One year ago I was two weeks away from running my first marathon - the inaugural Seattle Rock 'N' Roll (race report). Two weeks from now I will compete in my third marathon - the 2nd annual Seattle Rock 'N' Roll. As I begin my taper I thought it important to take a look back and take stock of where I am.
This time last year I had put in a measly 37 hours and 21 minutes of running training. I have put in 66:19 this year.
This time last year I had put in 41:08 in total training. This year - 86:35.
Note that this year I broke my toe and was thus out for six weeks. I did, however, add cycling into my cross-training during this time and have also added yoga into my routine this year.
At this time last year I had developed ITBS due to overuse and a rapid increase in mileage run. This year, I have had some minor issues with my ITB but have adopted the roller and kept it looser. I have also added yoga, trail running, and done specific IT Band workouts to strengthen my lateral leg muscles.
As mentioned I did break my toe in a non-running related injury that sidelined me for six weeks. I have also dealt with calf and ankle issues from incorporating barefoot / minimalist running but have RICE, rolled and trained my way through those issues.
Diet & Nutrition
Last year I was generally watching what I ate but still allowing myself to eat things I knew were junk and / or unhealthy. I lost a few pounds during training (early on) but generally maintained weight (which is good). I was not focused on fueling for the race or generally during training.
This year I have been a vegetarian for eight months (generally - I will eat fish from time-to-time). When I picked up my running in earnest at the end of last year I easily lost 15 pounds and have maintained that weight for the past several months. I am very picky about what I eat - no junk and generally nothing processed. I have cutout bad stuff like HFCS and non-organic fruits and vegetables on the "Dirty Dozen" list.
Overall I believe this change has led to better recovery and better running. At the least it has made me feel much better than my previous diet.
I have also (albeit recently) started thinking much more about proper fueling in-race as I think about how I will get through my upcoming ultra. I have a strategy for marathon day that will be practiced on the road tomorrow.
Last year it was all about "getting the long run in." I started training quite late and ramped up my miles very aggressively as a result. I have been fortunate in that I can usually push the boundary of mileage gain without injury or overtraining but ultimately this led to my overuse injury in early June (and a bunch of non-running frustration during the month of June).
This year I started training early and just ran to get in the base miles. Once I had my base established I sought to increase speed with Interval and Tempo workouts while adding distance slowly to my long runs. At every point along the way (as a result of my better job building a base) I was ahead of my schedule from the previous year and running much faster on average.
I moved from speed work to trail work during May to begin preparations for my first ultramarathon. I added hill work to build more strength and stamina in my legs. I also started running more on feel than adhering to my strict training schedule.
I believe both phases have brought better running to my life. I feel faster as a result of the speedwork and have a better idea how much harder and faster I can push myself. But trails and hills has brought more joy to my running and that is ultimately why I run.
Last year I had support from my girlfriend and family but not much else past that. Office workers are generally confounded (and still are today) as to why I would want to run 26.2 miles.
Today I am on twitter and have found a very active and supportive running community. It helps to know other people who are as crazy (or likely crazier) than you, to share stories, pitch ideas and plans and generally see if you are taking a sane approach to your running. For this group I am generally thankful and appreciate all the support and advice I've gotten in the past few months.
Overall, I am in a much better place than one year ago and know that when race day comes I am going to impart my will on the Seattle Rock 'N' Roll.