Great long run!


Today I met up with Jenny, my training partner from Fargo, and Kim Pawelek, the 1999 Twin Cities Marathon champion. Kim's sister lives in the cities, and Jenny is friends with Kim's sister -- so Jenny gave me a call and asked if I'd be interested in doing a long run with her. Of course! What a great opportunity.

I met them at 6:30 this morning over at Lake Elmo. That meant only 4 hours of sleep (oops! Nate and I went to a movie and it ended up taking a lot longer than I anticipated...). At 6:30 the rain is just starting to let up, which is really nice. Nate drops me off and he head over to Afton to start his OD ski. I head over to the trailhead and start my run!

We run about 14 miles together. Kim isn't training for anything in particular and just wanted a medium long run. Even thought she's no longer racing full time professionally, but is still wicked fast... last year she decided to hop into Boston at the last minute and without any training ran a 2:52. How fun would that talent be!! Her first marathon she ran a 2:41 (WOW). She ran a 2:37 at Twin Cities in 1999 and I think that's her PR at the distance. She's a 1:12 1/2 marathoner (which is really impressive!)

We ran on trails the entire time which was a lot of fun. The only downside was running through the mud and wet long grass. There were a few really slippery spots. Plus, my socks are just soaked now, which is never fun. I didn't realize how bad of an idea that is (wet socks) for a long run until I started off alone on the roads. Ouch!! My feet are really, really blistered up.

Kim was super interesting. So many stories! She has a very strong "tell it like it is" personality, very spunky, and you can tell she's super competitive still even though she's 37 and no longer competing on a regular basis. We talked about her family, her running, and asked a few questions about our personal training. A few of the tidbits that stick out for me were her thoughts on mileage and intensity. Her typical routine is to do 3 weeks high (mileage/intensity) and 1 week low. The low week is just as important as the high weeks. She'll work up to 4-6 weeks high during her most serious training blocks. During high mileage weeks she's really careful with her intensity. Running fast and hard on tired legs makes you really susceptible to injury, so she typically has a higher goal time target for these. They're still hard, but she doesn't take the times as seriously. If she can hit these times, great. If she can get below them, it's gravy, but she will never put pressure on herself to do so. Her mileage during the high mileage blocks is now around 100 miles a week. During her peak, she'd sometimes hit 120, but usually stayed at 90-110.

One of the most important thing for her to feel about a month away from the marathon is that "everything is going well, I can easily hit my workout times" feeling. Sometimes that'll never come, and that's fine. But if she can tweek her training to get herself at that level, she will (she said it's just something she can "feel" deep down) -- and that's when she knows she'll have a good race.

She also explained how important tactics are to her racing. At her level, she's not trying to hit specific times anymore. Instead, she's racing to win or get some prize $$. Her training is still centered around a specific time, but the day of the race she throws that out the window and races on feel and how others around her are doing. Interesting perspective. Even on races where I think I have a chance to win, I still am very "time" oriented. She said racing for time is more stressful and takes energy away from your race. Should I change my mentality??

My last observation will be on weight -- WOW, did I feel HUGE next to her and my training partner. Kim is probably 5'0 or 5'1 and weighs maybe 85-90 pounds? She's just TINY. She's healthy, just build very small. Plus, there's just no fat on her whatsoever. Guess that's a part of being one of the US's best marathoners :). Jenny has also lost a bit of weight. She's training for an Iron Man and has been training between 22-24 hours/week this last month. She didn't have anything extra on her back in May when we raced Fargo together, but she's managed to work a little more of that off. Anyway, it reminded me that I should probably watch my weight a little more if I want to be a really competitive marathoner. I know I carry around a lot more than my competitors, and if I could work on that, I could have a pretty sizeable advantage.

So, a very interesting run!!! What an opportunity. I wish I would have brought a camera. After Kim and Jenny peeled off (Kim did 16, Jenny did 18), I started off on my run to Afton to meet Nate and the other skiers. Here's where I realized how much my feet HURT. I'd grimace every time I had to run around a curve; the different movement in my shoes wasn't fun. I made it to 22 miles, and then picked it up to marathon pace. It actually felt great! From 20-22 miles I started to feel fatigue in my butt and hamstrings (hate that feeling), so wasn't excited to pick it up. Once I did, though, my legs actually felt better. The first marathon pace mile was EASY!! Yeah!! 6:38. The next mile I had to work a little harder, but still was pretty easy. 6:36 (MP is 6:40 so I was letting myself go a little harder...). What a confidence booster, I hadn't had a workout where MP was feeling good/easy. And it came on my 24 mile run at the end of my 100 mile week. Yeah!!!

Interview with Kim: http://www.fast-women.com/athletes/interviews/kpawelek.html
She actually talked a lot about these same topics during the run!

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

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