Since crossing the Chicago Marathon finish line almost three weeks ago, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on what went well, as well as what didn’t, in preparing for as well as running my first marathon.
1. Marathon training is hard, especially during the summer when the heat and humidity provide an additional challenge to what is an already taxing task. It is both physically and mentally demanding, and it requires a lot of adjustment to your personal calendar, especially on the weekends when you hit the high mileage long runs.
2. Training for and running an early fall marathon works best for me. Marathon training takes up a lot of time, and being able to do the bulk of it during the summer when I am not at school helped significantly with being able to balance training and spending time with my family. Not being “in training” when I hit one of the high stress points of the school year (which I’m currently in right now) was also incredibly helpful. So although summer marathon training is certainly a physical challenge, it works best for my family and I.
3. Its okay to miss a workout or two. Although I completed almost every planned run during my 18 weeks of marathon training, there were times when either because I was sick, little man was sick, or my body was physically exhausted that I decided that it was best to skip a planned run. There were also times when my schedule during a particular week didn’t allow me to complete all of my planned cross training and/or strength training. In the long run, missing a workout here and there didn’t have a major impact on my training overall, and sometimes things other than working out needed to take priority. Although I always feel guilty about missing a planned run or trip to the gym, I know that listening to my body is incredibly important, as is balancing my training with the needs of my family.
4. Don’t do things differently on race day that I haven’t been doing during training. Looking back on race day, and the indigestion that I battled during the race itself, there were two big errors that I made. The first one was eating a heavier breakfast before the race than I did the mornings of my long runs during training. I was incredibly worried about not having enough energy to complete the race that I ate more than my body was used to. I have no idea if this was part of the cause of my indigestion, but I know better than to have fueled differently on race morning than I am used to. The second thing that I did differently was to drink Gatorade at almost every water station along the course. Although I do drink electrolytes while training, I usually only drink them post run, and only drink water while I’m actually running. But since I was worried about the heat on race day, and again having enough energy for all 26.2 miles, I drank a small cup of Gatorade at almost all of the 20 water stations along the course. The next time that I train I need to try drinking some electrolytes during my long runs, which will help me to determine whether or not this was part of what contributed to my tummy issues during the race.
5. Running a marathon deserved to be celebrated, no matter how the race goes. Although I was initially disappointed when I crossed the finish line because I hadn’t run the race that I had hoped to run, I pushed through the challenges that I faced and still ran a marathon. I had pushed through and didn’t give up, and after some initial disappointment turned to focusing on celebrating my accomplishment. After all, I ran 26.2 miles.
QOTD: What lessons have you learned from your training and/or racing?