By Houston Marathon Foundation Ambassador Becky Wade
I’m back in Houston after a summer of roaming, and have to admit that I’m so glad to be back in the sauna-like conditions I’ve trained in my whole life, and reunited with the people and community that reinforce my goals daily. After spending a couple weeks in California in May, I made my way back to Texas to participate in a photo shoot in Cameron, Texas with Deena Kastor (American record-holder in the marathon and half-marathon, and Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon).
After that, I repacked my bags—a skill I mastered while traveling around the world for a year—and relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, for June and early August. While Phoenix doesn’t sound like much of an upgrade from Houston, climate-wise, I went there to be with my boyfriend, also a distance runner who was interning in an engineering lab, and to receive treatment from Dr. John Ball, a physical therapy guru who attracts runners from all over. As long as I was up by 4:30 each morning, the weather was actually quite pleasant! Dr. Ball helped me out a ton, identifying some weaknesses and especially tight areas that have been holding me back for the past few months, and I’m finally starting to feel like my normal and springy self. My sessions with Dr. Ball reminded me that, as distance runners, we can get away with small imbalances or hitches for a while, but with the distances we cover and stress we put on our bodies, compensations and injuries can spring up if we don’t address the root of the issue. Having spent a good portion of the year in between therapy appointments, I’m also constantly reminded of how fortunate I am to be supported by the Houston Marathon Foundation, which allows me to take the utmost care of my body and to prioritize my health above all.
After Phoenix, I spent a week in Washington, where both my boyfriend and I have relatives. The crisp weather was a treat, as was being able to run in the middle of the day without heat stroke worries. From Seattle we traveled up to Forks and spent a few days soaking up the beautiful, slow-paced environment. In between runs, we kayaked, gardened, picked berries, and made up for a summer of early morning wake-ups. Forks was the perfect place to unwind after a busy summer, and to reset before the start of another fall with my next marathon prep phase quickly approaching.
Now that I’m back in Houston, under the guidance of my coach, Jim Bevan of Rice University, I’m building my mileage and getting back into hard workouts, the focus being on running correctly all the time. A rough template for a typical week of training right now is 1 day of hill charges on a treadmill (which allows Jim to monitor me, and which reduces the pounding of downhill running), 1 day of long intervals (4 x 1.5 miles yesterday, for example), 1 long run (16-18 miles right now), at last 1 day of strides (10 or more 100m strides with 100m jog in between each one), and lots of comfortable recovery runs. I prefer to do most of my running on soft surfaces like the Rice loop, Hermann Park, and Memorial Park because I like how they preserve my legs and joints over many miles of running. As I move into my official Olympic Trials marathon build-up in a couple months, I’ll purposefully incorporate more quality work on the roads to prepare my body for the pounding it will take in the race. For now though, my priority is staying healthy, so soft surfaces is a safe choice.
Before the Trials in February, I plan to run at least one half-marathon (possibly Houston!), as well as some shorter road races (10Ks, 5Ks, and such). I think that over- and under-racing (competing at distances different than the targeted race) is valuable, as it exposes weaknesses, increases range, keeps things fresh, and allows for more experience in road-racing. My goal is to become the best all-around runner, so improving over a range of distances is an important step in achieving that.
Thanks for taking the time to read about my summer training. I hope that the rest of you Houstonian runners are enduring the heat and humidity, and are getting excited about the fall and winter racing season (less than 5 months until the Houston Marathon and Half-Marathon!). The next time you look at the thermometer after a run, and question your sanity or sport of choice, just imagine that first cool front in October and the glorious fall and winter weather coming our way! Houston runners are a tough breed, and I’m proud to claim this city as my training base.
See y’all on the roads!
About Becky Wade
A former Rice University four-time NCAA Division I All-American, Becky Wade won the her debut marathon, the California International Marathon, in 2:30:41, the fifth-fastest marathon by an American woman in 2013. It was her first race longer than 10K, her specialty distance in which she earned All-American honors in 2009 and 2012. Wade is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rice University with a triple major in history, sociology and psychology.