Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to: run your first marathon

Bold Print:  I have no education, whatsoever, in exercise or physical anything.  I don’t even read running magazines.  I have to try VERY hard to follow my doctor’s advice when it comes to taking care of my legs/feet.  I am in no way an expert.


That being said…I did run my first marathon last May and it went so well, I want to do it again and again.  This is what I’d tell someone that was thinking of running a marathon.

1.  You CAN do it.  I made my decision after watching “Biggest Loser’s” marathon one year.  I thought:  if those people who were inactive and 350 lbs 4 months ago, then I can certainly do it.  What you don’t know yet is that you build really slowly.  You run 8 miles and then 10 miles and then you think “I can run 12, because it’s only 20 minutes more than I ran last week”. 

2.  Cross-train, cross-train, cross-train.  I cross-trained really hard and had no injuries, at all.  I felt like it was because I was working ALL of my muscles regularly, not just my running muscles, and so nothing was getting over-used and strained.  Others I know, who didn’t cross-train, got injuries.  Also, I was reading an article about running your first marathon, and the #2 thing they said to do, after checking with your doctor, is to begin weight lifting!  My cross-training included 2 days of serious weight-lifting and one day of boot camp.

3.  Use this plan:The Less-Is-More Training Program  .  It’s a 3 day a week training plan and I really liked it.  I felt like I never got burned out on running or was achy from pounding my feet 4-5 days a week.  You have to be running 4-6 miles to start it, and it starts at high mileage right from the start, but all of my friends, who trained with me and didn’t use my plan, want to use it for our next marathon.

4.  Convince SOMEONE to do it with you.  Those long runs were actually FUN to me, because I knew it was my alone time with my friends.  Plus, you want to talk about it non-stop, so you need someone who cares.

5.  Realize that your body will need to recover.  When I ran 15 miles on a Saturday morning, I was kind of useless until about 2:00 pm, after a long nap.  It’s a sacrifice for your family, so tell them thanks a lot.

6.  Research your marathon.  Don’t start out on a challenging, hilly, high-altitude one.  You can find ratings and opinions on sites like this.

7.  Download some new upbeat, dance-y tunes every few weeks.  “Rockstar” by Pink gets old after 115 miles of training.

8.  Good shoes.  Everyone who knows me, knows I get by on cheap.  You can’t go cheap on running shoes.  Go to a running store and have them fit you…it’s worth the extra $50, I promise.

9.  Don’t expect to lose weight.  Unless you are a boy. 

10.  Start early experimenting with food and liquid during your long run.  You want to have a fueling habit that your body can count on.  You can find books at the library or websites that will give you ideas on ideal marathon training nutrition.  (I ate a banana and a yogurt 30 minutes before each run, fueled during the run with G2 and jolly ranchers and tried to eat a complex carbohydrate—whole wheat bread/crackers within an hour of getting home.)


There you go!  It was so fun!  I get a giddy feeling in my stomach whenever I remember it and can’t wait to do Top of Utah in September of this year…anyone want to join me?

**More How-Tos:  Check Stie’s fun How-To Tuesday here.


Cami said...

That settles that.

Neeeeever gonna happen. Running is not my thing. I'd be thrilled with a 5k one day.

Me aside, this sounds like really sound advice. I liked that you put all this realistic expectations stuff. Sounds like you did it right.

Good for you on such an amazing goal!

Lisa-Marie said...

For some reason your disclaimer at the top gave me the giggles.

You're amazing and this is great advice.

Tristan said...

Running is so not my thing. I admire those that do marathons but you will never see me out there ;-)

But I did like your advice here!

Melissa B. said...

I am all over the half! I have yet to gain the need for a full. I have officially claimed myself as your official tour guide and cheerleader for Top of Utah !

DaNae said...

The top of Utah race rocks! The first 13 are EASY downhill and the view coming out of the canyon is amazing. If I was closer I totally would.

Lizzy said...

Very admirable...and I like your common sense approach. Congrats! :) e

Elizabeth said...

When I first read your recap of doing the marathon I was so inspired (and I still re read it when I need a boost). I am doubting my ability to do a 1/2 marathon at the moment... this was just what I needed. Thanks Jessica.

