Lessons Learned from a Full Marathon

My first full marathon is in the books now, and I can reflect back on how it went, what I think I did right, and what I want to change before my next one. I’m very proud of how my first marathon turned out. I may not have hit my hoped for time goal of 4:22 (10 minute miles), but posting 4:40 still makes me happy. Most important, I went out and DID it. I said I wanted to finish my Masters degree and run a full marathon before I turned 40 – and I have done both those things now. 🙂

So, what went right? Well, lets see:

1) I finished it. This tells me my training was good enough to be able to handle the distance, and I built up enough stamina and mental strength.

2) My nutrition plan seemed to work OK – I never really felt nauseous, and managed to down adequate gels and sports drink while on the course, even forcing myself to take them when I didn’t really want to.

3) My gear selection seemed to work pretty good – I had some chafing on my belly, and on my shoulder, but nothing a little extra Body Glide won’t sure next time. My shoes might be an issue, but I’ll look at that in a bit.

4) My playlist was well put together. Although I had a few iPhone issues (one song skipped and played for 10 minutes; and once when reaching for a GU I bumped the panel and wound up replaying about 15 songs), the music in general really helped me keep going.

So if all those things went right, what could I have done better?

1) I got sick three weeks before the race – this took a LOT out of me. There was little I could do about getting sick, but I think the race may have gone better had I been able to train better in the last three weeks before the race.

2) Speaking of training, I really believe I needed to log more miles. I only ran two 20+ mile long runs, and one was way back in March, on the treadmill. Although running 22.2 miles gave me the confidence to know I could finish, I feel that had I logged a couple more long runs in the 24 – 26 mile range, I might have been able to run stronger for the last four miles.

3) Nutrition – although I generally eat very well, for the three weeks before the race, I didn’t eat as usual. Part of that was because I was sick, so I was eating anything I felt like. Part of it was because I was nervous, and I still give in to emotional eating now and then. Too many chips, too much ice cream, too much junk in general meant I wasn’t at my absolute best on race day.

4) A few days before the race, I did a five mile run, and my ankle was sore afterwards. I thought maybe it was a new pair of shoes I was breaking in, and figured since I was racing in my old regular shoes, it wouldn’t matter. My ankle was a little sore on race day, but nothing significant, but by the end of the race, it was sore and purple. I don’t know if it was shoes, laces, the cant of the road, or something else, but I’m sure this slowed me down somewhat.

So now I have to take all of these things into consideration and put together a training plan for Regina, which is 10 weeks away. I would really like to finish Regina in 4:22 or better – 4:15 would be ideal. That’s a 25 minute improvement – ambitious, but achievable, I think.

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2 Responses to Lessons Learned from a Full Marathon

  1. Corinthe says:

    I am not a runner *yet*, but a 4:40 marathon sounds impressive. I would love to run a marathon one day so it’s really encouraging to hear what you went through the few weeks prior to running, and that you still did it. Way to go!

    • Kris says:

      Thanks! It took me four years of running to get to the point I could tackle a marathon – when I first started running, I would make a deal with myself – run to the end of the block, then walk 5 minutes or more! Running helped me lose over 100 pounds, and now I love doing it. 🙂

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