Alright, let’s be honest: I’m still floored (and floating) about Eugene. Words can’t adequately describe how special (aww) you all made me feel during my training and particularly on race day (and since!) with all the shout-outs, words of encouragement along the way, and general awesomeness. So thank you. Thank you very much. πŸ™‚

I’ve been thinking a lot about my running since Eugene, for all the obvious reasons, but also because I think it’s imperative to reflect on experiences of any kind in an effort to figure out how to replicate outcomes, avoid ill consequences, or in general, just to improve.

(I’m hearing my professorial side coming out here… these are the same lines I feed tell my students to think about when they think about their writing and why they write how they do. Weird…)

I think a lot of things came together in my favor on race day, some of which I had absolutely no control over (helllllllo, perfect running weather!), but some that I did and that would behoove me to consider doing again. On the flip side, there are some things that I should consider doing differently, so I’ll break everything down accordingly… call this “Erin talking to herself” (isn’t this what this platform is for in the first place?), but definitely chime in with your vast runnerly wisdom and experiences.

Oh, and here’s some Eugene Marathon on-the-run race pics action.

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What’s worth replicating:

  • training. This might be obvious to most, but to be a better runner, you have to run more (notwithstanding pre-existing conditions that might preclude you from doing a ton of mileage, that is). This cycle was the first that I had used a Pfitzinger Advanced Marathoning plan, and it was a good fit for me. I don’t think I’d want to jump up to 70 miles/week, but having mid-week “moderate distance” runs of 10-14 miles, in addition to the weekend long long runs, helped my endurance tremendously… and the speed work was a whole different animal for me this time around (and coming from someone who loves speed work, this is saying something). I’m glad I found this plan.
  • ancillary work. I quit CrossFit in February in part because of how ridiculously expensive it was but also so I could devote more of my “exercise hours” on activities that would directly, unquestionably, improve my running. I tried to maintain some degree of strength and core work by doing at-home and bodyweight-based work about 4-5 times total/week, often 2-3 times/week for strength and another 2-3 for core. Though I certainly can’t power clean or throw up (and down) some thrusters like I could a few months ago, I think I still have power and strength where it matters, and this at-home business is definitely a keeper for future training cycles.
  • fueling. At the recommendation of my new friend Dan, from the Houston Marathon, I trained with AccelGel and used it during Eugene. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t want to drink/consume the stuff as I do water, but it’s palatable, and it agrees with my body. In time, I will probably move toward a vegan product, but since I haven’t fully committed to veganism yet, I’ll keep using it. It jibes with my “strict vegetarian/almost vegan” get-up. πŸ™‚
  • accountability. I haven’t suffered from not doing the running that I should be doing because of a lack of motivation, but it really has been kinda cool to see other runners’ running- and training-related commentary on twitter, dailymile, and RYBQ over the past few months. An added bonus is that I get to meet other people who are the same type of crazy as me πŸ™‚

Let’s improve:

  • pacing. I did very few of my long runs (or even shorter runs, for the matter) at my strict, projected MP. Thus, while I knew what a 7:40, 7:49, or 7:55 felt like, and knew that it was comfortable, I never really knew what a true, flat 8 felt like. I was aware of this and knew that I “kinda” knew what an 8 felt like, so I just broke the race up into parts, as most runners do, and focused on running as close to a 1:45 half as possible. I was a bit nervous to be -2 at the halfway mark, fearing that that would surely promise a crash-and-burn later in the race, and how I pulled a 6+-minute negative split is still beyond me. For my future marathon training cycles, I want to run many more runs, of varying distances, at my legit MP, for both the physiological and psychological benefits. Moreover, that I could pull a 6+ minute negative split in a marathon makes me wonder about if I did the first half too slowly… I’ll revisit this later.
  • stretching. I stretch when I think about it, which isn’t very often, except for the maybe 2 minutes immediately before I leave (hop on a foam roller) and when I return (stretch my calves on the stairs leading up to my condo… and then hop on a foam roller, maybe, once I’m in the door). Likewise, I never did any dynamic stretching before any of my long runs (except once, on a 21 with Mort, at his suggestion), even though I know it’s a wise use of my time. I plan to be more mindful of that going into this next cycle. I can spare 3 minutes.
  • sleeping. Even though I’m a SAHM these days and not needing to bust out at 6am to get to the office, I know I’m not sleeping as much as I should be, because A awakens me in the middle of the night or early morning hours, I’m staying up late finishing stuff I didn’t do during the daytime, or because I’m just wasting time online doing nothing important. I usually prioritized sleep on the days where I had a big run coming up, like a mid-week moderate distance run or some speedwork, but I could be better about it. I should consider a “no technology after ___” type of rule. How do you prioritize your sleep, particularly for my readers with kiddos?
  • strength work. I want to get stronger. Though I don’t necessarily miss CF, I do miss being as strong as I was, because I think that helped keep me healthy/injury-free and helped me as a runner. I don’t need super huge biceps or anything like that, but I do want to be more diligent about my strength work and aim for 3 times/weekly for this next cycle instead of 2.

