Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Initiative



Initiative.

What a perfect word for my marathon training.

My marathon training is so different from what everyone else is doing. And I'm hearing about it. Mostly about the lower mileage I'm doing.

In the past when I trained for my first marathon, I followed a high mileage plan. I trained using a plan developed by a famous runner. And what happened? Mentally, I wasn't prepared for the distance. And I fell apart. Physically, I got through the race, but ended up with a stress fracture and battled plantar fasciitis for over a year. I never quite bounced back from that bad race. My confidence was rattled. I said I'd never do another marathon after that one. For the next couple of years, I continued to run, and I continued to battle injuries. My pace was slowing. I didn't like what was happening.

So I took the initiative, and I sought out a coach to help me get back on track. At first, I went the obvious route and talked with a running coach. But I didn't hear her say anything that sounded different from what I was already doing. I was looking for something different. And so after consulting with my friend, who owned a CrossFit box, I ended up with Becky, a CrossFit coach and corrective exercise specialist. I figured that it wouldn't be any worse than what I was already doing, right?

You know how this story ends. Last year, I let her train me for Chicago Marathon #2. The naysayers told me that I wasn't training the right way. The doubters told me I was breaking the cardinal rule of marathon training. I wasn't running a lot. There wasn't a 20 mile run on my plan. But the workouts she had me do were hard. Physically and mentally.

What's so magical about 20 miles anyways?

The naysayers are quiet now. There's more than one way to run a marathon.

I'm training for Chicago marathon #3, with my eyes on the prize. If you had told me last year that I would be running strong enough to even think about a BQ, I would have told you that you were crazy. But here I am. Back at it again. And then some.

Maybe I will, maybe I won't....

But I'm sure having fun trying. Does your marathon plan include anything besides running?

It's time to think outside the box. If your training isn't working for you, then maybe it's time to try a different approach. Stop listening to everyone else. Do what works for you. Take the initiative. Step out of your comfort zone.

Nothing great ever happens there anyways.



I'm linking this post with DebRuns, who hosts Wednesday Word. I just love stretching the limits and writing a post based on a word prompt! Be sure to check out the other posts!

80 comments :

  1. You must have been in my head!! I wrote about the exact same thing!!! You know as a HR trainer I hear all kinds of things about how I train and run MY marathon. I know you do too!! There is more than one way to do this!! It's running my way. :) Love this post because it backs up mine!! Yes!!

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    1. I'm heading over to read yours right now! Love that our great minds collaborated on this post...

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  2. This word and this concept has been a big focus for me this summer with my nine-year-old. Why did I think it would be easier to explain??

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    1. This was a tough post to start! But as I thought about it, initiative really is all about taking charge. Of your life, your training, your destiny...

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  3. Good for you, Wendy! Everyone is different and I'm totally with you. If it works for you, go with it. Your strength and paces definitely prove that and I'm excited to see what you can do in Chicago! #cheeringforyou

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    1. As runners, we have to do what works for us. Not what everyone else is doing. It's scary to go down a different path! But sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.

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  4. Love the quote. Your story is so fabulous!

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  5. I 100% support going with what works for you. Not every training plan is for everybody, and that's why there's so many different plans out there. I'm a huge fan of the run-walk method, but I know that method isn't for everybody. But its what works for me.

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    1. People get nervous when they see someone doing something "different". I think we have to individualize our training plans to make it work for us. Even those online training plans should just be a framework which we can build on. Running is not one size fits all!

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  6. I love how you took the initiative and found a plan that would work well for you and your body. Great story! Happy running

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    1. Me too! What if I decided not to try something different?

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  7. You've got this!! You are sounding so strong and confident! I'm very excited for you. You have to do it your own way!!

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  8. I've always kind of marched to the beat of my own drum. Naysayers might annoy me, but they don't change my mind.

    Who knows, maybe your way of training will be the next big thing. :)

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    1. I don't think it will be the "next big thing"--people like to do what the elites do, and that's lots of miles on the road. I'm good with that!

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  9. I am confident that you can do it!

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  10. Funny how it's not if things get hard in a marathon but when things get hard. Yet, we sign up and pay money to be tortured again. Best of luck to you.

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  11. I hope 2 hours of water skiing will pay off for me. It's intense, it's different, and I don't think I've heard of another soul doing that. We'll see. It is all about finding what works. I definitely think you found that. I can't wait to witness the BQ!

