Thursday, February 23, 2012

The 5-Mile Rule

One of the most common questions I get about running is, “How do y’all run that far?”  Since N & I started running together we’ve held to a simply philosophy…. run 5 miles at time.   5 miles… totally do-able.   When we do long training runs we run five miles at a time.  We run 5, then stop, knock back a gel (that yucky stuff we eat to keep our bodies fueled), grab a drink of water from our fuel belts, walk a little then set out for the next five.  At mile 10, we stop, get a gel, take a drink, walk a little then set out for the next five.  And so on.  Mentally, the 5-Mile Rule is a lifesaver. 

So at the Austin Marathon last Sunday, we took it five miles at a time.  On race days we don’t stop every five miles, we just run through them.  That’s what race day is about…. not stopping.  But mentally, we keep the same focus.  It probably sounds a little crazy but yes, runners tend to be a little crazy and play all kind of mind games.  We own it.  

The challenge with Austin, as Niki mentioned, is the hills!  From mile 3 to 6 you run up hill.  From mile 9 through 20, you run up hill.  The elevation increases about 500 feet in that 11 mile stretch.   (In contrast, the Houston Marathon increases elevation about 25 feet at any given point.)   So not only were we running A LOT of miles Sunday, we were running A LOT of hilly miles.  The five-mile rule was working pretty well for me the first 10 miles then we got into some of the MAJOR hills.  I decided to implement a strategy within my strategy.  I’ll call it the “6-Cones Rule”.  You know those big orange traffic cones they mark the courses with, right?  When I saw the first ridiculous incline ahead I told myself, “Lisa, just run 6 cones at a time.”  Why six?  I have no idea.  It’s what popped into my head at that moment.  Probably, much like the 5-Mile Rule, the 6-Cone Rule seemed do-able…. not too short, not too long.  Niki is a good hill runner, she loves running up the hills.  They don’t slow her down at all.  Actually, she picks UP speed.  So I used her as my motivation, ran my first six cones, then another six, then another six and tried to pass other runners up the hills.  Next thing I knew I was at the top of that first, big hill.  It worked!  So I kept doing it.  Next thing I knew I was at mile 15 then mile 20.   Only 2 left for our 22-mile long run.  Yeah!  

Then I started to notice the racecourse was beginning to resemble something of a runner’s battlefield.  I turned a corner to see runners splayed out on either side of the road.  Some were obviously hurt and down for the count.  Race day over.  Others were cramping and trying to stretch out problem areas like calves, hamstrings and quads.  Some had resigned themselves to slowly walking/limping.  That’s what happens when you get into those upper miles, your body can rebel and shut down.  At that moment I was overcome with a single emotion - THANKFULNESS!  God gave me a body that, up to this point in my life, has withstood the rigors of marathoning.  I believe that’s a gift and I don’t take it for granted.  So, right there on the course I started praising Him.  The next two miles felt easy as I thanked God and rejoiced.  

So, back to the original question, “How do we run that far?”  Five miles at a time with lots of help from God.  J   
Shortly after mile 22 we saw this man handing out M&Ms to runners!  You don't have to ask me twice.  :)


1 comment:

  1. Great job on Sunday!! The hills wou lhave killed me. I am amazed at what you girls can do!!