Stepping up my game

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I first started running back when I was in grade ten, having somehow been convinced to join the cross-country running team at my high school. I honestly don’t remember what compelled me to join; none of my close circle of friends were on the team, I just did it.

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Once grade ten was over, I didn’t really run again for years. I think my cross-country coach was disappointed that I didn’t join again in grade eleven. Still, other than one random run in my late teens, I didn’t lace up a pair of running shoes for the sake of actually running until my first winter in Halifax. We moved here in June of 2011 and in the back of my mind I kept thinking of how much fun it would be to run the 5K in the Bluenose Marathon weekend the following May. I started running in February, and over the May long weekend I completed my first 5K race as an adult.

I think I was pretty well hooked then and there.

That was 2012. In 2013 I ran farther than I had ever run in my life when I completed the 10K race. Come 2014, I again ran my farthest distance when I finished the half marathon. Alas, 2015 came with a shitload of vertigo and I didn’t register for any of the Bluenose races even though I had originally hoped to do the half again with the intention of finishing stronger and with a better time.

Once I started seeing a chiropractor who got my vertigo under better control, I slowly started running again. For the first time since I began, I didn’t even stop when the summer hit; usually I would run in the late winter into the late spring and then stop until fall. When it would get hot and humid I found I had little to no desire to pound the pavement. I think that my fear of the vertigo halting my ability to ever run again helped to get my ass in gear and I was out there with a full bottle of water, doing the best that I could.

Apparently when you have concerns that you might never be able to do something you love ever again it pushes you to do it as much as you can, weather be damned.

In between actual running I’ve also been passing some time watching running videos and reading a variety of running blogs, as well as actual technique articles. And I don’t know exactly when it all hit me but eventually all the people saying, “if I can do it, you can do it” really sank in and I came to a decision.

In 2016 I really truly want to run a full marathon.

It’s interesting to me because I had always said that I didn’t want to run that far of a distance. I was happy with the half marathon at 13.1 miles/21 km and didn’t feel a need to go any further. Now, though, I want to do it. I want to be able to say that I did it. I don’t really care what my overall finishing time is (of course I have some hopes for times, but no concrete goal, at least not yet), I just want to cross that finish line. I may finish it and decide to never do another one ever again, but I want one under my belt.

On the other hand, who knows, maybe I’ll love it and want to do it again and again. For now, I’m just focusing on getting the first one done.

It’s eight months away, so I’m not officially training right now. Doing hardcore marathon training for eight straight months would probably be a good way to go and injure myself. However, I am reading and learning, and I am going to focus on creating a good solid base for the time when the training really does start.

For me that will mean a few things, including:

  • Running multiple days a week to create a decent base of weekly mileage, even if that means running on the godforsaken treadmill sometimes. (ugh)
  • Making sure I keep myself properly hydrated.
  • Putting more thought into nutrition in general.
  • More specifically, figuring out a fueling strategy on my long runs – gels? Chews? Real food? Liquids? I need to find out what works best for me.
  • Doing more than just running – cross-training, strength training, yoga, etc.
  • Making sure that I remember that I love running and WHY I love running.

One thing that I’m excited about is that the Farmer’s Almanac (which is usually pretty accurate in general) is showing that Atlantic Canada can expect a milder and drier winter than last year. First of all: Thank God because last winter was fucking ridiculous and I don’t ever want to shovel that much again, nor do I want to see that much solid ice on every outdoor walking surface. Second, that is good news for training. As indicated above, I do not love treadmill running. I feel very fortunate to have one, but it’s old and is not programmable for things like hills, and it’s just really incredibly boring. I find it much more difficult to run on a treadmill for half an hour than it is to run a full hour outside. Last winter would have been insane for trying to train for a race (and in fact, the registration numbers were lower than usual for 2015 and the common belief is that a lack of ability to properly train was a big reason for that), so if I can get outside regularly this winter, at least for my longer weekend runs, well that is all the better for me.

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So there’s my big goal for next year. One full marathon, a whole 26.2 miles/42 km. I’m excited about it, even if it scares me a little bit. And of course, I am free to modify my plans if I don’t feel adequately prepared, but my intention right now is to achieve that goal. Writing it out and sharing it publicly like this is a great way to keep myself accountable. Naturally I plan to document my training and progress as I go along, and I will share the good, the bad, and even the ugly.

I hope you’ll follow along with me!

Have you ever done a full marathon? Comment below with your #1 marathon tip that I need to know!

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Stepping up my game

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