Marine Corps Marathon Training Weeks Three and Four

My home for the past week!

My home for the past week!

First off I have to apologize for the temporary blogging hiatus! I was on vacation with my family and was trying to completely unplug (OK, I sent out a few tweets here and there) but I really wanted my time away to be spent with family, friends, and the beach so I missed blogging about week three of Marine Corps training. But not to fret, luckily in these past two weeks of training I’ve learn A LOT so I have a quite a few blog post ideas in the works for the upcoming weeks. Also, I can’t even believe it but Hood to Coast is only a few weeks away so I’ll be writing updates about that (including my packing list, fave Nuun flavors that’ll keep me going long, and much more).

Anyway, training for Marine Corps has been going very well. My paces are far faster than what I was doing when training for Big Sur (more on that later) and I should probably take it easy to keep my goals in perspective but I’m having way too much fun with my newfound speedy legs. I’m also proud to report that I didn’t miss A SINGLE training run during my vacation. My runs weren’t exactly in order but I got all of the miles in, so I’d say that’s a win. The beach air was a refreshing change from the humidity and heat wave we had a few weeks ago so I was feeling really good.

Week Three- July 22 – July 28

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 2 runs, 1 day

Run #1- This was my first lunchtime run in awhile and it might be my last for the summer. It was so incredibly hot and I just felt pretty bad the whole time. I had to split up my runs today and do a double because I’m going to a group run tonight that’s only doing 3 miles, I have 6 on my training plan.

Plan: 3 miles easy
Actual: 3 miles in 26:13 at 8:44/mile pace
(1) 8:50/mile
(2) 8:33/mile
(3) 8:12/mile

Conditions: 81 degrees sunny and 65 percent humidity
Shoes: Asics Kayano 19

Run #2- Did an easy group run out of the local running store tonight. It was a lot of fun too! Newton running was sponsoring the run and we ran 1.5 miles out to the Little Lehigh River with a cup, had to fill the cup with water, and then run back to the store dropping as little water a possible. I have no idea what my splits were but it was a blast!

Plan: 3 miles, easy

Actual: 3 miles in 27:00 roughly 9:00/mile pace

Wednesday: 3 mile track workout

It was a beautiful night for a track workout! My right hip flexor has been super tight so I decided to take it a little easier on the intervals. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the workout when I first got to the track since my plan only called for 3 miles, easy but I decided on 2×400, 2×800, 2×400.

Plan: 3 miles, easy (10:40/mile according to my training plan)
Actual: 3 miles in 25 minutes at 7:41/mile pace
1-mile warmup at 8:55/mile pace
400m- 1:42
400m- 1:43
800m- 3:40
800m- 3:33
400m- 1:41
400m- 1:40

Conditions: 72 degrees, strong headwind
Shoes: Saucony Fastwitch 6

Thursday: 6 miles, easy

It was absolutely perfect running weather today at lunch. I thought I was going to run before work but when I realized it was only going to be 65 degrees at lunch, I opted to wait. It was supposed to be a rest day and my plan had me running 6 on Friday but I’m traveling a lot tomorrow so I didn’t want to be extra tired.

Plan: 6 miles, easy
Actual: 6 miles in 53:46 at 8:57/mile pace
(1) 9:24/mile
(2) 8:54/mile
(3) 9:00/mile
(4) 8:55/mile
(5) 8:45/mile
(6) 8:45/mile

Shoes: Asic GT-1000 2s
Conditions: PERFECT! (65 degrees, overcast, basically zero humidity)

Friday: Rest/Travel Day

Saturday: 3 mile shakeout and strength training

I went to the gym with my sister so I did my 3 miles on the treadmill. I felt like I could have gone forever but needed to save some juice for Sunday’s long run. Not really sure what my splits were exactly but I felt great.

Plan: 3 miles, easy pace
Actual: 3 miles in 26:38 (8:52/mile pace)

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2

Strengthening: I did two circuits of the standard core routine followed by 2×12 rows with 10lb weights and 2×8 rotating shoulder presses with 10lb weights.

