NYC Marathon Training Highlights

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This is the first marathon training cycle since I’ve been blogging where I didn’t really blog and post updates of my weekly training. It was a busy fall and blogging was at the bottom of the priority list. So this will be a once over of the training cycle with some key workouts and breakthroughs that helped me run a PR at the NYC Marathon. (I try to post all of my runs and workouts on Instagram!)

But before I get into the training cycle, I feel it warrants a brief discussion on what I was doing over the summer. The 2-3 months after Boston were not fun (as I’ve discussed before). Each time I tried to build my mileage up or increase intensity again, I would almost immediately begin to feel drained and exhausted (which would last a week or two). I remember one run in particular – I had made it maybe 2 miles before stopping because I was out of breath and just not feeling right. I walked and ran the 1 mile back to my house and questioned if I would ever have the energy to run double digits again, let alone race a marathon. Sometime around mid-July, I started to feel like myself again and the mileage started creeping up.

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    2016 NYC Marathon Race Recap

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    Smiling before climbing the last big hill of the race – Mile 24

    Some people know the moment they begin a race that it’s going to be their day. Sunday was not that way for me. Don’t get me wrong – I felt good for most of the first 18-20 miles. BUT, I’ve run NYC three times before. I know how tough the late hills can be. How much the early hills beat up your legs and leave you exhausted by the end. And I was exhausted. The last 4-5 miles were plain torture. Every part of my body hurting. But that’s why we do those hard runs in training. To keep pushing. I refused to let my mind celebrate or even consider what could happen until all of the hills were behind me and I was in the Park and a mile or so from the finish.

    It has been a year since I was able to truly race a marathon from start to finish (Boston was supposed to be that way but after stopping at mile 15/16 in the med tent, the “race” was over – it became more of a run to the finish). And the truth is, your mind forgets the amount of pain that your body experiences during the later miles. At least mine does. You know there will be pain but it’s hard to explain or recall the true level of pain you feel when you are 22 miles in. Legs screaming. Feet on fire. Calves hurting. You just want to stop running and sit down. But you know you need to continue to push.

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      2016 NYC Marathon: 3:07:01

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      I don’t even know where to begin. I will definitely write a full recap of yesterday because there is SO much to say. I woke up this morning still in utter disbelief with how yesterday went down. It feels like a dream to finally break 3:10 – and not just break it but to crush it. To finally feel like everything came together (and the weather cooperated). And to negative split a marathon.

      But I wanted to drop in and just say a huge thank you. Thank you for all of the good luck wishes, tracking and cheering from afar, cheers during the race, congratulatory messages and comments post-race. My heart is literally bursting with happiness and gratitude. I loved the NYC Marathon before yesterday but after yesterday’s race, it is, without question, my favorite race in the world. There is nothing like running through the streets of your hometown and seeing familiar face after familiar face and hearing your name called hundreds and hundreds of times. Whenever I started to think about how much pain I was in or question how I was going to keep moving forward, I moved myself along the edge of the course and let the spectators push me forward. The cheers, high-fives and smiles literally gave me the energy to keep going. THIS is why I love big marathons. THIS is what makes NYC so very special and why I’ll keep coming back despite the hills, wind and tough course.

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        Sometimes You Just Need a Change…

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        So, if you follow me on IG, you probably have seen me mention a new coach. Switching coaches was not a decision that came lightly to me. Coach Hadley had been my coach for two years and I really blossomed under his tutorage. I PRd in every distance I raced – from the mile to the 5k to the half marathon to the marathon.

        So it may seem backwards that I changed coaches. (Note: I first decided to take a break from coaching. But after 3-4 weeks, I realized how much I missed the guidance, and direction that a coach provides. And so I felt like it was the right time to switch.) There were several reasons why I felt like it was a road I needed to take.

        First, I felt like training had become a bit monotonous. Coach Hadley has a specific training outlook and consequently, my training plan from cycle to cycle was pretty identical. There were minor changes – more tempo miles, an extra mile for a long run. But the shell was the same. This resulted in several things. After two years of similar plans, I felt like I could predict the workouts, paces and plan, I felt like I was always comparing myself to a previous workour or cycle and most importantly, it was no longer fun and exciting.

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          Life Lately, News, Updates and More!

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          I realized the other day that I started blogging five years ago. Holy cow…that’s a long time. I also realized that I haven’t blogged in two months – the longest I have gone during my five years of oversharing (ha!).

