Jess Runs Boston 2018 – January report

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boston marathon training

Jess Runs Boston 2018 – January update

After two months of inconsistent, casual running that was completely technology free, I felt ready and refreshed starting a new training plan in January. At the beginning of the month, my husband gave me a new Garmin watch, the 735XT, for my birthday. I was very excited to get a new watch as my old watch was very outdated; it had a slow satellite connection and the buttons were progressively becoming more unreliable.

During my first week of running with the watch, before I received my official training plan, I was surprised to see how fast I was running for my easy run days. For some of my usual routes, I was running paces 30 seconds faster than what I usually would do when I was in my peak marathon shape, without feeling like I was trying that hard

Needed a break

I’ve always been in-tune with my body and I was glad that I listened to it when it told me to take a break after completing the NYC Marathon on November 5. For the first four weeks after the marathon, I wanted little to do with running, and I was enjoying spending my time on other things. Once December came, I started to feel ready to run more consistently, but I still didn’t feel like going on long distance runs or breaking a sweat on the track. Taking a break from intense training is very important to me as it helps me stay healthy and happy.

Being on a strict schedule of regular workouts was not only physically exhausting, but mentally exhausting as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love to challenge myself and I do enjoy training hard, but I needed time to find myself as Jessica the non-runner and rekindle my love for running again.

‘Oh Track, I missed you’

My mom was in town for the following week, and I had to improvise some of my workouts. I was able to get all of my miles in, but had to modify both of my track workouts. I’ve had to modify workouts in the past, and I’ve learned that it’s OK to do that! You won’t sabotage your training by adjusting the plan, you just have to be smart about it; life happens, and sometimes, you just have to go with the flow.

Expecting that my mother was flying in on Saturday, I moved my long distance run to Friday. I tried to run at the track the following Monday for another mile repeat day (a 2 mile and then a 3 mile repeat) with a faster target time of 6:18, but there was a game at the stadium, and I had to resort to the dreadmill in my crowded and uninteresting garage. The only way I get through a hard workout while staying motivated on the treadmill is to listen to music (a little Ice Cube, anyone? Life ain’t a track meet…it’s a marathon…). Despite some upbeat music, my workout was only fair, and I was wishing that I was running on the track instead.

Sometimes you have to improvise

After completing my first week of two track workouts (hello, 400 meter repeats and fast-twitch muscle fibers!), my legs weren’t feeling very fresh when I ran my first official long distance run on Saturday. I was expecting that though, and I was still pleased with the run. For the week’s first track workout of mile repeats, my goal pace was 6:24 for 2 sets of 2 mile repeats with 2 minutes of a standing rest break in between. I successfully completed the workout without side-stitches, negative thoughts, or intense urges to stop (hallelujah!).

For my NYC training cycle, going to the track for mile repeats was my most dreaded workout, because I didn’t feel like I was getting any better- the repeats always felt so darn hard! I could run around a 6:15 pace consistently, but I wasn’t able to improve upon that time, and my effort always seemed to feel harder than it should have. Feeling like that shattered my confidence at the track and left me frustrated. Later on, I discovered that my problem stemmed from iron-deficiency, but unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until 2.5 weeks before my marathon. This time though, the repeats felt doable and I was able to hit my target times (confidence booster!).

It’s ok to adjust your plan

For my next workout on the track, I had to move it from Wednesday to Thursday. Wednesdays are typically my speed days, but mom and I did some hiking in Sedona that day, so I didn’t get any running miles in. I made it to the track on Thursday instead to run 1,000, 200, and 400 meter repeats. The 1,000 meter repeats kicked my butt! I completed 3 repeats at a 5:40 pace, which felt blistering fast, but I was able to hit my pace each time. I then completed 2 X 200 meter repeats, finishing them in 36 seconds, faster than my 38 second target.

Unfortunately, I ran out of time and needed to get back home to get mom to the shuttle for her trip back to New York, so I didn’t get to finish the 400 meter repeats (I felt satisfied with what I had done though, and felt very fatigued after completing the 1,000 meter repeats). I made up some miles on Sunday instead, going for an easy run only, in order to avoid overstressing my legs so that I could tackle another Monday mile repeat day.

Watch out, Boston!

My Monday mile repeats felt AWESOME. I had 5 X 1 mile repeats to complete at a 6:18 pace, with a 1 minute standing break in between. After warming up for two easy miles, my legs were feeling good, and I was working on a positive mental attitude-you can do it, focus on 1 mile at a time. My first 4 miles were completed at either a 6:15 or 6:14 pace, and I was able to finish my last mile with a negative split of 6:08.

I had a little help from a friend to run the last lap of each mile with me, which made the workout more fun and motivating. I couldn’t believe how controlled, consistent, and confident I felt. I did not experience this feeling on any of my mile repeats during my last training cycle, so I was very pleased.

Eating right

I couldn’t help but think about how nutrition may have played a role in my success on the track on Monday. The day before, I spent several hours in the kitchen making meals from scratch, getting recipes from Run Fast, Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes, by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. I made some High-Altitude Bison Meatballs, which were delicious. I intentionally chose this recipe for my iron-deficiency issues, and I was happy with the results! Although more pricey, bison might become a staple in my diet for this training period.

So far, January has been a successful training month. I’m going to continue to focus on a healthier diet, stretching and strengthening workouts at least twice a week, and maintaining positivity on the track. Bring it on, February!

About the Author

Jessica Clark

Since the age of 14 Jessica has been pounding the pavement, trails, track, meadows, and fields. She grew up in central Upstate New York and was part of her middle school’s first outdoor track team. She knew that running was for her after being on the school’s field hockey team and preferring the warm up and cool down laps over practice! Her school didn’t have a track to practice on, so they often improvised on the surrounding landscape of our small town, spurring her love for trail running. After high school, she became a collegiate athlete and was urged to join the cross country team to help condition her for the indoor and outdoor track seasons. As a middle-distance runner, she believed that running anything over three miles was very far, and kind of crazy. She trained very diligently the summer before her first cross country season, fearing incompetency, but hard training paid off; she excelled in cross country for the first season and then for three seasons thereafter. In her senior year, she qualified for and competed in the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. Read more about Jess on our Sponsored Athlete page...

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