Prepping for a Long Run when You’re a Nervous Nelly Like Me

First off, I have been a bad, bad blogger. I’ve been busy and honestly haven’t had a lot to say. But here I am and today I’m going to talk about some changes to my goals and my prep for a long run.

Shifting Goals:

You may recall that I had planned to run the Pengelly Double Dip this year. I’ve changed my mind and am putting it off until next year. My concern is that it is timed poorly for me with respect to the long runs scheduled for my class, and I would feel like a very bad Pace Group Leader if I injured myself out of the class at this point. I still do want to do the race very much, and hope that next year will be the right year for me.

Instead, I’ve decided to try to run the Blue Mountain 30K. It’s in October, so it will give me something to work toward after the Marathon, and it seems like quite the challenging race. It is a very limited race, though, so hopefully I manage to get a spot.

I’ve also decided to train up to 30 miles instead of just 26.2 this year. Jeff Galloway recommends training up to 29 miles for a speed boost, and since I really dislike speed training but feel really good about distance, I decided to give it a try. At some point I realized that I’d better just plan to go 30, because the truth is that I like round numbers as milestones.

Prepping for a Long Run:

Our Galloway class has a 20 miler scheduled tomorrow, and I plan to do 24, to stay on track with my training goal. I really am a bit of a Concerned Constance when it comes to these long runs. I tend to overpack my nutrition belt. I fret about what to wear, what to bring and so forth. I bet there are others out there like me, so I thought it might be fun to talk about.

For about 5 to 7 days before a long run I pay special attention to my diet and hydration. I make sure I drink plenty of water and limit my coffee and alcohol intake.  For about 4 or 5 days beforehand I also drink a bit of coconut water each day (I really don’t like sports drinks). Since I have a wheat sensitivity I take extra care with what I eat for the week before any run over about 15 miles. An accidental exposure to wheat would make a long run really miserable and potentially embarrassing.

This is my basket of goodies. What shall I take?!?

This is my basket of goodies. What shall I take?!?

Sometime during the week before the long run I take stock of my nutrition supplies and make a stop at Runner’s Edge to buy more. I nearly always end up with way more than I could possibly need, but I’m okay with that.

Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday before a Sunday long run I make sure to eat plenty of fiber. Lots of vegetables, salad, fruit and so forth. Dinner on Friday is when I start to dial back on the fiber, but usually it’s pretty balanced. Saturday, however, is a low fiber day. Different people have different strategies to keep from having to make urgent bathroom stops during a long run. Restricting my fiber the day before seems to work well for me, so that’s what I do.

The day before the long run I also trim my toenails. I cut them as short as I reasonably can to keep them from rubbing in my shoe. My toenails have never actually bothered me during a run, but I’ve had some terribly sore toes after a long run when I forgot to trim them.

And as I’m sure everybody does, I check the weather forecast and decide on what to wear, based partly on how hot it is supposed to get. I might try running in a singlet tomorrow, which would make it the first time I’d run long without sleeves. Last spring was cold and wet so I never actually went for a long run in a singlet. This year is shaping up to be a hot one, so now is the time to try, though I worry about chafe. I’ve got a tiny tub of Body Glide as well as other chafe prevention I can bring along, so I should manage just fine.

I usually remember to charge up my watch. Today I also changed the battery in my run/walk timer since I couldn’t recall when I last changed it.

My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s. Aren't they pretty?!?

My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s. Aren’t they pretty?!?

For this particular run I’m also worried about my shoes. I’ve got a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines that I bought on 4/19 and have worn for all of my runs since then. So far, the shoes feel great and I’m very happy with them, but all the runs they’ve gone on have been short runs. It should be fine to run in them tomorrow. They’ve gone about 25 miles so I should know by now if I was going to have trouble. But, as I mentioned I am an Anxious Annie. So I made arrangements for a friend to hang on to my second choice pair of shoes in case I have a shoe-mergency during the run and need him to bring them to me. I think that is mostly just a mental security blanket, really.

The morning of the long run, I eat a filling breakfast. Not everybody does this, but I really dislike the feeling of being hungry during a run. It distracts me and makes me grumpy. For tomorrow I’m planning on a hard boiled egg, a small slice of gluten free bread with peanut butter and a little bit of yogurt with blue berries. I’ll eat as early as I can manage to, to give my body time to digest a bit before the run. I’ve had good luck with this method and it’s never caused me stomach upset. I will also be drinking a cup of green tea. Staying away from coffee is another way to prevent urgent bathroom stops or embarrassing accidents. I love coffee, but not the morning of a long run.

