MarathonMaiden's Blog

March 17, 2010

Springtime Recovery = Beautiful. And “Marathoning Age”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 17:20

Hey all! Gotta make this a quick semi-quick one as I’m between appointments and later tonight I’m seeing Alice in Wonderland in 3D with mi hermana 🙂

To start: Boston numbers came out earlier this week!! Because I prefer to remain (slightly) anonymous I’m not going to announce my number. But I will say that I’m in the second wave.  I was secretly hoping to get into the first one buttttt there are some fast people out there! The cut off for the waves was 14,000. That is so crazy that there are so many people running Boston.  I’m excited but not as excited as I thought I was going to be. Weird although I know that it’ll change once the race gets closer.

But I gotta take everything day by day.  Did I actually say last week that spring break was going to be relaxing? Someone should have slapped me or something because, have I had time to relax yet?! Nope. I’ve been going from one thing to the next.  I was able to get in some good work today though.  I hit the gym for some lifting.  Due to Monday’s craziness I skipped (for the first time all session) a strength workout so I really wanted to get one in today.  And I did.  It was pretty good too but, and it’s probably mental, my arms lost fitness in those days?! Hahaha.  My arms were dying by the end.  It felt good but man, I felt the burn.

I chose to lift first (rather than second like I’ve been doing for the rest of the training cycle) because I wanted to take advantage of the BEAUTIFUL weather.  Sunshine, 50* (with a high of damn near 60), no wind.  The only bummer is that the floods have yet to recede and the large majority of my routes (include my hometown favorites) are still underwater.  The roads are so bad that that there are huge ass detours and back ups.  The trip home from the gym (a regular < 10 minutes) took 40.  Blahhhhh.

But despite the rivers in the streets I got a great recovery run in.  It definitely didn’t feel that way at the time.  I went into the run with the attitude that it was 1100 so my body was awake and the sun was shining with warmth so it should feel great.  Too bad my body wasn’t on the same page.  My legs felt so heavy and slow.  My mind was getting doubtful as to whether or not I even wanted to be out there. Luckily I was able to re-frame my thoughts and tell myself to shut the eff up.  I kind of resigned myself to the fact that my pace would be slow.  And like I said, this was the first time in 3 days that I was outside and that the time before that (Saturday’s long run) was in brutal conditions.  TM miles =/= road miles.

I think that having these low expectations did something because my recovery run was at a “blistering” 9:16 pace.  For those of you who are new to reading (and thanks for reading! To new and old readers 🙂 ) My typical recovery pace is around 9:30-9:45.  So it was a pleasant surprise to see something faster.  Especially since it felt so much slower.  There’s definitely something to be said about running in nice weather and not first thing.  Yes I think I’ll always be a morning runner but my body will go faster later in the day. Fact.

But enough about today’s recovery run.

I just wanted to talk a little bit more about my conversation with the high school track & field coach (yes I know this post is long already but oops. My blog. Too bad haha).  He definitely wasn’t saying that I had to take a week off.  It was more like if I had to then I wouldn’t lose much, if any, fitness. He did say that it would help to take this week as a major cutback but it wasn’t imperative that I stop running or anything.  He suggested that max time off this week would be good and then go hard for two weeks rather than just go semi-hard for three.

But the comment that most people “questioned” or rather commented on was the wait-a-few-years-to-marathon statement.

I’m not quite sure exactly his reasons for saying that and I didn’t really press him because let’s be honest here: I’m going to do what I’m going to do. BUT I can’t deny that I’ve been thinking along the same lines.  Not that I shouldn’t be doing this but that maybe I should pull back after Boston and focus on shorter stuff.

Firstly: The stress on my body. I’ve been thinking about the wear and tear I’m putting my body through. Yes, I’m still young (23) so the wear and tear isn’t huge. And yes I love it but it’s very grueling. Sure I could train on less buttttttttt. Yeah. I could but it wouldn’t fulfill me in the same way. To me marathons = mega-miles.

