Winter Training & This is Just the Beginning!
I started my training schedule at the end of November when the weather was relatively temperate so it got off to a good start. I was already doing about 30 miles a week give or take with some strength & speed work too so I jumped forward a few weeks on the 18 week training plan I had chosen to fit in with the running and workouts I had already been doing (rather than taking a step back to start at the beginning of a plan and reducing my mileage - that just seemed pointless). It happened to work well because there wasn't 18 weeks left until the Rock & Roll Marathon I was planning on signing up to anyway (now there are only 10 weeks to go...)! I messed around with the plan a bit to begin with did the odd longer run than was not prescribed quite that early which I know is not recommended for risk of over training but I did try cut down in other runs to compensate and I was really enjoying them. What can I say, I felt good and wanted to support a friend who is doing also doing her first marathon which, incidentally, is coming up this weekend - and I'm so excited for her! So I would definitely do it again. I had initially become really keen on the idea of a marathon after being truly inspired by reading about and following the race stories of many amazing Mamas from Moms RUN This Town Northern Virginia who ran the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2013, so then being lucky enough to share some of my buddy's long runs and marathon training journey really sealed the deal for me and very soon I put my money where my mouth was and sign up.
So the plan was going well...
AND THEN THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS ARRIVED! Oh my God... we were SO RIDICULOUSLY disorganized this year (did you notice I said ‘we’ there… well it was really me that was responsible really as I had plenty of time to sort stuff out but hubby and I are a team so I can say 'we' and share the blame - ha)! It’s always hard to maintain any kind of routine around Christmas and New Year, but it wasn't helped by the fact we were all charging around until the last minute pressie shopping and wrapping until 2.30am on Christmas Day morning and you can forget eating healthily, moderation and what harm did the second glass of mulled wine or minced pie do anyway?!! My boys' mantra became "but it’s the holidays" (usually around bedtime oddly) and so by the time Christmas arrived, the whole family flopped. My boys (hubby included) really needed a rest after a very busy end to 2013 so as a family we didn’t push to go very far or achieve too much during the school break which was probably a bonus really because my training schedule continued at full speed (no punn intended) so the only distance I was travelling really was in my running shoes, and I truly don’t know how I would have fit it in at all if we’d been away or had lots of elaborate plans!
Most of the holiday passed with relatively good weather to run here in DC, but there's nothing like pointing out the obvious so I'll do it - it was COLD! Not ‘Polar Vortex’ cold like now but cold enough to have to break out some of the winter running gear I should been set to receive on Christmas morning! ;-) On the up side, I have to say the sunshine here in DC is just so beautiful. I'm sure as a Brit I am just so used to grey skies (and don't misunderstand me I do LOVE England - they're very nice grey skies and all ;-)), but there is something about seeing a cloudless blue sky that makes me smile, feel brighter and happier and that feeling will never get old - I just LOVE IT! Despite good conditions though, bizarrely I really felt like my motivation had taken a kicking and my usual keenness to hop out of bed and go straight out for my run had evaporated completely and I just wanted to stay curled up in my bed under the blanket. I just couldn’t be bothered AT ALL and found myself procrastinating in the mornings and leaving myself less time to get ready so that I could squeeze in just a few more minutes sleep. I somehow did keep managing to drag myself out so mentally I must have overcome those negative 'stay in bed and sleep' vibes so I tried to analyse what it was that kept me on track.
The underlying fear that I would fall behind in my training... because I REALLY want to give it my best at that marathon!
The knowledge that I NEVER come back regretting having gone for a run…. You just can’t beat that runners high!
Often knowing I was meeting up with other mamas who were ready to head out and pound the pavement with me. Its harder to roll over and go back to sleep when other people are waiting for you! Left to my own devices completely though, I wonder whether I might have missed a few more runs? Thankfully I didn't have to find out what it would be like to fall off the wagon completely so to those mamas (I hope you know who you are), thank you for keeping me going when I needed it.
