I love this quote from Kara Goucher, “There are a million reasons why you can’t. Focus on the few reason why you CAN.” I added the all caps on the word can because I think it’s natural to feel anxiety and doubt before a big race, but those fears will feel lighter when we focus on all the things that went well. As I reflect on the months of training, the sacrifices made, and the hundreds of miles spent in preparation for this long road to Boston; here are the six things I know I did right.
Stay Positive: I stayed in a positive mind frame by reading three great books, actually four because I read one of them twice. Because months of training take a physical, mental, and emotional toll, it is necessary to replenish that depletion with a good old fashioned dose of inspiration.
*Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra, this is the one I read twice, his story is so inspirational. When you read about his Epic 5 journey, you’ll never complain about running a half or a full again.
*Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It this was great for understanding the setbacks and challenges all athletes face, even the professionals, and what drives them to push through.
*Carol Dweck’s The Growth Mindset is about changing the way you think from a fixed mindset (unchanging) to a growth mindset (adaptive). It’s not just about running either, every aspect of our lives can be positively influenced from adopting this perspective.
I hired a Coach: After a frustrating and disappointing marathon last fall, I knew I had exhausted all of my ability to coach myself to a sub 3, I needed an expert. My coach was 100% worth the investment because it helped me stay motivated and accountable. There was always someone available when I had an off day or a running issue, remember my hemotoma this last January? My coach was there with encouragement and advice. Additionally, I trained way outside of my comfort zone, he had me doing workouts I wouldn’t have had the courage to attempt without his guidance. Hello 11 mile tempo run!
Training: A hundred mile week can feel completely overwhelming (and no, you don’t have to run a hundred miles to train for a marathon, but I subscribed to my coach’s beliefs of higher miles which ranged from 80-100). Instead of focusing on the whole week or month, I committed to doing the hard training three days a week: tempo, speed, and a long run. I trust the tempo work because I’ve already felt it pay off in races and harder training runs. The long runs were also a new challenge because in the past when I’ve increased my distance all I focused on was extending the run 2-3 extra miles. However, my coach made sure I held a 1 minute slower that predicted race pace through those long runs. Although this was an additional challenge, it kept that type of training run solid which gives me more confidence going into Boston.
Treatment: Each week I go to a physical therapist for Astem treatment. My PT uses a variety of tools to breakdown the scar tissue and inflammation that persists in my IT band, hips, glutes, and calves. Really, anywhere I feel a problem creeping up. We joke that one day soon, I’ll just say hit me from the waist down. This treatment had been so helpful with increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation and thus the onset of injuries, and overall increasing my body’s ability to recover and bounce back from high miles and hard training runs.
Recovery: I take recovery seriously, here are the good things I give back to my body after I put it through all that hard work. Each morning I start my day with a green smoothie. I believe food has the power to heal your body and I know a concentrated natural source of green goodness helps repair the damage I do, increases my energy, and decreases inflammation. Every few weeks I go see a chiropractor for an adjustment, especially if I’ve been running a lot of down hill or right after a race. I foam roll every morning and every night, it’s just part of my routine like brushing and flossing. When my muscles are sore, I use Doterra’s Deep Blue Rub, it’s a little expensive, but it works like magic on an achy, tired body.
Train with a Friend: It can be hard to find someone that shares your goals, but it’s been a critical piece of my training. Knowing that I was accountable to someone else helped me out of bed on many cold and dark mornings. It also helped me get after those hard workouts and give it 100% on days, where if I had been alone, I might not have pushed so hard. There were many workouts where I felt true gratitude to have a stronger runner to lean on. It’s the Amy and Shalane formula and it works, plus before you know it, you’ll find yourselves in twinning race kits.
There is no guarantee of success for marathoners on race day. There are so many factors out of our control, but this I know with a certainty, I’ve never been more committed, I’ve never trained this diligently and differently, and I’ve already seen growth. This is the success. It’s finding strength, growing, accepting challenges, and pushing through the hard parts. Come what may on race day, I am a better runner because of all the work I’ve invested and seeing my own personal growth in this sport I love, really is the reward. Happy running friends!