So my thinking is mostly just about wear and tear. Which I think is where the T&F coach’s thinking is too.  As a early (well maybe mid) 20-something my body is still maturing.  Sure I’m not going through puberty or anything but my bones and their density are still developing.  I know that running is good for bone health but 112 mile weeks is not the same thing as what the typical 20-something is recommended to do. I know that the typical 20-something isn’t running marathons either (I think that as bloggers, specifically running bloggers, sometimes we don’t see that as we represent a small number of people out there in the world).

So my bones is a concern. Another one is my hormone level.  While I’m still getting regular(ish) periods (mine have never been 100% regular, hence the ish) I’m still concerned that: running high miles = lower than usual body fat = less circulating estrogen (if one of the knowledgeable medical peeps begs to differ let me know! I am by no means an expert!). And I’m really slim already.  Not that I’m losing / have lost tons of weight or anything over the past 3ish months.

I know that running 100 mile weeks isn’t a year round thing butttttt….16 weeks of intense training has got to take some sort of toll.  And with less estrogen concern for my bones becomes great (part of the reason I was intensely worried about my ankle/shin being a stress fracture) as well as my reproductive health. I’m too young to be thinking about kids (like right now NO WAY IN HELL haha) but I’ve always reserved the right down the road to change my mind.

I guess the concern boils down to the whole mega-miles thing.  Like I just said, 100 mile weeks are tough and grueling.  I think the “concern” from the coach (or rather where he was coming from) was to take a few years to build up to that level, which is why I think traditionally most people say women “peak” at the marathon later in life: because it takes some time to build up I suppose.  Although he did say with a slight shrug “Well if you’re already there”.

Also the thinking tends to be younger = fast short races.  I really want to take advantage of the fact that I can recover quick and go out hard and fast. I know there are fast “older” runners but I’ve read lots of articles stating that a 20 year old (or at least that decade) is the best time to develop the power and speed necessary of a 10k. And while I love long stuff I’d be lying if I said that it isn’t fun to go all out for a 10k and run really fast. And I’d hate to think that I’m “wasting” that super speed young ones are known for 😉

So there you have it.  Nothing concrete or anything like that.  And again, I’m not (yet) a medical person myself so my knowledge is limited to textbooks and what others (doctors, fellow runners etc.) tell me.

And (before I wrap this up because I know it’s lengthy again!) I don’t want anyone to think that I’m nixing marathons forever. Part of my thoughts may just be that I’m in Week 12 of an intense training and my brain is thinking that there’s no way in hell that I want to go through this again.  I’m sure that more marathons are in my future even if I can’t see beyond Boston at the moment. I’m sure ultras are in my future.  But I just can’t see it yet.  The same thing happened after my last marathon: even though I knew I would run Boston, at the time I just couldn’t fathom training for it.  So life happens and things change.  But you got to get a look into my brain. How fun (hopefully haha!!)

So thanks for reading this novel (maybe physics wasn’t my calling.  Maybe writing should have been haha) and check out these giveaways from Tricia and Marcia. LOVE it.


  1. Hey Sista!! I’ve never done a marathon so I’m not sure how much fun they are….but 10k’s are THE BOMB!!! SO MUCH FUN! all you have to do is sprint for a little less than 40-minutes then BAM! you’re at the finish line!!! 🙂 AHHHH I’m sooooo excited for your Boston Marath. !!! and afterwards take some time running shorter during the week and 10k’s…then you and I can run the Boston together next year??…hehe! SOUNDS like a GREAT PLAN! ohhh and~to answer your ?’s from your comment…Yeah my Family has ALWAYS been SUPER ACTIVE (both my parents are AVID Road Bikers!)…I never really thought about it, but yeah we are always doing something or preparing for some athletic the summer we BIKE like crazies, in the winter we gym it up in Spin. My dad was a runner/surfer…but he ruined his knees flying airplanes and can’t run far with me…so pretty much you need to move to CA and be my running buddy! hehe! (wow sorry this is so long!!) I hope you’re having a great St. Patty’s day!!! xoxo!

