Rest and recovery can be more important than getting your run in: I’ve learned this the hard way (and still struggle to do it) but notice immediate benefits when I prioritize rest.
Accept imperfection: one of my favourite quotes from Kara Goucher is “Erase from your mind that your preparation must be perfect. Hard work + dedication = a shot at your dreams. Keep believing.” It is easy to fear one bad workout or a terrible long run will ruin your race but I don’t think training has to be nor will it likely be perfect.
Run hills to build strength, speed and endurance: for 8 weeks we ran hill repeats at my marathon clinic increasing the repeats each week. Every long run included several hills. I can’t say I always enjoyed them at the time but know they really benefitted me in the long term.
Listen to your body, watch it adapt and challenge yourself: it’s pretty cool what your body gets used to and what starts to feel normal and doable, like running 25 km on a Sunday or running 50 miles in a week (a lot for me!).
If running starts to feel like a chore, reevaluate: training for several months certainly starts to get tiring, especially when you choose an early bedtime over a social life. But running should still be fun and the training enjoyable!
If things don’t feel right, do something: I could have resolved my piriformis and hip issues a lot sooner (and avoided some taper week freakouts) if I had actually gone to see someone about it as soon as I started experiencing problems.
The chafing struggle is real (especially when you shower after a long run). Enough said.
Don’t be afraid to eat: while training for my first marathon I was honestly afraid of gaining weight. You read a lot of recaps from people about that happening! Well that didn’t happen. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost weight both times. I assure you I ate a lot of food this time around and my energy levels reflected that. Following Whole30-like guidelines helped to ensure I was eating nutrient-rich food (versus a diet comprised of only scones).
Focus on the task at hand: for awhile I really wanted to run a 50 km trail race before the end of 2016. Trying to balance that with marathon training just became too complicated. I know many people can do it, but focusing on the single task at hand works best for me.
Find your why, find your motivation: because it will change and it will fade. I questioned my motivation for running a second marathon for a long time. Ultimately it came down to seeing what I am capable of and how I wanted to feel at the finish line.
Be realistic about how much time you have in a day and in your week: this has been the hardest lesson for me. Realizing I can’t give everything 100% to everything all the time or do all the things. Actually scheduling tasks into my day with realistic time frames was a huge eye-opener.
Training with a group can be incredibly motivating: I don’t know if I could train for a marathon on my own again. I loved the accountability, motivation, encouragement, and sense of teamwork in my marathon clinic. We were able to share our struggles and successes, celebrate completing hard workouts together, and commiserate over some especially tough long runs.
Your perspective on what is hard will change significantly the more hard things you do. You always have more to give (unless it’s the last 500 m of the marathon… then maybe that’s it).
Race day isn’t the only measure of your success: because who knows what can happen on race day. Some of the best advice I’ve received is to treat race day as a celebration of your training, while also celebrating the many triumphs throughout your training. Don’t throw away everything you’ve achieved over the past couple of months!
How you feel at the end of a race can matter more than the time on your watch: sure I remember my finish time from the Portland Marathon. But I’m even prouder of how I felt at the end of the race – totally spent, like I tried my best, and that I have never pushed my limits so far before.
I’d love to know any lessons that have been popping up in your life lately! Please tell me I’m not the only one that thinks this much about running.