Running Maintenance

In October 2012 I completed Beach to Battleship Ironman. I had the most incredible performance of my life, with everything going even better than planned. I had hoped for a 15 hour finish and came in under 13:30. Since that race I have spoken to a lot of triathletes about how I did it.

I tend to focus on the training. I did train a lot. When I started the training cycle I told Coach Jeff that I wanted to train like a professional. I wanted to be so prepared that it wasn’t simply about crossing the finish line but crossing it with the best time I possibly could. And yes, there is not a doubt in my mind that the training was a huge part of my success that day.

But there was another element I haven’t talked about a lot. I also took care of myself better than I ever had before. I slept enough, ate well and most importantly, listened to warning signs of any injuries. I took time off when needed. And this is the part that turns people off, I stretched, I foam rolled and I went for massages. I did these things because I wanted to be the healthiest triathlete I could be. Just like my car needs regular oil changes, my body needed regular maintenance.

This week another runner told me that she has a similar goal for Marine Corps Marathon this year. She wanted to know my biggest piece of advice. She told me she planned on adding tons of speed work, strength training and come cross training as well. When I told her that my biggest piece of advice was that she foam roll before and after every workout, I saw the look on her face. She was deflated. She didn’t have time for that. She wanted something else. She was willing to work hard but taking the time to take care of herself was just too much.

I found myself judging her, because the truth is, when I look back I know that it was this key element that made B2B so perfect for me. I went in healthy because I took the time to foam roll, stretch and get massages. I made it to that race because I took time to take care of myself. I wanted to judge her for not being willing to do the same. Then I realized it has been months since I took care of myself. I have been willing to put in the miles, whether running, walking, biking or swimming. I have added workouts and strength training. And I am constantly pushing myself to do more but the more is in taking care of myself. The more is in maintaining the machine that I want to push over the finish line again and again this year.

I loved Ironman day. I love that everything was perfect. I love the work that went into it. But what I need to love is the maintenance that went into it. Racing really is as much about maintenance as it is about training. It has to be.

How do you maintain your running machine?