yourself that you're the bomb.  It's important to trust your capabilities, so if you have any doubts now, start working on that confidence. Entrap each mile logged and every work out done, in your mind and use those thoughts on race day to make you explosive. Then, when the crowd cheers for you, shouting words of encouragement about what a "great job" you're doing and how you should "keep it up", you will believe them. When I was preparing for my first marathon, I read a ton of other people's race recaps. Their stories were inspiring and helped me to stay focused on my goals. Imagery is a powerful thing and if you can envision yourself in an other's success story then, on race day you might make your own. (The key is to read about the positive experiences, so go ahead and click that little 'x' in the corner of that tale depicting a grueling death march.)

All of this is mostly to say I'm thinking about you all and hoping for the best. What else is a post-preggo mama to do but live vicariously through other runners until she's ready for her comeback? I'm no expert and maybe you already know all of this, but next time when I'm in the thick of it, I'll be sure to come back to this post. Just a friendly reminder, is all. Oh, and as my mothers always says, "Don't forget to have fun."

For extra motivation, click on this image to see a video of my finish at the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon. A recap with all the exciting details will be posted soon.
Marathon Video Results - LUCINDA SMITH

10 comments:

Claudin Mangum said...

Yessss! I'm so pumped for my FIRST Marathon this fall! all your words and race experiences have always been so inspirational to me. You're one of the toughest, hardest working, and most disciplined runners I've ever known. You have no idea how that has helped me get through tough workouts and even the days when an easy 60min run seems to sound like more than my body or motivation can handle.

Anabel Rossbach said...

Claudi sos mi numero UNO!!!!!!, te deseo lo mejor en tu carrera. Te quiero amiguita!

linkgera said...

LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU and Claud I LOVE you. Glad all is well. For me --the old man--what's get's me up and going sometimes is your dad and his sweating head band.

jgoetz06 said...

I so needed this:) I'm doing the Baltimore half in October and I'm in a rut with training and I'm tired. Need to get my butt back in gear so I can beat my time from my august race...

Lucinda Smith said...

You know I'm your biggest cheerleader - you got this marathon. I'm so proud of you and the training your doing. It's like you're a whole new runner, which is kinda scary because you were already so talented to being with!

Lucinda Smith said...

xxx!

Lucinda Smith said...

Yes! Papi is always out there on a run with me - warms my heart to know his memory still inspires you. You're the best!

Lucinda Smith said...

That's awesome Jill - glad this resonated with you. The weather will be perfect in October and coupled with smart training will definitely get you a PR. Good luck!

Amy@eatsleepdecorate said...

This was motivation even to a "non" runner! Maybe I should start! hehe

Lucinda Smith said...

Let me know when you're ready, I'll help you get ready. The Raliegh Marathon is supposed to be a good one, you should put it on your calendar for next year: http://cityofoaksmarathon.com/

 

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