It’s More Than Just Running

Two quick things. First, check back on Monday – I am super excited to be hosting a VITAMIX giveaway!! One person will win a Vitamix S30 (retails for $500).

Second, the boys and I are in the May 2014 issue of Fitness Magazine!! It was a special Mother’s Day edition of #motivationmoment!!

fitness mag


Each marathon teaches me a ton about myself and my approach to the distance. A PR or great finish time is exciting and kind of the point of a dedicated training cycle, but I’d argue that it’s not the the most important thing. If you are like me, there will mostly likely be another marathon in the next season. And so the real key is figuring out what worked and didn’t work so that the next training cycle can be stronger and more successful.


In the week following any race, I try to replay it in my mind so that I can pinpoint things to improve upon. I made some changes after the 2013 NJ Marathon and then made more tweaks after Philly and again after LA (including some things I did differently during the taper which I already discussed in Wednesday’s post).

My approach the last couple of months to the marathon was that it was MORE than just running. Logging 70, 80 miles a week is all well and good and it can definitely make you a stronger, faster runner. But for me, when my weekly mileage increases, I’m so quick to overlook all the other little things that {should} go into marathon training. I have the tendency to get so wrapped up in how many miles I’m running that I minimize the other aspects. Things like nutrition, recovery, strength and core work don’t just add to a successful marathon training cycle – they are the core of one. And I made them my focus the last seven weeks (post-LA Marathon).


So, some of these changes:

1. Strong Core, Strong Body : I always get into the habit of allowing myself just enough time to get the planned running workout in and so anything before/after gets scraped. Whatever feeble promises I would then make to stretch, do core work or strength train later that night would go by the wayside. It almost never happened.  BUT, the last few months were different. My husband and I rearranged our basement again (for the third time in a few months) to allow better visibility of the entire basement while we are running or biking, to give the boys more room to play and to give us more room for mats, weights and other equipment. The boys and I would frequently go down there after my morning run so that I could stretch, do core work or strength train.

I tried to do one additional thing each day (or night) – whether that was core, bike (easy pedaling for 30-45 minutes) strength work, a Pilates DVD or a Barre DVD. I felt stronger, leaner and faster from the extra work.


2. RollingI am a coach’s worst nightmare. I never, ever stretch (before or after a run). I often just touch my toes a few times, kick my legs up once or twice and then start running. Not ideal, or really smart. A couple of months ago, I was sent the Enso Muscle Roller from EvoFit. It has 8 discs that can be moved (or removed) and is completely customizable to each runner.


From the press release:

Ensō is the only roller on the market that is completely customizable. With a quick and easy adjustment of the discs, ensō conforms to all body types and training and recovery needs. Effective on broad areas – such as your back – yet equally useful for pinpointing and massaging smaller isolated muscles with their own complex condition, ensō is designed for versatility

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not using the roller as often as I could or should be, but I do try to use it at least after my hard workouts.

3. Nutrition. I think I have finally found the happy medium here. In the fall, I cut out meat almost completely from my diet. I have added it back and on average, my husband and I now probably eat meat ~2x/week for dinner. The other 5 days consist of meals that I discussed in this post. It seems to be the happy ground for me and my body.(I also ate meat the two nights before the marathon as I discussed in this post.)

Additionally, I incorporated juicing into my diet after the LA Marathon. I cannot begin to explain to you how much I have loved it. I often use the juices as my mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon “snack” when I am hungry. So mostly normal breakfast/lunch/dinners and then juices to fill the gaps. I felt energized and refreshed and found I wasn’t reaching for my late afternoon cup of coffee like I had been doing.

I don’t really have any recipes that I use, persay. I kind of just throw a bunch of fruits/veggies in – but usually include apples, oranges, lemons, celery, carrots, kiwi, cucumber and kale. Most often, I just 1-2 of each.


4. DoublesI incorporated one double a week during the last month of training. It only took place on easy days, the second run was never more than 4-5 miles and the total mileage for the day was often 13-14. It was a way for me to get a few more miles in without putting too much stress on my body at once. I found that they worked best when I was able to run first thing in the morning and then again around 3-4pm. I ran a couple of times after the boys went to bed (8-8:30pm) and found that the next morning was tougher for me.

5. Generation UCAN: I was first introduced to this over a year ago by an Army friend. At the time, I felt like I had a good handle on my marathon nutrition and didn’t want to experiment with something new. Same thing in the fall. But after feeling totally depleted at Philly, I wanted to try something totally new for my next goal race. I tried it a few times on long runs (after LA) and loved how I felt (no stomach cramping). I only fueled twice during the marathon on Sunday (not planned – just didn’t have the stomach to eat anything after mile 12) and felt great despite the lack of calories.

gen ucan

6. Long Interval Workouts. This was one of my favorite changes to my approach. In the short 7 weeks between LA and NJ, I decided to eliminate the normal interval workouts (400s, 800s, etc) and add in some long ones. I did this descending ladder workout, Laura’s ladder workout and then the 4-3-2-1 workout I had read in Running Times. I loved the workouts because I was running longer lengths of time at marathon goal pace or just faster. I felt stronger both physically and mentally from doing these workouts.


