While my marathon isn’t for another 25 days, I’ve been training for the race since June of last year. This is when I began training with the Orlando Galloway group which is run by local running store, Track Shack. I feel as though I’ve learned a lot in the last eight months (well, almost 8 months).
1. Fast isn’t always better. When I started the program, I had the mentality that I wanted to be a faster runner. I had gone from a walker to a runner and all I wanted was to run faster. Once I ran my magic mile in 11:30, I thought I was ready for anything. Within the first month, I began to learn that you have to listen to your body, and not necessarily what you want to be doing. I now feel content with being a slower runner. Sure, I’d love to get faster, but that’s no longer at the forefront of my mind. As long as I’m running, I’m happy.
2. Running with a group is awesome. Right off the bat, the motivation from fellow runners is great. There are times that I know I would not have pushed as hard or ran as many miles if it wasn’t for my Galloway group. I do still like running solo sometimes, but I really love running with friends a lot now.
3. Your feet will get beat up. I’ve had numerous blisters and my first black toenail, not to mention just about to lose my first toenails this season of training. Some of that has come from learning that I needed to size up my running shoes a half size, but others are just part of long distance running. Body Glide, Vaseline and blister bandages are now a part of my medicine drawer.
4. Compression sleeves are a must-have. I got into compression gear this season, specially calf sleeves and I LOVE them. I wear them on long runs and after a run/race for recovery. I really do think they make a difference. I feel as though my legs recover more quickly or easily with the use of the compression. I was able to try one of the compression shorts by 110% Play Harder on during a mini expo at Track Shack in the summer and boy do I want a pair of those. These are the kind that allow you to put ice packs into pockets in the short in all the right places for recovery. They are definitely on my “want this” list (now, if I can only find the $$).
5. Early runs are actually a good thing. When the alarm goes off at 2:30am on Saturday, I am definitely not happy about the hour. I mean, who in their right mind gets up at that dreadful hour? Crazy long mileage runners, that’s who. After running a few times in the last half year at 3:30am, I’ve kind of gotten used to it. I even think it’s not the worst thing in the world anymore. You get the run done before the roads get too busy, or the sun starts beating down on you (more of an issue here in Florida). It definitely made it easier for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, that’s for sure. While other runner friends who run at 6am were cringing at the wee hour of rising, I was feeling okay with it. That said, my preferred time to run is 5:30am or 6am when that can happen. 🙂
6. Finding the right fuel is critical. Training runs have taught me what my stomach and body is good with on a run, and what it may not like so much. The timing of when you take said fuel is key as well. If you take that gel too late, it may just cost you. This is also true for what you eat BEFORE the run. A Vega Endurance bar is the best for me before my Saturday long runs. I’ve used one all season long and it works so well and keeps me full without overdoing it. You just have to find what works for you, everyone is different.
7. You become more hungry. I never really thought this would happen, but it has and does. When it really hits is right after a long run. It’s like you just can’t eat enough, your regular food intake just isn’t cutting it. This drives me crazy, but I do my best to manage it and not overeat. Lots and lots of water help!
8. Mental training is just as important. This is something I’m working on a lot right now. You need to know you can do it, know you will finish that race or get through that long run. Positive thinking is what it’s all about. If you train smart and get your miles in, you can do it. This is also where good running friends come into play. They are right beside you to tell you that you can in fact do it. This sort of reminds me of after my big weight loss. I did the work to lose the weight, but I couldn’t see that I was healthier and thinner. It’s similar with running. If you put in the work, aka the training, you need to mentally believe in yourself and your ability. It’s all in your head.