And So it Begins

There's something I need you guys to know about me: I make a big deal out of little things. I remember more "anniversaries" than most people would find normal. I mark occasions that seem meaningless to others, and celebrate them—or at least acknowledge them—in my own way.

This has never been more true than in my running career. (Which started on December 26, 2013, and no, I didn't have to look that date up.) So even though I've been thinking about the marathon and talking about it for more than six months, it is only now that I can officially say it's official.

I'm registered for the City of Oaks Marathon this November. I've put my money on the damn thing; it's for real now. And as of yesterday, I am following a marathon training plan and can say without hesitation, I am training to run my first marathon.

For those who don't know, a marathon is 26.2 miles. Training for the marathon is probably going to be the single most physically challenging experience of my life to date. My daily routine, eating habits, hydrating habits, running recovery, cross-training, and rest time will all change dramatically over the next 18 weeks. I will run more miles in some weeks than I've run in some months. 

In part, I know what to expect. I am friends with marathoners, and have been doing research since the day this thought first entered my head. I've picked people's brains, learned my body, and even gone halfway there three times. I've been preparing for training since mid-May. But this is about to be a whole 'nother kettle of fish, as my mother would say.

Here's my 18-week training plan for the marathon:
Now I know I'm a novice, but I'm going in with a few ground rules I've set for myself:

1. Stick to the training program. I mean, duh, right? This one's obvious. The marathon is a completely different beast than the half, and I need the guidance of this training plan to feel confident—let alone capable—on race day. I will not promise that all runs will be done on these exact days, as I do have weather, work, and a social calendar to factor in. But by Sunday evening, all these weekly prescribed miles need to be run.

2. Take yoga class every week. I do yoga most mornings before work, as you know if you read my Sunday Sweats posts. I take class on Tuesdays, and it's a much different practice than my 10-20 minute pre-work workout. Those short practices are incredibly valuable, but my 75-minute guided practice is where a lot of the healing from my long run happens. Keeping this in the rotation shouldn't be a problem, thankfully.

3. Don't be stupid. I'll be doing the majority of my training in the height of a New Jersey summer. For those of you who have never experienced the Garden State in July, let me brief you: 100º and 85%+ humidity is not a rarity on a July day. Even after sundown the temps can stay in the upper 80s—just last week I set out around 8 p.m. and the temperature was 85º. This will add an extra layer of challenge to the distances I'll be running for the first time in my life. I need to be smart about nutrition, hydration, dress, and recovery.

4. Don't be cocky. I have this bad habit of sometimes comparing myself to other people, like a lot of us do. Sometimes I look at runners like my cohost Tracy and think I can push my body to the places she sends hers. Sometimes, I can. A lot of times, I can't. And pushing myself into a place where I may become injured or overtired or burnt out isn't a part of the training plan. There's a fine line between pushing your mental limits and being an idiot, and I need to get real comfy in that space. We do not have time for a physical setback.

5. Don't stop. I'm going to place an unwinnable bet here at the beginning: I'm going to say "I can't do this" (or some variation) roughly 876 times over the next couple months. Sitting here with a clear head, I know that I can. I also know that it will take every ounce of physical strength I have sometimes, and every ounce of mental strength other times. I know I will want to quit on some of these runs, and I'll convince myself that this was the dumbest idea I've ever had. Who trains for a marathon after a year and a half of running? Apparently, I do. Because I can, no matter how many times over the next 18 weeks I try to convince myself of the opposite.

I can't be clear enough about this: I honestly have no idea how these next 18 weeks are going to look and feel. With my plan and mental preparation, I feel as prepared as I possibly can be, but that says nothing of all the loops I'm about to be thrown for. Here we go, I guess...

Marathoners, what is your best piece of advice for marathon training?
What should I watch out for?

As for the rest of you, what are you training for right now? Or how's your current fitness plan going? What are your recent wins/losses? Just because I'm talking marathon doesn't mean all goals of all sizes aren't welcome here. We want to hear about whatever's on your radar! Grab a button and link up below.

And hey, don't forget to hop around to some of the other fantastic bloggers linking up today and say hi, or offer a high five or some words of wisdom or support. Never underestimate the effect a virtual friend's encouragement can have! Let's make this the best fitness community on the blogosphere.  :)


  1. Congratulations girl!! Signing up and putting money down just solidifies that you take this seriously!!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  2. You've got a solid plan and a great attitude - it's not going to be easy but you've got this! Will cheering you on the whole time!

  3. the way i see it, you have a plan (so awesome) so stick to it as best as you can and you'll get there!

