what to learn from my worthy marathon experiment?

Are you going to run your first marathon? Learn from my experiments and why I run only 33.07 kilometers, not the entire distance — 42.2.

Before diving into the analysis, I state that I am delighted with the experiment. It is a colossal achievement, exceptional progress, and I never imagined that I can run such a long distance even if it is not a marathon distance yet. It is not a failure for me. It is an experiment with results. The results that I can use to improve myself and to progress further.

why?

I do not think there should be any fundamental reason to run a marathon. A genuine desire and the ability to run it are enough to start preparing. But make sure that you do not have any medical contraindications.

Appetite comes while eating. I started running from small distances, like one or two kilometers, in June of 2020. At that time, I cycled on a mountain bicycle. Week after week, I gradually increased running distances until I saw a local marathon event promotion in February of 2021. Why not? I registered. It was around the beginning of October.

preparation

I started to watch Youtube videos, read books. Eventually, I concluded that I need a trainer, an expert who can teach me how to accomplish the marathon distance and avoid common pitfalls. But it was a year of pandemic, and from blockage to blockage, the rules were changing, and I did not know if I can hire the trainer. So I decided to rely on myself, or rather, on Runkeeper.

It is not a promotion, but I used the app for a long time and decided to try. I created a marathon plan and started to execute it.

The plan was quite thoughtful. I checked it with various programs on the Internet, and I saw a lot of similarities. The main idea was to increase the distance each and to run faster and faster.

I started.

it is not that easy

In total, from June of 2020, I run 740.6 kilometers averaging ~83 kilometers per month. And I want to say that it was hard.

I run three times a week from October, and I have missed only one workout and two workouts I have not fully completed. It requires a lot of discipline, and you need to change a lot of habits.

Often, you can’t go out with friends in the late evening since you need to get up early on the next day and run a half-marathon as a regular workout. Yes, you will sacrifice a lot, and it is not that easy.

the race day

I forgot to mention that the local marathon event was canceled due to the pandemic. It had been canceled around a month before the race day. But who am I? I decided to run anyway, but I am not entirely sure that I chose. I invested a lot of time and changed a lot of habits for the sake of this one run. In my dreams, I saw myself completing this distance.

That day came. It was 7 of February of 2021. Some basic things went wrong:

  1. Unfortunately, I could not start to run in the morning and started running only in the late evening.
  2. The weather was very different from what I had been used to running.

I failed to complete the distance. Let’s review what went wrong, what went well, and why.

medical contraindications

Make sure that you do not have any medical contraindications. Consult with your family doctor, specialists in this area. Make sure that you do not have any chronic diseases that might cause problems.

Your body will get a huge load, and you have to make sure that this load will not kill you.

good sleep is essential

Two or three weeks before the race day, I failed to keep a consistent sleep schedule and started to sleep less.

Good sleep is the number one priority, uncompromisable. It recovers your body and your general health. And you must sleep well, at least eight hours. It won’t help you do the race if you sleep well only on the night before the race day.

Sleep problems have a cumulative effect, and the body will begin to malfunction.

If you started to prepare for the marathon, you can’t sleep at 21:00 one day and other days have a party with friends at 23:00. It would be best if you were consistent, or you always go to sleep at 23:00 or 21:00, but you have a good sleep every day for at least eight hours.

do not change your diet

I read a lot about this advice, but only when I felt bloated on the marathon did I understand its meaning. It was too late, and I continued to run with the discomfort of bloating.

Do not change your food preferences three weeks before the race day. Your body won’t have enough time to adapt and might misbehave on the race day.

If I run more than 20 kilometers, I take some sugars with me. This time I took a banana, but I never tested it before. You know the result. Always try any new snacks on preparation workouts.

do not overload yourself with extra activities

My fault was that I did not stop cycling, and sometimes I cycled for around a hundred kilometers per day. My body was not trained to keep such activity. On the marathon running day, I felt tired.

I did not have time to recover, and since fatigue has a cumulative effect, I did not have enough power to finish the race.

positive thinking is a must

You will have a long run for three or four hours long and imagine that you might have a negative mood all this time. How will you feel? Any obstacle can break you.

Having a positive attitude and positive thoughts while running will help you shift focus from pain and discomfort.

improve your running technique

After 25 kilometers, I felt all downsides of “my running technique.” My legs, knees, shoulders, and other parts of my body hurt.

Hire a trainer or learn it by yourself, but you need to improve your technique.

It correlates with my physical condition. I was not prepared and did not have enough muscles to move my body for such long distances.

general body condition

Make sure that you are stretching enough and your body has developed the muscles required for the marathon.

You can’t run the marathon without any preparation. You will encounter problems in your knees, shoulders, elbows, and other places that are not prepared for such high levels of loads.

a consistent schedule is crucial

Your body is getting used to the load, especially regular load, with a consistent schedule.

I recommend always run at the same time you have marathon your race day. And the rest of your lifestyle will have to adjust to that schedule. What else could it be?

the music won’t help

I run with a smartphone, and my battery cannot support listening to music and track my route.

I usually run without the music, and it is hard to keep a stable tempo (number of steps per minute) while listening to music. And for the long runs, a steady rhythm is essential.

After 20 kilometers, your thoughts will be louder than any music you listen to.

Among other things, it is a dangerous thing. You might miss the car while crossing the street.

prepare the plan of the run

It would help if you had a plan for the running day. I mean, plan the route if you run alone. The path should be familiar to you.

If you are preparing for the specific route or specific event, try to have workouts at this track. Or, if you can, find an area that has similar properties to the race day track.

water

Drink water, every time you feel thirsty, drink. I have a hack. I leave two or three bottles of water near someplace, and I plan my running to pass the place to drink water.

my feelings

I am not sure if I want to give it a second try. I want to relax for some time and think if I want to prepare for the marathon again. And if I decide to rerun it, I have a lot of lessons to learn.

Originally published at https://dmytrokrasun.com.

I write about software engineering and my life journey.

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