Richmond Marathon Training – Week 1

Wahoo!!! This week was a GREAT start to marathon training.  I got to run in three different states, get lots of rest, and enjoy some cooler weather.  The break from work and training really did wonders for me and this was a good week of easing back into a routine.  This recap is a bit longer than most of my weekly recaps because so much happened this week!

The first three weeks of my training are all “easy” pace runs – which for me is going to be between 10:50-11:15.  My coach told me not to worry too much about pace right  now, just run at a comfortable, conversational pace…so that’s what I did!

Monday: Planned – 3 miles easy.  Actual – 3 miles @ 11:11 pace.  

I walked a half mile warmup to the little pedestrian path down by my parents’ house, and right as I was about to run I got a low battery notification on my watch.  I spent the first half of the out and back worried that my watch was going to die, but once I got to the turnaround I was able to stop stressing and enjoyed the run.  I kept on having to hold myself back from speeding up!

During the run, I met a gentleman I’d like to refer to as “happy runner”.  As he passed me from the opposite direction, he gave me the most cheerful, sing-songy “good morning!!” I’ve ever received on a run.  He reminded me a lot of this “morning’s here” guy on Friends.  He even looked a lot like him! When I saw him coming again after I turned around I found myself grinning as he approached.  A great reminder of how much a positive attitude can impact someone else!

The road to Richmond begins!

The road to Richmond begins!

Tuesday: Planned – 5 miles easy and strength.  Actual – 5 miles @ 11:24 pace.

I drove to a different part of the pedestrian path so I could do a 2.5 mile out and then back.  There’s a huge valley and hill in the middle of this path that I had the joy of doing twice.  However, I made a new playlist for this run and it made a huge difference! I realized Monday afternoon that my current playlist was causing me to speed up a lot because the music was so pulsing and upbeat (think: Pitbull, Calvin Harris, etc).  I made a new playlist with songs that I’ve never run to before, such as Tom Petty, some country music, Ace of Base, and even some Hanson! I found myself really looking forward to the new music and I was able to relax and maintain a steady, easy pace.  I have to say that this is probably the best run I’ve had in a really long time.  As a bonus, I saw happy runner again, twice!

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t do my strength training.  No excuses here, I could have easily of done a body weight workout, I just didn’t do it…

Wednesday: Planned – Active Recovery.  Actual: 2 mile run/walk with my mom, 30 minutes elliptical.

My mom is currently training for a 5k using intervals after taking some time off of running.  She’s done a couple of 5ks before, but had a bad run while I was home and seemed to be discouraged.  Getting back into running is hard, and no matter what you’re training for, it can be really easy to push too hard and then get frustrated.  I suggested that we go together so that I could pace her, with the goal of being consistent and conservative on the run intervals so that she can have the energy to finish the run.

I took her to the path where I’d been running since it’s a bit flatter than the hills by my parents’ house! I did my part to pace her and distract her with lots of talking.  We even saw happy runner, and he said “good morning my friend!!” to me as he passed us!

We finished the workout with a pretty consistent pace, and it was great to help her see that she CAN do it, but to focus on different parts of the training besides the pace.  This is something I talked to my friend Stephanie about this week, too.  At the beginning, it’s all about doing the workouts in a way you can finish them and build confidence.  I was really happy to get a message from my mom later in the week that she did the same thing again on her own!

Now I’ve run with both my mom and my dad, and it’s so great to be able to share something I love with the people I love.

Sweaty selfie after our run!

Sweaty selfie after our run!

After the run, I sadly had to pack up and hit the road.  As I was driving south, I passed through Richmond and got goosebumps and butterflies in my tummy as I passed the exit for Broad Street…the road where we’ll start the marathon! I then spent the next 6 hours jamming out to music in my car and getting completely and ridiculously pumped up for the marathon.

When I got to Charlotte, I hopped on Christina’s elliptical which was a great way to move my legs after sitting in the car all day.  We had an amazing burger that night which I didn’t take a picture of, since I was too busy stuffing my face.  But trust me, it was delicious.  As was the beer.

Thursday: Planned – 5 miles easy & strength.  Actual – 5 miles @ 12:06.

Thursday marked 100 days until the marathon!

100 days to go!

100 days to go!

We had a great run catching up and it went by really quickly, even though it was pretty warm out.  I went at Christina’s pace and it was a really relaxing run.

Post-run selfie, like always!

Post-run selfie, like always!

Thursday morning I finished the drive home which was uneventful (exactly what you want!).  I listened to some podcasts from the Marathon Training Academy and really enjoyed it, the podcast will definitely be on my rotation now!

After getting home and unloading the car up three flights of stairs, I was tired but made a sad attempt at strength training at home.  I did some squats, lunges, and step-ups but I’ll be honest in saying I really don’t think it counted.

Friday: Planned – rest day.  Actual – 45 minutes upper body and core strength training, deep stretch yoga.

I signed up for this class before I got my training schedule, so decided to go and just requested my trainer focus on all muscles above the waist.  I’m really terrible about doing upper body strength on my own because I’m so weak and I hate it….because I don’t do it.  Anyways, she definitely delivered and my arms were like jello when I left.  My trainer shouted to me as I was leaving: “good luck washing your hair tomorrow!”  Ha, thanks!

