A blog by runners. For runners.

Training for my First Marathon: Lauren's Story

We are happy to now have two blog contributors training for their first marathon. You may remember Scott, from last week who told us about his decision to start training. We now welcome Lauren Reed to our blog contributor team. She will be sharing weekly blog posts about her marathon training!

Hi, my name is Lauren and I am addicted to this crazy little thing called running. I haven't always been this way. In fact, if you told me just 18 months ago that I would be training for a marathon, I would have laughed out loud and probably called you crazy. In May of 2011, I randomly signed up for a 5k that was advertised in my church bulletin. I showed up untrained, in cotton and wearing tennis shoes from the discount rack at Kohl's. Not exactly race day ready, huh?

Despite having to walk the entire second half of the 5k and being beat by what I am pretty sure was a group of kindergartners, I was hooked! I signed up for a 4th of July 10k and to my delight, was able to run the entire thing once I actually trained, was fitted for shoes and had on the proper attire! I knew right then that a 10k wasn't enough for me, so I registered with the local Fleet Feet to train for the Women's Half Marathon in September of 2012.

During the race, I swore I would never run again, but alas, a day or two later, I was daydreaming about marathons. I didn't bite the bullet right then. I ran two more half marathons before beginning a training program for the Chicago Marathon. Yes, the Chicago Marathon that was a few weeks ago. The one that was SUPPOSED to be my first race, but my knee had other plans. You see, I began training for the Chicago Marathon on June 22nd. I was determined for it to be my first full marathon. I booked my flights, paid my race fee and signed up for a training program at Fleet Feet.

Looking back, I clearly wasn't meant to do that race! The first day of training, I tripped and fell on our ten-miler. I had barely gotten out of the parking lot! I wasn't hurt, but it was certainly embarrassing. (You all will learn quickly that I am a klutz, so I have found it is best if I just admit that up front, okay?) A couple days later, I tripped again on a mid-week training run.

This time, I twisted my ankle and couldn't put weight on it for a couple days. I also got a nasty skinned knee. Grown women with skinned knees just look silly. Take my word for it. After a week or so off, I jumped back into training. Things were going great and I had some really good long runs that boosted my confidence. I was learning what worked for me and getting into my groove. During my first 17-miler, knee pain that stopped me dead in my tracks came out of nowhere. I spent five weeks off from long runs, visited a PT several times, saw an ortho, got x-rays and did clamshell exercises like they were going out of style. The pain only continued to get worse. I tried dry needling therapy (ouch!), steroid injections (which helped a ton!) and am seeing an awesome personal trainer to strengthen my quads and core. The diagnosis is cartilage damage under my kneecap, and while we might not ever be able to fully heal it, I have a great doctor who is committed to seeing me through marathon training! I am now to the point where I can run 75 percent pain free. However, after all of this it was evident that the Chicago Marathon just wasn't in the cards for me.

I have selected the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama as my new goal race. It is eight weeks away. I selected Rocket City because it is only a couple hours away, a flat course and several people from my local running club will be there. I am running a half marathon this weekend and plan to use that to really launch my training. Two months is a short training cycle, and I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't have seven weeks of marathon training under my belt from my “false start” with Chicago. To be honest, this actually feels like the longest training cycle ever since I began this journey in late June!

My goal with this blog is to encourage others to meet their running goals, while staying true to the highs and lows of marathon training. I'd also love to hear from marathon veterans who can share training tips and wisdom as I work toward my goal. There will be times over the next eight weeks when I question why I am doing this. I might need a swift kick in the rear once in a while. And I will probably want to quit on more than one occasion.

Because if it was easy, everyone would do it, right?

Comment below with any tips or questions you have for Lauren!