26 Things You Need to Know Before Training for/Running a Marathon: Part 2

Hello!  Ok, I usually do Friday Favorites on Friday, but we’re taking a break this week so I can get you the final 13 things you need to know before training for/running a marathon.  That means next week I’ll have even more Friday Favorites!!! YAY! Ok, let’s rock.

 14.  Be thankful for every run, because some of them will suck

Sorry mom for using the word suck.  And that’s right…my sweatshirt says thankful.
This one is important.  If you are going to run and train for fourish months for something, there are bound to be some off days.  So, decide from the get go that you are going to be thankful for every run, even the hard ones.  Be thankful for a body that can run, regardless of how it performs on a given day, and do something you love(or don’t love depending on where you are in this process).  Just be thankful.  It will help your attitude and go a long way with you in training if you make this choice before you even begin the process.  

15.  Learn to use the treadmill 

Ok so this is more of a “learn to change your running surface” tip.  I know not everyone has access to a treadmill and I for one have a love/hate relationship with it.  The point is more to give your legs a break.  You can also do this by hitting up some trails, running on grass or even the road over the sidewalk..but be careful.  This is something I didn’t do the first time around and after months of running on hard uneven sidewalks my hips began to pay.  
16. Prepare for race day
So this tip includes a few different steps.  Here are a few ways to prepare for race day:  
~Study/review the course.  Kelli at Not Your Momma’s Marathon is the one who reminded me of this tip!  I would have left it out so thanks Kelli!!  Study up.  It’ll keep you from having surprises on race day and put your mind at ease.  It will also help you know how to train and put some different elements like hill work into your training. 
~Practice using different fuels during training.  Your long runs are your dress rehearsals.  Find some fuel and start using it.  This includes gels, gu’s, chomps, energy bits etc.  Test them out during your long training runs to see which ones agree with your system.  They are NOT all created equal so find your system early on so you aren’t trying anything new too close to race day.  
~Fluids…go to your race website and figure out which drinks they offer on the course so you can train with them.  I did this for my first marathon and it worked perfectly.  My race offered Gatorade.  I dont’ normally drink it or train with it but I did for this race.  I mixed it with water because Gatorade is too sweet for me.  You can also use electrolytes like NUUN or Cocogo that are portable and can be mixed with water on the run.  This is what I’m doing this time around.  
17.  Incorporate easy running

This may sound weird, but it’s so important.  No one told me this the first time I did all this craziness.  You have to have easy running in your plan.  This means you have days at a harder effort(coming your way in #18) and days where you run at an easy pace.  You can NOT run your dream pace on every run.  It’s just not practical and is a sure way to get you hurt.  Your body needs time to run at an easy and manageable pace to repair itself and simply burn fat, not put you over the top into different training zones.  Run. Easy.  

18.  Incorporate speed work, tempo runs and long runs

This is a biggy for me.  Another thing I didn’t do the first time around.  Lucky for ya’ll my first marathon was a bit of a train wreck.  When I was training last winter I quickly found myself in a “running the same all the time” rut.  I never changed it up.  I stopped doing speed work and tempo runs(if you are unfamiliar with these terms, it’s ok.  I was too until I started learning and studying and using them.  For a list of running terms and their definitions, click here) and again, injury hit 6 weeks out.  So, do these!  It changes things up and makes your race pace seem more manageable.  Trust me on this one.  

This was a run I did with a friend.  It’s a faster pace than what I’ve been running but it is proof that doing speed work and tempo runs will make you faster.  My race pace is a 9:45 and my tempo pace is the same as race pace on this plan.  This run proved that I can run a whole minute faster than race pace on an 8 mile run.  It was a huge boost in my confidence in this training cycle.  

