Reflecting on the Lessons I Learned Last Year During Marathon Training

One of the many benefits of this blog is being able to journal about my running journey and then being able to look back at what I wrote.  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been taking some time to look back at some of my Chicago Marathon posts from last year, and have been thinking about what I want to make sure I do the same a year later, and what I want to make sure that I modify.  In other words, what worked and what didn’t work?

What worked?: Motivation

Running for charity last year was a huge source of motivation, especially when the going got tough.  There were numerous times last year when I struggled physically and/or mentally during training, and there were multiple times during last year’s marathon that I struggled.  But when I started to struggle, I reminded myself why I was running.  Running for Ronald McDonald House Charities in memory of my friend Tammy made last year’s training and race such a meaningful experience, and was a huge source of motivation when I struggled.  Tammy refused to give up during her cancer fight, and I cannot give up my fight to reach the finish line.

I had nothing but an incredible experience running with Team RMHC last year and cannot wait to run with the team again in 2018!

What didn’t work? My Fueling

One of the big challenges that I faced during last year’s Chicago Marathon was massive indigestion that led to two unwanted porta potty stops.  Gu Gels used to be my go to fuel of choice during all of my long runs and races, but I haven’t used a single gel since last year’s race and instead having been relying mainly on fruit snacks, which are much easier on my stomach.  I will be working this summer on having a small and not too heavy breakfast before my long runs, and I will not dare repeat the mistake that I made on race morning last year, which was to eat breakfast differently than I am accustomed to.  I will also be sure to incorporate drinking electrolytes during my long runs instead of just drinking them post run.

Receiving some much needed fruit snacks from my husband at mile 21 of last year’s race.

What worked: A Slow and Steady Pace

I haven’t discussed it in my much detail on here since some things do need to remain private, but since late fall I’ve been dealing with some health issues, which has resulted in some changes to medication that have affected my metabolism and led to some unwanted weight gain.  Its been a struggle to get the unwanted weight off, but one of the effects of the weight gain has been a slowed running pace.  All I can ask of myself is that I try my best, and as long as I’m doing just that then I cannot be upset about my slow and steady pace.  Marathon training during the summer will also naturally result in needing to run slow and steady, but as long as I keep moving towards the finish line then that is what is most important, no matter how slow my pace becomes.

What didn’t work? Avoiding Foam Rolling

I will fully admit that I did not use my foam roller nearly as much as I should have last year when I was training for Chicago.  I dealt with various aches and pains, particularly knee pain, last year, and I know that I wouldn’t have been affected as much by those aches and pains had I used my foam roller on a more regular basis.  That needs to change this time around.

What worked? Listening to My Body

In addition to the expected aches and pains of marathon training, one of the big physical challenges that I faced last year was the huge blister that popped up on my heel while wearing what wound up being a faulty pair of new running shoes.  I had to take unwanted time off from running in order to let the blister heal, and when I was able to resume running had to make modifications, such as stopping mid run during my long runs to change out band aids and to put on a dry sock.  I certainly hope that I won’t get another huge blister this year, but it will be important to listen to everything that my body tells me and to make any necessary modifications to my training.

I do not want to see a repeat of this again!

What didn’t work? Doing Long Runs in Brand New Shoes

Last August I knew better than to head out for a long run in brand new running shoes.  It was on that run that I got the massive blister that temporarily set me back.  There are no excuses, I need to plan ahead better and not complete any long runs in brand new shoes that have yet to be broken in.

QOTD: What suggestions or tips do you have for marathon training based on your past experience?

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21 Responses to Reflecting on the Lessons I Learned Last Year During Marathon Training

  1. fruit snacks! I’ve heard of fueling with other things and I think I’ll try it. I’ve never run anything long enough to worry about fueling but I’m doing a half this year and think I might need to consider something like that. When do you know you need fuel/how long of a race do you usually use fuel for?

  2. Wendy says:

    Fueling has been and continues to be a big issue for me. Just when I think I’ve got it, I don’t. I’m still sticking by Tailwind because that remains the only thing that keeps me out of the portapotties. I’ve struggled with nausea tho–so I need to figure that out. Ugh.

    Good luck with your training. I agree. Slow and steady gets the job done, especially in a marathon.

  3. Kim Hatting says:

    I can’t do the Gu gels anymore either, and they were my go-to got years. Honey Stinger gels are alright if I take them with water and limit the Gatorade in between the HS “doses.”

  4. Karen :0) says:

    It’s great to be able to look back over precious experiences to see what did and didn’t work! I love the idea of fruit snacks as fuel!

  5. Farrah says:

    I love being able to look back on my blog at my previous adventures too! I wish I could offer advice on marathon training, but alas! I love the idea of fruit snacks though!

  6. Rachel says:

    Isn’t it always so humbling finding out what works/doesn’t work during a race? It’s so crazy how that happens.

  7. What is it about GU gels?! They use to be my go to and then one race they did a number on my stomach and I’ve never gone back.

  8. Marcia says:

    I learned the hard way that I needed to be better about foam rolling too. I ended up with an ITB injury after I ran my first Chicago back in 2007.

  9. I really struggle on the fueling for tri races. I don’t have any stomach issues (yet) but have not figured out how to fuel enough on the bike to keep me on the run. Running is such a learning process. Sounds like you have learned a lot

  10. Jackie Mason says:

    I have also fueled with fruit snacks! Now I stick to tailwind and add extreme beans for really long runs! I also need to foam roll more. I have had two running injuries over the past few years and I’m sure not stretching or rolling enough has contributed to that.

  11. Pingback: Chicago Marathon Training Log – Week 1 | From Dancing to Running

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