Roman Pyasta — I AM…

Не могу не поделиться великолепным постом Романа.
Мотивация и тяжелая работа плюс определенная доля удачи = великолепный результат!

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Roman Pyasta

My new 2:44:15 PR at Chicago marathon 2018.
How did I get my 46 year old body and a mind, that gave up on trying to improve marathon PRs anymore, to grow in less then a year into a 2:44 marathoner and break that dream sub ‪2:45‬ marathon?
Here is a long version.
Grab your popcorn (or better a cup of fresh organic raspberries)

Last year, I already had 9 years and 37 marathons of experience.
And those years of working on faster and faster PR, I learned and tried so many things, most of all in recent years focusing on the most efficient, effortless, and fast running form. I have reached a point where I thought I had nothing else to tap into to improve results as age kept clicking up and up.
Yet I learned and changed a LOT in my marathon preparation in this past year. Nearly revolutionary changes for me.

Key elements for me were: high mileage, strength training, significant change in nutrition day to day and prerace, different mindset capable of maintaining high levels of motivation for months, and new mental technique during race.

But back to the start of this unexpected journey to new PRs…
A year ago, October 2017. I managed to run an OK ‪3:08‬ Lakefront marathon and pretty much accepted as fact of life that at age of 46 my era of marathon PRs is over, I am getting slower, and that even getting sub 3 is likely now belongs the past too.

But an unexpected thing happened in December that sparked this whole year for me: a post by my friend Lada about simple affirmative thought “I AM …(insert your desired state)”. What you think of your yourself in this affirmative way: I AM…, invites that I am in your life.
It was like that right spark that relit a dream that I myself put out for good as an impossible one by choosing wrong I am. I listen to the video post, completely inspired, and it was just most natural thing that came next: “I AM ‪2:45‬ MARATHONER”! Just like that, I thought it and HOW great it felt!
You state this to yourself again and again and accept this as a fact and amazingly you body and most importantly mind starts acting as if this thought is in fact already a reality, seeking elements of knowledge and elements of body transformation to this new state.

Why ‪2:45‬?
For the longest time, I had a dream to run fast enough marathon to qualify for the first corral of the first wave of Boston Marathon and get that 999 or lower Boston bib and start this very special for me race that I run annually since 2010 with the ultrafast super talented boys and girls. It is a moving target each year, but roughly ‪2:46‬ marathon will get you to the very first corral of that legendary race with the fastest of the fast non-pros. I forced myself to give up on that dream after 2015 as I just could not see improving ‪2:49‬ PR that took me 4 years of trials. But here I was suddenly, at age of 46, all of a sudden so fired up and confident to GO for this “stratospheric” for me dream goal.
Am impossibly distant but irresistibly attractive dream.

What followed was pretty rapid change in how I trained, recovered, ate, slept, set my mind for training and racing. Many eureka moments. Our brain tends to do this, if you are so fired up with a goal, you mind keeps working even when you are asleep, brainstorming for solutions.

Here is what was new this year for me, some are obvious and commonly practices and some are truly my own inventions:

*Strength training. I am talking about runner specific training and not just some pull ups, biceps/triceps, upper body, or even standard planks and stuff. Most pros do dedicated strengthening exercises and most amateur runners don’t do them. It is simply incredible tool not only for improving your results but also as injury prevention. With stronger muscles you run faster, your muscle do not fatigue as much at the end of long runs or marathon races, you running form does not deteriorate at the end of races.
This was a new addition for me this year. I learned my routines from YouTube, here are few examples but there are many more to pick from and build your own routines. At least 2-4 times a week, often after easy recovery runs.
https://youtu.be/jQcGXGf1-TU

*High mileage. This was the key element. One would think it is so obvious, but for me it was huge eureka moment while watching YouTube video of one of the elite runners.
After trying to improve all I could in prior years, this was one very obvious untapped source for improvements: large weekly mileage.

When I started running, work, very young kids, house, being a single parent, all limited my training time. So it just happened that my training was low mileage but high intensity. It was almost an object of pride that I could run very decent times, sub ‪3:00‬ marathons with barely 35-50 max weekly miles.

