Thoughts on Marathon Training…So Far

by Sarah on September 20, 2013 · 23 comments

in Marathon Training,Running

I’ve actually been meaning to write this post for quite some time. I feel like every time I sit down to write up a post I look at the clock to see 10:00 pm or even later staring me in the face. Not enough time to write a quality marathon post and get a good night of sleep at the same time. Priorities.

It’s no secret that a big priority lately has been running. I eat, sleep, drink, think, breath marathon training. Especially lately – with a little over two weeks left of active training before the taper period begins – running is consuming me. Not that I’m complaining, it’s just hard when you have a blog all about running. I feel like I’m doing more running than I’m actually blogging about it.

So let’s chat a little bit about how marathon training has been going for the last 12+ weeks.

  • I had a good few weeks a while back where I seriously questioned whether or not my body was ready for this. I had a few long runs that just felt a lot harder than they should be – long runs are meant to be the character and confidence building workouts! I felt weak, my legs felt shredded, and I just felt overall blah about all of it. I don’t know what caused me to snap out of it, but I’m sure as hell that I did. Goes to show how important mental strength is when it comes to marathon training. I feel like the ratio is 30% body, 70% mind.

reservoir

  • Despite some sucky runs every now and again, I’m really enjoying training. I look forward to my long runs, and not just because they’re hours of straight girl time with Stephanie. They’re fun, challenging, and big productions. I kind of love the ritualistic aspect of long runs – wake up early, eat and drink the same thing, get your body ready. I thrive on schedules so it’s not surprising that I love it.

marathon training | Blonde Bostonian

  • I continue to be floored by the generosity of friends, coworkers, and family when it comes to donations for my Marfan Foundation fundraising. I’ve already surpassed my $1,000 goal and I think I can get $1,500 before the race. Running a marathon is such a big deal and to do it for a charity that I believe in and for a cause that is so so so close to home, is absolutely incredible.
  • For some reason, 16 miles felt so much easier than 15 miles. Weird how that works.
  • The one downside of training for a marathon in Boston – there is nowhere to go. Boston itself is so tiny. I live outside of the city near Boston College (it’s still technically Boston, but it’s a different neighborhood) and I can run from my house to the North End (the end of the city) in 5 miles. That’s it. I have to get creative with running routes for long runs. I have no clue where I’m going to go to do 20 miles. Steph and I will have to figure that out.
  • The parts of my body that used to feel softer (thighs) are now hard as rocks, and the parts that used to be a bit tighter (core) feel softer. But, I haven’t lost or gained a pound at all. Guess that means I’m fueling properly! I’m sure these things aren’t even that noticeable and I’m sure Bernie would say otherwise, but I just feel like my body composition has changed completely in the higher mileage. I’ve noticed chest bones – where the hell did those come from? My upper body has shrunk. I feel like the guy from The Oatmeal comic about long distance running.

The Oatmeal

  • I feel like I hit a pivotal break through in training when I did my 16-mile run. I’m no longer afraid of running the long distances. When I did 14, 15 miles I was so freaked out about running longer than I ever had before. Would my body break down? Would it hurt? Could I do it? Well…I did it…and then I did it again…and I sort of realized, I need to just do it and not think about it. I’m trying to keep that same mentality for every long run going forward. I hope I can keep that mentality for race day, but we’ll see. I’m sure I’ll be a nervous wreck.

I don’t for one second regret signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon. Every day I look forward to getting to D.C. and soaking the whole marathon feeling in. I’ve gone to the Boston Marathon expo so many times and I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to actually BE one of the runners there RUNNING the marathon! Now I can finally experience it. I cannot wait!

 

Readers: If you’ve run a marathon before, did you ever have a turning point on the distance before? Did you finally feel like you could do it? What gets you through training and keeps you going. For me, my post-run meal is always a good motivator ;)

{ 23 comments }

1 Jenna September 20, 2013 at 9:47 am

I 100% agree that marathons are so much more mental than physical – and it sounds like you’re in a good place! When I was marathon training last fall, I’d head over into Cambridge and Somerville for my long runs. You can run from Brookline, through Harvard Square, out to Alewife and back and get upwards of 14 or 15 miles, depending on the route. I always find that new scenery makes the runs go by faster. Good luck!

2 BornRunning September 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I completely agree. You have to be mentally tough to run a marathon and extremely committed to your training schedule.
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3 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 10:35 am

Oh good tips on the routes! I will have to map something out for my 20 miler to make it extra special!

4 Lindsey September 20, 2013 at 9:57 am

Hi there – I’m the reader who ran into you during one of your long runs back in July/August. Thought I would share some options for longer runs that I’ve done:
1) Out and back on Boston marathon course – running into Wellesley or Natick and back. Though you do run through some populated areas, I’ve found that there is enough sidewalk or shoulder to run on and not a ton of traffic.
2) Run to Copley Square and get on the Southwest Corridor Path to JP – then you can cut through on a main road to the BAA half marathon course and Emerald necklace.
3) The loop from the MOS to Watertown Square is just over 17 miles and there’s actually a path further into Watertown where you can get to 20.
4) Charlestown – there’s now a connector bridge that gets you over the highway from the park next to the MOS to Bunker Hill – form there its a short run to another running path next to a condo complex that takes you to the North end or a cut through back to the river.
5) Minuteman Bike Path – you can start behind Davis Square or on Mass Ave near Alewife. If you like scenic runs you can take a turn at Arlington Center to run around the mystic lakes. You can also add loops around Fresh Pond (right near Alewife – that has a few water fountains and public bathrooms).

