Signing up for and running a race is a huge accomplishment. Having a goal is a great way to stay on track and stay in shape. The part most people don’t realize is, race day isn’t the hardest part of the journey. Race day is the day you get to celebrate the hard work you have put in. My party day is coming in July when I get to put my training to use and run my first ultra marathon. In the meantime, I want to share some of the training process with you.
At this point, I am around 18 weeks out from my first 55k. I have been training for the last 6 weeks. A typical training for a marathon can be anywhere from 16 to 20 weeks and from my research, ultra-plans are 20+ weeks. When I research a plan, I look for runs that are going to work with my schedule. I have ran enough races to know, for me, 5 to 6 running days a week is ideal. The plan I am using this time, I found online and has my longest run peaking at 26 miles. This sounds intimidating but, any good training plan slowly gets you to where you need to be. By the time the 26 miler is on deck, you’re ready to rock. At this point, I am running somewhere around 20-30 miles per week spread out over 5 days. Now, as a working mom who is constantly busy, I keep my schedule pretty flexible. I will move run days around and even on longer runs I may split them up and run some in the morning and some after my kids are in bed. I spend the beginning of every week looking at my schedule to make sure I can fit my training runs in.
|My new training grounds|
A big part of training is trial and error. Finding the right gear, the right shoes and the right nutrition. This is why it’s training before the race, you get to see what’s going to work. Since I am new to trails, this training has been a lot of trying new shoes and apparel. I have returned a few pairs of shoes and went through a lot of socks just trying to find what’s going to work for me. Most good running retailers are more than happy to make sure you got what’s going to work for you. Running brands can be expensive, but I promise I am a thrifty person and I have no shame in shopping the clearance rack or getting unusual colors because they are cheaper. Stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx are great places to find cheap running gear and the Walmart brand running apparel isn’t that bad either when your starting out.
The make or break for me at a lot of races is what I eat before and during the race. I have had some races where the porta-potty stops were the highlight of the race. I have also had races where I didn’t have to stop a single time. All of that is a result of what you eat or don’t eat while you run. Use your training runs for practices. Try different foods and drinks. Research to see what options are available and try them all. Most running nutrition you can buy comes in small single servings and are incredibly cheap. There are always every day foods you can use too; raisins, candy, etc. There are no rules and everyone is different. I am working right now on trying small waffles, I have never been able to digest the gels very well so from experience I know I need to look elsewhere. I have even read chips and pretzels are available at longer ultra’s so I am going through each to see what’s going to work on race day.
I know running can be intimidating and seeing other people post about racing and training sounds scary. But, finishing a race is absolutely doable. Anyone can finish a race. If you are worried about being the last one out there, who cares? The last one to finish got their money’s worth. Plus, most races have very flexible finish times so, you can walk as much as you need to. Check races to see what their minimum paces are to help make your decision and relieve some of the stress you feel. For every one Kenyan out there who is running a blazing pace, there are thousands of regular Joe’s like you and me who will finish and be ecstatic. The only competition when you sign up for a race is you. So, make that leap, sign up for a race, and commit yourself to training. You will be amazed at what you’re capable of!
I’m not a coach but I have experienced all kinds of different races and had good and bad experiences; I will help and answer any question or comments about running so feel free to reach out!
|Braving the cold to get a run in|