I’m getting ready for the Garden Spot Village Marathon in Lancaster, PA and it’s just 9 weeks away now! I’ve been reading the reviews for this race and it sounds amazing. The course takes you through Amish Farming land at the foothills of the Welsh Mountains. This will be my 4th marathon, with my first 3 all being in Virginia. I’ve recently decided to take on the 50 state challenge, since so far I’ve only ran in ONE state, I have a lot of exploring left to do! Haha So this race will get me a little closer to my goal, with TWO whole states under my belt and 48 more to go! Woo hoo! Who knows if I’ll make all 50, but it sure will be fun to try! 🙂
Oh, I hope I at least one horse and buggy during this race!!! *Fingers Crossed*
Training isn’t always pretty, I’ve made A LOT of training mistakes. Here are just a FEW examples:
- “Oh, I guess beer isn’t the best for carb loading!”
- “Wearing mascara on my long run was such a bad idea!! My eyes burn!!”
- “Ouch the chaffing!”
- “Maybe I actually should have brought water on this run….”
- “Did my toe-nail just fall off? Ummm…yeah…damn it!”
That is one of the great things about training, when done properly you will find your limits and be able to adapt to overcome those limits. Training is a great time to make as many mistakes as possible! Then by the time you get to the race it’s all just about the execution of what you have done over and over again. If you are training for a race of any distance, start with finding a good training plan. There are a lot of great training plans online for free (I like free!), my favorites are Cool Running and Hal Hidgon training plans. Here is the training plan I am currently following (1/2 way there!!!) and some tips based on my not so professional training experiences….
|1||Cross||3 m run||5 m run||3 m run||Rest||5 m pace||8|
|2||Cross||3 m run||5 m run||3 m run||Rest||5 m run||9|
|3||Cross||3 m run||5 m run||3 m run||Rest||5 m pace||6|
|4||Cross||3 m run||6 m run||3 m run||Rest||6 m pace||11|
|5||Cross||3 m run||6 m run||3 m run||Rest||6 m run||12|
|6||Cross||3 m run||5 m run||3 m run||Rest||6 m pace||9|
|7||Cross||4 m run||7 m run||4 m run||Rest||7 m pace||14|
|8||Cross||4 m run||7 m run||4 m run||Rest||7 m run||15|
|9||Cross||4 m run||5 m run||4 m run||Rest||Rest||Half Marathon|
|10||Cross||4 m run||8 m run||4 m run||Rest||8 m pace||17|
|11||Cross||5 m run||8 m run||5 m run||Rest||8 m run||18|
|12||Cross||5 m run||5 m run||5 m run||Rest||8 m pace||13|
|13||Cross||5 m run||8 m run||5 m run||Rest||5 m pace||20|
|14||Cross||5 m run||5 m run||5 m run||Rest||8 m run||12|
|15||Cross||5 m run||8 m run||5 m run||Rest||5 m pace||20|
|16||Cross||5 m run||6 m run||5 m run||Rest||4 m pace||12|
|17||Cross||4 m run||5 m run||4 m run||Rest||3 m run||8|
|18||Cross||3 m run||4 m run||Rest||Rest||2 m run||Marathon|
Hal Hidgon’s Marathon Training Schedule: Intermediate 1
Tips (aka my 2 cents!):
1. Establish base mileage before starting a marathon training plan.
If you have never ran before, please don’t wake up one day and decide you are going to run a marathon! Build up your running base and start out with some shorter races first. Once you are running 20-25 miles a week consistently for two or three months and can do a 8 mile run without suffering (too much), you will be ready to start training for a marathon.
My lesson learned? After almost a year of sporadic 3-5 mile runs every now and then, I decided to jump into a marathon training plan with a friend. First, it made me hate running; most of my runs sucked and my legs hurt constantly! Even worse, I ended up injured, plantar fasciitis that had me “walking like a cowboy” and not running AT ALL for several months. 😦
2. Follow a training plan appropriate to your running experience level.
There is no shame in following a beginners training program if you are new to running. If you train, you will make it to the finish line, which is something to be proud of!
My lesson learned? See #1? Like it wasn’t stupid enough that I jumped into a marathon training program after a year of non-running? Oh, did I mention, it was an advanced training program?! I am sure that also contributed to the misery of that experience!
3. Ditch the all or nothing attitude! Stop stressing and be flexible!
Most of us are not professional athletes; this is supposed to be fun! Lighten up, breathe…it is O.K. to be flexible on your training plan! Despite our best intentions life happens. You may have to work late, finish a paper for school, go to your kids dance recital…Make your training a priority, but if you have to miss a mid-week run, shuffle some miles, or do your planned track work-out on a treadmill, your training will not suffer for it. The key is consistency! Make sure you run at least 3-4 days a week and get that long run in, the rest of the plan you can put an *ish* on.
My lesson learned? I used to get so OCD about following my training plan that I gave up my social life and would let one set-back totally derail me. I was the kind of jerk who would blow off my best friend’s birthday party to go for a run. Or I would get sick and miss 2 or 3 days of training, decide I blew it, and quit completely. End result was I was constantly frustrated, burned out, and running stopped being fun for me. Life has been better and my running has improved since I started to chill out about training.
