I know I’ve said it multiple times before but it feels so great to finally cross something so big off of my bucket list; it’s empowering is what it is. To know that something I wanted so badly was accomplished in just a few short months with just a little bit of hard work really makes you feel like you could do just about anything (and believe me, my mind has gone there). Running is not a natural talent for me at all, it’s really not. Sure I’m athletic and spent most of my life doing one sport or another but running was never something I was good at, my high school didn’t even have a track team so I didn’t even have an opportunity to run. My family, well they aren’t runners either, it’s just not in my blood or make-up. I’m not built like a runner and my body certainly can’t handle high mileage weeks very well and goodness knows I’m not fast. But despite all of that I am still a marathoner. It took a lot of hard work and determination but I did it.
I spent nearly six months working specifically towards this goal and while I may have had my doubts along the way I obviously did something right. I’ve mentioned before that this was not my first marathon experience, therefore this was not my first marathon training experience. However, if you were to ask me how this training was compared to the last training I would probably say something along the lines of, “what last training”, meaning, I barely trained at all for my last marathon. Sure I did the obligatory long runs and got in a few solid runs I was proud of and sure I felt confident in my ability to run the full distance at that time but this time around it was just so much better. So I thought I would jot down a few things I wanted to note about my over all training for this marathon for you, but mainly for me.
For starters I make my own plans and base them off of things I learned in my initial running class over 2 years ago and based off of other bloggers and things I read in Runner’s World and other books. I don’t claim to know what I’m doing but I do know that I will work hard and make adjustments as I see fit. Are my training plans perfect? Absolutely not! I’m sure I could always make changes and do things better but bottom line is I’m too cheap to pay for a running coach, and I’m too much of a control freak to let other people tell me what to do anyways. Besides that, running is fun and therapeutic for me, I do it for me and only me so even though I’m working towards a goal I don’t need to have perfect workouts to make it fun for me, I just do what I know how to do. And apparently it works, for me that is. I know I will never be a super fast runner but I’m happy with where I’m at and with how I train.
I initially posted this training plan at the beginning of marathon training (it is also located on my Unlikely Training Page) and for the most part I stuck with it as best as possible. Obviously 23 weeks is a long time and over time my training evolved and things got moved around. I would update my training in a Word document as I went along and I would post my updated workouts in my weekly workout posts but I haven’t updated my training page with my actual training plan (and I probably won’t, I will just leave it as is).
I also initially wanted to try to run 4 days a week but that mostly did not happen. I’m a 3 day a week runner and that works well for me for some reason. Of course I would love to have the time and energy to run 4 or 5 days a week but that didn’t happen during this training plan and honestly it may not happen for me ever. I’ve heard of the Run Less, Run Faster methods and that’s not at all what I did but I would tend to stick with Monday nights being a simple mid-distance run at a decent to easy pace and then on Wednesday I would often do hill workouts or tempo runs. Saturday mornings were my long run days and this worked for me. I really needed that Monday night run to set my focus for the week and get me going. Wednesdays became my favorite night to run because I usually need to be able to clear my head by then and it was nice to be able to change locations for my runs as well since I would run by my church on Wednesdays. Saturdays are the best days for me to get my long runs in because by Sunday I’ve lost motivation and I have church and responsibilities there. I wound up having to wake up quite early to get my long runs in on some Saturdays but over all this worked for me.
One thing I will for sure change next time is to make my training plan shorter because at 23 weeks this one was just too long. My plan started in July but I really didn’t actually get serious about training until September, however, it was still too long. I think in my mind I was thinking the longer the better because then I will be more prepared and have more miles accomplished. But in the end I lost so much steam and realized that I was peaking about week 16-17 (when I PRed in Tulsa) and that should have been when I ran my marathon. Now that I’m more confident I will probably keep my marathon training plans to 16 weeks at the most.
Another thing that I figured out about half way through training was just how much cross-training and weight training really helped me. I know this is not a new phenomenon but it’s something that I had to grow into. I started taking BodyPump classes and while I only did that once a week I really saw a huge difference in my body and how my running changed. I also tried to do the bike or spin class and yoga class as much as I could. I wasn’t quite as consistent on those activities as I was on BodyPump but when I did get them in they helped. I really fully believe the BodyPump and cross training are what helped me set 3 new PR’s during my training (2 Half marathon PR’s and a 10K PR).
I would like to say that I stayed injury free but that is not entirely the case, I struggled throughout October with some shin issues in my right shin and ankle area. I still don’t actually know what that was but all I know is that now all body parts are fine and injury free, even my shin, which has been better since before Thanksgiving. I have had some weird feelings in my left hamstring and woke up a night or two ago with what felt like some cramps but it’s really very minor and honestly if I wasn’t so in tune with my body then I probably wouldn’t even notice it. The rest has been nice for me and my legs and I’m very thankful that I have no serious injuries to report.
So after all oh my hard work I really and truly felt like my training plan worked for me. I will be making a few changes in the next few days as I get prepared for what I have coming up next (post on that tomorrow!). But over all I am happy with how things turned out. I’m happy with my training and I feel like it got me to the finish line exactly the way I anticipated it would.
I mentioned yesterday that there were only 4 miles out of the 26 that I wasn’t entirely happy with and in my opinion that is a success. I tend to over think things and stress about things and build things up in my head to a point where I get disappointed if I don’t do something the way I imagine it to be; it’s a character flaw that I am constantly working on. But for me to walk away from 26 miles and be satisfied with 22 of them that is a huge success in my mind. Of course I have visions of someday being able to run an entire marathon stop to finish without walking. And of course I have visions of seeing a 4 in my finish time, but when I put into perspective the fact that it took me nearly 2 years and 14 half marathons before I felt like I totally nailed it then I think about this marathon and I see a HUGE accomplishment. I would say I ran that marathon like I had run 10 marathons before and I am proud of myself for that. I am the type of person that no matter what I will always want to improve on something, always, so to have a very small list after so many miles I am more than happy with that.
And my final thought for today (I say today because who really knows when I’ll be done processing and thinking about this marathon) is that when I think of all my hard work I could not have done any of this without my support. Alex of course was one of my biggest supporters and without his love and encouragement through the good and the bad times I know it wouldn’t have been such a great experience. My family too has been beyond supportive and I am so blessed to have family that will give up a Sunday for me and cheer for me and drive me to races and be there to hug me when I’m done, I still get choked up thinking about the support they gave me on the course. My friends too have been such an encouragement with their comments and support.
And then of course there is you guys, my blog readers and friends, I cannot thank you enough! Knowing that you were cheering for me each week and on marathon day from wherever you are means the world to me. Social media is such a strange, yet wonderful thing and I am blessed with all of my blog friends. There were especially 2 bloggers who I would say gave me the most encouragement along the way and that’s Erin and Meghan, I am truly, truly grateful for you ladies and I look up to you and all your running endeavors each day. You help me get out the door on the hard days and you cheer with me on the good days, I’m thankful for your friendships and I wanted you both to know how encouraging you were to me out there on the race course. I thought of you both often and all the encouraging comments throughout my training and it made all the difference in the world. So THANK YOU!
And to everyone who had left comments on my blog about the marathon, thank you too. I am not trying to be rude by not responding yet; I just have been such a bad blogger lately and haven’t really done much responding or commenting. But I do appreciate every single comment, really I do! And I plan on responding to everyone soon.