It will be my first time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Good God I signed up for a marathon. And I just booked my plane tickets.  Come hell or high water I will be in Prague on 3 May, 2015.  Fingers crossed I will also be running the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.  The route starts and finishes in Old Town while keeping the river in sight.  I have never been to Prague or run a marathon so obviously the following thoughts are going through my head.

Mental strength

(not necessarily in that order).

I am afraid.  Afraid of failing, of getting injured, of loosing my mojo, of being stressed out over training with a full-time job/dog/husband/volunteering, afraid of never trying to run 26.2 miles at once.  Many of my London friends are avid runners who now complete ultra's and 24 hour relays.  I admit I am jealous of their racing success. But I am not dedicated like they are.  These girls train and fuel like the champions that they are.  I, however, do not. Yet.

My plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis have been ok recently but that is because I haven't been running.  To avoid building up my miles too quickly, I am going to follow Hal Higdon's Novice Supreme Marathon Training Plan.  It is meant to cover 30 weeks, but I am a few weeks short.  Last night, with the dark and rain and cold, I took it as a test of my will power. I felt if I skipped my run, I would always find an excuse NOT to run.  So I put on my trainers, grabbed the dog and took to the pavement.  I also talked to my Occupational Health department at work about working with the physio in case any niggles do come up.  Being prepared will help me build my confidence as I start out.

Through crowd-sourcing on Facebook, I got some great tips on running my first marathon:
"Take your training seriously. Also take chafing seriously - vaseline is your best friend"
" If you've got supporters coming, make sure they're somewhere curb-side during 'the wall' period of the race (mile 16-21-ish). Having a friendly face there is the biggest boost."
"Jelly babies"
"Invest in good gear - especially socks (I swear by my Swiftwicks, no blisters yet!). Keep track of what you eat the day before, during runs and after long runs, and keep an eye on what agrees with you or not. I started incorporating squeeze pouches of flavored applesauce into the mix with gu's and chomps. Trust your training plan, the mental aspect is huge, and can make or break an iffy run. On race day: have your family/friends hold really bizarre mylar balloons so you can spot them easily on the course; and enjoy the race - someone told me that race day is really the victory lap for all of the miles you already put in"
"Put MOLLIE in big easy to read letters on your shirt (with duct tape even) as you will get so much energy from ppl calling your name along the run!"
"My best tip for running in general is don't do anything different on race day. Don't try a new food. Don't wear new shoes, or a new shirt, etc."
"Set a plan and stick with it, build milestones for success and celebrate those milestones, join a group who is training for the same race to keep you accountable and to enjoy the journey with. If your miss a day or 3, don't sweat it just get back on the plan. Listen to your body if it's saying sleep or rest... Then take a rest day."
"Do the long runs...miles in the bank. Try incorporating in nutrition and will be surprised how things sit in your stomach at longer distances."
" I think I contributed my time (much better than I was hoping) to all the rest, early nights and good food I was getting leading up to it. I think focusing really hard on this for at least the 2 weeks before is good. Also I took packed meals I made with me. These pre-made, nutrition packed dinners, along with taking all the snacks I needed meant I didn't have to worry or spend anytime finding the right meal, all I needed to concentrate on was resting and my game plan. One less thing to think about and not have to worry about. Also the best advice I got was from my cousin Emily Johnston was to join a running club. The speed and hill training sessions we had twice a week were invaluable for increasing my speed. Not only I have I made lots of cool running friends, I am just not motivated to undertake this type of training on my own. Plus there are always people who are keen for long runs in the weekend, even if you only have someone for part of the run with you it's still more motivating. "
"Get a good playlist full of upbeat tunes - and, if possible, motivational messages from friends and family"
"if running in a city you live in, do your last two long training runs on the actual marathon route. For instance I ran in London and my 18m and 20m long run I did on the route itself. BUT - start 6m, or whatever, into the route so you finish at the real finish line. on the day your body will believe you have run it already! As a first time marathoner this was my best tip."
" invest in good shoes that fit. For me, that means buying a full size up from normal since feet generally swell on the long distance run. I would also say "Respect the Distance" - which is shorthand for a bunch of stuff. But mostly, it means to do the training. But it also means don't try to do too much, too fast, too soon - it'll take time to build up to it. You'll want to make sure you've built in time to rest during your training. So inevitably, when you catch a cold or need to rest an achey foot or just need a mental break from running, you can rest and give your body and mind a needed break. Finally, have fun on race day - it really is a celebration. And go out slower than you think you need to. Seriously. Slow down. You can't really bank time anyway, so bank energy for the final 5-6 miles when you'll need to be mentally tough."
"Feet and Eat! Make sure your feet are tough as leather and the blisters will stay away. Blisters were a problem in my first marathon, but with proper training they shouldn't be a problem (or you can be tough and just pretend the the blisters aren't there). Eating things like bananas or gel packs really helped me in the long races that I have done well in. Make sure you try eating during your runs in training. Don't do anything new on race day, just do what you did in your training."

The best thing one of my friends posted was The Oatmeal's Dos and Don'ts of Running a Marathon.  Pure genius.

SO this is a warning that many of my posts from now on will be about running, training, eating, dressing- all for the marathon in May.  I welcome your tips, comments, playlists, recipes, and invitations for long runs.

If you are a newbie too, check out my running/blogger friends who have a bit of advice too.  Read on if you are considering running a marathon but have mixed emotions about it:

Becs, The Style Dynamo '8 Marathons and counting: My top tips'

Lucy, Eurogirl Running 'Marathon Training- lessons learnt the hard way'

Josie, Run Josie Run 'London Marathon Race Report'


  1. You'll have so much fun! Training for a marathon is mental and you will get little injuries or niggles but even if you don't run all the miles in the training plan, you WILL run the 26.2 on 3rd of May and you will never forget the feeling once you cross that finish line :)

  2. Thank you MrsB for your support :)


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