Now, I set goal to train with 90-100 mile weeks.
To get there, it would take a gradually growing base building phase and a written plan.
A WRITTEN PLAN, is again seemingly obvious must have. But in most recent years I thought I knew enough to create day to day training strategy on the fly but of course life, laziness, or mental fatigue after work would usually cut many workouts short.
I started with larger elements, races on schedule, filled in target mileage goals for each week, and the with each week, played and adjusted breakdown of each day mileage goals. Making mistakes at times (such as scheduling track intervals after a day of heavy hill repeats which resulted in hamstring strain), learning and adjusting. But each month had weekly mileage written and each coming week had daily miles written down.

*Base building phase. Starting in December and ending in June. Goal was to just build volume of easy miles to be able to comfortably run 100 mile weeks and then in summer add quality elements.

*Training cycles. Most runners know that cycles of various duration are must in their training. Hard day-easy day. Hard weeks-easy week. Marathon build up period-post-race recovery period.
The way I structured my base building was to break it up in three large cycles each ending with a marathon to brake up monotony of huge 6 months long build up and to just test my progress (not expecting at first much from these very slow miles but huge for me volume).
Each build up will have three weeks of peak miles.
3 weeks of 80 mile weeks for Phoenix in ‪February, 3‬ weeks of 90 mile weeks for Boston in April, and 3 weeks of 100 mile weeks for Utah valley in June.
Typical base building week had Sunday long run and otherwise I spread miles evenly for the remaining days. Most days were slow runs to just get miles in, and by slow I mean SLOW: ‪8:00-10:00‬ min miles. Very far from marathon goal pace of ‪6:20‬.

I did not expect any sort of spectacular result from this training block as it completely without all the typical quality elements: tempo, intervals, marathon pace elements. Here the main stimulus was large weekly mileage, one long run a week: slow 20-28 mile runs.
Only in the last two weeks before my base building phase marathons, when I cut back miles, I added brief marathon pace elements to just remind my neurons how to fire in patterns needed at fast speeds. I felt that my legs were super strong in the last week but no idea what pace they are capable when rested.
To my amazement with just these two variables of high mileage and strength training I managed to run PR 2:46:12 in Phoenix 2/2018, my best ever ‪2:55‬ Boston in strong headwind, and ‪2:47‬ Utah Valley at 6000 feet elevation 6/2018.
To me it clearly illustrates huge potential for most serious runners to improve results with higher mileage and strength training even without doing any speed work on regular bases.
Big risk is of course over training or injury with high mileage.
My advice here: increase mileage slowly, do dedicated base building phase as I did at very ease paces.
Read 80/20 running book by Matt Fitzgerald, it focuses on importance of running slower for majority of normal training but particularly when in base building phase.
80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower
https://‪https://www.amazon.com/…/…/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_b04UBb3MMHMYP‬
Aggressive increase in mileage in addition to running too fast, too hard would be a virtually guaranteed way to an injury. If fact every time I would get up to a new bench mark it felt that legs were just about ready to crumble from all that pounding and nutrition was absolute key to recover day after day (more on this below).
My main training block for Chicago was 16 weeks long but was interrupted by trip to Ukraine and for fun trail 60K race.
But I was able to get a few 100 mile weeks before Chicago with now some quality elements.
Typical week was something like this:
Sunday: long run 28 miles,
Monday: treadmill easy 12 miles,
Tuesday: treadmill easy 12 miles,
Wednesday: track workout with intervals or tempo intervals 400 fast with 200 easy recovery, followed by ease run totaling 18 miles,
Thursday: treadmill easy 10 miles,
Friday: treadmill easy 10 miles,
Saturday: 10 miles rolling hills with elements of tempo or marathon pace pick ups.
I do not have exact stats but bulk of my training was close to 80/20 idea with 80% being at easy or easy moderate levels. Often running 2 minutes per mile slower then marathon pace. That is key to be able to run high mileage and have legs fresh enough on track days or tempo/fartlek days. Most amateurs make mistake of running too fast on easy days. And I was one of them in prior years hardly ever running slower then 30-50 seconds slower than marathon pace.