What comes next:

  • marathon goals. I’m at a loss here, and I’m telling myself that I’m not going to really think about it until early July, when I start marathon training again officially. As you might recall, the plan was to do 3:30, maybe a 3:27, in Eugene, if the stars aligned, and then train for a 3:25 in Chicago, and just “play” in NYC. I don’t know what to do now. All three times I’ve run Chicago, I’ve run poorly–likely due to hot weather or pregnancy (or both, as was the case in ’10!)–so part of me feels like I’d be happy to just go sub-4 here for the first time. A bigger part of me thinks that’s totally unacceptable and that I should see what I can do with this 3:20 fitness I have right now… and as for NYC, if I have no idea about Chicago, I have even less of an idea about NYC. (I am leaning toward just making the big apple a “play” race though).
  • races. I have a healthy mix of racing coming up: a 5k in Ohio on Memorial Day, the Madison-Chicago Ragnar Relay in early June, and the Espirit de She 10k inaugural event in Chicago in July (this one for which I’m an ambassador… once I have more info, I’ll let you know. It looks kinda cool). I want to clock a sub-20 5k this year and whittle down more time on my 10k that I posted in January, but we’ll see. I’m cautiously optimistic I can do both, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
  • reading. I have so many running, racing, vegetarianism, and veganism books I want to read to glean what else I should be considering in my training. I think I need to tell my toddler boss I need to take a sabbatical…
  • coaching? Should I be hiring a coach or just continue to rely on my training partners for their collective and very good advice? Would it be worth the investment?

Lots going on in this post for sure, but reach out. I’d love to hear your commentary on this stuff.

What do you think about after each race you run? How do you figure out where to go “from here,” and what do you do to keep the momentum and excitement going? Do I need to stop being all reflective and professorial and just enjoy things a while longer?

7 thoughts on “Next

  1. I need to work on my sleeping and stretching. I have a kiddo close to the age of yours (mine turns 2 in July), but thankfully she sleeps pretty good. I try to do my runs at 5am, be done by 6:15, and leave for work before my wife and daughter wakes up! Jogging strollers are nice for a shorter run, but I don’t enjoy the extra wind resistance.

    And stretching… ugh.. i try to do it, but when I want to at night, I’m just tired…

    I would supposed a coach is a good idea if you have the time for one? I’m just following the Hanson marathon book.

    I don’t run races generally (but I am doing Chicago this year in Oct), I just enjoy running. I would say enjoy it a bit longer while you can πŸ™‚ and soak up some sun! Beach day!

    1. Ah, another toddler parent πŸ™‚ very fun. My girl sleeps pretty well by and large, but it’s like Murphy’s Law in that she seems to not sleep well on the nights/days that I need her to most (because I didn’t sleep well the night before, because I had/have a big run that day, whatever). I actually run much like you do, in the early a.m. hours, because my husband is usually out the door by before 6. I’m not doing it so much now, since I’m not in the throes of training, but I’ll get back to it soon… if for no other reason than the hot weather we’ll soon be having… (and yea, I hear ya about the running stroller!)

      The Brooks Hanson stuff is on my radar as well! How do you like it?

  2. I’m probably the worst person in the world to be giving you sleep advice, because I can’t speak to prioritizing sleep around when a toddler decides it’s a good time to sleep. Also, people typically think I don’t get much of it. (I may only get about six hours a night, but my sleep patterns are generally consistent – I go to bed around the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning.) recently published an article on pre-race insomnia, and there was a link to this video about the importance of sleep ( Maybe it’ll help you out?

    Have you tried reading before bed? That seems to work for some people. And you have all of those books that you want to read!

    Like Declan said, hiring a coach depends on whether you have the time to work with him/her. I think a good first step is figuring out what your goals are for Chicago and NYC. Until you do that, I don’t think that you or a coach will be able to help you create a training plan that will work best for you.

    PS After you asked me during our shakeout run in Corvallis if I had ever considered coaching, I can’t shake that idea from my head! It might be a good option, though I still have a boatload of questions related to “How do I get there?” (but those are for another time/post of my own) Thanks for the career idea!

    1. You should totally coach, Austin! You might be able to get started in a volunteer capacity first before getting some USATF or RRCA certification that would give you greater credibility πŸ™‚ That’s awesome though.

      I’ll look into the video that you sent; thanks a bunch! and I think my biggest problem is probably more cutting myself off and actually making myself go to bed, not the actual falling asleep business. Seriously, I think I should set a time each night and say it’s bed time, no questions asked (a la my inner 5 year-old).

      Good idea about hiring a coach as well… I’ve got time to figure it out anyway. πŸ™‚

  3. oh man! you have a quicker deadline than me! I’m not really looking forward to having to wake up much earlier than I already do to fit in longer runs before work.

    I enjoy the Hanson book on running, read some great reviews from people that used it and I want to saw a few other Chicago bloggers are going to use it this year as well!

    1. good to know! and yea, before my husb. was working from home, so getting back by 6/7 wasn’t THAT big a deal, but now, it’s imperative! I’ll look into that book; thanks a bunch!

  4. Thanks for the volunteering suggestion! I was thinking of contacting high school XC coaches (wherever I end up moving) to see about volunteering as an assistant coach, and as I gain experience there, do the USATF or RRCA certification. (A lot of the research I did on the subject suggested going that route.) For the near future, that’ll probably be my second career (the first being whatever salaried job I end up finding). Regardless, I can at least wait until after I’ve defended my thesis and figure out where I’ll be moving to pursue all of this!

    And before I get caught up with technology and let it keep me awake until all hours of the night, I’m going to step away. Thanks again for the advice and encouragement! πŸ™‚

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