After the Philadelphia Marathon, a few people had asked me what helped me to cut 15 minutes off my time in 6 months. I had wanted to post about this for awhile, but really wanted to think about what is was that helped me. I realized it wasn’t really just one or two things, it was a combination of everything I had learned and incorporated into my training coming together.
1. Mobility I started working with a new chiropractor in May who not only helped me get over some lingering issues I was having over the spring, but also helped me to become a better runner in general. He helped to make sure that my muscles were all working in a way that would support proper form. If your muscles and joints are working well, it’s going to be easier to run faster. Along with this, I also really began to use foam rolling on my own. Even though I had been foam rolling before, I had learned more about which muscles to focus on and how it should feel when I released them using a roller or lax ball.
2. Nutrition This was also a big piece of the puzzle- and again, it was something I had been doing before but learned more about how to properly fuel my running over the summer and started incorporating those foods int my daily routine. I also tried some fasted long runs, and stopped eating bagels before long runs. I think this helped me to avoid hitting the wall because my body had started to learn about to rely on fat for fuel instead of only carbs. I also started using Powerbar Performance Energy Blends which I like a lot more than Gu.
3. Core work I did a few exercises for my hips, glutes and core before every run.
4. Tempo runs I really think these were the key to helping my body learn to run faster. Over the summer I started doing short intervals. For example,my “tempo pace” is let’s say 7:50. I would do 5 minutes at that pace, followed by 2 minutes easy for about 25 minutes. I gradually increased that until I was running 30-35 minutes straight at 7:50. Then I was able to do some faster tempos later in my training- so eventually did 15 minutes at 7:20ish 3 times with a few minutes of rest in between. And at that point 7:50 was a pretty comfortable pace for me. Not sure if I did a good job explaining that, but you can really do it in any way that works for you! Just find a challenging pace that you can hold for 5 minutes or so, and start adding it into your runs once or twice a week.
5. The myrtle routine This was a great cool down, supported mobility, and gave my hips a little mini-workout after each run. (Click here for the exercises)
6. Following my own training plan This was the first time I made my own training plan for a marathon. Cookie cutter plans are great, but they are not individualized. Even if you are going to follow them, you should always be adjusting to what works for you. I was able to make my plan based on what I had learned works for me. I knew what mileage would be best, and gave myself flexibility to run a little more or less depending on how I felt. It also helped that I had completed the RRCA training course before I began training for this marathon, so I was able to use some of my knowledge from the course and incorporate it into my training.
7. Ran on a good course, in good weather I planned to run a race that I was familiar with, I knew the course was pretty flat, and it was in late November so I knew it would be cooler. This was a huge difference from my previous marathon in April (Raleigh) which was super hilly and really hot that day.
8. Gaining mental strength I had done some other races leading up to the marathon that were in some ways practice for staying strong mentally. I wouldn’t allow myself to give up or make excuses for slowing down or walking. Our minds need to be trained just like our bodies. “Run Strong” became my mantra during this training cycle.
9. Confidence I truly knew that I was capable of a faster marathon after I finished in 4:01 last April. Once I put in the work, I knew I just had to run my victory lap on race day.
10.YOU! And everyone that supported me! When you have people to talk to about your training, and believe in you, how can you not believe in yourself and want to run the best possible race you can?!
What has helped you become a faster runner?
Do you incorporate tempo runs into your training regularly?
I’ll also be linking up today with Run The Great Wide Somewhere, My No-Guilt Life, and MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run! Head over to the link-up to see what other running-related stuff everyone is talking about this week!