Adrianne said...

or if you're really cool, ditch the marathon and come run a Ragnar with me from SF to Calistoga in September... I just got home from the gym, almost puked after 20 minutes, but I have 6 months to train, so I'll make it, right?? Like the advice about cross-training and eating. I've been wondering, how does no sugar fit into the training plan?

Linsey said...

Jessica, you're my hero! Adr, you're running a Ragnar? Holy cow! You guys are amazing. AMAZING. I'm planning to run a 5K this June and I feel really cool just for even attempting it.

Christie said...

It is wrong that you don't lose any weight, isn't it? I ran the St. George in 2004 and it killed me that I didn't drop a SINGLE POUND. But I have no desire to do one again. You are a rock star. This was an awesome post. I loved it.

Robin said...

this is super duper cool!

Lauren in GA said...

It is pretty unfair that women don't lose weight...I guess it is all muscle...

I found this fascinating. I really admire how you do your research. You are very wise...all of your research helped ensure you would not get injured.

Seriously...I think that this post will help a lot of people.

Camden said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm training for my 5th...and am SO burned out. Your Less-is-More program is just what I need right now. Started this morning with a 5 mile tempo! Best run in weeks.

Also, I did Top of Utah a couple of years ago. Great race, run well (by my training partner's brother), super pretty. However, I won't do it again for two reasons: 1) a Spetember race means all my long runs are July/August which is brutal in Dallas. 2) Again, I live in Dallas and don't have a good way to train for the downhill. Truly. Don't let the first 13 down miles fool you. I heard but didn't heed all the caution about taking it easy on the downhills. I just thought, "Oh, this is that race day kick I've always read about but have never had!" By mile 20 my quads were so far gone that I was in tears and had to literally hand-lift my legs at points.

Have a grat time, just make sure you get in plenty of hills, ups and downs, first.

Carie said...

I have run 3 halfs. And so far have no desire to run a whole. That said, This post is super helpful for training for my #4. I am really interested in the less is more training program and love the idea of extra cross training and weight lifting. Great post.

Alisa said...

I loved reading that. I always thought I would never do a marathon but the more half marathons I do the more I think "i could do it". I know training for it is like another job and takes time out so I'm not sure I am ready to do it quite yet with all the little bodies I have in my house all day long. One day, and maybe one day we can do one together. Oh and my friend just moved over there. I'm not sure how close she is to you but she is a crazy runner. Oh wait one more thing. I totally agree with the cross training. All my runner friends who just run are always hurt. K my novel is done.

Kristyn said...

Hi there! I clicked over from Christie's blog, and I love this post and have to tell you one thing! Are you a reader? I'm currently reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and I'm in love with this book. It has permanently changed everything I thought about running. AND, the form it talks about in it (the POSE method) has decresed my speed by like 20 seconds per mile, without even working as hard as I'd think. Read it, you'll love it.

Jacki said...

So I always thought that marathon runners are crazy people, and I still feel that way a little bit, but I am starting to do triathlons right now and I have to say it is so fun to train for those! I can't wait for the race. I used to say that I would NEVER run a marathon, but now I am not so sure... Here are my thoughts on the matter though.

1. 20 minutes is all I can run at one time, so to just tell myself "oh that is 20 more minutes more than last week" would be telling myself to just double my run...

4. I was trying to find someone to do the sprint with but all my friends are pregnant right now... BUMMER!

7. Good reminder! Even though, I am only running a 5k, music makes a world of difference!

8. Yes! Agreed.

9. Or just had a baby. Granted I am just trying to get back to my non-baby-fat weight.

Jamie said...

Great post. I have always thought running a marathon would be an incredible achievement, but one out of my grasp. I may have to rethink that philosphy. If I can work up to 4 to 6 miles...hmmmm But you're right, if the Biggest Loser contestants can do it, surely I can as well.

jessica said...

I have our marathon picture up in my kitchen so I can remember it everyday...training with friends is the Best part of it!

You know I'll be eating your dust during Top of Utah...but it will still be fun!