Look at all that! The tub on the right is a maybe.

Look at all that! The tub on the right is a maybe.

In addition to my usual water and nutrition I will have along some Body Glide, my phone, blister tape, sun screen, lip balm, and if there’s room I might bring a little tub that has a mix of bug repellent and a creamy chafe protector in it.

I really am a Trepidatious Tanya, and I think you can probably tell. On the positive side, though, I will be prepared for just about anything.

The Missoula Marathon is in 63 days and some hours. We only have a few long training runs left. Can I make it to 30 miles? Check back after our last long run on June 23rd to find out!

Boston

Like many runners, especially marathoners, I’ve been thinking about the events in Boston a lot. My first reaction was to worry about people I know who were at the race. Then I started to worry about the other local runners that I don’t know, but have seen here and there. Then I started to wonder why the heck somebody would target a marathon. Now I can’t stop thinking about all the people who didn’t get to finish the race. They worked so hard, only to find themselves stopped at mile 25, not really knowing what was going on; unable to contact their family and friends; unable to finish what would have been the race of a lifetime for many.

Reading through the various articles and social media posts from fellow runners, the big theme seems to be Keep Running. Go for a run tonight. Register for an upcoming race. Find a marathon to train for and run it. Run Boston next year if you can. Just. keep. running. 

Many people have spoken far more eloquently than I can on the strength and resilience of runners, and about our passion and the peace that we find on the road. It’s true. For me, running keeps me sane. I don’t think I talk much about my anxiety here on the blog, but it’s a part of my life. Running controls it better than anything. It keeps my moods even and my mind clear. I recently had to take a week off to heal from something unrelated and by the end of that week I was a grouchy mess and starting to feel anxious again. I won’t give up running. I need it. I’m going running with my buddies tonight. Thursday I will probably run on my own. Sunday I’ll be doing an 18 mile training run with my class. And from there I’ll keep right on training. I’ll run my second marathon in July, and I have another goal race I plan to run in October. I’ll find other races in between and after. I have to.

Whatever your reasons are, just keep running.

 

First Magic Mile of the Season or Where Was Everybody?

Today in our Galloway class we ran a short run with a Magic Mile. If you’re new to the blog, the Magic Mile is a tool that Galloway uses to predict race performance and recommended training pace. It’s an important element to the Galloway method, particularly when training for the longer distances such as a full or half marathon.

Since I have yet to actually race in any of the races I’ve run (I just run for fun and profit) I can’t speak to it’s accuracy from my own experience. However, pretty much everyone I’ve spoken with who has used it as a race prediction tool has said that it’s worked really well.

Going in to today’s magic mile my biggest concern was running at a time that would keep me in my current pace group, and I accomplished that neatly. I ran a 9:10 magic mile, which gives me a 13:55 marathon training pace, so being in the 14 minute pace group works out perfectly for me.

The thing that worried me today was seeing how many people didn’t make it to class. I don’t know if they’ve dropped out all together, or if they just didn’t think the short run & magic mile were important enough to get up early for, but I’m a little sad that they didn’t make it to class today. In particular, I’m concerned about the people I’m pretty sure have been running in the wrong (too fast) pace group already. I had hoped that their MM time would get them sorted into the proper group, but if they don’t have an MM time, that’s not going to work very well.

A part of me doesn’t understand signing up for and then paying for the Galloway class (It’s a $99 class) and then choosing to disregard the training method. But I suppose it’s really no different than joining a gym and then not going. Our class did start in January, so perhaps what I’m seeing is people giving up on their New Year’s Resolutions.  However, I worry that some of it is because they’ve already hurt themselves by running in the wrong pace group. Preventing injury is a huge part of the Galloway method and the magic mile and recommended training pace factor heavily into that. These folks who insist on running faster than their recommended training pace are increasing their risk of injury quite a lot. I just don’t get it.

On the brighter side, next week, we will finally be joined by the half marathon part of our class. I think it will be fantastic to see everyone, and heartening to have a big group again. Some of my buddies from last year have dropped back to the half for this year, so it will also be really nice to see them again, even on those weeks when we’re not running together.

