If you follow me on social media (Twitter & Instagram), you'll know that for the past three months I had been training for a marathon and well...I did it! Honestly I can't believe that I trained for and COMPLETED a marathon in three months, I wasn't sure how long I would last when I first started and it feels so good to know that I followed through and completed it. If you follow my blog, you'll also know that years ago when I was eight I became incredibly ill with pneumonia in both of my lungs. It left my lungs pretty damaged with all the fluid, I had been put on steroids in the form of inhalers to help repair my breathing--which caused me to gain some weight which overall led to my disordered eating. Over the years, my lungs became much stronger however I have and will always feel that they will never be as strong (however I don't know because I've never been to a pulmonologist to make sure) so the fact that I was able to accomplish this goal is amazing. For those of you who would like to complete a marathon but feel you can't due to physical activity level, age, or any other factors I'm here to tell you the only thing that's stopping you is yourself. Before I started my marathon, I was already pretty active however running was not my thing. The farthest I had run before training started was about three miles, when the four and five miler runs came up I thought I was going to struggle with them and at first I did. However as the weeks went by and my body began to adapt, those runs became a piece of cake. This week, I want to give you all my biggest tips on how I went from walker to marathoner in 90 days.
Hydration is SO important when running, especially long distance running. The first thing I did every morning when I got up (and I did this even before training), is drink a glass of water. It's the best way to wake your body and your internal organs to help improve function. Everyone says to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, I'm personally not sure whether I drink exactly eight or more glasses of water per day for I drink out of my glass BKR water bottle, however I drank two full glass water bottles before my run. It's most important to make sure you hydrate starting two hours before you run. My husband and I would run after he got off work at four, so at starting at two I would really start to chug some water down. It helps you out in the long run (hahaha figuratively and literally) and gives you the ATP energy you need.
Our diet was KEY to our success in completing this marathon in three months. At the beginning of Covid-19, my husband and I decided to go vegetarian for the month, it's been eight months and we're still going strong. I tried going pescatarian twice in the span of these past eight months and honestly, it was not worth it. Shortly after we gave up meat, we started to try out some vegan recipes and that soon became our lifestyle. Yes, my husband and I are now vegan and honestly, I owe that to our success in our marathon. Once you cut out meat and dairy from your diet, you notice almost immediately a change in how you feel. You have more energy, your mood is elevated, and there's no bloating. If you don't believe me, I'd highly recommend giving "The Game Changers" on Netflix a watch. This was a key documentary that really inspired us to change for it really opened our eyes to see how these products affect us health wise and as a society.
Another key player in our diet was the consumption of whole carbohydrates. You heard me, the so called "devil" of the food chain is required in your daily diet to achieve optimum performance. Years ago I thought that carbs were the enemy and I sworn off bread and anything related to bread and guess what, I was EXHAUSTED almost all the time. I would take several naps and on top of that would go to bed early. People started to refer to me as the old lady, at age 18. Our bodies require carbohydrates to function, not just to have more energy to get up and move around but they're required for our brains as well. It's vital to make sure you load up on carbohydrates before a run, however it's even more important that it's a whole carbohydrate as opposed to a simple one for it takes longer to break down resulting in you having energy for longer. Examples of whole carbohydrates include but not limited to whole wheat pasta/rice, quinoa, oats, and barley. Even fruits are considered a carbohydrate and make a great snack!
The obvious, yet MOST important piece of gear that you need to have is proper footwear. Proper running shoes are key to making sure you accomplish those miles and help prevent against injury. The shoes I highly recommend are Altra running and trail running shoes, they are amazing quality and can take much damage and wear/tear before falling apart. On top of the shoe they have a velcro strap that helps hold the foot in place as you run as opposed to moving around all over the place.
On short runs that are under five miles, you really only need yourself and your GPS watch/phone. On anything above five miles, you may need to bring a small water bottle; anything above ten miles, I would bring a water pack and possibly some gel packs. Cliff makes amazing gel packs with delicious flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Other flavors such as mocha and double espresso are filled with caffeine to give your body that added boost. If you're going on long runs, splitting up some gel packs in between a couple of miles is a great way to give your body some more energy to keep going. It's important to remember with the caffeinated gel packs to drink water along with them to avoid dehydration.
Post first 15 mile run
Technique in running is incredibly important for it helps protect your joints from damage. Every runner will experience little twinges in their knees, and a little twinge is okay however if and when it starts to worsen you need to re-evaluate your technique and/or take a breather and walk it out. There are important things to recognize in your technique while running and they include:
-making sure you have a bent knee
-do not land on your back heel, try to land on the midsection of your foot to prevent knee and hip injury
-take smaller steps to conserve your energy and protect your hips and knees
-bend over very slightly to protect your joints
If you stick to these techniques as you run, then you'll be sure to safely complete your run!
5. Ice. Ice. Baby.
ICE. ICE. ICE. Overtime, your joints will begin to take a hit especially if this is your first time doing big runs as this. It's important in the recovery process to be sure to ice anywhere that may be bothering you. Ice is far better than a heating pad for heat just further inflames the already inflamed area, whereas ice helps reduce the inflammation.
In addition with icing, CBD cream and oil was amazing in aiding my joints during my training. For those of you who are unsure what CBD is, it's short for cannabidiol and it helps in reducing inflammation in the body both externally and internally. This was a huge lifesaver for my joints, even with proper technique my body was not used to running long and hard miles so my joints did take a hit. Almost every night, I put cream on my knees and hips and by the next day, they wouldn't be achey.
6. Stop. Stretch. And roll.
This was something that I struggled with to do after every run, however I cannot express how important it is. There were several times the day after a run that my calves were sore beyond belief, it was very hard to walk some days. After a run, even if it was a 20 miler and you're exhausted, you need to stretch and roll out to prevent any lactic acid buildup that causes all the soreness. Trust me, you'll thank me and appreciate it the day after!
7. Active Recovery Days
When the weekly mileage starts to increase, recovery becomes most important so your body has time to heal and muscles can re-build so you can go through the wear and tear again. On days that you have off, it's crucial to still be active. This could include going for walks with your loved ones, friends, or dog; or you could do some yoga to help stretch out your muscles. Whatever your floats your boat, just as long as you keep active. I will not recommend however utilizing weights, such as weight lifting for this is another grueling exercise on the body and too much work can lead to damage.
Overall, this was an amazing experience and I'm so proud of myself for accomplishing this goal. I never thought that I would be able to train for, let alone finish a marathon and yet I did. The biggest challenge in training for a marathon is your mentality. At the beginning of every long run (such as 15 and 18 milers), I would think to myself, "Oh God there's no way I'm going to make it", "this is going to take FOREVER", etc. Ironically, I would fly through those runs once I got in the groove of it and even completed an 18 mile run in a little under four hours. On the other hand, when I ran my first 20 miler I was not in a great headspace and could not get in the groove and it ended up taking me six hours to complete it. So mentality is KEY to completing a marathon and any long runs. If I can go from normal physical activity level to a marathoner, I believe anyone can, it's all about your headspace. Another great part about this is that I completed this marathon during Covid-19, which definitely helped keep my mind off of what was going on in the world. Now more than ever is the time to take the reigns and accomplish those goals that we so badly wanted to achieve: whether it be to revamp your backyard, start a YouTube channel, or begin marathon training-the only thing that stands in the way is yourself. Go out and achieve those goals! As always, peace and love to you all 🕊🤍
You can run a sprint or you can run a marathon, but you can't sprint a marathon.
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