    Comment by Lizzy — March 17, 2010 @ 17:45

  2. Still catching up … probably should have read yesterday’s post first, but this one is really, really good. I can tell you definitively, my coach would tell you not to run marathons at your age and with your talent. You should focus on much shorter stuff … 400s, 800s, 1 mile up to 10k. He would say you have plenty of years to run marathons … and the wear and tear is real. Our club has many women with your exact running/development bio (the Assassins). If I were you, after Boston, I would give 26.2’s a long break. I’ve hesitated to bring this up to you, but since the topic came up … no one on our team runs more than 55-60 miles per week even during peak marathon training. A guy who just finished his first marathon (Barcelona) maxed out at 60 miles per week … he debuted with a 3:01.

    Comment by a marathoner — March 17, 2010 @ 18:00

  3. for anyone, i wouldn’t suggest a marathon without some years’ experience running. i ran my first marathon at 19, but had been running competitively since 12.

    Comment by paige — March 17, 2010 @ 18:25

  4. I’m sure it’s probably really basic and something you’ve already thought about but can you increase your calories to make up for the low body fat, if you can gain some weight your periods and estrogen levels should regulate. That being said if I was running as much as you I think I’d struggle to eat as much as I’d need to maintain my weight..

    Hope you get some time to relax soon 🙂

    Comment by Laura — March 17, 2010 @ 18:52

    • Maybe on the period thing. I’ve been getting mine for ~10 years and they’ve NEVER been regular, even before I started running / competing in athletics. I’ve talked with an ob/gyn and it’s not something we’re super concerned about at the moment. But thanks for the advice 🙂

      Comment by marathonmaiden — March 18, 2010 @ 22:26

  5. Earlier this year I was all about the marathon (obviously that failed quickly), I then downgraded to a half.. but even now, I mean I still want to do it.. but that initial ‘I have to go long!’ feeling is kind of gone, WHY do I have to go long? I’ve been thinking maybe 10Ks are more my distance? I dunno I’m rambling but what I’m trying to say is I see where you’re coming from. You’re in great position right now to beast the Boston marathon which is SUCH an accomplishment (I’m praying I can pick you out of the crowd! chances slim I know..) but after that why not chill a little? You deserve it!

    Comment by BostonRunner — March 17, 2010 @ 19:48

  6. He he he… I love reading your thoughts about your training… I feel some of the same things would be going through my own mind if I were in your position!

    Enjoy the movie… I’ve found people either love or hate Alice. I loved it. Here’s hoping you fall into that category as well! 🙂

    Comment by Amy @ Second City Randomness — March 17, 2010 @ 20:06

  7. 100 miles a week is a lot of miles on the body. I am sure you can handle but as always your concerns are something to keep track of I guess and just monitor your body. I am not an expert at all and dont even know where to begin with my own body. Idk even know where i was going with this comment…i may just go to bed. good luck with this. it is an interesting topic but right now i have nothing!

    Comment by J — March 17, 2010 @ 21:00

  8. Training for 10Ks is a huge challenge in itself, just takes a different approach than mega-miles. Certainly, if you’ve never trained for the quick-quick stuff, I’d say give it a shot. Or the mile! Train for the mile!

    Comment by sarah — March 17, 2010 @ 21:24

  9. You know, I think the main problem with young girls and mega miles is keeping the body fat up so that hormone levels stay normal. My coach always used to tell us that we should wait until 25 to run marathons. I think that was just an arbitrary number he made up to mean “not now.” If your doctor thinks you are healthy, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Comment by pen (pen at peace) — March 17, 2010 @ 21:31

  10. I’m not really sure what to say here because I have a lot of thoughts. In the end, it comes down to what you want to do. It is your body, your running and your future. I am sure you will make the right decisions. Hopefully I will have someone to compete with in miles later on 😉

    Comment by Matt — March 17, 2010 @ 21:54

  11. happy recovery run!! 🙂

    interesting discussion about the age/effects, etc. i think you’ve got it all and could do shorter/faster and longer/faster too, haha. you’re on course for a fast marathon. but you have a WHOLE long life of running ahead of you so you should do what feels best for your body.

