Marathon Training: An Experience By Itself

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Today I ran 17.25  miles continuously, up one extremely steep hill, and lots of moderate hills. After a short walking break, I continued running. It was closer to 18.37 miles total.  I stopped because I felt a side stitch coming on but it didn’t materialize, so I continued running. This is my turning point…I think I might be more ready now. The LA marathon is in 15 days. I’m still not ready but I feel better about it for sure.

I want to thank everyone for their comments in response to my previous post, Marathon Jitters…I’m not ready! Actually I was really inspired to write about the training process as a result. I am grateful that I can even participate in a marathon. And I am grateful that I got to train for it. That in itself is an experience.

Maybe I’m just grateful I got through a long run, and maybe it was just a good running day. But the weather was perfect, the sun was shining, the air was fresh, and I had a really good run with my running buddies. So I’m going to focus on the top reasons why I feel that the training is an experience in itself. If I don’t end up running the marathon for whatever reason, I at least know I tried and have this valuable experience.

So the reasons:

  1. I allowed myself to run continuously for as long as I can (set a personal record)…17.25 miles. More like 18+ miles total and I could’ve gone longer but we weren’t going to push our luck. I don’t think I’ve run continuously that long before or had the reason to. Training for the marathon is my reason and I didn’t even think I had that in me.
  2. I made myself set aside time for running…and made goals. I’m not one to regularly write down my goals (I need to work on that though), but once I see numbers on paper, I do my very best to reach it.  My running buddy and I followed a 16 week marathon training schedule we found online. I tried to follow it as much as possible. Even if I didn’t get to run as far and as much as I would’ve liked outside, I still kept up my endurance by exercising indoors with combining classes and treadmill running.
  3. I came up with a positive mental mantra/attitude and I’m sticking to it.  Ok, I haven’t attempted the marathon yet, but in these past 3.5 months since I signed up, I went from a blasé attitude, to serious, to scared, to determined, to let me prove it to myself and do my best. I can attempt to do this if I try. And believe me, around mile 15, 16, today, I wanted to just walk, but I was saying to myself “I can do this…just a little more…I can do this.”
  4. I have learned more about my own abilities/physical limitations and when I need to stop running. And it’s not about pride or anything. I am giving myself the ok to stop if need be so I can recover and make it through the marathon. I had a side stitch running the 8k last week and it was probably because I wasn’t breathing well after a hill. I made good time prior to the side stitch but afterwards, I had to slow down. This time I recognized the bad breathing and gave myself permission to just walk and recover. Luckily I avoided side stitch issues so I was able to run a bit more. I haven’t hit the wall either, but when I do, I know I will let myself do whatever it takes to slow down, recover, and hopefully cross the line.
  5. I am in probably the best shape of my life (cardiovascularly).  Even if I didn’t train as much as I should have, I feel great and I can keep up with my routine classes and running, and have the stamina/endurance. And a great side effect is that I’m fitting in my clothes easily these days (but then that could also be from better eating habits).
  6. I am grateful my ankles/knees/legs/muscles are holding up, and I hope I’ve trained them to be stronger as a result. This is personal, as I recovered from a sprained ankle ahead of schedule and trained during that time (sprained in August 2016 and docs predicted I would take 6 months to recover). Trust me though, I am ultra conservative when it comes to injuries. I followed doc’s advice and never put any more strain on things if I couldn’t handle it. And yes, I still wear my ankle brace. It’s not because I need it, but because it’s a reminder of how careful I still should be and how far I’ve come. I’ve still got balance issues that I work on, but I am very conscientious about which muscles are getting worked/underworked and which ones are compensating. So far so good with the knees, ankles and everything else. I also had plantar fascitis previously, and I’m grateful so far no problems with my heel. From here on out, I’m supposed to taper my runs so I can conserve energy and efforts for the marathon day of.
  7. I’ve learned a lot about running gear and food. Different pairs of shoes (I started with 3, but ended up running best with the one that I usually wear), syncing the Fitbit and Strava to track runs, energy gels (by the way, I learned that I can only take one before mile 18 and only in small sips followed by water because my stomach is sensitive during a run), shoe inserts (I have maximum cushioning to help with plantar fascitis), compression socks, runner’s belt strap (no arm bands for me, it falls off with sweat), cap and sunglasses (I never thought those wouldn’t bother me at all during a run), compression shorts and sweat wicking shirt (I usually wear tanks, but not when running), glide (to avoid blisters), and I know for my own sake, the perfect combination of almond butter and oatmeal fuels my morning start. I learned to add more carbs in my running fuel instead of my usual high protein meals, so that I have quicker energy access and don’t feel as heavy on my runs. Oh, and very important (for me at least), I learned about the importance of all the stretching and foam rolling after a run.
  8. I’ve learned to run with my running buddies and be happy as a team. Maybe it’s the camaraderie…maybe it’s the fact they run just a tad faster than me, so I use them as my personal pacers. Today around mile 15, when I was falling behind; both were running ahead of me, and I imagined a workout band pulling me along and they were both (imaginary) pulling. Anything that works right? Just as long as physically I’m still ok, I will let my mind make up whatever it takes.
  9. I will accept that this is about the experience and to make it as enjoyable as possible. Putting aside my competitiveness and need to prove anything to others, this is something for me. I signed up for this as a ‘bucket list’ item for a milestone birthday, which I hope I can check off, but I hope that I will make an adventure out of this. If I don’t end up completing the marathon, trust me I would have at least tried my best, and probably will have a lot of ‘touristy’ photos to go along with my adventure. 🙂