Sunday: Unintended rest day to spend with the family, moved my long run to Monday.

Week Four: July 29 – August 4

Monday: 13-mile long run

I was supposed to do this long run yesterday but I’m on vacation and thought, why not do it Monday? Also, my right hip has been feeling a little funky lately, very tight and sore, so I thought I could benefit from the extra rest day. So I did it today and felt great. The majority of my run was along the ocean and through the harbor and by Nubble Light House. I felt really strong and this actually ended up being a 2-minute half-marathon (unofficial) PR.

Plan: 13 miles, easy
Actual: 13 miles in 2:00:15 at 9:15/mile pace
(1) 9:48/mile (2) 9:11/mile (3) 9:23/mile (4) 9:18/mile (5) 9:10/mile (6) 9:02/mile (7) 9:29/mile (8) 9:23/mile (9) 9:13/mile (10) 9:16/mile (11) 9:23/mile (12) 9:05/mile (13) 8:35/mile

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2
Conditions: 66 degrees, overcast

Tuesday: 3-mile shakeout run

This was supposed to be a post-long run shakeout but I just felt so great so I decided to kick it up a notch. I was also running along the ocean so that got me pretty excited for the run too.

Plan: 3 miles, easy shakeout
Actual: 3 miles in 24:47 at 8:15/mile pace
(1) 8:46/mile
(2) 8:13/mile
(3) 7:45/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 70 degrees sunny, no humidity

Wednesday: 6 miles

This was another really great vacation run. I ran to the harbor and onto this little island full of trails. I stopped a few times just to take in the sights but it was absolutely beautiful.

Plan: 6 miles, easy
Actual: 6 miles in 52:43 at 8:47/mile pace
(1) 8:57/mile
(2) 8:44/mile
(3) 9:16/mile (trail mile, I’m really slow on trails)
(4) 9:01/mile
(5) 8:29/mile
(6) 8:14/mile

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2
Conditions: 70 degrees, zero humidity, slight headwind, and sunny

Thursday: Rest Day with 2.5-mile beach walk

Friday: 5 miles, hills

I did my 5-mile lighthouse loop run this morning and felt really good. I thought it was going to be a bit cooler out but it was pretty humid so I was dripping by the end of the run. In the last mile though I felt a bit of a cramp in my left hamstring which made me stop to stretch but after stretching it felt fine, thank god.

Plan: 5ish miles easy
Actual: 5.05 miles in 43:47 at 8:40/mile pace
(1) 9:06/mile
(2) 8:41/mile
(3) 8:39/mile
(4) 8:34/mile
(5) 8:22/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 69 degrees, overcast with 87 percent humidity

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: 10 mile, long run

I took a nice early morning run around my hometown before traveling back to PA. I just did my usual out and back and felt really great. The temps were absolutely perfect and there was nearly no one on the road.

Plan: 10 miles, easy
Actual: 10 miles in 1:29:44 at 8:58/mile pace
(1) 9:01 (2) 8:58 (3) 9:03 (4) 9:14 (5) 8:36 (6) 9:00 (7) 8:54 (8) 9:14 (9) 8:54 (10) 8:46

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Week Three Mileage: 18 miles

Week Four Mileage: 37 miles

See all training recaps here.

Marine Corps Marathon Training Week 2

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

This week of training can be defined by two words: heat wave. But I’m not going to complain too much about it here because I’m honestly tired of talking about the weather. It is what it is and everyone is dealing with it, it’s just a little bit harder on us crazy marathoners because we voluntarily run and strain ourselves in this weather so we really can’t complain about it. But a hard summer makes for a strong fall, right? Anyway, besides the heat, this was a pretty solid week of training.

Monday- Cross-training at Bootcamp.

45 minutes of strength training. We did five circuits of no-repeat exercises.

