A blog by runners. For runners.

It’s marathon training time: what I will do differently this time

Marathon Training: One runner reflects on what she's going to do differently this training cycle.

I’ve made it no secret that marathons aren’t really my thing. I just haven’t had good results when I start training for and finally race those 26.2 miles.

However, like most athletes, I like the idea of a challenge so I’m giving the marathon distance another go this fall.

But I want to finish this race (much) better than my previous attempts. My biggest goal actually has nothing to do with the numbers on the finish line clock – I’d rather just finish a marathon with a smile on my face.

My successful marathon plan is all about the training. I’m still scouring the web for the perfect training plan, but I know one thing: I need to learn from my past mistakes. I plan to approach training differently this time around by doing the following:

  • Running my easy and long runs at an easy pace. I love tempo and interval runs. Sometimes, I feel like a workout is somehow worth more when I push the pace. In the past I’ve foolishly ignored my pace on easy runs and went by feel. Which could be a good thing, but not for someone who always wants to run the next mile faster than the previous. I do the same thing on long runs, too. I need to slow it down during these workouts so my body doesn’t burn out before I reach the marathon start line.
  • Cross-train.I always have good intentions of cross-training during the beginning of training, but those plans usually fall by the wayside after a few weeks. Luckily, I’ve gotten really into spinning lately – I’ve been taking two classes per week and can’t imagine giving them up once I kick off training. So, I’m going to work cycling classes into my training plan and treat them like all my runs – they’re mandatory!
  • Adding in plyometric exercises. Plyometrics are these amazing exercises that deliver a big bang for your buck. They’re tough but effective and they don’t take up much time. If doing some jumpees, mountain climbers, and burpees at the end of a couple of runs per week can make me faster and improve my marathon experience, it’s worth it.
  • Pay attention to nutrition. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve always been of the “I run so I can eat whatever I want” mindset. While part of me still thinks that way – we deserve to indulge, right? – I know that a balanced, whole foods-based diet is best for performance. I saw an interview with pro runner Shalane Flanagan right before she ran the Boston Marathon earlier this year. Shalane mentioned she follows a strict diet throughout training so she can run her best, which really hit home with me. If eating well makes Shalane faster, I should at least try to curb my sweet tooth and see what it does for me.
  • Focus more on recovery and injury prevention. I always foam roll … the last few weeks of training once everything is nice and tight. I need to foam roll, stretch, and ice my tired legs from the beginning of training to keep injuries at bay. Like cross-training, I’ll write this into my training plan so I’ll be less likely to skip it.

Now if only I could settle on a training plan – such a tough decision!

Written by Jen Matz.