Marathon training for the non-marathon runner

Let’s talk about what it takes to train for a marathon, when you’re NO professional runner. Some people train like it’s their day job (for some people, it actually is their day job..), but for us “regulars” – this sh!ts tough.

Backup a few months, I was scrolling through IG, and I stumbled upon an old classmate who posted about an organization looking for charity runners to run the Boston Marathon. I jumped in and applied, because.. why not? It had always been a goal of mine, I just had never had the opportunity, and after all it was just an application. Next thing, I got a phone call thanking me for applying and they set me up with a phone interview. I had my interview where I told them I had done some fundraising in the past, have run a few half marathons, have never been injured, etc. etc. Then a few weeks later, I got the CONGRATULATIONS- you’re in! OMG. wut. how? What do I do?! I guess I should start running.

And so it began.

I started training right around Thanksgiving – which is earlier than norm for Boston. More experienced runners really don’t need to start until mid-December, but I needed all the time I had to begin building my base-mileage and strength. It started slow and fine… 4 miles here, 6 there.

Come January, things really ramped up and I felt myself more challenged than I ever had been before. As I mentioned, I had run a few half marathons in the past, so I wasn’t too intimidated with 9 miles.. 11 miles.. However, once I passed that 13 mile mark, my little world started to panic. Knowing I had a 14, then 16, then 18 mile runs coming up on weekends, had me feeling uneasy all week. And those distances were all smack in the middle of winter, so it would be 10 degrees, and I’d layer up and run 14 miles, it was just ridiculous. I would wear a scarf over my face so that my lungs wouldn’t freeze, and no matter how many layers I wore, my skin would still be discolored when I was finished. That was tough to get through. I didn’t realize then, though, that those runs were building mental toughness that I would desperately need in just a few weeks.

 

And then I got hurt. Couldn’t walk for five days kind of hurt. After 2-3 days of not being able to put any weight on my foot, I went to the doctor and learned I sprained my peroneal tendon, which is one of the tendons that connects your ankle to your foot (I had rolled my ankle). I had to take two weeks off of training – right in the middle of February. This crushed my spirit, but instead of letting it defeat me, I began to treat my injury like it was my sport. I babied my foot – I iced often, I tried to stay off it as much as I could, I bought new, supportive shoes and stopped wearing heels, I did strengthening exercises, and began going to physical therapy three times a week. It worked. I got through that (I still go to PT, twice a week now, just to keep it in check).

I have learned through this process how incredibly resilient our bodies are. I have learned to respect my body in a way I never had before. Your head will tell you to quit way before your legs will ever give in.

So what do I actually do? Here’s what my typical week looks like (in peak training):

Monday – shorter, faster run. Usually about 6 miles

Tuesday – spin, weights

Wednesday – off

Thursday – hill repeats. This is v important for Boston. Find a hill (not TOO steep) that it takes you about 1 minute to run up. Hill repeats anywhere from 4-10 times

Friday – easy day – light stretching, yoga

Saturday – LONG run. anywhere from 10-20 miles. followed by 5-7 minute ice bath for miles longer than 14

Sunday – off. try to go for a walk to help recovery

Every day- foam roll, drink LOTS of water, eat balanced meals of carbs/protein.

Before I started training, I thought that marathon training consisted of running 5x a week. It doesn’t. Elite runners can withstand that, but it actually just creates a higher risk of injury for an intermediate or beginner runners. For Boston, the long run is the most important workout of the week, followed by the hill intervals.

Another thing I didn’t realize, it is important to eat and drink during your long runs, I had no idea people actually eat during runs. Luckily, training on the course for Boston, there are so many other runners out that the charities actually have water stops for Saturday morning long runs. I try to switch off between Gatorade/water every other stop, and I have 1-2 Swedish fish every few miles. I tried all kinds of gels like GU, I just couldn’t get past the texture, but I like the Cliff energy gels, I will be bringing those with me on the marathon. The long runs are a good time to try out different snacks and drinks to find what works best for you for the big day.

This past weekend I completed the Mother of All Runs – 20 miles. Now begins the taper. It will have changed my life. I’m not there yet, so I’m hoping in the best of ways but either way, it will have changed my life because I will have done something that I NEVER thought I was capable of doing. I get emotional just thinking about the finish line. The day that has always only been a dream, is almost here, I can see it.

I have all of my plans in place, where and when to pick up my bib, what time I need to get on the bus that’ll take me out to Hopkinton. My focus now is rest, recovery, and staying healthy. My training has peaked, and I survived it, now I just need to trust in my training, and get to the start line.