Tuesday- 5 miles, easy

I did not want to wake up early for this run but I’m so glad I did. It wasn’t too hot when I left my apartment and the forecast for later on in the day would be 95-97 degrees and humid. It was pretty humid out which made breathing hard but overall it was a good run.

Plan: 5 miles, easy at 10:40/mile pace
Actual: 5 miles in 43:05 at 8:37/mile pace
(1) 9:15/mile
(2) 8:30/mile
(3) 8:29/mile
(4) 8:41/mile
(5) 8:09/mile

Shoe: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Wednesday- Speedwork – 3.5 miles total

My training plan called for 3 miles easy today but I really wanted to do speedwork. I waited until after work to head to the track and it wasn’t as bad temperature-wise as I was expecting. I felt surprisingly great and my times on these intervals were all faster than when I did this same workout three weeks ago in 15 degree cooler weather.

Plan: 3 miles, easy (10:40/mile pace)
Actual: 3.5 miles
1-mile warmup at 8:50/mile pace
(1) 1:42.0
(2) 1:39.8
(3) 1:37.7
(4) 1:36.9
(5) 1:38.0
(6) 1:36.1
(7) 1:36.5
(8) 1:32.4
0.5-mile cool down

Shoe: Saucony Fastwitch 6

Thursday- Rest Day

Did Lululemon’s Yoga for Runners

Friday- 5 miles, easy

It was really tough out there this morning. It was only 75 degrees but it was also 88 percent humidity. I had a really difficult time breathing during the entire run. At 4.3 miles I had to stop because I had a pretty bad cramp in my diaphragm and an old man driving by offered me water. That act of kindness pushed me forward to finish the run strong. My pacing was kind of all over the place during this run but oh well.

Plan: 5 miles, easy (10:40/mile pace)
Actual: 5 miles, easy (8:49/mile pace)
(1) 9:32/mile
(2) 8:37/mile
(3) 8:50/mile
(4) 8:55/mile
(5) 8:14/mile

Conditions: 75 degrees, 88 percent humidity, air quality alert
Shoe: Asice GT-1000 2 (testing for RW)

Saturday- 3 miles, easy

It was another hot one out there this morning. I slept in a little so I didn’t get out until 10ish. It wasn’t as humid as yesterday but it was still pretty muggy. I was really overheated at 2.77 miles so I decided to finish with 100m strides so it would be over faster.

Plan: 3 miles, easy (10:40/mile)
Actual: 3 miles (with 2x100m strides) in 25:52.1 (8:37/mile pace)
(1) 9:00/mile
(2) 8:50/mile
(3) 8:00/mile

Conditions: 82 degrees with 69% humidity
Shoes: Nike Vomero 8 (testing for RW)

Core- 20 minutes of two rounds of the Standard Core Routine

Sunday- 12 miles, long slow distance

I left my apartment early to get my long run in before the humidity and heat got the best of the day. My paces were more or less even which was really good. My legs felt great but even though it was a lot cooler this morning than it has been, the humidity was killing me and I had a hard time cooling my head down. I’m going to have to work on that. Maybe wear a hat with ice cubes? I also almost ran out of water so I’m going to have to keep that in mind on my longer long runs.

Plan: 12 miles, at LSD pace (10:40-12:10/mile according to my training plan)
Actual: 12 miles, in 1:51:32 (9:17/mile pace)
(1) 9:38/mile (2) 9:00/mile (3) 9:16/mile (4) 9:22/mile (5) 9:22/mile (6) 9:26/mile (7) 9:21/mile (8) 9:22/mile (9) 9:33/mile (all hills) (10) 9:17/mile (11) 9:11/mile (12) 8:43/mile

Total mileage: 29 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.

{Monday Motivation} Convince Your Mind

Running is not a physical sport, it’s a mind game. Ok, that’s not 100 percent true but how many times have you been on a hard run and thought to yourself, I can’t do it. You barter with yourself, “Well, if I run to that mailbox, I can take a break…” or, “Maybe I just need to stretch against that street sign for a bit…” or, “I can’t finish this long run, what if I just finish a little early, that’ll count right?”

