Hi! I’m Steph from 321delish! I’ve been following Ashley for some time now, and I finally met her in person at Meghann’s wedding this January. Ashley reached out to me to tell my story for marathons + moderation, and I happily said yes!
I was a college swimmer at a small division III school in Illinois. Working out 20+ hours per week was just normal for me. When I graduated, I did Teach for America in Washington, DC and had little time to get in any kind of workout, which was really frustrating to me. When I was able to find a little bit of “me” time, I just had to do something that got my heart pumping. The thought of going through all the rigamarole to get in the pool for a workout was not appealing, and swimming solo is BORING. So, I strapped on a pair of sneakers and went for a run around DC. I realized that running was actually fun! I loved running around and exploring my new city.
When things settled down in the spring of my first year of teaching, I joined a kickball team. One night after a few too many rounds of flip cup after our game, a few of my teammates started talking about the Marine Corps marathon. A few minutes later we had all decided to register!
I had never run a marathon before. I was clueless about what I needed to do to prepare. I just figured that I needed to run. A Lot. I didn’t print out a plan, I didn’t join a running group, I just kind of ran around for a few miles and then kept adding on some mileage every week. Several weeks before the marathon, my kickball buddy said that we should do a long run, so we planned an 18 miler. I’m pretty sure I only ran 15 of it, and even that was a struggle! That was the most mileage I did prior to the marathon. Friends, I do NOT recommend this way of training.
Marathon day came and I was nervous and excited. I was hoping to run a 4:30, and I thought that was pretty reasonable for me. (Based on what, I’m not exactly sure…) My one kickball friend was super speedy, and I don’t even think I saw him before we started. My other kickball friend had gotten injured, so she was in a different corral than me. So, I was all by myself, but thankfully my parents had come down to cheer me on.
I felt pretty good for the first half. I remember checking my half split and I was right on target to meet my goal. I saw my parents a few times and had a big smile on my face- I was running a marathon!
Mile 20 took us over the bridge and into VA and here’s where I hit the wall. I remember running through Crystal City thinking, “I could probably walk faster than I’m running…” But I’m stubborn and was too proud to let myself walk.
6.2 miles later I saw the finish line and I was oh so thankful. That last 10K was miserable, but I had made it to the finish line! I didn’t reach my goal time (I think I came in somewhere around a 4:45) but I was so proud of myself for finishing 26.2 miles of running! Unfortunately, I was too tired to smile for a finish line pic J
I’m glad I have my “first marathon” experience, but I would not recommend my strategy to anyone. However, I still like running, so I didn’t traumatize myself too badly J I definitely learned a few things about running from that experience, so here’s a few tips for a newbie from a swimmer turned runner turned triathlete:
1) 26.2 miles is a LONG way. I had ZERO concept of just how far a marathon really is. I knew it was a long way, but I figured my recreational running would sufficiently prepare me for the race. Boy, was I wrong! Running a few miles a day, 4 times a week will NOT prepare you for a marathon.
2) Research marathon training plans. Again, I was clueless about what it took to prepare for running a marathon, let alone any distance of running race. I’m a swimmer, not a runner. Ask me what it would take to prepare to swim the 200 IM and I could get you there. Running? Definitely not. Do a little internet search to get some idea of what kinds of mileage is ample prep for a marathon.
3) I am stronger than I think. The marathon is tough on your body and tough on your mind. The summer I was preparing for the race, someone said to me, “You won’t finish the marathon.” When things got tough, I remembered that conversation and didn’t let myself give up. I would not let him be right. And it worked J
Good luck out there first time marathoners! You can do it! Trust me though, the next time around was a far better experience!
How about you? Have you ever trained this way or do you have a strict regimen?