Saucony and Competitor Running have done an awesome job of timing every email and shipment perfectly for us within the Saucony 26 Strong program. I’d say it’s been a pleasant coincidence that goes along with the time frame of training for a marathon, but I’d be more inclined to say it’s because this isn’t their first rodeo.
The first package of goodies arrived at the beginning of June, right after finishing my half marathon when my focus needed to turn to training for an extraordinary distance. It was too early to really start marathon specific runs, but the right time to get excited for a new goal.
A couple weeks ago we received an email notifying us that we’d start hearing about hotels and flights, plus a weekend schedule. This came right after vacation when I needed to refocus and face the heart of marathon training right in the face. It was a little perk, enough to push me through a couple more weeks.
Right before my longest run to date, the 18 miler that I was slightly scared of, we got our second shipment of gear. I still haven’t found enough space to store it all away and all the fall/winter gear is placed haphazardly on my dresser, but it was a huge motivator. There is something about taking off tags and heading out in fresh clothes can really help your mood.
And last but not least, on Tuesday I got my finalized flight schedule for Chicago emailed to me coincidentally after all but one my runs the week before were terrible. It was the perfect timing to kick off the final three weeks before taper. After a rough week, the email reassured me there’s still a few left to get in solid work and prepare myself fully for this race. One bad week probably won’t make or break Chicago, but there’s three more to dig deep and finish hard.
Three weeks of hard work before taper. Actually, less than that by the time you’re reading this. Yikes! I feel like just yesterday I was texting Laura, “Yes!” in response to this opportunity, yet in reality almost five months have passed. I totally understand the feeling people have before their marathon when they look back at their training and think about everything they could have/should have/would have done better. I always felt relatively prepared for every half marathon goal race, but the marathon? It’s a totally different ball game. I believe that no matter how awesome your training is, you’ll always find something you wish to have improved upon. When it comes to the marathon — you just have to trust in your training. And thankfully, I still have three more weeks left.
So in these next three weeks, I have 6 key workouts I’m looking forward to nailing before taper. The most important to me is my next three long runs – 20 miles, 18 miles with faster finish, and 20 miles with Laura. I want to feel strong throughout, have a healthy hip, and feel like I have gas in the tank. That last one is the absolute most important takeaway from these runs: gas in the tank.
I also have three quicker paced runs. One progression, one interval, and one tempo. Due to my vacation, I skipped my previous progression and tempo runs and have mostly had interval workouts midweek so I’m kind of excited to do something different. Each workout amounts to about 6-7 miles including warm-up and cool down. I’ve nailed almost every speed session this training cycle so it’s no secret where my preferences and strengths are and I’m certainly going to envision these last few sessions when I feel like death towards the final 6-8 miles of the marathon.
It’s still hard to believe in a month I’ll be in Chicago preparing for my first marathon. It’s even harder to believe I’m doing this relatively injury free; I never thought that’d happen a year ago. But here I am, looking forward to grinding out just 21 more days of hard training. My pantry and fridge are stocked with healthy food (though ones I need to cook — J, help me!), I have new sheets on the bed and in the closet. Other than laundry, work, and a wedding, I’m looking to make these next few weeks just me and my training. It’s just 21 days, that’s nothing… right?