Boston Marathon Training Monday #22: Mistakes I Made My First Time Marathon Training (That I’m Not Making Now)

Life, Running / Monday, March 19th, 2018

Hi Friends!

I had a great week of training this week! It WASN’T trash like two weeks ago, although I did go to the wrong starting location for my long run and end up running 10 very cold and windy miles by myself. Because I am an idiot and have no idea where my head is at.

Here’s how the week panned out.

  • Monday: 4.55 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: Blizzard Day! I was inside reading a book all day, aside from a 45 minute shoveling session.
  • Wednesday: 7.29 Miles w/ Hill Repeats ( 1 mile warm-up, 5.29 miles of hill repeats, 1 mile cool down) @ 9:55 avg. Pace
  • Thursday: 3 mile run @ 9:45 avg. pace
  • Friday: 45 minute spin class + 1 hour Restore & Flow Yoga
  • Saturday: 10 mile long run @10 min/mile pace
  • Sunday: Easy 3 mile run
    • Total Weekly Mileage: 27.84

Okay, so, I got an alert on Facebook this week that it has officially been 2 years since I ran my first (and only) marathon. I ran the 2016 Rock and Roll Marathon in Washington DC, and it was the best/worst day ever.

See, I didn’t really know what I was doing with training back then. I thought I did, because I had sort of trained for and finished a bunch of half marathons. But in reality, I was a baby with no guidance or coaching or knowledge of what I was getting myself into. I had some idea of my own capabilities, which was helpful, and I knew what worked for me. But I didn’t know how to train like a total athlete, and I didn’t know where my weaknesses were (or how to compensate for them)

Here are some of the mistakes I made while training for my first marathon that I hope to never make again.

  1. I didn’t consistently log the correct number of miles. If I wasn’t feeling a run, I’d cut it short. this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I was cutting almost all of my long runs short by 2-3ish miles, so I ended up maxing out at 18 miles of running. Plus, I skipped a lot of mid-week training runs because my job was crazy back then and I legitimately didn’t have time. Now, I’ve also gone int he other direction and over-trained, most notably for my halves last spring. So there is a balance that you need to find, and that balance is different person to person, and it takes a lot of maturity and self-love to figure that all out.
  2. I didn’t foam roll or stretch consistently. I ended up with raging achilles tendonitis and runners knee because I didn’t really do enough to keep my ligaments loosened up. I was perpetually sore during the last 8 weeks of training.
  3. I barely cross trained and I DIDN’T strength train. I did very little yoga, swimming, or spinning during my first training cycle. This had a lot to do with my crazy, crazy job and tutoring schedule, plus the gym I went to back then didn’t have a pool or a helpful group exercise schedule. This time around, I had been seriously strength training for months before I started marathon training, and continued to do leg lifts throughout the process. I try to get to spinning, yoga and swimming at least once a week each (although I rarely can do all three in a given week on top of running, admittedly). My muscles are definitely stronger and more defined this time around than before, and I can feel that extra power in every step I take.
  4. I was always sleep deprived. As I discussed last week, sleep is so, so important when you’re training for a long race. It helps your body relax and recover, and it also eases the anxiety of what you’re working towards. I’m someone who needs a lot of sleep no matter what, so when I was training for my first marathon+ not sleeping enough, it wasn’t a great mix. Great sleep= great strength.
  5. I upped my milage too quickly: I didn’t know about/ didn’t think I needed down milage weeks in between my high-milage long run weeks. I think I started a little late, and I didn’t start by planning backwards; I kind of just grabbed a Hal Higdon plan and threw out what I didn’t have time for. It was bananas. I was running so. many. miles. every. single. weekend. Which gave me horrible achilles tendonitis and I ended up living with ice packs strapped to my ankles for weeks at a time. I now know that down milage weeks are super important, and marathon training takes 6-ish months, not 3-ish months.
  6. I didn’t look up the course map/do any course specific training. I don’t know why I didn’t do this. I have always been a little over confident with hills because I live/run in a hilly area. But hills on a 7-mile jog and hills at mile 21 of a marathon are TOTALLY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES. If I had known what the R&R DC course was like, I would have done more hill repeats, especially at the end of longer runs.
  7. I ate all kinds of things all the time. I over fueled with carbs so, so much for all my runs, which left me bloated and nauseated most of the time. I also hadn’t really learned how much protein my body needs to recover (spoiler: it’s a whole lot) so I would have like, one yogurt and a bunch of cereal after a long run and wake up debilitatingly sore the next day and have to skip my mid-week training runs to further recover. I still love my carbs nowadays, but I make sure to prioritize protein and take in 100+ grams of it after my long runs. That might sound CRAZY, but it works. Example: I typically run in the morning, so I finish around 10:30am and have a protein shake (20g’s) and a protein bar (20g’s). Then for lunch at about 1, I’ll have an egg sandwich (another 20 g’s) and for dinner I’ll have some chicken or fish with quinoa and a protein brownie for dessert (40g’s). Plus probably an afternoon snack of yogurt and fruit.
  8. I didn’t practice an effective mid-run fueling strategy. This was mostly because I was cheap and training alone, so I would bring like 1 gel and one small hand bottle of water with me on a 17 mile training run and call it a day. During my marathon I took just one gel and was so, so off towards the end. In reality I should have been taking a gel every 4-5 miles with some water. I also now know that I need to dilute my gatorade with water while I’m running to avoid a crampy stomach, too.
  9. I overdressed. I was constantly wearing too many layers during training, and even during my race. I ended up with my jacket around my waist for my entire marathon when I should not have even worn a jacket! Always dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer than it actually is for a run. If it is 40, dress like it’s 60. Overdressing accelerates dehydration and just makes you super uncomfortable all the way through.
  10. I didn’t plan out where my people should be on race day: I had no clue how much support I’d crave once I got out there. On race day my friends and family were at the starting line and at the finish line; so I was ALONE for miles and miles and miles…. This time around, I am planning to calculate my approximate time of arrival at different locations along the course, then send out the below map to my squad and have people let me know where they’ll be. I’ll put that in my phone and have it with me on race day, so I can always look forward to the next friendly face. I’m also going to get my name printed on my race singlet so strangers can pretend they’re my friends and cheer for me by name. 

Gosh, there are a million other things I have changed this time around. I mean, I also discovered epsom salt baths, which have been freaking life-changing. And I have discovered the power of staying active after your long runs, and not just sitting around like a lump and letting yourself get stiff and sore. And…and….

So much.

But those are the top 10, and I hope you enjoyed reading! and feel free to share any other tips and training lessons you’ve learned below!!


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