Friday, March 8, 2013

Stuff I Do When I Train for a Marathon

I think my body is finally adjusting to marathon training. Even though I was in decent shape when I started “official” training three weeks ago, my body was still like “WTF? What’s with this structure, these puke inducing treadmill workouts, these 2 hour runs?”

Last week I told you I had been feeling kind of tired and I have to say this was messing with my confidence and motivation. I’m glad I stuck in there because I had a powerful speed workout on Tuesday that made me feel like a super star (and kind of made me want to throw up or crap my pants for a second, but that’s not lady-like to do at the gym unless you’re on the Biggest Loser).

On today’s long run (only 10 miles because it is a recovery week), I also felt like a million bucks (or at least a thousand bucks or a million pesos). And, it was not the easiest run:


The goal was a 9:30 pace, but it ended up being 9:14 by mistake. I am trying to keep my long runs at least 1 minute slower than marathon pace, but it doesn’t always happen.

I notice with training that I develop habits and routines. Here are some training, fueling and recovery strategies that I find helpful during training:

  • I go to bed early. Really early. I need to move to a nursing home.
  • For runs I do early in the morning (before 7am), I can’t eat much. My staple is a cup of coffee and a banana. Then I come home and pig out on Costco loaves. If you haven’t had these, I am sorry for you. They have become so popular in our house we just call them “loafs,” as in “Go get your mama another loaf. NOW. Or you’re grounded.”


  • For long runs (I usually do these on weekends when can start a bit later), my go-to pre-run fuel is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • I drink 2 or so ounces of water every mile while running. When my Garmin beeps, I drink. It is the boss of me.
  • During long runs, I do a gel every hour or so. My favorites are GU: vanilla bean, orange cream, or strawberry banana. They seem to sit best in my stomach. I love the chews and beans, but when it’s cold, these get too hard and then my jaw gets sore or I almost choke. Sounds pornographic.
  • Post run I am religious about foam rolling my ass, my IT bands (hurts like a mother f&cker), my calves and my hamstrings. I then do some light stretching.


Worst picture ever taken of me in my life. I love you enough to share it.

  • After workouts of an hour or more, I’ve started drinking EAS AdvantEDGE shakes. I like these because they are light, yet have 17 grams of protein, kind of light on the carbs, but I make up for that later (remember the loaves?). Chocolate milk works too.


  • Post long run I've been taking long, hot baths. I know many of you are fans of the ice bath for recovery, and yes –those are supposed to be much more beneficial than the hot bath. But, I don’t give a crap. When I have just been out running in 20 degree weather for 2 hours, I want warmth. And, I swear, my muscles love it. I soak in 2 cups Dr. Teal’s Epsom bath salts each time.
  • I’ve been supplementing my running with one session of hot yoga each week and one VERY tough spin class. The yoga gives my entire body an amazing workout and gives me more strength and stability. The spin class has lots of sprinting, climbing and intervals. I swear it has made my running stronger. Note: farting in hot yoga should be a crime. People need to stop it.
  • I go to acupuncture every second to third week and this has helped tremendously with my back and hamstring pain.


  • I noticed on long runs my feet were hurting so I started using Super Feet insoles (blue). So much better, so much more comfortable.
  • And, then of course I drink wine every night because that is what I do whether I am training or not.

What’s one must-have habit or routine you acquire while training?

Have a splendid weekend! We are getting tons of snow. I hate being cold, but I do love the snow. I never said I made sense. Anyone every try snow milk before? We used to put chocolate syrup on snow when I was little, but snow milk is like that on steroids.



  1. Your post is perfect timing ~ I just did a 19 miler yesterday and my feet are killing me while the rest of me feels great. I must need insoles. Or I am old. Either way I'm going to try the Super Feet.

  2. I'm glad you are getting in the groove of training and that your confidence is coming along, too. Goes a long way!

    I honestly feel like I've been in perpetual marathon training mode this past year (wait, I have!) so nothing really stands out. Lately, though, I've been hammer down on my nutrition in an effort to lean out a bit before race day (one week!). Bought a new pair of smaller jeans yesterday, so that of course made me feel good and more ready to toe the line!

  3. I am glad to hear you report that your energy and confidence is back after a tough week, because this is my tough week! I am really hoping I hit my 18 miles tomorrow with gusto so my confidence goes back up.

