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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!