Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NYC Marathon Training: What I've Learned

My taper for the NYC marathon officially begins next week. I've changed my approach this cycle and really enjoyed it, and I've learned quite a few things.

1. Running outside is better than running on a treadmill. I've always known this, but since my living situation in the past had limited me to running on a treadmill Monday-Friday (except during June and July) I wasn't able to see for myself. I still believe that running on a treadmill is good training, and runners can certainly make large gains through treadmill running alone. However, by running outside you get the added benefits of the sensation of running in a race, the hills, the terrain, and the pacing. Plus, it's just more fun. I really dread going back to a treadmill for those freezing mornings in January and February. I've been doing all of my intervals on a track-- which I didn't have access to before I moved into my new house. And it really feels like a race when you are controlling your pace and forcing yourself to push.

2. Fundraising isn't easy. One final plea to my blog readers, please donate $10, or even $5 to Central Park by clicking here. I have raised 88% of my goal at $2641.20. Every little bit helps maintain the park for the millions who visit each year. I'm very thankful to my friends and family who have donated, and the company that I work for was especially generous with a $300 donation.

3. Having a balanced attitude is more important than a PR. I was obsessed with qualifying for Boston for two years. I ate, drank and slept Boston and the magical 3:40 that would get me there. Despite my strong training and multiple significant PRs in other distances, I haven't gotten my marathon time down in over two years. That's over 4000 training miles since my 3:51 in March of 2008 and I haven't run a marathon any faster. So, back in May, after my most recent failed attempt, I just said "F" it. I wanted to focus on my upcoming marriage and my life with my husband. So, this time I have taken a much more relaxed approach. I wrote my own training program and I have been very loosely following it. Usually re-arranging it based on how my body feels. Most of my runs have been with my husband. I wrote his plan as well (slightly lower mileage) and he's been following it practically to the letter. My goal in NYC is not to run the best race I can, but to enjoy the incredible experience that is NYC with my new husband-- supporting him in his first marathon.

4. I love my running clothes. I have acquired far more outfits than I need, and I could probably go running every day and not need to do laundry for three weeks. I was folding my skirts this evening after doing the laundry, and just noticed how pretty are the colors are.

And that's just a few of them. I also have the winter-themed red skirt with the snowflake on the back and a few "spare" zebra print ones. Oh, and some black ones! Now that I am married I have twice as much running clothing to wash, and it's amazing to see it all hanging up on the drying rack.

5. Stretching isn't that important. I know there are many people who will disagree with me here. I think that if you are having chronic problems in certain areas, then stretching is crucial to keep injuries at bay. But I have really slacked on the stretching this training cycle and I've felt better than I ever have. It's probably just a coincidence, but now that I don't belong to a gym anymore, it's not part of my "routine" to go to the stretching area afterwards. I just walk in my door and go upstairs to shower. I usually do some quad stretches and ITB stretches, but not to the extent that I had been doing.

6. It feels great to bring home the hardware! My husband recently pointed out that I have won an age group award at each of the past three races I have run: a 5K in July, a 10K in September, and a half marathon in October. Wow! I have a strange feeling that this will not continue when I run the Army Ten Miler.

A quick training recap for the past few weeks:
Week of Sept 20: 58 miles
Week of Sept 27: 48.5 miles (includes half marathon)
Week of Oct. 4: 43 miles (recovery from half marathon, includes 18-mile run)
Week of Oct. 11: 60 miles on schedule, including 21-miler-- then the taper begins.


  1. As always, I love your post! You are one of the smartest runners I know. I'm so sad that I can't run NYC (still on the fence, but I know I shouldn't) "with" you, but will be cheering you on from the sidelines (or the way back of the pack).

  2. Love this post and I couldn't agree more about ALL points. I was in the same boat about being PR obsessed, trying to hit a certain goal. It was all-consuming and stressfull. When I finally let go and relaxed a bit, suprisingly I ran faster. I hope you find the same to be true. Either way, you will feel better about yourself.

    I also LOVE cute running clothes. It's almost ridiculous how attracted I am to them.

    Keep plugging along, girl!

  3. Great Post!!! Balance is always are those awesome running clothes. I have to weed mine out now that I saw yours.