There are 5 weeks between me and the start line of the Phoenix Marathon (4 weeks 6 days technically) and although I haven’t come close to a 20 mile long run, I feel prepared and confident about the race. Despite a serious lack of run training in the last 2.5 weeks since the ankle sprain, I’ve continued to train by cycling, aqua jogging, doing Pilates, mini core and strength sessions and logging time on the elliptical. I’ve been eating healthy and treating my body right and I feel fit and strong.
The Friday before last I had my first 1 mile run, I ran 4 times this week, including today’s 90 minute run (plus 1 hour elliptical). After getting this week’s running data, my coach Maria told me that I haven’t lost any of my running fitness! This is great news because based on my performances at my end of December 10k and Half Marathon, I was already just about ready to run a 3:35 marathon. This means with 5 more weeks of training, I still have a great chance of getting my coveted BQ.
Every since my pep talk with Mike last week, my state of mind about this race has dramatically changed. Not to mention, the great response I got from the blog post I wrote about – it means so much to have so many of you cheering for me! Part of that pep talk I had, I wrote down a list of things I CAN control about the race. I’ve decide to give myself the best shot possible at a BQ in Phoenix. And worrying about not qualifying isn’t going to get me there, so no, it’s not on the list. Here’s what is:
- Stay positive. Believe I can do it.
- Practice race nutrition before and during every long run. I even plan to wake up extra early before my 3 hour run and eat my pre-race breakfast and try to simulate the race as best as possible. I think that I underfueled at the OC Marathon and I don’t want that to happen again! I also purchased salt pills which are highly recommended from a friend and I plan to use those and see if that helps as well.
- Get plenty of sleep. I’ve been sleeping a TON on the weekends lately and despite 5:30 wake up calls most morning I still get at least 7-8 hours.
- Continue to RICE my ankle and do my flexibility and strengthing exercises to ensure it is fully recovered.
- Drink less alcohol and eat as clean as possible until the race. I’m already envisioning the beer and french fries I’ll be consuming post race.
- Don’t eat junk food the week before the race. This is a big one for me – I always see the week before a marathon as time to indulge in sugary, heavy foods and rationalize it as “carboloading.” What I need to do is stick to simple carbohydrates that will fill me up without bloating me up! This is even more important since I don’t eat dairy regularly – eating 2 bagels with boat loads of cream cheese two days before a key marathon isn’t a good idea (and finishing them off with cookies).
- Read “The Unbeatable Mind” and “Once a Runner.” The first is a book written by a former Navy Seal about how to control your thoughts and increase your mental toughness and the second an inspirational running book.
- Do not skimp on post-race nutrition; drink my recovery drink after every long run and hard workout.
- Stretch more – especially hips!
- Try to not overbook my social and work schedule the weeks leading up to the race. I have some big deadlines and projects coming up at work which means I may be working longer hours in the next month. I need to try not to internalize the stress and also not over plan social activities which will decrease my sleep and increase my chances of breaking step #4.
- Practice race visualization and meditation. I want to dedicate a full post to this so look for more information on this later.
Despite the list above, I also know that if I don’t succeed in them all, that doesn’t mean I won’t have a great race. These are just guidelines that will better my chances. If I get less sleep one night or eat pizza, it’s not going to mean anything. It’s more about consistency – these are all practices that I need to be consistent with, not perfect at.
Of all of the above, I believe that #1 and #11 are the most important. The shift in my state of mind about this race in the last week has been dramatic. Although not much has changed (well except that I’m actually running now), I have gone from wanting to throw in the towel since I was already “pushing it” training for a race with so little time, from now wondering just how fast I can go. Every negative thought about the race that enters my mind, I coherently try to push it out. Just as I wrote the sentence about wondering how fast I could go, a thought popped in my mind, “What if you don’t go fast and then you feel like an idiot for writing that on your blog?” and immediately I pushed it away. Negatively has no home in my mind.
So, with 5 weeks to go I’m focusing on what I can control, not what I can’t. I know that things are going to come up during the race and the only thing I can control is how I react to it. However, thinking positive isn’t always my first reaction so practicing it will be key. So here’s to a successful 5 weeks of training that will set me up for the race of a lifetime.
What do you try to control going into a race?