Everyone is buzzing about the Dicks Sporting Good's Pittsburgh Marathon! Three weeks and two days to go (less than that, ahh!). Most people are analyzing if they ran long enough, hard enough, often enough, fast enough.... thats all well and good and when we talk about prepping for a running race, we often discuss out running training in preparation. We all put in the workouts and the long (long, long, long) runs. But lets take a moment and talk a bit about who RECOVERED enough! Its much more rare to discuss who napped the longest, who was about to get in stretching daily, or who was able to get through an entire book in a matter of a few days because the Netflix streaming was exhausted?
Stone arch bridge and the beautiful sunset on the Mississippi river, viewed form the Guthrie theatreAs I settled into Minneapolis after a long move and then a week long trip to Jacksonville and Savannah, Dennis (Coach) and I were ready to go full force into the long, paced workouts that a marathon cycle permits. The first up was a prescribed 3 x 5.5 mile look along the Mississippi Parkway. The morning was cold (21F) and windy (15-20mph winds) but in the warm up I was feeling fresh. The moment the timer started on the first repetition, I felt like I was hit my a bus and immediately felt winded. Heather (@HeatherRaeKampf) and Ben Kampf (@BenKampf1) were running with me, chatting the whole way. 6:02/avg for that rep and DYING. Rep two was only worse, coming through at 6:15/avg. WHAT WAS GOING ON!? Those paces should be easy, and workouts weeks prior indicated this. We cut the last rep and decided to call it a day.
Two rest days passed and then we decided to try again. 20 miles with 3 warm up, then 5x2 miles at 6min pace. Because it was cold and because we wanted to maintain a pace, Dennis and I hit up Life Time Fitness and the good ol' treadmill. the warm up again was easy, the first set was challenging but doable, but then the second rep came around and my heart rate was through the roof! I got through half of the third rep before we called it quits and finished the long run at a steady 7:30 pace.
I was frustrated. My mental strength was teetering and I was questioning my potential for PGH Marathon and my distance career at all. My legs would burn at 6 minute pace for two miles, which I have been able to crank out for 12+ miles before. So Dennis and I did a little body check-in. I got blood work done to check my iron levels, vitamin D levels, Liver function, vitamin and electrolyte panel, and the works. I also revisited Rasa, my nutritionist. Lastly, Dennis had me start taking my heart rate every morning right when I wake up. I take it for a whole minute and then text it to him. My tests were all in the normal range, with the only concern being that my iron was lower than it was just over a year ago. I am taking liquid iron supplements daily to help counteract that.
Another big flag was the morning after that failed treadmill run. My resting heart rate was 72. 72!! Thats not good. for an elite female athlete, my resting heart rate should be somewhere between 46 and 52. The next day it was in the mid 50s, and the next in the low 50s. We waited just one more day and then I did another workout, a 15 mile progression run. I felt so much better, starting in the 645s and working my way down into some windy 6:00-6:05 paced miles. Then, more work with making sure I was fueling enough and watching my heart rate following workouts, we were able to optimize my quality workouts by doing them when my resting heart rate indicated my body was ready.
The moral of this story is that running on tired legs is an important part of training and running, but not resting enough can completely sabotage performance! And even if your mind says "I'm ready to run hard" and evening if you feel decent in a warm up, it does not mean your body has fully recovered from previous work.
Jillian, Ryan, and I after the Ron Daws 25k!Thankfully, I have also had some other killer workouts since that series of failed workouts. Last Saturday (4/4) I raced a local Minnesota Distance Running Association run, the Ron Daws 25k, with my new, awesome friends Jillian (@gingerjillian) and Ryan (@Kingtholo). It was two sets of two hilly loops around Hopkins, MN. I went out conservatively, not wanting to crash and burn like I have done in workouts and races for over a month now. We gained roughly 850 feet and if it wasn't up, it was down, which made settling into a pace really tough. I got the 22-year-old female state record in the distance for the state of Minnesota and won with a time of 1:37.37, 6:17/mile average. Then, three days later I successfully kicked butt at a track session of 10x1 mile at marathon pace (between 5:47 and 5:54/mile) with a 2 minute jog in between. The wind on the first turn was brutal, but I had some awesome help with pacing from Ryan. My effort level wasn't at threshold pace (what a 10 mile race should be at, effort wise) and I was clicking off consistent 400m intervals in each set. It was work, thats for sure, but it finally felt like PGH Marathon is going to be a successful race! I am thrilled to be toeing that line, no matter what. But with this fitness and renowned confidence in my training -- running and recovery, alike -- I know I can race my best and go for my goals without a doubt in my mind.
On top of making sure to eat enough and to follow my heart rate, I have been on myself about doing all of the little things. I have listed below a few of my go-to recovery wins that may be interesting for you PGH Marathoners who are looking to maximize your rest and rehab in the next three weeks. I can't believe its already upon us and I can't wait to run with STEEL! #GameOnPGH #RestUpPGH
1. Compression Socks - my brand of choice is Zensah (cool colors and lasting compression)
Max, my roommate, calls this the "B-Boy Stance"2. Yeti - Onesies maximize comfort and are definitely NOT only for kids (@oiselle)
3. One Cup of Coffee a day, before 3 pm - I love coffee, but I can not sleep if I use it as an afternoon pick-me-up
4. Melatonin, when I need it - a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland (yes, we make it!) in supplement form. This hormone is released to promote sleep and to regulate sleep cycles. Its naturally degraded by the body and doesn't leave you comatose or drowsy in the morning.
My recovery station aka bed5. Naps, one a day if I can do it - because sleeping isn't only for the night time. 20-45 miles does the trick.
6. Taking walks in the morning before an afternoon session - being rested is important, but keeping blood moving is also essential to getting the metabolic waste out of your muscles and tissues so they can be happy and ready for the next workout
7. Being Verticle for 90 minutes per day - I prefer to read, but I have also finished over 4 different TV series' that I had started at some point over the past year.
8. Liquids - see my previous blog about my hydration habits. I <3 water
FOOD - see my previous blog about a day in the life (eat-style) for a marathoner
Mattie helps me roll out and helps herself to a free pet10. Stretching and rolling out, 5 minutes a day + 4 20-45 minute sessions - I have touchy hip flexors and upper flute muscles. I do a quick stretch set before and after a run, then a series of 10-15 stretches on my yoga mat in the evenings, too.