Another week has flown by, which means I have officially completed the seventh week of my base building plan. My weekly mileage is still low (18-22 MPW), but I’m running more days per week made up of shorter runs that focus more on speed and strength. My goal over the next 5 weeks is to build a solid foundation that will carry me through marathon training injury-free.
Looking back on this week’s workouts, I can easily pick my 3 Weekly Wins:
This Week’s 3 Wins
- When it works with both our schedules, I’ve been meeting Mary once a week to run after work. This week, we were both feeling pretty good and got to a point in our run when Mary asked if we could pick up the pace a little, to which I happily agreed. For about 3/4 of a mile, we were pushing our pace to the low 7s. We ran stride for stride, our arms pumping, breath flowing, and legs turning over in perfect tandem. At the end of the run, we realized we’d executed a perfect progression run, with each mile about 10-12 seconds faster than the previous one. We didn’t even mean to do that! Definitely a win, and a much-needed confidence boost.
- I had been planning to do my long run on Saturday to get used to waking up extremely early on the weekends now that I need to be out the door before 7 to beat the heat. But, when Tori asked if I wanted to join her for some of her 12 miler on Friday, I gladly accepted the invite. Running with friends on Friday mornings as the sun rises is the best way to start the weekend! Though it was hot and sweaty, I knocked out 7 miles before heading to work, which I love doing. It’s nice knowing all my key workouts are done and the weekend is open for more cross training and resting.
- I used my extra time this weekend to reunite with my yoga mat. Yoga is something I know I need in my life to remain healthy. The benefits of incorporating yoga into training are numerous: flexibility, strength, breath control, mental toughness, sanity. But, as I run more days and try to fit in strength exercises, yoga often gets put on the back burner. I’m going to try to be more diligent about my practice, hoping to go a couple times per month to keep my muscles limber and my mind calm. Today’s class was free through our local lululemon store. We had this amazing guest teacher named Ashley Halley who created her own workout called MOVE that uses many yoga poses as a starting point, but incorporates much more cardio, strength, and fun music than traditional yoga. She had us planking and jumping and squating and push-upping all over the place. After 60 minutes, I was dripping in sweat and knew I had worked every muscle in my body. It was a tough workout that I thoroughly enjoyed, and hope to do it again soon! I’m not so sure if my friends who I met for brunch afterward felt the same, given how far everyone chose to sit from me. 🙂
source: Ashley Halley MOVE Facebook Page
Needless to say, it’s been a good week of training including one day of Body Pump and one day of yoga. I had one tough running workout that didn’t go as I’d hoped it would, but I don’t want to focus on it too much. That’s the whole point of trying to stay more positive regarding my training. At the end of the day, I know one bad workout isn’t going to define me; it’s how I handle it that will dictate who shows up to the start line of my upcoming race.
How did your week go? What were your 3 top workout wins?
Before I launched into this latest training cycle, my first “official” one in more than a year, I decided a big focus for me would be improving positive thinking and mental toughness. As the cliche for our sport goes, running is 10% physical and 90% mental. While I think that ratio is just slightly skewed, it does show the importance of training your mental muscle as well as your physical ones.
My first couple weeks of training I spent a bit of time reading some articles about running and mental toughness, especially as it relates to the marathon (see the end of this post for links to some of my favorites). A few common themes arose that I’ve already put into practice:
- Visualization: The concept of thinking about your runs before they happen is an interesting one – you’re basically tapping into your imagination to project the movie of a run or workout in your mind. Without realizing it, I did this a lot before my first two half marathons. The night before my long runs, I’d take some time before falling asleep where I’d play out how well my run the next day would go. I’d think about the route, imagine how my legs would feel, and focus on what I’d do to push through fatigue. Somehow, as I became more knowledgeable about training and running, I stopped practicing visualization, and I can say I had fewer amazing long runs than when I was using visualization techniques. This is something I’ve brought back into my training.
- Mantras: Every runner I know has some (or several) mantras that they recite when a run or race gets tough. To me, the repetitive nature of running makes mantras so successful in helping distract the mind from discomfort. I have a handful of little sayings that I turn to when I’m pushing through a less-than-perfect run, but I’ve also realized that there are other little tricks I can play on myself to keep me moving. Now, when I recite a mantra in my head, I tell myself I have to speed up my cadence slightly. This has been very helpful in keeping me from slowing down for no real reason other than I’m feeling slightly fatigued or hot.
- Moving to Positive Thinking: One of the posts I read talked about envisioning a big STOP sign when negative thoughts creep in, and I’ve found this incredibly helpful. I used to find myself dreading tempo runs and would spend the whole day focusing on how hard they would be and how I didn’t want to do them. Now, I’ve shifted my thinking to be more along these lines: “This tempo run is going to be hard, and I am so excited to put in the work that will make me stronger for my race. I can’t wait to run fast tonight and see if I can beat my times from last week!” Anyone who knows me knows my running nemesis is humidity. For someone who grew up in Florida and lived in the swamp that is D.C., I have never gotten used to humidity or the negative impact it can have on performance. My first couple of summers back in Florida, I’d spend giving up on hard running once the humidity increased. Instead on fixating on weather I can’t control, I’m focusing on how it’s making me a stronger runner who can push herself in tough conditions.
That last theme is the main reason why I’ve started recording what I’m calling my “Three Wins” every week: I pick the top three highlights from the past week of training and jot them down in my training log. My plan is to read through these when it comes time to taper so that I remember the joy I found through the process of getting to that starting line come November. It’s all about embracing positive thinking to build mental toughness!
This Week’s Three Wins
- I had a great run with good friends (Hi, Tori!) this morning. We got in 6 waterfront miles as the sun rose and managed to negative split the whole run, despite the 89% humidity.
- With quite a few plans on Memorial Day, I moved my tempo run to Wednesday. Due to a conflict, I had to take to the treadmill to get my workout in which is less-than-ideal since I hate treadmills. I sucked it up, and powered through my tempo run with perfectly even splits, making me really glad I didn’t blow off the run when it would have been pretty easy to do so.
- My boyfriend is here visiting from LA, which makes it hard to stick with a routine. Though I shifted around some workouts throughout the week, I still managed to get in everything that was on my training plan including a 6 AM Body Pump class that kicked my butt (…and hamstrings… and shoulders).
My Favorite Posts on Mental Toughness:
What are your weekly wins or favorite mental toughness exercises? Share them with me in the comments!