Despite cutting my training short during my first marathon attempt, it was truly a learning experience. When I began training for the Buffalo Marathon at the end of December, I had a completely different mentality towards training and made major changes that ultimately helped me complete training successfully.
First, I really focused on my eating habits. Last summer during training, I was extremely stressed and very busy so I found myself snacking more than I needed. I was also eating out of convenience which didn’t always mean healthy. This time around, I was much more committed to making healthy choices. I often had egg whites and whole wheat toast for breakfast while lunches were combinations of homemade soups, salads and turkey sandwiches.
Another key factor to my training this time around was having a consistent schedule. In the summer, I would plan to wake up early in the morning to run but when the alarm went off, I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed. I would then tell myself that I would run in the evening after class and work but it was always so warm that I would put it off once again. Many miles of my training were missed this way.
For this training program, I planned my workouts into my schedule. Every morning, I would pack my gym bag with everything I would need and went straight to the gym from work. I knew that if I went home and got comfortable that I would never go back out (especially in the freezing Buffalo weather). Even on days that I didn’t feel like going, I told myself to at least get a few miles in but once the endorphins started flowing, I would easily finish my planned miles.
Next, I finally ignored the clock during runs. I used to be so fixated on running 7 or 8 minute miles for the duration of my runs but it quickly wore me out. This time around I let my legs set the pace. Rather than pushing myself mile after mile to the point of exhaustion, I ran at a pace that was comfortable. Some miles and some days were faster than others but I did not let the number get to my head.
Lastly, I wasn’t alone in my training. Last time, each mile was on my own, and as much as I love music, sometimes you just need company on a long run. This time, I joined an amazing running group through a local specialty running store. They sent out the entire training program and hosted weekly Saturday long runs, complete with water stops. The coaches were so nice and helpful, and were always sending encouraging notes to the group.
I also had a fabulous group to train with…my llama ladies Ashley and Michelle. We are a great team because we push each other through each run and encourage each other daily. When one of us was having a bad day, the others would help us fight through the pain.
During this program, running became something I loved again and I found myself looking forward to the weekly long runs. It’s an amazing feeling to finish a run and say, “That’s the farthest I’ve ever gone” or “I can’t believe how easy that felt”. Sometimes, you have to experience failure before you can achieve success.