The Marathon Question Revisited

Last year I wrote about The Marathon Question as I was training to run my 3rd half marathon (spoiler alert: I got injured and had to postpone my third half marathon to the fall). Obviously spending the rest of the year coming back from injury meant that I was not going to take on my first marathon in fall of 2014. I spent a lot of the year working with my sports chiropractor on ways to make myself a smarter, stronger, and more efficient runner. It ended up being a great experience. Even still, I suffered from a freak hip-flexor strain during my off season time after finishing up my race season and seriously questioned if I would ever push myself to the marathon distance.

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After hitting my PR goal in the fall, I decided at the beginning of 2015 that I would spend my training cycle for my spring half focused on training smart and developing healthy training habits. I would push for a strong time, but not for a PR, and if I finished the training cycle without major injury I would take a fall marathon into serious consideration. In March I came down with a bad cold that turned into a sinus infection that really knocked me down. I didn’t run for 10 days and missed two long runs in that time. Despite the time off, I didn’t feel stressed at the least bit. I missed running, but I knew that 13.1 was completely attainable and that I still had much longer runs to accomplish and plenty of time to prepare for a strong race. My lack of worry and confidence in my abilities brought me to the realization that, though I absolutely love the half marathon distance, mentally I am ready to take on a full marathon. At the time, I still had 6 more weeks of training to get through and knowing that last year I got injured in early spring I decided to hold off a little longer – you know, just in case.

Things continued to go well, I continued to feel good. A fatigued foot here, a sore hip there, nothing that is unexpected when you’re running 4 days a week with tempo runs and minor hill climbs thrown in. Finally, I decided to go for it – I am officially registered for the 2015 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon. After a successful peak week of training I am feeling confident that I am finally ready to take on a marathon.

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It was important to me that I was thoughtful about making this decision. Everyone has their reasons for doing a marathon and there is never a bad reason to do one, but for me I wanted it to be more than just to say “I ran a marathon!” I didn’t want to jump in before I was ready just to say that I did it. I didn’t want to sign up for one just because every other runner was telling me that I should because they had. I wanted to make sure I was confident in my running. I wanted to make sure I had an understanding of what does and doesn’t work for me in training. I wanted to be aware of my risk of injury based on my body and how to prevent it so I could get through my training healthy. I wanted to know I could put the time in to train and not only finish the race, but finish it strong and proud of how I ran.

I changed a few things this past training cycle. I slowed down my weekday runs, specifically keeping in mind this would be absolutely necessary once I began marathon training. I took my cross training seriously (and found I enjoyed it) and then let it go once I got into my higher mileage so my body could rest and recover. I paid more attention to my immediate post-run recovery routine.

It’s been almost two years since I ran my first half marathon and about 2.5 years since I’ve started training more seriously. I have learned a lot in that time and feel that I am finally ready to take on the challenge. Do I have goals in mind for my race? Of course, but I will take to training before I solidify them. I have an appointment for my VO2 Max test in May so I can get some guidance for my training and have a better understanding of how my body handles my oxygen intake while running. I have a training plan picked out and will continue to do my long runs with my training group on the weekends, though likely with a slower pace group.

I’ve found I am really looking forward to summer training starting in June. During my 12 miler on Saturday, I got a lot of positive feedback from my pace group. I mentioned to them that all of my friends that have run a marathon have assured me that I will love it. My friend Tory replied by saying, “You’ll love it, but sometimes you’ll hate it.” My BRF is doing the same marathon (it will be her second) and though we are going to be using different training plans, we are training together and plan to run as much of the race together as we can.

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If we’ve only got one try / If we’ve only got one life / If time was never on our side / Before I die I wanna burn out bright.” – Switchfoot

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