Holy smokes, marathon training is no joke! It’s been an exciting summer of reaching new running milestones, and each day I feel more prepared to tackle my first 26.2 mile race. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way these past four months:
- Completing multiple new distance records is extremely motivating. Tackling mileage in the double digits is thrilling! Tiring, but oh so thrilling 🙂
- Training for half marathons vs. full marathons is very different. The biggest of which, for me, has been the time commitment. For half marathons my weekend long runs were never much longer than two hours. Now I block out a full 5 hours for my 20 mile runs. But coming home to compression socks, a giant water bottle with Nuun and a fire in our living room is pretty much priceless.
- Potty breaks are essential. When you run for two hours they can be skipped, but with the amount of hydration needed for a few long runs in the heat this summer, it just can’t be avoided. I’ve never been happier than to see the porta-potty at mile 9 of my first 18 mile run. Boy did I need to pee!
- Chaffing will happen. Anywhere you think it can happen, it will. Vaseline or BodyGlide will be your new best friend. Let’s just leave it at that 😉 Just throw it in your running pack and thank me at mile 18.
- Nuun! If you haven’t tried it yet for your endurance events (or hot yoga too!), then swing by your local Whole Foods and pick up a few tubes. They’re small tablets of electrolytes and vitamins that dissolve in your water bottle (and they’re flavored!). They don’t give me as much instant energy as drinking water mixed with gatorade, but Nuun does a better job of keeping my fueling consistent, without the ups and downs that come with more sugary drinks.
- While eating three Gu packets during a half marathon is doable, eating 6+ on a long run tastes pretty gross. I’ve learned to add mini pretzels to my running pack to mix things up. I’ve also brought gummy bears, chips, bananas and goldfish. When I load up my running/hydration backpack for long runs it looks like I’m leaving for a long weekend, haha!
- Cross-training is your best friend! You may not feel like going to yoga after a long run or working out with weights mid-week, but the benefits I’ve seen in my running form this time around have been significant. I no longer look like Quasimodo when I finish long runs. Think, “Shoulders down your back. Don’t wear your shoulders as earrings!”
The most important lesson I’ve learned when running these longer distances is that most of running is mental toughness. Yes, physically you need to train yourself to cover the distance, but there comes a point in every long run when I’ve felt the shift from physical effort to mental determination. Even though my body hurts I know I can continue on. But it takes a lot of willpower to override that voice in your head begging you to stop. My favorite mantra at the end of a run is, “I get to do this. I can do hard things.” Usually with the last few miles of my weekend run I’m telling this to myself out loud. Sometimes you need this reminder. Just keep moving forward 😀
My first marathon will be run in support of A.D.O.P.T. Pet Shelter in Naperville, IL. Want to be part of the fun? Your donation will go towards housing, feeding and caring for pets in need! Contribute to help pets in need here: https://www.gofundme.com/runwithpup1182015.