          The truth is, the lack of blogging wasn’t initially an intentional action. It first started simply b/c I didn’t have time to write some updates or share some of the recent races I had run. The summer was hectic and the start of fall proved to be even more so. The boys started school (both full-time) which initially seemed like it would make life easier, but that’s not the case. Our sitter got a full-time job and so between my husband and I we are juggling full-time work with dropoffs, pickups, homework and all the after-school activities they participate in (note: my mom and dad help out a ton as well!). They both have soccer clinic on Saturday mornings. AJ has baseball 2-3x/week and soccer (on his school’s team) 2x/week. Basically every day includes some sort of post-school activity. Between their activities, schoolwork, house work (we do not have a cleaning woman so all the heavy cleaning, laundry, etc is done on the weekends), running and just living, blogging moved from the “have to” list to the “nice to do” list and eventually to the “not necessary” list.

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            Race Recap: 2016 Air France 8k: PR + Age Group Win!

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            This recap is a bit delayed…my blogging always goes hand in hand with how busy I am at work and with life! It’s been a great, but busy couple of weeks, and so finding the time to write about this race was at the bottom of the priority list!

            Last Sunday was the Air France Run in Central Park organized by NYRR. In an effort to get out of my comfort zone and race shorter distances more often, I signed up for the 8k several weeks ago – knowing full well that the 5 mile course included all the lovely hills of Central Park. And by “lovely”, I mean “why do I do this to myself?”. By mile 3, I was cursing my decision and swearing off short races in Central Park once again. It’s hard enough to race hard for 5 miles. When you throw in the Harlem hills, it becomes a major sufferfest.

            When I lived in the city, I ran in Central Park almost every day. Shorts runs, long runs, speed workouts. Those hills were part of my routine. As much as I try to run hills these days, I’m limited. The route that is safest for me to run is rolling – but nothing like the hills in the park. The hills I would love to run daily are part of a stretch of road that is more desolate – no homes and the woods on both sides. So I won’t venture there until it’s getting light out – which means no time to run them in the AM. Now that I’m so removed from the park, I am reminded each time I race there that it’s no joke.

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              2016 Brooklyn Mile Race Recap

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              I stumbled upon the inaugural Brooklyn Mile several weeks ago when I was searching for some shorter races to run before fall creeps in and knew that I wanted to run it. It sounded awesome – fairly local (about 45 min away), a good course and the option for my kids to run in a separate heat (if they wanted to).

              I brought it up to my husband and boys soon after – and both boys were pumped at the idea of their own special race. Kids are pretty funny – my oldest asked me how long it was. I told them it was a little longer than the race they did in Alaska but much, much shorter than the 5k my oldest and I did together in June. His response – “Oh that’s good. Because that was so hard, Mommy.” #motheroftheyear

              I finally got around to registering for the race last week and was stunned and honored when I received the email inviting me to the elite field. Local runners know just how many elite and professional runners are in the area – there are so many big named track clubs in/around NYC and I knew these ladies would be out in force for this race.

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                Racing This Weekend + Garmin Instagram Takeover!!

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                The last three weeks have been the best running in months. I’ve had three consecutive 50+ mile weeks – all with some speedwork and some long runs – and I feel great. I’m starting to get that burning in my belly to start training hard again. More on that soon!

                I have some really fun short races coming up! This weekend is the Brooklyn Mile and I’m both excited and terrified! LOL. It’s the inaugural year for what promises to be an awesome race.

                I don’t think I’m going to PR but I’m going to see what I can do. I ran my PR (5:28) this past winter at the Forest Avenue Mile which is a very fast course (granted, weather conditions were not ideal the last two years).

                If you are in the NYC area, you should definitely consider this race – there are 7 waves – first the masters divisions (one for men, one for women), then the open divisions (one for women, one for men), then the elite race (one for women, one for men) and then the Friends and Family Mile.

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                  Soccer Game tonight + Link to my 1st Video!!!

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                  Hope you are all having a wonderful week – I am incredibly thankful that this is a short week!

                  So first, head over to Instagram to enter an awesome giveaway I am hosting for some RX Bars (my favorite bars – EVER).

                  My husband is a huge soccer fan (played D1 at West Point) and both of my boys are absolutely loving the sport. They play in a clinic/league twice/week and most afternoons are spent in the yard playing against one another. When they aren’t playing, they are asking my husband to put soccer on TV. SO, you can imagine my reaction when I was offered the opportunity to attend a NYCFC game tonight – with a pre-game on-field experience – at Yankee stadium! So we are obviously all going!! Should be a fun, amazing night for all of us!

