Thursday, October 16, 2014

Retired Athlete Problems - My regrets and advice after my first marathon

Despite my warning where I described my attempt at a marathon, there have been a large number of inquiries about Marathon training advice, tips, and other general questions. Here are some of my regrets and personal accomplishments based on some of the questions I've been asked:

What I would do differently if I did it again....
What should I wear for the marathon? Many people recommended throw away clothes that you could ditch before the start or in the early miles until you were warmed up. I had a pair of sweat pants under my warm running pants that I left in the bag to be picked up at the end of the race, and a hat and a garbage bag that I made my own head hole to keep warm. How the race starts is you are pre-divided into different "corrals" or groups to start. These are selected by your projected finish time (fastest first, slowest last). As this was my first marathon and there were no previous times to go off, I was in the third to last one. The Corrals were groups A-K, and then from there two waves were selected- a 7 a.m. start and an 8 a.m. start. I was in the 8 a.m. start, yet I didn't actually cross the start line until 8:18 or so, and was walking that whole way after I ditched my hat and stylish garbage bag. I wish I would have kept it longer, because although exciting and adrenaline filled, it was a slow, 25 minute walk to the start line.

Wasn't it boring running that long? What did you listen to? I loved training to my Book on Tape- and I picked a book I had never read, but had seen the movie (Divergent) so I thought it would be okay if I occasionally got distracted. However, some of my walking breaks turned extra long since I found myself just casually listening to my book on tape instead of focusing on the next mile. I did like the book on tape but maybe I could have gotten a little farther when my back was still holding up alright.

How did you train for your first marathon? Because of my back pain I was very limited to my training runs. I had to make my own plan, and pretty much ran 5-7 miles a day 4 days a week.... until my back would flare up and I would rest it completely until then. I made it up to 18 miles once, and then couldn't walk the next day either and was in a lot of pain. I only did one run in the three weeks leading up to my marathon, a nice short 4 mile jog 3 days before to make sure I'd survive. I wouldn't personally have done anything differently, as I don't think my body would have held up with the constant pounding- however I obviously don't recommend starting marathon training 3 months in advance, and not running the month before....

What diet did you use while training? So maybe the few sips of beer during the UNC football game the day before wasn't the smartest decision, nor the hot wings. If I had to grade my everyday diet I would give it a B-, and I didn't really change my diet to train for the marathon which obviously would have been smart.

What I surprised myself with
Do you have all of your toenails? Although I wish I had my gear longer, I thought I was very well dressed. I invested in some new running shoes 3 months before, along with the ridiculously expensive socks (about the same as Nike Elites but nowhere as stylish) that I was recommended. I'm not sure if this is what kept me from no blisters, missing toe nails, or foot cramps but my feet were super happy. I also invested in a nice Sports Bra, and wore dri-fit shirts. Because I've heard horror stories, I did lather up with Vaseline in all possible sources of friction, and did pass a few guys getting their bloody nipples taped- so all in all I thought I was very well prepared.

Did you have to go to the bathroom? I got up early enough to take care of my business, and throughout my 5 hour adventure I didn't have to use the bathroom once. I passed a lot guys going in trees and ladies waiting in line, so I thought I did pretty good here.

Did you use gels or Gatorade? I didn't get any cramps and my pee was a nice light yellow color after the day, even after my victory beers. I had 2-3 swallows of Gatorade at every aid station (every 2 miles or so) and felt that this was good, I had a gel that I didn't really use because it upset my stomach on my training runs. I didn't drink any water in fear of it going through me, and the Gatorade gave me a little sugar too and tasted good.

Are you sad you didn't finish? Going to work on Tuesday limp free was a big accomplishment. Two other colleagues who also ran the marathon were still walking funny, and I'm glad I wasn't disabled longer than that evening. Reminiscing on my college days when I kept pushing through the injury, flashbacks of not being able to dress myself or even drive a car haunted me. I'm glad I found a nice medium and listened to my body so I'm fully functional today.

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