I am still so thankful that I found was pushed toward the Galloway method. It is absolutely the perfect fit for me and I’ve met some really wonderful people because of it. The countdown clock on the Missoula Marathon page today says 132 days and 18 hours. I’ll be ready!

 

Failing to Catch Imaginary Bob

I ran the Snow Joke half marathon yesterday. My intention going into the race was just to run for fun, enjoy the scenery and not worry about time. Those plans sort of worked out, and sort of didn’t.

This was my first time running the Snow Joke, but I doubt very much it will be my last. The course is really lovely, the race itself is the least expensive half marathon I’ve ever heard of ($15 for the entrance fee and an optional $15 for a t-shirt). If you read through all the pages at the website, you’ll find some things that rub me the wrong way, but not enough to cause me to forgo the race.

I caught a ride to Seeley Lake with buddies from my running class and that was lovely. I hadn’t had much of a chance to chat with these ladies before so I was really happy for the opportunity to ride with them. We’d all heard stories about the long lines during registration so we left relatively early and got to town at a decent hour. It turns out that the organizers had made some changes this year so things went a bit more smoothly than we anticipated and the race started pretty much on time.

My buddies and I started off the first little bit of the race just jogging, to let all the faster people pass us, before setting our timers to 30/30 for run/walk/run. The front of the pack zoomed on down the road and the herd thinned out fairly quickly. As usual, once we started our timers, we began to play leap-frog with runners near us. We did gain on and pass a number of other runners, and even gained another running buddy for a while, in a gentleman who was having some trouble with his shins. He hung with us until the pain worked itself out, and then off he went.

On the up-slope of the biggest hill in the race (around mile 3) we leap-frogged for a while with a young man who was both tall and otherwise large. We were quite impressed to see him running and tried to be positive and encouraging as we leap-frogged and then passed him.

A little while after that, we caught up to Bob. For those of you from other places, Bob is an 86 year old local runner and bit of a legend, who runs all the races. Bob is great and many of us often speak about how we’d like to “grow up to be like Bob” meaning we want to keep running into our 80s and 90s and even beyond.

We leap-frogged with Bob for a while and then pulled ahead of him on the hill. But then, Bob overtook us on the downhill slope and pulled away a little. We weren’t too worried about that. I’m not sure what my buddies had in mind, but I figured we’d pass Bob eventually, and if we didn’t, as long as we kept him in our sights, I could take off towards the end and pass him if I wanted.

That plan seemed very do-able until the debacle at the aid station at mile 6. Two of my buddies needed to visit the porta-potty, and I was fine waiting for them. Except, the young man I mentioned previously, jumped in line and got into the potty before the second one of my buddies and he was in there for ages and ages. I’m guessing that he doesn’t know how to eat the day before a race yet, and had some serious digestive issues. While I do feel some sympathy on that count, it really did slow us way, way down and that made us all a bit cranky.

After we were finished at the aid station, I was pretty driven to pass the young man at least. My buddies had the sense not to let me pull them along too much, so I ended up running for a while with one of our other running buddies and then even he dropped back. From around mile 8 I was on my own.

For a while, I just ran a comfortable, but slightly faster than usual pace, and enjoyed passing people as I went. After a while, I began to wonder if there was any chance of catching up to Bob. In all reality, there probably wasn’t ever a chance that I could have pulled that off, but it motivated me to go a bit faster.

As I rounded a corner around mile 9, I was sure I saw Bob up ahead. I picked up the pace a bit and before long I caught up to the person I thought was Bob, but it wasn’t Bob. But then, up ahead, I saw another Bob, and off I went. Once again, when I caught up to that person, she wasn’t Bob and didn’t actually look anything at all like him. She just happened to be wearing something blue.

But wait! There he is!  That must be Bob there! I thought, as I came up a hill and around a corner. Upon catching up to this new Bob I had to have a good laugh at myself. It was a mailbox. A blue mailbox, but still just a mailbox.

For the next couple of miles I continued to catch up to one Bob after another, but none of them were actually Bob. Finally, I tried to catch one last Bob as we came up the hill at the end of Boy Scout Road, before the turn back onto 83. But of course, he wasn’t Bob either.

I followed a small pack of runners across the street and into the home stretch, but as I turned that corner I became a bit disoriented. I hadn’t noticed any markers pointing us that direction, and I felt certain we’d turned the wrong way. I slowed down considerably, waiting for them to discover their error and turn around. But they hadn’t actually gone the wrong way, and I eventually figured that out when I saw them turn the corner to the finish line, and sped back up.

