Thursday, 28 March 2013

Long Distance Lessons

So as I gear up to start training again, I find myself dreaming, plotting, planning, and thinking about Marathon #2. I long for those perfect 42.2km (or 26.2 miles). Just me, a pair of sneakers and the road - spending some quality time together, battling my inner demons and my genetic shortcoming - all while smiling and bouncing across that finish line triumphant and happy. OOOOOHHHH I want it so bad I can taste it!

And this time I am gonna be READY! This time I have decided that I am a little older,  a little wiser, and better prepared for this monstrous task. So I am taking all the lesson I learned last time and putting them into action!

Lesson #1 - Respect the Distance
42.2 kilometers is a LONG WAY to run. I definitely underestimated the power of the Marathon. Don't be fooled - it is far! Very very far!

Lesson #2 - Patience is a Virtue
Miles, Strength, Endurance and lots of training are required to run a Marathon. And all of that requires patience and perseverance.

I tried to run my Marathon way too soon after toasting the ta-tas. I started running again in June, but I had absolutely no base, no strength, no endurance. I was basically starting over. I tried to go from running 0 miles to Marathon glory in 4 months. It was ambitious and also a little silly. I wasn't ready. I just really really really wanted to be.

So this time I going to be patient (or rather as patient as I can be). And I am giving myself time to build that base. It is also why I have decided to change my goal race. I have decided to run the Hamilton Marathon on Nov 3rd. It is a flat course. It is ranked the #1 Boston Qualifying Course in Canada. And it is a little bit later than the other race options I was looking at, so I will have more time to train.

Lesson #3 - Nutrition is Key
So deep down I always knew this. But I was a total nutrition newbie when I ran my last marathon. I had experimented with lots of things and lots of different products leading up to me race, but I never really nailed down what worked for me. I am going to make an effort to log my meals along with my miles on My Fitness Pal so I can keep track of what fuel works for me and what doesn't. There will be no funny business this time around.

I will also be fueling my runs with Clif Blocks to help keep my sugar levels in check. CLIF Bar has been absolutely amazing to me and has offered to sponsor my marathon journey. (**No big deal, just a CLIF sponsored athlete. Totally normal for a newbie amateur marathoner and Darwinian Fail, Right?! Totally normal...**) So I am going to nail down my nutrition plan early and practice my race day fueling on my long runs. No Bonking Allowed!

Lesson #4 - Cross Training is Your Friend
Because I was trying to get my running legs back so quickly after my surgery, I think it is possible that I over-trained. Or at the very least over-ran. My approach to my last marathon was simply run, run, run, and run some more. I was logging 5 runs/week on my own and 3 additional runs/week with the 10km clinic I coach. This was clearly not the most balanced approach. Miles were logged, but at the end my legs were fatigued and I wasn't any stronger for it.
This time around my training plan will include swimming, biking, and yoga. The swimming and biking are key for my endurance as well as triathlon training. And the yoga is required to help restore my body and balance my training after those long training run.

Lesson #5 - Consistency is Powerful
One of the things I think I did right last time was remain consistent throughout my training. I followed my training plan to the letter, now granted it wasn't the ideal training plan, but I was on point in terms of commitment. If you want results you have to do the work. And I plan to do the work.

What do you guys think? Would love to hear your thoughts, criticism, feedback?

Ready?! Let's go!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,


  1. Having run the Hamilton Marathon last year for the first time I found the Red Valley Parkway the hardest part of the race. It is a very long downhill, and while that doesn't sound like a bad thing the crown on the road wreaks havoc with your IT band.

    Add some down hill running to your training plan and do some 5km runs on uneven surfaces to strengthen your stabilizing muscles.

    Other than that, plan to have the time of your life in Marathon number two!!

  2. It took me a few marathons to fully realize the value of cross training, good for you!! congrats on being clif sponsored, they are a great company!

