Marathon Training Update #3: It’s Not a Sprint!

It has been over a month since I updated about my marathon training. This has less to do with the marathon training itself and more to do with the fact that I have been taking a PAUSE from daily blogging this year. Having no daily discipline to post, I just didn’t feel like posting (despite implying that I would do so more often back on Marathon Training Update #1)! Not updating in the past month feels like exercising my right not to have to be foolishly consistent, something I love about this blog 🙂

Now that we’re clear (!), a quick update on my marathon training. All is going as planned! Today I ran 17 miles (yes, he did!). The training program provided by the Run with Hal app is working marvelously. My focus each week has been on the weekend long run: planning my runs so I can be well-rested and well-prepared come Saturday.

In addition to the Saturday runs, I generally have two shorter runs (this past week they were 4 miles apiece; next week they start being 5 miles) earlier in the week, followed by a longish run (up to 8 miles) that is sometimes at “race pace.”

Since I’ve been focused on the long runs, here are the remaining Saturday runs:

  • Feb 27 – 18 miles
  • Mar 6 – 13 miles
  • Mar 13 – 19 miles
  • Mar 20 – 12 miles
  • Mar 27 – 20 miles
  • Apr 3 – 12 miles
  • Apr 10 -8 miles
  • Apr 18 (Sunday): MARATHON!

With today’s successful 17-miler under my belt, I finally feel confident and at ease about the remainder of my training (the Marathon itself is a separate animal, and though I’m still nervous about it I’m also optimistic I will show up strong come April 18th). I attribute the success of today’s run to the following:

  • I have learned how to run slow(er). In fact, two days ago, instead of running fast for the 8-mile “pace” run I had, I held back because I wanted to make sure that I was fully rested for today. As a result, I noticed I had a lot more energy today, and ran faster.
  • I brought two full bottles of sports drink AND plenty of chews (sugar- and energy-filled fruity squares) to munch on. Having a tasty beverage and something candy-like to chew on were enormously helpful, not only for my hydration and fuel-level, but also for my mood as I ran!
  • The power of experience! Having done a 14-miler and two 15-milers over the past three weekends, I experienced many positives and negatives. Today was the culmination of the training program so far. In addition to the two items listed above, I have honed my game in many ways, from the route I used (pictured above) to the time I started (6am).

There’s a psychological significance to 17 miles. 17 miles is just about 2/3 of a marathon. Add a few more miles and you have 20. I ran for 2 1/2 hours this morning. That’s a long run. I’m ready for 18, 19, and 20 (and hopefully 26.2 beyond that!)

All in all, this training program has been an exciting and satisfying part of my 2021. I find myself planning out my runs, mapping out my routes, thinking about how I’m going to balance each run to maximize my satisfaction. As I have mentioned before, running has proven to be a valuable upper for me in our current stay-at-home, social distancing life. This training program feels like a variation on that: an enjoyable challenge that gets me outside, moving around, living a dream unfolding on pavement and trail paths.

On a side note: I think I understand more than ever the meaning behind the phrase “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” When you are training for a marathon, every choice you make matters. Every run you take affects every other one. You gotta think about the big picture. You literally gotta pace yourself, because there are many more miles ahead!

April 18th is less than two months. What’s my game plan after that, you ask? Well… rest, at least for awhile.

And pretty soon after that I plan to get right back out on the road 😉

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