The Chicago Marathon is just over two months away as the annual race is held this year on October 13. Since the date is rapidly approaching, I have begun to ratchet up my training for the upcoming adventure.
A couple of weeks ago I ran ten miles. I should say I attempted to run ten miles. I felt like crap at the half way point, which is never a good sign. I had to stop after seven miles, and I spent the last three miles in a run/jog mix.
This experience was a wake up call. I had gotten off to a good start training, but I have kind of stagnated due to travel. Weekend trips to Ohio and Wisconsin have started to hamper the effort not only from missed work outs, but also taking away precious energy.
This past weekend was a crucial weekend. I stayed in and did absolutely nothing during the weekend except run. I ran six miles on Friday and ten miles each on Saturday and Sunday. Both days I ran ten miles I did so without having to stop except at the midway point, where I always take a little break. I would not say the ten mile runs were effortless, but I completed them with relative ease. This weekend was a corner turner as I significantly upped my miles and restored my confidence after the debacle a few weeks earlier.
I hesitate to write a marathon tip article because I have not completed one yet, but I learned a valuable lesson. A lesson I was already aware of, but one I needed a reminder in. Vince Lombardi said it best: Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
I love my weekend adventure trips, but those trips combined with the fact I was getting about five hours a sleep a night during the week turned into a bad combination for my training. I could not believe how much better I felt this last weekend after getting significant rest.
I do have some trips on the horizon between now and the race, but I am going to put September aside and concentrate on some hardcore training. I will be hiking in late August, which I think will be a good break from running and act as cross-training.
Early marathon training tips:
- Start running as early in the year as possible and get a good base in
I started running four miles at a time in December and moved to six mile runs in January. I ran a hundred miles in January training for the Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon. Since then I have averaged about eighty miles a month, which I will significantly increase in August and September.
- Break in your next pair of shoes early
I bought a new pair of shoes after getting sore running on my old ones. I broke them in with some walking, but not nearly enough. I endured a couple weeks of annoying pain due to the skin being ripped off the back of my ankle after running on my unbroken in shoe.
- Bring your shoes when you travel
Every mile counts, so if you can get a run or two in while traveling, that is great. While in Ohio I had the pleasure of running in the beautiful Cleveland Metro Parks.
- Change up your running location
This is something I have not done, but plan on doing more this and next month. It gets tiring looking at the same scenery over and over again. I am going to go to Wisconsin for at least one weekend in September and set up camp just to run.
- Find an interesting place to run
I run along the Chicago River, and I have seen some pretty cool things which help to take the mind off of the work out. I have seen coyotes, red foxes, deer, three kinds of herons, kingfishers, and an owl (not to mention a red-winged blackbird that kept attacking me).
Biking, hiking, cross-country skiing are all great activities to do that help your stamina and strength and are a nice diversion from running.
Concentrate on getting a good nights sleep every night and do not over do it with the running. Let your body tell you when to rest. If you are exhausted then take a day off and remember the immortal words of Vince Lombardi.
- Water is not a enough
Everyone tells you to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and it is true that you cannot drink enough water. Water alone will not replenish the nutrients you lose, especially when you increase the mileage. Mix in some juices, gatorade, smoothies, and protein shakes from time to time. I have been taking advantage of Speedway gatorade coupons. Four 32 oz gatorades for $5.00 has been keeping me well hydrated with nutrient replacing liquid at a decent price.
- Eat well
This is an area where I really need to work on the next two months. The local pizza place knows my voice and I am on good terms with the Domino delivery guys. When you run you get really hungry, but do not always let temptation pick up the phone for pizza. I am not a nutritionist, but any fool could tell you to mix in some fruits, vegetables, and less fried foods.
I will have more updates on my progress and of course posts from the race in October. If you are training, good luck with your regimen and if I missed any tips, please feel free to add them in the comment section.
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