SELF LOVE SATURDAY

This is only the title because today is Saturday. Self love should be practiced E.V.E.R.Y. (damn) D.A.Y.

2018 is going to be a crazy, hectic, beautiful, AWESOME year. But there’s a LOT going on. I am trying to make it a priority to take care of myself, mentally, physically, emotionally. I’ve been looking into *simple* ways to practice self-love and self-care. I don’t want to add to my list of things to do, so I’m really keeping this simplistic. I will create another post about some of what else I’m incorporating into my routine, but I wanted to first tell you about this one because I’m obsessedddddd….

I bought fresh eucalyptus, from my local Trader Joe’s ($2.99), and hung it in the shower. Walking out of the store I couldn’t help but keep leaning into the bag for a few sniffs – this plant is heavenly! I used twine – 2 pieces: one to tie the bundle together, and the second to hang it in our shower. Try to hang it just behind the shower head, out of the way of the water flow. It should stay good for 1-2 weeks. On top of the benefits, it adds a “spa-like” feel to your home.

Benefits:

+The heat and steam help to activate the herb’s essential oils which can ease congestion

+Anti-inflammatory elements

+Natural de-stressor

And here was E’s reaction to coming home to a plant hanging from the shower head: “I don’t hate it [several seconds later]…. I definitely don’t hate it.”

(I think that means he likes it.)

Please note that eucalyptus oil is toxic to dogs. Don’t leave your dog around this plant if he/she may try to chew it. 

Do something for yourself today. And tomorrow. Do something for yourself every (damn) day.

Cheers!

Friday finds

Tranquility. Last week, I told you that I was going to a bachelorette party in Vermont (Quechee). I never thought I’d find so much peace at a bachelorette party.

In between the craziness, I found myself feeling so calm and content. Living in an urban area, I don’t often find time to appreciate the outdoors like I once did. But this trip to Vermont brought my appreciation for nature back in .2 seconds. We even saw a Bald Eagle fly right over us while we were tubing down the river!

Waking up to this in the morning was so peaceful.

I’ll take a summer hiatus with a side of change, plz

As you may or may not have noticed, I accidentally took a hiatus from writing. Whenever this happens, I start to get antsy about writing again, because it is truly my outlet. A lot happens each summer, but especially this summer – it has been a major time of change in my life. Pretttty much everything changed, actually — most of which I plan to catch you up on.

But first I want to just talk about change for a minute, because I’ve experienced a lot of it lately and it can really be overwhelming. I am pretty accepting of change. I hate to feel stagnant, so I urge change quite frequently.

Over the course of your life, you will change, change and change again. But, it is important to remember that no matter what change comes about, you have the power to walk away if it does not suit you. Never allow yourself to be in the passenger seat of your journey. It is yours, remain an active participant. It is kind to please others but never in the dispense of yourself.

I urge you that when you are going through change, to look at who you are, and where you want to go. Ask yourself if the change in your life supports your core values, your vision for your future, and also your wellbeing. And if there is any doubt in your mind that what has just come along will hurt who you are in any way, it is completely fair to stand up and respectfully walk away.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

Brené Brown

Rules to live by

Life is challenging in so many ways. I think of myself as rather optimistic going through life, but it’s still not easy. I see it every day — people who just aren’t happy. And it breaks my heart because whatever they’re dwelling on, LET IT GO. Don’t think about things that make you unhappy, don’t DO things you hate, and STOP going through life like it’s not YOUR OWN.

Thinking about that, I came up with some ways that I live my life. Here are some of the “guidelines” that I live by:

