This Runner's Trials

10 things marathon training taught me

Posted by runnerstrials

Since my last post, I’ve done no exercise. Yup, 72 hours without any sweating (unless you count night sweats from my husband’s and my inability to agree on a comfortable thermostat setting). No workout for 3 days is seriously a non-injured, non-post surgery recovery record for me.

But my body needed it. I’m not sore, but I’m physically and emotionally drained. I’m eager to get back into regular sweat sessions again though. And with a low-key weekend planned, I’m hoping to do just that :)

Like my two official pictures from the marathon? I’m just glad they didn’t catch me while I was walking ;)

Marathon training reflections

I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on marathon training. I completed a marathon in January 2009, but I didn’t really train. (I came down with a terrible cold for 2 weeks, there was a major outbreak that prompted me to work insane hours, my dad was sick, and I was moving 6 states away from my husband to start a new job. At the time, these seemed like good excuses for not training.)

This round of training was really my first time truly marathon training. And it taught this self-proclaimed experienced half-marathoner a lot :)

1. Long distances don’t bite, especially when they’re done with friends. Before training, I thought 20 mile runs were the scariest thing in the world. Yes, they’re hard, but they’re nothing most experienced runners can’t handle. Being on your feet for 3 hours or so is overwhelming, but it’s much more bearable with a training buddy or two.

2. Trust your body, not the training plan. Once I got up to 18 miles, I found I needed more than one day off from running. I resisted at first, but found the whole week of training went better if I took 2 days post-long run off from running.

3. Cross-training is your friend. I wish I listened to my own advice. Training was going much better- and I may have been faster- when I was also triathlon training. My next marathon training cycle will involve more biking, swimming, yoga, and strength training. Can someone please hold me to this? :)

4. It gets easier. When I first started doing runs longer than 12 miles, I’d be spent the rest of the day. I’d have to turn down any plans that didn’t involve me laying on the couch. But, this feeling disappeared as I got further along in my training. I even went out a bit the night of my marathon. I’m not really sure though if this had more to do with my fitness or the fact that summer turned to fall (see #8). Along the same lines, distances that felt hard during marathon training- 10 to 12 milers- are now cake for my body.

5. Hop on board the emotional rollercoaster. Maybe this is my crazy fluctuating hormones, but I was an wreck during marathon training. I over-thought everything. I harassed friends for advice constantly, I kept changing my training plan, I even signed up for 2 marathons within 13 days of each other (which ended up being a blessing in disguise). Don’t psych yourself out. Remember, you run and race because it’s fun. A wise man told me we can’t bring our marathon times to the next life, so don’t worry too much :)

6. Expect the unexpected. Sometimes your training can go well, but your race won’t go as planned. Sometimes you fuel perfectly, but your long run blows and you don’t know why. Marathon training is evil like that. Things can go wrong for no clear reason. But, they go right sometimes, too.

7. Soreness is normal, but pain isn’t. I’m not going to give medical advice here. Only your doctor can tell the difference between a nagging discomfort and a true injury. But you know your body. You know what pain is. And true pain is never normal. I should have got my stomach problems checked out earlier this summer. I kept making excuses and kept failing at self-treatment. I beg you to learn from my mistakes :) You don’t want this to happen, trust me.

8. Training in the summer sucks. But I say the same thing about the winter ;) Embrace the treadmill and the time of day when the weather is the safest. Sure it’s boring running indoors and getting up early isn’t fun, but it sure beats heat exhaustion.

9. Play around with fuel. I avoided GU for the longest time because the consistency weirded me out. Now I regret not trying it earlier in my training. Go to a running a store and stock up on all gels, chews, drinks, and bars and test them out on your long runs. What worked best for you last year may not be the best this training cycle. Happy digesting!

10. Enjoy it while it lasts. Because when training is over, you’ll miss it. You’ll question your purpose in life. You’ll want to sign up for another marathon immediately. You’ll beg marathon-training friends to let you crash their runs. Trust me. You’ll even miss those scary long runs ;)

What has training for any event taught you? Every training cycle is so different. I cannot wait to see what the next one shows me.

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