My Biggest Mistake Yet

From Guest Blogger, Andy Richardson – This is the third post in a series where Andy discusses his personal journey of training for his first marathon.

Juggling a Busy Life with Marathon Training
As a slightly off-topic point, I wanted to share that my wife and I will be having a baby this December! This will be our fifth child, but we do not know whether it is a boy or girl.

I have a busy life to juggle while training for this marathon. The MTA Official Guide talks about making choices in life, and deciding what I need to cut out and what I cannot cut out in order to make time to train.

I personally decided that I am not going to miss out on family time in order to train. That means getting up a little earlier, adjusting my work schedule, and cutting out things like television and the computer. I am also going to start turning off the iPhone when I get home at night because I look at that thing way too much!

The biggest challenge, of course, is working long runs into my schedule.

Making Time for Long Runs
Now that my runs are approaching two hours, I cannot just ‘go for a quick run’ like I used to. I am trying to set aside time on Fridays to go for the long run. On these days I can get up a few minutes earlier and go into work a few minutes later. I am fortunate to be my own boss, so I think he will let me make this adjustment. Of course, I also have Saturday and Sunday to work in the long run if that does not work out.

As far as my long runs go, last week I ran a 10.8 mile run in 1 hr 43 minutes (9:31/mile pace). Pretty soon I will be up to half marathon status! I have a little less than 5 months until my race, so it looks like I have some time to take it easy and build my endurance slowly.

Halfway Through the MTA Guide
I sat down and started to read the MTA official guide. After about two hours or so later, I found myself halfway through it. It is actually a pretty easy read, and it is has been quite helpful so far. I will probably finish up the rest of the book in an evening or two. I have learned some things that I am currently doing right, but I have also found a few things that I am doing wrong.

I’m Doing a Few Things Right….
Based on the recommendations in the guide, I have a pretty good weekly routine. Angie suggests three running days per week, and I am doing four. One of those days is a pretty easy day, so I think that should be fine. I also do a day or two on the elliptical which I think helps maintain running fitness, and keeps me in a routine. I have also been pretty good about having a warm up and stretching routine for my runs.

But I am Doing Several Things Wrong!
I am realizing that I have made many of the mistakes of a first time marathoner.

  • First of all, I am not sure I have been clear with my family about my schedule. I need to clearly write out a schedule and communicate that with my family.
  • The next thing is related to my running gear. For one thing, I am running in worn shoes. I am also still wearing cotton t-shirts and socks, which is not a good idea in the heat of the summer in South Carolina. Not only does this get heavy with sweat, but it also causes chafing and discomfort. Fortunately I have not gotten blisters on my feet, but as my mileage increases the likelihood will also.
  • I realized that I need to add some strength training to my routine, and also diversify my cross training exercises as well.
  • And the diet and nutrition chapter showed me that dropping a few pounds may actually help my marathon time.

My Biggest Mistake Yet! (This is almost too embarrassing to write)
I decided to go get a yearly physical last week – to make sure my engine was running right before the big race. I shared with the Doc that a couple of times after my long runs, I had a spell where I saw spots. After further discussion, he came to the conclusion that I was getting dehydrated during my long runs, and I was experiencing ‘ocular migraines’. I came to find out that my Doc is a runner too, and he said that I just was not getting enough water.

The fact is that I was not even taking water or fuel with me at all on my long runs. I know it probably sounds silly that I didn’t drink water on my long runs, and I am actually kind of embarrassed that I let that happen. I guess it just feels awkward to carry water while you run. But after having that happen, I take water with me, or I make water drop offs along the way. Now I realize that hydration is really important (Duh) and I do not run without water anymore!

Running a Marathon is Not Just About Running
In all, I have done a few things right, and I have done some things wrong too. Thankfully I can make the corrections before the big day. I am learning that running a marathon is not just about running; it is also about your whole life, planning, being smart, and being positive. Oh yeah, its about drinking water, too…

As I learn these lessons I hope to continue to improve and be successful, and I hope the same for you as well.

Andy is a self-employed structural engineer and entrepreneur. He shares his passion for running over at Start Running for Beginners.

4 Responses to My Biggest Mistake Yet

  1. Trevor June 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    Andy, thanks for being willing to share your training mistakes. I think many people (including me) can learn from them.

    Also, I like how you said, “Running a marathon is not just about running.”

    It involves a complete lifestyle design.

  2. Andy June 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    The pleasure is all mine Trev. I having fun sharing and also learning from everyone here about running *and* about life as well.


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