I went to deep stretch yoga Friday night and it was perfect after two days of driving.  I really missed my yoga classes while I was in Maryland and was glad to be back!

Saturday: Planned – 10 miles easy.  Actual – 10 miles @ 10:54 pace.

I tried a lot of new things this run.  I’m not sure which had the biggest impact, but overall, I felt really great!

The first change I made was with my pre-run food and timing.  My coach suggested I eat about 3 hours before I start running, even if that meant getting up, eating, and going back to bed.  We were starting running at 6am, so I can’t believe I did this, but….I got up at 3am to eat.  I nearly dismissed my alarm but forced myself up and stumbled into the kitchen.  I kept the lighting low (just used the microwave light) and ate a hard boiled egg, a half a bagel, and about a cup of strawberries with a half glass of water.  I went back to bed but had trouble falling asleep because of my reflux issues.  I did fall back asleep though and got up for the run.  I took a salt pill as I was getting ready (another first for me).  Next week, I’m going to try going back to sleep on the couch so I can prop myself up and keep the reflux at bay.

I decided to meet up again with MARC, a group I did a lot of long runs with during my first marathon training cycle.  They’re a great and welcoming group.  There is always a mix of paces and distances, so you’re sure to find someone to run with no matter what’s on your schedule.  I paired up with a woman I hadn’t met yet, Maggie, and we headed out.  We started out what felt a little fast, but soon settled into a good pace.  I was able to talk to her the whole time – which made the run go by quickly!

In my new Run RVA tank after my run

In my new Run RVA tank after my run


The other big thing I changed was trying out new mid-run fuel and the timing of my fuel. Previously, I had only been using Shot Bloks, and taking 2-3 bloks every 4 miles.  Right before my warmup, I took 2 shot bloks.  I drank water throughout the run (I brought my handheld bottle) and took two energy gels – one at 40 minutes in, the other 40 minutes after that. I also took a salt pill a little after mile 5.  I only had Gatorade after the run was over.

The first gel I took was the Huma Chia Energy Gel in Lemonade Flavor.  I got this in my StrideBox recently so decided to try it.  I heard that Huma is really good on sensitive stomachs, so I thought it would be good to take first.  The flavor wasn’t bad and it went down pretty easily.  About 15 minutes after I took this, I felt it, and in a good way.  I suddenly got a huge surge of energy and even though we were on a hilly part of our route, I was rolling right along! I really liked this gel.

The second gel I took was Accel Gel in Chocolate Flavor.  I chose this one because it’s what’s going to be on the course in Richmond.  Even if this isn’t what ends up giving me the best boost, I wanted to see if it would upset my stomach.  The flavor was really good – it was very, very chocolate-y.  I’m not sure I could take this flavor for an entire race though.  The consistency was better than the Huma, it was a lot thinner.  However, I didn’t really notice a boost from this one like I did the Huma.  My stomach was fine with it, and I had energy throughout the balance of my run.  I could have not felt the boost though because I had already gotten a boost…who knows! I did get a little hungry toward the end of my run, so I’m going to add another hard boiled egg to my pre-run meal next weekend.

New Fuel

New Fuel

I was really, really nervous trying new fuel, so I’m happy that neither gave me stomach issues.  I had some pretty bad issues trying new fuel during the last marathon training, so I ended up going back to what I knew without forging ahead with experimenting.  I’m looking forward to trying out some different fuel options next week.

I ran with Maggie most of the route, then we split around 7.5 miles because she was doing the 17 mile route.  I finished the run by myself on the Silver Comet Trail which was shady and cool.  Towards the end of the run, my legs felt tired and a little achy, and I thought I was starting to feel a hint of tightness in my IT band.  It’s been awhile since I’ve done a long run on a hilly route, and I really felt it.  I also haven’t really done good strength training in a few weeks, which certainly made a difference, too.  My quads and calves were definitely achy the rest of the day.

I had breakfast with a few of the other women in the group and it was great to chat with them.  One woman ran the Richmond Marathon last year and was raving about it.  I’m looking forward to running with them again over the next few months.

Sunday: Planned – rest day/yoga.  Actual – Long walk with Skipper, Yoga for Runners.

I got up early and took Skipper on a nice long walk while the sun was rising.  I had some errands to run, and ended the day with Yoga for Runners and a mani/pedi.  The yoga class was just what I needed and my legs felt so much better after stretching them out!

Overall, it was a really solid week. I did a lot of the little things I needed to do: warmups, cooldowns, foam rolling.  I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried some new things for fuel.  I could have done better with my strength training, which I’ll work on next week. Next week will present new challenges, since I’m starting my new job! I’ve tried to pre-plan as much as possible so that I can still get my workouts done as I try to get used to a new routine.  My big goal for the week is to be sure I get my strength training in, and I’ve done some planning to be sure that it happens.  Next Saturday I’ll run with MARC again, and we’re running a hilly route, so the whole week will be about getting stronger.  My legs are already tired thinking about it!

Tell me: have you tried new fuel recently? What kind of mid-run fuel do you take usually?

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