We are 62 days out from The North Face Endurance Challenge California and Dan and I are training hard for our respective races – 50 mile for him and 50k for me. We are feeling strong and healthy and starting to put in the work and I want to remember what it feels like when things are clicking, like they are right now. So, here is what I think is helping.
- Intuitive training. A couple of years ago, I switched from plan-based training to what I call an “intuitive” method. I found that when my training is dictated by what a plan says, that I’m not as in-tune with myself. For example, there would be days when I felt awesome but cut my run short to follow the schedule. And of course, there were days when I felt awful and feelings of letting the plan down would creep in for not achieving a prescribed workout. A workout should never make you feel guilty – you’re in charge of your body and your training. Currently, I structure my training like this: Mondays are almost always off. On Monday, I evaluate how I’m feeling and set some goals for the week (e.g. 5,000 feet of climbing; an 18 mile long run). I write out what I plan to do each day of the week and email it to Robyn. She emails me her plan back and we figure out when we’re running together. There’s a level of accountability because I told someone else, but it’s under my own discretion.
- Eight hours of sleep a night, no exceptions. Dan and I have always made sleep a priority but it’s even more important when training hard. Generally, we are winding down for bed around 8:45 and sleep from 9:15-5:15. If it comes down to it, I’ll choose getting eight hours of sleep over a morning run.
- At-home body work. Admittedly, I’ve never been very good about doing the extra stuff, like stretching and foam rolling. I also don’t have a routine of getting massages or seeing a trainer or PT or anything. But recently, I won $100 from winning a 10k so I treated myself to a massage at Denver Sports Recovery. It was awesome and I hope to go again before the race, but it also really encouraged me to take care of myself at home too. My lower back gets realllllly tight and I often feel like I have to drop what I’m doing and do a supine twist to pop it. What I’ve found works to keep my body feeling good and my back less tight is: rolling my feet on a lacrosse ball or homemade roller Dan made and rolling my butt (piriformis muscle) on a lacrosse ball. These two simple moves do wonders for loosening me up. We’ve also made it a habit to do some quick activation movements before we start running; mostly just leg swings while our watches find satellite – something is better than nothing!
- All the food. For the most part, my diet is pretty consistent day-to-day. I don’t really vary the amount I eat based on how much I ran that day. When I’m in heavy training, though, the total volume just goes up. I’m making a point to eat a lot of fat (avocados and cheese are staples) because I know that I feel best when I do. I normally don’t drink much milk but have been including it (always 2%) in lattes and smoothies after runs and I think that speeds recovery. I could go on and on about what I eat, but the point is that I feel very strongly that if you’re training hard you need to be eating energy-dense foods – more than you’re probably hungry for. And I believe that when it comes to athlete nutrition, it’s more important to focus on adding the good stuff than it is to eliminate the “bad” stuff.
I’m really excited about this race! Over beers last night, Dan and I talked about how when you’re feeling good in training, the most important thing is to stay healthy (!) and that it’s okay to be boring. So, here’s to two more months of working hard but staying humble, treating our bodies right, and finding joy in the process.