*Nutrition… another key factor.
Disclaimer here, that these are mostly just my own personal experiences and not all ideas can be supported by currently available research (plus currently available research does change from time to time as new studies shed better light on specific topics).

After playing with all sorts of things in nutrition. Key changes are these…
Overall shift to whole foods, berries, nutritious salads dominating, beets, walnuts, quality lean proteins done in 2-3 gram/kg/day spread through the day, daily ginger/turmeric in my food. shift aways from processed foods, away from saturated fats and red meat which seem to significantly increase inflammatory responses after hard workouts.

Favorite foods:
Protein shake as breakfast and first meal after harder runs. A cup of frozen berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries) for carbs and incredible antioxidants. Walnuts for omega-3 fats. Magical turmeric and ginger (in powder form) for pretty powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Beet powder (nitric oxide from beets is awesome at keeping great blood flow open longer to those muscle to deliver more nutrients and betalaine is a great antioxidant). Branched chain amino acids 5gm added as they are key to muscle grow. 30 gm of quality whey protein, grass fed, or plant based with complete amino acid profile, organic.
It works as a charm.
Days when I skipped it, I immediately felt inferior recovery, more delayed muscle soreness.
Additional trick with this protein shake recipe that I would make it in the morning before heading out for my long runs (28 milers were the standard with 100 mile week), and after running first 16-18 miles, would start circling back to my car to have some of this protein shake with ginger and turmeric and beets every 3 miles or so. Effect was incredible as you start pumping and “massaging” in all these building blocks and repair molecules in your muscles as you are still running with very high blood flow rate in your legs muscles for a good hour or more. You end up feeling stronger after 28 mile run instead of feeling completely exhausted with trashed legs.

My nearly daily favorite snack at work in the morning: fresh berries with a few walnuts. Amazing treat particularly a day after hard run.
My favorite noon meal: spinach, kale, shredded broccoli and carrots, my favorite Aunt Nellie’s pickled baby beets, oven roasted chicken, roasted almonds or some walnuts, and Trader Joe Almond Turmeric salad dressing.
Favorite afternoon meals: starchy options such as rice with a few cooked veggies, quinoa, buckwheat, mix of cooked grains. most of my runs were after work in the evening and it soon was a norm to have 10-12 mile daily easy runs and you need carbs in the system to finish these without stalling into slow hypoglycemic grind.

Limiting saturated fat to minimum.
On rare days when after a hard work out such as long 28 mile run, I get tempted by some fatty food with say beef, such as incredibly flavorful beef brisket I had at the festival where I normally park car for my runs, I would end up with significantly increased muscle soreness for the next day. Often most people do not notice this but when your are pushing your body to its limits nearly everyday every little change in nutrition like this was very evident to me. So this year, it was very little of fatty meals, particularly red meat as it seems the worst.
Daily unsaturated fats: olive oil in salad, walnuts, salmon but limiting fat to about 30 gm/day; otherwise I could not loose any weight. and my baseline weight when I do not watch diet but just run usually miles stays around 170 lbs with body fat around 12%. Goal weight for a fast marathon from past experience was around 160-162 lbs for my 5’11 ‘ height with body fat 7-9% or so.

Calorie/nutrient tracking, at least during early months to get a REAL sense of my daily nutrient intake, was a must for me.
I was on/off using a nutrition tracking app “Lose it”, otherwise my brain would still trick to nibbling here and there and at times throw in this bout of hunger in the evening that just would not let me loose any weight.
Using apps like this even occasionally, I think, is a great learning tool to change eating habits. I use it also for carbo load pre-marathon (see below).

