Welcoming the new year!
Let's start with what I learned in 2012:
Nutrition: Where do I start? Donna helped me peg a "number" to target, how to divide that amongst meals and snacks, when to have those meals/calories, and what ratios to target. I slowly (very...) but surely became leaner - and it was so much easier in the past! Now, I still have a bit to learn, as I'm trying to teach my body to burn fat vs. 100% carbs - how to do that, how important is it?, etc. I've also learned that I should be targeting a racing weight of about 3 pounds lighter than in the past. Uff. But, I know I can do it - just have to keep it structured and simple. Food as fuel!
My support team continues to amaze:
Jerry is a rock star. Nuff said :) Nate too, for putting up with all of my dreaming, constant rambling about learning this, how I'm feeling, this race vs. that race, etc :). Dr. P for keeping me healthy. My sponsors, including CW-X, carb-Boom!, and Just Food - and the new additions to the team, Brooks and Anytime Fitness. I would not be where I'm at today without them.
Training Plan Thoughts:
Mileage is very, very good for me. Lower mileage and workouts consisting of 200 and 400m repeats, not so good.
I need to bring down mileage week 10 of the Daniels plan (i.e. 10 weeks out from the marathon). I always end up breaking down after this week and I think it's because the "recovery" week is a little too high in mileage. Perhaps I need to look at a recovery 10-12 day recovery "week" at that point in the cycle. I've actually thought about adopting a rolling 9-10 day "week" anyway (Hansons does this), we will see.
Speaking of training plan edits: In looking back at the end of my best 6 weeks of training ever, which were followed by about 4 weeks of my worst - I now recognize that at least a part of that was the fact that even though I'm feeling good on any one particular week, I need to stick to the paces given. Granted, you need to challenge yourself in order to get better - but the overall plan is written to be a big enough challenge. If you're pushing too hard, too often, you'll just end up tired and slower. Easier said than done... sometimes it is SO nice to take one of those confidence-boosting bust-out-a-fast one workouts :). Maybe the answer is you can take ONE, every once in a while, but they have to be infrequent enough to prevent fatigue.
Another big factor to those worse 4 weeks was not managing sleep and stress as well as I could have.
It's all mental:
Your mind can do wonderful things for you, both in workouts and during racing. Don't believe me? Call Dr. Asp, have him create a personalized visualization CD. Then see what you think.
Now... on to 2013!
2013 Goals (no particular order):
1. Set a new 5k PR (currently 17:27). I know I can do this. My goal would be something in the 17:1x's. Linda Keller from U of MN Morris will be running 1, if not 2, races outdoor at GAC this spring, so maybe we can work together like we did for the aforementioned PR (Set at GAC in 2012). Is it sad that I am very, very excited to do so in a new pair of Brooks spikes? Maybe it's because I am still running in my very first pair of spikes from 8th grade. Not kidding. Nike Zoom Country's. They weigh as much as some of my trainers, no joke :). Something about the visual of running fast in a shiny new pair of racers really excites me!!
2. Win a marathon, go for a course record. Fargo Marathon, baby! Current CR is 2:41:5x. It'll obviously take a day of great weather (and with my record recently, the chances of that are slim...), great legs, and a great block of training, but I think I could make it happen! (the win part... have to see who toes the line!)
3. Grab my ticket into the 2016 Olympic Trials this fall (sub 2:43 - will likely run conservatively to try to be just under it - no huge PR goals here!). This is my BIG goal for 2013. If none of the above except this happens, I would be one HAPPY girl :) Chicago, I'm thinking... but if I'm strong enough to think I could run it on TCM's course, I would love nothing more than to earn it on my home course with family and friends watching. We shall see!!
4. IF I can run my OTQ early in the fall, and IF NYC would be willing to have me back, I'd love to take advantage of their offer and experience the NYC professional division's race.
5. Then, perhaps time to take a break for a little bit. As in, Lauren Fleshman style?! (oh, scary, did I just say that out loud??)
6. SLEEP. This means cutting out the crap that I sometimes waste too much energy on. Like facebook and twitter. Like reading blogs (sigh). Like trying to find the best deal on things I'm buying (I spend far too long trying to save a dollar or two). Rely on Nate for a few more of the household things and errands (I really LIKE running errands, though...). Focus on the task at hand at work so I can move on from things quickly.
7. Further figure out the nutrition thing. I actually find this sort of fascinating and love learning more about the topic. Try to eat as naturally as possible. Use weekend "date nights" to cook fun, wholesome, and natural foods. (Nate is jumping up and down at the prospect of this... He is so glad he married someone SO exciting!) Work on (sanely) getting to race weight. Get rid of as many packaged things around the house as possible.
8. Figure out a good balance between "the little things" (i.e. nutrition, stretching, flexibility, hydration, plyos, massage, strength). You can obviously over think ALL of these, and there is a point of huge diminishing returns. Of all the little things I do, I could probably cut out some and sleep more and I'd be better off - so I'll keep working on that balance.
9. Non-running related: continue to work on the house (it desperately needs paint, decor, or SOMETHING (or lots of things) to give it character). Read at least one good book (really read, not just audio books to/from work) (yes, one - I would rather accomplish these goals and take pride in it that than fall short). Paint my ugly toenails more often to spare people having to look at them. Return the support Nate gives me every day. Learn how to cook without setting things on fire and creating a complete disaster of our kitchen :). Laugh a little more. [Yeah, these are not "SMART" goals - I'm okay with that, you should be too]
10. Most of all, above all else, find fun in training and racing every day, testing limits, and encouraging others to do the same!! I want to be able to look back and say that I've given it my all - and there's no better way than by having a plan, sticking too it, and being jazzed up by the prospects of what it will bring months from now. Let's go get it!
Any other goals I should add?
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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