As I have mentioned training for a marathon is quite different then training for a 1/2 marathon. When training for a marathon you have to be fueling your body from mile 2 on so that when your body runs out of reserved glycogen it has the energy to continue running (this typically happens at about mile 18). If you do not fuel your body during the race then you will have glycogen depletion and you will experience cramps and possible injuries. There is no way around this even for experienced marathon runners. The key is understanding what your body likes best from a refueling perspective. After running several marathons I have a good idea of what I like and don’t like during a marathon. My standard marathon supplies are sports jelly beans, bit o’honey ( I never eat bit o’honey except for when I am running- this makes it a treat for me), mini butterfingers as long as it is not too hot out and there is not a chance of melting, and some type of cookie (mini packs of cookies). I start early with the jelly beans and at about mile 14/15 I give myself a treat with a bit o’honey or butterfinger or cookies whichever sounds best. Sometimes none of them sound good, it just depends on the day!
Last week it was quite nasty outside so I decided to do my long run on my treadmill (running the Napa Valley Marathon that I had mapped out through IFit). I was going to follow my exact strategy that I would in the race which is the Galloway 5 min run/1 min walk. My goal was to keep my treadmill pace at 6 mph as long as I could ( I normally don’t run this pace but wanted to start increasing my speed so I had a better shot at finishing on time during the marathon) I had a bottle of Gatorade by my side, some bit o’honey, butterfingers and a coke (If I could have a coke on the course at about mile 20 it would change how I ran the next 6.2 miles). I get real tired of the Gatorade or water but realize that they are supplied for a reason (electrolytes, etc). Well, I did a fantastic job up until mile 10. I was right on track the entire way and felt the best I have ever felt. Then the unexpected happened. All of the sudden I had a horrible pain in my right calf basically making it impossible to keep running. However, this was my long run day and I knew I had very few left in order to prepare for the marathon so I kept on running slowing down my pace to 5 mph. I made it to 14.4 miles and then had to stop. My body was giving me the signs that it was time to stop and I knew that if I wanted to have a chance at even participating in the upcoming Marathon it was time to put a halt to this training practice run.
The next week was spent babying my calves. My secret is to layoff the running and take care of the injury. I first started with biofreeze, continually applying this as needed and also using my Pro-Series Mini Masseuse throughout the week as needed. I am also doubling up on my juice plus fruits for a while to see if this helps out from a recovery perspective.
As far as my training goes, I have not ran for a week. Today, I decided to take a different approach and to start training to race walk. My goal before stepping on the treadmill was to race walk at 5 mph. I had no idea if I could do this but I knew that if I could that it was possible to accomplish 12 minute miles during the race. As you all know I don’t fully run a marathon ( I have done a few in my lifetime but my preference is to leverage the Galloway Method as the results are better and the recovery time is less (that is if commitment is there to follow the pace of run/walk set out at the beginning of the run.
So I started out on my treadmill at 5.0 mph today but found very quickly that I was not going to be able to keep a race/walk stride at this speed. I then adjusted the speed to 4.5mph. I felt as though I could probably maintain this so I started out there. This was very difficult to do and several times during the workout I wanted to run but I made myself just move my legs faster and swing my arms harder to keep me from falling off the treadmill. As I was working out this way I noticed several things. First of all, walk/racing like this definitely took its toll on different parts of my body especially my behind and my lower back. It also immediately caused a blister on my foot due to the change in how I moved. I was able to train in the heartrate zone recommended for training during a marathon (zone 3) which typically I am in zone 4 or 5 which can cause injury. One of the great benefits of this type of training is that I had absolutely no pain in my calves even when I was finished!
Given today’s training my plan for the next 3 weeks is to race walk three times during the week with a long race/walk or walk/run on the next two weekends depending on how I recover from my injury. I will also be doubling up on my juice plus during over the next month (consuming an extra dose as recovery after my workouts) and also start taking the juice plus complete shakes. I have been taking a protein drink but have decided that even though I have some left it is time to switch over to a whole foods protein drink so my body will absorb the benefits of a whole foods meal replacement.
At this point, I know that I can complete the marathon in the allotted time (even though I have not done a 20 mile training run). The key now is really paying attention to my nutrition over the next month as well as determining my strategy during the race based on how my body is recovering from the injury. Keep in mind that my strategy and David’s strategy have to be aligned in order to finish at the same time. We both typically run at different paces so we need to figure out what makes sense for both of us and be willing to give as we set our strategy together. This is just one of the challenges we face when we set goals together but it is a challenge with benefits as it opens up communication and conversation and ultimately makes for a stronger marriage!