Training takes commitment. It is no lie that you have to be invested; but is there any a difference between training for a half marathon vs. a first full? After really kicking it in gear for my first half I was sure I could just pick up where I left off and run a full. Let me tell you from experience, full marathon training is a whole other ball game.
Part of my training strategy is to talk about it. Everywhere I go people know I am training for a marathon; the cashier at the grocery store, the waitress at the restaurant, all my friends and coworkers, now even my #BrightOrangeShoes followers. Most respond with, “you are crazy” or “did you know running is bad for you” but when I got the response of “have you run a full before? It is nothing like a half” I panicked a little. My training was just getting started and aside from the number of miles being consistently higher, I wasn’t expecting it to be much difference but I also had never run further than 13.1 miles consecutively before.
The first time I hit 8 miles was eye opening. I had amazed myself. Then the first time I ran 10 miles was a little less of a shock but still I was riding on a cloud knowing I had passed double digits for the first time. Those big mile stones made me think I knew what to expect, but after a certain distance I would wake up muscles I have never seen before. So I did some research.
Five things to know for your first marathon:
- Hydrate A LOT: Water is very important before, during, and after. My first attempt at my marathon training long run was cut short because I hadn’t hydrated the day prior. Drinking water the day of and during helped, but if my muscles are not fully hydrated as I am tying my shoes I get cramps and the lactic acid shows up early and often.
- Take it slow: My marathon pace was the hardest thing to adjust too. When running for half’s if I am feeling good, I go with it and just let my body fly, but I found out all too soon that if I don’t keep a steady pace for marathon training, my legs run out of juice and FAST. When running with my sister we keep each other in check by keeping strides with each other. It really makes a difference.
- Strength Training: Passing my first 15th mile, my arms started to get tired and I started to feel weak and worn out. After reading a little about marathon running I realized that maybe caused by my body finding unused energy in “dormant muscles” to keep going. I never realized that, although it doesn’t seem like it, every muscle in my body is playing a part in marathon distance runs. For half’s, lifting weights and focusing on my lower body helped to increase my speed but I never really thought I needed to focus on my upper body (other than to keep balance). My round two marathon training I am definitely spending more focused time in the weight room.
- Mental Challenge: After running for 3 hours I sometimes start to get delusional. I start to tell myself there is no way I can keep going, or I fixate on the idea of eating a burrito. When my mind wanders like that is usually about the same time I try to cross the street without looking, or trip and face plant because of a small pebble. It is important to stay focused and mentally strong. My most successful solution has been to set and repeat my running mantra. “one step at a time” or “its all downhill from here” are two that I use a lot. They help my focus remain on my stride and my body in that moment. I use Pinterest to find new motivational phrases. Check out my “Marathon Training” board for ideas.
- Every Mile Counts: I regularly read Runners World and they keep mentioning the phrase “junk miles” which means that someone is running just to run on during training which doesn’t actually help. I found that, just starting out without thinking about placing (I am slow) every mile counts and “junk miles” are aimed at runners who are trying to move from second to first place. So, if I don’t have time to reach my full 8 or 9 mile run because summer has caught up to me, 3 miles are still better than none.
Anyone can run a marathon. If training is taken one day at a time, each distance that seems unattainable is only just “one more mile” and anyone can run one mile. Stay strong and keep running.