Marathon Reflection Monday: The Taking a Break Edition

Since I won’t start really training specifically for Boston until January after the Rock n Roll Arizona half (and not even mentioning the word marathon until December) , it seems pointless to continue Marathon Reflection Monday until I’m actually reflecting on a marathon.  But before I vanish off into a land where I talk about something else on Mondays, I thought I’d do a final reflection on my first marathon.

Really, I think it takes more than one marathon to understand the ins and outs, so by no means do I consider myself an expert.  Who knows if I can ever replicate last weekend’s performance.  But I would like to take this opportunity to share a few things that I’ve picked up over the last four months that I wish I’d known going in, and that I will spend a lot less time worrying about on round two…I hope.

Amy’s Marathon Wisdom Tidbits

1. It will be hard.  Probably harder than you think it will be.  Physically, yes.  You will have weird pains that never existed in half marathon land and recovery takes longer.  But emotionally too.  Be prepared to get your confidence tested every week.  Be prepared to hate running in every possible way.  You WILL get stronger and better.  But it takes a long time to get there.

2. I compared myself to others and I didn’t die.  Everyone says not to compare yourself to others.  But, everyone puts their paces and workouts up on weekly recaps and pictures of their Garmins after weekend long runs.  To pretend that we aren’t comparing ourselves to everyone else is ridiculous.  And truthfully, as a competitive person, it drove me to run faster.  THAT BEING SAID:

3. Winning a morning workout does not a champion create (loosely quoted from a book I’m reading called Once a Runner).  Several people I’ve been following (none of which read my blog by the way) had fast long run paces (and by fast I mean faster than mine) that freaked me out and made me question my progress.  But they didn’t come close to my marathon time come race day.  Compare yourself to others if need be, but don’t assume that it tells you ANYTHING about your performance or theirs.

4. Don’t become a run snob.  This goes both ways.  I actually saw someone post on the Chicago Marathon facebook page that faster runners didn’t work as hard for it and medals are more meaningful for the back of the pack.  HUH? I’ve also heard people criticize women who put on make-up before races or wear run skirts (guilty on both accounts).  Then of course there are those that say nobody should be proud enough to put a 6.2 sticker on their car. Everyone has a journey and an ability.  The most important thing is that we support each other instead of finding reasons to be jerks. Be friendly, people!

5. Train in conditions harder than you want them to be.  We ran a lot in the hot sun.  We ran up a lot of hills.  We ran when we were tired, or when we hadn’t eaten very well the day before. Essentially, we didn’t seek out perfect conditions for our workouts.  I hated it at the time.  But the better prepared you are to deal with anything the better you’ll do when conditions are just right.  Apparently, Michael Phelps was trained with this same philosophy.  And you know, he won lots of medals.


7. Everyone has advice (HA! Get it.  I’m giving advice right now).  Take the advice of the runners you want to be like more seriously.  Also, seek out runners who run races within your goal time.  Follow their training.

8. It is ok to whine.  We all understand and we’ve all been there. Occasionally there is a really awesome relaxing mind clearing run, but more often there are hard runs that are satisfying to finish or runs that just plain suck.  Marathon training isn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done.  Our satisfaction comes from knowing that we survived and thrived despite the pain and having people treat you like a rockstar because you ran 26.2 is pretty cool.

9. I think Marathon training is kind of like having your first child (because in addition to being a marathon expert, I’m also a parenting expert!).  You try to do everything by all the rules and stress that every little thing is going to mess up your marathon.  But for the most part, everyone makes it out just fine if not slightly traumatized.  Is it possible that I would have run faster had I drank less, eaten cleaner, slept more, and kept more closely to the schedule? Um…I kind of have no clue.  But in the end, I managed to still enjoy life AND meet my goal.

10. It comes down to YOU.  In the end, your training will only take you so far.  The last few miles are a mental battle and if you don’t believe in yourself, then you will have a harder time making through.  I credit my intense mental workout for keeping me going when my legs didn’t want to.

11. HAVE FUN!  (thanks to Brandi for this contribution!).  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Wear weird outfits.  Prance every once in awhile.

Crossing the finish line is a fantastic feeling. I would recommend a marathon for any runner because it does push you to your limits and you do come out stronger.  I’m already forgetting the pain (DAMN), and the thought of training for another marathon is not sounding too bad.  WHY.

And because it is getting colder and I’m going to need to remind myself of this pretty soon:

Have a fantastic week!

26 thoughts on “Marathon Reflection Monday: The Taking a Break Edition

  1. Those are some wise words. I will remember them next weekend (my turn at the 26.2). Congrats on your Boston qualification! That is amazing! I really like your last photo. That will be me in a month or two – with some proper pants though. I couldn’t run in shorts in the winter brrr!

  2. Love this entire post!! I love “don’t be a run snob” especially. They are the worst 🙂

    I have a few friends who now want to start training for a marathon — I’m totally going to share this with them!

    • I think it gets easy to start discounting people the longer distance you run, but I have to keep reminding myself that I was once a nervous first time 5-Ker too, and it isn’t ok for me to question their nervousness or excitement just because I ran a marathon. Plus, it is much more fun to be excited for someone!

    • I’m half way through. I’m in love with the main character!

      And I usually just wear waterproof mascara, eye liner and concealer. Nothing too crazy!

