|The great thing about long races? Even if you’re not a winner, you still get a
Last year at this time, I was so impressed with the Star Runners marathon group. I kept saying that I don’t think I could ever run a marathon. Winter and Spring passed and then… I had a change of heart. With some encouragement from friends, I decided to sign up for the full St. Jude training this year! There have been so many runs during this training that I would never have imagined I could ever accomplish. 15 miles? 17 miles? 22 miles?! What?! But I did it. 🙂 The fun part was that almost every weekend I would break my last “longest run ever” goal as I worked up to our longest run – 22 miles! Pretty much every Saturday I had a reason to celebrate. Hehe. This weekend marks the end of our hard-core training and the beginning of our taper season. (Ie. time to take it easy until race day!) I seriously thought this day would never come! Now, I am totally starting to freak out about race day. What if after all this training I don’t make it to the finish line? I pray that no injuries come my way in the next few weeks! I haven’t really talked a whole lot about the whole experience on here, so today I thought I would share a few things I have learned along the way…
1. Good-fitting shoes/proper inserts are super, super important!! I think part of the reason I struggled with runner’s knee right before the St. Jude half last year was that I hadn’t been fitted for a good pair of shoes or invested inserts for my high arches.
2. Find a routine that works well for you. Do some experimenting to figure out what breakfast sits best with your stomach, what food to eat the night before to give you energy the next morning, and how to fuel during the run. There was quite a bit of trial and error along the way for me!
3. Try lots of different mid-run fueling options (and don’t invest in a whole box unless you’ve tried it first!). I got tired of going to Outdoors Inc every week just to pick up a few packets of Gu. So, I tried to buy the strawberry flavored Honey-Stinger brand gels in a box. Unfortunately, I got honey! Ew. I did my best to get through the majority of the box, but it was no fun cringing every time I had to refuel. Moral of the story? Double check what flavor you are really buying when shopping on Amazon. Haha.
4. You will likely have to stop to use the restroom. The first time I had to do this on one of the longer Saturday runs it seemed so strange! Never had I not been able to wait until I was done running. But, when your run will take you 3+ hours, it’s almost unavoidable. It’s funny how quickly you learn where you can stop around the city!
5. Post-run chocolate milk is the best!
6. Invest in a Garmin. Will gave me a Garmin for my birthday this past year and I was so happy he did! It has been so useful on runs to make sure we are hitting our goal pace or distance if I was running on my own. I’d be so lost without it.
7. Don’t underestimate the power of cross-training. I learned this the hard way when training for the St. Jude Half Marathon last year. So, this time, I made sure to cross train a lot more! Most of the time it involved biking or a yoga video at home.
8. Eat well… all the time, not just the night before long runs! Of course I’d say this… I’m a dietitian! It’s true though. If you want to perform well, you really do need to eat right.
9. Find friends to run with you. I would not be running a marathon in less than a month if it were not for my running friends! They made the miles go by fast as we shared stories along the way.
10. Invest in a coach to train you for your first marathon. I am so thankful I decided to invest in Star as a coach! I’d have no idea what I was doing if I tried to train for a marathon on my own. Plus, I met so many great people by joining a group! Worth every penny!
11. You will be hungry all the time. No joke. I have to pack snacks for work because I feel I am going to die of starvation if I don’t eat every few hours. You burn a lot of calories running that many miles!
12. Coffee will become one of your best friends. It’s true.
13. Don’t resist the Saturday nap. 🙂 I never used to nap much, but every Saturday afternoon after a long run, I begin to feel super drowsy. I feel so much better the rest of the day if I get one in! Even though it does makes me feel a little bit like a toddler… Haha.
Here’s to the beginning of taper season! Only 19 days till race time!