Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Marathon: Part II

So selfishly I'm jotting down what worked for us so I don't forget next time the urge to run a marathon comes a calling. I am no expert on running, but I can share what helped us through our training and kept us on track to meet our goal.

First Steps
1. Get advice from the experts. I recommend two books:
"The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer" by Whitsett, Dolgener, Kole (Fantastic mental strategies and advice for working through the difficult moments you will face on some of the runs)
"The Marathon Method" by Tom Holland (Great practical advice, especially when preparing for race day)

2. Find a training plan that works for you.

There are loads of training plans out there. There are training plans included in both of the books above. We used the official Chicago Marathon training plan found here.

3. Sign up for your race, consider running for a charity.
Charlie and I each ran for a charity and it was a fantastic motivator week in and week out. It is also a wonderful opportunity to connect with your community. Find an organization you believe in and do your best to raise as much money as you can. Thanks to my very generous family members and friends, I exceeded my goal by $400 and raised more than $1000 for Access Living.

4. Plan some fun running routes around your neighborhood or town.
We used MapMyRun to plan our routes.

The Gear
Find the gear that works best for you. Depending on the weather conditions you will be training in, your gear will vary. Items we couldn't live without:

  • Shoes (Invest in a good pair. Go to a running store and take your time choosing the right pair.)
  • Socks (This is all trial and error. Charlie tends to like the more padded socks, while I prefer thinner socks.)
  • Dri-fit shirts and tank tops (My favorite are the lululemon Run:Swiftly Racerback tanks.)
  • Dri-fit hat or visor
  • Sport sunglasses (Target has a nice selection of affordable pairs.)
  • Running shorts and crops (My favorite are the lululemon Run:Empower Crop II.)
  • Fuel belt (Crucial if you plan to run in the summertime. Running and sporting goods stores carry a nice variety of belts. I use an Amphipod belt.)
  • Mile tracker (Garmin Forerunners.)
  • Personal Item belt for racing (We both used the Spibelt for the half and full marathons.)
  • Body Glide (Extremely helpful in preventing chafing.)


This is partial to your tastes. Here's what worked for us:

Banana, a slice of toast with peanut butter, and a large glass of water.

Fuel While Running

(My tip here, stick with flavors you like. If you're a citrus person, go with citrus. Berry person, go with berry, etc.)

  • For 9+ mile runs: GU Energy Gels (Without a doubt, the best tasting of all the gels. Our favorite flavors are Vanilla Bean, Tri-Berry, and Strawberry Banana. I take a gel every 45 minutes on the long runs. Always take your gel with a little water or Gatorade.)
  • All runs: Water and Gatorade (On longer runs I bring half Gatorade half water. I take a little sip every 10-15 minutes depending on the heat.)
Post-Run Snack (one or a combination of the following)
  • Apple
  • Banana + almond butter
  • Protein shake
  • Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter
Taking Care of your Body
  • Drink water, water, water all day everyday.
  • Take your vitamins everyday.
  • Sleep!
  • Stretch!
  • Stretch! I didn't worry about stretching too much before the runs but it was very necessary afterwards. We really like using the FlexBand. A foam roller also really helps work out muscle soreness.
  • Ice down your sore muscles. I buy Dixie cups, fill them with water, and freeze them. Immediately after each run, I pull one from the freezer, peel back some of the paper, and rub it into my sore muscles until the ice has completely melted. On really sore days, I complete this process 2-3 times a day.
  • Be sure to eat and drink enough before every long run. If you don't, you'll never have the fuel to finish your runs. Enjoy a pasta dinner the night before your long runs.
  • Keep a notebook and jot down a few thoughts after each run (weather, distance, time, how you felt, what you ate before and after). This is a great way to track what foods and routines ensure your best runs.

Hope this helps! Fellow runners, did I forget anything? Any tips that helped you while training?

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