A Non-Runner's Guide to Becoming a Marathon Runner
Yes I Signed up for a Marathon
My husband think I have been drinking the koolaid and lost mine mind. Just a few short months ago I could not run to the end of my block. If you had told me 6 months ago that before the year was out I would run a marathon I would have laughed at you. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon with about 50 other people to run for Team World Vision. I run for clean water in Africa. What started out as a challenge to myself has changed my life but it will also change the lives of people in other countries, more on that later.
Marathon Training for Newbies
What do You Need to Train??
Give Yourself Time to Train
You are not going to run the marathon today or tomorrow, you need time to train properly. This is one of the most important things in this experience. I started out with a 12 week pre-training course, followed up with an 18 week marathon training. Without both of these training put together a non rummer would have an extremely hard time completing a marathon.
Running Shoes: Preparing for long runs
Do not go buy the cutest new running shoes at your local shoe store. This is one of those time that you need to spend the money and it will be well spent. I admit that I heard this rule and didn't follow it the first part of the training. After an 8 mile run I had a huge blister and one of my toenails turned black, not very cute with summer sandal season.
Go to a running store that can watch your stride and how you step and find the shoe that will fit you and your needs. One thing I have learned is that size does matter. My normal every day shoes are a size 7 sometimes a 6.5, my running shoes are an 8.5 and sometimes even a 9. Remember that you don't want big shoes just to have big shoes but that when you run long distances your feet will swell and your will need the extra room. Get fitted properly for your shoes, but also remember that you may end up needing more than 1 new pair before the race. I bought a pair in March when I started training and a new pair in July with the marathon in October.
There are several ways to track how far you run. I use Nike+ and have the sensor that connect to either my ipod or wristband. I like the wristband because it is a USB hub that I can plug into my computer and download my runs. Many of my friend that have iphone use the Nike+ app and we can "cheer" them on as they run.
Map My Run is another smartphone app that will track how far you run, where you went, and your splits per mile. Several people I know use this app and then keep each other accountable for their running. Since we all signed up for this together the motivation is there to keep us accountable and current with our training schedule.
Some people spend the big bucks on the Garmin watches, nifty if you can afford it.
Are you a runner??
What is the farthest you have ever run?
Clothing: Preparing for the Marathon
What girl doesn't need new clothing? right?
So of course I needed new clothes to train for the marathon. I am very picky about how i look in my workout gear. I am a mom of two kids and not a size 0, I am not the most athletic looking person on the block. I like to be covered, comfortable, and able to run. Most of my previous yoga pants have actually become the worst clothes I own to run in. I used to love my yoga pants for workouts at the gym, these were not however made for long runs. I spend a considerable amount of time pulling these things back up. Invest in some quality running pants, they usually have a zip pocket above the butt. I have a knee length pair that are now the only pair that I will use for any run over 4 miles.
I have several athletic short sleeve shirts in the same fabric in different colors that I love but I also had to invest in some body glide because of underarm chaffing on super long runs.
The most important thing I invested in is a high quality sports bra. Thi is a must for women. I spent more that I would care to mention on a high quality sports bra and I will never ever ever go back to cheap cotton sports bras ever. My favorite is moving comfort Jade. I promise you this will keep the ladies where they belong.
Don't forget the socks. Normal socks are not going to cut it for long runs. There are seems that will cause blisters and not enough cushion where it belongs. It might sting to pay $10 or more for a single pair of sock but you are training for a marathon so you must have already lost your mind somewhere.
Wait, I get to Eat While I Run?
This was something I had never head of before I started running long distances. When you are running for hours - yes hours, you need to continue to hydrate and supply your body with energy. I have not been as good about this as I should and I paid for it with a very difficult 12 mile run last weekend. I think it would have been much better if I had just eaten my gel blocks after miles 6, but I had left them in the car.
Do your research, taste test, and prepare for what will be available on race day.
Find a Running Group
During the week I train by myself. These runs are shorter and tend to be okay on my own, but those longs runs I need support and someone cheering me on. Did I mention I run super slow, like turtle slow. I signed up for this marathon with a group of people so every Saturday morning we meets as the sun is rising to run our long runs together. We do an out and back approach on the trail. This keep s me going because at some point long after I am running alone and am reaching the halfway mark I start to see all my people again cheering me on towards the turn around. When I get to the end they are cheering me on again to finish strong and complete the run.
There are lots of running groups that we see every week at our trail site, find a group, partner in crime, or someone to keep you motivated on your run.
Go for It!
Just keep running, you will have good days and bad run days. I strongly suggest not to look ahead to those ridiculously long runs and fret, worry about that days run one day at a time. Keep yourself focused on today goal and not four weeks down the road, otherwise you might just psych yourself out. I remember the first mile I ever ran, a whole mile, I was so proud. Six short weeks later I ran an entire 8 mile run, I have also had some terrible, give up, I am never going to do this runs. We call those flops and there will be some flops but get back up and keep running, eventually the long anticipated finish line will be in sight.