Want better results from your training? Change it up a little…

Welcome to my first Really Serious attempt at a marathon.
The Surf Coast Trail Marathon of 2015 will be my 6th marathon attempt, but it is the first one I’ve had any high hopes for. It’s the first time I’ve had no trouble getting through all the workouts, no trouble doing all the long runs, no trouble fully committing to the race and respecting the distance I am training for.
I don’t mean I have any chance of being up the front of the pack, or even getting a Marathon PB – this is a very sandy, steppy, beachy, hilly trail race after all – but I am fully prepared, unlike a lot of other times (all right, all of them) when my preparation was less than stellar, whether or not it was my fault.
Last year one of the main issues I had with putting together a string of injury free weeks and training with a high enough mileage for the few races I did end up completing was that I was very run down. I was constantly tired, stressed or too busy, and by the time my daughter had had her terrible health scare and we’d returned from an overseas trip I was also behind at work. I spent a lot of last year running (hah!) very hard just to stay in place.

But even now when things have calmed down a little, I’m still my own worst enemy. I find it very difficult to go slow and steady because, well, boring! Being the stubborn idiot I am I tried repeatedly to just forge on ahead and not change my ways. I didn’t want to stop having a few drinks each night after work.

beer Change this to wine and they’re spot on…

I didn’t want to cut down on my caffeine. I didn’t want to go to bed at 9pm. You can see where this is going.

But something had to change or I knew in 3 months time I would be standing at the finish line full of regrets and pulled muscles.
Again.
I know exactly what I am in for this time round so believe me, I have been preparing for it. Apart from taking the running component of the training very seriously stop-talking-about-marathon

 Probably.

I have been implementing some other changes to see whether I can get more out of every run.

Item number 1: Magnesium spray
This is the top of my list as the biggest change I’ve made. My nurse aunt suggested it to me after explaining that they use magnesium oil spray on the elderly at her hospital as a muscle repair-recovery tool.
It works by delivering a therapeutic dose of magnesium directly through the skin into the muscle.
Magnesium is necessary for many bodily functions, including  the making of enzymes and helping to generate bone strength. But for my purposes I am interested in its effect on muscles. Apart from relaxing them and helping to keep you flexible, Magnesium helps build
Bigger, stronger muscles – Magnesium allows the body to produce more Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1), which is a major contributor to the growth and strength of muscles. Furthermore, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the cell’s energy store, and is created with help from Magnesium.
For more benefits, see here: Facts on Magnesium
Applied to my legs after any hard or long run, I simply wait 20 minutes then wash it off. It works unbelievably well.
The results have been so good that I have barely needed my foam roller. Like most people I hate the damn thing, but until recently, if I didn’t have a good foam roll several times a week (and daily when I was upping my mileage) I could guarantee to end up with a bout of IT band or piriformis issues.
I’m sure the strength training I have been doing no doubt helps too, but this magnesium is doing the trick when it comes to relaxing my muscles and keeping them flexible. Now I only foam roll about once every ten days or so, if I feel I need it, and I’m never as sore or as tight as I used to be either. Magic!
A note on this stuff though. As you can imagine, it would be much easier to just take a magnesium supplement, and you’re welcome to do that, if you can.
But another one of magnesium’s known uses taken orally, is as a very effective laxative.
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s very difficult to run when you can’t get off the toilet, so using the spray it is!

Item number 2: Strength work.
Twice a week, every week. Three times is great, once is better than nothing, but most weeks I’ve been doing a series of lunges, hops, jumps, planks, situps and arm strength work and it has made a massive difference to my running capabilities. I can push harder, go longer and recover more quickly, which means I can train more.

Item number 3: Sleep. funny-picture-explain-why-you-woke-me-cat Simple, but so, so hard. I have just been trying to make sure I get 8 hours most nights. And 9 on the weekend. That’s really it. Harder than it sounds as I am sure we all know.

Item number 4: Being fairly religious about taking my vitamins.
I take Swiss Mega B and the Womens Multi.
I am hoping to phase this out as my eating improves, but for now I think I still need the boost.

Item number 5: Cut down on the drinking.
This was actually easier than I thought it would be. But you must know your enemy.
My enemy is that part of my brain thinks I should drink like I work at Sterling Cooper and we just won back Lucky Strike.

 425e35dd3e0d73b2d198e1c31712c9f1Sounds like a plan

During those stressful times last year and early this year I had got into the nasty habit of having a drink or two at night ‘to relax’. Most nights that was all, but sometimes towards the end of the week there would be more than that. Some days I would have none, too, but I wanted to change that to ‘some’ to ‘most’. At first it was really hard, so I just went cold turkey and didn’t have anything at all during the week. After a few weeks I had ‘reset’ myself, which was a nice surprise, and from there I found I could reward myself with one scotch, or a glass of wine here and there during the week, without that one glass turning into 3-4, plus it was super easy during a high mileage week to just cut it out altogether.

2011-new-york-city-marathon-funny-sign-21951090

I wish I knew where all this discipline has come from so I could bottle some for later…

And that’s it.
There are 16 days to go. I’ve made it to this point with no injury (touch wood!) and have only a handful of must-do runs left.
To be honest, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself during taper other than studying this list of what not to do’s before a race. But that’s a topic for another post!

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