Adventures in Marathon Training

In one week I'm running the Marine Corps Marathon for the first time.
This will be my 5th full marathon, the 1st I've ever traveled outside the state to do.

At this point in my 18 week training plan, I've run 534 miles with just about 22 to go.
If my sketchy math is correct, that works out to be about 88 hours of running.

Before you think I've done something remarkable, let me say: ANYONE CAN RUN A MARATHON. All it takes is a good training plan, time to do the training and the commitment to make it happen.

And that leads me to tell you why YOU might enjoy marathon training:

1. All the calories... burned and eaten.
I cannot tell a lie. I absolutely love to eat. It might be my favorite thing, other than date night with my husband (and typically that is dinner out). But let me caution... marathon training isn't a license to eat unlimited quantities of everything. Health comes first. Gorging on cookies, coffee drinks, burgers and fries isn't going to give your body the nutrients it needs to repair your muscles and perform well. There are stories out there from people who gain weight while training for a marathon-- I suspect it's because they over estimate the calories burned and underestimate the calories consumed.

2. Peace and quiet.
I will have logged somewhere around 92 hours of running in my 18 weeks of training. That's a lot of "me" time! Being outside, away from the pressing needs of family, home, and work feels absolutely freeing. I love to run in the morning when traffic is light. I run to my favorite music or podcasts. I have prayer time, think time and just time to zone out. I've seen lovely sunrises, discovered nature and found some interesting items.

3. Strong body. Strong mind.
Following the training program has allowed me to gradually build my strength and endurance. And I really don't think any physical activity builds mental toughness quite like a long run. You are just out there. When the legs begin to ache and the lungs burn what are you going to do? Give in? Stop and walk? Or are you going to continue, pausing only mentally to take inventory and determine if the Achilles had really snapped or if the mind is playing tricks.

4. Learning about my community.
I love finding new running routes or revisiting my favorites. I pass the same walkers on sunny Sunday mornings. I know which parks have good water fountains and open restrooms. I know the shady and hilly spots. And when I travel or finally get to my race, in my mind I can picture exactly where I am on my favorite routes. It really is like those t-shirts:
Strong Girl Clothing
5. Learning about me.
Maybe the most valuable part of running is that I enter a deeper relationship with myself. That might seem like a strange statement, but nowhere else do I take the time to meditate on my life. What's bothering me? Why's it bothering me? I think about where I am and where I want to be (other than at home in my bath with a smoothie, that is). I replay various situations from the days before, thinking through the good and the bad. I make decisions and resolutions. I make plans and dreams. And hopefully, I make a better me.


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