5 Things I’ve Learned During My First Month Of Marathon Training

One month ago I wrote a post about how-to begin marathon training. To be completely honest, I was terrified to start this intense running journey. The most I’ve ever run is 13 miles, and my brain kept doubting my ability to push past that. “What if I can’t do this?” I thought to myself. Luckily, I’ve learned a few  things during my firth month of training that have shifted my perspective.

lessons of marathon training

  1. The treadmill isn’t THAT terrible. Running in the heat of August is miserable, especially in the concrete jungle of NYC.  The treadmill in the air conditioned gym (with the built in fan and television) has actually been a nice relief from running in the 90+ degree weather. Plus, I like that I can set a pace and force my body to stick to it, especially when I want to push myself to run faster on my short runs. Although I don’t love running in place, I’ve realized that the treadmill has many benefits.[bctt tweet=”What one #runner (and #Dietitian) learned during her first month of training for the @nycmarathon” username=”nutritionalanat”]
  2. Mileage is key. One of the toughest things for me to wrap my head around is having to do a long run every week that will only get longer the next week. But I’ve found that repeatedly running a long distance each week really does train your body and mind to be able to tolerate more mileage. After doing this for several weeks, 3 miles seems like nothing and 6 miles seems “normal”. It’s still tough to bang out double digit miles on one day, but I always feel a sense of accomplishment after I get it done. I also feel a little better about having to take on 26.2 miles in November.
  3. I love bread. I used to eat salads for lunch every day, but those salads have recently been replaced by sandwiches. The amount of fiber in the vegetables and beans and the vinegar in the salad dressing did not sit well in my stomach while running. As I’ve said many times, you need to teach your stomach to tolerate certain foods during a run and my stomach tolerates bread very well.  (For more on that, read this blog post). Sandwiches have become my go-to lunch, including this Grilled Strawberry & Goat Cheese Sandwich. 
  4. It’s best to splurge on good gear. I’m definitely a discount shopper. I don’t like to spend a ton of money on clothes, and I’m not the type to buy $200 running sneakers that will need to be replaced in 6 months. But I also want prevent injury as I increase my mileage, so I recently went to JackRabbit (a running store) and bought sneakers. They put me on a treadmill and used an iPad to record how my foot hit the treadmill.  It turns out that I over pronate and I need a stabilizing shoe with an insole. I bought the New Balance 860v6 and they feel great on my feet. I also splurged on $15 wicking socks (the most I’ve ever spent on socks) that won’t rub and give me blisters. These fancy running socks lived up to their price on a recent 10 mile run–no blisters and barely any moisture. Spending the money on good footwear has definitely been worth it!
  5. Mind over matter is real. The first time I had to run more than 5 miles on a treadmill, I thought it was impossible and I would just get bored and give up.  But two weeks ago, I planned to run 12 miles and the humidity would just not let up. I told myself that the treadmill was a much better option than the humidity and I prepared myself for a night at the gym. I plugged the headphones into the TV and watched two episodes of Shark Tank while I banged out 12 miles on the treadmill! Afterwards, I realized that being able to do something that once seemed impossible was just mental. I told myself I could get it done and then I did. Of course running is definitely physical, but I find I can overcome the biggest obstacles with a shift in my thinking.

I’ve also had a few smaller takeaways, such as:

  • Wear a hat and sunscreen when running in the summer
  • Take a Vitamin C supplement to keep colds at bay.
  • The human body is capable of sweating more than you know.  I often drink 2 or more bottles of water/sports drink on a long run and still don’t feel 100% hydrated. Try calculating your sweat rate to beat dehydration.
  • Marathon training is a second job. I plan running and eating into my daily schedule.
  • I’m stronger than I think.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Elana Natker, MS, RD
    August 29, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Excellent points! So excited for you and your journey to the marathon starting line (and finish line!) Marathon training can be grueling, surreal and mundane all at the same time. And the life lessons you learn along the way are incredible. Enjoy the ride and continue to keep us posted!

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