26.2 Things I Learned While Training for a Marathon

As many of you may already know I (Laura) ran my second marathon this past weekend in Minnesota—but it was the first marathon I actually trained for. (Last time I was kind of stupid about it.) I have learned so much about running in the last 6 months, it’s crazy! And yes, for those of you who know me I did work at a running store for 7 years and I thought I knew all there is to know about running. Apparently, if you train for a marathon, you learn even more. If you are ever looking for a fall race I would HIGHLY recommend the Twin Cities Marathon or 10- mile. J I was fortunate enough to have a perfect day for running, and Twin Cities Marathon truly is the most beautiful urban marathon. The sights were breathtaking.

26.2 Things I Learned While Training for a Marathon

1. Have a training plan: for this marathon I used Hal Higdon’s marathon training program and LOVED it!! It’s nice to have a set plan so you aren’t making things up as you go—someone else who is more experienced has already done the hard work for us!

2. Trust your training program: That experienced runner who designed your program knows what they are doing—trust them! If it says rest—REST! If it says run 20 miles—don’t do 22 miles because you feel good!

3. Have your routes planned out ahead of time: There is nothing worse then going out for a run and constantly checking your watch to see how far you’ve gone, when you need to turn around, or if you need to add more onto your run because you haven’t hit your miles yet. I religiously use mapmyrun.com to map out all my runs because I’d rather run an extra .3 miles then be short a half mile and need to run past my house.

4. Find a training buddy: Many of us, when we decide to run a marathon we have a friend, family member, or co-worker who makes the commitment with you. Some of us may live in a different state as the person we are “running” with but it is important to have someone to occasionally run with, and someone to hold you accountable for your runs. There are days you don’t feel like running and it makes it a little easier when you can text/call that person to get some motivation from them!

5. Don’t get caught up in anyone else’s pace but your own: It is so easy to get caught up in someone else’s pace on race day, remember to do your own pace—don’t go out too fast, but don’t be afraid to push your comfort zone either. Listen to how your body feels!

6. Find the right shoes and don’t change them: It really is amazing the difference your shoes make on your body. Once you find the right pair DO NOT switch them up during your training. You should buy a new pair of the same shoe towards the end of your training program so you have “fresh” shoes to run in on race day that only have about 50 or so miles on them.

7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Water/electrolytes are SO important while training. Especially if you are training in the summer—carry water with you, drop water bottles out on the course before you run, or ask a friend to meet you at different mile markers and bring you water.

8. Body glide is the best stuff EVER: whoever was the first to use body glide is a GENIUS. I never really used it until I started training for a marathon (probably because my body never had a chance to chaff/get blisters until now)—but now I’m in love.

9. You become very comfortable talking about your bodily functions

10. You realize some things you ask your running partner are just weird: “Did you glide yet?” “Is it time to gel?” “I have created a list of things for us to talk about on our long run… got anything to add?

11. Not going out on Friday nights is AWESOME: when you have your long run on Saturday morning all you want to do is get to bed on Friday night—not go out and party with your friends.

12. Practice your race day routine before every long run: Once race day comes you should know what kinds of foods work with your body and what don’t, you should also know what socks/clothes you want to wear as well. (Stay away from COTTON!!)

13. Sometimes staying in on Saturday is just as AWESOME: not saying you shouldn’t have a social life—you just realize that Saturday morning you were up at 6 am to run 18 miles and the last thing you want to do is be awake until midnight. Still go out and have a drink with you friends, but staying out late doesn’t have to happen—I promise they will understand too! J

14. Your body has never felt the type of stiffness and soreness as it will after your marathon: Take a day or two off to relax—but don’t just sit around, it’s best to try and keep moving even if it is a waddle!

15. Invest in a foam roller and a stick: They might be one of the best investments you make for the next 4 months—you will probably use them daily, especially after your race!

16. Run on the course before race day: If you have the opportunity to run any of the marathon course during your training program, do it! It’s fun to think about the excitement you’ll feel on race day, and then on race day its awesome to think about how far you’ve come in the last 4 months.

17. Headbands are a MUST: nothing worse than running with sweat dripping down your face and getting in your eyes. And its always a plus when the headbands are adorable—my favorites are Urban Halo, LEDBetter, and Bolder Bands

18. Music/GPS isn’t always needed: Some runs are just nice without worrying about your pace and getting lost in nature. My easy runs I try to do without my GPS and if I am running with a friend I usually won’t bring music so that way we can chat.

19. Cross training is SUPER important: it is important that you listen to your body and do not over do it, and cross training is a great way to give your body a rest from the impact and change it up a bit. My favorite cross training is yoga and weight lifting.

20. The crowed on race day is awesome; shoot race day in general is awesome!

21. Your support crew is a huge help to get you to the finish line: the more friends and family you have out on the course the more you have to look forward to and the more high fives you can give out!

22. Set goals for yourself throughout the program AND race day: Goals are ALWAYS important and you feel so accomplished when you meet those goals.

23. You can wear a garbage bag to the start and not stick out like a sore thumb: If it is going to be chilly or raining at the start a garbage bag is a must! My dad always calls it his personal sauna so he stays warm. No need to feel silly wearing one because chances are—most experienced runners will have one on too.

24. Gel, blocks, beans: which ever form you prefer it doesn’t matter—just find what works for you/your body and use them, they make a huge difference! (I am a big fan of GU gels.)

25. Runners might be some of the nicest people on the planet—use the runners wave often! 🙂 

26. On race day give more high fives than you ever thought possible: seriously though! High five other runners and all the cute little kids who are out there cheering you on! When I was little I was that little kid who wanted all the high fives and thought it was AWESOME when runners would give me high fives. Now I am the runner who needs those high fives for some energy

26.2. HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!