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    1. I get kind of nervous when I think about pushing it during the marathon. Hopefully all these RP runs will put my legs on autopilot that day!

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  12. What a challenging, motivating post on initiative! I can't wait to hear how your marathon comes out!

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  13. I have really enjoyed following your journey, and not just because I'm a fellow crossfitter! I like your take - initiative also involves what works for YOU and standing up for that. Best of luck to you, I know you can BQ!

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    1. It's amazing what mixing it up can do for your training and your confidence!

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  14. There are many more than one ways to get to the marathon start line and what's important is figuring it out for yourself. I love the approach you are taking. I've been spending a lot more time strengthening this year and I think it has huge paybacks--more so than more mileage. I can't wait to see what you do this fall!

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    1. Physically, I know I can do it. Mentally, I will admit to being a little nervous about pushing it hard to get that sub-4. Hoping that pushing through all these tough workouts will get me there!

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  15. I will be embarking on marathon #2 and like you have dealt with so much injury. I don't have a training plan yet but know I will have to modify things to work for ME in my situation. -M

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    1. I had to do something different when I did #2. Let's see how it goes for #3!

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  16. I"m so glad you found this new approach! I think this will open so many people eyes, I can't imagine doing those miles and not doing any cross training - hello injuries! This is such a fun change!

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    1. This training is really fun, and how many marathon runners can say that?

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  17. I'm always amazed when people feel the need to tell others that they're doing it wrong. Seriously, don't you have enough to think about in your own life? If your training works for you, more power to you. I always trained the high mileage way (years ago) and it worked for me then, but maybe I should take a second look now that I'm older.

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    1. I believe that as we age, we have to adjust the way we train...at least that's what all my research taught me!

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  18. I'm so glad to hear that you've been successful with a lower mileage plan! My plan tops out at 16 miles, and I know some people kind of give me the side-eye when I mention that. I even doubted it when I first saw my plan, but I'm trusting my coaches and my training. I added biking in recently, and I do a lot of low intensity strength training, so hopefully those things will help me get to the finish line!

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    1. You will do fine. One of my mantras is trust the plan, and you have to do that too!

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  19. The biggest thing I've learned in my years of running is that nobody knows better what works for you than YOU. Everyone is different and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to training. It is wonderful that you trusted yourself and came out on top because of it!

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  20. I love seeing the different things you do and it is paying off for you! I agree you do have to get outside that box, we are all different why would we think there is only one way to train? I did my own way of training for my first half. I just built on the long runs, mile by mile. I ran 12 miles the week before my first half. Why, well what if a half marathon was 15 miles? On race day I did 13.1 miles my body didn't know I wasn't still training, that's how I looked at it. Sure I've learned lessons like I should take a break every few weeks instead of build build build. That's what I'm trying anyway getting ready for these upcoming half's. I'm still playing with marathon training though...different bird, and I admit I'm nervous. Won't you be my coach ;)

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    1. Haha! I don't know what kind of coach I'd be...I still get nervous just thinking about this marathon! Sounds like you do a good job of listening to your body, and that's really the key!

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    2. You already coach me along with many many others, you just don't know it! :)

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  21. This is AWESOME! I strength train to cross train and it has helped tremendously! I am not a fan of high mileage plans or running everyday- I know my legs can't handle it. I do have a 20 mile long run in my plan but I have questioned as to whether I should do it or not. I kind of made up my own plan and threw out the "junk miles" and replaces them with strength training. Would love to see the details of your plan and maybe follow it in the future!

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    1. Sounds like you are already training very similarly to me. I do one long run, 1 day of speedwork, and 2 other runs--she has me doing them at RP, altho you could do a tempo run instead of one. 1-2 days of CrossFit, which is a lot like HIIT training. One day of yoga. And 1-2 days of rest. Every third week, I get a bike ride instead of a long run. It's pretty awesome, it's hard, and it's fun! How many people do you know can say that about their training plan?

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  22. I learned very early that initiative is a sought after word in work interviews. It took me longer to truly understand and embrace the concept. Initiative comes from creativity, and creativity makes us happy. :-)

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  23. I have a smiliar experience. I don't have speedy goals, so my marathon training consists of workouts I enjoy ... long and steady. Everyone tells me I need to run faster and shorter. But I do this to make me happy and I stick to my plan. At the end of the day, I finish running happy.

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    1. Do what you like! Sounds like this is working for you.

