I’ve often joked that I refuse to go anywhere if I have to drive 26 miles, so I’m really not sure how running 26.2 miles sounded like a good idea. However, running the Chicago Marathon was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. When I crossed the finish line and got my shiny foil blanket, I understood in that moment what it felt like to be crowned Miss America. Since marathon training season is upon us, I wanted to share some important things to keep in mind as you begin your journey.
Begin with the end in mind. What does that mean? Knowing what you are trying accomplish, and when, will impact how you train.
The date of your race will determine when you actually need to start training or conversely, if there is even enough time to train for it. Also, is there a particular time you want to achieve, or is it your goal simply to cross the finish line? Those are two very important variables that need to be taken into consideration when starting out.
Get to know yourself. All those dark lonely mornings and afterwork runs; those are the times when you need to experiment with your nutrition and hydration. Figure out what sports drink you like. You won’t generally need them on runs lasting under an hour, but those shorter runs are a good time to try a couple of different ones out and see how your body reacts to them without being too far from home, or possibly jeopardizing a long run. The same goes for bars, gels and goos.
Skipping a run is not end of the world. Training for a marathon is a big commitment and it should be taken seriously. However, you are also still a human being living a human existence.
Even with your training runs blocked out on your calendar (they are blocked out right?) life has a funny way of taking over. I suggest scheduling your runs in the morning before the day gets out of control, but that’s not always possible either. Just be selective when it comes to skipping a run, and don’t let missing them become a habit.
Embrace the long run. Give your long runs the respect they deserve. Too often during my training I would have an extra glass of wine the night before and, if I’m being completely honest, even stay up a little too late. The run the next day would always exact its revenge on me for my wicked ways.
Develop a ritual for the nights before your long runs that you can enjoy and look forward to and that will help to ensure your run the next day is relatively effortless, or at the very least, hangover free.
Let me leave you with this: Don’t be intimidated by the actual marathon itself. Turns out it’s basically a 26-mile party! Get your training in, treat yourself to plenty of relaxing baths, naps and massages, and enjoy the process. I promise, the shiny foil blanket at the end makes it all worthwhile.