Five things no one told me about marathon training

I used to run a lot as a kid. Mostly away from other larger kids. Usually I had antagonised them in some way.

So when I realised that my chosen career path would involve sitting on my backside in front of a screen eight hours day, running seemed like a good counter balance. I’m not a particularly competitive person, I find most team sports really boring, but I’ve always enjoyed running.

Until recently I’d been fairly causal, just running a few times a week and only in nice weather and only for a few miles. I took part in a Marathon relay in 2010 and 2011, missed out in 2012, which I really regretted. I tried to put a relay team together for this year, but people were not committing so I decided just to run the whole thing myself. How hard could it be.

I’ve been using an app called Runkeeper and a training schedule for a sub four hour marathon. I’m running Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Having never trained anywhere near this much before I’ve learnt several things the hard way.

  1. You lose the runners high. I’ve been used to going our for fast 2-4 miles runs, couple of times a week. After which I always feel great and totally buzzing for the rest of the day. I’ve found that with marathon training, the highs are few and far between. Some runs are just plain misery.
  2. It takes more time than the runs themselves. My previous runs only lastest 20-30mins, quick shower and back to whatever I was doing before. Now I’m out for 40-60 mins for the weekly runs and 2hrs+ for the long runs at the weekend. Factor in changing, showering, eating and the fact that I get nothing done for at least an hour after a hard run and I’m loosing about 10hours plus per week.
  3. Warm up and eat better before morning runs. My weekday runs I do over lunch, my Saturday run is usually from 10am. Last weekend I made the mistake of only warming up for a few minutes (usually fine for lunchtime runs) and only eating a cereal bar. The result was I started a 14 mile run that would burn 1500-2000 calories having only eaten about 200 and not warmed up. By mile 4 I felt horrific and wanted to lie down and cry. Lesson learnt.
  4. Medical tape is very useful. No more bleeding nipples from chaffing, enough said.
  5. Constantly tired. I’d been used to being buzzing and having loads of energy after a run, so I had fully expected to feel amazing when I started running more. Not so. A busy week at work combined with running 25+ miles a week just led to me being constantly tired. Improving my diet has helped with this somewhat, and making sure to keep off my feet on rest days.

Anyone else had any surprises while training for something? I’m sure I’ll have more as the weeks go on.


One thought on “Five things no one told me about marathon training

  1. Marathon training can be brutal, this is very true — however I hope you find that the runner’s high does return. If I run 18+ miles I lose the high around mile 8 — but it always returns and by the time I’m done I am floating on endorphins — even if my shins are screaming at me.

    Marathon training is a true time committment, but while you are “losing” 10+ hours a week on running — you are making your body/heart/mind strong and YOU are worth the 10+ hours, don’t you think?

    Possibly when you get your diet dialed in you will not be constantly tired. Running 25+ miles a week should not leave you constantly tired. Really test out the food/diet on the days you run and on the days you don’t run AND while you run — it all matters. And make sure you’re drinking a lot of water.

    While the rest days are incredibly important you should not be sitting idle every day you don’t run. Not to say you should be running — but find something else active to do on at least one of those days — more low key — some kind of cross training. Swimming? Lifting? Even a walk — just shake out your legs in some fashion — let them feel you doing something else (for a shorter period of time than when you run) and then allow them to rest. It will make a difference when you go back out to run. At least it does for me.

    Compression socks are helpful (for me) on long runs and my legs feel pretty energized — even after 20 miles.

    Of course, this is all my opinion and what I have found works for me — but make no mistake, marathon training is NOT easy. That’s why everyone isn’t doing it.

    You CAN do it though! 🙂 Good luck!

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