13.1 miles completed through the hilly terrain of Western Massachusetts in 40 degree weather and rain. Some people would find this miserable. Others would define this as an incredible experience. For me, it was a little of both. An experience that challenged me, made me grow and most importantly allowed me to learn.
As a yoga and cycle teacher I constantly struggle with how much rest I should give my body, especially when it comes to long distance running. How many miles is required per week? How much weight training should I do? How does my classes complement my training? How do I do all these things without burning myself out physically and mentally?
What’s important to realize is that you don’t have to be a fitness instructor to contemplate these same questions. Training the right way for your body has to be customized and balanced specifically just for you. The first step in this right direction is observation and reflection.
Here are my 7 lessons learned from my race experience. Some may be applicable to you while others may not. However, the questions are a great way to reflect and observe what’s working and not working for you.
1. What was your level of fatigue on a scale of 1 to 10 after your workout?
I was around a 9. My body was tired and I gave everything in my tank. I probably could have given more if I was not so stiff. I realized that my cycle classes definitely allowed me to pick up the pace 9 miles in. My endurance level was strong.
2. Were you able to pick up the intensity of the workout after the start? If so, why do you think you were able to?
Yes, my pace was key. I ran with Jon for the first couple of miles to get into the groove and get out of my head and then to ran the remaining 8 miles with music and focus on picking up pace. What also was key was having a shot of chocolate GU at mile 8. It had caffeine and gave me a great kick.
3. What was your body’s level of stiffness on a scale of 1 to 10 after your workout?
I was a 10! I felt like I ran a marathon. The hills was super taxing on my body. I did not log in enough miles during the week (only around 18) which I think I should have at least logged in 25 miles. Hill climbs would’ve been helpful as well. I can tell my yoga practice has really allowed me to recover quicker than usual and has kept away post-race body stiffness.
4. What did you eat before, night before, after? How did you feel?
I had pasta and bread the night before which I don’t think did the trick. I’m going back to brown rice. That seems to keep me full and satisfied. Banana was great the race of and the GU at mile 8 was perfect.
5. Caffeine—do or do without?
A little bit before the race and then having 1 GU with caffeine seemed to work fine. Not sure if I would do more than that since it might make my stomach feel funny.
6. Any moments of inspiration?
The moment I got my stride. My breathe, my feet and my legs all started to work together in sync. At the same moment, the clouds broke and the sun came out. Everything felt clear and light. I felt confident and grounded (this did not last too long since the rain came again, but it’s moments like these that always takes me back to roads).
7. What was the most challenging part of the workout?
At Mile 11. I thought was almost done and my pace was fantastic. I had a great rthym and felt so strong. Then I took a turn and saw this monstrous hill in front of me. I yelled, “holy sh**t” and just kept going. I had no choice but to carry on; knowing that it will only make me stronger.
What are your lessons learned from your last big race or workout?