Do I feel ready to crush my PR? Honestly, I don't know. My last marathon was almost a year and a half ago and that race and this one weren't spread that far apart on purpose. After dealing with almost back-to-back injuries in 2012, I'm mostly just scared to jinx myself, despite how strong I've felt after many of my speed workouts and tempo runs. I can say, however, that I feel ready to run a strong, consistent race on June 1.
Some things I've done differently this training cycle:
Running five days a week
I've experimented between running five days and six days a week in marathon training cycles. When I tried doing six, I ended up flat-out bonking in one marathon and then injured and eventually missing two of my next ones. I've been running five days a week even in the off-season since my freshman year of college, so for now I'm sticking with what's worked.
60 minutes of yoga once a week
I can't say with certainty that this has helped my running itself, but I almost always did this the day after long runs and found that I haven't felt that sore at all, not even after last week's 22-miler. I started out the year doing weekly hot yoga at a local studio with a Groupon deal, and when that ended, I bought a Gaiam DVD at Target. I must say, I prefer doing solo yoga at home — no dealing with getting myself there early enough to get a parking spot or enough floor space to fully stretch out.
Weight lifting and core work once a week
Just before I started this cycle, I upgraded my 5-pound dumbbells to 8-pounders and have religiously used them ever since. It's been hard (I know, I'm a pathetic weakling) and I can't really tell if I've gained any muscle definition. But the real reason I decided to work on this was because I noticed in my last marathon's photos that I looked hunched over in the later miles, likely because my upper body was fatigued. After about two months of regular weight-lifting, I noticed that my form and posture looked significantly better in my Country Music Half photos, which definitely won't hurt on Marathon Day.
Hydrating early and often on the run
I've carried a water bottle on every long run this cycle, so that's what I'm going to do in Newport. (Shout-outs to the Shell station near Memorial Park and the Whole Foods in River Oaks for always providing free ice water to sweaty runners.) I've also hydrated exclusively with lemon-lime Nuun just in case I find myself without it on Race Day and am forced to drink the same flavor of syrupy Gatorade.
Speedwork and tempos
I rarely really did any speedwork while training for my first three marathons. It's kind of a miracle I PR'd and went sub-4 in my third one after a terrible second. Many thanks to Coach Celia for keeping the workouts interesting and understanding that Texas heat is killer when I sometimes didn't quite hit the paces.
Not overdoing it with races in the middle of training
I only ran four races during this training cycle and, surprise, I didn't PR in any of them. But I did have strong performances in most of them and I'm a newfound believer that (a minimal amount of) races should serve as training runs in a marathon training cycle. Now if only I can PR in the marathon next month to make it all worth it...
Anyway, that's all for now. Rather than talk up a big game, I'm going to say that the goal for June 1 is still sub-3:50 and I hope to get there by running a smart race and avoiding hitting the wall. I leave for Oregon a week from Thursday and I hope to post an update between now and Race Day. But if not, I'll see you on the flip side of my fourth 26.2.