It's official!! As of last week, I started training for the St. Louis marathon. So far, I don't feel like the mileage is much different than what I was doing over the winter, other than my long runs. Last Saturday, I ran 15. It was supposed to be 14, but we took a couple little detours and then missed a turn which added another mile. It wouldn't have been so bad, but it was kinda hilly at the end and that's the longest I have run since last spring. I felt it at the end. My legs were starting to feel heavy, my energy was low (I didn't take any gels), and my right hip was tightening up. Later that day, I started feeling some soreness in my hip, similar to the start of my injury last year. Nervous that my hip pain would worsen and fearful that it will eventually affect my training, I did some light stretching and foam rolling. That helped some.
I also bought new shoes last Saturday and have run in them a few times this week. I moved away from the heavy cushion and light support of the Asics Nimbus and have opted for a more minimal shoe, the Nike Lunar Trainer. I really like the lightness of the shoe and surprising cushion-ey feel without such a high heel as the Asics. If you've read my previous posts, you know I have been working on changing my stride and doing some strengthening exercises to prevent my hip problems from becoming chronic and debilitating. These shoes are part of the plan to keep me injury free. So far, I like the Nikes, I'm just a little unsure of how they will hold up on a long, long run. I did 6 miles today and I felt fine. I have a bit of a leg length discrepency and my left foot is slightly bigger than my right. This causes my left foot to overpronate more than my right. I always feel like I need to buy two different sizes and types of shoes. The only problem I have had with the Nikes so far is some rubbing on my right ankle. I'm going to put in some thin Spencos and see if that helps for my 10 mile run on Sunday.
Another part of my injury-free marathon training plan needs to include running smarter. I have several great running buds who run in the 9:30 pace group so I tend to run with them, even though my body would prefer a slower pace. As much as I will miss running with them, I have to listen to my body and slow it down if I really want to prevent injuries. It's difficult to know my pace as it always seems to be changing. Right now, my warm up pace is around 10:30-11 minute miles. After a couple of miles, I tend to get down to the low 10's/upper 9's. Eventually, if it's not too hilly, I can maintain around a 9:30 pace. I just can't be strict about it.
My plan for St. Louis does not involve a specific finish time. I simply want to run a smart race and finish feeling strong. I'd love to do a big negative split. I'm tempted to run without a watch. I'll just need to be careful not to start too fast, so I'll need to hook up with the official marathon pace groups and figure out their strategy.
Sometime in February, I'll do a two mile time trial to assess my current speed. That will help me know where to set my goal pace and tempo pace runs. It will also give me an idea of what pace group I should consider lining up with at the marathon.
I think it will be most difficult this training to not run with my faster training buddies and stick to my "A" goal for the marathon. This blog is to help keep me honest and stick to the long-term plan. The hard training for Boston qualifying will be here soon enough. Now is the time to hold back, build a good base, and have a positive marathon experience. More to come...