That being said, there is one exception to rule #3…..
4. NEVER miss a long run!
The long run is the most important element of marathon training. It gets your body ready to run for the 2+ (if you can run a sub-3 hour marathon, wow!), 3+, 4+, 5+….hours it will take you to run your marathon. And there is a gradual build up to the grand finale of your training, your 18-20 milers. If you miss your 12 and 14 mile runs, jumping to 16 miles is going to be more than a little uncomfortable. If absolutely necessary, you can break up the total miles of your long run into two shorter runs on the same day.
My lesson learned? I missed my final long runs (thanks to Maryland’s “Snowmagedon” that year and my lack of motivation to do a long run on the “Dreadmill”) when training for my 1st marathon. I ended up running the race with my longest run being 16 miles, 2 months before my actual race. I have never hit the wall harder and hated a race more in my life!
5. Invest in proper the proper gear.
One of the nice things about running is it does not require a lot of gear, but make sure you don’t neglect the few things you do need. You can get away with running 3 miles in sweats and a pair of chucks, but when you’re logging longer miles the wrong clothes/shoes will=lots of painful chaffing, overheating or frozen fingers, aching feet/joints, and some busted toe nails! Main rule of thumb is no cotton anything (not even socks), dry fit materials (I like Underamour), and good running shoes. Get fitted for proper running shoes at a local running store and get new shoes every 500 miles, or when you are starting to notice an increase in foot and knee pain (which ever happens first). Once you find a shoe that works for you, you don’t HAVE to buy them at a running store. You can usually find the same shoe (or last seasons model) for much cheaper online. If you’re training outside during the winter, get good cold gear. Think layers! With moisture wicking base, wind/water resistant outer layer, hat or ear warmer, and a pair of gloves. An optional item is a fuel belt; it’s nice to not have to carry a water bottle and they have nice little pockets to store energy gels and car keys.
My lesson learned? This was an easy one…a few runs in my every day work-out clothes was enough for me to learn chaffed arm-pits/thighs/lady parts (yeah, I went there! Lol) and blistered feet suck! I went to a running store and got some real running clothes and shoes!
6. Eat right and hydrate!
You are expending a lot of calories during training and forcing your body to tap into different energy stores. It is so important that you are eating enough and eating the right things to fuel your work-outs. The key is to find what works for you, and to eat well at least 70-80% of the time, EVERYDAY not just the day before or day of an important run. The same is true for hydration. It takes time and consistency to really start to feel the benefits of healthy eating and proper hydration.
In addition to your everyday nutrition, there is the carb loading (what to eat 2-3 days before a long run and your pre-run meal), and you will have to fuel yourself DURING your longer runs. After running for over an hour, you have burned through most of your glycogen stores and if you don’t replenish them you will start to crash. Getting used to running and eating at the same time is not easy, there is a fine line between hitting the wall and getting sick from running with a sloshy stomach….And if you’re like me, chewing and running at the same time is a nearly impossible challenge! Lol So training is the time to figure out what that balance is and what works best for you. Never try anything new during a race!
My lesson learned? This one was (is) not so easy. I’ve made the mistake of eating too much crap, thinking that running gave me a free pass to drink all the beer and eat all the chili cheese fries I wanted…and then suffering from varying degrees of volcanic bubble guts during a run! On the other end of the spectrum, I was trying to follow a super restricted diet and was not getting enough calories, then I was running out of energy during a majority of my runs. I finally learned the importance of balance, but I am still fine tuning my diet to overcome dips in energy levels during some of my longer runs.
You know those rest days in your training schedule?? Don’t be an over trainer! Take them! Rest days are just as much a part of your training program as the run days; your body needs time for proper recovery for you to perform at your best. And get plenty of Zzzzzs! You need them! There is nothing more glorious than a late morning, post-long run, Sunday nap! ❤
My lesson learned? I used to get frustrated if I had a bad run and I thought the answer to getting better was to run more. So I added mileage to my training program, refused to take rest days, and sometimes even did twice a day work-outs. And you know what happened? I started having MORE bad runs, until I over-trained to the point that I had ALL bad runs. Not every run is going to be a good run (Fact), but once I started taking my prescribed rest days and making sure I got plenty of sleep, my overall running improved significantly.
8. Add Variety to your training
If you are running the same distance, same pace, same terrain every day; not only are you not going to see much improvement in your running…you’re going to get bored! *Yawn* Add some speed-work at a local track, find some big hills to tackle, join a local running club….anything to mix things up, push yourself a little harder, and to keep running fun. 🙂
My lesson learned? For years I ran the same distances every day, on the treadmill at 6.0 with no incline, and I could not understand why I was unable run faster than a 10 minute mile or why even the slightest hill in a race kicked my butt….duh! Running became a lot more fun when I started exploring new running trails, running with groups, and incorporating speed and hills into my training. And I got better at running without even feeling like I was trying to get better at running!
Whew! That was a lot longer than I was expecting! If you actually made it this far; 1) You are such a nice person, 2) You are probably my mom! Haha (Hi Mom! I love you!), 3) Seriously, thank you! And I hope you found some of these tips useful! What is the next race you are training for? Do you have some training/running advice to share?