It’s about that time. . .

So. . . It’s about that time of year. That time that I cut out all junk food and very carefully think about the balance of carbs, protein, and good fats in everything I eat. . .that time that I make every effort possible to be in bed early most every night. . .that time that some of my friends rely on their memories of what I look like because they come to know me almost exclusively via text messages for months.

Between the Pikes Peak Marathon, the Bear Chase 50K, and guiding for the New York City Marathon, training this year means that I’ll be MIA until early November.

January, February, March April May. . . Sing it, Wyclef!

January, February, March April May. . . Sing it, Wyclef!

It’s about that time. . . Marathon training – trail runs with beautiful, serene views from an incline of about two thousand feet and a quite distinguishable notation of where my dirt-coated ankles end and my socks began; anxious anticipation of speed workouts and a delicious feeling of accomplishment to cross them off my training plan; the consumption of countless Gus and granola bars, all a.k.a. absolute bliss - is about to begin!

The race is officially 134 days, 7 hours, and 43 seconds away; and training starts exactly twenty-five days from today. Really, though, it’s already begun. Not only have I got the first race of the year under my belt; I have also given changes I’m going to make to my training regimen a lot of thought.

Although I’ve only run the Pikes Peak Marathon once, I’ve followed the same marathon training plan twice now. My ascent for the marathon was one second shy of a whole twenty-two minutes slower than my Ascent PR the year before – an ETERNITY in any runner’s world. Yeah, yeah. . .ouch! I know. . .and I’m bound and determined to make this year’s ascent portion of the marathon a lot faster than last year – as it should be!

In thinking back on my training for the past two years, I noted three small things – things I will most definitely do again this year – that were different and that I think made all the difference in running performance.

One: Spending more time on my feet. Two summers ago, I had a part-time job in an awesome little Greek restaurant near downtown Denver, Melita’s – the best chicken souvlaki I’ve ever tasted, by the way – which meant I spent a minimum of twenty-five hours on my feet in addition to marathon training. At my new job, I spend a lot of time at my computer, which last year equated to a lot of time sitting.

My solution? Yup, you guessed it – a self-fashioned standing desk:

Never thought old dissertation materials and all three volumes of Bowlby's attachment series would come in handy like this!

Never thought old dissertation materials and all three volumes of Bowlby’s attachment series would come in handy like this!

Add to this calf raises and a few inclined pushups at the edge of my desk here and there to get the blood flowing, and voila! Even cheaper than anything you can find at Ikea.

Two: Riding JD’s bike – Yes, JD, I know you’re reading this (thanks, by the way!); and I still refer to it as your bike that I will one day return – rather than driving as much as possible to and from the Snug on Thursdays, to and from friends’ houses, to run errands nearby. Just got air in the tires the other day. Good as new!

Three: Doing my Friday run in the morning before work rather than in the late afternoon or early evening after work. I suspect that doing my Friday runs after work last year didn’t afford me enough rest to make the most of our long trail runs – VERY important runs – on early Saturday mornings. And, it’ll afford me more time on Friday evenings to share my running thoughts will y’all on a twice weekly basis. Lucky you!

I think these three things are a very good place to start for a Pikes Peak Marathon PR. Guess we’ll see if I’m right on August 17th. I hope you’re ready for what’s bound to be an awesome ride to the starting line. . .

Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., a long-time road and trail runner, conducts applied child development research and works to influence child development policy and practice at the University of Denver. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.

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