Your brain is the most important muscle to work during marathon training. Over 26.2 miles the mind can come up with all kinds of excuses to give up, throw in the towel  and just head for the massage table. But you can’t let it. I had my first long run of Marine Corps training yesterday and it was a boiling 90 degrees when I left my apartment. Believe me, I would have much rather stayed at home in air conditioned luxury but my training was more important. I wanted to quit but I didn’t. I’m sure there will be times in October when I’ll want to quit too but I won’t. I powered through my long run and ran my fastest long run average pace ever. Success like that is so much sweeter than giving in to the mind games. Happy running this week, y’all! Stay cool and hydrated!

(source: Pinterest)

(source: Pinterest)

Marine Corps Marathon Training Week 1

From the Lehigh Valley Summer Series 5K this week.

From the Lehigh Valley Summer Series 5K this week.

This week was a solid week of training. It was low mileage to kick off training but I felt pretty great on all of my runs. I truly believe the first week of any training program is telling of how the rest of the cycle will be. There’s always room for tweaking and improvements in the following months but you learn a lot in that first week. I learned I’m going to have trouble with the paces given on my training plan, not because they’re too fast, but because they are much slower than my comfortable running pace. I’m going to make some changes with this plan along the way and it’s only the beginning so we’ll see how this training plan goes.

Monday– Cross-training at Bootcamp

45 minutes of strengthening exercises. We did four circuits of no repeat exercises.

Tuesday- 5 miles, easy

Went for a pre-work run with my roommate. We wanted to take it easy, especially since we both went to boot camp last night. My legs felt surprisingly good, although breathing and sweating were an issue. Ahh, summer training.

Plan- 5 miles at easy pace (10:40/mile)
Actual- 5 miles in 43:40 (8:44/mile)
Mile Splits-
(1) 9:18/mile
(2) 8:48/mile
(3) 8:50/mile
(4) 8:48/mile
(5) 8:04/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux

Wednesday- Lehigh Valley Parkway 5K

I was by no means racing this 5K. It’s a fun, free 5K put on in the Parkway the first Wednesday of each month and this was the only one I was going to be able to make this summer. It was a lot of fun, but it was extremely hot (86 degrees at the start) and incredibly humid. I was dripping by the end. I felt good though!

Planned: 3 miles easy (10:40/mile pace according to my training plan)
Actual: 3.14 miles in 27:34 (8:46/mile pace)
(1) 9:01/mile
(2) 8:27/mile (got a little excited here and had to pull in the reins)
(3) 9:03/mile

Shoe: Saucony Fastwitch 6

Thursday- FULL rest day

I was going to go to gentle flow yoga after work to stretch out a bit but it was cancelled.

Friday– 5 miles, easy

This was the first lunch run I’ve been able to do in awhile since it wasn’t 90 degrees or more. It was really relaxing and enjoyable, a nice break in the day.

Plan: 5 miles, easy (11:45/mile pace according to my training plan)
Actual: 5 miles in 44:13 at 8:50/mile average pace
(1) 8:55/mile
(2) 8:43/mile
(3) 8:52/mile
(4) 8:58/mile
(5) 8:45/mile

Shoe: Asics Gel Flux

Saturday– 3 miles, easy

Took a short run along the canal with my roommate and her friend. It was a really good run. Again, my training plan had me running 3 miles at easy pace (10:40/mile) but I ran considerably faster and it felt easy.

Plan: 3 miles, easy at 10:40/mile
Actual: 3 miles in 26:12 at 8:44/mile pace
(1) 9:04/mile
(2) 8:40/mile
(3) 8:27/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux

Sunday– 10 mile long run

This was the first long run of Marine Corps training and it went pretty well. I left my apartment at 10 a.m. which was probably wayyy too late to head out for a summer long run but heat training is always good. I did my 10 miles and finished with 4x100m strides.