Approaching finish line of 2014 NJ Marathon

What is one major change you have made after a recent race? 

How often do you do core work? 


I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

For More NYC Running Mama training updates, pictures and ramblings, check out:

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    20 thoughts on “It’s More Than Just Running

    1. Pingback: Healthy Snacking for Marathon Training |

    2. Michelle, I have been completely swamped and am so glad to catch up on your blog. This is such a great read. I am so bad as well about getting in core and strength work. If I get in 2 days of core then I am doing good. I use to be really great about foam rolling but haven’t recently. Nutrition is my biggest downfall and hopefully can get a handle on it this training cycle.
      Lacy @ Running Limitless recently posted..5 for Friday – SPECIAL EDITION!!My Profile

    3. Congrats on the being part of Fitness Magazine… that is sooo awesome!

      After my race this week I realize yes I need more core work bc I do none… honestly, after my runs I don’t have the time… I always say later and it never happens….and I need to work on what I’m putting into my body pre and post race…
      Tantra recently posted..Chasing the 1:30 halfMy Profile

    4. I am so awful at focusing on anything other than running. I’ve made an effort to add core and strength work as well as stretching and it has made me feel soooo much stronger.
      Runner Girl Eats recently posted..Here comes the sunMy Profile

    5. So true about skimming over the other vital aspects of marathon training– I have done that so many times, only to finish a marathon wondering why I was off by 5 minutes, or why the last 4 miles I slowed so much. You have to do the others, it’s all part of the training cycle, yes? Hope you are well! Have a great weekend!
      Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..7 Ways to Ease Muscle SorenessMy Profile

    6. What a great reminder to incorporate other activities into my running plan. I have a marathon coming up in October and am putting together some thoughts on the training for it. I needed to be reminded of the importance of Recovery, Core work and nutrition. Thank you!
      Jenn@Mark My Miles! recently posted..Empty Laundry Baskets!My Profile

    7. Superb conquer! I’m going to newbie concurrently as you amend your blog, the best way could my spouse and i join for the blog? The actual accounts made it easier for us a useful package. I actually had been little knowledgeable in this the sent out presented amazing crystal clear notion

    8. I love the changes you have incorporated! So much good stuff! I do core at least 2 times a week, but i try to always be working on it, and with swimming 2-4 times a week that helps. I will say, I tried UCAN, and my coach tried UCAN after I did. We both went back to Carbo-Pro. I guess I need some calories.
      Holly recently posted..Sufferin’My Profile

    9. I’ve heard lots of great things about Gen UCAN…and I’m admittedly awful at fueling, so I’m thinking about ordering some to prepare for this tri training situation and maybe into marathoning! Glad to hear you have good things to say about it.
      Susan – Nurse on the Run recently facts friday: eric editionMy Profile

    10. This is a great reminder for me for when my marathon training starts up in August. I had tried to start some strength training and then I never kept up with it. I just love running and tend to focus on that only. But if I can one day be as awesome of a runner as you, I’ll try it 😉
      Cecilia @ MommiesRun recently posted..Five Reasons to Rotate Running ShoesMy Profile

    11. I do not do enough core work that’s for sure. I had been doing a core class once a week, but found myself exhausted afterwards (was doing it a few hours after an easy morning run). I have to find a better balance of running and strength since I do believe the right amount can do wonders.

      I like the idea of the longer intervals. I’ve always had trouble mentally with shorter fast intervals so this looks like something that would work better for me, thanks for sharing!
      Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted..Paleo On a Budget: 10 Tips That Passed My TestMy Profile

    12. So excited for you and what’s to come. You really took the time to nail down the little AND the big things this time around and that is only going to make you faster and stronger. You remind me that I really need to do more core work (You should probably just text me each day and yell at me about it!). Thanks for linking up to that workout too :) HUGS, you’re awesome.
      Laura @losingrace recently posted..Marathon Recovery: Boston EditionMy Profile

    13. I’m trying to incorporate more strength training into my training again too in a more balanced way than before. I used to lift weights 3-5 times a week but then cut it to basically nothing once my mileage started increasing (around 30mpw probably, which is relatively high for me), so now I’m changing the type of lifting I do and just trying to get some kind of strength workout in twice a week. I think strength and recovery were the two main things I was missing when I was getting hurt so much last year.

      Anyway, I hope these things continue to help you feel strong going into your next training cycle!
      Rachel recently posted..My Last College SummerMy Profile

    14. I love short intervals – track days are my favorite, but that being said, that descending 4-3-2-1 workout looks like a great way to break up long intervals. I think I’ll try something similar on my next training cycle!
      Amber recently posted..Make It HurtMy Profile

    15. Great read! I do 20 to 25 minutes runner specific core work three times a week and I try to do it as close to my run as I can. Because if I wait till later sometimes it doesn’t happen :-) I just feel odd doing core exercises right before bed ha ha :)