So I’ve been training for a marathon, but I’ve been a little quiet about it. Partially because my blog and social media is mostly about food, and also because I feel as though I’ve been holding my breath until it was time to taper down my mileage and rest, which thankfully it finally is.
I started out 2018 by setting an intention with a single word: confidence. I wanted to dive into new ventures this year with a positive, “chin up” attitude, and even if things didn’t pan out, I could look back and admire something I confidently set out to do. Running a marathon is not something that has been on my bucket list for too long, but here I am, trying my hardest to remain confident in my ability to cross the finish line at the Vermont City Marathon in just under three weeks.
When I ran my first half marathon a year ago (although it feels as if I’ve been a runner for a lifetime now) I shared tips and nutrition tidbits from my training, and so I’m giving you a peek into how training for double the distance went down. I’m writing this with 3 weeks to go in my training, but the hard work was put behind me after tackling my last long run of 20 miles this past weekend. I’ve had a lot of thoughts and emotions about this process, and appreciate my readers letting me use this post as part reflection for myself, alongside my technical advice for aspiring marathoners.
And don’t worry, a mini race recap will also be shared once I’ve recovered, but for more immediate updates be sure to follow my social media for a hopefully smiling, medal-wearing face on Marathon Monday.
Marathon Training Recap Thus Far
- When and Where: I chose to run the Vermont City Marathon in beautiful Burlington, Vermont because it’s where I went to college and you really can’t beat running along Lake Champlain. Luckily this race is held Memorial Day weekend, meaning it shouldn’t be too hot for race day and I’ve gotten to train in cold/chilly/mild temperatures in New York throughout the months of January through May. Personally, I preferred doing shorter weekday treadmill runs when it was cold and dark after work rather than sweating my bum off in the humidity of summer and dealing with tourists in crowded Central Park.
- How: I followed another Hal Higdon plan, just like I used for my half. I stuck to it for the most part, minus a few days of shorter miles for when we traveled to Colombia. I also played around for a few weeks with when to take my rest day after my long run. My physical therapist suggested that rather than running 3 days in a row during the week I should run after my cross train day and give myself a mid-week break instead. Honestly, I did a combination of her suggestion and Hal’s plan and it really came down to when I needed to do laundry after work…seriously.
- Nutrition: I definitely had my game face on when it came to proper fueling this time around. As a dietitian I know how valuable proper pre, during, and post-fueling efforts can be. In general, my calorie intake significantly increased over the past few months, along with our grocery budget.
- During the week I ate intuitively with plenty of carbs, protein, and veggies, but as my long run approached on Saturday I would find myself cooking more veggies versus raw salads, and would choose “white” carbs to help with digestive comfort.
- I’ve never been one to workout on a full stomach, so I’ve kept pre-run eats quite light- pretty much just a half a banana and some peanut butter. I try to carb-load substantially the night before so that I avoid the eat-bathroom game before (or during) my run.
- After my long runs I intentionally had recovery smoothie ingredients ready to go- usually a banana, protein powder, maybe some greek yogurt, and almond or soy milk for blending. Not long after I would consume a more dense meal with replenishing carbohydrates and calories. Overall, my appetite on long-run day was big, but not huge. The hunger would usually catch up with me later that week- see some pf my sample eats below.
- While running a half marathon I could get by with zero or 1 energy bite for fuel during my run, but if I was going to double that distance I know I needed more in the tank. Many of my marathon friends recommended the energy chews over GUs, but I found both to be tolerable and convenient to slip into my run belt. I also had to get used to consuming liquids during my long runs…I’m still working on this one.
- Injuries: I started out training with a twinge of piriformis syndrome (basically a nervey twinge pain in my glute and down my quad) on my side side,and so I took the advice of friends and established myself with a good physical therapist. I went just about every 3 weeks and definitely noticed my pain becoming less severe. As luck would have it, as I strengthen and fix one side, the other starts to hurt. Long runs started to take a toll on my tight left hip. Needless to say the next few weeks will be jam packed with strength and stability exercises!
- Mental Toughness: This has probably been the piece I’ve had the most ups and downs with. Training for a marathon is emotionally and mentally draining. You’re out there alone (unless you enjoy training partners- I don’t really) and it’s up to you to keep yourself motivated as each mile passes. I found myself occupied and happy for about 2 podcast episodes, but as I entered the final 1-2 mile stretch of every long run I would start to go into mini-panic mode, thinking “how on EARTH am I going to finish this?”. I plan on doing some meditation and visualization over the next few weeks to help see myself powering through the home stretch and crossing that finish line.
It’s been an exhilarting few months, and while I’m still nervous, I know I’ve prepared to the best of my ability- here goes nothing! And if you’re thinking about running a marathon or are just curious about more of what goes through a crazy runner’s head, don’t hesitate to send questions, or words of encouragement, my way.
See you on race day!