OY! Well if you have decided to take the leap and train for a marathon, then we can have lots to talk about! I have ran 4 half marathons over my running career and have always wanted to run one full one before I turned 35. Well, guess who’s 34?! My husband and I decided to take the leap and train for a full and will be racing mid-January at the Rock and Roll marathon in Phoenix. We are about 3 months into our training and, let me tell you, it’s not easy. Obviously it’s not easy but it’s challenging on many levels. One, physically, obviously. Running these long distances is HARD. As I write this, I have run up to 18 miles and it was, by far, one of the hardest things I have done. Just as hard as the training is, is finding the time. I ran 18 miles today and it took me 3 hours and 15 minutes. That’s a LONG time. It’s hard for a SAHM (or anyone for that matter!!) to find that kind of time. In fact, the reason I had put off training for a full for so long was the time factor. I just didn’t think I could do it! Now, I am no expert and there are oodles of more professional people to give you advice, but I am here to share ten tips from my own experiences that can help you through your training.
1. Create a training plan. There are an incredible about of training apps, websites and plans out there for you to choose from. Search and find one that works for you and stick with it! For me, I have been trying to run a total of 4 days a week. I have been increasing my distance by a mile or two each week for my longer run and will run up to 20 miles. Then I have been adding in two short runs (like 3, 4 or 5) and one medium distance one, like a 7 or 8.
2. Don’t skip the short runs. Trust me on this one. I made this mistake training for a half once and blew out my IT band the week of the race and it was the.single.most.painful.thing EVER- and I’ve birthed three kids!! The short runs are just as important as the long ones, in my opinion.
3. Hydrate, a lot! This is pretty self explanatory. Drink lots of water and drink it often. If you don’t already have one, get a hand bottle or belt for when you are on your longer runs. I often stop at this particular convenient store I run by and ask to refill my bottle too!
4. Don’t feel bad for walking. This will depend on your goals, but for me, I am cool with adding in some walking, especially on my looking runs. I just don’t plum have the time to train in a fashion that will have me not walking at all. So, if you are like me, don’t think that if you walk some that makes you any less of a runner, especially when you are on mile 17, 18, 19, 20…trust me!
5. Stretch after every run. This also was one of my mistakes when I blew out my IT band. Even just 2-3 minutes of stretching can mean the difference between staying injury free.
6. Get a great playlist. I really plan out my playlist for my long runs. I like to run to more medium paced songs for the bulk of my run because it keeps my pace at where I need it to be and sprinkle in some fast paced songs to get me moving. For me, if I have too many fast paced songs, I find myself running too fast and not being able to keep up my endurance.
7. Try out some fuel for your longer runs. For your long runs you are burning a massive amount of calories (for example today when I ran 18 miles, I burned 1900 calories) and you need to replace some of those or else you are going to have a a hard, hard time. I suggest heading to one of your local running shops and getting some samples and testing them out BEFORE the big day. Maybe you prefer a goo gel, or jelly beans or something in your water? Grab a few and test them out on your long runs so you will know what kind and flavor you like best.
8. Dress appropriately. Pay attention to the weather and dress appropriately for it. remember you will get warm as you run, but if it’s cold out, you will still want to dress in a way that will keep your body warm without soaking up the sweat.
9. Eat well before you go. You will be burning lots of calories so be sure are eating something about an hour before you run. My favorite is a good old fashioned PB & J and a banana.
10. Be realistic about your expectations. Decide what your goal is at the beginning of your training and be real about it, depending on how much time you have to train and your fitness levels. It’s ok to have a time goal or even just a “finishing” goal too! No matter what, you are running a marathon, so it’s be amazing no matter what time you finish in!
So there you have it. Ten tips for training for a marathon from a novice runner. These are real tips from my own experiences training for this race and from my previous halves. If you are toying with the idea of training for a full, make no mistake, it’s incredibly hard, but I am thrilled to say that I did it too! I’ll let you know how I do after the race.