  4. I am about halfway into my training. I love the routine of it. I am like you and drink every mile too, with the garmin beep. I found out the "hard" way that chomps/chews in the cold are not so good. I nearly choked on a 13 mile run. I am at the point where I think I need new shoes already. I have 2 more 20 milers to go, and should probably do at least one of those in the new shoes I think before race day. The first couple weeks were rough, and then I had a few weeks where I felt really good, and now I am at the point where it is just hard. Even the recovery weeks still look super hard compared to what I was doing before, but I have gotten super fast, so I am happy.

  5. I need to start doing long runs..I split up my 10 miles by running 6 in the morning and then cross country skiing 4... I need to combine both and just run... I just need more time.. What time of the day do you run?

    1. Depends - I do my shorter (speed, tempo) runs usually early before getting the kids to school. Long runs are on Sunday mornings starting around 7 or 8 am. I always run in the morning or I get too tired and don't do it later.

  6. I am in the first official week of training for my first half marathon. Making the leap from 5ks. I am glad I came across this post today. My gusto is failing a little today so it was nice to read. Thanks!

  7. I am in the first official week of training for my first half marathon. Making the leap from 5ks. I am glad I came across this post today. My gusto is failing a little today so it was nice to read. Thanks!

  8. I love when we're marathon training at the same time. It's so motivating. :)

    I much prefer the hot bath, as well, but I usually dunk myself into the ocean after long runs and I think that helps.

  9. I'm also religious about foam rolling and agree completely about the IT bands hurting like a mother f&cker!

  10. Enjoying my wine as I read your post. Keep up the nice work!

  11. I just started hot yoga and am totally in love with it! In fact, I wrote about farting in class today on my blog! Haha! Its a great workout and I feel rejuvenated after.


  12. Holy crap, the motivation! I think about 9.5 miles is the longest I got in before I did my first half, and you're saying you "only" did 10 miles ;) It gives me a point in training to look forward to.

    As far as foam rollers... I have one, but I don't use it. I've been using a stick, and it's amazing (insert inappropriate joke to go along with you "sounds pornographic" comment. haha). Heck, my husband makes me use it on him, too.

    Keep it up :D

  13. I love me some super feet. Glad you are enjoying them!

  14. My long run fuel is a snickers bar! Sometimes the only thing that got me out of bed was knowing I could have a snickers.

    My other routine was compression socks and laying on the couch all afternoon. I take that back, I would get up to get a burrito from chipotle.

    My productivity levels since my race have skyrocketed.

  15. I like your running skirt! I'm impressed with all your training work. I seem not to have one ounce of ambition when it comes to distance. Except going the distance.

  16. We're about 3 weeks into our marathon training, too. We have a foam roller, but aren't using it religiously yet...we're only at 15 miles for our long run so far. But I am with you on the pb &j. I do sport beans while running, haven't found any gu I like. The loaves look delicious, but I'm soooo trying to watch what I eat and I'm a sugar addict :(
    So excited for warmer weather and the time change!!! Now if the wind would just back off...
    Happy running :)

  17. My favorite part is the wine at nights, too - whether I'm training for anything or not!!!

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  20. Looks like Anon is happily visiting your blog - bleh!
    I hate cold water baths in the winter, too. The only time I ice bath is when I've melted half my skin off in a hot summer run. I concur that the heat helps sooth the muscles in winter (they already got their ice on the run :)).

    Keep being awesome, girl!!

  21. My foam roller is definitely my best frenemy...

  22. Your post came at a good time for me.
    I still have a 20 mile run to do.
    My foam roller is my friend, it helps greatly with my hamstrings.

  23. I don't have anything spectacular I do, but I think I'll start practicing having a glass of wine a night. Get started for when I train for my next race.

  24. I need to adopt several of your good habits but unfortunately the two that most appeal to me are the loaves and the wine. That's practically biblical so I must do it.

    1. Haha! That is hilarious. The loaves and the wine.

  25. I swear by my long hot baths after some of my runs. It's against popular belief, but for me it works! Keep up the good work!!

  26. I refuse to take ice baths. No way! Also, those superfeet insoles have saved my feet and extended the life of my shoes. I also love that you stay true to what works for you in training and recovery. I'm still trying to figure out what works best for my body during marathon training. Good luck!

  27. When do you have your PB&J prior to long runs? 1hr before? I've been reading 2 hrs is most common?

  28. I have my small recipe of keeping my body energized and prepared for running on a long distances. I am balancing my nutrition and taking Navy Seal Formula manufactured by MGNutritionals. This supplement is an effective natural energizer that quickly brings me up. I like it especially in winter when it is so hard to kick yourself off the sofa.

  29. I love your blog!'re my kind of runner. Wine, no whining, no nonsense. Happy marathons :)