Spring Training & Racing

Ahhh, Spring!  I am so happy you have arrived.  Except for the allergy part, you are for sure one of my favorites.

me & Gus sniffing the flowers of a neighborhood Dogwood tree

After spending the entire winter focusing on my marathon goal of running my fastest 26.2 and qualifying for Boston for the first time, it has been nothing short of wonderful to take these last two weeks nice and easy, both physically and mentally.

I’m so happy that I ran a strong race on March 17th.  That I accomplished my goal and ran an 8 minute PR (3:34:46) and that I got that coveted BQ time.  I’m even happier about the fact that after I crossed the finish line that day, I knew – without a sliver of a doubt – that I could do better.  My last mile was my fastest in a 7:32 and I had more in me.  I am sure of this: my next marathon can and will be faster.  This excites me.

a strong finish

It excites me because one year ago, my PR was a 4:35:09 – almost an hour slower than my current best.  It excites me because a year ago I never would have even dreamed that a BQ time was possible for someone like me.  And now I have inspired myself — inspired myself to DREAM BIGGER, to work harder.  I want to know the depth of what I am capable of.  So I am not stopping here.

But I believe with all of my heart that the journey towards a goal like this requires periods of rest and a change in focus.  If I continue to push myself towards a faster marathon constantly, chances are more than likely that I will burn out.  That I will get injured or I will lose my passion for my dream.  that would be tragic in my opinion.  It would defeat the whole purpose of what I do.

I believe that the beauty of a dream is in its pursuit, and I want to keep that alive.  The finish line is a wonderful thing to cross (oh, how I LOVE it!), but for me it is often only the beginning or more of a magical milestone along the way.  The journey is my joy.

These past two weeks since my marathon have been an essential part of this journey.  My body has thanked me for easing off on the mileage and the muscle-burning zips around the track.  Mentally and emotionally I have been a lot more relaxed.  I’ve been running, but every time I’ve laced up my shoes it has been with one goal in mind – just do what I love to do.  No pressure on how many miles I run or how fast I run them.  It’s been blissful.

But let’s face it – I’m a Type A gal who likes to have a plan.  I thrive when I am working towards goals.  They keep me moving, they keep me from getting stagnant and set in my ways, both literally and figuratively.  I’m not running another marathon until this fall (MCM) and I’m happy to have a couple of months to free myself from the intensity of marathon training.  I’ve got other goals in mind for my Spring races.  Just thinking about them gets me excited.

I have three races I’m running between now and the start of my fall marathon training: a 10 Miler in April, a 5k in May and a half marathon in June.  I’m going to use these next couple of months to work on getting faster at these shorter distances.  To learn how to push through the discomfort of making my legs move fast without a break, my muscles burning and my chest tightening.  To gain confidence and increase my mental toughness.  To get stronger.

Right now I have some general time goals for each distance.  As my training progresses I may change them a little, depending on how things are going.  Overall I have two goals that will NOT change though – have fun and enjoy myself, and do my very best.  That never changes.

Here are my time goals for each distance:
5k – break 21:00 (sub-6:45 pace)
10 Miler – break 1:15 (sub-7:30 pace)
Half Marathon – break 1:40 (7:30ish pace)

I’ve created a training plan for myself that has me conservatively building my long run mileage up to about 16 miles, with peak weekly mileage around 50 miles a couple of weeks before the half marathon on June 2.  My long run pace will be somewhere between an 8:10-9:00 mile and when I do Race Pace miles (in some, but not all of those long runs) I am going to target my half marathon race pace of a 7:30.  I’m also going to do a Tempo run at least once a week (likely on Monday mornings) and the tempo pace I’m targeting will be somewhere between 7:00-7:15.  In addition to all of this, I know I’ll be pushing the boys in the running stroller a lot more, which will be more speed work for me (because pushing an extra 100+ pounds on a run is speed work in disguise, in my opinion!!).

I’m excited about what my spring training and racing has in store for me.  I can wait to toe the line at these races and do my very best.  I’m also hoping that the next couple of months will set me up for a strong marathon training season this summer/fall.  No specific goals have been set for MCM, but I will tell you that I’m dreaming about it.  If I’m able to race these spring races as strongly as I believe I can, there will be some exciting marathon goals coming this summer!

What are you Spring training and race plans?  If you ran a spring marathon, what are you doing between training cycles?  Do you take a few months off completely?  Train for shorter distances like I am?  Set the distance bar higher and go for an ultra after already being trained for a marathon?  I would love to hear about it :o)

Happy Spring, everyone! 

6 thoughts on “Spring Training & Racing

  1. I have Boston and then my annual marathon that I do with my husband in May and then I am resting. I will do a sprint tri in July and try to PR in the half in August. Only after I take some “me” time this summer will I begin to think about my goals for my fall marathon, if I even do one. 🙂 Good luck on your goals, I bet you smash them! 🙂

  2. it is already in the 80's here, so there aren't many spring marathons around. I have a half in two weeks then I am done with distance till fall. in the summer I focus on speed, and then slowly add in distance when it gets cooler!

  3. That's awesome you ran 7:32 at the END of a marathon. In fact, that's amazing to me!

    Between NJM and NYC, I did a lot of “fun ” running – just doing whatever I felt like doing until I had to start training for NYC. I did try to do a long run of about 10 miles or so every weekend. I didn't want to stress my body too much as I knew I was going to train for another marathon relatively soon and I'm still pretty new to running (started in 2009), so I don't want to go for too much. [and then I got an injury, so guess that plan failed…] But, anyways, after NYC I was forced on the DL — so that was what I did after that.

    I think it's fun to change your focus for a while – keeps it fun!

  4. I'm so happy you are taking the absolutely right approach to give you the best of both worlds – staying healthy (mentally and physically) and getting faster. Build your fast before you build your far – its a lot harder to get faster while simultaneously increasing the distance, than it is to get faster while running shorter. And once you do that, you can extend it into the longer distances.

    I'm still trying to figure out which shorter races I am planning for the rest of the Spring…

  5. I am right there behind you… 6 weeks until Pasadena (as of this Sunday), and I am ready to relax a bit afterwards. The weather here in the desert will slowly start becoming AWFUL within the next couple of months. Do I want to get up and be out the door every Sunday at 4 am for 20-milers? Not so much… I'm not quite sure what June-October holds for me, but it will likely *not* be hard core marathon training.

    I am thinking a possible half marathon in Sept., and I just don't know after that… Some shorter races would be fun, but there really is nothing in my area until the first of the year. We shall see.

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