The Marathon (Part of TIART)

This Thursday's Take It and Run topic is you guessed it, the marathon. And what better theme to incorporate here, than that? Why? I'm training to run my 4th marathon on March 29 and let me tell you, it pretty much takes up 75% of your daily focus.

Thanks to the suggestions from TIART, I'm going to touch on: selecting a marathon,my training plan, the questions I ask myself, my strategy, and advice for other future and current half/full marathoners.

Selecting the Marathon: I'm a traveler, an explorer, a girl looking for a new adventure. My first long race that started this crazy string of marathoning was the 2006 Nashville Country Music 1/2 Marathon. So when selecting the race, I look for a destination I want to visit, a fun place to sight see and a marathon that sounds like a lot of fun. Last year I even convinced a bunch of high school friends to run a few races with me. It's crazy to see how your own racing can motivate others around you to step up their game and vice versa.

My training plan: is often one I've pulled from Runner's World. Sometimes it's from my Marathon Guide book, it just depends. My current plan is one from RW I found online a few years ago when preparing to run the Portland Marathon. It's time based rather than miles based. So instead of saying run 4 miles easy, it says run 30-40 min easy. Long runs say 2:40+, etc. The idea then, is that you focus just on getting out there for a specific amount of time and if your body decides not to cooperate in the speed department one day, you don't freak out that your entire training plan has gone to sh*t. It worked for me during my very first and best marathon, so I figured why not go back to it?

Questions that often cross my mind during those three precious months before a marathon include:
1. When am I gonna eat?
2. What am I gonna eat?
3. When do I have to eat again?
4. What time am I gonna run?
5. What am I gonna wear when I run?
6. Do I need gloves?
7. How many hills do I have to do on Tuesday?
8. Where am I gonna run?
9. What's Thursday's speed workout look like?
10. What time do I have to get up to go swimming before work?
11. Why can't people realize I have to wake up at the ass crack and can't go out to the movies/bars/etc until late the night before I run a 20 miler, or any night really?
12. And finally, why did I sign up for another one of these?

Now let's talk strategy. One of the reasons so many of these crazy questions cross my mind is not only because I'm well versed in the ways of the long race, but because of my strategy. My strategy is not just to finish the marathon, although that in and of itself is pretty impressive, but to run the entire thing without stopping, to the best of my ability (aka as fast and smart as possible).

At my best marathon, I averaged an 8:25 min mile, finishing in 3:49, nine min shy of qualifying for Boston, which is quite a lot in a race. My ultimate goal is to someday qualify for and run Boston, but it will take a seriously awesome race for that to happen, so we'll see...

So everything I do in my training and race follows that strategy. I eat the best I can, try to sleep well, limit alcohol, lift weights 2-3 times per week to keep my entire bod strong, strengthen the core, buy new shoes whenever necessary (this is key!), drink lots of water and try to follow my training plan to a T. The thing is, yeah, I'd like to go out a bit more with friends and maybe skip a few of those speed workouts, but ultimately I know that come race day, my religious dedication to my training plan and strategy will pay off. Hurting just a little bit less and running a wee bit faster for those 26.2 miles is all worth it to me.

Advice: There are a few key things I recommend to other future racers out there.
While training...
1.Wear the right shoes and replace them often. Your body will thank you.(I can't stress this enough. Coming from someone who has wide feet and pronates, it's serious. I now have orthotics and wide New Balances that finally feel good after a run. It only took about five years to find the right combination of shoe and orthotic).
2. Use Body Glide
3. Find a training plan that you can follow, and do so. If you need a partner to keep you on track, find one.
4. Pick a race, running outfit, tunes, etc. that keep you motivated and excited to train.
5. Train with water and supplements on your long runs (gu, cliff shots, luna moons, etc)
On race day...
6. take it all in. I don't train or race with my ipod for that very reason. I love enjoying the crowd, the other runners and the scenery.
7. try to run in the middle of the road, or switch sides so one of your legs isn't always on the slanted/downward side. This can create some serious injuries, trust me.
8. if you have to pee, do it. Sometimes there isn't going to be another porta pot stop for several miles and you don't want to pee your pants b/c you were afraid of spending 30 seconds in the outhouse.
9. smile for the camera. You'll enjoy your race photos just that much more.
10. enjoy the post race food and atmosphere. I love seeing the look of pain, pride and accomplishment on everyone's faces as they stuff them full of water and yummy snacks.

I hope you enjoyed my take on the TIART. If you have any questions about marathoning, I'm happy to answer them. Happy running!


amric1409 said…
What a great post! I got some great tips from here. I also have wide feet and pronate (apparently) what shoes do you have?! I'm going to try out my Mizuno's once more today for a 4-mile run and if they still aren't working for me I'm gonna take them back.

I totally hear you about the friends going out thing. My friends are always bugging me to go out on Thursday and Friday nights but I get up early Friday and Saturday mornings to train so if I do go out I have to leave early, plus I'm trying to be strict with my eating so I don't want to drink or go to a pub where I might splurge! It's frustrating but I think it'll all be worth it when I finish the half!

Question: Where do you do most of your runs? Outside or treadmill or both? I was doing track and outside but now it's too cold and so I've started hitting the treadmill. Is it OK to do a lot of your training on the treadmill?

Thanks again for such a great post, sorry my comment was almost a post in itself! haha
X-Country2 said…
Great advice. I wish I read it all BEFORE I ran my marathon, but it'll be helpful for my next one.
Sassy Molassy said…
amric1409-i have NB 757 (D width) with orthotics and don't forget to wear 1/2 size up in your running shoe from your every day shoe. This is a neutral shoe, but the orthotic controls the pronation. If you do not have/will not be getting orthotics, you most likely need a stability or motion control shoe.

Most of my runs are done outdoors with our running group or on my own. I make sure to have the right attire b/c that can make or break a run. We usually run on cement or bark trails. On my long runs I try to vary the route every weekend and include a mix of flat and gentle hills. Once in a while on a bad weather day I'll do my short easy runs or my speed/hill work on a treadmill.

Treadmill works to do some of your training as long as not all of your training is done indoors. It's such a different kind of stress on your body. And be sure to do long runs outside.
RunningLaur said…
I love your tips - thanks for sharing!
Anonymous said…
This was a Great post!! I'm training for two halfs this Spring and even though I've got three under my belt, I know I'm still learning a LOT.

The Shoe thing: probably one of my biggest problems. I can't find the 'perfect' fit, but I'm getting closer ( I think? ). I also have Really wide feet, and high arches. Not good. Last year I lost two toenails, and now with these shoes I'm getting blisters on my Outside toes. Any ideas??

I loved the "questions I ask myself" section. Ha, SO TRUE. Especially the last one. I'm only about three weeks into my training "plan" (using that term very loosely...;) ), which I'm really just using to see How I do with a Plan (for when I do the Full. I'll need it!). But I'm already getting those low-motivation days...which usually doesn't happen so soon for me. I'm thinking it's the lack of ability to actually RUN outside. I enjoy the treadmill for other reasons (Pace control!!), but Wow I'd do anything for warmer weather and nice running days.

anyway. this was a freakin novel. Ha, LOVED your post. Good stuff!
Maybe you'll find a Fun East coast race sometime soon, and maybe that would motivate me to actually do a Full. :)

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