Plan: 10 miles, long slow distance at 10:40-11:45/mile pace (according to my plan)
Actual: 10.2 miles, LSD with 4x100m strides in 1:31:50 (9:00/mile pace)
(1) 9:28
(2) 8:47
(3) 8:56
(4) 9:12
(5) 9:21
(6) 9:22
(7) 9:02
(8) 9:35
(9) 9:02
(10) 9:00

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux

Total mileage: 26 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.

The Sweat-Fest that is Summer Marathon Training

Sweat literally dripping down my back.

Sweat literally dripping down my back.

The average temperature this week in Pennsylvania has been a warm 86 degrees. That doesn’t factor in the humidity levels, and we still have three more days to go. I know I won’t be the first runner to ever complain about the weather (or not complain about the weather) but it’s kind of what we do.

Why does it matter this week more than last week? Well, it’s the first week of Marine Corps Marathon training, so the weather this week is a bit of an indicator as to how my training is going to go the rest of the summer. Training hasn’t been too bad so far by any means, but I can already tell training for a fall marathon is much different than training for a spring marathon. In one word, training in the summer is an absolute sweat-fest.

First off, I have to wake up early to do my runs and I rather not. When I was training for Big Sur I would do my long runs as late as 11 a.m. sometimes because that’s when it would get a little warmer out. That will not be the case this summer.

I’m probably also going to be a little slower because the heat and humidity (and direct beaming sunlight) can take it’s toll during a run. I may even have to stop a few times on long runs to get some reprieve, but that’s ok. That’s what training is for.

On the other hand, maybe I’ll really like summer marathon training. I’ll get my runs done earlier and have more time for doing other things during the weekend. Maybe I’ll also get a sweat tan when I’m out there running for hours on end? Either way, this summer training is going to be a learning experience. I’ll figure out if I like training in the summer or if I prefer running like a popsicle in the winter. For now, I’ll keep up with the early wake-ups, the extreme sunscreen application, and never-ending sweating until October 27 (hopefully it’ll be cooler by then!).

Keep up with my training on the day-to-day by following me on Twitter@FitHappyGirl.

When Should You Get a Running Coach?

(source: Pinterest)

(source: Pinterest)

I’ve been mulling over the idea of getting a running coach for a few weeks now. I’ve seen progress in my running over the past year but I know that’s due in part to my inexperience- every race is a PR or close to it. So I thought I’d ask, to improve, should I get a coach?
  1. To get a running coach or not get a running coach, that is the question. Thoughts?
  2. Tons of people were pro-coach…
  3. @FitHappyGirl get one! I love having one and have improved tremendously. Ex 2:03 half from oct 12 to 1:49 this April
  4. Some people said it depends on your goals and finding the right coach (but were mainly pro-coach)…
  5. @FitHappyGirl So important to find one who’s the right fit, philosophically and personality-wise. Otherwise you lose a lot of benefits, imo.
  6. @FitHappyGirl But great to have someone monitor your performance, give advice, and adjust personalized training as you progress!
  7. @FitHappyGirl Absolutely, but a running coach should help you as much with what not to do as pushing the envelope at the right time.
  8. @FitHappyGirl If you haven’t met your goals on your own, try a coach. Make sure he/she works FOR YOU. Then take a leap.
  9. @FitHappyGirl If you have the right coach you’ll love running even more!
  10. @FitHappyGirl i hired @SpeedySasquatch for speed work! so mainly on my own but needed guidance for certain aspect! #justathought
  11. Then there was this…
  12. And you can count on Jason to be the odd man out (just kidding!)…

Luckily I work at Runner’s World so I have plenty of resources here but it might be good to have an objective person (who I don’t work with every day) as a coach instead. I’m nervous it might be too closing to the start of MCM training to get a coach now but maybe not. I’m also wondering about in-person coaching vs. online. I know plenty of people have had success with online coaching but the main reason I want a coach is to have someone push me, especially when I tend to sell myself short. I’m going to keep doing some research into it and see what I come up with.

