Today I wanted to share some of the things that I learned when training for my first marathon. After completing my training, I thought a lot about how I felt about it all. It actually took me a couple of weeks to wrap my head around the fact that I actually did it and think about it all. There were things that I did right, and things that I need to do differently next time. These tips are just things that I learned while going through the training for the first time. I am not an expert, as this was the first and only time I have done a marathon. But, for all of you out there that are thinking about one, these are things that I would have liked to have known before I did it.
- It’s not always possible to get all of your runs in. There will be things that come up that force you to miss a run. This could be injury, sickness, or just life in general. Just try to make sure that you aren’t consistently missing runs. And, if you have to, try and find some cross training to do. Just don’t stress about it! (I missed 3 weeks because I was sick and was still able to come back from that.)
- The long runs are important. I know I just said that you will probably have to miss some runs. But, try to not miss a long run. Or, if you do, try to make it up. These are key in building your miles. In order to get up to the 26.2, you have got to get these runs in.
- It does get hard. Training is very time consuming. Towards the end of my training, I started feeling strapped down. We couldn’t go anywhere during the weekend without first having to figure out when I was running, what and when I would need to eat, and where I would be able to run. It got to be a little bit of a hassle to try to plan things around my runs. The next time I train, I will try and be more flexible with when I do my long runs. Instead of forcing myself to do them on Saturday mornings, I might do it on a weekday. Find a training plan that works for you and allows for flexibility. I used Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 plan. It works! There was a time that I really started to question it, but I got lots of advice on here from many others that all said to “trust the plan”.
- Have some fun. This is one that I completely failed at! If all you are doing is running and working out every day, it does get old fast. I felt like I was missing my weekends because I was going to bed early on Friday nights so I could get up early on Saturdays to run. My entire Saturdays were focused solely on running. It took a lot of my time to run and foam roll and stretch, and then I just wanted to relax at home. Be social! You need this so you don’t start to dread your weekend runs. Towards the end of training, this was something that I didn’t do. Jeremy was busy with work, and I didn’t make the effort to see any friends. I avoided any get togethers because I was too focused on running and resting, and trying to focus on what I was eating. When I train again, I will do this differently. I think the reason why I didn’t enjoy the end of my training was because that’s all I was doing. I missed my friends. My best friend had a baby, and I didn’t visit near enough because I was too focused on getting in my runs. Make sure you do something other than running.
- Get some sleep! This was a hard one for me, because I usually stay up late and get up early. I could definitely tell a difference in my runs when I was rested and when I wasn’t. It’s kind of a common sense one, but it will make a huge difference in your running if you are getting enough sleep.
- Eat well. You need to listen to your body and fuel it. You also need to refuel it after each run. It’s really hard to run long miles when you haven’t fueled properly. I tried to really watch what I ate because when I did my first half marathon training, I gained a little bit of weight. I didn’t want to do that. But, I found out fast that if I was not eating enough calories, I really struggled during my long runs. Find what works for you.
- Post your training. This sounds like bragging, but it really isn’t…well maybe it is…but that’s okay. If you post your training runs (twitter, instagram, facebook, on a blog) the support and encouragement that you receive from others is extremely uplifting! It helped me so much to see all these people cheering for me, even when I felt like I had a bad run. All of that encouragement kept me from backing out when the training got hard and I didn’t think I could do it anymore. It was also super helpful to hear advice and tips from others who had done this before. That helped me in so many ways!
- It will all be worth it. As hard as it did get, and as time consuming as it was, when I finally crossed that finish line, IT WAS WORTH ALL OF IT!!! There are really no words to describe the feeling of finishing. It is such a huge accomplishment and something that I am so proud of. Good luck to anyone who is training for a race! If you have not ever run a marathon and are thinking about it, I hope some of my tips will help you during your training.