Yes those are monthly running miles, not weekly. I've been lucky to get in one or two runs a week and all of those have been 5 miles or less, most around three miles. My last long run of 14.4 miles was in mid-March when I was still mulling over whether or not to get my butt in gear to train for the marathon at Sugarloaf.
I'm so glad that I chose to do the 15K instead, but how on earth did I have such a stellar (for me) race? Just for a little perspective - my 10 mile PR is 1:21, an average pace of 8:08 set in February 2012. My 10K PR has me at an average pace of 8:06 set in October 2011. At Sugarloaf, I ran 9.38 miles in 1:16:21, a 8:08 pace. Those other two races were during full-on training, running three times a week doing speed work, tempo runs, and long runs. I make sure to taper well before each race. I carb-load and hydrate for several days before.
So how could I run over 9 miles just as fast when I haven't been following a training plan or even running much? Don't they say if you don't run, you can quickly lose your fitness? Well, I think that could be true, but how do you explain my race on Sunday?
Here are a few of my thoughts/ideas:
1. Magic shoes. I raced in my Mizuno Wave Evo Cursoris for the first time. Super flat, lightweight and fast. Mizuno promotes their shoes as aiding runners in finding Mezamashii (a brilliant run). The Sugarloaf 15K was definitely Mezamashii for me. I am still sold on the Mizuno brand.
2. Pre-race fuel. I've always had a slice of peanut butter toast and water before racing and have never felt it totally worked for me, but never switched it up for fear of trying something new on race day. On Sunday I nibbled on half a plain bagel, ate three Shot Bloks, and drank 12 ounces of Strawberry Lemonade nuun. Is this the magic formula for running on undertrained legs?
3. Perfect weather. This was close to being the same in all three races I've mentioned. Overcast skies, no wind, and no rain with temps in the 30-40 degree range = ideal running conditions. I wilt quickly when running in temperatures over 50 or 60 degrees.
4. No pressure. Not giving myself a real goal for this race enabled me to just run for fun...just like I have been doing the last few months. While my girls trained for 16+ weeks for this one moment and could be either good or bad (it was a success for all and they all kicked ass for 26.2 miles), I didn't have that pressure. As I was sitting at the table sipping my nuun on Sunday morning, someone commented on how relaxed I was. And I was. I didn't over-analyze the race or how I would do. Whatever would happen, would happen. I just had to go with the flow and I wasn't going to be upset if I performed badly, I hadn't run much.
5. Rhythmic breathing. I've always run without music and listened to my breathing to find a good pace. After reading an article in Runners World about breathing so you aren't landing on the same foot on the exhale, I've been trying to breathe that way during my weekly runs. One, it reduces the risk of injury by alternating your feet when you begin to exhale as this is when your are exerting the most force. Two, it make me focus on something else rather than any pain or discomfort I am in while running, therefore making the time seem to go by faster. I also seem to get fewer side and/or shoulder cramps when breathing in a 3-2 rhythm. At the start of the race on Sunday I had pains in my neck and shoulders from shivering in the cold for an hour and a half. Once I began breathing in a 3-2 pattern, those pains disappeared.
6. Just believe. I knew from a few recent training runs that I was still capable of running around an 8-minute pace. I ran a hilly 5-miler in the low 8s and ran an unofficial 5K pushing the double stroller a couple of weeks ago with a pace in the mid-8s. Endurance running is just as much a mental exercise as it is physical, maybe even more so. By believing that I could hold the pace I started at enabled me to do it. Not once did I have doubts of "I can't do it." Even when my legs started to get tired and I could have bargained with myself to walk a hill, I just told myself that I could do it, that I really wasn't in that much discomfort, to push past it and keep moving forward.
7. Frame of mind. This goes along with believing in one's self, but I was also in a good frame of mind because I where the race was. When I was little, my family spent time almost every summer at the campground where the marathon started. Running past the slow moving and shallow river brought back happy memories of my brother and I jumping on those very rocks and wading through the water. Happy thoughts put me in a good, positive place.
Well, that's all that I can think of of why I had a great race even though my training was lacking. Everything came together on race day to give me the most enjoyable race experience I've had in a long time.
Have you ever had a good training run or race when everything went your way?
What so think was the main reason(s) it went in your favor?