*Supplements.
in 2018, I went to my doc to have labs done.
Results: low ferritin (storage form of iron) and borderline low vitamin D. both are common issue and both can negatively affect your athletic performance.
Iron deficiency is strangely very common in endurance runners and most doctors are not aware of this fact that endurance sports is associated with low iron. Why? I am not completely convinced I know the answers.
Iron can be harmful if your levels are too high, so best to have levels of iron and ferritin checked and to consult your doctor if either is low.
Vitamin D is common period. Despite my outside running, ton of gardening, and taking multivitamin, my level was 32 (normal is 30-100). I added Vit D3 2000 IU daily.
Additionally, just with my own decision, understanding that high volume training AND any increase in volume puts a runner at risk of stress fractures, suspecting that this likely leads to a lot more bone remodeling (building a stronger better bone from all that weight bearing exercise), and understanding that build anything needs building blocks aka calcium for bones, I started taking Calcium/Magnesium. Weeks when I would up mileage to a new level, it actually felt that bones are getting stressed, these odd pains in the shafts of many bones, metatarsals, tibias, in sacral bones. it felt like body is on the brink of breaking point in so many places. so that calcium and magnesium were taken very faithfully. once I reached plateau in training volumes, and miles/week became a norm, these aches resolved. hope is that bone have strengthened to take the forces placed on them weekly.
Additionally, I have pretty high sweat rate in summer and when one looks up composition of our sweat, there is a lot of calcium, magnesium, trace elements, and even iron that we loose. And depending on what hydration products one uses, one maybe loosing way more calcium then putting back in diet. Something to be aware of and replaces more fully (and not just sodium and potassium that most usually would focus on).
Think of this as on hot summer long runs you are basically sweating your bones out and you need to replace truly everything lost or it will catch up with you.
http://www.sportsrd.org/…/u…/2016/08/Whats-In-Your-Sweat.pdf

I additionally started glucosamine complex with hyaluronic acid (Schiff brand). Research was mixed in the past, of note mixed for patients suffering from arthritis, but now it seems that it is felt to be beneficial. Now, I am not aware of any research of this supplement taken by endurance runners to maintain healthy joints, but my theory was that it may help my cartilage stay healthy with high volume training, particularly in my knees. from just study of one body, mine, taking and then not taking seem to have noticeable effect on any joint line soreness after work outs particularly in my knees, so I am taking it daily. My dream, most of all is to keep running Boston until I am 80 years and beyond. So, joint must stay healthy and this seems to help MY body.

*Sleep. Getting enough of good quality sleep is essential for body and mind recovery and also to get to healthy weight. I for a while was using sleep tracking up AutoSleep on my Apple Watch. Immediately it became obvious that I need to go to bed sooner for 8 hours of sleep to happen. But it was great learning what affects deep more restful sleep and try to improve all these things. Nighttime resting heart race is also useful as marker for overtraining, stress, dehydration.

….
*Pre-race nutritional strategy.

*Carbo loading with fast method, starting 24 hours before race with calculation of 12 gm carbs per kg of lean body weight. Aprox 800 gm of carbs for me. With almost no fat (not easy to find good variety of sources of starch and glucose without some fats).
Mostly low fat bread (baguette or ciabatta), rice, potatoes, bananas, low fiber juices.
For dinner: potatoes, salmon and often my favorite Aunt Nellie’s Picked Beets (you can find then in any Walmart).
Morning of race: coffee, banana, toast, and carbo pro mix with beet elite powder before race.
But key is: 12 gm of carbs for kg of lean weight spread over 24 hours pre race.

