Is running a marathon among your life goals? Well stop ruminating about it and just do it! Trust us- you’ll be happy with your decision. The Dream Team is in the process of training for our first marathon, so we’re totally novices. Still, it’s been immensely rewarding thus far. Very fulfilling and empowering! There are SO MANY resources already dedicated to marathon training. We have our own spin on life, so many of the more traditional resources- websites like http://runnersworld.com/0,7118,,00.html, http://runningplanet.com/, and Mammy’s favorite forum- http://www.veganfitness.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=22 etc.- don’t fit perfectly for us, or those like us (you!). Don’t get us wrong now- these sites are AMAZING tools that we have been referencing throughout our training, and you should check them out too. Our recommendations here are by no means meant to substitute for a comprehensive training guide….we just wanted to share some key points we’ve learned so far in our training. Happy running!
1. Social Support
THIS IS CRITICAL!! Get somebody to sign up for the race with you. Even if they don’t live in your town, even if you never run with them before the big day. We cannot emphasize this point enough. You’ll want to talk about how your runs are going, the physical changes you’re noticing, the pain, the challenges, and the victories you experience throughout your training program. You’ll find that non-runners in your life will not understand most of this. However, somebody who trains for other types of athletic events will be familiar with a lot of training issues, so if you can’t recruit a friend, coworker, family member, etc. to run- talk to another endurance athlete. It is so valuable to have somebody with whom you can share your thoughts, worries, excitement, and with whom you can feel a culture of mutual support and encouragement.
2. Find a group
If you can’t recruit anybody you know to run with you, consider joining an organized running group. It’s a good way to get social support, make new friends, and avoid the monotony that can happen when you run alone – you will see that it makes a WORLD of difference to run with others! As well, many people will probably have run before, so groups can be a great forum to get questions answered and get recommendations from seasoned veterans who know what works!
3. Get excited
Do a calendar countdown, make a paper chain (ya know, like you did as a kid the month before Christmas), make a t-shirt, a mini-poster to hang in your home or office, a pump-up music mix. Continue to do these types of things up until the race to keep your spirit up!
4. Plan ahead
Decide what you’re going to do the nights before and after the race. This can be loads of fun to plan if you have others running the race with you. You might plan a relaxing carbfest the night prior to the big run, and perhaps a massage or movie marathon for after the event. It’s something to look forward to that you’ll certainly have earned with all your hard work and dedication!
5. Treat yourself
To new shoes, running clothes, accessories. Anything that will get you excited to hit the pavement!
6. Mix it up
Running the same route every time will eventually get really boring and may screw with your head. Find new routes, and mix it up throughout the week so you’re continually stimulated and enjoying new scenery. We suggest that you map your runs using either http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ or better yet, http://www.mapmyrun.com/, which has route maps of varying mileage in your town that other people have already mapped out (some even have descriptions and ratings). You can also record your training and map out your own runs here. Very useful! If you’re out of town for a weekend, planning a run through an area of interest can be a great way to check out a new spot!
7. Do you Gu?
Once you get up to running an hour or more, you might find that your energy’s getting sapped. To combat this, get ClifShots, Gu, PowerBar gel, or something of the like (Mammy recommends ClifShots). These are little packets filled with carbs and electrolytes meant to increase your endurance, and boy do they live up to their claims. Slurp one down when you’re beginning to feel like you’re loosing it- it’ll give your muscles the energy they need to carry you to the finish line!
8. Be flexible
Scheduling-wise, that is. Sometimes, things are going to come up and you will miss a run. A family emergency, a move, and priorities with work, school, and friends. Don’t freak out or panic. Sit down with your training schedule and figure out how you can mix things up in the days following the lapse to get yourself back on course. The only thing you have to make absolute certain of is that you get your long run in for the week. If you have to do it a few days later than originally scheduled, it’s fine- do it, and cut out a couple short runs for that week. Don’t fret! As Alanis Morisette once said, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you. Just know that it’s gonna happen, but you aren’t gonna allow it to throw you off course completely.
9. Take care of yourself
The simple truth is that you can only do your best in an endurance event if you put your physical self first. You need to get enough sleep, eat right, and cut down on drinking and partying. If you want to perform, you have to make sacrifices. This is not to say you should cut all the fun out of your life- but be more picky. Remember, the people who want you to stay out partying aren’t going to be waking up at 8am on Sunday to run 14 miles.
10. Pay attention to pain
If you’re hurt beyond what Advil and a day or two of rest can repair, figure out what’s wrong. Talk to seasoned runners and/or see your doctor. Don’t push yourself until you cause irreparable damage. Remember, your goal is to finish the race, and you gotta take care of yourself to do so!