- New shoes. Last year I was wearing Saucony's and they were literally shredding my feet to bits. I did this race as a training run for the marathon I did in November and got really bad blisters. Then like an idiot I kept running in the same shoes for two more months. I wrapped my toes in band aids, wore different socks, but never actually changed my shoes. Dumb Lauren. In April I bought a pair of Hoka's. They look like clown shoes but honestly feel like running on clouds so I don't care how dumb I look in them, and I don't care if my friends make fun of me. I had one tiny blister after this race, but nothing compared to last year. I also think the blister was due to the wet conditions of the race, not the shoes. They are much wider which always makes it easier to run on uneven trails. I love these shoes.
- New Socks. A few people recommended Injingi socks after hearing about my blisters and they worked well. I only wear them for long runs because I hate putting them on, and also only have two pair.
- Losing weight. This seems like a touchy subject and something not a lot of people talk about, but I think it's worth mentioning. Since last years race I have lost weight. Not having to carry around the extra pounds for 14 miles was excellent and definitely made me faster.
- Eating right. Another touchy subject, but here goes. I mentioned it in the spring back when I started eating healthier, but I have at least attempted to continue the momentum from that. I have stopped eating gluten, because I figured out through elimination that it was making me sick. I also have not been eating a whole lot of dairy, I did let myself eat ice cream this summer, because I love it, but I am not drinking gallons upon gallons of milk anymore. I now tend to eat a lot of eggs, meat, vegetables and fruit. Since going gluten free I have been trying to do some gluten free baking, because I actually like baking (and have a huge sweet tooth) so I've been making cornbread and cookies, but trying to limit it to only weekends.
- Cross training/ Crossfit. I have not mentioned this here yet but I have been going to a crossfit class since February. It's an exercise class that mixes cardio with weight lifting and strength training. After the marathon I pretty much took 3 months off or running (and most exercising) so when February rolled around I felt quite sloth-ish. I contemplated joining a yoga class, but then Charlie said he would do a crossfit class with me so we both joined. He has since stopped going to focus more on running, but I have continued to go. I was initially worried I'd start looking like a body builder but that has not happened, and I really don't think it will. The classes are always fun; what really keeps me coming back though is the people. I like running, but it's a very solitary activity for me. At crossfit there are lots of people around to inspire and motivate you. I would never do these exercises if there wasn't someone there to help me do it or to inspire me. Everyone is very nice and I love the energy. It reminds me of diving practice, doing fun but difficult things and having people cheer for you when you do well, and cheering for others as well. I like the team mentality of it, even though it's mostly individual. We also do a ton of squats, which have made my legs much stronger. I felt stronger climbing up the mountain on Sunday. My legs didn't burn, as much, as last year, and I felt less winded.
- Running less/no burn out. Last year I was running 6-7 days a week. I was running at cross country practice (slowly) then running on the days off to make up for the slow running or to get a long run in for training. This year I only ran 3 days a week. One short, one medium and one long run. I didn't ever feel sick of running or think to myself "ugh I don't want to do this." Well, I did say I didn't want to do it a few times but only because it was raining or I had to wake up earlier. I am also not coaching this year which has been fantastic. I finally came to two very important realizations. First is that if you like doing something it doesn't mean you will like coaching people to do that something. I kept feeling like I was doing something wrong for not liking coaching, and that if I didn't like coaching it must mean I didn't like running. But that's not true. Second was that I can say "no" to things I don't want to do. I didn't like it for multiple reasons, I tried my best, but ultimately I just didn't want to so I didn't.
- Music. I mentioned this before but running with music really makes me go faster. I only had fast/upbeat songs on my ipod on Sunday and all the songs pumped me up and made me really enjoy running. I also think it helped the time go by faster.
- Actually Stretching. People are right, you should stretch before you do do any kind of physical activity. I don't know why I took so long to figure this out. I do dynamic stretching.
- Confidence. I talked myself up, before the race and during. I knew what my goal time was and kept reminding myself to keep up the pace in order to finish by that time, and kept reminding myself that I could finish in that time.
I also think my galaxy running capris helped me run fast. Or at least made me think of funny space puns while running. I'll spare you.
Charlie and I have already signed up for another trails race in November. It's not a marathon though, only 11 miles. If I ever say anything about signing up for a marathon again please knock some sense into me.