Thursday, July 2, 2015

Marathon Training: Checking off the first month

July is here and I have just finished my first full month of marathon training.  The training groups have ventured from 4 miles to 13 miles during this time period, with my group at 7 miles.  The groove has been set, friends have been made, and things are going very well!

I am part of the white group (aka the Mighty Whites!), which comprises mostly of those who are embarking on their first marathon or haven't run one in the last few years.  Over the last few weeks, I have learned so much about proper running form, hydration, cross training, etc.  Here are some of the cool things I worked on:

Midweek workouts: "Mix up" sessions with our CES coaches focusing on a specific idea
Good Form Running
Running, being a natural human action, is something that often is neglected in terms of form and practice.  We learned the four pillars of good running form: posture, foot strike, cadence, and the lean. As a group, we met at a track and put those concepts into practice. We focused on better running form, taking breaks around the track to help reset our bodies and minds.

Wait, how many steps per minute?!

The Time Trial
Ugh.  Not my favorite.  Cue middle school track days where you had to run around as fast as you could without dying.  The Time Trial is a benchmarking process where you run the best time you can for a certain distance (in my case, 2 miles), set your training paces based on your results, and repeat the trial again a few weeks later with hopes of improvement.  Lining up for the trial gave me butterflies; I ended up not running as fast as I could but it was still a very good effort.

Circuit Training
So you've gotta switch up things a little bit!  Though intimidating, I was really looking forward to this session.  If you have an idea of what circuit training is, then you're already envisioning quick 1-2 minute sessions of push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, etc.  Take that lovely idea and combine it with running to and from each station.  After your 5th station of quadricep-burning-lunge-squat-kick thingies, an eighth of a mile suddenly seems IMPOSSIBLY FAR AWAY.

Lunging/Squats station #1,304,829.

Despite feeling the burn for a solid 3 days after this workout, it has been my favorite so far.  After this, I experienced my easiest, fastest 6 mile run!

Caterpillar Run
Okay, so I thought circuit training was my favorite.  Maybe it still is. Anyway, this activity comes in a really close second place.  Grouped by pace, 5-8 runners run in a single file line.  The last person in line sprints to the front and becomes the new "leader".  The new "last' person then sprints to the front and conveyor belt process continues.  

No photo of us sweating our eyes out but here is our team mascot!

Long Runs - building endurance
It is exactly what it sounds like. You run slowly and for a long time.  My farthest distance this past month was 7 miles and in July, the group will break the double digit mileage barrier.  From there, we push forward to the big 20 miler in September!

It has been a super busy month with the closing of the season at work and visiting John in St. Louis every other weekend.  The training schedule is as time consuming as everyone said it would be but the transition into training 6 days a week(!) has been much easier than I expected.  The nutrition part is coming along and despite the loads of dishes I face each night after planning out my meals, it is really worth it.  Some days start at 4:30am with a training session, a full day at work, a 6 hour Amtrak train ride to St. Louis arriving at midnight, and a training run the next morning.  Repeat.

But it gets done. I am happy to report to everyone that I have not missed one training session this month!

For this year's Chicago Marathon, I'm raising money for the American Cancer Society.  I am just under$1,000 to reaching my fundraising goal so click here to read about why I am running and donate on my behalf!

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