My First Marathon – Lessons Learned

first marathon lessons learnedI’ve been reflecting a lot on my training and first marathon and thinking about what I’ll repeat and what I’ll change when I start training for my second one later this year.  Now that I know more of what to expect, I’m really excited to train again and improve my performance!

What I’ll Repeat

Long runs with groups. There were a few long runs I did solo and they were much harder.  I really enjoyed meeting up with different people and trying different routes.  I’ll definitely be running with MARC a lot!

Going to bed early and not being ashamed of it.  During the peak of training I often went to bed around 8-8:30.  My body really needed the extra sleep and once I stopped trying to fight that, it really helped my body.

Monthly deep tissue massages.  This is actually something I plan to do from now on, but it definitely was both a nice treat to myself and good for my body.

Foam rolling every single night.  I started this toward the end of training and noticed after just a few days how great my legs felt.  I timed myself to make sure I spent enough time – I spent at least one minute on each area (ie left quad for one minute).  It takes discipline to do it but it made a difference.

Rotating between two pairs of shoes.  I got my shoe model in two different colors, and hooked up one pair with flashing lights and reflective laces – these were my shoes for my runs during the week (always in the early morning).  The other pair were just for long runs.  It was nice to have a “fresh” pair for the weekend.  AND, since my mid-week mileage added up to the mileage I did on the weekend, it was easy to keep even miles on the two pairs.

Wearing a custom shirt during the race.  This was awesome! We had shirts that had our names and our goal on the back and we got so much support from other runners.  It was a welcome distraction during parts of the race that had sparse crowd support.

Have family/friends ready to jump in and run with me.  If I can recruit people again, this would be awesome! It was nice to have support along the course, but I felt bad that my cheer system waited for awhile in the rain just to see us for 30 seconds or so.  I enjoyed the times that we had people join us for a couple of miles and it really gave me a good pick-me up.

Run no matter the weather.  For the most part, I didn’t move runs unless safety was a concern.  I did one of my long runs in the rain, and since it rained on race day, I was glad I did!

Have a ride waiting at the finish.  We originally had planned to take public transportation but Christina’s friend showed up and drove us back to the hotel.  This was so freakin amazing.  I can’t even begin to imagine taking public transportation after that marathon.

Have a playlist for the final 10k.  I made a special playlist for the last part of my marathon and it really helped me push through!

What I’ll Do Differently

– Have more non-running conversation & time with my boyfriend.  It was easy to become obsessed with training since it was all so new to me.  Brian was super supportive but as a non-runner, I know he got tired of hearing about my training.  I’m going to propose date nights on nights where I know I’ll have energy and make an effort to talk about other things besides my running during those times.  I need to learn how to shut off my mind from training to really relax!

Log food.  I gained a bit of weight during training and I know I was overeating.  Running first thing in the morning made justifying poor food choices really easy.  I also want to really figure out what works for me and what doesn’t for training.

Try different mid-race fuel.  I stuck to what I knew during last training (Shot Bloks) but all the sugar made me feel queasy toward the end of the race.  Ideally, I’d like to try to make my own bars, but we’ll see how it goes.

Add strength, cross-training, and mobility into my schedule.  My biggest regret from marathon number one was that I cut out strength training when my mileage got high.  I was right in that I needed to give my body a break, but cutting out strength was not the way to do it.  Having IT band issues starting at mile 7 was unacceptable to me, especially since I didn’t have any issues all of training.  I know that if it’s not on the schedule, it won’t happen….so it’s getting added to the plan.  I also didn’t do cross training or mobility and I want to be sure I balance myself out.

Look VERY closely at the elevation chart of the race.  When I looked at the chart for DC, I assumed it was very flat with the exception of two large hills.  I was super surprised on race day how hilly it actually was.  Closer inspection of the chart the day after revealed that the two large hills skewed the Y axis of the chart and made the rest of the race look flat.  I want to be sure I’m mentally prepared for the terrain.

– Give Brian a list of things I want to be sure to do after the race.  I was so disoriented I didn’t get a picture of Chrissy and I with our medals (besides the official photo) and also, I totally didn’t even think about stretching.  I don’t want to forget anything!

Have liquid calories available for after the race.  I was really surprised at how upset my stomach was and how little of an appetite I had.  I couldn’t eat the burger I really thought I would want and had to send Brian to the store to get me a couple of protein shakes.  This time, I’ll find a way to make my own high-calorie shake and have it ready at the finish.  Since we have a lot of friends in Richmond, I’m hoping I’ll be able to borrow a blender to make this happen!

So, that’s what I’m thinking for Marathon #2.  What tips do you have on training for my second marathon?  

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