    Comment by Lacey — March 18, 2010 @ 10:20

  12. My fear for you is that now that you have a “taste” of the high mileage training you aren’t going to want to back off even when you are done with the marathon. I don’t mean to be critical, but I’m a little worried that you aren’t treating your body with the respect it deserves- especially when you are asking so much of it. That’s just what popped in my head after I read the post.

    Comment by EarlyRunner — March 18, 2010 @ 14:44

    • Yeah, I won’t lie: I think that will be the biggest challenge for me. Very fair point about the respecting the body, I guess that’s part of my thinking too. Granted I have been talking with my doctor about this too and right now it’s not a huge pressing issue or cause for any great concern. It’s more something for me to keep in mind as I work through this training cycle and then evaluate things after Boston is over. As always I really do love your comments — they seem to say directly what I always end up skirting around haha 🙂

      Comment by marathonmaiden — March 18, 2010 @ 22:29

  13. The wear and tear is rough…I speak from experience that it only gets harder as you get older. I feel like running took such a toll on my knees that I wish I hadn’t pounded the pavement so much when I was younger!

    Comment by Ameena — March 18, 2010 @ 16:44

  14. […] Sleep, Steady-State — marathonmaiden @ 18:31 I loved reading all your thoughts on my last post regarding marathon age. Many of you had some great thoughts and while I go back and forth as to the […]

    Pingback by Ehhhhh. And *THAT’S* my GMP? « MarathonMaiden's Blog — March 18, 2010 @ 18:31

  15. I know that Galloway is frequently thought of as a no-no for the more serious / faster runners, but if you definitely want to keep doing long distance, you might think about trying it out. Taking walk breaks reduces wear and tear. You may go a little slower, but you will feel a lot better. Just a thought.

    I’m a Galloway person, but I’m slower and could never even attempt a marathon without walk breaks and the Galloway method, so I am in a different camp. 🙂

    Comment by Kim — March 19, 2010 @ 11:49

    • I’ve definitely thought about it in terms of ultras, particularly as I want to do one at the end of May. I tend to shy away from Galloway in training just because I want to really race my races and walking is obviously slower than running. But ultras are a different beast and it’s good to hear that the method works!

      Comment by marathonmaiden — March 19, 2010 @ 18:04

  16. Great post!
    I sorta have a love-hate relationship with the marathon distance. Both marathons I completed (I DNFed my 3rd due to injury) I felt I performed very well, thinking maybe my strength is endurance? But my injury this past fall threw me for a loop, made me wonder if my body can really handle such intense training (as I was trying for a BQ.) Plus I have ranted before that shorter distances don’t get the respect they deserve 🙂 I’ve been considering once the BQ monkey is off my back, to move down in distance and focus on the half-marathon…as that distance seems to me to be kind of a “happy medium” in terms of training and race recovery. (And last fall I posted a half time that was a huge surprise for me…I wondered if I actually tapered and I wasn’t tiring myself out with 20-milers, what could that time have the potential to be?) Good luck to you with the rest of your Boston training and beyond 🙂

    Comment by nyflygirl — March 19, 2010 @ 14:24

    • I totally think shorter distances don’t get the respect they deserve either. So part of me definitely wants to “prove” to others that shorter distances are worthwhile too. I really like the 10k and half so I think that I want to do more of them this summer. Definitely a happy medium between training and recovery compared to marathons, which are soooo grueling.

      Comment by marathonmaiden — March 19, 2010 @ 18:06

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