Tell me, have you hired a running coach? Was it in-person or online and did you see improvements?

I’m Running the Marine Corps Marathon!

Marine Corp Medal 2012

Last night I went to see the special theater-showing on The Spirit of the Marathon II. It did not fail to inspire, make me laugh, bring a tear to my eye, and bring the marathon itch roaring back to me. So, I find it extremely appropriate to announce today my plans for my next running move.

Drum roll please! (Just kidding, you all saw this coming.)

I’m running my second marathon this fall at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. on October 27!

Honestly, I knew it wouldn’t take long for me to become addicted to the marathon distance. I’m kind of type-A when it comes to this stuff and mildly addicted to the adrenaline/endorphin rush you get when you finish a marathon. When I crossed the finish line at Big Sur, the race director told me it would change my life, and it sure did. So when the opportunity to run Marine Corps with the Runner’s World Challenge presented itself, there was no way I could say no.

Runner’s World Challenge

This will be my third race with the Runner’s World Challenge and I honestly couldn’t imagine running a major race without it. This is going to sound like a shameless plug right now (and it totally is) but Runner’s World Challenge is such a good program. Through the Challenge, you get guaranteed race entry to one of our event races- this year it was Disney, Big Sur, and Marine Corps. You also get a customized training plan to meet whatever goal your little running heart desires, as well as direct access to the Runner’s World experts. But the best part of Challenge is the V.I.P. treatment you get on race day. We have our own prerace and postrace tent filled with food and drink for days, and (probably the best part) we have access to our very own port-a-potties, so you can say goodbye to pre-marathon bathroom lines. You also get to run with the editors (like me!) on race day!

MCM Goals

Besides this being my second marathon, me being the type-A person that I am, I want to improve on my finish time. I finished Big Sur in 4:33, which for my first marathon and such a tough course, wasn’t too bad. But I want to do better. So, I’m setting a goal of breaking 4:15 and following a plan to help me do so. This is ambitious because it means PR-ing by more than 15-minutes but I think given the course at MCM and the typical weather, it’s possible.

I’m going to focus much more on maintaining my strength training and speedwork that I’ve become really consistent with during my time off from training. I also want to focus on my diet more during this training cycle. I didn’t have issues with it last time but I think I need to actively add more protein into my daily diet and just focus on trying to eat clean.

All of these goals pale in comparison to the reason I’m really excited to run Marine Corps which is my parents are going to be there! They have been at almost every race I’ve run since I started running in March 2012 but were not able to come out to California to see me finish Big Sur. But my mom has assured me she’s already booked the hotel for MCM and they will be there, on the course, to cheer me on at my second marathon. I’ve also heard MCM is a great race because of the military presence and patriotism throughout the entire weekend. While we don’t have any Marines in my family, my grandfather was a Navy and Coast Guard veteran and my cousin’s boyfriend (who’s basically part of our family) is also a Coast Guard veteran and my dad is in the Air Force auxiliary. The military has always been a part of my family’s life so I think running MCM will be a great way to honor that tradition.

While I will never forget my experience at Big Sur, it was my first after all and you never forget your first, I have a feeling Marine Corps is going to be really special. Training begins on July 8, let’s do this!

Post-Marathon Recovery for First-Timers

Before I begin, this post should really be titled, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,” because I haven’t exactly followed my post-marathon recovery schedule to a T. But, that being said, I’ve made sure to follow the number one rule of not just recovery but training in general and that is listen to your body.

The two days following Big Sur left me in a state of pain I’ve never felt before. I live in a second floor apartment and when I got home from Big Sur I looked up at the stairs like they were Hurricane Point (round two). Little did I know, it was going down the stairs the next morning that would prove to be the hardest. (Pro tip: go down the stairs backwards, holding the railing. It’s easier on your quads and you don’t have to stare down the Everest below you.)