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                  I’m incredibly excited to share the links to the video series that I was honored to be a part of. In the fall, I was contacted by reps from Competitor – asking me if I wanted to participate in a photo shoot / ad campaign for Choose Cherries. As I mentioned a few months ago, I had heard of the benefit of tart cherries / cherry juice but had never tried it before. I didn’t want to say yes b/c it seemed dishonest to be a spokesperson for something that I wasn’t full backing. So I asked if I could try it for a few months and then make my decision. I spent late fall/ early winter drinking cherry juice and eating tart cherries on a regular basis and loved how I felt, so decided to participate.

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                    Boston Marathon Training – By the Numbers

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                    I did this kind of post in the fall with Wineglass – and loved being able to recap and rehash the 3+ months I pushed for the marathon.

                    This training cycle was a breakthrough for me – for a few different reasons. I will add that I consider the “cycle” to be from the start of the New Year until race day. I had been running fairly consistently through the New Year – but wasn’t following a training plan nor was I doing dedicated speedwork. It was more of the “I feel good today, let’s try this fun workout” or “I’ll go for 12-16 and see how I feel” for the long run. Most of my “long” runs were between 10-13 miles during the three months post-Wineglass with a few being a few miles higher (nothing over 16).

                    First, it was truly the first time where I felt my race times matched my training (not Boston, but NYC Half). I had all but come to the conclusion that I am just a fast trainer. I like doing my long runs at a good pace and my tempos are fast (for me). For other runners, those paces may indicate a certain finish time in a race, but for me, they always seemed to be slower. For a long time, I was worried that I was pushing too hard in training. But then NYC Half happened and that was all the proof I needed to know that I had been training correctly (for me).

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                      2016 Boston Marathon Recap!

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                      I don’t post here every day but I share my running and other daily happenings on instagram!

                      I have so much to say about the entire weekend, but will try to focus just on the race here and save the rest of the weekend for another post!

                      Nutrition
                      My nutrition stayed the same for most of the week. I tried to not deviate too much from it – so I ate the same, had popcorn and wine at night and snacked like I normally do – when I felt like it.

                      I started increasing carbs Friday night – pasta and a baked potato and then over Saturday and Sunday increased it a bit more (bagels as snacks, pasta for dinner Sunday evening, etc).

                      I also took more rest days this week than I ever have before. I talked about how I felt off in my last post – and so I tried to take as much time off and focus on sleep and nutrition so that I could feel good on race day.

                      But I think the increase in carbs coupled with the decrease in running made me feel really tired and lethargic as the weekend went on. I had spent 4 months of running almost every day – and I think going from that to virtually no running for 8 days was not the best decision. I’ve already made a mental note to not do either as much as I did this cycle.

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                        2016 Boston Marathon: Celebrating a Breakthrough Cycle

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                        Monday was my third Boston and the 14th marathon finish line I’ve crossed. It was the most prepared and in shape I have ever been before even though the results don’t necessarily show that.

                        I finished in 3:25:53. I positive split like a champ. 1:33:17 through the half. And 1:52:xx the 2nd half.

                        Of course I am disappointed. I didn’t bust my butt for months to run 13+ min slower than I did in the fall. But, some days, you’ve got it. And some days you don’t. And there’s no way to plan it so that you race on the days you have it.

                        But like I have said the last few weeks – this training cycle was a huge success – regardless of what the finish line clock says when I cross it – and I still believe that to be true. It was truly a breakthrough cycle for me and I’m grateful and excited for what I was able to do the last few months. And regardless of anything else, it’s a pretty darn good day when I can finish a marathon!

                        I plan to do a full recap later this week. My husband, mom and I returned home almost immediately after the race (I went back to hotel, took a bath and then we were on the road by 3:15pm). I took off on Tuesday but I stayed off my computer and social media and spent the day with my little guys – lunch, Barnes & Noble, basketball and soccer in yard and then dinner. So no time has been spent writing down my thoughts yet.

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                          BOSTON Marathon Tracking!

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                          4-15-13 #BostonStrong

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                          EEEEH! Race weekend is so close to being here! I will consider it “race weekend” when I log out of work and am walking out. Work has been INSANE this week so I haven’t had much time to think (aka obsess) over this weekend or Monday. It’s definitely a blessing in disguise!

