What It’s Like Training for a Marathon
Back in May, I was having a conversation with one of Aaron's friends (Aaron is my fiancé for those who may be new!) and somehow, the topic of a half marathon came into the mix. I'm not sure what misfired in my brain that night, but I thought "a half marathon is not hard enough, why not just do a full and go the full distance?" That night I decided I was going to do a marathon. Once I had decided, I did some research and realized I wanted to join a local running group. With that, here's a little peek into my current running routine.
It's Saturday morning, around 3:45 AM. My alarm just went off and I'm trying to sneak out of bed without waking up Aaron. I try my hardest to slowly get out of bed without causing anything to creak and without shaking the bed too much. He's a light sleeper, so I'm trying to be careful. Verrry careful. Once I achieve the impossible, I slowly back away from the bed trying not to make any part of the bed creak. I laid out all my clothes for this morning's run, last night, so I gently grab my running shorts (either Lululemon or Brooks), my shirt for the day (likely Brooks), my socks (always Balega), my watch (Garmin), the sports bra (either Brooks or Sweaty Betty) and I walk down the stairs. I am slowly and softly trying to get downstairs without making much noise. The scared cat (we have 2) always dashes upstairs as I come downstairs which is so annoying because his run makes so much noise, and usually undoes my careful crawl out of bed. I have the same thought every morning when he does this. Idiot cat. Somehow I've finally done the impossible. Made it downstairs without waking Aaron. Maybe. I still have several things to do, before I leave the house to meet my running group.
First I brush my teeth and cleanse my face. It's so important to wash the previous night's skincare off my face before working out - otherwise my pores will be clogged as I'm sweating and this is the quickest way to breakouts. It's one of the reasons I held off getting back into fitness for so long. Acne on my face. After I finish this, I start lathering sunscreen on my face and any parts of my body that will be uncovered. This is typically my arms and legs, so it takes a couple minutes. Once this is done, I use an anti-chaffing stick on the insides of my thighs. Since my thighs touch during my runs, I have to use this stick to ensure it's not painful. The rubbing is inevitable but this anti-chaffing stick is a LIFESAVER. Seriously, you need this if your workouts ever affect the inner thigh area. Not to mention this can be used on any part of the body. Sports bra causing chaffing? You can use this. Shoes causing some kind of chaffing? Use this stick! I pack some energy gel into my Nathan vest. I grab my cold water bag from the fridge and put it inside my vest, nice and secure. I grab one of my many sunglasses (honestly I can run in most of them) and put that in my vest pocket. I have my wallet and cellphone in hand, and I'm ready to go. Waiiit, I also need to grab a headlight since it's dark AF outside. Ok, now I'm ready.
It's approximately 4:30 AM at this point and again, I have to sneakily leave the house without waking Aaron. I gently unlock the door, open the door slightly just to get outside so not too much light comes in, and then gently close and lock up. I jump into my car and I'm on my way to this morning's run site. As soon as I arrive, I jump out and do some dynamic stretches and get my legs warmed up. This morning we're only going 9 miles (I say only but I am tired on the inside just thinking about 9 miles!) At some point, this run will be 20.
I feel lucky to be a part of the Southwest Endurance Training group. After everyone arrives and is warmed up, we go over the morning's route and then we take off as a group. The first few minutes are not pleasant to be completely honest. My body would rather be asleep and laying in bed right now, not on the road, but that feeling will soon pass. It's not long before we organically separate into smaller groups. I'm doing 5:1 today (5 minutes running, 1 minute walk) throughout the 9 mile workout. Half way through I'm realizing maybe a 4:1 should have been my go-to since the 5 is quickly depleting my energy. My goal is to get to 9:1 or 10:1 in time for the marathon, but we will see if I can keep up that longevity. At some point of these 9 miles, I zone out for a while, listen to a podcast, maybe some music. I realize I've gone another 2 miles, and I'm starting to feel so tired. How many more miles do I have?
I passed someone a while ago, and I'm not seeing anyone up ahead. Wait, there's someone on their way back. I hope they'll tell me it's not much longer to the turnaround point. Pleeeease tell me I can turn around soon. Sure enough he says another quarter mile, and then I can head back. Thank goodness. I was just starting to question how much further I had to go. There's just something magical about that final turnaround point when you know you're only a few miles away from the end. It's glorious.
Once I've turn around and gone about half a mile, I realize I have my last 2 miles ahead of me. I can feel the inside of my ankle starting to get tired. I've gotten to the point in the run where my heels are taking the hit on each step, versus the front and middle of my foot. This causes the pressure on my ankle, but surprisingly I catch my second wind. One of my favorite quotes about running is from William James.
"Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second."
It's true. That second wind gets me through those last 2 miles, and there's a slight downhill. I feel lucky, and I think the endorphins are getting to me. As I see the end of my run, I pick up the pace even though I'm completely and utterly exhausted. I'm just excited to be done with 9 miles today. I grab an ice cold towel out of the cooler, and I just enjoy breathing while standing with this towel on my face and neck. Ahhhh, sweet relief. I'm completely drenched in sweat, it's almost 7:30 AM and the sun is starting to shine directly on me. The beads of sweat are collecting, and I can feel myself cool down. I then start to feel the mosquitoes trying to attack my legs (one of you recently told me O+ blood type gets bitten more often because mosquitoes enjoy our sweeter blood. Lucky me!) More of the team is coming back now, and we're all cooling down. I'm starting to get hungry, but I'm also feeling like I need a nap immediately. I didn't prepare for this properly. I should have had carbs last night, maybe even a bagel this morning. It was just too early to eat at 4 AM. Next time I'll make sure to make it happen because I don't like feeling this tired. I could honestly take a nap right in my car.
Once I've stretched, cooled down, and said my goodbyes to the group, I lay the towel on my car seat and take off. I pick up something for breakfast and hurry home to make some coffee. I need to foam roll as soon as possible since my ankles are sore and my right calve is tight. I grab the roller (this part is not fun) and I roll out the knots and kinks in my legs. I like to ice my legs a little too, just to destress the areas. Once I've done all this, I sip on my coffee and enjoy breakfast. It's now 9 or 10 AM, and I've been awake for over 5 hours and I got my workout in. Something about this somewhat ridiculous routine is rewarding and quite satisfying. It's not easy, definitely not easy. But it's worth it. I don't think people will understand my thoughts on this but there's a special magic to running.
"These running shoes have magic in them - the power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle." - Mina Samuels
There's not much quite like it. Here's a peek into what a week of workouts looks like:
Monday 5 mile tempo run
Tuesday Crosstrain or run 3 miles
Wednesday Track workout or 5 miles
Thursday 3 miles
Friday Cross train
Saturday 10 miles
I follow this schedule regularly, and the distances will be increasing over time. Looking forward to having completed 15 miles on a Saturday in a few weeks. No big deal. Just kidding, I'll need to nap the rest of the day after 15 miles...you think I'm kidding.