Marathon training days – part 2

It’s less than a week now until I get to the starting area of my very first marathon distance run. The last weeks and month of training were pretty exciting and also full of experience. I learned a lot about myself and my physiological limits. To be honest, I knew that training for a marathon wouldn’t be easy, but nonetheless I tried pushing too many times beyond my personal limits without listening to my body.

But that’s actually a thing I was expecting from this kind of training, to get to know myself better to do better in the future. Last time I mentioned, that the distance beyond half-marathon distance felt pretty much like a struggle that wasn’t manageable. Meanwhile after a couple of runs around the 30km mark I wouldn’t say that I feel as comfortable with the long distance as it is with a 10K run, but I can say that I know what’s coming and how to handle it.

During the training in the last couple of month I suffered from multiple setbacks. First I had problems with my shinbone, that was hurting like hell after each run. I was able to fix this problem by starting to run with compression calf sleeves. After fixing this problem I had to limit my amount of training and even completely stop it for a couple of days due to a yellow fever vaccination. And after I got through this my hamstring started to hurt pretty badly after each run and my heel tickled as well. These problems are mainly over now and I could say that I’m well prepared for the upcoming marathon in Berlin next weekend, but I’m not.

Recently I had to stop with my training again because I had some major problems with my digestion. I felt very exhausted and tired during the last couple of days and today is the very first day where I feel normal again. I missed nothing serious but anyhow I missed something – even though it’s tapering time. I wanted to do a longer 21K in a medium fast pace to get a last check of what’s to come, but it seems, the marathon premiere will lift its curtain without the dress rehearsal.

Negative things aside. I feel very much like I made a lot of progress over the last months and by regarding the progress over last year I would say that I made a huge step forward. It all started with a small company relay run in September 2013, continued with a 13K run at the marathon event in my hometown and grew to three half-marathons in a row in the beginning of 2014 in Berlin, Prague and Tangermünde.

My primary goal for the marathon in Berlin is to arrive and make it to the finish line. Time is secondary. I do of course have a set time goal, but it would be non-realistic to start in my first marathon chasing a pace without any 42.195km experience. If it feels right to run at a certain set pace it will be fine otherwise I would arrange myself with everything else possible.

No resolutions – just solid plans

It’s these days at the end of the year where most of the people come up with a resume of the current, fading year and a lot of them come up with new year’s resolutions. I’m not a big fan of the new year’s resolutions because most of them get abandoned on the January 1st.

To make a long story short, in 2013 I switched companies and I was able to work in my hometown again. The commuting was a thing of the past and I once again had the time to focus back on sports, because I was a fat whale and wanted to get back into shape. Well, to be honest, I never was in a fit shape, but this should change during the next couple of month.

I started to go back to the gym again and once per week I had a swimming session. Gym was kind of hard during the first weeks, because the massive overweight was something that did not make things a lot easier. I made one mistake, that I returned to the treadmill too quick and I suffered multiple minor injuries and experienced a lot of pain in my knees and hips. But with a few kilograms less, these issues slowly disappeared.

One of the main things I tried to focus on, was to do sports because I wanted to not to simply lose weight. I wanted a large variety to chose from, for instance cycling, swimming, running, strength training and so on.

Running was on of these disciplines where two of my co-workers had a great influence on me. I agreed to join the company relay run in my hometown and took part in the running sessions my co-workers were offering. I have to add, that I never really ran in an outside environment, except a couple of runs during a vacation the year before, and that this was a totally new experience.

It started with a pretty basic distance of 2,5 km and then switched to longer runs. After two or three sessions a 8K was set on schedule and I was very nervous about it. For my co-workers it was some sort of a regenerative run, for me it was like going for marathon. In the week after we did a 10K. I was able to run both of these distances with minor walking interruptions.

I continued my sports programs over the next following weeks and I slowly started to improve myself. I rode my bike faster. I could run longer distances. I could swim much faster. And I finally got stronger and muscles started to grow again.

The summer this year was devastating. The heat was murderous but this is no excuse for anything. I pushed through my training plan and gained some decent results. By the end of August I ran the 7 km distance and an additional 5 km with faster pace three times per week and the issues with my feet and knees started to disappear, because I finally reached a weight that wasn’t that much of an issue.

Mid September was the time of the relay run and I made it to starting positions. I have to mention, that, in the beginning,I was only a runner in case a substitution is needed. I started in the mixed team, got the slowest time but I’ve finished my first public run. I was so excited about it, that I instantly registered for the 13K run at the next marathon event in my hometown.

In the meantime I’ve found a buddy to join me and a friend of mine for swimming. Our plan was and still is to teach ourselves crawling. Till this very day we were only swimming breast stroke and thought it was time for something different. I’m now able to swim crawling but it still consumes a lot of energy and my technique is far from optimal, but I’m still learning and improving.

For the 13K a friend of mine joined me, but she decided to go for half marathon distance. Until this time I usually ran around 10 to 12 km average per running session and I thought 21 km would be too much. The event was yet another very exciting one. It was very impressive to start in a crowd of 4,000 runners. I finished in an acceptable time and was looking for new challenges.

Half marathon and full marathon distance came up on the plan.

During the next weeks a increased the distance per week up to an average of 45 km. And I also started running half marathon distance. The first two runs were very hard and I had to do some walking breaks during the runs, but I finished my first 21Ks.

I did another public run by the beginning of December. I’ve decided to go for the 20K and on the morning were everyone was registering for the, I wondered why no one else, or only a handful of runners, took this distance. Well, I should know very soon. The run was more a cross run than a usual run on roads and gravel paths. Anyhow, I’ve managed to finish this run as well and it was the first 20K where no walking breaks were taken. I was so proud.

So, what’s up next? Well, five running events are already on my schedule. Three half marathons – one in Berlin, another one in the beautiful city of Prague and one in my hometown. But most importantly, I want to conquer the 42.195 kilometers, so I registered myself for the Berlin Marathon. This and the half marathon in Prague are the two events I’m the most excited about. Prague, because I simply want to run through this beautiful (I love Prague) and Berlin, because it’s one of the biggest Marathon events in the world and I want to be part of it.

As you can see, no giant new year’s resolutions, just plans for 2014. I think, the marathon training will be very intense – but the final experience will be worth all the effort and pain I’ll go through. I’m certain about it.