  1. Treat yourself very well. I don’t rely on anyone to make me happy, besides me. I try to cover all the fields: my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. I’m good to myself and I try to do all things in moderation. I’ll eat ice cream one day, and then go for a run the next. I’ll buy myself a massage every-so-often. If I’m feeling in a funk, I’ll take a vacation day and have a “me” day. If I want something I’ll go light on spending the month before, and then buy it for myself. As they say, life is about moderation, and it’s true. Through life, be sure to take good care of yourself. If you don’t, it will come out in ways you don’t want it to – you’ll act negatively to your loved ones and through your work and then it’s a revolving cycle that you don’t want to be in. Treat yourself well.
  2. Be specific in asking for what you want out of your life. This is funny and I just learned it in the last 4-5 years. If you want something in life — to reach a goal, get a new job, change a B+ to an A-, improve a skill — find someone close to whatever it is and ask them for advice. Important: Don’t ask for it to be handed to you. Just ask for advice. And they very likely will help you way more than you imagined. The hard part is still on you, because you need to first figure out exactly what you want before asking. If you don’t know exactly what you want, the passion won’t be there and you’ll sound needy. No one likes a needy-someone. But everyone likes a determined-someone. Be that someone.*
  3. Don’t hurt others, even if they deserve it. Some people truly suck. Truly. If and when you think about being vengeful, just remember that we’re all human. Human isn’t a very easy thing to be for all of us. Some days are really bad, and for some people, you just never know how deeply wounded they can be from something else in their life, that in turn made them hurt you. Realize that life is hard enough, and you get out what you put in. People will have their own challenges — always. They don’t need you to add to them. Take your energy and put it into something else. Don’t waste it on bad people.
  4. Say thank you for your blessings before seeking what else you need. This is so important. Pretty much on a daily basis I say — out loud — “thank you for my blessings.” I feel like the luckiest person in the world, but I’m really not anymore than the next person. I just choose to look at all of the positives in my life, before looking at what I could have or do. I went to a Catholic high school, and I remember in faith class one day we were tasked with writing down our prayers and then asked to share them. People asked for health, wealth, stress-free days, solutions to drama, etc. I was the only one whose prayer was of thanks. I had listed all of my blessings and was simply saying thank you for them. I recall being so surprised to find that this wasn’t how others started their prayers. But to this day, I say aloud how thankful I am for everyone and everything I have in my life.
  5. Build your foundation and don’t let anyone touch it. Everything in life needs a solid foundation for it to be durable — your career, a new house, a relationship and your being. All of your experiences, successes and failures have led you to exactly where you are right now. Whether you like it or not, you have built your foundation. The important piece is making it strong, and making it true to you, and only you. It is very important to know who you are at your core. I have a solid knowledge of who I am, no matter the circumstances in my life (I think this is why I am so stubborn, lol). But seriously — I know who I am, and no matter what happens in my life, I have that, and that ensures me that I will always be okay.
  6. Be there. The people who you love, the ones who you call friends and family, they matter more than anything. If they need you, be there. The only thing I would ever regret in my life is letting down someone I love.

*Some extra motivation to get you to the weekend:

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”

Shades darker

So many years. So much money. So many minutes in a TANNING BED. Seriously, in college, I was SO TAN. My Irish skin was turned brown. I am proud to say I never watched Jersey Shore, but still lived that GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry – for others who didn’t watch) life. I spent *hundreds* of dollars to lay in that bed for ten minutes, three times a week. See below, that’s me, looking like me, in 2010. I don’t look like this in 2017, I am now white. This was probably in the middle of winter, yet – I am 50 shades darker than I should ever be.

I’ll admit — I loved it. It was a nice little “getaway” off campus for a few minutes, I got to relax, it was warm, they played great music. It was an awesome 30 minutes a week. We all did it, I definitely wasn’t the only fake tan walking around Bristol. But what I didn’t realize (or maybe just didn’t even care) was that it is so bad for you.

Tans look nice, they do. They make you look healthy (which is so sad because it’s the opposite), and skinnier. But, there are other ways to do it than to ruin your skin and put yourself in risk of developing skin cancer. It took me a few years to prioritize health over my tan.

Now, if I have a wedding or event coming up and I want to be “tan,” I will get a spray tan 1-2 days before the event. Spray tans are lovely. Getting them is not the same warm, relaxing experience – they’re quite cold and uncomfortable. But – it gets the job done. Many people also do self-tan, but I have failed at this many times and turned out orange. Now, I just stick to natural sun in the warm months, but still wear sunscreen (I wear 30 SPF on my face every day).

Also, we now live in a world of filters. You don’t even have to truly be tan for people to think you are — just choose Mayfair.

Hopefully one of these days the sun will make an appearance in New England. Sigh. Until then, I’ll (palely) look forward to some Vitamin D.

When life hands you lemons, take a bath

Since I moved out of my parent’s house a few years ago, I have been renting apartments, and have moved pretty frequently. All of my apartments have had a shower/tub, which I’ve typically just used as the shower.

I miss baths. Occasionally, I do want to take a bath but have found myself avoiding these bathtubs that don’t feel like they’re mine. I know you’re probably thinking, just clean the tub? And yes, of course I do. But — I also don’t like the idea of bathing with bleach. I was looking to find a natural way to clean my tub, without then bathing with such a harsh chemical. I stumbled upon these instructions, which only call for two items: a lemon, and salt.

Cut the lemon in half.  Dip the open half of the lemon in salt. Rub the lemon on the bathtub, squeezing the lemon as you scrub to make sure you get the lemon juice out there. After you scrub the tub, let it sit for about 5 minutes and then rinse it out with water!

Pinterest

I also started cleaning our kitchen sink this way, and love that it smells like lemon afterwards!