A good marathon plan will typically start with 4 weeks of hill training. Within those 4 weeks, the runner will work on three different hill workouts: hill sprints, medium hills, and long hills. I am always scoping out new hills in my long and easy runs, filing them away for the hill module to keep things interesting.
A Higher Quality Diet
In part one of this series, you can read about my decision to make changes in my life and running, following Matt Fitzgerald’s 6 step plan from his book Racing Weight. In this post, I will go more in depth to the biggest change we had to make in order to get leaner, lighter, and faster: switching over to a higher quality diet.
Fitzgerald advocates not for a fad diet or for a runner to go paleo, vegan, or whatever; instead, he simply tells you to eat more high quality foods and less low quality ones. He ranks food groups according to their quality and assigns each serving a number of points. Your goal is to end the day with as high of a score as you can. So, indulging in my kids’ Cheese-It lunch snacks will dock me 2 points while grabbing a peach and having that instead will gain me 2 points.
Perhaps it is the competitive side of me, but this method was highly appealing and has helped me lose 10 pounds and 4% of my body fat.
If you bonk in a 10k, miss your PR in a 5k, or simply just have a bad race in a short or middle distance run, the fix can be as simple as waiting a week and trying again. It’s cheap, easy and you don’t need to recover too much from these distances. If you DNF a marathon at mile 23 like I did, you are left holding the shattered remains of 4 months of hard training and dedication, and your body will likely not be ready for another go at the marathon distance for weeks or even months.
In short, you get a lot of time to think about the mistakes you made.
But, for me, it also gave me the motivation to seek change. What can I change? What do I have no control over? If there is a Serenity Prayer for Runners, I found it in Matt Fitzgerald’s book Racing Weight. And I made the decision to change the things that I can change and accept the things that are beyond my control.
“You sound like a philosopher.”
That was a comment I got once while on a group run when I happened to get into my “book worm” mode and started talking about the changes I have seen in my running since reading Greg McMillan’s YOU (Only Faster).
That’s me, and it always has been. I love reading, and my running obsession has combined with this love of the written word. There are many fabulous books about running, whether they are more “How to” in nature, stories of personal journeys, or in depth training and nutrition guides. I have gained invaluable knowledge from reading about this sport, and I encourage others to do so as well.
Here is a list of some of my favorite running literature:
It is the greatest paradox of the sport: run slower and you will get faster. Unfortunately, most runners don’t believe it until they have hit a mental wall, a place in the sport where they feel overwhelmed, tired and unable to hit “goal paces.” I have been there, and it was only the blind trust following of this paradox that got me out of that rut and cut my pace per mile so dramatically I shaved 10 minutes of my 10 miler time in less than a year. 10 minutes faster by running slower. Then I took my half marathon time of 1:55 and turned it into a marathon time of 3:33:20. Because I ran slower in training.