this was a break through year of running for me and it culminated at cim earlier this month.  in reflection i think there were many things that contributed to my success this year – specifically at cim versus all of my past marathons – and i’d like to shine a light on all of them, first for recognition (to my friends who’ve helped me along the way), but also so that i can remember to incorporate all of them when i start training for my next marathon! also, in the unlikely chance someone out there is reading this, i would WELCOME suggestions/additional tips/etc – anything that may better prepare me for my next marathon feat.  anyway, here it is (in no particular order):

  • the right shoes for me – adidas adios, perfect, light weight marathon training shoe.  i picked up my first pair at the beginning of my cim training cycle and it definitely made a significant difference for me…getting through my training, racing competitive tune up races, and ultimately getting me through 26.2 in sacramento.
  • high(er) mileage via pfitz 18/70+ training program.  learning to simply run more for fitness gains and to run those extra miles nice and slow made all of the difference.  suddenly faster MP paces during tune up races felt manageable; suddenly my LT threshold was a much faster pace.  And suddenly the 25 to 30k distance didn’t feel as daunting as it had in the past.  looking back on those hal hidgon’s programs i followed for my past 5 marathons, i feel pfitz is a far superior schedule to use.
  • support system (girlfriend, family/friends, local running group, Runner’s World Online Forum friends) – having everyone i seriously feel got me through the tough stretches of pfitz, help calm my nerves pre-race and gave me the motivation to compete for/with someone.  i know now that without this support, i cannot achieve my goals.
  • weight loss – ran cim at around 157# (as opposed to 165/166# during previous marathon on 7/4/11).  allowed me to run faster, keep the weight off of the joints, etc.  this measure is almost reactive (for me) of the fitness level i’m currently in…better fitness, generally speaking the lighter i am.  under 155# is where i should be when i attempt another competitively raced marathon.
  • tune up races (marathon readiness series) – these are so helpful, because they give you real time reads of what your current fitness is like (and if you need adjust your goal pace, etc.).  but mostly as confident boosters for me and giving me much needed racing experience going into cim, which i still didn’t have much of.  also got me involved/into the running community out here and that feels nice to be involved and to know other runners.
  • stop smoking!  unbelievable to think i was still smoking semi-regularly only 6 months ago.  stopping plus adding in the asthma inhaler has definitely helped me get my lungs into okay shape to allow me to train hard and have the oxygen capability required for some hard paces.
  • smarter recovery.  that includes: ice baths after long runs, anti-inflammatory spray i started using half way into cim training, fueling properly w/in an hour after a key workout, slow recovery runs in between key workouts.
  • nutrition improvements.  really worked on eating better by making 2 large adjustments: eating to right food for a runner and eating at the right time.  the latter i’ve really had difficulty with because of a busy work life, etc.  i stuck to my 5 to 6 meals a days religiously, and it definitely gave me the much needed energy to get ready for my hard workouts and survive through them as well.
  • carbo loading the right way.  start 3 days prior to race.  diet is 90% carbs (yikes).  but it made me feel like the tank was full toeing the line, and through my cim race analysis clearly i was fully loaded.
  • stretching – consistent throughout, particularly after hard workouts (bless you foam roller), by concentrating on the stretching i really feel i’ve stayed injury-free (knock on wood).
  • strength training – particularly core workouts.  gave me the base, trunk to work off of when i would get fatigued.  also kept a strong frame/core for efficient, economical running.
  • the long run and learning to fuel consistently.  really practiced this every long run i went on, taking in gel every 30 mins or so and getting my body use to it.  at first it was far too much too often, and my stomach would give.  but soon it adapted and from then on i was able to take in the energy that i needed to keep going.  note: the gel flask that i incorporated into my training and race definitely helped as well.
  • finding my race day outfit.  small nod to my running singlet and shorts, as well as my asics running socks, that have carried me through quite a few races this year.  definitely helps to have your gear figured out in advance.
  • massage (4 days prior to race) – definitely helped (how much, i couldn’t tell you), but it got me and my muscles relaxed, and blood flowing throughout.  big shout out to fernando (massage therapist – 808-479-1725) who did an amazing job.  great deal if you’re looking for a good sports massage – give him a shout!