>When I am able to improve 17 minutes on my 50K time in less than a year, I’d be amiss to not sit down and think about the things I am doing that have been a part of that improvment. So far, this is what I’ve come up with:
1. Nutrition – It’s been about 10 weeks since I met with Mel about my diet. I’m the first to admit, there have been several nights of Snickers Ice Cream bars from 7-11. If I had to grade myself on how well I’ve stuck to the nutrition plan, I would give myself a 75. That’s actually pretty horrible, when I think about it. However, I’m still making the effort to improve every day, and having seen it’s benefits already is keeping me motivated to stick with it. Also note: this doesn’t mean I’ve lost weight. In fact I have stayed exactly the same weight, but I can tell my body composition has changed and I’m simply getting stronger and able to put in more quality workouts with the proper diet. Dropping those LBs may “make you faster” but when push comes to shove I really don’t think that’s what it’s about.
2. Sleep – I love sleep. I get a lot of it. Early to bed, pretty early to rise, and I wouldn’t do it any other way. If I have a workout planned for 6am, I wake up and I’m simply too tired…I go back to bed. It’s that simple.
3. Quality mid-distance runs – Part of the reason I run the distances I do is because I truly enjoy being alone by myself in the woods, be it in a race or in training. I doubt that I will ever get to the point where I welcome company for 20-30 mile runs and long rides. Every now and then it can be helpful – and I think if I trained with people for those longer workouts I’d get faster – but it’s just not worth it to me to give up that Alyssa time. However, I have begun seeking people to go with me for the mid-distance and shorter runs under 15 miles. I think that this has made a world of difference. What can serve as a 10-12 mile recovery run for Arjun, can offer me a difficult workout. Making the 15 mile distance something that I can do quickly and easily is def one of the reasons I can now knock out 30 miles with a huge PR and still recover for a run the next day.
4. Two-a-days – I’m a huge advocate of this (AND of the MTV show about Hoover High which I have in fact visited and ran on their track), as I do a morning and afternoon workout at least 4 out of 7 days of my week. They aren’t always running – most of the time one is, and the other is spinning or swimming. It gets in the work I need but also isn’t too mentally or physically taxing because it is cross-training. If you can fit in an hour workout before work in the morning you are giving yourself a lot more money in the bank. Or hay in the barn. Or buns in the oven?