Happy running!

5 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 10:36 am

Lindsey! Hope the marathon went well! Did you run yet?!

Great tips! We actually ran the loop to Watertown this weekend and it was such a nice change of pace! I’ll have to look into the others for the 20 miler. I want to map out a different route. Something to change the scenery.

6 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries September 20, 2013 at 10:03 am

It’s so interesting to me to read all of your thoughts re: marathon training. Mostly because a marathon seems impossible to me. Ha! I admire you so much for just going for it! You’ll rock it!
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7 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

Thanks Ashley! I know that if you wanted to train for one, you could definitely do it!

8 Lindsay @ Running the Windy City September 20, 2013 at 10:15 am

For me, 16 miles starts to feel long. I truly feel like I’m training for a marathon when I hit those 16 milers. I love the oatmeal comic reference.. it’s so true!
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9 Caroline September 20, 2013 at 10:16 am

Yes! The moment I realized I need to just RUN and not think was a big moment for me in training, too. Logging all those miles is so intimidating when you think about it too hard. That’s why I started breaking all my long runs up into 6 mile chunks. I would just tell myself I’m doing a 6-mile run.. over and over again.
As for where to run in Boston for your 20 miler, have you looked into the Boston Harbor Walk? I’m pretty sure it’s 45 miles long or something like that. Also look into the Emerald Necklace parks. Another option is to do part of the Boston marathon route.. running west along comm ave.

You’re doing great! Keep it up!
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10 Caroline September 20, 2013 at 10:18 am

Oh, I just saw the comment about the Minuteman bike path. I second that! It runs through my hometown so I run on it a lot and it’s great – and 11 miles long : )
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11 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

Great idea on the Harbor Walk. I’ll have to check it out! I am a little weary of the Boston Marathon route only because there isn’t many bathroom/water fountain options, but I do run the Newton Hills a lot during my weekly runs. Love getting the hill work in.

12 Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog September 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

I’ve never run a marathon, but I know for me, being mentally prepared for a long run is so important to success (like you said). I think the ritual of long runs on Saturday mornings is comforting and for whatever reason they always seems easier than my shorter runs during the week when I was training for the half.
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13 Ericka @ The Sweet Life September 20, 2013 at 11:55 am

Glad to hear training is going pretty well. Mine has been on and off thanks to injury. I think it’s great you feel that “turning point” on the distance — a big confidence booster. I feel you on that running the same places thing. DC has much more but I generally stick to one path because I get lost easily and don’t like having to think too hard about where I’m going when I’m already struggling to run long! I have 20 on the schedule for tomorrow — yikes! Keep going — time is ticking, good luck!
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14 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats September 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I agree – I loved the ritual of the long run. It was by far my favorite workout every week during training. As for getting to further distances, honestly it’s just like any other run: you have a good run or a bad run. My 18 miler was AMAZING, I felt great and it was a huge confidence booster. My 20 miler was hell. It was just the day, so you have to take those kinds of things with a grain of salt. You have off days and that’s just how it goes. Thankfully, however, taper helps make marathon day a good one!
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15 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 10:39 am

It’s so true that every run is different. I am looking forward to taper…now to just tackle the 20 miler!

16 Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections September 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I loved reading your thoughts on this! It’s nice for once to hear of a marathoner in training that isn’t like “this is old hat.” I feel you on not being able to run anywhere around Boston! When training for my half, I ran the same 3 mile loop the whole time. When I ran 12 miles for my longest long run, it was so annoying to make a bunch of loops instead of just find a 12 mile loop.

This is really encouraging to me, though, as I want to fundraise for a marathon someday too. I often doubt if I could do either – fundraise and train. But you make great points about just doing it!
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17 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 10:40 am

It’s definitely doable, fundraising and training. Thankfully, I don’t have to raise as much money as you would have to for say the Boston Marathon. That’s a crazy amount – it’s just as hard to fundraise as it is to run!

18 Sophie @ life's philosophie September 22, 2013 at 8:04 am

I’m in the same boat with all of this! I keep saying to myself: after I’m done with all of this marathon training, I’m going to get into shape. I feel like all my muscles, outside of my legs, have disappeared! My turning point was my 16 mile run. I felt like it was enough above 13.1 (my previous PDR) to make me feel like I could conquer the rest. Best of luck with your last few weeks of training! It’s getting exciting!
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19 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 10:40 am

My PDR was 13.1 before this too. It’s been really cool to see how my body is reacting to all the miles above that. It is getting exciting – good luck with your training too!

20 Brittany September 23, 2013 at 10:19 am

You are going to rock the race and I hope I can be there with you to calm your nerves!!!!!!!!! I honestly feel like marathon training is just really training your mind to believe that you actually can do this! Psh, if you think you can do it, you absolutely can! So proud of you!!

21 Sarah September 23, 2013 at 10:41 am

Thanks lovey! We’re gonna rock MCM side by side!

22 Sara @ Zero to Sixty September 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I hear ya a lot of it is mental! When I run with someone that’s better than me/or run in a race and I finish with new PR my training runs improve that much more because I didn’t know I could run that fast. YOU got this go you! Also have you looked at the biking trails through Brighton/Watertown/Waltham? They are really pretty, running with a view is the best.

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23 Sarah October 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm

We ran along the trail in Brighton and Watertown and really liked it.

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