By: Michelle Clarke
Running Marathons aren’t easy. You are constantly trying to find the balance between training, seeing your family and friends, oh yeah and working. After having a very successful season of half marathons and achieving a personal best time of 1:22:49 (2nd place overall female), I decided it was time to re-visit the marathon. After many failed attempts to train for a marathon I finally did it and finished my first in New York City with a time of 3:12:04.
After battling injury after injury I started to take a different approach to my training. I started listening to my body. My coach Kevin Smith who runs Marathon Dynamics always tells us “the mind leads the body”. I learned that it really does. Having a coach who knows you and understands how you train is key to achieving goals you never even thought of achieving. The next step on my road to successful running was changing shoe brands. It was an unexpected event that took place at a Running Room store when they didn’t have my brand of shoes in my size in stock. Luckily for Mizuno the sale staff assured me that the Mizuno Wave Inspire would not only feel similar to what I was used to running in but would most likely end up being better for me in the end. I’m forever thankful to that woman at the Running Room for gently coercing me to switch brands before I even knew I was switching brands. I tried the shoes out and I never looked back. They were exactly what I was missing in a shoe. They were light yet supportive and the shoe was responsive in ways other shoes could never be due to the unique Mizuno wave technology.
With the new shoes and my new attitude towards training I have been running injury free for two seasons in a row. I’ve had some major PB’s over the last two seasons – My Half Marathon (1:22:49 – 2nd place overall female in Mississauga) and my Full Marathon (2:57:08 – 11th female Overall in Toronto Waterfront Marathon). There are many factors for these great achievements. The coaching and the shoes are the foundation and the rest has come by trial and error. I started adding nutrition such as Clif Shot Blocks to all my big workouts and not just the long runs. If each workout was specific to a certain part of my overall marathon then getting my body used to digesting fuel during those runs was just as important for the workout and for recovery. During long runs and races I started taking one shot block every 15 – 20 minutes. Everyone always comments that when I race I don’t look tired and I believe it’s because I keep my electrolyte levels stabilized and never let them deplete completely.
Leading up to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon I had committed to my training and spaced out appropriate races throughout the season. Some good advice I was given was to always try and fit in two to three races leading up to your goal race. Doing this lets you gauge if the training is working and where it needs tweaking. Another reason being if you train all season and make the necessary sacrifices for a Marathon, only to end up injured, you have lost all that training time. If you get a race or two in then at least you have some results to show for your hard work. With smaller races I was also able to test what shoes work best, what nutrition doesn’t upset my stomach and how much I need to eat and drink before and during. Each race was a building block on top of the already strong foundation I had started with.
The success I have had over the last year has been a combination of so many elements, the right training, the right training gear and nutrition. Then amongst that there are the great people you meet along the way and the 21,999 other runners on race day doing what you’re doing – finishing a goal you’ve worked so hard to achieve.