Like most people, I spent the last few weeks of 2022 reflecting on the past year and gearing up the year to come. As I always do, I wrote down some of the goals I had for myself in the following areas- financial, career, relationships, personal, physical, home life, and ‘extras.’ I like to have my goals written down, somewhere that I can review them frequently (once a week). While I was going through this exercise, I really thought about what I wanted out of my running this year. While I enjoyed training for two marathons and running a total of 14 races in 2022, I knew I wanted to approach 2023 differently. I love to run, and I want to continue to love it and not feel a pressure to run to train for a race year-round. I also reflected on all the things that went really well, as well as the areas that I needed to improve in.
First, let’s take this long-term. One day I would really like to run an ultra-marathon. An ultra-marathon, for anyone that doesn’t know, is anything longer than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Ultra marathons can be 50ks (~31 miles); 50 miles; 100k (~61 miles); 100 miles. This is something on my personal bucket list- not something I’m looking to accomplish in 2023. Another longer-term goal is to BQ (Boston qualify). In the running world, getting a BQ time is the thing every runner wants. Some runners accomplish it when they run their first marathon, others it takes years to qualify. Each age bracket (ex. 35-39) has a different qualifying time and it increases by five minutes . For a 36 year old female, the qualifying time is 3:35:00. That means that I need to take 33 minutes off my time. I will get more specific about when I’d like to accomplish that goal after my next marathon (Chicago 2023) but for now, it’s just on the list.
As far as my 2023 goals, I wanted to commit to running two marathons in 2023 but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to take a break from that type of training. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that my big spring race that I would train for would be a half marathon in May (Long Island Half) and my big fall race would be the Chicago Marathon in October. As always, I plan to run a bunch of 5ks and other races in between, but definitely not 14.
In the beginning of 2022, I was running 2-3 times per week. Let me repeat that: I was training for a marathon on 2-3 days per week! I wasn’t sure that could even be done, but I didn’t have much of a choice. I didn’t have a treadmill at the time and I have young children that I can’t leave at home during a run. As I got closer to the first marathon, I added a 4th day to my running, but when I looked back at all the running I did leading up to Marathon #1, I averaged 3 days per week. I was also strength training during that cycle which I think helped significantly. Fast forward to the end of May 2022, and I moved and now had access to a treadmill. I started running 5-6 days per week and increased my mileage quite a bit. I stopped strength training because my knee was bothering me and my set-up wasn’t conducive to those workouts. So I ran more, strength trained less, and ended up running Marathon #2 five minutes faster (which was good) but feeling 10x worse during the race (not so good). Looking back on this I think I made a handful of mistakes throughout that training cycle: 1) I increased my mileage too much, too fast (10% of weekly mileage per week is the recommended and I was probably doing 20-25% more; 2) I stopped strength training; 3) I didn’t use gels or fuel properly before, during and after my runs, and 4) I was running each effort too fast.
I accomplished a lot of great things during both of my marathon training cycles but in order to take things to the next level, I decided to start working with an endurance coach. We’ve been working together for the past two months and I’ve been following her lead as far as what my training should look like during this “off season” or base-building phase. So far this has been a great learning experience for me. I know I’ve mentioned 80/20 running in the past– running 80% of your runs at easy pace, or no more than 75% of your max heart rate) but I wasn’t really following that during my last training cycle. I was probably doing more like 50/50. Working with my coach has forced me to get closer to 80/20 for sure. In addition, each Wednesday, I have a track workout on my schedule. This looks different each week and focuses on faster paces and reminds me of when I used to run track in high school so I simultaneously love it and hate it at the same time.
I’m also taking two full rest days every week. I would love to run every single day, but I know my body needs rest. I also know that as I continue to get stronger, adding a sixth day is possible, but not necessary for my goals. I’m also trying to recover in other ways– by laying on the couch on Saturday afternoons if that’s what my body needs or sleeping a little later on my rest days. I made a big mistake after my second marathon by not letting myself sleep in. That led to a month long cold that I couldn’t shake. I truly believe that if I had taken the week after that marathon to sleep until 6:30 rather than wake up at 4:30 or 5:00, it would’ve made a huge difference leading into the last couple months of the year. Instead, I was tired and burnt out for at least 4-5 weeks.
Next week, I begin a 15-week training cycle for the Long Island Half Marathon which takes place on May 7th. I enjoy this course a lot and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do. The training for this race is going to look different than the training for a marathon- instead of my goal pace being 8:50-9:00 (marathon) it’s going to be around 8:05-8:15. That may not seem like a huge difference but it’ll definitely be a challenge for me.
I’ll be back in a few weeks to share how things are going so far. Until then, ✌🏻and 🏃🏽♀️