Finally, on Wednesday, three days after Big Sur, I was actually feeling pretty good. Not great, but a little farther away from death than the previous two days. I even thought about going out for a quick run but pulled back the reins and did some yoga instead.

On Thursday, I ran three glorious miles and actually felt surprisingly awesome. Then, on Friday, I ran again, this time a little bit longer. And then I accidently ran a progression run on Saturday finishing at 7:37 pace. Ooops. Again, do as I say not as I do.

Progression run

So Sunday I took a rest day and did some yoga and strength exercises instead. Now it’s Monday and I’m ready to get back into my 5-day-a-week running schedule. But it’s not going to look the same as my marathon training 5-day-a-week running schedule and it shouldn’t and yours shouldn’t either, first-timers.

As a first-time marathoner, navigating the post-marathon waters can be tough. You’re used to training really hard, running really long and forcing yourself to do challenging workouts. But you should view the few weeks following your marathon to be as important as any of the weeks during your pre-marathon training schedule. Messing up during these first few weeks following your 26.2 victory lap can lead to overtraining, burn out and worse, injury.

To make sure you recovery from your first marathon in a safe and healthy way, follow some of these tips:

  1. Listen to your body- This is especially important in the days immediately following the marathon. Don’t start running until your body tells you it is 100 percent ready. Even if you feel like enough time has passed and you can start up again, don’t do so if you have any lingering soreness or pain.
  2. Keep moving- That being said, it’s extremely important to keep moving in the days following a marathon. Go for a walk, do some yoga, spend a little time stretching. Whatever activity you choose try to keep those muscle moving to loosen up some of the lactic acid that build up during a marathon.
  3. Hydrate and fuel- The body burns an incredible amount of calories during a marathon so it’s extremely important to refuel in the one to two days following the marathon. Also, be sure to keep your body hydrated to avoid additional muscle soreness due to cramping.
  4. When you do run again, run easy- If you’re like me, you’re going to be super excited when you start to run again but slow down, Forest Gump. It might feel good to run your first run fast but you’ll pay for it the next day. Keep a very easy conversational pace on your first few runs out of the gate and don’t be afraid to walk a little.
  5. Get a massage- According to some of my seasoned marathoning friends, the best time to get a massage is 48 hours after the marathon. I didn’t get to test this theory but if you’re a fan of massages, I say go for it! However, be sure to go to a sports masseuse and let them know you just ran a marathon.
  6. Enjoy the downtime- After I crossed the finish line at Big Sur my first thought was, “I can’t wait to do that again!” Ok, I wasn’t ready to do it again right away but I am definitely planning my next 26.2 for the fall. However, I have at least two months of down time between training cycles so I want to enjoy it. My advice? Spend time with friends and family who you didn’t get to see when you were out for hours on the weekend doing your LSD runs.

I’m still navigating the post-marathon roads and am open to any and all advice! What do you do in the weeks following a marathon to recover?

{Monday Motivation} Finishing Only Stokes the Fire

It’s no surprise that running can be addicting. You can’t possibly pump your body full of that many endorphins and not expect to get addicted to it. Well, I recently found out marathoning is no different. From the moment I crossed the finish line at Big Sur just over a week ago, I haven’t stopped thinking about my next marathon- when will it be, where, how will I do, can I finally set a time goal? So, when I saw this graphic on Pinterest, I thought it was perfect for this week’s Monday Motivation. Happy running this week!


10 Tips for Running the Big Sur International Marathon

Bixby BridgeIf you read my full recap of last weekend’s Big Sur International Marathon, you’ll know I had a lot to say. My recap was mainly a selfish means for me to be able to remember all the amazing things that happened race weekend. But to me, some of the best and most useful race recaps are ones that include tips for actually running the race. Whether these tips are something the runner did during the race that worked for them, or things their friends did that worked, it’s helpful to know a bit more about how to run the course than to just hear about how great it was for one particular runner.

