How to Prepare for a Marathon – Training Part 2

Disclaimer: This is going to be about how I prepared (in terms of Training) for the Marathon. Please note that I’ve only ever ran a Marathon once in my life. So, follow at your own risk.

Summary from the previous post:

-Set your goals (be realistic)

-Train your mind

-Get out there

-Run

You’ve got your Marathon Training Plan all worked out. What’s left to do? RUN! The process is long, tiring and stressful. Here are some of the things to expect during your arduous training days.

What to expect:

Fatigue

This is the number 1 feeling in marathon training: FATIGUE! You’re going to be tired, all the time. You’re going to feel like a lifeless zombie-fied piece of meat.

With a full time job, training for a marathon required a lot of effort. I stuck with training in the evenings (what I’m used to). Putting in a 20KM run at night after work was no easy feat. You’re already tired from a full day of work and then you have to worry about getting your training miles in. Of course, there were days where I looked forward to my runs and days where I would prefer to stay in (to sleep). Sometimes, I train late at night (till 11-ish pm) with team Dirigo. The problem with training so close to bed time is that your heart would still be beating fast and hard. Coupled with the adrenaline rush, it was almost impossible to fall asleep (which adds to fatigue!). And then the whole cycle continues the next day.

Story of my life!

You just have to embrace and deal with it. Get to know that feeling and work around it. It is going to be a long term relationship. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every day. Trust me, you will need it! I thank my friends and colleagues for putting up with the lifeless me.

Aches/Pain/Soreness/Stiffness

As you up your training miles, you will suffer all kinds of aches, pains and soreness. It is quite hard to pin point the cause of it. It can be anything from the lack of rest/sleep, incorrect running technique, malnutrition, training shoes, injury (I hope not!) etc.

Identify whether or not your pain is temporary (only when you run) or permanent (all the time). If the pain persists and is beyond bearable, see the doctor and take a few days off. Skipping a few training sessions is better than risking your future running days.

Stamina weeks were the worst! I was not used to running anything more than 50-60KM per week. Increasing my mileage up to 30-40% a week was D-I-S-A-S-T-R-O-U-S (for me). I was aching all over. I was feeling sore, almost every other day! I was hurting in places that never hurt before. Of course, marathon training (or any other form of proper training) was totally new to me. Quality sessions on the track and LSDs left me crippled. Ok, I’m exaggerating (HAH!). But I did have to experiment with ice baths/compression garments/ointments/deep heat/deep cool etc. It was a good learning experience.

Take advantage of all your experiences (good or bad) and make something out of it.

Demotivation

Running isn’t always going to be filled with peaches and cream pie. You will have your highs and your lows, even during your training period. You’re not always going to hit your training paces/times, you’re not always going to feel like running, you’re going to feel tired and totally drained of energy…… it is ok! Welcome to the club. But KEEP GOING, it is how you deal with it that matters.

I didn’t always perform during training and many eyes were on me. In terms of training and running experience, I was considered the slowest and the most inexperience (Hello NEWBIE!) one there. I needed to prove myself at every training session which added a lot of pressure. It can be very demotivating when you know that people doubt your ability (or when YOU start to doubt YOUR OWN ability).

There were a few occasions where I felt so exhausted to the point where I took about 1hr20mins to run 11KM (I am not kidding. I had to walk most of the way). At that time, I couldn’t imagine myself running a FULL MARATHON. Everything came crashing down before my eyes. That was a real downer. But you’ve got to trust the training and the process. Take a day off from running if you have to (but not too many). Go for a massage, relax, clear your mind and refocus on your goals!

Despite all of that, I was at my peak (or peaking). I managed to hit many PBs along the way and I used them as mini milestones to keep me motivated.

Sign up for a few key races during your training period to check your progress. My improvements kept me motivated!

Weight Loss

I guess this is the best part! To everyone out there seeking to lose weight, TRAIN TO RUN A MARATHON! I kept my nutrition intake in check. I made sure I was eating enough. But even then I managed to lose 2KGs.

The temporary weight loss during this period is usually due to water loss and could be a sign of dehydration. Make sure you drink enough!

I kept a training log (to track my progress) and I recorded my weight almost every day. I made sure I never dipped below 44KG.

Don’t overeat but make sure you eat enough to fuel your training.

Bottomless Pit

You come home from your LSD and you turn your kitchen upside down, wiping out everything in sight including that whole pack of cookies. In 10 minutes, you’ve probably eaten more than you burned on the run. Sound familiar?

As your mileage begins to increase, your appetite will be through the roof as your body is trying to fuel your energy needs. To avoid overeating, you have to make wiser food choices throughout the day. Plan your meals. That way, you are less likely to go off track with your eating. The 2 meals that you should take note of are the ones before and after your run. Have a pre-run snack 2 hours before you head out and a balanced post-run recovery meal consisting of carbohydrates, protein and fats within the next 1 hour.

If you need a snack, go for a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Think of it as fuelling your body enough to provide you energy for your next run instead of dwelling in the mind-set that you deserve it. Training for a marathon doesn’t give you the license to EAT ALL YOU WANT!

Sunburn/Tan lines/Dry skin

In a tropical country like Malaysia, you’re bound to be exposed to the sun. With marathon training, you’ll be spending most of your time on the road. Depending on the time of day, you will be exposed to both UVA and UVB rays which cause pre-mature skin aging and sunburn respectively. Unless you train very early in the morning or very late at night, always remember to apply sunscreen! You wouldn’t want facial pigmentation as you age. So, (I repeat) apply SUNCREEN!! You’ll thank me in the future.

Your BEST FRIEND!

The best way to avoid tan lines is to not train out in the sun, unless of course you are willing to wear sun protective gear (long sleeve tops and bottoms). I still have those unsightly tan lines (but I’m pretty proud of em)! GAH!

A combination of water loss and the exposure to the sun would render your skin dry. If so, apply moisturizer day and night.

What else have you experienced that are not listed here? DO SHARE!

Stay active, keep running!

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