                          My mom and I will be heading up to Boston early tomorrow morning and will be stopping at the expo before we check in or do anything else. So we hope to be up there around 1:30/2pm! If anyone will be at the expo during that time, please let me know!

                          I’m looking forward to a relaxing couple of days up in Boston – visiting with friends, keeping my legs up, hydrating and enjoying the company of my mom (and husband who arrives Sunday afternoon).

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                          Tracking Details

                          I am bib 8743!

                          If you want to track me on Sunday, you can do so in several ways:

                          • Text alerts: Simply text RUNNER to 234567 using you cell phone. You will then receive a text response with instructions on how to submit a runner’s bib number (mine is 8743). I think you receive start, 10k, 15k, half, 25k, 30k, 35k, finish (or something like that!)
                          • Download app (details here)

                          Hope you all have a great weekend. Good luck to anyone racing on Monday! Let’s keep praying that the temps decide to go down a bit

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                            Can You Really Balance Family, Work and Running?

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                            For years, I remember seeing women who juggled successful careers, families and running and thought they had the kind of balance I hoped to one day have.

                            I returned to work full-time this past fall after almost five years of being home with my two children. I’ve learned that (for me) there is no balance.

                            I don’t know if it can ever be balanced. There will never be enough time in the day. And I believe the phrase “doing it all” is misleading.

                            I would love to spend every possible moment with my boys and not miss a school pickup or a soccer practice on Wednesdays.

                            I would love to not feel heartache when I am at work late finishing a project for a deadline. Or feel that I should have stayed longer at work rather than rushing home to see my boys.

                            I would love to have more time to cross-train, stretch and recover properly from the miles I do run.

                            And I would really love to sleep more.

                            But I have found a balance in the imbalance. And here’s what I learned:

                            I can’t give 100 percent of myself to everything all the time.
                            But I can still give 100 percent all the time. It’s just that the 100% is now divided.
                            And I can focus 100 percent on what I’m doing THAT moment, whether it’s work, housework, family or running.
                            I have to be okay with “good enough” rather than perfection.
                            Priorities can shift from one month or week or day to the next. The closer I get to the Boston Marathon, the more important my workouts are. I’ll choose a run over folding laundry or vacuuming the house. Offseason? Running isn’t as high a priority as to other aspects of my life.
                            I have to be kind to myself.
                            Sleep is always a priority.
                            Sometimes, it’s best to do what will make me happiest, even if it may be viewed as selfish.

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                              Fueling: Long Runs, Workouts, Post-Work Runs

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                              Back in the fall I discussed some changes I made to fueling during long runs and overall nutrition.

                              But other than saying that I was fueling, I didn’t go into specifics of how I’m fueling for these runs. I’ve received a few questions on either Instagram, Facebook or recent posts, so I wanted to address the ways I fuel myself for long runs, workouts and post-work runs.

                              Long Runs
                              I typically do not eat anything before my long runs (Note: I drink a cup of coffee with creamer). It’s not that I am trying to start on an empty stomach, but I’m often doing these runs early on Saturday morning (5-5:30am) and in order for me to eat something and allow time for it to digest, I would have to set my alarm for 4am – or earlier – something I’m not willing to do on a Saturday morning.

                              I started experimenting more with Generation UCAN that last few months. Prior to this cycle, I really only used Gen UCAN for races. But I found that it was the perfect solution to wanting something in my stomach for the long run but not having to worry about waiting around for it to digest.

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                                Boston: 11 days to go – Plans, Goals and News!

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                                Check out the RXBar giveaway I’m hosting on Instagram this week!

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                                We are just a days away from race week. The Boston Marathon is less than 12 days away. It’s getting real.

                                I am not only starting to get anxious and excited for the race itself, but for the entire race weekend experience. I know a TON of other runners who will be racing and I’m looking forward to spending some time with them next weekend. There’s also a handful of other running friends who I’m excited to finally meet after years of following each other on social media!

                                My mom and I are heading up to Boston bright and early on Saturday morning. I’m BEYOND thrilled that she will be able to share this special weekend with me. My husband will be coming up Sunday afternoon – so two of the most important people in my life will be close to the finish line waiting for me. We will be returning home shortly after the race on Monday (I will likely go to hotel to take a bath/shower and then we will return home).

