What I've Learned During Marathon Training

by - Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Last week, I talked about what I struggle with during marathon training, so I thought this week I'd shed some light on some of the things I've learned this marathon training cycle.

First and foremost, I've learned that no matter how many races I train for, no two training cycles are exactly the same. 


So even when I think I've got it all figured out, my legs like to remind me that I am just wrong sometimes.

Usually, my injury prone little legs love their rest days. I tend to operate best on three to four days of running each week with rest days falling before and after my long run day.

Except for this training cycle.

I've learned in the last few weeks that I rebound much, much better from my really long runs if I can fit in a very easy three-miler the following day.

First 2 miles my calves hurt. Last mile my stomach hurt. But totally nailed marathon pace on the 3 in the middle.

What?! That was never the case before this year. But the weeks I've been able to make this happen, my subsequent mid-distance runs later in the week go a million times better.

I've also learned that my flag football games actually really help flush some of the lactic acid crap out of my legs.


Because flag football is a lot of starting and stopping, quick sprints followed by some shorter rest, I  spend a lot more time warming up and cooling down afterward, which helps move along any lingering gunk left over in my muscles from my super long runs. Odd, but true.

I've learned that no matter how much I say I'm going to cross-train during marathon training, I'll fall off the wagon after a few weeks.


Eventually running just take priority as the mileage gets higher and higher and the cross-training days become less important and more necessary for rest days and mental breaks from the constant training grind.

I've learned training is more mental than physical for me. There's a point in the beginning of training where the physical is the hard part and building mileage is tough, but eventually you get that base built and then it becomes much more mental. That's where I struggle. I'm at the point now where I feel trained and ready to run this race and once I have that confidence, it's easy for me to lose running motivation quickly.

I've learned all this training makes me itch to race again. I haven't run a race since early June, not even a 5K fun run! That's insanity for me people. I'm so, sooooo glad I have a race this coming weekend. I'm using it as a training run, but I don't even care, I just miss the race atmosphere so much and I'm dying to get back to it. Plus Megan and Coach Zach will be running it too, so it will just be a big running party.

What have you learned from your training that's surprised you?

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  1. I've learned that training is mostly mental for me too. It's the "knowing I can do this" that helps more than actually whether or not I can.

  2. Kerry5:38 AM

    Don't forget you ran a race in July when you went on vacation with your parents! http://jessruns.com/2012/07/rehoboth-beach-five-miler.html

    You're not too out of practice on your races :) I remember reading about that race specifically because I thought "Wow, girl is on vacation and she runs! Amazing!"

  3. Each training cycle is its own journey, with different highs and lows and different rewards along the way. Glad you enjoyed this last journey. I've just started running again after a year off, and I already have the itch to race again! Keep up the great work!

  4. It is really hard to squeeze everything in. you try some things that work and some things that don't. The really cool part is that we're out there trying it. Sure beats sitting on the couch.

    I've already finished 23 races this year, with nothing else on the calendar until Dec 2. I may have withdrawals, but I'm trying to focus on just the training for the ultra.