Things I Learned from My First Marathon

This morning I woke up nice and sore courtesy of my strength training workout yesterday. Especially in all those places runners tend to be the weakest. It made me nervous as I headed out for today’s run, but like usual, running made everything loosen up, and I felt really good. Today’s run was 6 miles at an easy pace followed by 6 x 20 second strides (run really fast sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 40 seconds to recover for a total of six times). Total run for today 7 miles. I picked this nice street to do my strides… I got some nice crazy looks from people as I was running back and forth full steam ahead.

As I begin thinking about training for another marathon, I find myself thinking about lessons I need to take away from the first. Of course, everyone’s experience is different, and what works for one person, may not for another. These are just things I would find helpful and want to remember.

1. Family support is important. Fortunately, I didn’t have to learn this the hard way! My family was extremely supportive, and they were my biggest encouragers. It’s no surprise that training takes a lot of time, and everyone around you is affected to some degree. Remember to be grateful and thank them for dealing with your crazy schedule.

2. Strength training is important. I really didn’t focus on this during my training. Running alone can lead to muscle imbalances which can lead to injury. Strengthen those weaker areas!

3. Run slow for long runs and easy pace runs. Guilty as charged! Everything out there will tell you to do those long runs slower than goal pace. I have a hard time following this. I figure if I want to run fast then all my runs need to be fast so that I can get used to running at that pace. But that’s just not how the body works. Running hard all the time will not allow your body the recovery it needs to get faster. More on this subject tomorrow!

4. Do not wait too long to begin fueling during long runs. First time around, I was waiting until about mile 8 before taking anything. For me, I think that was waiting too long. I’m still trying to figure this one out. Right now, for any runs longer than 10 miles, I’m fueling every 5 miles. I think that will help stay on top of things, and I will hopefully feel not as worn out later.

5. Sleep is important. Of course, you are naturally going to feel more tired, but getting a full night’s sleep (7-8 hours) every night is important. That’s when all the muscles repair! Sometimes I think I’m the exception to the rule (when I’m clearly not) and need to work on this.

6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I’m totally guilty of this as well. Drink plenty of water during the day. It’s a no brainer, but I have to force myself to stay on top this.

7. Stretch regularly. It’s hard when you’ve just spent 2 hours or so running to then spend time stretching. But let’s face it…tight, sore, and tired muscles are no fun.

8. Last but not least, enjoy the experience! Is running a marathon hard? Yes! Does it hurt when you reach that 20th mile and you still have 6.2 more to go? Yes! Lets face it, it’s not easy. But you’ve done the months of training, and despite how you feel, you are not going to die. Be thankful that you have the ability and opportunity to do this because there are a lot of people who do not. If you have to slow down, or are off your goal pace, so what? It’s just running. Take time to just soak in the fact that you’re running a freaking marathon! Be proud of what you are doing!

Ok, ranting over. Before I sign off for today, I want to wish my little brother a very Happy Birthday! He became a first time daddy 6 weeks ago! It has been so fun seeing him as a new dad! He is an awesome brother and uncle! Happy Birthday, Johnny! We love you!