  4. I wish I had some advice for you or any words that would actually be helpful, but I absolutely have no doubt in my mind you can do this and do it well. I like the rules you've set for yourself. You can do it! You're such an inspiration :)

  5. I'm using your motivation as my motivation. I need to bump my miles back up for my half in Sept and nothing about Charleston in the summer makes me want to be outside ever. Also, I'm right there with you on demotivating myself. I'm the worst naysayer!

  6. You got this! I was wincing at your hot midsummer runs and then I realized I have to do them too. :P Albeit much shorter runs. My training plan is such a mess right now! I wanted to link up and I realized I don't know what I'll be doing in the next couple weeks because it all depends on what my physical therapist says. I did write about some nutritional goals and accomplishments today, but that's not quite the same as training.

  7. I think you have a great plan but more importantly, a great attitude. I love that you're doing this. I probably will never run a marathon because of the lack of motivation but listening to you (as I always say) gives me sooooo much inspiration. I have no doubt you will rock this!!

  8. You're so amazing. I know you're going to intelligently stick to this plan with every ounce of passion you've placed into it.

    I trained for a marathon in the summer and while I didn't stick to a training plan, I still was a proud finisher and have the medal to prove it. Or wait, was that one of the medals that I sent to Goodwill while I was packing? Either way, you're so much more in tune with your body's needs than I ever was while training so I have 100% confidence.

  9. I totally know that you got this and you are going to push through! I think having a training plan is great! I know I wouldn't be where I am today in my running game without C25K...even though I plan to go no further than that haha. Good luck with this!

  10. Love this post! So happy this is finally happening, like for reals. Your plan looks great. Keeping yoga in your rotation will be super important. I strongly believe in doing something other than just running 24/7. It'll help to move the body in a different way even if it's just once a week. I feel like I've already told you every piece of advice I could ever think of, and I'll probably continue to repeat them until November. The last bullet point is a great one and probably the most important. No matter what happens, just keep going. Think of your training the same as the race: of course you aren't going to feel 100% all of the time during either, you know? Some parts will be faster, some will be slower, some will feel good, some will feel bad, but there's only one way to get to the finish line and that's by pressing on. You got this!
    Have we ever talked about keeping tabs of the difference and percent change? Because I totally do the same thing. Just thought that was funny ;)

  11. congrats! a huge step and you have your training plan!

    the best advice I like to give is along the lines of stick with your training plan: Make a master calendar. Get a calendar and write down all important dates coming up for the next 6 months: trips, vacations, days off, work commitments, meetings, sporting games (it will be fall) and everything else you can think of. Write in red (or a different color) your mileage. Look for things that wont work (like for example you are flying across country on a day you have 8+ miles, etc) and plan how you will deal with them now. get all of that out of the way to ensure you can complete your plan. it may mean cutting some miles, moving things around but it will definitely help.

    Along those lines, start planning out now where you will do those 15+ mile runs. that is a lot of time to be running the same area over and over so see if you can find new routes so you wont be stressed the night before mapping out your plan.

  12. This is SO awesome! I'll be cheering for you all the way.
    I'm actually having an idea (not a plan, it's more comforting to say "an idea") to run my first half-marathon in April, and I was thinking of starting the serious preparations around New Year. Everybody around me is sceptical, which is normal on one hand because I'd never even been a sports type, but on the other hand, it's pretty annoying and the very reason (well one of) why I want to succeed. I mean, tonight I ran my first 5 km, it was 5.2 to be exact :) and I started out as someone who had a hard time running for one minute straight. I CAN DO IT. I just wish people were more supportive. :/

    And you can do it too! <3

  13. I'm so excited for you!! I'm getting ready to start marathon training too, and I think I might follow your plan. It looks great! Keep going, even on those days you just don't feel like it. It'll be SO worth it!

  14. I do not run but I will support you and cheer for you the whole time. I know you can do it!!

  15. You go, girl! I am training for a 10k right now and it's been deathly. I've been running at 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. to avoid the humidity and heat.

  16. I think the hardest part can be sticking to the training program. it can just feel so monotonous and unrewarding when the race is so far away. you've got the right attitude though! I wish I had had a post for this training for Tuesday but I've just not been thinking about exercise a lot lately. next time!

  17. So many miles, but so exciting! It's cool to see your plan and what you'll be doing too- I just posted this on your other post, but really I can't wait to hear how everything is going so far and all of the things you are going to learn along the way-- about running, and just yourself in general I'm sure.


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