Monday, March 4, 2013

Race Ready

Consistency has been my mantra this cycle
Now that I am finally within the 2 week window of race day, I like to take a look down memory lane of my training to remind myself that 1) I am as best prepared as possible; and 2) That no additional workout will determine my outcome.  In order to be race ready, I think you need to be able to grasp both of these concepts.  Failing to recognize one or both of them can lead you down the rabbit hole of taper madness.  I've written before about Creating the Confident Athlete, which touches on this topic as well.  The gist of it is that we don't want to do anything between now and race day to compromise all the hard work we've put in.  And in order to prevent those crazy ideas from coming to fruition, you need to be able to say to yourself that you've done everything you can, and nothing you do will make you more (or less) prepared from here on out.

So how does one go about doing that?  Well like I said, take a look back through your log of workouts and soak in the accomplishments you've made in training.  Remember when 14 miles felt long?  Well you probably just ran 20+ miles a week or 2 ago.  Or what about the 2-3 miles of tempo running when you first started?  If you trained properly, you've probably extended the distance of your tempo runs quite a bit from there.  Or how about your marathon pace - remember how difficult it was at first to finish the last mile or two of your long run at that pace?  Well, you've probably done a handful of workouts to incorporate miles of marathon paced running and now that just feels natural.  If you've done all those things, I can assure you that you are as best prepared as possible and whatever happens on race day comes down to race execution (we'll touch on that in a future post), and the elements of the day (ie things beyond our control like weather).

For me personally, this has been a training cycle unlike previous ones.  Simply put, I gave it everything by safely upping my mileage, making training a priority (even with 4 am, way too cold to be running this early, runs) to ensure consistency, and really honed in on my race pace.  When I look back, I am both astounded and motivated by what I've been able to accomplish.  In a schedule that has only become increasingly busier due to a baby, additional work responsibilities, and life, I've managed to put together a strong case for having a great race.  No matter what race day brings, I know I am in the best shape of my life and will come out of this only stronger.  Here are just a few highlights I am most proud of:

- 18 weeks of official training, with the lowest weekly mileage being 43, the highest being 75, and an average of 60.
- Consistency has been the name of the game for me.  I've never run fewer than 5x/week, with most weeks logging 7-9 runs over 6-7 days/week.
- 5 runs of 20+ miles, up to a max 22 miles, which included 10 miles at goal marathon pace.
- I am at a racing weight I consider healthy, having lost nearly 10 lbs post baby (I can't say men don't gain weight with pregnancy too), and eat a well balanced diet in line with my training levels WITHOUT restricting any foods.  I eat what I want, but within reason.

So for those reasons, I mentally feel ready and confident that I've done what I can to create the success I envision.  Physically, I have done some serious quality workouts that give me the confidence to know that I can hit my goal paces.  Below are just a few of the ones that stand out to me:

- Marathon paced tempo - 2 mile warm up, 10 miles at marathon pace, 2 mile cool down
- Marathon paced long run - 10 miles easy, 10 miles at marathon pace, 2 mile cooldown
- Marathon race simulation - 3 x (1 mile easy, 5 miles at marathon pace), 2 mile cool down

To me, these were just three of the big workouts I performed over my last month of quality building toward the race.  Each one proving to me that the paces I am setting for myself are appropriate with my fitness.  I finished each of these workouts knowing I could easily continue the effort much further, and despite the temptation to do so, ended the workouts at their intended distance.  The last thing you want to do is leave your race performance out on a training run.  Too many people get caught up in the emotions of completing such a workout and let that happen.

Having that feeling of wanting to do more at the end of a tough workout is a good thing - its what keeps us hungry for race.  You want to be hungry for more, not burnt out.  Never have I felt burnt out during this training cycle.  Each week has brought a renewed confidence and appreciation for building my fitness toward race day.

I've made a lot of deposits in the marathon bank this training cycle and I'm ready to cash out.  I'm hungry for race day to get here.  I'm confident, proud, and ready to do this.  I hope you are too.

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