When I started training for the Columbus Marathon back in June, race day seemed so far away. And in a lot of ways, those early runs feel like a lifetime ago because so much has changed since then: I moved to a new state, started a new job and made a bunch of new friends. Oh, and I became a morning runner. Still haven’t wrapped my head around that. Now marathon Sunday is less than six days away… HOLY CRAP.
Because I haven’t really blogged about training at all—instead I’ve been logging my miles and baking up a storm, these beautiful pumpkin-ginger scones from Vanilla and Bean included—now feels like the time to reflect on this training cycle. So here we go, five lessons I’ve learned while preparing for marathon #3:
1. Frozen bananas are everything.
Bananas have always been a staple of my diet, but until this summer, I never thought to eat them frozen. Now they are my favorite ingredient for every healthy sweet fix I need, especially banana ice cream (if you haven’t heard of it, use this 3-ingredient recipe from The Healthy Maven now). I also like eating frozen banana slices between graham crackers with peanut butter, like an ice cream sandwich.
2. Think one interval at a time.
This was the first time I did speed work for marathon training. Aside from tempo runs, I hadn’t seriously hit the track since high school, and I was a little nervous about motivating myself to do it alone without a coach or teammates. Whenever a ladder looked daunting on paper, I stripped it down into steps and took intervals one at a time. And with the exception of one really hot summer day, I always made my splits, so that seemed to do the trick.
3. Run in reverse.
Humans, we’re such creatures of habit. I always find myself running my standard routes in the same direction, so now I do them “backward” every other run to keep them from getting too boring. Back in Milwaukee, my neighborhood scenery was more varied, but it’s a little harder to keep things fresh in a small town lined with residential streets.
4. “The only way to run faster is to run faster.”
I’ve never been one for mantras, but I saw this no-BS advice in a motivational article for runners and it stuck with me. Distance running comes naturally to me, maybe because I’ve been doing it since childhood, but I am definitely one who settles into a pace comfort zone. Lately, I’ve been wanting to take my training to the next level, so whenever I start psyching myself out or running too conservatively, I recall this saying. Weird, but surprisingly effective.
5. Be excited.
Running a marathon is a really cool, really hard thing to do. I often forget this until I talk to someone who finds my running habit crazy. Be stoked about this thing you love doing, and it can only push you toward a new PR. At least that’s what I’m going for this weekend!