As I approached the finish, I could hear a runner behind me and I was bound and determined not to be passed so close to the end, so I put every bit of energy I could into speeding up and crossed the finish a few seconds before she did. After getting my timing chip clipped off my shoe, I wandered back out to the corner to wait for my running buddies. I drank my water and cheered everybody in, and before too long there they were. As they came around the corner I fell back in and ran those last few steps with them and then met them on the other side of the line.

We all made it in under 3 hours, even after having so much time basically stolen from us by the young man and his digestive issues.

Here are the times my watch shows for each of the 13 full miles, so you can see exactly what happened.
Mile 1 12:34:51
Mile 2 12:40:00
Mile 3 12:46:00
Mile 4 12:59:00
Mile 5 13:06:00
Mile 6 13:17:00
Mile 7 18:07:00 (Look at how much time we lost!)
Mile 8 12:30:00
Mile 9 12:20:00
Mile 10 12:28:00
Mile 11 12:25:00
Mile 12 11:45:00
Mile 13 12:10:00

In the end, I caught up with at least 6 imaginary Bobs, including the mailbox. But I never did catch up with the real Bob. Bob finished in 2:48:47 and I finished in 2:52:43. I had a great run, through beautiful country and except for that delay, I enjoyed it very much.

RealBob

Here is a pic I took of Real Bob that first time we passed him on the hill around mile 3. He really doesn’t look much like a mailbox.

 

In Which the Author is a Bad Example

Before I tell you about today’s class and my extra running, I want to ask you, for the love of Batman, please do not follow my example. Please.

I got a late start out the door this morning, so when I realized halfway down my street that I hadn’t brought my pepper spray, I didn’t have time to turn back for it. I get a bit paranoid when I run alone, and there were just enough other people out between my house and our meeting place to make me more paranoid, rather than less. As a result of that, I ran faster than I should have for the 2.4 miles to get to class. Not such a big deal, except I ended up doing more running after class, too.

Class went well today. We still started out a little fast, which I seem to recall doing last year. But we slowed it down as we went along, and I think we came out with a pace in between that of our two groups, which should be fine for these low mile runs. I tried to chat with more of our pace group members, but being shy and awkward I was not entirely successful at that. All in all, though, it was a good run.

At some point during the morning I found out that one of the other pace group leaders would be doing additional miles afterward, as part of training for the Snow Joke, and I decided to join in on that. I haven’t been getting out on my long runs as much as I planned lately (holidays, life, and so forth), so I’m behind on training up for the Snow Joke. Or, at least I was.

I hadn’t really planned things out in my head very well, though, and I ended up going farther than I probably should have. I ran just over 14 miles all together, in 4 segments, with small breaks in between. Given that I haven’t run farther than 6 miles in… I’m not sure how long, that wasn’t the wisest thing to do. But my last 3.5 miles I took it very slow and very easy, so I hope my body won’t mind too much.

When I got home, I had a chocolate yogurt right away (I’m thinking of adopting the Brown Cow Cream Top Chocolate yogurt as my new recovery snack) and put my compression sleeves on. (I wish I’d worn those on my run today.) I think I may give my feet and ice bath later, but sadly I don’t have a bath tub, so I can’t do a full ice bath. I will also endeavor not to sit down for too long at a stretch. I don’t want to stiffen up.

So between running faster than training pace on my first 2.4 miles, and running farther than I really should have, I broke a couple of the Galloway rules today. I expect to pay for it in some stiffness and soreness, but I don’t feel any other issues at the moment. Hopefully, nothing will crop up.

So the Snow Joke is in 20 days and the Missoula Marathon is in 160 days. I’m still super excited to help my pace group buddies make it to the marathon. Happy running!

Running Slow is Hard! or It’s 5:00 Somewhere.

Is it wine-o’clock yet? No? Darn it!

Before I start in with the whining part of this post, let me tell you that my run this morning was great. It was the first day of this year’s Galloway Marathon Training Class, and you may recall that I signed up to be a Pace Group Leader. I’m really excited to (hopefully) help other people have a great experience with the marathon, like I had last year. It was really wonderful to see some familiar faces, and some new faces today. I’m really, really excited.

I’m also worried. Let me confess something, dear readers. [deep breath] My name is Joni, and I am a worrier. I really am. I don’t worry about myself so much, but I worry like crazy about other people, especially people I care about or am in any way responsible for.

