Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 NYC Marathon Training



Running the NYC marathon in 2014 was my first venture into training for a full marathon. Yes, I run many races and many half marathons at that, but a full one was a different beast. 

My first full marathon was a lot - I got injured during training (my knee was pretty much busted), and the windiness on the day of the race was crazy - but I was determined to just finish no matter how many times I had to stop for the bathroom. And I did. In 5 hours and 3 seconds. 

Anyone who has ever run a marathon will tell you that right after the race, you swear you will never do it again, and then in a few months, you can only remember the feeling of accomplishment. So yes, after a couple of years, I was itching to do it again. And because I didn't care about my time the first time I ran, I knew I would be focusing a lot on beating my previous time.

The 2017 marathon was one of my proudest achievements, more than the first one was. Why? I have spent so much time learning about my body over the last few years that I felt like my training was so much more disciplined, structured, and tailored towards me. I didn't miss a day of training and did not get an injury even with the extremely long runs. 

With all that, I thought I'd share a few highlights of both my training and my run.

What training program did I follow?
If you are looking to run a marathon and don't know where to start, my opinion is that it takes about 18 weeks to get to the finish line, if you have run fairly consistently before. But this differs for everyone. I was looking to finish in about 4 hours and found a training program that supported that. Note that this involves running about 5 days a week on average (Training Plan from Competitor.com).


How did I fuel before the big day?
Again, this is different for different people, but one thing I have come to realize is that you shouldn't do really new things on race day. So whatever worked for your training should work on the day with one caveat. You usually get on the road very quickly when you train, but the madness of race day could mean that you are stuck in transport for hours (see my story below) and so think about that as well when you fuel.

What are some unexpected things to remember on race day?
Transport to the start line can take hours! It took me about 4 hours to get to the start. During my training, I literally stepped outside of my apartment and started to run, which meant I didn't need much fuel at the start. Because there was a long gap between my bed and the race start on race day, I had to have some fuel (a bagel). But remember that you are running for hours so my advice is not to eat too much or you'd probably need the bathroom. You don't want to need the bathroom.


The assumption is that you also want to drinks lots of water, but I found that for me, it was important to control my water intake so I don't stop for the bathroom as well. Think about this as you plan. Also, take a couple of gel packs in case you start getting low on energy. These were a life saver.

Remember to dress for the weather, not the temperature. When you run, you will get warm so don't wear so many layers that it gets heavy. If it is raining, don't wear cotton because you will be soaked and have to run in heavy clothes.

Conserve your energy! At the start of every single race I have been on, people just get this burst of adrenaline and run way faster than they planned. What then happens is that midway, when the adrenaline is gone, their bodies start to hit a wall and they can't push past it. Remember that at the midway point, you should feel like you've just started the race. When folks are running past, give them space.

If you are running anywhere like NYC, the energy of the supporters will push you. These are the amazing people that got me through. Engage with them, smile at them, give them high fives.

How did I finish?
At mile 23, I hit a wall. My body was moving forward by a thread (the willpower thread!) and the hills did not stop. I did have to slow down somewhat towards mile 24, but I ended up finishing in 4 hours 10 mins and 19 secs. Don't let the smile deceive you; walking was a challenge.


How did I recover?
Because I had to be at work the next day, I needed to ease my muscles quickly and so I went straight in for a massage. For the next few days, I did quite a bit of yoga to stretch out those tired muscles and I took walks so I didn't get stiff. But most important, I took a break from running and started to ease back into strength training. As I write this, it's been just over a week and I'm still in strength training mode :) I will get back to the pavement but have to let my body heal.

Hope you learned something! Have you run a marathon? What worked for you?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

57 comments:

  1. you did it girl Great job !!!! I know that feeling of never running again, while running mine, i vowed never to do it again and wondered why i even decided to run one in the first place, but right now i am actually considering it lollll. Hopefully like you i can get a way better time ...... if i do decide to run it again : )

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