The Marathon Decision

Hi again!  Sorry for my hiatus.  I got really sick.  Bronchitis then a delightful case of strep throat.  This kinda ruined my training for the past few weeks and the marathon is in 4 short days!  Eeeeeep!!!  I am kinda peeing my pants with nervousness but have decided to only think positive thoughts and visualize myself crossing that finish line.

So my good friend Amy had been running for years and she really inspired me while she was training.  I kept watching her on Facebook do race after race and I was so proud and never ever thought I could actually do what she was accomplishing.  So I knew she would be a great resource for training for the marathon.

She recommended the book, The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer.  I bought it immediately and then didn’t sign up for the marathon for a good 6 months, at least.  It is a WONDERFUL guide for someone who has no idea what the hell they are doing.  It is a step-by-step, week-by-week guide for a 16-week training process.  (This does not include the month you need to work up to be able to run 30 minutes straight.  That is why I used Couch 2 5K.)

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I loved it from the moment I started reading it.  One of the first things it says is (I am paraphrasing) “If you are reading this book and have not signed up for your first marathon, stop reading and sign up immediately.  Do it right now.  Make the commitment.  And start telling your family and friends you are a marathoner and tell them which marathon you are going to run.”  This part was huge for me.  Once I read that I knew I couldn’t read on unless I had made the decision.

So one day in September I made the choice to sign up for the LA Marathon.  I remember putting all my information in and then sitting there for a second before pushing “Submit”.  Once I did I immediately started crying.  I think it was because I knew I had just signed up for something I cared about and knew I was going to complete.  Like I said, I am the queen of getting right up to the end and being able to see my goal, I slide back down and regress.  This time is different.  This time I AM going to do it!  I immediately posted on Facebook and told my family and friends.

Once I signed up I started training immediately.  This book requires you to run 4 days a week.  3 “maintenance” runs and 1 long run.  It is widely suggested that you increase your weekly mileage NO MORE than 10%.  This book sticks with that.  The first long run was 5 miles and I was able to complete that, no problem.  2nd week was 6 miles.  The longest I had ever run before was a 10k, which is 6.2 miles.  So the next week, the long run was 7 miles.  I remember it so well.  I remember going out and heading back, the whole while trying to concentrate on my form and not giving up.  When I hit mile 6 something inside me woke up, and I spent that whole last mile thinking, “I am doing it!  I am doing it!  I can’t believe I can do this!”  When my little app went off announcing I had completed 7 miles I jumped in the air and yelled in happiness.  “I DID IT!!!”  The next week was 8 miles, and because I had done the 7 miles the week before, I just knew I could complete 8.

(Please note that the time for my 8 miles was off because Map My Run did something funny.  I certainly did not run 8 miles in under an hour!)

The week I did 10 miles I really had no idea I could do it. I had been very steady with all my training runs.  To supplement the training runs, I was also doing circuit training 2-3 times per week.  I believe this really helped to keep me in tip top shape.  In addition to all these things, I was still meal-prepping and keeping a close eye on my diet.

I did notice that after my long runs, I had a tendency to want to do errands, so I would not go home and eat right away.  I used to get these AWFUL headaches.  I mean, truly wretched.  They would totally ruin my whole day.  I think it was after doing my 10-miler that I discovered that I needed to immediately replenish my carbs.  I would have an herbalife shake, or a protein bar immediately after my runs, but it was not enough.  I needed a full meal so I could not be in pain.

I know you are probably thinking that I just wasn’t hydrated enough, but that really isn’t the case.  I would drink about a gallon of water a day, more if I had coffee.  Also, I had read in my book that you should be drinking 8-12 fl oz of water every hour you work out, so I started carrying my hydration backpack (you can see it above) on my long runs.

My book had stressed the importance of upping the carbohydrate intake, but I didn’t really understand how that applied to my body and the way it works.  My body needs to be replenished after every long run- more than what I was doing.  Once I discovered what my body liked, it was easy to plan my day accordingly and make sure I had enough food I needed until I could have a full meal.  This saved me from all those horrible headaches.  Believe me, nothing is worse than the beautiful accomplishment of running longer than you ever have, and having it ruined by a god-awful headache.

Another thing that really helped motivate me for this training was being active on social media.  I would post every workout I completed, and a picture of my running route/distance, along with a picture of myself.  This really helped keep me accountable, and kept my spirits up when I was feeling overwhelmed.

During this part of my training I was going through some pretty heinous stuff with a terrible housemate, and it really helped keep my head screwed on straight.  I was also building and developing a relationship with my boyfriend, which was stressful, but really run and exhilarating at the same time.  I was also keeping up with my program of recovery, going to meetings almost every day- most of which I had commitments at, as well as meeting with others several times a week.  Needless to say I was a very busy girl.  But through it all, my training was my one thing I could count on in my days as my very own.  Something I could hold my head up with pride and say “I am training for a marathon.”

Whenever I would talk about this with anyone, I would get 1 of 2 responses.  The good response: “Oh my god how amazing!!  That is really inspiring!”  Or the other response: “What the fuck?  Why would you ever do that to yourself?”  I choose to hang out with the first response people.  If I ever let anyone else’s negative attitude get to me I am pretty much done.  If you are struggling with anyone’s bad attitude, tell them to take a hike!  I had to start telling people not to talk to me if they were going to say anything negative.  I needed my happy bubble where I can accomplish anything!  I don’t need no haters trying to mess up my flow!

One of the cool things I really loved about this book is that at the end of each chapter (week) it gives you a space to write down your mileage, heart rate, and time for the run with plenty of space for notes.  At the bottom there is “Miles run this week” and “Cumulative miles.”  Let me tell you, that sense of accomplishment really grew with each week seeing my mileage increase and increase.  What a trip!  By my 10-mile week, I ran 21 miles that week, and 87 total miles!  87!!!  Woo hooooooo!!!!

Alright!  So my next big run was 12 miles and I accomplished that with flying colors.  This was the week I ran with my friend and the time just seemed to fly by.  It was so much easier running with someone I knew.  And he had run the marathon before so we were able to exchange strategies and he told me what it would be like.  It was a really fun and valuable experience.

The next week was my 14-miler, and this was where I ran into issues which I will get into in tomorrow’s edition.  I was blissfully injury and care-free!  But this was the week where shit really came down on me.  To be continued…..

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Author: clairebearrunner

32-year-old woman training for LA Marathon! Stage manager, lover of the arts, lover of animals and fellow people. Goals for 2017: LA Marathon, Spartan Trifecta, Long Beach Triathalon. I think that's all ;)

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