*Intermittent fasting pre-race. 3 days before above carbo load, I do my own thing of ketogenic low carb fasting with about only 850 calories/day with mostly proteins.
In all honestly it was originally result of my last ditch effort to drops last few lbs of fat before Phoenix marathon but it worked so well, that I have repeat this now 4 times with excellent result each time.
so for Sunday race, this would be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday routines.
Wake up, cup of water with vitamins, vitamin C, BCAA, glutamine, I normally take. 3 mile run. Cup of black coffee and off to work in a fasting state. Around lunch 30 gm protein such as Muscle Milk pro (nearly zero sugar or fat). around 3 pm a salad with spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, 100 gm or so backed chicken breast, a bit of Trader Joe turmeric salad dressing. if glucose is dropping low, maybe a bagel or slice of bread on the way from work. Easy run 3-5 miles. same 30 gm protein shake as in the morning and bedtime with plenty of sleep, ideally 8-10 hours.
First day you always feel pretty weak, harder to focus, but on second day there is a nice surge of energy, likely I suspect as ketogenesis kicks in burning fat storage we all got plenty of.
this really seems to kick in fat burning in overdrive and leads to noticeable drop in fat level in my body in 3 days span which by itself results in such ease of movement and breathing. you feel feather-light.
but it seems it greatly improves fat burning even during race as I really do not have same peaks and valleys as before between GU gels as before and most importantly I do not have that massive drop in speeds I used to have after mile 20-23.
Additionally, and this is just my own theory, intermittent fasting increased phenomenon of autophagy, when cells, as nutritional resources becomes scarce, can clean up a lot of junk molecules that build up over time. That just my hypothesis, but I guess it would be great for top performance to have a bit more cleaned up cytoplasm. You just have this feeling of light but powerful and rejuvenated body once you are carboloading after the fasting. Plus I suspect brain is happy as well to finally have a lot more glucose and not just ketones to power up on and sense of fatigue (that central governor theory of fatigue that starts to limit us) during race is dramatically less.
On the side note, I am not a fan of ketogenic diet during any other phase of training. Every time I ended up in carb depleted state and had long runs day after day it became a slow misery to finish them and always seemed to zap my immune system likely due to release of cortisol released in response to hypoglycemia to stimulate gluconeogenesis. Low carb state does not let me have good workouts and does not give good recovery after a hard workout. So, personally, I believe in carb powered day to day training with only exception of this precarbo load depletion phase as you are tapering off your runs to short 3-4 milers in the last 2-3 days before the carbo loading day.

*Running stride (and Vaporfly shoes).
This topic is hours long in talking and years long in practice.
My best source was great coach Bobby McGee with his private video course for runners and coaches.
here is just a brief summary: https://youtu.be/GSGzqkjrWRA
Key in getting faster for most runners is the efficient stride where most of the forces that push you forwards are not muscle power but free elastic recoil force stored in many of these elastic rubber bands of our ligaments and most importantly in our Achilles/ankle/foot spring that gets loaded on landing and unloaded to push you forward essentially without using muscle power. It is VERY DIFFERENT feel from how most people run when often there is too much breaking force on landing, where most energy of ankle spring is dissipated with too slow of cadence, and propulsion is done by pushing yourself away from the ground and forward with mostly muscle power which is very tiresome and energy consuming.
Word of caution, if one decides to change running stride it should be very gradual process with just brief segments of practice with new stride. It takes years to toughen all those ligaments needed and figure out perfect timing of stride.
if one after years of practice has good feel for this main FREE energy spring of running: elastic recoil loading and unloading of foot/ankle, then Nike Vaporfly 4% can noticeably enhance this.
you must be efficient runner or at least have a hint what good stride feels like to harness energy return of these shoes.
For me great stride (and there are many other elements besides spring loading) and more importantly being sensitive to variations of you stride on various terrain and also based on fatigue level of various muscle groups is huge part of my results. this took years of work.
If one to summarize the essence of ideal marathon running form: it is spending majority of the race in completely relaxed form with entire body relaxed just floating through the air.
As you fly relaxed, your arms and core moving on electric springs loaded, your chest wall going up to take breath in on elastic recoil, your from leg is going up mostly powered by elastic spring of hip flexors.
You fire up muscle more or less in microbursts, in very measured amount, primarily just before ground contact time and up until elastic recoil spring of your ankle/foot is loaded. Your posture is straight, your pelvis is stabilized by strong core, and that spring pushes your forward without muscle use, completely relaxed flying forward. That is essence of efficient marathon form.

