Training for a marathon, as anyone knows who has done it, is a life changing experience. For some, it’s little things and for others, the big ones.
For me, because this is my blog so you get my perspective, the thing marathon training is doing this time around is stripping down some of my unhealthy adulthood habits.
My first marathon was in 2003 with Team in Training as a 27 year-old singleton living on the Hill in Washington, DC. It has been 16 years since that experience and it changed so many areas of my life, I honestly do not recognize the person I was before I crossed that finish line.
When we started training for this marathon I assumed I’d already had my life changing marathon and this one would just be about celebrating the good, bad and ugly of balancing miles with working motherhood at 40. I am honestly shocked to find the evolution I am in the midst of as I rack up the miles during this cycle.
Here is the thing I forgot from the other side of growth.
CHANGE IS HARD. AND UNCOMFORTABLE.
And once I remembered that was part of the deal, I knew I either accepted the discomfort or stopped growing.
I have chosen to take the long and winding road.
So that means, I have to go through the change and the suck and the humidity and the painful conversations to get to the other side. I have to work on the things that bubble to the surface — the things that come from listening and talking and pushing ourselves… the moments that we share in the intimacy of long runs.
I know on this path, there are no short cuts…
to becoming the best versions of ourselves.
The struggle is no joke, but I KNOW when I cross that finish line in 2 months and 4 days, I will not be the same woman that started training 11 weeks ago. And for that, I am so very grateful.
One of the things running helps me do is to sort out my head. Every time I lace up my shoes with a problem in my head to answer – I somehow find that I’ve either found a solution or gone further down the path to the right choice for me. I come to figure out what I need, what I don’t and what comes next for me.
I am now officially half way through marathon training for the Baltimore full on October 15th. There are 6 of us training for the race together, and another handful of friends who are also doing the race. Some of our gals are marathon vets and one is a newbie. Since it’s been 13+ years since I’ve run a marathon, I’m putting myself in the green category as well. A lot has happened in the past decade plus and this is a whole new ball game.
Last weekend we ran our first 16 miler in summer heat and humidity and it was rough. But we did it! And our friend Deb joined us for 12 miles as she trained for Ragnar DC. A marathon super veteran, she shared some great tips and tricks with us as we get ourselves together to conquer 26.2.
Tip #1: Start Early in the Summer
Chances are, if you are training for a fall race – even one in late October or November – you will have some longer runs in the summer. Northern VA has been going through a heat wave and it has been like running through soup. We started our 12, 14, and 16 mile runs at 5am. That is our normal weekly training time, but getting up that early on a Saturday is still not the most fun. However, we have found that training without the sun beating down is critical. We also catch some BEAUTIFUL sunrises. And are typically done before the day really kicks into gear.
Tip #2: Find Running Friends
I am AMAZED by those who can log hours and hours of miles alone. We do not intend to run the marathon together, necessarily, but having friends by my side to log miles has been huge. We all met through our local Moms Run this Town group, which has grown to over 1,000 women since starting in 2014. It took me a while to find these ladies, but I am so glad I did. Local running stores will typically have great referrals to running groups and just like anything else – it takes a little bit to find your fit, so don’t give up!
Tip #3: SLOW DOWN
Pace is a tricky thing. For me, it has been very humbling to slow my pace to compensate for the heat and for the increase in mileage. As I said, I’m taking this race on as a newbie and I am doing a novice plus training plan. My goal is to just finish the race strong and not get hurt. That being said, I am paying attention to my body and not to pace. But we are focused on getting our miles done well and feeling OK as we finish. Sometimes, that means pausing and sometimes that means walking. There is some great research out there on what heat does to our pace. This one is my favorite.
Tip #4: Pay Attention to Fuel
NOW is the time to try things and see how they go to be fully ready for the marathon. I have been trying to figure out what to eat before, during an after a run. I’m working through the before and after, but feel really good about the during. I have figured out that I need to fuel every 4-5 miles and mix it up a bit. For me, that has come to mean Honey Stinger chews and I just incorporated a new gu – Carbo Boom. And I recently reached out to my friend, Katie Heddleston, to help me with a nutrition plan. I found after my long runs, I was EATING ALL THE THINGS. I will keep you posted on how that goes.
Tip #5: Have a Recovery Plan
I had been treating recovery very lightly and simply thought I’d feel the same way I always had after a half marathon. But this is a whole new ballgame. After I felt terrible for four days after my 14 miler, I did some reading on different techniques folks have tried. This week I incorporated:
A 10 minute ice bath after my run.
Foam Rolling after the bath (and shower!)
Compression socks for an hour
A nap (which required bribery and a movie for M)
Overall – I am very happy with how things are going. The marathon medal was revealed yesterday and it is SO COOL.
Tomorrow we have a low mileage week and will only be going 10. Looking forward to a great run!