Did you know over 20,000 runners, joggers, and walkers will take to the streets of Cleveland for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in less than 8 weeks?! If you think that sounds hard to believe, so do I. It seems like only a few weeks ago I was asked to come back as an official blogger and chronicle my journey, and now, we are almost there! My race day excitement is building with each passing week as I continue to work on speed and adding miles. I am reaching goals I’ve never thought possible and am very excited for what race day will bring.
So, how has training been going for me? The answer – really well! And want to hear the funny part? I’m not keeping with a strict schedule like I have in the past, and it seems to be working for the better. For previous half marathons and marathons, I’ve sat down with my blank calendar and penciled in every single run to get me to race day. I barely deviated from the schedule, which was good in terms of discipline and consistency, but it led to running burn out. Every weekend I logged a long run, adding 1-2 miles each week whether my body felt up to it or not. I may have been getting the miles in, but my times were slow and the run itself was mediocre at best. This year is different. I’m doing a better job of listening to my body instead of letting my calendar dictate my life, which, for a super scheduled person like me, is hard to do. Now, if I don’t feel up to a long run on Saturday or Sunday, I don’t do it. I don’t want to force the miles. I would rather complete the run on another day than slug through and be miserable with the way the run felt and the time in which I completed it. There have been weekends where I haven’t run. I worried about this at first, but I found that the time off gave me fresh legs and a clear head, which allowed me to come back and crush it. My long run yesterday was proof of this.
Do I still have my training calendar? Yes, I do, and it’s still hanging on the side of my refrigerator. I glanced at it to see where I was in terms of miles, and I’m happy to say that I’m ahead of schedule! Currently, I’m up to 18+ miles for a long run, which in past years I didn’t reach until about 5 weeks before race day. My plan is to keep improving on my long runs and nailing down my pre-race and race day nutrition. I recently tried PowerBar Performance Energy Blends and fell in love. They are basically glorified baby food, but, goodness sake, are they delicious and beat the heck out of gels! I highly suggest trying them, especially if the thought of downing another gel makes your stomach want to flip.
What next? I originally planned to not run a major race before CLE, but with my new running confidence and being ahead of schedule, I took the plunge and signed up for the Lake Health Running Series 20 Mile Drop, a point-to-point race that starts in Chardon and ends at Mentor Headlands. I needed an element of challenge to fight long-run monotony, and I thought this would be the perfect chance to put my training to the test. I would much rather find out something with my pre-race prep, nutrition, gear, etc. isn’t working quite right and have a chance to tweak it than get to the marathon in May and have things fall apart. I refuse to fail in Cleveland this year! Plus, it’s hard to pass up a race near my hometown of Painesville, and I hope that some of my family can make it to Headlands to see me finish (yes, fam, I’m calling you out and hope you come to the race!)
If you’re interested in running the 20 Mile Drop, sign up now; they have a limited number of spots left. 20 miles not your cup of tea? Be part of the fun by running the 10 Mile Drop! Hope to see you there!