19. Be ready to replace your running shoes every other week
If you don’t know this about me already, I have a running shoe obsession.  It’s very very bad.  So, I don’t need to be told twice to replace my shoes.  However, about 3 months after I got my last pair of running shoes, my shins started hurting and I had that feeling like it was time to replace them.  But I had JUST gotten them!!!!!!!  What I didn’t realize was that I’m putting in more weekly mileage than I ever have before using the Hanson’s Method, therefor my shoes are taking a beating.  I went to the running store just to see and the guy helping me asked how many miles on my current shoes.  When I said well over 300 he said oh yea, time to replace them.  So, I went with Hoka’s and will never go back.  To read my review, click here.  Anyway, just know you will burn through these puppies fast for a while, but it’s worth the investment.  They are what will carry your body through this process so get good shoes and get them often, mmm k? 

20.  Find some good tunes or a book on tape to pass the miles
If we’re being real, we can admit that running gets boring.  Yes, I said it.  I run alone.  This means 16 miles through boring suburbia can make you feel a little crazy in the head.  So, my friend Karlye suggested I try books on tape while I run.  Oh my word!!! Best idea ever.   I change it up and sometimes go with music or go without headphones completely.  The point is, get creative.  Listen to podcasts or books or a new album(is that what you call it these days?  It’s not a CD because it’s all electronic, so what is it? I digress.) to help the miles pass.  
21.  Run with a friend
This may not always be possible and chances are, if your friends aren’t also training for a marathon they will think you are nuts if you ask them to run with you. Here’s the thing.  They don’t have to run ALL of your run.  Meet up at a grocery store or park that is halfway through your run and have them run the first, middle, or last few miles with you back to your house.  Then you can drive them home or back to where they parked.  They don’t have to run your pace(as long as it doesn’t cause you to hit warp speed to keep up with them) but it gives you some company and breaks up the long run.  
Karlye and I are both training for Dallas, but are on completely different training plans.  We’ve still managed to get a run in together. 

