Monday, December 5, 2016

What Happened?

A couple people have asked what happened this year to improve my running. Dan would say I had a second kid. For years he's been trying to convince me that was the key to my success! After all it seemed to work for Kerrie Bruxvvort so that had to be the missing piece for me. Right?!?! Well I did change up somethings this year, aside from being a mom to two boys, and I think that it really paid of for me. 

1. Nutrition
Over the winter I knew one thing I really had to work on this year was my nutrition both in general and during races. I did a lot of research on race nutrition and what I decided to try was to simplify my nutrition to one type of sugar and to keep my electrolytes separate from my calories. It was fine to mix them but I wanted to be able to adjust the electrolytes based on conditions. After trying a few different things I reluctantly tried Dan's 50 lb bag of maltodextrin and Nuun. Well it worked on that first long run, so I tried it again and again. I'm sure there will be another race where my stomach turns south, but for now I'm sticking with the plan because it's working. I've mentioned before, but I also ate considerably more than I have in the past. I averaged 120-150 calories/hour...every hour until the end. Part of what helped was not puking. But keeping the calories coming in definitely helped my performance.

One thing I didn't plan on changing was going dairy free. We began to suspect Robert was having issues with dairy last winter and immediately saw an improvement particularly in his temperament, but it wasn't until the spring that I was really able to stick with it. Trust me dairy free is WAY harder than gluten free. It plain old sucks...I am a Wisonsin girl! I love my 10 yr cheddar, Mack and cheese, pizza... But the reality is I think it really had a significant impact on my stomach issues. Even if it wasn't not doing dairy its in my head now that no dairy helps so even once I add dairy back I'll go back to no dairy for a couple weeks before races. 

2. Mileage
I've never been a high mileage runner, but this summer after the Leadville marathon I put together a training block of the highest mileage I've ever ran. July I ran 337 miles with 59000 ft in vertical. My previous high mileage month was 249 miles. I was consistently running 70-80 mph. While I can finish 100s on lower mileage I really think that to run successfully I really needed the higher mileage. The other side to that though is balancing getting injured. The past few years I've been slowing increasing my weekly mileage during training blocks and I think this season the timing was right to be able to increase my mileage without getting injured. And not just that but my body was able to respond well to the week after week of high mileage without feeling fatigued. I actually ended my training block without the feeling I usually have where I'm tired and rundown and ready to taper. I felt great the whole time. 

3. Strength Training
If you know me at all you know I hate the gym. I hate lifting weights, I hate working out, I hate being in a gym. But after doing a running eval this spring I found out my quads, particularly my left quad was actually weak. I knew if I wanted to run high mileage and push myself I had to change things which meant I was going to have to do some strength training. I did all the research I could to develop a Pilates based routine I could do at home to strengthen my core, legs and back. I made sure it was short enough, 30 minutes, that I would stick with it several times a week and started including a couple exercises every day with the hip exercises I was already doing. After a couple weeks I started to notice a significant difference in the muscle definition in my quads so I know my routine was working to improve my strength and fitness. Just how much of that actually improved my running I'm not sure, but it was definitely worth it and something I will continue. And I actually kind of like doing it. 

4. Race Strategy
Ok I've said over and over this year I'm running consistent and running for time not place. I can't get caught up in anyone else's race. Aside from the Leadville marathon I think I did this pretty well. Interestingly enough the one race I had where I had a place goal I ran terrible. I wasn't running my own race, I didn't run consistent and the end result was a sub-par race result. I still haven't perfected this because its a fine line between pushing hard enough at the beginning of a race and not pushing too hard. But I'm definitely closer than I have been before.

I don't really know if any of these things made a big difference or not, but I have to believe they helped somewhat. Here's to hoping that if I can keep this up I can continue to see some big improvements next season!



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