Oh my, I will be running the Chicago Marathon on October 12th 2014 for Autism Speaks. Not only do I need to train my butt off, I also have to raise $1,500. Gulp.
But I can do this. I have been there done that (London 2009). Only… that was 5 years ago, before I had two children within 18 months and when I was in my twenties. But I can do this.
I need something for me. A new challenge, something to aim for. I will do this.
Every marathon runner has a training plan. 18-20 weeks of training. 1 big 20 mile run. Strength and speed workouts but it’s not all about the physical activity. Here are some own personal learnings which helped me in my first few weeks of training.
Invest in quality running gear
Wearing the right running shoes is so important. The choices available are incredible and suit several price ranges. Go to a running store and have them assess your running style and listen to their recommendations. Your feet need to be supported and comfy so you can focus on running.
Join a local running club
Knowing you are not running alone will motivate you to turn up for those early runs. You also don’t need to plan your route and it’s likely you will run different routes than you are used to which helps alleviate boredom. Also, use these experienced runners for advice and tips.
Focus on building endurance
It’s not about how fast you go, it’s about building endurance so you can increase your milage each week. You’ll be surprised and proud of how quickly your stamina and endurance improve, your speed will follow.
Remember fluid and fuel
The likelihood is your body will not be used to all that running. So make sure you look after yourself by fueling your body in the right way and staying hydrated. I increased complex carbohydrates and good fats like nuts, greek yoghurt, etc. I also started drinking sports hydration drinks for a few reasons. I knew that would be on offer during the marathon so I wanted my body to be used to it, and I also wanted to gain the benefits of the specialist drinks.
Listen to your body
You have your marathon training schedule and you must stick to it, right? Wrong. Listening to your body is right. If you feel something niggling, your knee, your back, your leg take a rest. Don’t push your body when it is not 100%, it only makes things worse. I really need to practice what I preach here. It is hard to rest when you are training for something so grand but it is the sensible thing to do. Use the time to research the marathon route and tips for race day.
Running a marathon is a choice you made. A goal you set yourself. It is something you choose for you for whatever reason, so enjoy it. Enjoy the open air, the landscape, the time to think, the friends you’ll make. It is so easy to find training a drag (been there!) so always refocus on the fact this was your choice and a great one at that.