I ran my first and only marathon waaaaay back in 2004. Things were different then and I know more about running and how to train well now than I did then. Since I've gotten some questions recently about marathoning and some of my friends are training for their first marathons, I thought I'd share some thoughts about my first marathon, what I've learned, and what I'm doing differently this time around.
My First Marathon -- 2004 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon
When I trained for my first marathon, I did not have much of a running base. I was an on-and-off runner up until that point and, prior to beginning training, my longest run ever was a 15K race (9.3 miles). That's it! I had run that distance in November 2003, then taken much of the winter off, and was maybe running 12 miles a week before starting the marathon training.
My training maxed-out at 33 miles, with most of my weekly mileage hovering around 20-23 miles (holy cow!!). I ran 3-4 times a week, a long run on the weekend and mostly 3-5 milers during the week. My longest run of the training cycle was 20.3 miles (which I ran once) and I ran that 3 weeks before the marathon.
Every run during my marathon training was a solo run. I never ran with others. I just didn't know many runners back then!
Yup, I got injured. Two weeks before the marathon, I went out for a long run in (what was I thinking?) new running shoes. Something went wrong 8 miles in to the run and I hobbled for 2 miles back to my car. My foot felt like it was broken. I had to take most of the following week off and my remaining runs before the marathon were only short, very easy runs.
You can be sure I will never make the new shoes mistake again!
I ran the Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon in Albany, NY. My goal was to finish in 4:20, which would have been 10-minute miles. I finished in 4:12 and felt like a rock star. The last 5 miles or so were as tough as anything I'd ever done and I seriously felt like walking off the course. But I didn't. I finished.
And was proud.
My Upcoming Marathon -- 2012 New Jersey Marathon
In the past 10 months, I've run 3 half-marathons, so I started with a much stronger base this time. I'd kept my mileage up even when not training for a race so I've been able to quickly ramp-up my mileage to around 35 miles a week (it was 37 last week) at this point.
This time, I'm running 5 times a week. I have a long run on the weekend, followed by a recovery run the next day. I also do some sort of speed work each week (some races, some pick-ups, some tempo runs, some mile repeats), at least one hilly run, and one or two easy runs. My training plan has me running mostly 35-40 miles a week, with 4 weeks above 40 miles (maxing out at 45). My longest training run will be 20 miles and I will run that distance twice.
My long runs have almost all been with others, including some of these lovely ladies:
|From the 2011 13.1 NYC|
Prior to starting this training cycle, I messed up my left leg -- my whole hamstring/knee/calf area. I took a little time off in December and I did some at-home rehab. It is mostly healed but I do feel it every now and then so I try to be careful with that leg and I've been keeping up with the rehab. Other than that . . . so far, so good!
Yup! At least once a week I do some sort of cross-training -- I've been on a kettlebells kick recently and I love it.
I'm running the New Jersey Marathon in May. Stay tuned to see how I do!
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I learned a lot from my first marathon and from all of the running I've done in the years since then. I've also read a ton about running, training, and racing.
I believe that the quality of the miles I run is important so I'm making sure to run hills and run speed so my form and economy will be better. I also know more about properly fueling for the run. As I've written about before, I'm trying to eat better, more wholesome foods. That makes a difference. But, I'm sticking mostly to gels on the run because that's about all my body can handle. I can't chew on the run so anything that requires doing so is out.
I'm also very good about rest. When my plan calls for it, that's what I do. I do not want to get injured so I will do everything in my power to make sure I don't.
Will my race go better than last time? We'll see. I had a great first marathon. I crossed the line faster than I expected -- who can complain about that? But, when I look back at my training . . . sheesh . . . what was I thinking? You could file that cycle under "How to run as little as possible and still finish a marathon" and it would not be out of place.
It will be interesting to see how the differences in my training this time around affect my marathon experience and my finish time. I have big goals for this marathon so my hope is that my running smarts will help me to achieve them!