Today… I will be running my third marathon, here in the beautiful city of Paris.
It is still so weird to say, seeing as this time last year, I would be nervously walking up to the start line for my FIRST ever marathon; and seeing my progress knocks me back for six.
This year, I’ll be walking to the start line with blogger bestie Tink Jayne. This will be her first marathon, and I couldn’t be anymore proud of her. I’ve seen her become a long distance runner before my very eyes, starting literally from just the basics. Taking the time to listen, guide and celebrate her successes has made me all the more excited to be spending such a grand day with her.
It made me realise that I wanted to help more of you. Which, I guess, is what Lipstick And Trainers is all about, and for those that know me, I will eventually be a qualified PT so that I can help others achieve their dreams too.
I wanted to share with you what inspires me to run, what motivates me through the hard parts and what gets easier. Here are a few pointers for that BIG ass 26 mile run, and I promise you it’ll all be worth it.
The Cold, Winter Nights.
Marathon season usually falls between the months of March and June, especially here in the U.K. So the miles are mainly done through the winter period, which ain’t all that easy. Yes, it is cold, dark and wet. You really don’t want to go out and train in any of that; seeing as you’ve also just finished an eight-hour shift at work. I really understand your pain, truly I do… I was never an early riser, so I had to train my body to be ok with such ‘torture’. I can honestly say, that it is mind over matter and once you are used to going out at the ridiculous times your training plan sets you out for, it will eventually be the last thing you worry about. In time, it will get easier and the procrastinating will shorten. At least, somewhat.
Once the habit is born, the fire inside you will burn harder, and you will only want to continue when you see the benefits.
Then to help those bitter cold evenings, I went out and bought some new, warm winter gear. Buying clothes ALWAYS makes you feel better. Specialised running hoodies and t-shirts that keep the heat in, but the moisture away from the skin, will be more comfortable for outdoor running. It isn’t as daunting to head out when you’re wrapped up warm, and you’re in funky running gear.
Pounding the pavements many times a week can become monotonous and keeping focused when the routine has well and truly settled in can be difficult to hold. It all gets a little tiring and mixing things up will be the only cure for this. You do not want to resent the relationship you have with running, so cut yourself some slack, and see what else is out there. There are plenty of other workout classes that you can attend to, so play around with all the exciting fitness crazes the world has to offer. Plus, doing other strength based exercises will only promote your health and wellbeing, so you should definitely go to that dance class or go for a few laps at the pool! It will aid your training by building muscles in other areas, which will make you stronger. THEN you will also start to miss your beloved running every now and then, who’d have thought, hey?
Prioritising Your Time & Wellbeing.
At first, you’ll be doing the same old shizz, whilst running the extra miles in a week. Drinking at the weekends, eating what you want because “hell, I earned this, I’m marathon training!” Which is sort of true… Dieting is a big no no here, as depriving yourself will only lead to poor performance and fatigue. HOWEVER, you begin to realise that certain foods will make you feel tons better, and other foods will make you feel like utter cr*p.
I didn’t totally cut out all the ‘bad foods’ that I ate, but I do lead a much healthier life. I ALWAYS eat a good breakfast first thing in the morning, and I snack throughout the day in between runs to fuel for the miles I would be completing. Eating is my favourite thing to do, so instead of cutting back, I just ate well and worked my butt off!
Saying “No” to friends makes you feel like you’re missing out on all the fun when everyone’s off to the pub, but you will feel better missing out every now and then if you are training for the big old marathon. Some evenings have to be sacrificed (and I don’t mean all of them) because training is like having a relationship; you get out what you put into it, and if you decide to miss out on those ‘dates’ when long run day appears, you will only feel worse off for it. Trust me, there will be other nights, and savouring them moments makes it all the more fun. Plus you save on the pennies!
Long Run Day.
So, it has arrived. The marathon is short of a month away and you need to fit in that dreaded 20 miler. I spent a few of these alone, in the middle of Manchester listening to the same old tracks… But let me tell you now, if you are able to take yourself away for this long ass run, then it will be SO much easier.
Even if you live by the beach, the countryside or some fields… Let the beauty of this world take your mind away from the painful course that you’ll have to endure within. I am not going to lie to you; it isn’t the nicest of things you’ll have to do, but if you’re running through the pretty sights, it’ll only alleviate the situation.
I personally took myself away to visit Afan Lodge* in South Wales to do my longer training miles, and it will be something I will be doing again in the future. It was a hard track, plenty of hills and forestry but I enjoyed the run so much more because it wasn’t the same old route day in, day out. As a risk taker, I had wanted to train somewhere new and exciting. The change of scenery helped me to mentally go the distance, (pardon the pun) so if your are impatient, easily distracted and are easily stressed (like me) then running the scenic route is much better than your bog standard routine at home.
*Anyone that is interested in trail running in the forest, then definitely check out Afan Lodge, it’s great for its cycle paths, but I found it was also great for runners like myself. Amazingly, friendly staff and beautiful surroundings. Not at all expensive and is worth the trip if you like a good hike!
So what keeps you ticking along during marathon training? What have YOU found most difficult? Keep me updated on your running plans, it would be good to see how your training is going!