Ask any marathon training coach and she’ll tell you the same thing: running is just one part of the preparation equation. Diet, cross training and rest also play a crucial role in the 20 weeks leading up to the big race, and in true Captain Planet style, only by their powers combined is a marathoner made ready.
At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as justification for going an entire six days last week without so much as unpacking my running shoes, even though the NYC marathon is just eight weeks away.
Call me undisciplined, uncommitted, or unfocused if you want, but I’m going to choose another word to describe myself during my restful and relaxing past week along the Aegean Sea: tan.
My trip to Greece may not have been the most training-focused vacation I’ve ever mustered, seeing as I only logged a single beachside run during my entire week in Nea Moudania, but to be fair, I pretty much nailed the other parts of marathon training: diet, cross training and rest.
- Diet: I started each day with a protein-rich European breakfast of full-fat Greek yogurt, watermelon and honey (fine, and Nutella by the jarful), which kept me satiated until a late, late afternoon lunch. At around 4 p.m. each day, we’d dry ourselves off and gather at a waterside table for course after course of the freshest, cleanest food you can imagine: tomato and feta salads, grilled octopus, steamed mussels, and enough tzatziki to feed a small army. We’d then eat and eat for hours on end, but with almost none of the food processed or fried, we never left the table feeling too full to function. Given Greece’s seafood-, good fat- and veggie-rich diet, it’s no wonder they won all the ancient Olympic Games.
- Cross training: This one is a bit more of a stretch, considering 45 percent of each day was spent prone in a beach chair, but I did manage to work a few muscles besides my chewing ones. For example, one day I sidestroked my way to this very far away rock, then elementary backstroked my way home. Did I work up a sweat? Maybe, maybe not. But I certainly stretched out some muscles that had laid dormant as I’ve been busy logging 40 miles a week.
- Rest: Sleep til 10, nap on the beach, sleep on a floating raft in the crystal clear water, sit for a 3-hour meal overlooking the sea and then polish the night off with a few glasses of delicious Greek wine? Yeah, I got the rest part of it down to a science.
So what if I spent a week in Greece and only have one 8-mile run to show for it? I am now well fed, well rested and, well, ready to dive back into my training full force. As proof, I logged a quick 3 miles during a layover in Vienna, and yesterday, I put my jetlag to good use and ran 8 humid Central Park miles before work. Today’s jetlag, which had me up at 4 a.m., has resulted in this blog post and soon, 5 more sweaty miles.
I may still be on Greece time, but for all intents and purposes, I’m back, folks. Let the marathon countdown begin.