I knew, intellectually, that we would run faster than our training pace today. I remember from last year that it is hard to get folks to slow down and run at the training pace at first. I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was my own reaction. I started to worry about my pace group buddies hurting themselves. Not today, since we only ran 3 miles. No, I started worrying today, about how they’ll hurt themselves on the 12 mile run or the 14 mile run if we don’t slow our pace down. (Some of my friends are totally laughing at me right now, because unlike me, they saw this coming.)

Yes, I recognize that this is actually a bit ridiculous. Stop rolling your eyes like that, they’ll get stuck that way. 😛 For one thing, this was a short run so training pace isn’t so critical. But it is helpful to learn how to run training pace now, so that it’s easier to do on the long ones. Also, I may be a Pace Group Leader, but I’m not actually the boss of anyone. If they over-do it and hurt themselves, I am not at fault. But I really, really, really want them all to make it through training to the marathon and have a great time doing it. I had so much fun last year, and I didn’t suffer any serious injuries. I want to share that!

So the lesson, for me, from today’s run is to take a deep breath and let the stress and worry go. There is no way I can ensure that every person in my pace group will have a great experience. There is no way I can guarantee that every person in my pace group will make it through training uninjured. I just have to do my best to share what I’ve learned and let everybody find their own way. In the mean time, I’ll have a glass of wine as soon as it’s socially acceptable.

Only 167 days (and 16 hours) until my second Missoula Marathon. This time I know I can do it.

 

New Year, New Goals

Well, I did it. I committed to being a Pace Group Leader for this year’s Galloway Marathon Training Class. Class starts on January 27th and I’m really excited. I had such a great experience last year and I really hope I can help others have a great experience this year. I’m especially excited about any first-time marathoners in my pace group. I’m actually really pleased that I kept this blog during my own first attempt at the marathon. I plan to use it to help remember what it’s like that first time through, so I can be a better PGL.

I’ve been running more regularly than not, since my last post. I’ve missed a few runs here and there, but overall, I’m on track. And I know that being in the class will help as well.

As I’ve mentioned previously, my goal races for this year are the Pengelly Double Dip in June and the Missoula Marathon in July. In the mean time, I’m also planning to run the Snow Joke and any other fun races that don’t conflict with marathon training.

And before I forget, I should tell you that I accomplished something today. I actually ran a whole mile without a walk break! I’ve never done that before ever in my life! Now, to be fair, I haven’t actually tried to run without walk breaks in quite some time. I’ve been very faithful to the run/walk/run method because it really works for me. But this weekend I washed my Gymboss timer and I haven’t replaced it yet.

When I went out on my run today I was a little dismayed to be without my trusty “coach”. But rather than allow the situation to depress me, I decided it would be the perfect time to see if I could run a mile without a break. So after my five minute warm-up walk, I pressed start on my GPS watch and started out running nice and slow. As I kept running, I was really surprised and pleased not to feel tuckered out. When my watch beeped for 1 mile I was shocked! I wasn’t struggling at all. Just then a passing runner commented on my calf-sleeves, so we had a nice little chat until he pulled too far ahead. In all, I ran 1.25 miles before I decided that was enough for the day and went back to run/walk/run. I did my best to approximate a 30/30 split using my watch and counting my breaths. All in all, it was a great run.

Running a mile without a walk break may not seem like much to most runners, but for me it’s an accomplishment, and I’m very satisfied. Over the next several months I will probably continue to add distance on until I can run a few miles without a break. To be honest, though, I love run/walk/run and I don’t really plan to attempt any serious distances without it.

And here’s a bit of news that is specifically for the ladies who read my blog. I’ve decided to take the “Instead Softcup Challenge“. I’ve been looking for a better feminine hygiene solution for long runs and came across a blog post about the challenge at Slow is the New Fast. Friends have recommended similar products in the past, but I’ve never actually tried them, partly due to the expense of some of the options. I thought this challenge would be a great way to try out this type of product. I’ve just gotten my supplies in the mail today, so sometime in the next few months, I’ll be posting my review. In the mean time, if any of you ladies are interested in taking the challenge, check out the link. They’ll even reimburse you for your race entrance fees for one upcoming race, as long as you post your product review before the end of June.

I hope to post more regularly once class begins. I’ll actually have things to post about after all. I hope you’re all still running happy!