Catherine Watkins - Faster As A Master
Normally I dread breaks. I don’t like taking time off even though I need to. I rely on my runs as my daily “me” time. I feel like I'm missing something and feel "off" all day when I don’t run. However, this year was different. After my last race in June (a 5K) I didn’t feel like running. In fact, I didn’t even cool down! I was mentally and physically ready for this break. I traded running for ice-cream for a week, ensuring I tried a different flavor daily. (If anyone is interested, my favorite flavor was melted chocolate honeycomb, from a local ice cream store Rain or Shine in Vancouver). I actually really enjoyed this break. The two following weeks I just completed easy runs and started to get some miles in. After 3 weeks it was time to goal set!
I met with my coach Richard Lee to decide some goals for the fall. The great thing with my coach is he tells it like it is: what's achievable and how to get there. We were 13 weeks away from the Scotia Bank Toronto Marathon STWM which is also the Canadian National Marathon Championships. I was concerned about the nearness of the marathon, but intrigued. I love the marathon, I love the training, the mental aspect, the challenge, it is possibly my favorite distance. There is always room to improve and as of yet I don’t think I have achieved my potential in it.
Photo Credit: Vee Bee
My fear was that the past two years I had attempted to train for a marathon through the summer and both years had ended up with soft tissue injuries that took me out for 12 weeks both times. Also with my children home for the summer I don’t have as much recovery time. So we decided on a shorter marathon build of 12 weeks (typically I do 16 weeks), including two big workouts a week and reduced overall weekly marathon mileage. The other 3 days allow me to move around my mileage to what best suits me, so I have more recovery time and more flexibility with my family schedule. In previous marathon builds I have typically run 140km per week with peak milage at 150-160km. This build I will maintaining 130km per week and my peak will be no more than 145km. so I have more recovery time and more flexibility with my family schedule. With that scenario I was ready to jump in to marathon training.
I am now fully training and yes I am tired but I am loving running! I've had a few big workouts, some went quite well for so early in the build and some were more of a grind. I always have to remind myself this early in the cycle that as the mileage and workouts build it is normal to feel tired and that not every workout will go well. With this build and having a little more flexibility in my schedule, I am not worrying as much about any missed time. I'm also working on keeping my nutrition plan strong, to ensure I get a good amount of protein into my system within 30 minutes of a workout, and having good quality protein at each meal. I maintain strength work twice per week and core work at least three times per week. I consistently do my physio exercises daily before my runs. I hope that being diligent with this as well as the altered training plan will keep me healthy and get me to the start line ready to go.
When I hit that start line I will be lining up in hopes of achieving my A goal which is to run a PB and to break the Canadian National Masters 45+ marathon record. This will require me to break 2:40. For this to happen I believe that just about everything will need to go well on the day (weather, nutrition, health etc). My B goal is to line up and run a strong race finishing in the top 10 of Canadian women. My C goal is to finish the race! I like to have varying goals as with the marathon there are so many factors involved. No matter what I will remember that getting to the start line healthy and being able to race is a win!
The other win for me will be successfully balancing parenthood/family time with marathon training. This is one of the most challenging aspects, especially with tiredness post workout. Having a pre-teen and a teenager has it’s up and downs. A huge positive has been that they sleep in. This has made it really easy for me to get in long runs and long hard workouts before they get up so I don’t feel as if I am missing family time. On the reverse side, they stay up late, meaning I am often staying up later than I would like.
The toughest part in parenting teens has been the emotional piece. I have one daughter who struggles with anxiety and panic attacks and these episodes leave us all emotionally drained and exhausted. We can’t always predict when the attacks will happen making or how long they will last. Sometimes after these episodes running is the way to clear my head, sometimes though a workout is just too much. I am finding that usually it is more beneficial to just walk my dog, or read. This has been a huge learning experience for our family but it many ways it has made us all closer.
I still believe that I can PB at the marathon. I will be 46 when I run STWM but if I am smart with my training and can toe the line healthy anything can happen. It is the marathon after all!