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:
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. :)