So, that being said, now that a few days have passed, and I’ve been able to reflect on my own experience, I’ve come up with a list of 10 tips and lessons to help you run Big Sur, if you ever are so fortunate to get the chance. Some of these tips are things that I did during the race and others are things my friends did that really worked for them. But I think as a whole, this list is pretty solid and if I ever get to run Big Sur again, I’ll be taking advantage of these tips.

  1. Look behind you- Big Sur is considered one of the top destination marathons in the world and it’s no thanks to the breathtakingly beautiful views you’ll see while running along the “ragged edge of the western world” (a.k.a. Highway 1). While you should take total advantage to the views ahead of you, to your left and even to your right, please don’t forget to look behind you, especially when you summit a hill. Around mile 7 a course marshal rode by us on his bike and yelled, “Look behind you!” and let me tell you, the view was incredible!
  2. Bring a camera- I actually did not take pictures while running Big Sur but I’m almost a little sad I didn’t because it would have been amazing to capture some of the views I saw. Since it was my first marathon, I wanted to really focus on running the course and not have to stop to take photos but again, if I got to run Big Sur next year I would absolutely take pictures.
  3. Go watchless- Another tip I didn’t do personally but two of my friends ran the course without a watch and one of them set a huge PR. Due to the hills, Big Sur is a great course to run a negative split on (at least that’s what Jeff Dengate, the gear editor here at RW said). But I know many other runners who have run great races at Big Sur without a watch. I decided to run with my watch though because it was my first marathon and I wanted ALL that data!
  4. Listen to the sounds of the ocean, wind and footsteps- Big Sur is not a spectator-friendly course but it almost doesn’t matter because the ocean is your spectator for the majority of the course. The sounds of the waves, footsteps and the wind set the mood for a very tranquil, peaceful run. It’s really incredible how quiet it gets at some points during the 26.2 miles but I actually really liked it like that.
  5. Take the strawberries- For the love of all things that are delicious, take the strawberries at mile 23! You will not regret it. These strawberries were so unbelievably refreshing after 23 miles of Vanilla Bean Gu that I didn’t even care if they gave me GI issues for the last 3 miles (they didn’t by the way).
  6. Make friends with the other runners- I don’t know if this just happens at all marathons but there was a true sense of camaraderie among the runners on the course. I even made a running buddy during the last 7 miles and we crossed the finish line together. I think Big Sur lends itself to creating bonds among runners on the course because there aren’t many spectators. So, unless you plan to really take off at any point in the marathon, make friends with those running around you, odds are you’ll be with them for a few hours and they may be able to help you when you really need it.
  7. Talk to the locals- Roughly 4,500 runners ran Big Sur this year and as marathons go, that’s not huge. However, people fly in from all over the world to run this destination race. That’s cool and all but I talked to some of the Monterey County locals and they were some of the most interesting people I’ve met. There’s such a local, community sense to Big Sur with it’s traditions and history that really makes every marathoner feel special.
  8. Don’t worry about time- This is not going to be a PR course for everyone and you might as well throw your BQ aspirations out the door (although runners have and will continue to PR and BQ at Big Sur), so just enjoy it! Time is not a factor and the minute you stop worrying about it, the faster you can enjoy it. Need more convincing? My friend and coworker Megan did the Boston to Big Sur Challenge and ran Big Sur only three minutes slower than she ran Boston, two weeks beforehand. Her trick? No watch and no worry.
  9. For every uphill there’s a downhill- Sounds like common sense right? But this is something to look out for because with each hill you are graced with a downhill. Take those downhills too fast in an effort to bank time and you won’t be able to get up the next hill. The key to Big Sur is running the downhills slowly. The downhills give you a chance to catch your breathe but can do a number on your quads so take it easy and relax.
  10. Cherish that medal- The Big Sur medal is unlike other marathon medals because they are hand-crafted out of ceramic. Honestly, they’re just wicked cool and you earned it so wear it proud. I wore mine to the airport and the entire 6-hour plane ride home because when else are you going to be able to wear it?