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                                  Learning to Trust the Process

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                                  If you receive Women’s Running (and you should!), check out page 8 of the magazine! I’m beyond excited to share the ads that I got to be a part of in February! There will be another ad or two in the coming months and the two 3-minute videos from the photo shoot should be released soon!

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                                  #Trusttheprocess has been one of my favorite hashtags to use on Instagram and twitter the last few months.

                                  I honestly don’t remember where I first heard or saw this phrase, but it struck a chord and has become one of the mantras I repeat to myself when things are tough or I’m questioning why I’m going to do a workout.

                                  Trusting the process.

                                  But what is the process?

                                  The process is the training. The recovery. The racing. The (seemingly) little things. The doing.

                                  It’s a process to get where you want to go. It won’t happen overnight so sometimes the best thing you can do is just chip away a little bit at a time. Sub-3:10 has been a big goal of mine for years. I stopped trying to do it all at once (because it wasn’t working) and started focusing on just training hard and letting paces, times and everything else fall into place when they are ready. I’ve chipped away the last two marathons and am hopeful that I’ve set myself up to achieve this goal in two weeks.

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                                    Last Long Tempo – The Run That Almost Wasn’t

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                                    Last week was a pretty off week. Crappy, actually. What should have been close to a 70 mile week ended with 50 which included one unplanned rest day, an extra “easy” day and a 4.5 mile day instead of 8 miles. Not the biggest deal but after a string of days where running didn’t feel good, the little doubt demons started to enter. I initially chalked it up to not enough sleep, but after waking up Saturday morning (after a decent night’s sleep) feeling worse than I had all week, I began to worry that maybe I was bordering on overtraining.

                                    My alarm went off at 4:30am with the plan to be out running by 5:15 or so. I knew this run was going to be tough and I just wanted to get up and get it over with. Plus, the forecast was calling for the winds and rain to pick up as the day went on. Not ideal for a long tempo.

                                    At 5am, I was pretty close to pulling the plug on the long tempo. My head hurt and I just didn’t feel “right”. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch under the covers. As a last resort, I decided to just down a ton of water and see if that helped. I knew I had drank much less water than usual this week but I assumed what I had consumed was enough.

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                                      Having a Short Term Memory with Failed Workouts

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                                      Tuesday morning I had an 8 mile wave tempo (11-12 total miles). I was pumped for the workout because I LOVE wave tempos (more on these workouts in a coming post!). But after the 2 mile warm-up and then the first 2 mile wave, I didn’t feel great and decided to pull the plug.

                                      After a crappy workout or one where it gets cancelled, I try to spend a few minutes to determine what the root cause could be. These are the questions I ask myself:

                                      Have I drank enough water?
                                      Have I gotten enough sleep?
                                      Did I fuel properly yesterday/today for this run?

                                      95% of the time, it’s one of those three things for me. If it’s not one of those, than it could be a sign of overtraining or your body needing a day off.

                                      But after those few minutes, I forget about the workout. I move on.

                                      Bad workouts happen. Period.

                                      I shared this photo on Instagram yesterday and was blown away by the positive response I got.

                                      The reality is that I often talk about feeling tired and pushing through or not having a great workout but still finishing. And that is what happens sometimes. BUT, there are days, like yesterday, where my mind wins and my body just does not want to do the workout. I wanted to share what happened because nobody will ever nail every workout and it’s misleading to only share the good.

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                                        The Pendulum of Priorities during Marathon Training

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                                        I don’t post here every day, but I try to share my training, thoughts and tips on Instagram daily!

                                        The Boston Marathon will be my first marathon (in seven years) that I’ve trained for while working full time. I’ve learned a lot this cycle. I’ve become a better at time management. I’ve really learned the importance of sleep. I’ve learned that I need to be constantly monitoring my body for signs of over training or exhaustion.

                                        And I’ve learned about the swinging pendulum of priorities during a cycle. I think it’s a bit unrealistic to assume that your priorities will remain constant over the 3-4 months that you are training. Priorities will shift as the training cycle progresses. The closer you get to race day, the more important some of the key workouts and runs will be, and thus, the higher on the priority list that workout goes.

                                        Back in November, I blogged about how I was having a hard time finding the motivation to do long runs with my new schedule. I didn’t want to get up early again on Saturday after waking up early Monday through Friday. But, if I didn’t set an alarm, I had no motivation to run after my boys were awake and we were enjoying a relaxing morning drinking coffee/chocolate milk and playing games.

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