Running a Marathon Part 2

Running a Marathon: Part 2

Part 2 of Running a Marathon consists of flexibility, and my personal training experience. Both sections share just a few of the areas that I learned in my training process that I can describe. While there is much more that I could include, I have limited these sections for readability! Hopefully you will find it enjoyable or maybe even helpful...!


  • So I’ve already discussed setting your training plan which matches your realistic goals, and being aware of the things around you; Flexibility falls into this category, but can also be more widespread. To help explain what I mean by flexibility, let me describe how I made it through my training plan. I originally set out with the perfect training plan, with Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays going to the gym and doing strength training, and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays getting in a 3 - 7 mile run; Then I would do my long run on Saturdays, drink beer and eat everything in sight that night, and rest healthily on Sundays. A little extreme, but perfect right? Well that lasted a week or 2. Life happens. So I ended up in a place where my plan was not being met because I was eating way more unhealthily than I intended, I came home from work way too late to get in many of my weekly strength trainings, and I was working and training so hard, I not only wanted, but deserved my chance to drink more beer. After the first few weeks, I struggled in dealing with the fact that I wasn’t hitting my goals. But I was hitting my long runs. I would force myself to do at least 1 or 2 short runs during the week, and I did not miss a long run, and that was key. If you give up on your long run one time, then you’re likely to do it again. If you miss your new goal of 10 miles, you either have to go 11 next time, or you goal has declined a week. If you have to change days, times, etc that’s fine, but do it. Believe me, you will have a few weeks where you really don’t want to do that long run. Do it anyway! You will be glad that you did.

  • I would go on and off of my specific plan, and being flexible in this way really helped me to make it to the end. I definitely think that if I hadn't had some of those needed additional rest days (or after work beers), then I would have broken my overall goal. I also substituted some; On more than one occasion, I did a few half-marathons or 10k races in place of a long run. This definitely helps with the motivation because these races are a lot more satisfying than your solo runs. My biggest flexibility tip is, that if you are training for your first marathon, that is one of the biggest goals in your life at that present time; make sure the rest of you realizes that fact. To evaluate further, let your diet, extra beer, mid-week runs, etc, support your biggest goal, and not hurt it.

My Training Experience

  • In establishing a goal, getting prepared with the right gear, and learning how to flexibly negotiate my plan, I have already explained a lot of my training experience. I was not overly enthusiastic about setting the goal in the first place, and then some of the long runs nearly put me over the edge in that I wanted to give up. One of the biggest boosters of my confidence and endurance was likely the regular process of attending races. Whether it was a 5k or a half-marathon, those races really help to show you how much you have improved. Unless you’re already an experienced runner, by the time you run a half-marathon, your 5k speed will likely have increased drastically. It was awesome to watch myself get faster and more in shape through the training process. I really feel that races are ridiculous; think about it: You pay money to go run, the same as if you could on your own. You’re not likely to win because there are a ton of other people there. And the only thing you get at the end is a tshirt, stuck in traffic, and a possible finishers medal… Well I understand and agree that this is crazy, but somehow I feel much better after a race than if I had run on my own.

  • Something that I’ve already  said is that everyone has their own levels of endurance and stamina; there is a certain point in your longer runs, when you will have the worst run yet. It may be that you didn’t get enough sleep, or that you didn’t rest between longer runs, or just for an unknown reason, but it will happen. For me, I believe that it was a 10 mile run, prior to my first half-marathon. I felt fine on the way out, but I hit the 5 mile marker, turned around, and a few steps in the opposite direction it hit me that I now had to go a full 5 miles back. All of the sudden my feet started to hurt, my shins ached, and I was hungry! The 5 miles back, and especially the last 2, were miserable. I was committed to making it, so I didn’t stop. Finally I made it back and was excited to be able to stop running, but didn’t feel much better. My body was telling me that it was not a fan of this decision. That being the case, I still got over it. I still remember that feeling to this day, and I’m still glad that i didn’t quit. I mentally beat that awful, tired, weak, feeling that was telling me to give up, and anytime I run into a similar situation, I think back to that run and how I was able to overcome it. You can believe me or not, but running is a mental sport.

  • In my experience, I have found it necessary to move to different places to run. You can get set in your ways of running the same path that you always do, and then don’t realize what you are missing by going somewhere else. Mixing it up also helps you to not burn out, so I definitely recommend changing it up. I usually like running from where I am, because it is more convenient and you don’t have to drive back home after your run. But I don’t think that I could have made it without changing it up. When I got past 13 miles on my long runs, I started going to Piedmont Park. I had to pay to park (because I didn’t think to take advantage of the areas near it…), and it’s not long enough so I had to loop at about every 4 miles, but it was a great place to run. I would pass many different people each loop, watch people playing soccer or other games, and would pass dog parks and see tons of dogs having the best time ever. Best of all, at a certain spot on the loop, there was a working water fountain. This was absolutely critical in my long runs, and I had trouble trying to get on board with the belt versions of carrying water.

  • After 13 miles, I started bringing energy gels with me in my pockets and would use 1 or 2 depending on the length. At a certain point during some of the longer runs, you will be depleted of all usable calories, and these sugar/energy gels give your body something to work on while you run. I would never see/feel a difference when using the gels, but I tried running without them on a few occasions and noticed that those runs were considerably worse. Find these gels at any running store or check the web.

  • Something that I love to hate in every long run is that no matter where I go, I will run by something, and it will smell like the most amazing thing in the universe. It could be anything in the world, and I might not even be hungry, but it will just smell so good that I will have to eat there later. I have found many great new restaurants due to this black hole entrapment, but it kills me during the run to be thinking about delicious food when I still have several miles to go. I always have trouble in trying to stop thinking about food after smelling something delicious, and by the time I get finished, shower, and am ready to eat, I will be happy eating anything in the world, and will raid the cupboard. The restaurants that I smelled earlier fade away, and the only thing that matters is the closest thing to me! I will then go back to the nice smelling restaurant at a later time.

  • These are a few of my experiences that you are likely to have as well, so look forward to them! Even the tough situations ended fruitfully. For me, training was a big challenge, and I came out better for it. It’s a lot more difficult without having the cheering sections handing you water cups like on race-day, but it prepares you for more than what is needed on the final day. Additionally, it’s very hard to go for a distance run and come back still feeling stressed about work; it’s never as important as it was or you’ve found a way to work it out by the time you get finished!