Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 141: What not to sweat

To be honest, by the time the marathon rolled around last year, I was sick of it.  I wanted my life, Friday nights and all, to belong to me again.  So this year I've had a much more laid back attitude.  Without letting my goal or preparation slip, I also haven't let training take over my life.  And I've been surprised that some of the things I've let go -- carbo-loading, for example -- haven't impacted my performance at all.  This year, the marathon is a month out and I'm still excited for each and every practice.

I'm no expert (so please, no following this advice if your coach/doctor/whoever tells you otherwise), but here are some of the things I actually don't worry about too much, despite official running advice to the contrary.  

1. I don't sweat what I eat during a run.  Instead, I listen to my body and eat when I feel tired or hungry.  I used to be obsessed with following guidelines when it came to racing nutrition.  I'd have a Gu once around Mile 6, and then another every half hour after that.  That meant during an 18-mile run I might have five.  They would slosh around in my belly and in general make me feel bloated.  These days I take my first Gu around Mile 8 and then again in half packet amounts every 2-3 miles, as I feel myself need it.

2. I let myself have a glass of wine (or two) the night before a run.  I used to be religious about not having alcohol two days before a long run, and it used to make me kind of miserable.  Thursday and Friday are social nights, so I hated going out to dinner and not being able to have even a glass of wine.  I'm sure it's not ideal that I have a glass on Friday nights now, but it makes me feel like I'm not giving over my life to training, and that's worth it.

3. I don't worry about eating carbs.  I used to carbo-load on Fridays, and you know what?  I gained like a million pounds during last training season.  Carbs are all around me; I get carbs.  No need to binge on pasta the night before a run.

4. I don't eat breakfast before a run.  I'm sure people will scream at me for writing that.  But it's true, and I've never felt worse off for it.  With runs starting as early as 4 a.m., I barely have time enough to roll out of bed and lace up my shoes, much less cook myself a healthy breakfast and early enough that it has time to digest a little.  I don't think so.  All it takes for me these days is a nice meal the night before, and a banana the morning of.  After my runs I make sure to have a big (and well earned!) recovery breakfast.

5. I don't get eight hours of sleep the night before a run.  Yep, so sue me.  Again, if I'm getting up at 3:20 a.m. for a run, there's no chance at getting a full night's sleep anyway.  So if friends want to go to dinner at 9 on Friday night, I'm up for it.  It's much more important that I get a healthy amount of sleep in the week leading up to the run.

Day 141, by the numbers:

288 - miles run to date
35 - days until the marathon
18.4 - longest training mileage so far

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