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Long-Term Planning and Goals

Last week I took considerable time to soul-search, make calls, and race plan.

If I don’t start dreaming about the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials “B” standard now, making changes now, and making sure all that I do is pointed that direction, I know I’ll always wonder if I could have made it a second time. I don’t want to wonder! I have until 1/19/2020 to run a sub 2:45. It didn’t take me long to know that I want nothing more than to bring my two girls to the start line at the Trials. Greta will be 5.5 at that time, and hopefully old enough to remember things like this. I want to show them their mom is one determined, hard-working, kick-butt woman! 🙂

Bringing them…
to this start line! (Except, Atlanta 2020 version)

I have over 8 minutes to take off my time. What changes, if any, or how do I think I’ll get there?

  1. Changing coaches, which is a big deal for me.
  2. Altering a few aspects of my training, as I’ll talk about below
  3. Targeting just a few races (not too many!) in the near-term training cycle to re-learn how to race and build confidence in my performances
  4. Strength work with a virtual coach M-W-F

Coaching change:

This is huge for me. As you know, I’ve been with Jerry for a long time. I love this man! Other than a short break to work with Chris Lundstrom, who now coaches Team USA MN, and a break from running during my mental health struggle, Jerry has been a part of my life for the better part of 8 years. He provided the structure and encouragement I needed to improve from a 1:24 1/2 marathoner to a 2:44 marathoner and 2012 Olympic Trials Qualifier. I will always be indebted to this man! But, I need to switch things up. I’ve known it for a while, even though it was a tough realization to come to.

Coach Jerry and I after my first 1/2 marathon under his guidance. Hard to believe that was in 2010, 8 years ago…

Looking for a coach isn’t as easy as it could be. Who could I trust? Who could provide the guidance I need? I talked to, researched, or followed a handful of coaches (aka stalked?) and finally, after weeks and weeks I connected with Gary Brimmer and knew he was the right fit. I first got to know him as part of the Brooks I.D. program when I joined the Brooks team as a sponsored athlete. I then saw his name as a Gen UCAN fanatic in Facebook groups and UCAN webinars. Brooks AND UCAN – the two things I’m in love with! He coached two women at Grandma’s: Anita, who ran a 2:39, a 3 minute PR, and Kristi with a 3:02, a 5 minute PR. He commands respect with a former-military, former-cop style (I sometimes need a stern hand to tell me to buck up and get work done! Especially on those brutally long marathon pace workouts!), but he also loves deeply, which is apparent in any of his coaching stories or posts from his athletes. He is extra communicative, and mostly, believes that we can get back to the Trials together.

I am so excited – and consider myself lucky – to have found such a natural fit! It isn’t easy finding someone who you click with – especially when you know you’ll need to trust that person with absolutely everything if it’s going to work!

My only concern: Gary sounds way too similar to Jerry! Ha!

Training changes:

Mileage will be a little reduced with Gary, as will # of doubles. Jerry made this change for me mid-Grandma’s training cycle this year when I was struggling to feel good running 90 MPW (miles/week) with 4-5 doubles a week. Part of the struggle was dealing with my hip/leg – perhaps I wasn’t struggling as much with the mileage as much as with a leg I knew wasn’t working well… it was demoralizing and mentally draining to try to get out for the second run when the first run was basically: run, lose leg control, stop, stretch, run some more, stop & stretch, etc. I know the injury was a part of it, but I also knew Jerry and I were trying to squash my current fitness and recovery ability into the “old-Nichole-fitness-with-insane-recovery-ability” mold, and the reality of it is, I’m not the same as I was 8 years ago, and definitely not 6 years ago when I was running at my best. I’m older, have the stress of a family now (doesn’t seem like stress, but it undoubtedly is), different body, etc.

I just think that – at least right now, and maybe even permanently – I need a little more recovery, maybe fewer doubles, and -gasp- lower mileage. There’s no use in logging miles if I’m running so beat up most of the time that I can’t run fast!

I’ve started with Sandi, who will switch up my strength training, and Gary has started me with 15 minutes of pre-running exercises (say, what?? I can’t just run out the door??) and 5 minutes+ of core afterwards. I did okay with strength work this last cycle but need to make it more of a priority. I’ll be lifting M-W-Fri, which corresponds to my quality workouts.

