Everyday this training block I've had to stop from comparing my training to the Olympians and legit profesh runners... "easy" tempos at sub 5:30s?? Naps? Massage? Actually practicing water stops? All that teff?! I know I'm not alone. Who hasn't wanted to train like a pro? (Just for the naps and massage, let's be real.) To ease my twisty, butterfly tummy over the lack of time/resources I have to train and recover, I have found making lists of things I can and can't control to be helpful. I can't get a massage every day, but I can use a roller every night. I can't have a nutritionist whipping up eggs and muffins while I do my long run, but I can plan ahead and have quality fuel ready.
I'm on the other side (knock on wood) of a hamstring issue. And it gave me that crystal clear perspective that only a setback can. So with that, I present the in-progress guide...
HOW TO GO FAUX PRO FOR MARATHONERS
Kara has Lottie, Shalane has Elyse. And I have Eat Slow Run Fast (for $4.99!) on Kindle and my trusty copy of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Try to make as much of your fuel from whole foods while being realistic about your schedule/budget.
And cheat where you need to! I'm sorry, I can't make bone broth. I just can't. But I can buy it.
Also spy on what pros are doing, like Lauren Fleshman swearing by tart cherry, or Sara Hall and those Muscle Milk Teff Pancakes...and see what works for you.
Massage is part of a professional runners job. Speaking from the other side of a level one hamstring strain I will say this it's not cute that I hadn't had a massage in 7 months. If your mileage is increasing that sh*t will catch up with you. Invest in one massage a month if you can. Find out where the elites in your area get work done. Then book it. Better yet, get a doctors note and charge that to your insurance if you can.
But daily or even weekly massage aren't feasible for non-pros. So get your hands on a roller, and don't let that thing gather dust in your living room. It doesn't count if you can only see if out of the corner of your eye while you watch OITNB.
I recently asked my massage therapist if rolling (or self-myofascial release) could really make a difference. She said yes, absolutely. My favorite rollers are Addaday. They really get in there and break up those stuck fibers and they make a bunch of travel rollers easy to take everywhere.
PHYSICAL THERAPY + BODY WORK
This goes hand in hand with massage. And again (points at giant piece of KT Tape and full 5 days off of training) don't save this until you have a come-to-the-running-gods moment. Get ahead of your imbalances, you don't have time to be injured. I have two main life hacks here.
First, if you can, see a PT in your area before you start a big training block. Again, use elites in your area to vet the best option. Explain that you have :30 minutes a day (or whatever it is) and ask for a plan that outlines the best way to spend that time based on your imbalances, injury history and goals.
Second, I use Hit Reset with Jasyoga religiously. Now that the HIT RESET book is out, complete with self-tests (also available as videos), you can assess your own imbalances and create a plan that fits into your life. I personally prefer to use the book and videos together. And seriously the video subscription is under $5 a month.I do Jasyoga at least 3 x week. And during peak weeks (and taper peak weeks) once a day and always before a run.
Yeah, who has the time (or cash) for weekly Cyrotherapy? But I'm guessing you can get your hands on three bags of ice and a bathtub. When you have a huge week, or past weeks have been stacking up, set aside 15 minutes after a long run to hit the ice bath. The first 5 is spent convincing yourself to get in, then soak for 10. Don't use it every week, keep it in your back pocket to hit reset after a big block.
Eat within :30 of your hard workouts and long runs. This is simple and key. Your muscles are sponges right after the work, feed them! Eat between 100 - 300 calories of 3:1 carbs:protein. And it doesn't have to be elaborate. Seriously, a banana and PB. Or a Picky Bar (they're a Trader Joes)! Check, check.
Legs up the wall all the time. Toddler watching Daniel Tiger? Legs up the wall.
A recovery splurge I make in times of peak or imbalance is Floating (sensory deprivation tanks), but an at home hack is Magnesium spray. Just spray on affected muscle as often as you think of it.
This could go under recovery, but I believe in its power so much it gets its own header. It's the cheapest, most accessible form of recovery and the tied with eating and drinking water, the most important. I basically went without it for a year, and as soon as I stacked 5 hours of sleep together I felt like I was on illegal drugs.
Don't think you have time for more sleep? Ask your family for a nap after the long run when it gets big. And if you don't have familial guilt factor, take. a. nap. I know it sucks, you were already gone 3 hours and now you're going to nap?? But just :30 can make a big difference.
And at night really look at how you spend your time. Steal from Netflix to give to your recovery sleep. Steal from doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen. Seriously just slob a little during those big weeks of training. Get some sleepytime tea and take a melatonin, rub a little lavender oil into your wrists. For people like me with FOMO, make sleep a treat, not a chore.
PRACTICE RACE DAY FUEL
If you follow any pro, fueling is a huge part of their training. They practice ingesting carbs on the run, and during workouts. They practice water stop techniques. They do carb free long runs. Fuel is a huge part of marathoning.
I didn't used to practice it, or I would practice it separately. Like ask my husband to stand on the side of street holding cups of water out for me. But to really practice you have to do it at marathon pace, and on long runs, and when you're tired. Honestly I noticed a huge difference after practicing this for three workouts. Drinking at your race pace a mile or two in is so hard at first, but as you practice week after week it's easier.
Best case, get a friend to be your water mule on a bike. I've had this luxury twice. It was unreal amazing. Otherwise I carry my own water bottle. And if it's an out and back I drop it on a fence or electrical box or whatever, so I can run by and grab it as practice. I've never tried a fuel belt, but go for that if it works for you.
And of course it's not just about being able to sip water at your race pace, but also practicing for your stomach so that it knows what's up on race day. Best advice I ever got on fuel was take it WAY before you need it. Like mile 3. You're not only trying to get sugar to your muscles, but also to your brain so that it can work at its best and convince you to keep going when you're tired. So on your 20 miler take maybe one less gel then you would race day, but load up and mimic that race day fuel plan.
MOST IMPORTANT: BE YOUR BEST YOU
It's harder then ever to not fall into the comparison trap, but just like in a race, looking to the left and right and over your shoulder is an energy suck. There's a fine line between being inspired and being deflated. Check in with yourself and make sure you're being kind with yourself. Take yourself seriously and do what you can to set yourself up to crush your goals. Mentally double tap your own efforts and small steps and accomplishments as much as that stranger's post on IG.
Now go get 'em! Team Faux Pro for life!