For as long as I’ve been a runner, I’ve struggled to wake up early to run before work. I love a beautiful sunrise, and starting my day off right just as much as any other runner, yet I’ve only been successful a handful of times and trust me, I’ve tried pretty much everything. I’ve gone to bed early, laid out my clothes, slept in my running clothes (not very comfortable), placed my alarm half way across the room, etc. The times I have been successful were the times that I added the accountability of meeting someone else who got up just as early to run with me.
For years I’ve been beating myself up over the fact that I don’t have the self-discipline to wake up early, but the truth of the matter is: I have bruxism. Otherwise known as teeth grinding. I wear a custom mouth guard made by my dentist while I sleep to minimize the damage to my teeth, but it doesn’t stop the grinding.
I wake up every.single.day. with a killer headache. Some days I even wake up dizzy and nauseous from it. If I’ve had alcohol prior to bed the headache is MUCH worse. (To be fair, I admit I’m not sure if the dehydration from the alcohol consumption worsens the headache, or if I just grind more after drinking). It takes several hours during the morning for the headache to fade enough for me to feel capable of being productive, let alone feeling well enough to exercise. Hence why I exercise on my lunch break and why morning exercise, and morning races are hard for me to do. I usually do my long runs around mid-morning when my headache has subsided, but then my husband doesn’t have the patience to watch the kids for any longer than a two hour run.
Given that I know I have a hard time with early morning running, I’ve been finding it a challenge to put together a marathon training plan for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I need a plan that:
- Only needs me to wake up early once a week for my Saturday long runs;
- Keeps my week day runs short enough that I can do them on my lunch break;
- Allows me to fit in two strength sessions/week with my coach;
- Takes into account the races I already have planned (Canada Day 10k, The North Face Endurance Challenge, Ontario Women’s Triathlon, Milton Half Marathon, Oasis ZOO Run)
- Alternates hard and easy weeks for progress; and
- Gives me enough rest time that I can recover properly so that I can progress and not get injured.
My previous half marathon plan didn’t take into consideration my strength training, so on Saturdays when I did my long runs I was running on exhausted legs that had just trained 5 days in a row with no rest. After 6 weeks of training, my legs fell apart, I felt beat up and I got some weird shin splints/compartment syndrome injury thing happening. I then moved my strength workouts to the pool, but even that wasn’t allowing my body enough time to recover – I still felt like my entire body had been hit by a truck every day. It’s only been in the last week that my shins have been pain-free while running, and that I feel like my body has recovered from that hard training cycle. After 10 weeks of injury/feeling sluggish, this makes me excited and optimistic about my ability to train for, and finish a full marathon – but I need to be cautious with my plan.
So together with my coach, we’ve put something together that alternates hard and easy weeks, and hard and easy days, with lots of rest. One thing you’ll notice is that the emphasis is on my LONG runs, with very little running during the week. I have three twenty milers planned, with recovery weeks after each one. This may not appear to be a traditional training plan as we’re hoping that spinning and strength workouts along with the long runs will get me to the start line injury-free.
So here’s my plan:
I’m really excited, but also very nervous about all of this. Training for a marathon takes far more dedication than a half marathon – and I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to balance parenting, work, and training for this distance with minimal early morning running. I’ve been reading some posts around the internet about how to relax my jaw and teach myself to unclench my teeth so that I grind less. I’m surprised that my dentist in her eagerness to address my grinding issues and push me to get a new custom mouth guard has never addressed this (rolls eyes)…. Anyways, I hope that I’m able to figure out how to relax my jaw and stop grinding so that getting up and training becomes easier and that I can finally return to FULL marathons!