I have always been driven by curiosity. And FOMO.
That’s why when the opportunity to join Team Comcast for the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon arose, I knew I needed to be in on it. With five half marathons under my belt, I always had interest in doing a full marathon, but was too intimidated to pull the trigger. Thank god for FOMO.
When I trained for half marathons, I would do a long run each week, adding on a few miles each time. I wouldn’t bring water, mid-run fuel, or listen to music because it was distracting and it had never felt necessary. I figured I would do all the same things for the full distance, but with the guidance of a real training schedule (above) to tell me how to add that mileage on.
I later realized how many times I was telling myself, “this is the way it’s always been done” in reference to something I’ve never done.
If there’s one thing you could gather from this blog or from knowing me, it’s that I’m not great at following directions. They bore me. I’m more attracted to intuition, whether in cooking, marketing, design, or training. However, intuition cannot always replace reason, and that revelation hit hard when I was doing my first run past the half marathon distance.
This 15 mile run compared to nothing else I had ever done. I needed to stop and stretch every couple of miles and was really only motivated by sticking to my training schedule and the fact that I wasn’t near home.
My legs felt like cinder blocks I was dragging along, but I kept going like this until 15.5 miles and walked the rest of the way home. Feeling lightheaded and pale, I thought about how the cars passing must be thinking about how sad I look. They must be thinking, “Aaaand that’s why I’m not a runner,” rather than “I bet that’s someone who just ran the longest distance in their life!” Based on how painful achieving that goal was, it didn’t feel like much of an accomplishment at all.
After consulting a few marathon-running friends, I realized my body didn’t fail me, I had failed my body.
Turns out, I had completely depleted my electrolytes by running that distance on little-to-no food prior, and only stopping for water once. The lead of my first aid/CPR class said I may have even been in shock.
Thinking about the 11+ miles I still needed to achieve after that run made me wonder if I could actually do this. This glass-half-empty mindset is a slippery slope. That’s the one thing I don’t like about sharing my marathon training with others, they’re always doing math for you. They ask about the longest distance you’ve run, and then calculate how much longer you still have to go. It’s really quite uplifting.
Before giving up on that, I needed to fully embrace that I’m not the expert, and that scrappy plans can only get you so far. Clearly doing it my way wasn’t working, so it was time to pivot instead of quit. What’s the point of being curious anyway if there aren’t any surprises?
New and improved training best practices for long runs:
- Hydrating the day before my run
- Eating breakfast before run (I was leaving so early some mornings I didn’t realize I missed this)
- Running with water bottle though I may order a belt with additional bottles
- GU Gels for mid-run refuel: rough schedule so far is taking half of one before run, a full at mile 7, and then each 5 miles
- Marine Collagen for joint recovery- bovine collagen peptides are more popular, but those aren’t pescetarian.
- Cold shower afterwards (maybe one day I’ll be brave enough for an ice bath)
Maintaining original plans of:
- Running Tuesday mornings with my early bird bestie
- Long runs on weekend mornings, directly after I teach (if I go home I get distracted)
- Cross training with yoga and sculpt throughout the week at my second home, Corepower Yoga
- Going to Flyfeet Running around once a week so that someone holds me accountable to do sprints!
- Not listening to music…we’ll see if I can keep holding out of this as my runs get longer. It’s partially for safety reasons (scary people, cars, bikes) but it also doubles as a moving meditation when I can actually hear myself think
I can say with great pride that as of this week, this revised plan allowed me to accomplish 17.1 miles without pain or doubt. Of course, it was a challenge, but that’s what I signed up for.
I still took breaks, but they were intentional and purposeful rather than out of desperation. Most importantly, it allowed me to prove to myself that I can keep moving forward regardless of any bumps along the way.
I can say with confidence, but not certainty, that I can finish a marathon. But I don’t need to run a marathon today, or anytime soon, that’s for us to find out on October 7. Don’t worry, I’ll save you the math- that’s two long months away.