Sunday, April 1, 2012

Not my first, but still a newbie

While it's true that this is not my first marathon, I still feel like a complete newbie when it comes to everything Marathon. However, I do feel that I have a lot more confidence going into this marathon than my first one, although my goals are a little bigger this time (that's a post for another day).  The only goal I had for USAF Marathon was to finish with (hopefully) a smile on my face and I (mostly) succeeded.

According to the Cleveland Marathon website, it is:

48 days 22 hours 42 minutes

until race start!!!!! I'm getting excited, are you?!

For anyone running the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon for the first time, or another marathon, I thought I'd pass on some of the lessons that I learned during training for my first marathon and some lessons that I am still learning. Keep in mind, I am NOT an expert, I am NOT a coach. Just an average middle-of-the-pack runner who has possibly dealt with some of the things you may be going through.

Do not sprain your ankle, then keep running! Seems pretty common sense right? However, I sprained my ankle (wearing flip flops with the kids; oops!), and when it started feeling better I kept running even though it was still swollen. Take the time to properly recover from any injury so you don't spend the next 8 weeks in PT (physical therapy). Running will still be there! I was afraid to miss even ONE day of training, thinking that I would not make it across the finish line. If you've been running long enough to even start thinking about running a marathon, a couple days to a week will not make a difference in the long run! Knock on wood, I haven't had any injuries this training cycle so far. I am doing everything I can to NOT get injured. I still wear flip-flops occasionally, but NOT when we go for a walk. <--see, learned my lesson!

Don't be intimidated by the mileage in your plan! Just take your runs one mile at a time and you'll get there. Don't let the total mileage for the day, the week, the month overshadow everything else. If you mostly follow your training plan, you will be able to complete the runs, and you will be amazed when you look back at what you were able to accomplish!

Train on hills! Due to the above and mainly our fear of not getting all of our mileage in, we started going for completely flat routes. NOT a good solution! Don't be intimidated with the long run mileage, just keep doing what you know how to do, but at the same time, make sure you keep up with the hills. I don't care what they say, it's NOT a completely flat course, there WILL be hills!

If you are currently doing speed workouts, keep it up! I made the mistake of stopping as I, again, got intimidated by the amount of mileage in my training. I didn't know how to keep up with everything. Now, I know that I can do a couple miles of repeats and not only does it help with speed, it helps keep the many miles interesting.

Don't be a slave to your plan if that's not the way that you typically train. I know some people need to run exactly what their training plan dictates, but I am not that person. Yet, that is how I training for my first marathon. If my schedule said Monday=6 miles, I ran 6 miles on Monday. It took a lot of the fun out of training for me. I have learned enough and feel more confident in my running ability that if the weather looks better a different day, or it works better in my schedule, I switch. (or have even added a run or two into my weeks because the weather has been too good to pass up!) This has kept me happier this training cycle for sure!

Remember why you decided to run a marathon or half marathon! Everyone has their own reason for choosing to run a marathon or half marathon. Do not lose site of that reason as it will keep you going through the long training runs and especially through those difficult miles on race day.

There you have it, everything you need to know to run a marathon. HA! I WISH it were that simple. These are just a few of the lessons that I have learned along the way. Since it's only my second marathon, I know I still have a LOT to learn.

Any questions you have as a first time marathoner or half marathoner? Any tips you've learned along the way?


  1. Excellent advice. Yesterday I ran my first 20 mile of training, for my (only) second marathon. Tried not to take it too seriously, and I didn't. Walked a few times, made certain I carried a bottle of water for hydration the entire way -- a pain, but worth it, and something to eat. Success!

    Those are two tips I will add:
    Know your hydration. Listen to your body. Give it what it needs.
    Ditto: Energy in the form of simple foods for long runs. Do your research, try different things, find what works.

    Keep up the great runs!

    1. Great tips! Hydration/fuel are two things that I am STILL working on. I think I've figured it out. Hopefully....

      Glad to hear your first 20miler went well! That helps so much!

  2. Great post. I thought of a few things to add to the list.

    Don't forget to take rest days when needed.

    Remember to cross train. You know things like cycling, swimming, walking, or some other aerobic activity other than running.

    Strength train and recovery, your body needs things to keep strong and injury free.

    1. Great tips, Andrew! Cross training is one that I struggle with making time for, but I am getting better at it. And strength training!

      Thanks for the tips!


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