Marathon Training Must-Haves

I’m (almost) halfway there! This week completes week 8 of my 16-week marathon training. The Kiawah Island Marathon is on December 13, so we’re just under two months away! I’ve learned so much, but I still have quite a ways to go!

Photo courtesy: Kiawah Island Marathon Facebook page

Photo courtesy: Kiawah Island Marathon Facebook page

I actually had to take a couple of days off due to what seemed like an “overuse” kind of pain in the back of my right knee. After icing, stretching, and resting, I got back out there yesterday afternoon – thankfully I am feeling much better! If this setback had to happen, now is at least a good time. This week my long run is only 13 miles and my total mileage will be 32, so at least my legs will have a bit of a break!

Now that I am hitting the halfway point, I feel like I have a good system down. I don’t mean just having a plan – although that is certainly the first step towards marathon training. (I spent a good amount of time researching different programs and then tailored one to fit my needs.) But in addition to a plan, you need a lot of other things. Here’s my shortlist:

  • Motivational reminders. It’s great to have a plan, but you have to find ways to make sure you stick to it. I actually printed out my plan and wrote down how many miles I’m supposed to run each day on my work calendar. These are visual reminders of what I need to do, both at work and at home. Then when the miles are complete, I highlight that day on my printed plan and update my computer calendar that I use to track my mileage throughout the year. This helps me remember that I am making progress when I feel overwhelmed.
  • A support team. You may think training for a marathon is a solo endeavor unless you have a training partner/group. It’s not! You need cheerleaders to celebrate the process as well as lift you up when you have those low moments – and you will have some. Make sure key people in your life know how you’re feeling and what you need from them. This can be anything from encouragement to joining you for a run to just asking how your training is going.
  • Body glide. No seriously. Even if you haven’t chafed a lot in the past, you better have some now. Once you realize your normal “trouble spots”, slather it on, especially before your long run. There’s nothing worse than getting in the shower, having the water hit you, and wanting to scream because of all the raw spots that quietly showed up on your body while you were out.
  • A willingness to sacrifice. You will miss things, simply because marathon training takes a lot of time. Lately I’ve been known to fall asleep on the couch by 10:30 p.m. or leave Friday night social outings early because I have to be up for my long run dark and early on Saturday morning. Sometimes I can’t have another glass of wine because I know that it’s just going to hurt me the next day (what a horrifying first-world problem). That’s not to say you can’t have any fun, you just have to be smart about it.
  • Good nutrition. I am a pretty healthy eater overall. However, I have had to be even more careful about what I’m ingesting throughout this process. A couple of weeks ago, my long run ended early – I was nauseous, dizzy, and in tears. The next week, I made a conscious effort to eat more and to increase my protein intake. The result? I rocked a 17 mile run. Pay attention to what feels good and what doesn’t.
  • Short-term memory. You have to put any bad runs behind you. Quickly.
  • Long-term memory. This is where you store those great running moments. If you focus on these, you can get through anything!
  • Yes, you can even get inspiration from a holiday classic...

    Yes, you can even get inspiration from a holiday classic…

    Mantras. I’m all about positive thinking while on the run. Sometimes you have to dig deep to keep going. I find I have been repeating one of two things lately: “You just need miles on your legs” and “How bad do you want this?” The first reminds me of the fact that I don’t need to be speedy on my long runs. The second is just a personal challenge to myself. On a side note, this has also been in my head on runs when I don’t bring along the iPod lately – which is oddly encouraging while getting me excited about the holiday season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OORsz2d1H7s

With all these tools, I’m feeling excited and really happy that I’ve made it halfway through the training process. I just have to keep focusing on the goal – I’m coming for you, Kiawah Island Marathon!

What helps you when you’re training for a big goal? Leave a comment or send a tweet!

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