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.
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.
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.
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?