*Marathon Training Update* Rockin' Savannah In 59 Days...

When we last left the marathon #9 training story, I had the hydration plan under control thanks to Essentia Water... but the rest was a mystery! :P

Well that was a start, but there was the small detail of a training plan that needed to be addressed. I haven't followed a really structured training plan in a couple of years. Outside of my long runs that were set by Tedy's Team for the past couple of Boston Marathons. Now I am not recommending this plan to folks - haha - it's just what ended up transpiring in my life. I was kind of winging the weekday workouts, which didn't really bring me the results I wanted. Shocking I know. ;)

So this time around, I wanted a little more structure. I had dabbled in the idea of getting a running coach, but that wasn't in the financial cards. 

Which meant I got back to basics. Time to return to what worked for me for marathons #1 and #2...

A free Hal Higdon Training plan!

I was unsure which plan to choose so I polled some of my lovely blends (blogging friends) and went with Intermediate 1. I like that Hal Higdon's plans include rest days and cross training. Now while I am in the middle of a run streak, I can use rest days on the plan to spread out the mileage so that the weekly mileage still hit the goal, but I spread it out a little differently (outside of the long run).

Now once I had the framework of a plan, I could tweak it to fit my busy fall racing schedule. As of this moment, I have 12 races between now and the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah marathon.

Yes my name is Dani and I have an addiction to race bling! ;) Seriously though I am blessed the have the opportunity to travel to some amazing races and the honor of being a race ambassador for some kickass local races. It is hard to turn down those opportunities SOOOOOOO...

I build the training plan around those. This means I will most likely not try to PR at any of those races in the Fall, which is A-okay with me.

The other hitch to sort out was a pretty big one: deciding on my marathon race goal.

I'd been going back and forth in my mind for weeks about this. I knew I wanted to go for sub-4, but what was my body really capable of. This really came to a head when I had to do my first training run "at marathon pace." Well if you don't know your goal, you can't have a goal pace. Am I right?

So I opted to take that run and let my body decide a good pace.

Splits: 8:26, 8:38, 8:29, 8:31, 8:21, 8:35, 8:18

Splits: 8:26, 8:38, 8:29, 8:31, 8:21, 8:35, 8:18

Apparently 8:28 average pace was it. Side Note: Wow! It still shocks me when paces like this come out of my body. I remember vividly when a 14 min/mile after back surgery was a STRUGGLE!

This would lead to a 3:42 marathon. WOAH! My current PR was set in 2012 at RnR Savannah: 3:58:49.

Okay that was a good test. So I decided to set my A goal as 3:45, B goal is a PR 3:58 or less, C goal is sub-4.

I like having options with my goals because I never want to feel like a failure. So really Goal 1 is: get to start line, Goal 2: finish the race, etc. Let's get realistic. Am I right?

So now I continue to push through the uncharacteristically warm September temperatures in Boston and get the work done.

Thank you Essentia Water for keeping me well hydrated both on and off the running path.

Remember to take part in my #EssentiaMoments challenge! You could win 3 whole cases of 1L bottles of Essentia Water. Read more about it.

My fellow Rock N Blog blogger and blend Joe of Run8Eva has offered to run with me for at least some of RnR Savannah. Yay! I have never had someone speedier than me offer to pace me for part of a race so this is a huge help. Hopefully it will work out, but I am not putting all of my eggs in one basket. You know what I mean? No matter what I am the one that will have to motivate me throughout the race.

But don't worry my friends - I will not skimp on the selfies, tweets or posts mid-run! Those make me smile and help pass the miles.

Sunday's long run!

Sunday's long run!

So how do I feel today - 59 days out from the race? Much better than I did a few weeks back. I like having a plan in place, a goal to work for and flexibility to make sure I can take part in the races I want to. :) 

Because when running stops being fun I usually say why bother? I like keeping training fresh and fun. But how can that be as the miles increase?

1) I love using personalized hashtags for motivation. During my 20-miler in March, I used #DaniRuns20MilesForFun and friends on social media helped push and inspire me to get the miles done. Plus I felt accountability to follow through on my intention.

2) I will use virtual runs or old race medals to push me through a race. I have no shame in putting on an old medal after a tough 13.1 training run to feel that extra sense of accomplishment. See picture above. ;)

3) I run for a cause. Helping to #FightStroke with Tedy's Team has changed my life for the better. While I run for my main Stroke Heroes - my grandparents and Father-in-Law - I now run for so many others that have been affected by Stroke. They keep me going as the miles increase.

4) I will break long runs up if necessary. I know some experts frown upon that, but if I need to do 20 miles and a friend offers to join me for 10 I am going to jump on the chance to run with them. OR if the option is no 20 miler or doing 10 before work and 10 after, I'm going to take it. I find breaking up a run if necessary works for me. I don't do it every long run because I do want my feet and body to get accustomed for moving for that long period of time, but every once in a while I find it a-okay to break up a run. 

5) Fun outfits! I now wear Sparkly Soul headbands and Sparkle Athletic skirts on every training run because they make me happy and I like being happy. :) It also allows me to test out some race day outfits before the big show. I even get recognized by them now while I run around Boston. :)

All in all I am feeling happy and content with where I am at in the training cycle. Could that change tomorrow? Absolutely. But for now I will soak up the moment and plan my outfit for tomorrow.

How do you keep yourself motivated through a long training cycle?