  3. I agree! I'm learning that crosstraining and stretching are key to steng and recovery even for a half! Wth my full coming up in October ill be keen to that beforehand rather than after ;)

  4. I think your advice is spot on! Really timing is everything. It takes so much time and energy to train for a marathon... running it is the easy part.

  5. Sounds like a solid plan! I'm a marathon newbie so I'm trying to follow the same rules of training. Best of luck you little sponsored athlete! ;)

  6. I have to concur that the Red Hill Expressway is brutal - both the Hamilton Marathon & the Around the Bay Race (which happened this past weekend) are truly challenging races because of the geography/race routes. I live in Hamilton so I will have to cheer you on!!!

  7. Sounds good to me but what do I know?! :) You're inspiring me to give the marathon another shot though!

  8. Having a plan is so important! Consistency is key in all that we do! You will rock this and I'm so excited for you!!!

  9. I definitely benefited from some cross training to keep my muscles balanced and not overtrain. You are ready... I'm excited for you!!

  10. I love this! Can you give detailed workout info? Like how much you run each day? I'm hoping beyond hope to run a full in about a year and a half so this would be valuable info. Proud of you for doing this!

  11. Soudns like you've got the right idea!! :) Good luck on your training!

  12. You are going to do fine. Just remember for the last six miles did down deep and focus on the finish. Hopefully the other runners cheer you on as well as the crowd!! The mental part is just as big as the physical so this far out you are on a good path. Good luck and looking forward to the blogs leading up to the race

  13. I saw Jeff's comments above. He is spot on with downhill. You may think it's a great place to pick up some speed and bank some time, but if you are not careful, you will trash your quads and start to feel it later in the race. Take advantage of the downhill, but don't over due it.

    You might not want to hear this, but (for me) the race really begins at mile 18-20. Getting to that point is just the warm up. Your results will be determined in how you are able to run the last 6-8 miles. I don't want to write a book on this post, so I may shoot you an email (if you'd like). But basically, I'm trying to say to keep is comfortable for the first 18-20 miles, then decide if you need to speed up or keep it cool.

    I'm always happy to help a friend. (and pssst. Cliff is way cool)

  14. Sounds likes a great plan and I am glad to have someone else focused on a better marathon this go around. I have established a plan and my weak point is actually finding the time to run the run I have planned. It is hard juggling work and motherhood with running but I have faith...and I really want that awesome marathon time of my dreams so I need to work hard!

    And I third the caution of the downhill. It really can wreck havoc on your legs so be sure to focus on training and prepping your legs for that added impact and eccentric contraction. Run hills and control the downhill. Don't go as fast as you may want to. And stay in tune to your IT bands and quads.

    I have faith in you! You will achieve your dreams!

  15. Sounds like some solid plans you've made. I'll be following your journey as I've eyed up the Hamilton half before. The later date gives you time to enjoy the summer months a little bit longer.

  16. Cross training is so important! And CONGRATS on your CLIF sponsorship! I LOVE the bars and they are one of my trusty go to-s :)

  17. Congrats on the CLIF deal! That's so awesome. I agree with your approach...the biggest and most important step is building that base. Go nice and easy and get it in first before adding the other elements in. Can't wait to see how you do in November!

  18. Sounds like you've got a plan! I LOVE Clif!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

  19. Great advice, and CONGRATULATIONS!!

  20. I am working on marathon #2 also and my biggest lesson after number one is listen to your body. Don't try to push through pain, rest and recover.

  21. Great lessons Krysten!! Patience and consistency are so important. And cross training :-)
    Can't wait to cheer you on during this journey and um, CLIF Bar, huh?? ;-) CONGRATS!!

  22. Those are great lessons and I will definitely follow them as I start marathon training this summer.

    I know you will rock it!

  23. Love this post as it helps others see what you learned even though you have other issues. Many try too much too soon & too quickly. I love that your plan takes you thru a very balanced & CONSISTENT approach! So cool wit all your sponsors - amazing!!! YOU are amazing!