Meredith is a treadmill runner but she pounded out 8 miles with me a few weeks ago on one of my Saturday runs.  It was so fun having someone help me push my pace just a bit(remember, nothing crazy now) and it helps the miles pass faster.  
22.  Say goodbye to your weekends as you know them
Sorry, not to be a total downer but you need to be prepared for this one.  Instead of staying out late with your friends, you’ll be sitting at dinner on a Friday night contemplating what to eat that won’t come back up the next morning on your run.  You’ll be pounding down the water and going through what running outfit and gear you need to lay out when you get home.  You’ll be contemplating what time you should get up and how much time you’ll need to eat and digest and still have some coveted bathroom time.  That’s where your mind will be for the next however many weeks.  Get used to it.  Our lives are pretty simple, we have 3 kids ok.  But instead of a late night movie with my man I’m heading to bed so I can be up at 4:30am to run before church.  Partay!!!  It’s ok, your weekends will return.  But, it’s part of the process so you need to be ready and willing to embrace it.  Plus, you’ll be getting all hot and fit.  Win win.  
23.  Don’t run through pain
Yes, I speak from experience.  Lots of it.  I wish this wasn’t one I had to give you based on my own personal choices, but it is.  When you feel pain..STOP.  RICE.  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  Pain is your guide and you will quickly be able to determine the difference between muscle soreness and discomfort, and pain.  You are about to put your body through a lot.  The pounding of running week after week can take it’s toll.  If you feel pain you need to stop and take some time off.  It will kill you.  You may cry or throw a water bottle(not saying I’ve ever done this, but maybe I have) or have a pitty party but it’s a necessary evil and could be the difference between 2 or 3 days of missed training and trying again next year.  Trust me on this one.  If pain persists, see a dr. or chiropractor ASAP.  
24.  Don’t overthink it
Try not to overthink.  Just run man.  In the words of Elsa, Let it Go!  That song is permanently burned into my memory since Lila wants to hear it over and over and over and over.  It’s awesome.  But not really.  Anyway, don’t allow your mind to start running all over the place.  This is harder than it sounds.  You’ll want to analyze every ache and pain, every missed run, every mile that was “slower” than it was supposed to be, the WEATHER forecast.  You know you do it.  Don’t overthink.  Just enjoy your training and enjoy the process.  Simple as that.  
25.  Don’t be afraid to miss a few days..life happens
This is huge and more of a therapy session for me right now.  Last Sunday I got the stomach flu after my 16 mile run.  Can I tell you it’s the stomach flu that just won’t quit.  I thought these things were like 12 hours and done.  Wrong. I’ve felt terrible all week.  I’ve had to cut two runs short and take an extra rest day.  And I’m 4 weeks out from my race.  But here’s the thing.  Life happens.  Kids get sick, husbands travel, kids have games, kids get days off school where no one wants to get out of their pajamas, sinus infections occur, cars break down, plumbers take ALL DAY to get to your house, work has deadlines, groceries need to be bought, laundry needs to get done, unexpected trips happen, headaches happen, sleepless nights happen, stress happens.  You get where I’m going with this right?  There are circumstances beyond your control, most of which are more important than your training.  Let it be.  Take the days off, it won’t kill your training.  If you are talking 1-2 weeks of missed running you may need to re-evaluate if this is the right time to be doing this.  However, if it’s a few days here and there, it’s ok.  You have to allow life to continue, it doesn’t stop just because you are training for a marathon.  
I wish I had a more attractive picture, but this is real life.  Happening.  This was my sick day and Lila was snuggling like a champ.  
26.  Enjoy the race
I was standing at the starting line of the Napa Valley Marathon, having not run for the last 3 weeks due to an injury.  I was taped up, braced up and feeling like the biggest idiot on the planet.  Then, I looked around me.  Idiots everywhere.  It seemed almost every runner had KT tape running up one side and down the other, patellar bands and fanny packs and fuel belts packed so full they could have scaled a mountain….after the marathon.  I wasn’t alone in my stupidity.  I decided in that moment to let it all go and enjoy the process.  It would hurt.  Bad.  But, I was about to head down the final road of my journey and I was going to enjoy it.  Enjoy the people, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the scenery, enjoy the fact that apart from a pesky knee, I had a healthy body.  I prayed, talked to other runners, took pictures and had a blast.  It did hurt, but it was worth it.  So, if you are at the end of your training journey, this is it.  Just enjoy the fruits of all your hard work.  Enjoy this last part of your marathon story and cross that finish line with your head held high and all the ugly cry you can muster.  You got this.   
If you are contemplating training for a marathon, I hope this list was helpful to you.  Hopefully it doesn’t have you running for the hills.  Anyone who has been through this process can tell you that it’s worth it.  It’s worth the sweat and tears and blood and pain.  There are so many amazing moments that you will experience and it is such a huge accomplishment that you can carry with you forever.  So, go run that marathon girl, or guy.  Anyone can do this.  It’s not out of your reach or some unattainable goal.  If I can do this, anyone can.  
Did I leave anything out?
I’m sure I did.  So, if you have things to add leave them below in the comments…thanks ya’ll!!
For Part 1 of my list, click here

6 comments on “26 Things You Need to Know Before Training for/Running a Marathon: Part 2

  1. Amanda they are aaaaaawesome. I know a lot of runner’s who use them for trails and tougher terrain. We don’t have a lot of that here! Go get those YakTrax so you can stay outside even when it’s cold…coming from the Texan who has no idea what real cold feels like ha!

  2. I’m taking this as a sign that I need to try these Hoka shoes..when my Cascadias run out, I might give them a whirl! I probably wear my shoes longer than I need to. Now that we have LOTs of snow here in Bend, I should probably invest in some YakTrax if I’m going to get outside!

  3. Thanks for the shout out! I’m glad I could be of help 🙂 Another great list, extremely thorough! This is so helpful for marathon training. Sometimes I forget things while I’m training so I’ll be sure to remember these for next time!

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