What You Need To Know When You Sign Up For Your First Marathon

When I signed up to run my first marathon in November I had false illusions of what that training would look like. I imagined myself logging onto Hal Higdon's website, picking a training plan that looked good... start my training, and basically have no flaws or hiccups the entire time. In a perfect world, that would have been the case, but I've learned that universe is no respecter of persons, or goals, and signing up for a marathon is no exception. 

Since I signed up for this race, I have encountered numerous ailments that I never would have been able to predict happening. I came down with an awful case of bronchitis, then the stomach flu struck a few weeks later at Christmas. I strained my hip, and then did further insult to injury when I fell over Em's gait trainer while bringing her into school. We then got round two of the stomach flu, and while round two was happening I got anal fissures. Yes, I'm admitting to getting anal fissures. And if you want to know, the discomfort that they brought to my life was 10 times worse than natural childbirth. I can unfortunately say that I now have reference to both things. And as if all that wasn't enough, I now have a death cold. 

My point in sharing this is not to complain, but to say that you likely won't have a perfect training cycle leading up to a marathon. Most training programs run about 20-30 weeks, and there is no way that anyone would ever be able to predict the things that could happen to them in that time frame. 

I was talking to someone a few weeks ago who told me that they were planning on running the Salt Lake Marathon (which is the one I'm doing), but that they'd gotten sick and decided to drop to the half. I know all to well what that is like because I was signed up for the full, dropped to the half, but then ultimately decided to upgrade back to the full again. 

My reasoning for going back to the full was because I realized that there is no such thing as a perfect training cycle. Life is always going to get in the way, there is always going to be a voice of doubt in your head telling you no, but the important thing is to just lace your shoes up and get back out there when you can. If you get sick, take the time off, but then get back into your training plan, and pick up right where you would be, had that hiccup not happened. There is no use crying over lost miles, you can't get those days or that training back, but you can get out there and keep going.  Just in the last seven weeks, I've missed eight runs, and I don't feel any more or less confident in my ability to run a marathon in just six weeks. In fact, because I listened to my body and took time off when needed, I'm certain that I'll perform better than I would have if I pushed through illness or injury. 

If you're looking to get out there and run a marathon, just know training will never be perfect. Things will get in the way, but you just have to rip off the bandaid and get after it. Do what you can. Don't worry if you're slow, just go and do, and be proud of yourself once you finally reach that goal! 

1 comment

  1. yeah, i believe it too. There is no such thing as a perfect training cycle. True.