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Intermittent Rest Days Make A Difference

(Above: Training Load has intentionally decreased since last marathon with more rest days)

As I got back into running after my (LOL) historic 3:51:16 (almost BQ if I didn’t have to use the porta potty) marathon in Newport News, I found myself in a bit of a slump. I started light running 4 days post run and finished the week with a total of 40 miles. I think I got a little too eager beaver after that kick ass race and ramped back up too quickly. I was originally going to jump up to 50 miles but I settled for a week of 46 and 45 after that initial week. (Thankfully my kid’s activities kept me busy on those weekends so an early morning run was not possible!) As the weeks progressed, I noticed that the Training Status on my watch was pretty much consistently Unproductive. See the screenshot for details. Orange=Unproductive, Green=Productive, Purple=Peaking, Light Blue=Recovery, Yellow=Maintaining. Although I was still considered Productive almost immediately post-marathon, I fell into a slump that I needed to get out of as my body was revolting and it was playing with my mind too. I just couldn’t run well if I tried. My daughter ran with us one Sunday that I felt like crap (but forced myself to run anyway) and she said it was so slow she was never running with me and my running buddy again! (She’s 15.) I was watching my heart rate on these non-productive runs and yes, it seemed too high for running such a slow pace. I was starting to run slower paces because I wanted my heart rate to come down so I would not be classified as “Unproductive”. Because you know I couldn’t actually GIVE IN and TAKE a DREADED REST DAY!! As I reached the last week of March, this was really bothering me so I decided to take 2 consecutive rest days. It ended up working out nicely because I needed to be at UVM one of the days with my son, so I COULDN’T RUN that day. I was just too busy! (LOL.) I also had a 5 mile relay race the next day so I wanted to be mini-tapered for that. My team was counting on me to bust out 4.7 miles and I couldn’t let them down (although I was the slowest of us 3). So that’s what I did. I took 2 consecutive rest days and then was able to bust out an 8:24 per mile pace that Saturday. I was impressed with that considering my runs were sucking so badly for 2 weeks. And I mean suck. I was in the 12’s and 13’s and sometimes 11’s if I got lucky. I just wasn’t feeling like my old self and my HR was high in the 170’s for these easy runs but what I finally realized was that I really needed rest. Pat kept telling me that the marathon was so fast (yeah right?!?) that it took so much out of me and I needed to properly recover. (OK, yes, so in hindsight, he was RIGHT and I was WRONG. Marriage is a compromise, right?)

Once I proved to myself that REST REALLY IS A GOOD THING not just in the taper period and that it helped me actually run better, then I came up with a new training plan to get myself back on track. With these 2 marathons only 56 days apart I was persuaded that yes I need to do something a little different. I am not getting any younger people! So I elected to take intermittent rest days. Not just 1 rest day per week, how about 2 or even 3?!?! What the heck was I thinking! Me, take a rest day!?! That goes against my personality and running mentality but I finally realized this is what I need to do in order to be successful in my next marathon. So far by taking these additional rest days I am allowing my heart rate to come down and work so much more efficiently. I have been running in the 8:45 pace range and my watch “tells me” my HR is around 132. That’s so low compared to before. Sure it still creeps up to 145-150 if I am really pushing but it’s much lower than before. The plan that I am currently executing is 2 days on, 1 day off. Although I just ran 3 days on and will take 1 day off before a 12 mile run on Thursday. When I run now, my goal is to have my overall pace in the 9’s or 8’s. I am pushing harder on these “ON” days, so I can appreciate and need the “OFF” days. If I am going to run, I am going to make it worth it. I have proven before my last marathon that faster training pace will lead to a faster marathon pace, so I will continue that trend. At this point, I am happy to say that I got myself back on track. You can see a pattern emerging in the data. The green and purple bars are awesome days! I am on a roll and this turned as soon as I started resting. I feel good and strong again after taking these rest days. So yes, less is definitely more. The next 2 weeks are critical for a successful marathon. It’s all about resting and being good to yourself. That’s what allows the body to be strong and capable to run a good, consistent marathon pace. I have a new attitude now. I feel like rest is my friend so I am fully embracing it. Any way I can run a better marathon, I am going to do what it takes. I have run crazy amounts of weekly mileage before but what I finally understood was this time my body needed more of a rest than a push. Runners are so good to listen to their bodies and usually we are so in tune with ourselves – but we can be a stubborn bunch too! So approaching the taper period now, I look to it with great joy. I’m priming my body the way you prime a wall for painting. I can’t wait to cover that next course and put my mark on it. I want to make history for myself. I need to capture that elusive BQ time. OMG, I would have made it by 4 and half minutes easy if I didn’t have to urgently use the porta potty in that last race. I am freaking good enough to go crush that Boston Marathon course now as a legitimate runner (previous time in 2016 was 4:37:40 for my 5th marathon as a charity runner). I can go freaking wild and run like a cheetah now. I get it! Nothing scares me. I am a veteran, 20-time marathoner now. I know what it takes now. I was such a novice back then. It’s kind of comical to think about it now. Boston is a tough course too, but I am so much better trained now than I was then. I have almost “mastered” the marathon. I can run it better and more consistently than before and finish tired but strong. That BQ time is in my grasp. I just know it. I want to run Boston again as a qualified runner and obliterate that old 4:37:40 time. I have to do it just for the sake of doing it because I know I can. Some things just have to get done and this is on my list! I currently have 3 races lined up for 2019 and I know I will accomplish it.

Above: Stephanie & I finishing the last leg of the Shamrock Shuffle! Pat elected not to join us. LOL!

Above: Our stats from that relay. I clearly was the slow poke of the bunch but hey, I got back up to an 8:24 pace. Not bad for completely feeling crappy just a few days before. See what 2 days of true rest will do for you?? I wish I was faster because then we might have had a chance at winning our division.

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