Training for My First Marathon

marathon winnerBack in April, about 3 months after my daughter Aryn was born (which happened to coincide with about 3 months of not enough sleep, little exercise, and way too much coffee and junk food to get me through each day) I decided it was time to get my butt off the couch and reinstill some good health habits.  I decided that for the next 40 days I would cut out just about all carbs, limit myself to 2 cups of coffee a day, force myself to go bed at a reasonable hour, and exercise 4 days a week.

At end of the 40 days I had dropped 10 pounds, had a lot more energy, and felt great.  But instead of slacking off at that point, I continued to gradually increase my exercise.  Meanwhile a friend of mine told me she had signed up to run a marathon.  Each week she would tell me how her training was going.  I just couldn’t get the idea of running a marathon out of my mind.  It’s just one of those things I would put on my “life list” (if I had one) – one of those things I’d like to do once in my life.  At 36 years old I know that each year I wait it will only get that much harder to do.  So, finally I could no longer resist the idea, and I signed up to run the Disney Marathon on January 13, 2008.

I figure it would be interesting to blog about the experience.

I hate running, but…
Life is short. Running makes it seem longer.Well, hate may be too strong a word, but I don’t really care much for running.  I find it boring, tedious, and monotonous.  When it comes to exercise, I much prefer playing a sport like soccer or football or biking.  But I love a challenge and that’s what I find compelling about running a marathon.

The second thing I really enjoy about this challenge is figuring out my own training strategy.

  • When I started training I was on a low carb diet, but the marathon training websites I visited recommended a diet of 70% carbohydrates.  Should I totally change my diet right away?
  • I was playing soccer once a week.  Can continue doing that or not?
  • How do I fit a marathon training into an already full schedule of work, family, church, and volunteer work?

Those are just some of the questions I had to figure out.

Training Strategy
When I first started running but before signing up to run the marathon I tried running after work and let me tell you… running at 5 PM in Florida in the Summer is horrible.  At that time of day it’s still almost 90 degrees in the shade.  So, after a few days of that I decided I had to run in the morning.  Since none of the streets immediately outside my neighborhood have streetlights, the best time to run seems to be first light which is a little after 6.

All the training guides I read recommended doing one long run and 3 shorter runs each week, starting small and gradually adding distance to both the long and short runs.  I really didn’t want to give up playing soccer Sunday evenings, so I tried to work my training schedule around it.  I also had a family vacation planned for mid July, so while I was doing general conditioning, I didn’t actually start training for the marathon until I got back from vacation.

Training Log

Here’s a snapshot of my training so far:

Late April through Mid July -General condition. 

Wed July 25 –  Planned to do the long run for the week of 6 miles.  After the first 3-mile loop I felt like I was dying and called it a day.

Fri July 27 – Again attempted to run 6 miles.  I made it 3 miles without stopping, took a water break then alternated running and walking the next 3 miles.  I hard a hard time concentrating at work that day and realized doing the long run on a work day was a bad idea.

Sun July 29 – Played soccer.

Tues July 31 – Decided I would try doing short runs on Tuesday and Thursday with the long run Saturday and soccer Sunday.  Ran 4 miles in 38 about minutes.  (FWIW, I don’t own a watch, just my cell phone that doesn’t show seconds.)

Thurs Aug 2 – Ran 4 miles in about 36 minutes.

Sat Aug 4 – I ran the first 4 miles in 36 miles, took an 8 minute walk/water break, and then started on a 3 minute loop giving myself permission to walk when necessary.  But I found a way to make it all 3 miles without stopping in 30 minutes, for a total of 7 miles in 74 minutes.

Sun Aug 5 – played soccer

Tues Aug 7 – Decided to increase my short runs this week by a half mile and the long run by 1 mile.  Ran 4.5 miles in 39 minutes.

Thurs Aug 9 – Ran 4.5 miles in 38 minutes.

Sat Aug 11 – Ran the first 4.5 miles in 39 minutes, took a 6 minute walk/water break, then ran another 3.5 miles in 35 minutes for a total of 8 miles in 80 minutes.

Tues Aug 13 – Decided to keep my short runs at 4.5 miles this week and increase my long run to 9 miles Saturday.  Ran 4.5 miles in 40 minutes.  Made two dumb mistakes in my training this morning.  First, I stayed up late reading and only got 4.5 hrs sleep.  Second, I couldn’t resist the urge to try to beat my last 4.5 mile time, so I went out too fast, was just dying the last mile, and ended up with a slower time.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the training.  I’ll try to make a short post after each run and continue to talk about other training strategy issues.

3 Responses to “Training for My First Marathon”

  1. Paul, Nice to find your site and read your story. Good training log and progress The running enjoyment may still come as you stay with it. You’ve got ample time to get ready for the marathon. You’re building endurance, not speed at the moment. Keep up the great work.

  2. Tom, thanks for stopping by and posting your encouraging comment. I’ve subscribed to your blog and look forward to reading more of it.

  3. Love the picture of the pink sign! And great job telling your story and making your story. Good luck!

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