My First Marathon
A couple of months ago, after I’d published my first article in the newspaper, I was on cloud nine, which led me to make a very impulsive decision: I registered for a marathon in January 2013. I’m somewhat of a half-marathon addict, but I’ve always sworn off the full, saying that 13.1 would be enough for me. I was lying to myself, though, because a secret part of me has always wanted to check “Run a marathon” off the old bucket list and (most importantly) display the 26.2 bumper sticker on my car.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on building a base, running no more than 27 miles a week and limiting my long runs to 10 miles. My training schedule technically shouldn’t begin until September, but I’m like a kid at Christmas when it comes to races—I couldn’t wait! Instead of risking injury by jump-starting into the high mileage weeks too early, I’ve multiplied the first six weeks of base building by two, altering them as needed.
For the sake of this journal, I will title last week’s training as “Week 1,” which makes for a 21-week training schedule, rather than an 18-week one.
This week was a step-back week for my long runs. The last two weeks have been 10 miles and 11 miles, so I am only supposed to run 8 this Saturday.
Monday: 3 miles, weights, abs
I woke up early for this run, and, after 30 minutes of searching for my headphones in a half-asleep stupor, I decided to run without them. I always forget how wonderful it is to run listening only to the sound of nature and your own feet as they hit the pavement. I decided to run the rest of the week without music.
I chose to start this week off right by running a very hilly route, although it definitely didn’t feel “right” at the time!
Tuesday: 5 miles.
I focused on pace, form (relaxed arms, unclenched hands), and keeping my breathing steady. I ended it by sprinting up a steep hill.
In the evening, my legs were feeling stiff, so I went for an hour walk to loosen my muscles—like running, walking is a great way to clear your mind, without the added impact on the joints.
Wednesday: 3 miles.
I decided on Monday to run the entire week without my headphones, but today I decided to make an even bigger sacrifice: I ran without my watch. I rarely do this because I like to keep track of my pace, but sometimes, especially on recovery runs, it’s nice to run for the sole purpose of running.
Thursday: 60 minutes of cross-training, weights.
I hit the gym for an hour on the spinning bike, varying speed and resistance.
Friday: 5 miles.
I woke up this morning, coming up with every reason that I should stay in bed and skip my run. They weren’t good enough. I hit the pavement and ran each mile 15 seconds faster than I ordinarily do. Sometimes the best workouts end up being the ones you want to skip.
Saturday: 9 miles.
My training plan called for eight, but, after I finished the eighth mile, I was feeling so great that I decided to run a “victory mile." While this additional mileage is okay for now, as my training steps out of my comfort zone, I won’t want to risk injury by adding unnecessary miles.
Total: 25 miles.
Conclusion: I’d like to continue running without music, although I don’t have a choice, I suppose, as the oh-so elusive headphones are still being, well, elusive; I can’t find them anywhere. I’m feeling comfortable with the training so far, but I am feeling anxiety about the longs runs to come that will exceed 13 miles, as a half-marathon is that farthest I’ve ever run. I’m just taking it one week at a time, and I’ve completely removed “I can’t” from my vocabulary.