Ok, so 15 more days and then we will see what happens. In my case, the training process itself was already an experience so the marathon will be icing on the cake.

Thanks for reading!

 

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14 thoughts on “Marathon Training: An Experience By Itself

  1. First: congratulations on the big run. If you’ve run 18+ miles without stopping (especially with an incline), you’ve got what it takes to finish. I’m sure you know this, but be sure to give yourself plenty of time to rest before the race.

    Second: Isn’t the Fitbit Blaze fun! I wore this while hiking the Appalachian Trail last year and it was awesome. I could even get text messages when synced up to my phone so I didn’t have to stop to pull out a phone.

    I mention this in the hopes your support team reads some of this. During my last marathon, my wife began sending me pep messages at the 13.1 mark, the 17 mile mark and the… right up to the 25 mile mark. Looking back on an event that was many months ago, I still remember the boost I got from those mid-race messages.

    Good luck to you. It’s so motivating to follow along on your training and prep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Gabe for the generous encouragement and wonderful tips! I’m grateful I got a chance to rest now for 2 days; almost back to normal. Definitely will taper down now because will not want an injury before the big day. I’m just glad that I can run that last run, incline and all without having major issues. We weren’t going fast at all but we kept a good pace throughout all the hills, and my running buddies warned me we won’t be going that fast during the race because we will be bumping into the thousands of people along the way. So mindset is to slow down and get through it best as possible. In a way that’ll be good especially if it gets hot that day! But I feel better about the surviving the marathon now. 🙂 What a great idea to get pep messages during the run…how sweet and what a boost! I know some people tune into music at the end but I heard that this race is really loud especially so I think pep messages will probably work better. And yes the Blaze is awesome! I love not having to pull out my phone every time to read text…all right there! And I don’t need to depend on mile markers; I know exactly how many miles and steps every moment (not that I keep looking :0). I track my heart rate too, just to make sure I’m not overdoing it. I just hope my phone doesn’t run out of batteries on the big day! I will be taking photos and enjoying everything. I’m getting more excited…hoping that will carry me past the jitters. Thanks for following along with me…and inspiring me to get this done. And I will need all the luck I can get! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you’re able to run it AND enjoy it.

    I’ve never had a really bad injury, but I’ve had a lot of nagging aches and pains, and I would really worry about running that far (because I can get injured just training for a half).

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Yes, I hope I will be able to enjoy the experience and finish in time. I’m actually resting now quite a bit in preparation so I hope day of I don’t have injuries…mentally prepared to walk whatever portion as needed. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, this is great! You can do it!! I live in LA and will be cheering you on with lots of positive energy. What I love is that you’re pacing yourself and seem to be going with your balance and strength, rather than pushing it. (I’m a runner too 🙂 ran NYC many years ago). GOOD LUCK! Blessings, Debbie ps – it really is a great accomplishment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Debbie for the awesome encouragement! From one runner to another, this means so much, especially since you are in LA! (Kudos to you for running NYC!) Thanks…I can feel the energy and positive vibes already! 🙂 From what I hear, this is one energy and audience driven run and I’m getting excited thinking about it! I hope this excitement will drown out my jitters. And yes, even the training is an accomplishment and I’m hoping that I will be able to balance everything (hope the heat doesn’t get to me :0) to get to the finish line.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re going to be great! I remember one half-marathon I ran in Pasadena, it was so hot, and a running club was giving out free electrolyte gummy bears. I grabbed them like they were my best friend. Anyway, much Light and blessings to you for a great run. (Hope someone is going to take photos of you! <3) Blessings, Debbie

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Debbie! I’m hoping for good weather this Sunday…and will be grabbing any electrolytes and water too:) Minor setback, just caught a cold yesterday but I hope to be better by Sunday. I hope my running buddies will get some photos, but if not, I will be taking photos of everything 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks Debbie! I can definitely use the encouragement! I’m lucky because I think I’m getting better already…and I hear that getting sick during the taper week is pretty common…so I hope by Sunday I’ll be back to near normal. Will send you email soon! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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