Ironically, despite my lack of motivation that week, out of the BAD came several GOOD runs in beautiful places with great friends. I think one of those holiday runs will be forever in my memory runs as one of my favourites. Christmas Eve morning was cold but crisp and beautifully clear - just perfect conditions. I met up with a bunch of Mamas from my Moms RUN This Town running group at Roosevelt Island in DC and we all ran around the monuments, stopping for photos at The National Christmas Tree and The White house. It was beautiful, incredible and I honestly felt emotionally overwhelmed. It was like something from a movie and cheesy though I know it all sounds, I felt so incredibly lucky to be able to do it on that day of the year when it was quiet and beautiful (and the 8 mile distance fit perfectly in with my training plan which was a bonus)!
Isn't it odd to have some of the most beautiful runs in gorgeous locations with arguably wonderful running weather (cold but in the right gear, comfortable) and still feel a bit demotivated? Well if it wasn't BAD enough to be fighting to stay motivated, then came the UGLY…. It started with a beautiful family walk just after Christmas on what was meant to be my rest day. I’d found a beautiful route with friends and wanted to share it but had forgotten quite how far it was from our car to a pretty river overlook we’d got to when we’d run the same route. Before we knew it, we’d walked 3 miles out from the car. It might not sound a lot we obviously had to walk back again and my 7 year old hasn’t walked that far before! We all managed it back as the sun was setting and the temperature, which was already cold, was dropping rapidly (there was all sorts of glove sharing and sweater swapping going on with the kiddies), it was a beautiful walk but badly planned. None of us had walking shoes on that day, as none of us thought we'd be walking that far and jeez did I pay for it! I hadn’t noticed whilst we were out, but as soon as my boots were off at home, the ball of my right foot was REALLY painful – I’d been wearing long winter boots. You know the kind that look nice with skinny jeans but have flat soles and offer sod all support to your feet! Yup… well I managed a medium run the following day but missed my looooong 16 mile run that weekend because I was limping around my house having clearly bruised it badly. Only ice relieved it and I couldn't even stand a gentle massage from hubby. Sunday I felt utterly miserable, grumpy, guilty for not running and stupid for not wearing the right gear to walk in when I make such an effort to wear the right stuff for running - how stupid can you get?! Does anyone else make illogical decisions like that or is it just me?!
With hindsight, the extra rest I took to give my foot a break and the odd missed run because of the holidays and fun family times probably did me good and by last week, my foot was better and aside from the strength training which I've missed for two weeks, I am back on track. I managed to bang out 8 on 'the DREADMILL' on Saturday for my medium run when the snow was at its worst on the ground, then I braved the freezing rain for my Sunday long run and it was hilly, it was cold and the monstrous great hill at mile 14.5 was an ABSOLUTE KILLER, but I did it - and LOVED it! Thank heavens for my Smartwool headband - it was a last minute purchase (thanks Deborah for looking after me) before the Vienna Turkey Trot 10K in November and possibly one of the set purchases I've made. I don't feel the need for a hat at all as it keeps my head and ears warm even when it is utterly baltic! It was even brilliant in the freezing rain it, it stayed put comfortably for the whole 17 miles and even when wet it stayed warm but not too warm! Just wish I could get my hands on another colour!
Yes, I’ve missed the odd run and even a long one, I've missed speed work & strength training and I'm desperate to fit those both back in again. But, I have to remember to be realistic about what is achievable at this busy time of year and what is reasonable to fit in around family so that I actually still spend time with them. All in all, I'm actually relatively pleased about how closely I’ve managed to stick to my plan even with my temporary lack of motivation, the lack of routine and my injured foot. Now the children are back at school (albeit late because of the incoming ....POLAR VORTEX... oooeer!) My mojo is back and I am ready to eat up my routine and fit in my training. Cant wait to get cracking! 10 weeks to go and though , something is becoming abundantly clear….. Marathon training is REALLY time consuming! I guess I better take the Christmas Tree down before my next run!
Goals for the next week...
I am getting really hungry and finding I am craving carbohydrates a lot. I want to seek out some really good, filling runner friendly (and family friendly if possible) recipes. Any ideas/ recommendations?
Did you find it hard to fit in your usual runs around the holiday and broken routine?
What do you do to keep yourself going on days or weeks that you feel demotivated?