my secrets to marathon training – from a complete newbie who has absolutely no right to be giving out advice

*pre-cursor: this blog post is sharing my experience. I am not a personal trainer. I do not have a degree in kinesiology or nutrition. what I have is the experience of overcoming “couch potato” and becoming a runner. always consult a professional, like i dunno, A DOCTOR, before starting any new physical activity 🙂

ok, so we all know i am training for the killer 42.2k this december. i tell everyone because, well, i think it is pretty amazing. for those who knew me (like really knew me) several years ago, it was amazing if i got off the couch. in fact, when my hubby and i first started dating (10 years ago?) we filled out one of those couples books… there is a question on hobbies…. “Jamie likes to rollerblade. And Jen, well, we won’t go there.” Hah.

Anyway, here I am, 10 years later, putting in the time and, more importantly, the dedication to train for and run a marathon.

Everyone reacts differently when you share your little personal goal with them. Veteran runners say things like, “Good for you!” and welcome you with open arms to the lovely sub-culture that is running. A-type runners say, “What’s your expected finish time?” with a tone of  “I am awesome you’re not” in their voice. Non-runners (including fitness freaks who dislike running) say things like, “You’re crazy!”; “Wow!”; “You’re amazing!”. Many people ask me “How is training going?” or “How do you do it?” or say things like, “I wish I could do that…”    Well, peeps, anyone can run a marathon – as long as you want to!!

Which segues me perfectly into my first secret, which isn’t such a secret because I preach it to everyone any chance I get: running is ridiculously personal. Running, just like anything else that has to do with your body, is just that – YOUR body! I run at Jen’s Pace. I don’t run at Paula’s pace, Minako’s pace, Janelle’s pace, John’s pace (even though John will run at my pace), Darren’s pace, Matt’s pace…. You get my drift. There are people who are slower than me. There are PLENTY of people faster than me. At times, I wish I was faster… but then I remember, “Oh yeah, this is MY body, and it is just doing what it can.”  Every stride I take is for me – not anyone else – so who cares how fast or slow those other people are running! Some people are afraid to start running because you’re worried you won’t be fast enough. There is no such thing as “fast enough”… getting out there is enough!

Second secret: NO DIETING. When I say diet, I am not limiting that to Atkins, or Grapefruits, Low Carb, Jillian Michaels, Paul Plakas… I mean any form of restriction stemming from any reason other than “I just don’t feel like that today.”   I eat whatever the eff I want – for many reasons. The first and foremost, which goes back to secret #1, this is my body; no one else knows what my body needs more than me. “they say you should eat more fibre”; “they say you should eat more vegetables”; “they say you should not eat carbs after 6pm”… etc. Well who the hell are “they”, and what the hell can “they” possibly know about my body?  All those “shoulds” “they” spout off are based on either invalidated assumptions, or horrible, inaccurate, poorly run, studies producing statistics. Statistics are meant to mathematically categorize the mass population – stats should not give you friggin health advice! WHAT THE!!! I eat whatever I want, whenever I want. And for those who are like “Oh my god, I wish I could do that, then I could have Brownies and Ice cream for breakfast every day for the rest of my life”. I don’t do that. I have truly, honestly, with all my heart let go of all outside rules and restrictions – I have mostly muted that little voice in the back of your mind telling you what you should eat – trying to trump what you really want to eat… I can now hear my actual body signals (including wanting to eat something because my body needs Vitamin B or wanting something just because it’s yummy) … which has led me to, overall, eating a balanced diet that kinda looks like “Canada’s Food Guide for Runners”. I eat what I want, whenever I want, which, because I have ZERO outside influence confusing my bodies signals, has me craving salads, pastas, soups, crackers, chicken, cheese, spinach, fish, cranberries, chocolate, curry, pears, water, yams, orange juice, corn bran… the list could go on and on… but my point is i crave everything under the sun. now THAT is a sign of a good, healthy, natural diet.  (And come on, I’m making my body run 20k, 30k, 40k at a time – putting it through hell – for gods sake I BETTER EAT!!!)

Third secret: acknowledging you want it. You really have to want it to train for a marathon. Those long, brutal, training runs are only 50% physical – the other 50% is mental, “all in your head”. I constantly fight the desire to give up, and pack it in – the only thing that keeps me going is knowing I want it!

Fourth secret: tell EVERYONE & just do it. telling everyone is pretty inspiring, and it makes the goal feel more real… then get out and do it. change it from a “goal” to something you’re doing. stop just planning; stop just talking about it; stop saying “I’ll start tomorrow” and literally just do it. The more you think and hum & hah about it, the more time you have to talk yourself out of it.

So there you have it. That’s how I train for my marathon 🙂 Obviously there is a training plan and rest days and specific paces and run-types… but those aren’t secrets… anyone can read a training plan… the hard part is actually doing it!