Only a few days post race and I am already recovering very nicely. But I am still so excited about my 22 minute PR! It has been a while since I last ran a marathon, so there was definitely room for my training to improve and result in a faster time. I’m going to break this post down into a few sections: what I changed during my training, what I changed during the race, and what I will change in the future to improve my marathon time.
-What I changed in my training leading up to the race
I increased my strength training, speed training, and extended my long runs. Now you may be thinking, isn’t that everything? Well, yes. But I increased strength training as more of a regular workout. I made sure to add those strength trainings in and my entire body is thankful for it. Speed is something that I seriously lacked in previous marathon trainings, and this time around I realized how important it was. It helped get me more comfortable running faster for longer. I wasn’t scared of pushing it a bit, even in the longer race. Last, but certainly not least, I extended my long runs. Now, every time I have trained for a marathon in the past I have put the biggest emphasis on long runs, mostly because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the total distance. This time was a little different. I got my long runs in early. I made sure I scheduled everything far enough in advance to make sure that I wouldn’t risk messing up my training if I have to reschedule a long run. I ended up doing my longest run twice. Before heading to the starting line I knew I could run the distance. I knew that my body could do it. The new question was how long would it take me to get there?
-What changed during the race
Having a few marathons under my belt, I had a better idea of where my mental wall was within the race. Knowing this made me better aware of how to deal with it. I remembered from my last race that I hit the wall at mile 18. It is far enough into the race to be tired, but far enough from the finish to not have an end in sight. I went into the race ready to hurt at mile 18, but trying to prep myself the rest of the race to get there. I was right, the wall hit at mile 18, but I had run the entire beginning of the race prepping for that wall, knowing it was going to hurt. I had run the first half at a quick pace, so that I could slow down a bit in the harder miles and my time would even out fine. I also knew that mile 18 was so much more mental than is was physical. I was able to push through mile 18 relatively unscathed, and then come out with a hefty PR.
-What I will change in the future
Though I knew mile 18 was going to hurt, I was not prepared for how much miles 19-23 hurt. If you think about it, that’s just 4 miles. That is nothing compared to that race as a whole, but in the moment, it felt like those miles were going to break me. After the fact, I realized that if I could have pushed through those miles a bit more with a better mental state, I probably could have run them much faster. My body could do it. I know that because I am recovering really well. I know that I am physically capable. The trick is to get my mind ready for those miles in the later part of the race, when my legs start to scream. I need to work on getting my second half miles a bit closer in pace to my first half miles. I need to do a lot more squats. Like all the time. Knowing that those muscles were the ones in my hips and glutes that needed extra help. Each race is a learning experience that will help guide me toward the next race, so next time I’ll be even more ready than before.