I’ll do a little more of my training at a steady-state pace (something new!) and my easy day pace will vary a little more. We can do this as mileage and overall stress load will be lower – so we can add stress via training paces.

My VO2 max is 69.9, which is crazy high for a female. So it isn’t oxygen uptake that is holding me back!

I’ve also asked Gary if I could start rollerskiing, and as long as it doesn’t affect my running, he is allowing it! I went out on rollerskis for the first time in 9 years last week, mostly because I wasn’t allowed to run and wanted to try something “new”, but also because I’ve had this seed of an idea in my head that I might want to do more skiing/cross training. I LOVED IT. I don’t know where rollerskiing and XC skiing on snow will fit into my overall training plan when it ramps up, but I am excited to add some non-running hours into my training weeks in the meantime!

Race planning!:

This is always a highlight for me: looking ahead to races and events to put into my training cycle!

I’ll be running the Twin Cities Marathon in October with a goal of 2:48-2:49. Slowly chip away minutes = continued progress towards a 2:44 attempt at Grandma’s in 2019. If I need it, travelling to Chicago or CIM late in 2019.

The first target race I’ll have is the Minnesota Half Marathon on August 4th. This will be my third time running it. It’s home to my 1/2 marathon PR (1:19, 2012) and my first half marathon back after Anna was born (1:32, 2017). I am hoping that I can run in the low 1:20s here – 1:20-1:23. I love this half marathon because it’s a pretty fast course with good competition, but just as importantly because it supports the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House was such a blessing to us during the 3 months that Anna was in and out of Children’s hospital! We celebrated Christmas there, hanging stockings from their mantle. That was a rough time in our lives. The race also utilizes the paths that I trained on while Anna was in the hospital. It brings back a lot of memories… days where I was running out my emotions after long days with specialists, days when friends joined me for runs to help me get through the weeks, etc.

The Northfield Cross Country team is also targeting this race for the end of their Captain’s practices so that will make it extra fun. Consider joining me!

Anna caught RSV when she was about 2 months old. We spent a total of over 30 nights at Childrens.

Gustavus Alumni XC Meet – August 25th. A must-do for me as an alum! Plus, now I’ll have two female runners that I’ve coached competing for GAC, so it will be even more fun to run the event!

2017 GAC XC Alumni race. 1st place, 18:36.

Then Stillwater Log Run 10 mile on September 22nd. This race is just 2 weeks out from TCM, a perfect time for a tune-up race. It’s where I ran a 1:03 last year in a last-chance qualifier for TCM’s elite wave (I just snuck in! Blog post here – SO worth the effort! Elite perks are the best!). It’s a really fast course, net downhill, and I really like the  Run Stillwater race organizers.

If you are also targeting Twin Cities Marathon, please consider joining me at the MN 1/2 Marathon and Stillwater 10 mile!

In the meantime, I look forward to sharing my journey to 2020, my learning under a new coach and “new” normal/”new” body, and my triumphs and struggles along the way. I hope to share as much detail as possible – hopefully it will help you in some way too!

Don’t worry, I also took the week after Grandma’s to do things like: eat delicious bars, rollerski, and catch up on cleaning and to-do’s! I really love the downtime after an “A” marathon!

Your turn:

Are you planning your fall races now? What races are on your list?

What are some fun things you do during an off-week from training? Cook? Clean? Try new things? Go out with friends? Take up a new sport? Do tell! 🙂

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  1. Hey Coach!
    Great update from you!!! Run Less, Run Faster. That’s going to be my goal coming up.
    I WILL See you in Atlanta at the Trial Start Line!!!! It is so close to my home – so I ask that if you want to come here for any training runs or drive the course – will you please consider our house your “apartment” and you can come and go as you please. The whole family is welcome here!!! We have plenty of room (the girls can stay across from Boyd in their own room), you and Nathan can stay in the guest room across the hall from the girls or “Guest Suite” in the basement. I would love to help you make this dream a reality! Cheering for you from ATL….

  2. i just discovered your blog, and wow- you have quite a story! Really enjoying it and looking forward to upcoming posts.

  3. I was wondering what marathon you’d run next – and selfishly hoping it would be CIM 2018. I look forward to following your journey to Twin Cities!

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