Only three weeks from tomorrow, and I (along with my son and hubby), will hit the road in Boulder, CO for a 26.2 mile jaunt around the Boulder Reservoir and surrounding area. This will be my third marathon, my hubby’s second, and my son’s first. During my recent 20 miler, I was thinking about how much training has changed since I ran my first marathon in 2001. With knowledge comes power, but is too much knowledge always a good thing?
The training for my first marathon didn’t include a training plan, Garmin, or GU. I was a consistent runner, probably logging 15-20 miles a week and racing any 5 and 10k in the area. I was also teaching 9 or 10 spinning classes a week, along with a Body Pump class or two (or five). My friend (who ran the marathon with me) and I started with a 10 mile weekly long run and added one mile every week, until we thought we had run a 20 miler. Since there were no Garmins then, or at least not on our wrists, we didn’t find out until we drove our route AFTER the marathon that our longest run was only 18 miles. In addition to the long run, we’d each run whatever and whenever we could during the rest of the week. We would hide Gatorade and water somewhere along our long run route, but never brought any other type of fuel. Our pace was whatever felt good that day.
Fast forward 10 years and training for my second and third marathons was vastly different. Hello training plans, pace police, and mid-run fueling. Suddenly it seemed a lot more complicated to train for a marathon. I diligently checked off the completed training runs on the plan sheet plastered to my refrigerator. My eyes were glued to my wrist during long runs to make sure I wasn’t running too fast or too slow, and I learned how to swallow the sticky, pudding-like substance that was supposed to keep me from hitting THE WALL (cue the thunder sound).
During my first marathon I ate and drank whatever was offered at the aid stations – water, Oreo cookies, orange slices, licorice (really? isn’t that supposed to make you poop?!?), and of course Gatorade. During my second marathon, I took in water and GU at timed intervals and stoically passed by the donut holes and Dixie cups of beer offered by spectators along the course.
I finished both marathons feeling just fine, although my time was a bit faster the first time, but I was also 10 years younger. Sometimes I wonder if training and running has become too technical and complicated. Our bodies will give us what they’re capable of on race day, regardless of how many boxes we’ve checked off on our training plan sheets. Will it matter if I ran 6 seconds faster than prescribed on my 16 miler? What if I take GU at mile 8 instead of mile 7? It’s something to ponder during my final 20 miler tomorrow, and maybe I’ll be a rebel and take that GU at mile 8.