On Training for a First Marathon

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A more reasonable person might wait to train for a marathon until they’ve been running for more than six months (which is when I began this training cycle). But because I don’t do anything “reasonably,” I decided to jump right in, the noise of the collective opinion on running muffled in my mind. I started running assuming it would just be an athletic outlet, I didn’t really intend to race. And then, as it goes, I was sucked in. Because I can’t do anything casually I’ve fully committed to a rigorous marathon training scheme, running about double the volume of your average first time marathoner. We’ll find out if this was a smart choice on April 10th. But hey, go big, right? Or something.

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Aside from questionable sanity of training for a marathon as a running newbie, it’s been a pretty incredible process. I did an insane amount of research and I feel confident that my aggressive schedule is backed by current research and physiology. Hansons, and training schemes like it just made sense to me; apporpriate weekly:long run ratios and manageable volume and recovery. I’m currently 1/2 way through, 51 training runs done, 50 to go. I’ve worked my way up to around 50 miles a week, running 6 times per week (will peak at 60). It has, in many ways, completely taken over my life. Which is how I like it. It’s funny, because I don’t spend that many hours a week actually running, last week I was running for 7.5 hours. But between the runs themselves, warm up, recovery and strength work, a lot of my time is dedicated to this endeavor. Runners say one of the hardest parts of training for a marathon is life balance. Last weekend after a training run Alex and I met friends to go whiskey tasting at a distillery near our neighborhood. The whole time my legs were tired and all I could think about was sitting. And food. I think about both of those things a lot these days. I also now need nine hours of sleep, which I’m told is common. But the exhaustion that occasionally takes over also brings with it a clear sense of accomplishment, and stops me from thinking too much (which I never, ever do of course). Essentially, I love it (most of the time).

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I love how strong I’ve become, I’ve never been in this kind of shape before, it’s incredible. I love having something in my life that is just for me that I can dedicate a great deal of my energy towards. There’s a simplicity in that. I’m so grateful my body allows me to do this. Some days, I don’t want to run. But I’ve never gone on a run I regretted. Even when I had a cold in NYC, trying to balance recovery and getting in the miles, where I felt like I was just surviving the week, I found great joy in the completion of something so challenging. I haven’t missed a training run yet. I’m shocked by my body, what it’s capable of. I sometimes don’t believe my own runs (even though I ran them). That I haven’t been injured. I’m not fast, though I don’t think I’m slow either, but watching my times dwindle down from where they were months, or weeks before is incredibly satisfying. I ran a 10k in November, that pace is now slower than my marathon pace. It makes getting through the daily grind much easier, especially when that grind says “7 easy miles” and you ran 15 the day before and feel like bourbon and a movie would be preferential, and that there’s nothing “easy” about your situation. No one ever said this wouldn’t be hard, and why would you want it to be anyway? Where’s the fun in that?

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Mikkeller Run Club

I still have a lot of doubts swimming in my mind about my capabilities, which I know I need to shake, they’re likely to hurt me if I don’t. My biggest fear is I’ll get to the starting line and choke. I know that by following a training plan, I’m prepping my body appropriately and it will be ready (provided I stay healthy/injury free of course). But 26.2 is a long way to go, and a lot of time for things to go wrong. I need to learn to trust my training. I went on a 15 miler this past weekend, something that months ago would have seemed like an absolute impossibility. And it actually went really well, I felt strong and ran it much faster than I thought I could. It’s almost as if my training is working, go figure. But I can’t shake the stories of runners I know who train for their first marathon, maybe aiming for a 4:00 finish and wind up over 5 hours, even if I saw their not so great training. I know, finishing is an accomplishment. But, I’m super competitive, and I expect a lot from myself. So I’m trying to find balance between confidence and being realistic in these uncharted waters. I’m breaking a lot of rules for new runners, so I sort of feel like I have something to prove. Then again, I’ve never been one to follow suit. So, I’m nervous. But excited. This is a big deal for me, and I think I’m right where I should be.

So dear Rotterdam, I’m coming for you!

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2 thoughts on “On Training for a First Marathon

  1. Total feel your words, it’s totally taken over my life also. It sucks if injury comes along though

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