Friday, January 10, 2014

22 Marathon Running Tips-From a Frumpy Non-Runner

Last year about this time, I decided to run a marathon. (Read all about it here) There's a lot of great expert advice out there.  Here's some non-expert advice from a frumpy 40-year old mom that HATES all matters of exercise and has never experienced a "runner's high" in her entire life.

1. Check out Hal Higdon's Website-better yet read some of his books.

2. Treat your long runs as dress rehearsals for the marathon.  Drink, eat, and wear what you will during the race.

3. Have a good partner. I would not pick someone that I was trying to attract.  Running long distances makes your body do really gross things and none of it was pretty. 

4. Recorded books.  I listened to music for the first few months, but running for endless hours is boring. I always ran slower when I listened to books on tape, but it helped w/ the boredom on days I had to run alone.  I highly recommend teenage romance novels involving the paranormal or the end of the world. BTW My husband never listened to anything when he trained for his-he says it helped him focus.

5.  Tell everyone you know that you are running a marathon-people will want to support and encourage you.

6. Cotton bras, socks, and panties are not your friends.  Buy the stuff that is designed to pull the moisture away from your body. I wanted to avoid TMI, so I will try to put this as delicately as possible: sweaty panties and dehydrated women tend to cause all manner of feminine problems. 

7. Seams are your mortal enemies. Under 10 miles they are fine, but especially on any runs longer than 15 miles each little seam will start to act and feel like a tiny razor blade-especially in the more delicate places on your body.

8. Bring a good support staff-they can bring your chopstick, sunglasses, hats, towels, etc. Our husbands stood on the sidelines at several points in the race and it helped me pick up my pace and ignore the pain.

8.  Eat some good fiber the day before so you can go to the bathroom before the race-it is so much better than during the race.

9.  Don't sprint at the beginning.  (It harder than you'd think).  

10.  Buy a Garmin GPS  watch-I was too lazy to chart out distances.  I loved that it kept track of my time and pace.  My favorite feature is that it told me how many calories I burned. Toward the end, I had some pretty impressive numbers.

11. Dedicate each mile to someone.  I picked people that were going through hard times-chemo, sick kids, custody battles, divorce, and those people that have to suffer having me as an immediate family member.
12. Pick a battle cry.  Mine started as "I can do hard things", then evolved from "I will do hard things" to "I do hard things." When it got tough (basically any time I was running), I would repeat over and over "I do hard things."  

19. Have someone on call to come and pick you up in case of emergency on your long runs.

14. Map out your training schedule and be realistic about other time commitments. I did a 30 week plan and from week 22-27, running became all consuming.  I was either preparing to run, running, or recovering from running.  I was exhausted and took lots of naps.

15.  Pick a nice flat race on a day that works best for you.  My husband ran in Fargo, ND and I drove 4 hours to Abilene and it was better than running a tougher course close to home at a time that wouldn't work as well with our training.

16. Take it Glucosamine and Chondroitin (guess you should ask your doctor).  I don't know if it is just a placebo effect, but it really seems to help my knees.  It does take a week or so for you to notice a difference

17.  So normally a pair of shoes may last you a few years-but if you log this many miles, you are going to need to replace them every few hundred miles.  About week 22, I thought that I might not be able to keep going I was so sore, but I bought new shoes and I wasn't as sore. I normally wear a 7 1/2.  On shorter  faster, runs, I wear an 8 and on long runs an 81/2. 

18.  We noticed the first part of our bodies that got in shape were our lungs.  Pretty quickly, we got to the point where we weren't breathing hard and could talk normally.  Next our muscles got in shape.  I wasn't any more sore after the first time I ran 18 than when I ran 7. (After 20 it was another story-but even then I was fine after about 24 hours).  Finally our skeletal systems were strong enough to be able to run 26.2 miles.  People that don't train end up actually breaking bones.

Me in all my post-marathon glory
19 . Accept the fact that running a marathon is going to be grueling and awful.  It's not like learning a new skill where it's really hard in the beginning and gets easier until it's no big deal.  I never got the "runners-high" and it never got any easier.  If you hate running 1 mile, you're going to hate running 26.2 miles.  Also understand that it is just as much mental as physical.  It will be awful-but you can do it and when it is finally over you will feel amazing.

20. Drink.  Under 5 miles, I wouldn't carry anything.  Over 5, I had a fanny pack with attached water bottles.  Over 10, I used a Camelback.  Over 15,  I would do stash more water at my house and loop back to catch it up.  In retrospect, I should have trained more with Gatorade, since that's what they had during the race.  (I didn't want to deal with getting sticky or stained.)

21. I never really got the food thing figure out. The entire idea of gel packs grossed me out and they give several of my friends heartburn and gas.  I trained w/ gummy bears and pretzels, but I think the race might have gone better if I would have found some sort of gel that worked for me.

22. Finally don't set a time goal.  Your only goal should be to complete it and you don't want to feel like you failed because you ran it a little slower.   Set a time goal for your next one.

There you have it-there's all my advice. Good Luck!


  1. Congrats on finishing a marathon! I've done half a marathon, but that was a L O N G time ago! While I like distance running, my current "drug of choice" is Cross Fit. I plan to add 5K's into my fitness plan for 2014. We'll see if I can find time for everything. ;-) -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  2. I'm still so happy you did this - I love the seams and sweaty panty advice!

    1. it's not something anyone warned me about and I so wish they had:)

  3. Very useful article buddy keep it up I came to know a website that are having good motivational Books on Hill Running and other motivational contents..

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