Reflecting on my marathon training and preparation

Now that I am about a week past my second marathon, The Soldier Marathon, and I have had time to reflect on the marathon, the training, and the preparation I need to put into writing what I think I did right, and what I may not have done so well.  What about my training would I have changed, and what worked in that last week of preparation and what didn't?

When I started this marathon training back in July I made some plans on what I was going to do.  I told everyone that I wanted to lose 20 lbs from the current 183 that I was.  If I told you I met that goal, or even tried very hard I would be lying.  I am currently the same that I was on that very optimistic day back in the middle of summer, and yet I am now facing the unforgiving "They plump when you cook em" holidays.  This doesn't change the fact that I still want to do something about it, it is just not the best time of year to set that goal in motion.  Last year for my first marathon I weighed only 177.


Following that race I dropped my mileage way back and didn't drop my eating the same way and added some extra warming layers for the long cold winter that we were heading into.  I only wish I would have taken it all back off before this years go at 26.2.  I wonder what may have been different with my training and racing had I taken care of that extra non-needed fuel.  I used the extra training as an excuse to be a little sloppy with what and how much I ate, instead of using it as an extra tool to drop the weight.

I also mentioned on that goal stating post that I was going to add some cross training.  Once again I have to report a complete failure.  I didn't even try to add any cross training, not one extra pushup, situp, or even a trip to the gym.  I did do a lot of extra walking during the first parts of my training which took a lot of time.  This probably had something to do with my lack of starting the cross training, but I am not here to make excuses, just to reflect on what took place.

When I started the marathon training I made the choice to go with Hal Higdon's Advanced I Marathon Training Guide.  I think overall this was a good training plan for me to get to that next level.  It included 6 days a week, one of which was speed work in the form of hills, tempo, repeats, etc.  I had not done a lot of speed work prior to this time, so this added stress to my body may have helped bring on the calf injury that I was blessed with in mid September.  One of the things that I dropped during the return to a full schedule after the injury was the extra day.  I dropped the training down to 5 days instead of 6 to give my calf extra rest in between workouts.

In the weeks leading up to the marathon I followed the taper plan religiously.  I wanted to run more, but kept with the program to ensure my body was well rested.  I also decided that I needed to look at nutrition and fueling really close for the last week of the taper to make sure that I kept the bad stuff out and took as much of the good stuff in as needed.  The week leading up to the marathon I did some research online to find what others had to say about fueling during that last week of the taper.  I found a lot of differing opinions, but also found a lot that talked about the carb loading being more than just the last night before the race that we typically hear about.  I think this was part of the reason I hit the wall when I did at mile 21 last year so I wanted to do something about it and make sure I was prepared this year.  I found one really good article over at Run The Planet that I based my plan off of.

I started my plan on Tuesday evening and posted roughly what I was going to eat.  I held to the plan pretty close and my days leading up the the race looked like this:
  • Tuesday Dinner - Grilled Chicken and Pasta
  • Wednesday Breakfast - Wheat Pancakes and Hashbrowns
  • Wednesday Lunch - Salad (not many carbs, but clean)
  • Wednesday Dinner - Grilled Chicken and Pasta
  • Thursday Breakfast - Cheese Omelet and Whole Wheat Toast
  • Thursday Lunch - Left overs from Wednesday Night
  • Thursday Dinner - Spaghetti with meat sause
  • Friday Breakfast - Wheat Pancakes and Cubed Potatoes
  • Friday Lunch - Grilled Chicken Fettucini Alfredo (late lunch 2pm)
  • Friday Dinner - 6 inch Subway Club on Wheat (about 7 pm)
  • Race Morning - 2 pieces of dry Whole Wheat Bread


I cut out all greasy foods like sausage and fried foods.  We don't eat a lot of this normally, but I wanted to keep it out of my system as much as possible leading up to race day.  I did all my carb-loading before the night before race night and finished off the evening with a pretty plain (the way I like it anyway) Subway Club sandwich on wheat bread.  I kept the condiments to a simple lettuce, pickles, and yellow mustard, although I did go ahead with some cheese which others may not agree with (I love my cheese).  I did this to keep it light, and yet make sure I wasn't hungry during the race.  I wanted to make sure everything had a chance to work it through the system before heading to the starting line.


As I look back on all that transpired I am happy.  Sure I wish I would have lost those 20 lbs and done more cross training or core training, but I didn't and nothing can be changed about that now.  I have some goal setting to look forward to over these next few weeks to get on the right track with those items.  I think I trained smart, hard, and I stayed focused on the goal even when adverse circumstances got in the way.  In the end that is what it takes to get from the starting line to the finish line.  Dedication will get you to the starting line, but it takes determination to get to the finish.  For an average runner like me the physical preparation alone will not carry you those last 385 yards, that is where determination is needed to finish the job.

Now all I want to know is why when I do a Google Image Search for "Deep in thought" so many chimpanzees come up in the results.