  3. #11 Have FUN with it. At least one long run should be crazy and fun. This happens a lot when you’re a part of the run club. My fave long run was a ‘bachelorette’ party we had.
    I agree that the slow long run pace was the hardest to get over, but I too had the same experience. Every week my run group has a very quick group of runners at the front of the pack. In the spring I ran with them; this time, I didn’t. And this time I ran faster than them when it came to race day. Not my goal to ‘beat’ them by any means, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence!
    And lastly, the positivity – love it. I am just as excited for the couch-to-5Kers as the person running their 50th marathon. We’re all meeting our goals. Let’s build each other up and support it!!!

    • YES!!! I added in #11!

      And taking long runs slow seems so counter-intuitive. It stressed me out not to be pushing the speed even though every fast marathoner told me not to worry about pace. And hey, they were right! Congratulations for your awesome showing within your run group!

  4. Love your tips. So true and helpful and what I needed to hear right now (about long run pace, because my only two 20 milers have been really slow!). I might be out in Phoenix doing the Rock n Roll Marathon in January too. My friend is wanting me to run the full with her, probably not ideal since I’ll be training for Boston, but it’s hard to turn down a friend request, especially when it involves what I love to do!

    Also, I have never been to Boston and have no idea about what to do and see, etc., so please share any info you get. Thanks!

    • You are an animal for doing 3 marathons in a row! I do love the Arizona race though and it doesn’t hurt that January in Phoenix is nice and warm! It should be extra fun with a friend!

      I’ll let you know what I find out about Boston!

  5. Yes to #1…through…#10…we have similar views on running, training and enjoying life if it wasn’t obvious already. I don’t think I am going to beat your marathon time (or A’s even with the +10 you added to his time) but yes, I am comparing my training to yours and am starting to feel confident I can achieve my goal. #6 is obviously my biggest struggle so for now I am listening to everyone’s advice and focusing on my taper and letting my body deliver whatever time it can come race day as long as it is under 3:45. Thanks again and again for the details of your training, they have helped me tremendously with my own journey to a marathon and I am looking forward to reading about the path to Boston.

    • Hey, you never know! And yeah, up til the end I was still placing value on the numbers. But,the first 2 of the 3 20 miler paces were outside of the 1 minute 30 second window, which I think made for a better final long run. It is really hard to ignore those numbers, and I’m sure I’ll still worry about them come Boston training time, but I’ve seen first hand that the experts kind of know what they’re talking about.

  6. Who criticizes women for wearing make-up?? I mean, have they SEEN what the majority of people look like when they’re running? We need all the help we can get. I get my brows and lashes tinted a few days before a big race so I don’t need to worry about mascara smearing. I take it to the next level!!!

    I also totally agree with your points. 🙂 And I ALSO can’t believe we’re both planning a SECOND marathon!

    • Do you really? Yeah, there are a lot of female bloggers out there who write whole posts criticizing other women for being less serious because they wear skirts or comb their hair or whatever. Why can’t we all get along???? If you don’t judge me for my mascara, I won’t judge you for your lack of (men on the other hand could care less about any of this). I figure if I’m going to post pictures of myself all over the internet I at least don’t want to look more dead than I already do!

      • In all honesty, I don’t like running skirts, but I come from a sports background where you got dirty in your shorts and sports socks. But you could judge me on the fact that I’ve never run more than 7 miles yet I continuously comment and offer ‘advice’ (?????) on your marathon journey. When it comes to makeup, I wear it for races, but for weekend/holiday regular runs? Nothing.

  7. I think this is a great post and some words of advice for pre-marathon Amy. You’ve put things in perspective! I also love how you beat the marathon times of those bloggers, just love it 🙂 (That’s the competitive Danielle coming out).

    • Haha! I think especially with social media, you do feel like you need to run faster during training because you’re going to put your times up. I think a lot of these girls were more concerned about that then getting good training. Which is totally understandable. And I’m not criticizing their performance or saying they had bad marathons at all. But it helps me remember that long run paces aren’t all that indicative of marathon performance.

      But you don’t care. Because you refuse to run a marathon. At least for now 🙂

      • I totally agree! I see other running blogs (skinnyrunner and associated), and I know I’ll never achieve those times, level of fitness and amount of racing, partly because I don’t have a runners body type (more of a weighlifter’s body type), and I don’t want to devote that much time to running. I get excited when I read a running blog where their 10 km time is around mine!

        Also remember how paranoid you were about running your long runs slow????

        You’re right, I refuse to run a marathon, but have been entertaining the idea of running the Edinburgh half next May. If my body is up for it 😉

  8. Hi Amy… saw a shout-out to you on my friend Jen’s blog (“Running Tangents”), and wanted to drop by to say CONGRATULATIONS on your Boston qualifier. To achieve a BQ any time is great, but to do it on your first try – without the mental and physical experience of knowing what those last 6.2 miles entail – is phenomenal. I’m guessing a lot of runners could benefit from following your training regimen. I ran Chicago also and had a great time (though still 13+ minutes off a BQ, back to work!)… if you’re interested my own (um, word-filled) report is here: Best of luck in your Boston training, and to Aaron in his qualifying efforts… I’ll be keeping up with your progress from California!

    • HI Mike! Thank you for stopping by and for the congratulations! I do have to credit some amazing race conditions for at least making it easier! And congratulations on finishing Chicago too. I did a quick skim of your recap before realizing I’ll need a bit more time :).

      Good luck in your training efforts as well!

  9. I came across your blog through runchat on Sunday and have been reading about your experience in Chicago and your BQ! I’m looking forward to perusing through your archives. I loved this post and these are all good things for me to keep in mind as I begin marathon training again in a couple of months.

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