Training for My First Marathon
Back 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…
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.
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.
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.