Monday, October 18, 2010

From failure to inspiration; how I plan to not suck at running marathons

Last weekend= massive hole of suck and desperation. I never want to feel that way again. And while I can't guarantee that I'll NEVER get that nervous for the rest of eternity, I'd like to reduce the overall anxiety level in my pre-race running world. Especially since I'm trying to conquer this 26.2 mile race I've heard so many great things about lately. This year the available spots for the Boston Marathon filled up faster than ever before; background info about the infamous race flooded my computer screen while I checked my usual slew of running websites. Naturally, this being the day after my half-marathon epic fail, the increased traffic about the original race (at least in the US) forced me to contemplate my own ambitions of glory and distance victory.

As I considered my optimistic desire to tackle long-distance racing in stellar fashion, I realized that it might take a little more planning than I'd anticipated. Fortunately, I'm a HUGE planner, and love coming up with this kind of stuff. I make plans for everything else in my life...but I've been running for so long, it never occurred to me to make plans for the running part of my life. I think my confidence in my abilities are really what did me in; I've been a consistent casual runner, but have I ever, really, honestly, truly been good with competition? NO! It's amazing what we learn about ourselves when we start to question beliefs we've always held to be true. SO here it is, my plan in all it's shining glory..

How I plan to not suck at running marathons:

1) Run Faster- To me, this is a given. Incredibly, I've managed to run for years and years without actually improving my times. Recently I've run farther, which is cool for building endurance. But have I gotten faster? Not so much. In fact, as I take on longer distances, I've begun to run slower. A lot slower. Which is fine when I'm trying to increase my distance... but it's considerably less fine when I carry that glacially slow pace into shorter runs. My plan is to attack my "speed deficiency" from several angles; work on form (I'm a heel striker, my stride turnover rate is seriously low, and I don't engage my core when I run. I'm reading a book on Chi Running and have a Chi Running Clinic coming up November 13th in Denver! Ahh so excited! Stay tuned for further raving about what I love about the Chi Running concept) Incorporate plyometrics and interval training into my shorter runs, and use the micoach to keep track of and stay on pace in my longer runs. Any other suggestions on how to get faster would be GREATLY far this is all I can think of.

2) Research running like I used to research nutrition and health- Most of the books I read about running aren't technical; they explore the triumph of the human spirit over seemingly impossible obstacles. I love that stuff. I can't get enough of books like "Born to Run", "50/50" with Dean Karnazes, and "Marathoning for Mortals." I'll skim books on the physiology of running, but I'll rarely, if ever, bring any of the exercises or training plans into practice. It's time for me to get serious about the training aspect of running, and start experimenting with technique and pace! :) Yay new obsession...

3) Enter races. Complete Races. Repeat.- Clearly, all the training in the world won't help me if I don't make it to the starting line. So I'm going to sign up for shorter races and plow through them, just to get in the habit of racing. I've heard great things about an upcoming Turkey Trot 10 miler and a sweet winter race called the Colder Boulder 5k. I've always celebrated holidays with a nice morning run, why not a morning race?

4) Own the half marathon- I think I've been taking the 13.1 mile race too lightly, like it's a casual stepping stone to the "real" race. I'm realizing now what a huge mistake I made by not taking the half-marathon training seriously enough. Being able to Run 13.1 miles at a decent clip is no joke. I think I need to respect the distance, get fast, and kick some serious half-marathon booty. After which, I'll try take that training dedication and knowledge and apply it to training for my first full marathon *hopefully* at a decent pace. I'm at the point right now where I don't just want to FINISH a marathon...I want to do feel proud of my performance! I'm tired of being slow. I don't WANT to be slow any more. I want to be a superfast MARATHONER! Woohoo :)

5) (Looking to the future) Qualify for Boston. Move on to running fame and glory. Rule the world. Be eternally grateful for the embarrassing "Rock and Roll Denver 13.1 Incident of 2010" and the fact that it motivated me to push myself out of my comfort zone.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in the process (yes, it's a process) of making the switch to "barefoot" running in Vibram Five Fingers and it is so much easier to run faster. Before (like a month and a half ago) I would struggle to hold a 10:30 and now a 9:00/mile is comfortable. Granted I haven't run a full, continuous mile in them yet, but I think you probably get the picture. I think your chi running will probably have a very similar effect.
    I've heard good things about incorporating strength workouts too (core work as well as lunges/squats/legs) but I've only been doing it for about 3 weeks so can't say for sure that it's true.
    I look forward to reading about how this goes for you! I'm making it my goal to get faster right now too :)