Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A few lessons...

In successfully training for the Potomac River Run, I learned a lot from my previous mistakes and I think I turned into a better runner because of it. This is just what worked for me!

First up: Make sure you're wearing the right shoes. 
For me, it was the Brooks Ravenna with green Superfeet orthotic inserts. This goes beyond going to a reputable running store and having them watch you run and tell you what kind of shoe to buy. I did this and was told I didn't overpronate, so I needed neutral running shoes. I bought them, but sometime always seemed a bit off...I felt like my arch wasn't getting enough support, and I'm pretty certain this is at least part of what led to my tibial stress reaction. If something feels off, it probably is, so return the shoes if you think you need something different. Most stores will do whatever they need to to make sure you leave happy and confident that you're wearing the right shoe.

Next, your training plan should increase your mileage 10% per week, with one "pull back" week where you do less mileage. I followed (and LOVED) Hal Higdon's Novice 2 marathon training plan for this marathon.
I really enjoyed this plan and would highly recommend it. In the past I followed the Smart Coach plan on Runner's World, but since I got injured while I was following it back when I was training for the Chicago Marathon, it felt a bit tainted to me this time around. Someone recommended Hal Higdon's plan to me and I have to say, I thought it was perfect. I just made sure to alternate mid-week runs between tempo runs and speed runs (à la Smart Coach). The plan is free, it's easy to follow, and it's from a world-renown running coach. What more can you want?

Well, I'm the type of person who wants a little bit more -- I like to have splits to focus on and having a speed goal in mind helps me. That's where the McMillan Training Calculator came in handy for me -- you input a recent race time (or goal race time) and it spits out the pace you should run for your speed workouts, recovery workouts, long runs, and more.
It's almost too much information, but I loved having it available to me. Runner's World's Smart Coach also has this feature (there's a free iPhone app for it too), but I feel like the McMillan one is more tailored to your time and has many more options.

I did my best to follow the plan, but I had a 17-day vacation about a month into training where I missed two full weeks of training. This was all part of my go-with-the-flow attitude, and I didn't freak out about missing a run here or there throughout the training. (I did, however, run all of the long runs, except for the ones that were on the training schedule while I was in Asia!)

Those were the main training-related things that I did, and guess what? I didn't get injured! I think something else that helped me was taking daily vitamins and calcium and vitamin D supplements. I can't say it helped my running, but it probably helped my bones stay strong and free of stress fractures. I also gave up meat for much of my training (and am still doing my best to remain a vegetarian), but I will probably write a separate post on my nutrition needs during training another time.

Right now, I'm following Hal Higdon's recovery plan and so far, it's been great. I'm running about four days a week, including a long run of 6+ miles over the weekends, and my legs feel great. In fact, I feel faster than ever! The first two days after the marathon were absolute hell (living on a fourth-floor walk-up was NOT easy when the time came to leave the apartment...ouch), but I feel like I've bounced back and am ready for more.

After this recovery plan, I plan on coming up with a workout routine that includes more yoga, more strength training, and some other fun cardio, like spinning and other classes (like cardio jam, which I'm attending tomorrow with my friend Katie!).

Another summer goal? To feel confident enough to run in just a sports bra. I think I can do it...


  1. Thanks for sharing your tips! I don't really like Smart Coach, but I use it as a guide and fill in the blanks with stuff from other plans. I've heard a lot of good news about the Hidgon and other plans, though.

  2. Yes, I'm the same way re: Smart Coach! I feel like was OK for my first couple of half-marathons, but now I'm just over it. I highly recommend Hal's plans!

  3. Ooooh exciting!! I am trying to incorporate exercise into my lifestyle, don't do enough of it. Starting swimming soon!! x