Saturday, January 25, 2014

For the First Timers

It may not seem like it outside, but it's Spring marathon training time! My big spring race this year is the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and my 12-weeks training starts in a few short weeks. 

With the polar vortex becoming a word in my everyday vocabulary, I'm becoming very connected with my treadmill. 

I am also battling some foot pain steaming from running on shoes I should have changed out and breaking in new shoes. Once I get some different runs in on my Mizuno Wave Creation 15's I will be sure to review them for you guys. 

I have a few friends who are embarking in their first race journey and I love that they can ask me questions about training. 

I remember when I was training for my first half, I read TONS of blogs about what to expect, why my training plan was  what it was, and what I needed to do to make sure I was ready. So, here are my views on What to remember while you are training. 

1. Trust your training plan
There is a reason why it was given to you. Someone has tested it and has proven that it has worked. If you are like me, and have to be in control, it might be a hard thing to accept that you need some help. I researched and found so many different plans. What makes one better than the other? I had no idea what to look for, better yet, what should I be looking for? For me, I bought The Runners World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training. I read it front to back and followed the training plan to a T. It was nice knowing that I could turn to the book if I had a question. 

2. Learn to love gels
I remember the first time I tried energy gels, I wanted to throw up. I looked up tons of different ways to fuel but mostly saw that everyone uses them differently. For me, the best way for me to use gels is by only using half of it at a time. During longer runs, take the time to practice your fueling and practice taking your gels. This way on race day, you won't be fumbling through the water stop. I personally use GU gels because they are a smaller package and I don't mind the lemon lime or strawberry banana flavors. Make sure you notice if some flavors have caffeine added to them! 

3. Test out your race day outfit
This is one thing I saw repeated through my research. Decide what you are going to wear race day about a month before the race. Wear the outfit during your last log run before your taper. Make sure everything feels alright. I don't know about you, but I don't feel right wearing the race shirt before you actually finish the race. Plus, who knows if it will irritate you during the race, or if it will be too warm/cool for the day. I always test out my outfits a few times before a race. No surprises are needed the morning of. 

4. Celebrate your accomplishments
During training for your first half or full marathon you will hit some major accomplishments, make sure you celebrate them! You deserve it! Post it all over social media, reward yourself with a new pair of socks, do something! When I finished my first 20 mile training run, I bought myself new Sparkly Soul headbands. This is a big deal, treat it like it is. This will keep you motivated and help you stay out of your head when the mileage gets tough. 

5. Do not get frustrated 
Let me repeat, DO NOT GET FRUSTRATED!!! So your training says you needed a 10 mile run, but you could only squeeze in 8, big woop! No one is keeping score! Life happens. Do not feel like you need to make up those miles. During my first marathon training I missed an 18 mile run due to a snow storm. I felt like I needed to make up those miles the next week. BIG MISTAKE! I ran 50 miles that week and my legs felt awful. If you can't get in a full training, add in a cross training or so extra stretches. Move past it and continue on. 

6. Listen to your body
You are the only one who knows when something is wrong. If something doesn't feel right, step back and try to figure out what was different. Tone back the workout a little and take care of the problem immediately. Missing a few days of training is better than missing the race you worked so hard for. 

7. Embrace the taper
I should be the last one preaching this, but it is very important to taper off your training closer to the race. Take the time to get in the last minute things. Make sure you have travel plans in check, get your race day gels/snacks together and work on carb loading. I use the taper to stretch more and make sure my body feels the best it can before getting to that start line. 

What do you think is the most important thing to remember about training? What advice would you give first time racers? 


  1. These are some really great tips - wish I would have had them when I trained for my first race. :)

    I have completely embraced the treadmill this past week. I am training for the Pittsburgh Marathon as well and can't just stop because it's cold.

    Good luck with your training. Hope it warms up a little right in time for your plan to start!

    1. It would be so easy to just stop and jump back in when the weather is nice. For me, I would be so mad at all the work I did to just give up because the weather is awful!

      We are due some weather break for sure! Good luck with your training as well =)

  2. I'm training for the Pitt 2014, my first full marathon. Love your training tips, 1-6 are so relevant to my day to day training, and I'm looking forward to #7 in April.

    I'm writing recaps of each week of training. The past week was not so pretty, I could have used posts like yours as motivation to get through what felt like a dark time. Thank you for sharing the results of your experience, very helpful to beginners like me.

    1. I'm so happy to help! You will really enjoy Pittsburgh the communities get really involved and you kinda forget the miles. Stay positive =)