*Cadence. Ideally for marathon 180-190 steps per minute. Keeping in mind that you want to use elastic recoil to the max, think of analogy to jumping on a pogo stick. You can go fast boink, boink, boink using the spring to push you up on second, third, forth … jumps. Or you can jump up, land, wait a split second and again using your own muscle try to jump up. That is what slow cadence inefficient running is: using muscle power to push the next step vs using the spring as main source of propulsion. Cadence here is super important. Good to practice speeding up your cadence on track. I can rev this up to 250 steps per minute on track, so 190 during race feels super easy.

*Rhythmic breathing. Amazing technique that more and more runners becomes aware of. In short you synchronize your breathing to your running steps which makes exhaling and inhaling nearly effortless but a lot deeper (more exigences), but also for me personally became a method of keeping up faster cadence when I start to get tired but keeping breathing rate rhythm, like beat of drums this keeps the leg the same, they follow. Patterns of breathing differ. I personally, often would have two exhales on left and the right leg landing followed by effortless inhale on two steps. But this varies depending on speed. Key to me to relax your chest and let gravity upon landing pull chest wall down giving you exhale with no muscle work and do it on two consecutive steps to produce full exhale and then let elastic forces of chest nearly effortless fill your lungs. A lot less work and a lot more oxygen.
Plus for me rhythmic breathing became the key to my new mental strategyI use in races as below.

*Mindset to stay motivated.
Great thing about this affirmative way of setting a goal: I AM … (and not I want to be…, or I will be …), that it turned out to be amazingly resilient and capable of maintaining and restoring very high daily motivation needed for high mileage training.
It became a matter of fact that you train, eat, and think like ‪a 2:45‬ marathoner,

*Motivation...
An essential must have to sustain high level of training for long periods.
Otherwise your dream going to just remain a dream.
That’s why a dream bigger then life can give you such off the charts levels of motivation and help you remain it again and again when you are getting exhausted or burned out.
It is tough pushing your body in territory beyond comfort zone. Hardest are the first weeks of new higher then ever mileage: first 70, 80, 90, 100 mile weeks were with daily exhausted and carb depleted legs. I literally on some days could not push myself faster 9-10 min/miles during base building phase. Some days I did not have enough carbs in me with daily runs of 10 miles or more and diet not adjusted well to give pre-run carbo boost. But it got much better once I was doing same weekly distance mileage for the second or third time.
Runs when at mile 3 you go hypoglycemic and barely can walk and you are determined to finish that 7, 8, 10, 12 miler no matter what. Quick snack followed by slow running while watching motivational videos on iPad was my solution.
I have a whole play list of YouTube motivational videos now just for such occasions:)

It was tough to sustain this high level of motivation this entire year and in July, August I was feeling burned out. In retrospective, giving a good couple weeks of easy running after base building and maybe more easy wiser. As Chicago got 4 weeks away, it became again easy to get excited about your dream.
In my mind, motivation is absolute key to good results, and if comparing your daily self awareness to a car instrument panel, it is like a fuel gauge. If you are starting to run low, you yourself need to notice it in time and find ways to fill it up.
For me this I AM 2:45 marathoner affirmation was amazingly effective of a carrot to keep pushing day after day and get job done.

*New mental technique during race. this is the most beautiful thing I discovered in running.
Often when thinking of fast races, one would associate this with HARD effort, PAIN, TEAR IT UP, SUFFERFEST of the last miles and such.
it was almost a norm to run your best, you must embrace some form of suffering that comes in those last miles.

Physical pain was one thing, but they would get magnified by any psychological negative emotions that were happening.
Your have big goal. Months of hard training all with hope for that dream result. Race day and here you are only mile 16 or 18 and it all hurts a bit and you are slowing down, you have one slow mile splint, and another. Doubts surface.
Soon you see time slipping away and you are minutes behind your goal and can not see how possibly you can push your sore tired body to go even faster than before.
And if you are still on pace but barely keeping your target pace, Fear that it would get very painful and hard and urge that you just want to escape those suffering.
These emotions: growing doubt, sense of that impending growing fog of pain, soreness and fatigue, or seeing that your result is slipping away, all of this just magnifies your sense of fatigue exponentially and sooner or later your fears become self fulfilling prophecies. Physical and psychological suffering mixed in one package that is pretty tough for a marathoner’s soul after putting all that work in. I have been there many times.
You can do as I call them “for fun” marathons where you run at totally leisurely pace and completely immersed in sight seeing and enjoying your fun running tour of the race city. I have done them, but this year was not about that.
This is about racing to your best personal potential.

