MCM Training | 98 Days ‘Til Go Time

Switched roles and was the interviewee at a 5K I ran last weekend!

Switched roles and was the interviewee at a 5K I ran last weekend!

Hello run-blog universe! Long time, no see everyone!

It’s been far, far too long since I’ve posted here. To get my blogging butt in gear, I’m dusting off the keyboard with a Marine Corps Marathon training update, the first of what’ll become a weekly series until October 27.

MCM will be my fifth (!) marathon, and I’m racing it through work with the Runner’s World Challenge, which, by the way, is one of the coolest running programs around. Not only do you get access to my colleagues’ seasoned advice and coaching, BUT you get VIP treatment on race weekend. Know what that means? Private porta-potties. That’s right. Join us, it’s worth it. (Got questions about it? Ask ’em below.)

Last year I worked the event and got to celebrate post-race with all of the Challengers. No matter the outcome of their race, every finisher said MCM was an incredible experience. One runner’s recap even moved me to tears. That was all the inspiration I needed to want to join in myself in 2013.

So here we are, just 98 days away from 26.2 miles through our nation’s Capitol. And let’s just say my training is off to a, uhhh, bumpy start. The RW Run Streak got me hopped up on speed and strength, which helped me run a post-college 5K PR of 19:42 (and snag a top overall female win!) at a race my old teammate puts on in honor of her mother last weekend. I’ve also been consistently hitting the gym two to three times a week, and I’m already feeling stronger head-to-toe. (And get this, I figured out how to enjoy planks, even the dreaded side planks! Rather that holding a position until my core gives out, I’m rotating positions every 20 seconds, doing at least three sets per gym session. Plus, according to my roomie, shorter bursts are better because you’re more likely to hold proper form. Rock hard abs, here I come!)

photo 2But…that momentum came to a screeching halt when I went on vacation with my family last week. I did one glorious run with my Dad on the beach, but that was it. I’ll be honest, whenever I’m with my family, running goes on the back-burner. I hardly ever see them, so the time is precious. I’d rather be with them than on the roads alone. I’ve got 50 other weeks to do that.

As much as I needed to hit the mental reset button, I’m ready to dive right back in to training. Taking a week off from the get-go has left me a bit anxious, but I know that my off-season streak and newfound need to lift stuff has given me a solid base. Since strict day-by-day plans are still the bane of my existence, I’m going to keep up my flexible routine. Here’s a rundown of my goals and what I’m hoping to do training-wise:

  • This race marks just over a year anniversary since my first marathon. I haven’t run as fast since, so I’d be thrilled with a PR. Don’t care by how much, but you know, deep down I’d love to cross the line in the low 3:2X’s.
  • Speaking of that uber-successful first marathon, I went through my training log and wrote down what I did for my long runs leading up to Steamtown. The goal is to more or less copy that progression since it worked so well last time. Don’t fix what ain’t broken, right?
  • Ideally I’d like to do some sort of speed session once per week, because I finally got the itch to do genuine workouts. It took a year, but the desire has returned. Whether it’s doing Wednesday intervals at work or throwing a tempo run into the mix, upping my turnover to offset those long, slow distance runs will hopefully make me faster come October.
  • No excuses, I’m going to lift at least twice a week. A third time and/or yoga is a bonus.
  • I trained through the heat last year and it paid off. Every time I want to skip out on a run because of the sauna-like conditions, I’ll wipe the sweat out of my eyes and focus on that fact. Yes, summer running sucks, but remembering that it’s only going to get cooler will make those miserable miles worthwhile. And hey, maybe that’s why I ran as fast as I did at Steamtown!

Long story short, my weekly routine should look like this: 1 long run + 2-3 lifting sessions + 1 speed workout – any heat-related excuses = a successful Marine Corps Marathon.

That being said, I’m off to the gym! Tomorrow, I think I’m going to break out the earbuds, knock out 12 miles as early as possible, and use coffee, a strawberry-banana-chocolate crepe, and a nap as incentive to get ‘er done.

Until next week, happy running everyone!

QUOTE OF THE POST: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. – Bill Bowerman

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A Reality Check in the Form of Bootcamp

On Monday, I got guilt-tripped into attending a bootcamp session that my work put on during lunch. To be honest, I really wasn’t in the mood to display my glaring lack of upper-body strength (my coworkers and I liken our flimsy limbs to those on windsock men) and coordination to the world, not to mention I haven’t lifted in almost a year. But heck, hadn’t I just knocked out a super-hilly 20-miler last weekend? Bootcamp should be a piece of cake compared to that…Man was that logic flawed.

For warmup, we had to do bear crawls while dodging rabbit poo. Awesome.

For warmup, we had to do bear crawls while dodging rabbit poo. Awesome.

Not 10 minutes into the strength segment of the class, my air-squat-induced screaming quads and already-fading biceps and triceps thanks to endless sets of push-ups had me silently directing a steady stream of obscenities at our instructor. Say what now? You want us to do another set of mountain climbers and push-ups? I can’t even hold the plank position anymore! I mumbled to my coworker that I’d do mile repeats over this any day of the week. Adding insult to injury, we mixed in sets of step-ups and bench dips.

To cap off the session, the instructor challenged us to 200 air squats, 100 push-ups, and 50 burpees to divide between groups of two. Say what now?!? I stood there a little dumbfounded at the prospect of 50 push-ups after the already intense session we had just completed. But ahh alright, alright. Challenge accepted.

See that? Yeah, it was "soul-crushing."

See that? Yeah, it was “soul-crushing.”

My partner and I powered through the air squats–thank God for Pennsylvania’s crazy, quad-strengthening hills–but we were reduced to girly push-ups almost instantly. And forget any semblance of proper form when it came time for the burpees. We were the very definition of “weaksauce,” a term my younger brother would use to describe our pathetic efforts.

After the workout, my coworker encapsulated my dejected and dizzy thoughts perfectly: That bootcamp reminded me of how truly one-dimensional many runners are when it comes to strength. (My editor tweeted this, too: “Watching the workout, you could definitely tell the regular cross-trainers from the run-run-runners.”)

Well, I’m definitely a run-run-runner, that’s for sure.

On Tuesday, I woke up to a level of soreness that almost rivaled post-marathon pain, and it has persisted until now. I still can’t get up or sit down without wincing. I’ll admit that I’ve spent a good amount of time complaining about how insane and ridiculous that bootcamp was since Monday, but the nagging aches had me wondering if upper-body strength training really is all that important for runners. I totally understand the need for a strong core, but what does it matter if my arms can’t bench more than 50 pounds? I can get by without lifting, right?

Wrong.

I tweeted this to my followers: How often do you work on upper-body strength? Do you think it’s important for running? and the first response I received was this –

And this:

I knew deep down that I would probably get replies like these, but to get one from an elite runner like Lauren–who obviously knows what she’s talking abou–pretty much lit the fire under my (currently very sore) butt to seriously think about adding in some strength work. Since I’m so close to Boston, I don’t want to try anything new now that could mess up my training. But once April is over and there aren’t any major races on the horizon, I think this could be the perfect summer project. (So I don’t forget, I wrote it down for my May goal of the month in my Believe I Am journal.) Hopefully writing it down will make it happen!

Who knows, lifting might just be the missing piece I need toward breaking into the 3:1X’s!

Here’s what others had to say on Twitter:

QUOTE OF THE POST: “To be a good runner, you must first be a good athlete.” – Jay Johnson