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  24. Yes, I love this! The twenty mile long run is so arbitrary. In countries that use the metric system, it tops out at 30K, which is about 18 miles. There's no magic number. What matters is training in what works best for you. All that strength training is going to pay off big time when everyone else is struggling and you're still going strong!

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    1. I did not know that, about the 30K. But I will be using that the next time I get asked about my "longest run"! Thank you!

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  25. Love this! And every time I want to skip strength training (which I try to get in once a week), I'm going to think about you!

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    1. Don't think about me, think about how strong you're getting! :)

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  26. AMEN Sister! "If your training isn't working for you, then maybe it's time to try a different approach. Stop listening to everyone else. Do what works for you." This would apply to ANY workout program you're doing, not just marathon training.

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  27. I have only one run marathon but I have run several half marathons and I too cut WAY back on the running and did a lot of other things. The result: I knocked off 7 minutes from my half marathon PR. The best thing about this was that I did this 1 year after I had my first child. Do what makes you feel the best- you know your body best.

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    1. It really makes sense not to break your body down by lots of repetitive activities. Like running a ton of miles. At least for me, it does!

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  28. People actually told you that you were training the wrong way? Wow. That's incredible. There are tons of training plans out in the world that do NOT include 20 mile runs and cut training days down to just a few key runs each week; I'm really surprised to hear that you took so much flack for your training plan. You're going to do great!

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    1. No one came out and said those words, but I got a lot of raised eyebrows and "where is your 20 mile run"?

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  29. Marathon training plans are not "one size fits all" and it's up to us to take the initiative to find the best approach. So happy that you have found Becky and that you're doing good things together.

    Thank you for linking up, and I love hearing how much you enjoy this linkup!

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  30. Great post and perfect reminder as I am about to start a new chapter. There is always more than one way to do something =)

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  31. Love this post! What types of workouts were you doing in your buildup for Chicago #2? I am sooo freaking nervous for this race for some reason. It's the first one I will be traveling to and I just am already nervous and I still have 8 weeks to go (I think lol). I hate 20 milers and honestly don't think I'll be doing any. I think longest I'l go is 18 maybe but would prefer to just do multiple 16s. Before my last marathon (where I PRed), I did mostly 14-16 range with one 18 miler (more for my mental benefit) and no 20 milers at all.

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    1. I did the same with my long runs. Someone commented about that in Europe, marathon runners do a 30k for their long run (which roughly translates to 18 miles). So I believe that you and I are on to something!

      Just remember that Chicago is FLAT! So you will be fine. There is one hill, and it's at mile 26. How cruel is that?

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  32. It's so ridiculous that people felt like they could comment on your training plan. You and your coach know your body best (and clearly it works well when you work together!). It's not like there's only one way to train for a marathon! Good for you for showing them how wrong they were. :)

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    1. People love to comment, especially when you aren't part of the status quo. I'm glad I could back it up with good results!

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  33. Good for you! I'm totally with you.

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  34. This is one of the best and inspired running pieces I've read this year. Sometimes, we have to take a new approach to an old problem. I love your success story. Kudos! Now naysayers need to STFU!

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  35. I think the traditional way to train for a marathon is falling by the wayside, and approaches like yours are becoming more popular. I followed Hansons last year, which puts a big focus on running but doesn't include a 20 mile run as part of that training. I love how you questioned the importance of a 20 mile run, too, because I don't think you necessarily need one and I think it just beats you up (I've trained for fulls both with and without a 20 miler). Good luck at Chicago! I hope you get that BQ.

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    1. I think people are looking outside the box, and I like that! I have a lot less doubters this year than I did last year. I think runners look to the elites for training guidance, but what works for a gifted runner probably isn't going to work for the middle of the packer like me...

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  36. Love this Wendy! No surprise right?

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  37. Everyone is different and will obviously train different. Who is to say that we must do 20-milers? Oh yeah, almost every training plan says so but if you have a coach then you just listen to that person. I am very impressed with your pace and would love to one day see numbers like yours. Great job! I need to also look into CrossFit.

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    1. I've had a lot of fun and success with my training! It's always good to try a different approach.

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  38. It's because of YOU that I sought out a different way of training this time around! I'm pretty sure my training won't get me higher than 18 miles and I've got to say it makes me nervous! Everyone is different and needs different styles and it's great that you recognized that!

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    1. Yikes! So much responsibility! :P In all seriousness, I'm glad that you're trying a different way of training! There's a lot of different ways to get to the finish line!

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