I’m almost halfway through the training for my marathon!
I’ve settled into a routine and this week I started running distances further than I have ever run before. I have to admit I was nervous when I set out on my 14 mile run Saturday, which was ridiculous because I have run a half marathon so it was only .8 miles over my previous longest run. But who said these things have to make sense?
Anyway at the halfway point, here are some things I have learned.
1. Take Care Of Your Feet
Now this might seem obvious but you would be surprised. One person I know (who shall remain nameless) was training for the Chicago Marathon in the same shoes she trained for last year’s Marine Corp Marathon in DC, when she started to develop a sharp pain in the side of her foot after running. A visit with a doctor confirmed that there was nothing visibly wrong with her foot. The mystery was solved when she bought new shoes and the pain completely disappeared. I’m not kidding here folks. Replace your shoes as often as every three months. (And yes, I have read Born to Run but running in bare feet is not an option for me!)
Buy good socks. Basically training for up to three hours a day is the equivalent of slapping your feet every second on the hard pavement. Things rub, blisters happen. Personally I find that for anything over 8 miles I need to wear socks with toes. This seems to keep my feet cooler and helps eliminate callus and and blisters on my toes.
And don’t be stupid when you are not running either. Don’t dance in super high-heels, walk barefoot on hot pavements or do anything else where you risk an injury. It’s one thing to get injured while training but another thing to do it needlessly!
2. Sometimes It’s Easy and Sometimes It’s Hard.
There are days when the hills will flatten out in front of you, your i-pod plays all of your favorite songs (especially ones you haven’t heard 100 times), the sun is shining but it’s not too hot and when you get to the end of your run you feel great. Enjoy those days because the other type of run is just around the corner! Curiously, the ease of a run is not always related to how far you have to go. For me, eight or nine miles is torture. The first time this happened was when I was training for the Asheville Half. At the end of my first 8 mile run I felt like throwing up and I’m pretty sure I came home and went back to bed for the rest of the day. While it wasn’t as bad this time around I still finished my first 9 mile run thinking “I’m never going to be able to do this”. But the next long run of 11 miles felt good and I haven’t looked back since. (Just watch me crash and burn on this week’s 15). My point is, this a process. If you are following an good training schedule and stick to it, it will happen. Believe! (At least that’s what I am telling myself)
3. Plan Your Runs.
As the runs get longer you will need to find water and nourishment. Some places have lots of water fountains. Some don’t. I take bottles of water and hide them at four mile intervals along my route. This only works so-so. My daughters kid me that I am going to get arrested for suspicious activity if someone sees me hiding things in the bushes. Last week when I reached behind the street sign into the bushes where I had placed my bag with water and goo I came up with an ant infested bag. And of course this was the one time there was someone walking by to see me smacking my bottle against the lamp post to dislodge the ants. I’m not proud, after 12 miles I will risk a mouthful of ants.
Which brings me to number four on my list:
4. Enjoy the Journey
I have seen the sunrise over the mountains and come to a stand-off with a raccoon in the middle of the road. Six men on road bikes coming down the hill with head lamps and bike lights on can look a lot like a UFO until they get closer. Wild turkeys live up near the Grove Park Inn. Butterflies, attracted by the salt from my sweat, have flitter along beside me. As the morning gets going, so do the people. The parks fill up with boys playing t-ball, and girls on swings. Other runners appear. Last week I found myself in the middle of the Asheville Color Run for about 1/4 mile. I have seen things I never noticed before. Down by the riverside there is an old factory building with a half a coffin stuck on the side (no joke!). There are new neighborhoods to explore, hills to climb and descend. Every mile is an adventure. Is it any wonder I am excited by the thought of each long run?