What's different for me this marathon training cycle

Now that I’m five weeks into marathon training, I wanted to talk about what I’m feeling is different this time around. This is my second marathon training cycle and I’m feeling a lot different than I remember at this same point in Twin Cities Marathon training.

Weight

I think the first difference is that I’m a couple pounds lighter. I’m holding at right around 134.5 lbs lately compared to 137 at the start of Twin Cities Marathon training. Which might not seem like a lot but when you are running 30+ miles a week, those couple of pounds make a big difference. And I know that I wouldn’t be feeling this way if I hadn’t done three month cut after running  Twin Cities Marathon to focus on weight loss and upping my strength training.

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Sleep Quality

Another difference I’ve seen is my quality of sleep. I remember during most of Twin Cities Marathon training that I was waking up during the night for random reasons almost every single night. Even though I’d fall back asleep quickly, I know I wasn’t getting the best quality of sleep. Now, I’m sleeping through the night most of the time and feeling much more awake when my alarm goes off.

One change that I’ve made that is helping out with my sleep schedule is turning off my alarm on the weekends. I’m letting myself wake up naturally and that means I’m getting up at 6 or 6:30 rather than with an alarm at 4:30 or 5. And I’m able to do this because of the weather this time around. Instead of trying to get out as early as possible to beat the heat, I’m trying to leave for my weekend runs later in the morning so that maybe it warms up a little bit. But it’s helping to get a little bit extra sleep on the weekends and sleeping through the night.

Mental Shift

I’ve had a huge mental shift with marathon training. Last year, it was all about making it to the end. Now, I know I can make it to the end and it’s about that time goal. I feel like it’s more serious this time. I want to do more than just finish. I want that 4:45 finish time.

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Making that shift from just finishing to a goal time is making me take my training more serious since I started my three month cut. I knew then that keeping up with my workouts would help get me to that time goal. Now, meeting my pace goals and getting in my foam rolling, core workout and cross-training will get me to that time goal.

This is probably the most serious I’ve been about a race. There’s a fire inside me to meet that time goal. And it’s helping me push through the downsides of training and life to get across the finish line and see 4:45. Or maybe even a faster time….

Weather

But of course, there’s a downside to marathon training in the winter. It’s the weather. I’ve already done more treadmill runs due to the cold than I did due to the heat during Twin Cities Marathon training. It’s not as bad since I got used to treadmill running in my off-season but I’d much rather be running outside than stuck on the treadmill.

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I’m also running in a lot more layers due to weather which is constricting. I don’t feel like I have as much mobility on my runs sine I’m covered head to toe in an attempt to keep my body heat in. I’m hoping I’ll be able to run in shorts outside before the Eau Claire marathon just to get that feeling back before race day. But it is nice not to be drenched in sweat and salt after my long runs for once.

And, besides the cold, the weather means I’m having to be a lot more careful on my runs this time around. There’s ice and packed snow which means I could easily slip. But, it also makes me focus on my running form now and I feel more comfortable taking shorter strides that increases my speed without using as much energy. But I’m hopeful for clear sidewalks soon. Even though that will means giant puddles since the snow will have to melt first.

 

What differences have you seen between training for fall and spring races? Do you prefer one over the other? Let me know in the comments!