What I discovered this year with my first race in Phoenix was a freedom from all of this suffering and that was rather beautiful thing. and oddly it allows for a faster result too if your have put an honest solid training in.
I called it for me In the NOW running. My serendipitous compromise between getting amazing race results and just loving your race experience without that pending fear of suffering or failure.
Key of it, is to limit your awareness to just present moment, just those few steps and that breath in and those rhythmic with your steps breath out. Your sole focus becomes your perfect strides just right now with perfect “ankle/foot spring load and unload” and rhythmic breathing.

I just wish I can put another runner in my “driver seat” to give sense what it feels like. it is a mental place that is easy, predictable, kind of sheltered and happy in its simplicity. it is just making one great step after another, that is all. there is no pressure to achieve goal, no pressure of race pace, no fear of failure, no awareness of distance ahead or behind. it is running ZEN. Flow. where you control just a few perfect steps and a few easy satisfying breath. Imagine that.

You do get distracted with water stops, nutrition/GU alarms what go off in your brains at preset mile markers, cheers:) But instantly you try to return to that zen state of focus on the moment, your stride and breathing rhythm.
Most races this year I was not looking at gps speed but just a very few times, vs prior years when I ran with pace strips and checked every mile split methodically trying to run that perfect steady pace.
Every marathoner has surges of energy as well as slugging moments, at times it is related to what you took last GU or had cup of Gatorade or to a climb that took some energy. As long as runner that not internalize that slow moment as sign of weakening, body so often picks up again.
GPS signal in Chicago was horrible at first with clouds and skyscrapers, so I ran again essentially entire race by feel. Goal pace was 6:20/mile as slowest, so math for every 5 mile splits was easy, that is only marker of progress that I used mile 5, 10, 15, 20, 25. Brief distraction every 5 miles, but quickly returning to awareness of only the moment I am in and my steps and breathing just the the PRESENT.
Incredibly liberating state when things are just good and I have full confident control of it.
I did have a few moments when I used old self motivating technique of race mantra; nothing that pumps up adrenaline as I used to do as that is a waste of energy, but more simple and just reassuring “Trust your training” and of course “I AM 2:45 marathoner”, worked like a charm:)

Inner emotions are best generally neutralized as truly enemy of a great marathon. Neutral zen is always the best as a dominant state of mind. If you look at face of Eliud Kipchogi during many big races. it is neutral zen with a hint of a smile.
I was already at mile 1 to finish where I normally just run all I got, but this times I stayed in this zen state, feeling nothing but my rhythm and breath (aware that I am going sub 2:45 but with no sense of celebration or fear that something may happen in the last steps), until last turn. when seeing suddenly my URC Ukrainian Running Club runners cheering just opened all those emotions free. And you just FLY up that last hill and off to the finish line. And my face floating over the finish strip says it all, all emotions and hopes of the year condensed into a second:)

That is a “short story” of running the fastest marathon of my life (so far), marathon #42, at age 47.
And there were million other little important things too that would just take too long to describe.

….

Ohh, and that original post that sparked my entire year of rapid learning and growth as a runner and finally sub 2:45 PR,
it was this Sermon by Pastor Joel Osteen «The Power of ‘I Am'» from Oprah’s Life Class.
https://youtu.be/_kjSK-PcU9o
it is amazing how many of us lock up our potential by choosing a wrong I am: I am too old, I am too fat, I am too slow.
I chose my dream to become my I AM… and look what happened.
So choose every morning your I am wisely:)
I have a few new I AM of mine to growth into:)
Most of all I dream to be a great future husband for my love.
And it is harder than a 2:44 marathon:)

I AM…

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