I can't believe my first marathon is less than one week away. I remember signing up just a couple of weeks ago; somehow that time flew by without me even noticing it and I don't quite feel 100% ready. But then again - I don't think I would ever feel ready to run 42.195 kilometers. At least I'll be running the race with Vic whom I ran my first half marathon with in April 2015 (we were inseparable the entire race and went through he finish line hand in hand). She decided straight after that race to sign up for the Lausanne Marathon this coming Sunday, but I politely opted out of her offer to join yet again. It was only about a month ago that I changed my mind and decided to do it after all. If not now, when ever am I going to do it, right?
Given my spontaneous sign up, I haven' really had a lot of time to train. Thank god I've been working out 5-6 x a week in some form or another for the last two years, otherwise this mission would be slightly suicidal.
My plan consisted of 2 runs a week, following Vic's advice; 1 short (7-10km) and 1 medium (12-18km). Every second week I swapped the medium run for 1 long run of 18-30km. Note: I only had a month to train and the last week you aren't really supposed to do any major runs, so this schedule only allowed for 5-6 short & medium runs and 1-2 big runs. Not a lot of time to train for a marathon!
Besides the long distance training, building muscle and strength across your entire body is also really important in preparation for a race. What good is having unlimited endurance if your muscles feel like bricks half way through the race? That's why the rest of my days were filled with the usual weight lifting workouts, body pump classes and yoga. I also went to weekly spinning classes, which are a good preparation for a race as it trains your endurance without putting too much pressure on your knees. This is also where I got my HIIT training in. Spinning classes incorporate a lot of interval training, something that can improve your long distance performance dramatically. If you don't have the chance to go to a spinning class, I highly recommend getting the Global Cycle Coach App. You can purchase workouts of different lengths/intensity's with different trainers and it literally feels like you are in an actual class. It's so much more motivating than sitting on a bike and just cycling away without a real plan.
Basically, my marathon training looked like this
- Monday: Short 7-10km run
- Tuesday: Yoga class
- Wednesday: 1h spinning class
- Thursday: Medium 12-18km or Long 18-30km run
- Friday: Upper Body Weight Session
- Saturday: Yoga class
- Sunday: Lower Body Weight Session
So, how has it been going?
So far, so good. Vic and I ran our longest distance ever two weeks ago with 30km in 2:50 h. We didn't expect to do it in under 3h, so we were very positively surprised. Thought I do find it extremely hard to imagine myself running for another 12km...After the first 10km my shoulder suddenly started acting up (I think I had a nerve impingement), from 15km onwards my leg muscles started getting really heavy, at 21km my knees and ankles began to hurt & on the very last kilometre I got a stitch in my side that wouldn't go away until the end. But I think that this run was really important in terms of mental preparation - it taught me that it's so much more about the mental struggle than the physical struggle. There were a couple of points where I was contemplating on stopping, but instead I pushed through and after a couple kilometres the pain disappeared and I felt good again. Mind over matter!
In summary, these are a couple of my tips on how to prepare for a race
Get proper running shoes
I used to have the worst shin splints from running with the wrong shoes. In fact, I was already signed up for a half marathon twice before I actually ran one on my 3rd attempt because of the bad inflammation in my shins. I went to physiotherapy for a while, started incorporating ice baths and stretched more after my runs, but this only alleviated my pain slightly. Only once I got a gait analysis, a test where they film you running on a treadmill to see where your foot needs support and which shoe would fit you best (I bought these Asics as a result), did my shins improve. Which brings me to my next point..
This one was an absolute game changer for me. I was pretty dismissive of compression socks before and didn't think that they would actually make a different. But after having been given them as a present from friends and trying them out, there was no going back. It was like all my issues disappeared! Now I don't ever run without them, not even for a quick 5km run. I am currently using this model from Nike and am very happy with them.
Fuel your body with the right foods
One of the best parts about running is the excuse to eat as many carbs as you please. Giving your body the right fuel at the right time can make all the difference when it comes to your speed and endurance. I'm going to carb load this entire week and pay particular attention to my meal the night before the race and the morning of; I'll probably have some brown rice or buckwheat pasta dish the night before and a warming oatmeal with bananas on the morning of the race. It is important to eat your last meal about 3-4 h before the race so that your body has enough time to digest; ideally you should need to go to the bathroom one last time right before the race starts.
Get a running buddy
I honestly don't know how I would run this race without Vic by my side. When you are half way through a long run and you just want to give up, it's the best thing to have someone by your side who keeps pushing you and gives you a little pep talk. So find yourself a friend, partner, colleague or family member and get training together.
That's it for now! I'll keep you updated throughout the week on my Instagram & will make sure to write a post-run post about. If you've ran a marathon before and have any tips, I'd love to hear them!