Marine Corps Marathon Training – Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking forward Looking Back

It’s hard to believe but I am in the home stretch of Marine Corps Marathon training!

As someone famously once sang – THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!

By this time next Sunday – come hell or high water (yes the forecast is predicting rain) I will have completed my 6th Marathon.

I had my last long run of 16 miles 2 weeks ago at the rainy and cool Hartford Half Marathon and my last “big” Quality workout on Tuesday.

Family Photo!
All smiles!

I have one more “Quality” workout scheduled for early this week but  – I have officially entered Tapertown. I definitely have nerves -which hit me full on last night as the magnitude of 26.2 hit me like a ton of bricks – but I have been practicing positive visualization and repeating a couple of phrases (for a couple of weeks) to keep me in a good headspace.

I know all too well the rabbit hole of how negative thoughts can affect not only your outlook but also your race.  I have put the work in so now it is time for my muscles to recover enough to push me through “all the miles” on Sunday.

I have also been consciously hydrating, stretching and foam rolling and getting as much sleep as possible to make sure on the 28th I am ready to go!

So to keep a positive attitude and to sort of reflect on where I have come in the span of a year since I returned to running after my hip surgery – I  wanted to put “pen” to paper on 5 things I have learned over the course of THIS marathon training cycle.

5 Things I Have Learned

1 – There are no two ways about it – Summer running SUCKS!

I did not have the pleasure to truly “train” last Summer as I was running lower mileage until I had the tear in my left hip repaired.  I remember it being hot – but this Summer it seems mother nature decided to kick it up a notch. It was not just days, but weeks where as soon as I would step outside, I would start sweating.

I was working just as hard but my paces definitely slowed.   It seemed like the heat would never break but fortunately, within the last couple of weeks the temperature has finally started to drop- and as such my legs decided to wake up and get with the program.

Apparently, according to Mark, I feel this way every Summer – meaning I feel that my fitness has disappeared as soon as it gets hot.  He got a lot of “Whoa is me” discussions over the Summer (something I know he did not miss last Summer).

2 – Fueling your long runs actually works!

I admit for years I was one of those people that thought that I was a  badass if I could complete a workout consuming a little (or no) fuel as possible.

I don’t know what flipped the switch in my head but this marathon training cycle I was conscious about fueling myself before (Hello oatmeal!) during and after my weekend run.

I “Heart” Honey Stinger!

Pro- tip – Don’t think by “saving” calories you are doing your self any favors.  The purpose of marathon training is to find out what works for you – use these weeks as trial and error session.  Since I developed a sensitive stomach I am really glad I found out what works for me. I might have been in a world of hurt on October 28th I just used whatever was lying around!

3 – Listen to your coach ( There is a reason why he is the coach and you are not!)

You can’t run or train faster than your fitness at any given time – doing so will set you up for pain and possibly injury. (Actual text from my Coach)

I have been with James Mckirdy since he started McKirdy Trained and have never once regretted it.  He is kind, caring, and talked me off the ledge more times than I can count. Sometimes I even think that he and my husband are on the same wavelength 🙂

I was mad (for selfish reasons) when he moved to AZ – fearful that he would forget about me as he started coaching some amazing athletes. BUT you know what – that could not be farther from the truth – he has ALWAYS been there for me – before, during and after my hip surgery – through text, phone or email.

I know I could have trained for this marathon without him BUT I know I would probably have injured myself and not known when to “shut it down”.  

I go into this week not having been to physical therapy once this training cycle (a rarity).  I do have some “niggles”, aches and pains, but none of the “problems” I have had in the past have surfaced.  For that, I am extremely grateful!

4 – I am stubborn!

Hartford Quarter Marathon – So Windy!

If you have followed my journey either on my blog or Instagram – you would have noticed that starting in July I was dealing with some pretty serious stomach issues.  Like having to go to the bathroom in the before during and after EVERY SINGLE RUN. My body was revolting, which is not good when you are trying to fuel your body to get through marathon training.

I will write more about my diagnosis in a separate post but suffice to say I continued to train, even as I was trying to figure out what the heck was going on with me.  I have had a stomach of steel for years and it was troubling that all of a sudden, I could not keep anything down.

After some trial and error (as well as a colonoscopy- best sleep ever!) – I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease – Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  Basically, UC effects innermost lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum and symptoms include rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and pain.

Luckily my cousin ( Hi Brian!) recommended a great UC doctor.  He put me on a medication cocktail and advised me to continue with the dietary changes I had made (no dairy and low, low gluten).  It has worked (knock on wood) and I have been able to continue to train.

My coach was really supportive of my decision to train – he asked one time after my diagnosis what I wanted to do.  I told him I had already been training BEFORE I had a diagnosis and I wanted to continue. IF it was too much then we would re-assess.  

As a result – more of my workouts were in places where porta potties were nearby BUT I still put the miles in and did the work.

In August I was afraid I would crap myself on the course – now I am in a much better place and that thought is the farthest thing I think about.

5 – Regular maintenance (chiropractic treatment, massages, and stretching) are the basic keys to recovery and remaining injury free

Apparently running is hard on your body 🙂

Seriously, though, I have been an ardent believer in chiropractic treatment for years  – I just was never consistent about it. I would fall off the wagon and then once something felt “off” go in for a quick fix.  I have learned that regular maintenance has really helped me remain “unjammed’.

Same with stretching and foam rolling – even just a couple of minutes a day has helped my left not feel as knotty and angry with me.  And one “tool” that has helped me (and really was the cheapest to buy) – I lacrosse ball. It gets into all those hard to reach spots – especially my piriformis.  

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