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If you missed it, I’m running the Chicago Marathon this October! (Don’t be fooled by the “!,” I’m a little frightened. Read on…)

I don’t anticipate my posts to be all about running because it’s not my whole life (okay, it is my whole life. whatever), but I’m three long runs into marathon training already and I want to have a post from the beginning of training to look back on later. It’ll be nice to come back to this post at the peak of training when I consider these initial long (OMG sooo long) runs to be so short.

The Training Plan (or lack thereof)

I didn’t follow a strict plan for my first marathon and I probably won’t for this one either. I like to allow my body to dictate when and how far I run. Of course, to an extent. There are times when you have to push through to build both mental and physical strength. On days I really don’t feel like running or it’s blistering hot, I tell myself it’s all preparation for race day. On October 12th, I may not feel like running and/or it may be 85*F. Pushing through discomfort during training runs will help build my confidence and stamina.

That being said, if I’m exhausted or feel twinges of pain, I take it easy or take an extra rest day. I’ve never been a “my training plan says 7 miles, so I’m running 7 miles if my life depends on it” kind of person. It’s not worth the misery and pain! However, if my training plan calls for a 5 mile run and I want to run more, I will.

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Last year, I was running up to 4-5x/week injury free. I was even running relatively long distances on back to back days with no signs of injury. After a winter of lower mileage and gaining some weight, however, I’ve been feeling some minor aches and pains and my pace has slowed down quite a bit. Thus, I’ve been sticking to running 3x/week and pool running 1x/week. Cross training (elliptical, stair master bike), strength training and yoga, too.

My 3 runs consist of 2 short runs during the week (so far they’ve been ~5 miles each) and a long run on the weekend. Most plans call for running 5-6x/week and that just puts me on the fast track to injury city. If I start feeling better as the weeks go by, I might add in a 4th day of running. But really, as the long runs get longer, I highly doubt that will happen.

From what I’ve seen, most training plans have long runs going up by 2 miles every week and then a cut back week every 2nd or 3rd week. They vary slightly and I will let my body determine those (I do have a general plan though). I’m all about flexibility. If my training plan says 14 miles next week, but I feel like I could run 14 miles this week, I’ll go for it. My goal is to have my longest run of 22 miles about 3 weeks before marathon day.

I can’t even fathom running 22 miles right now, but that’s the beauty of marathon training!

The First Long Run: 10 Miles

For my first long run 3 weeks ago, I set out to run 8 miles at the very least. 10 miles if I felt up for it. The ENTIRE week leading up, I had it in my mind that I just couldn’t do it. I kept thinking, “I need to defer my entry to 2015.” “There’s just no way. No possible way I can run a marathon this year.”

Serious serious doubt up in this brain.

On that run, I told myself to take it slow and steady. I think one problem I’ve been having is I’ve been trying to run the same faster pace as I was running last year. I tire myself out and suddenly I just need. to. stop. running. right. now.

It used to be that the longer I ran, the more I wanted to run. Now it’s like “when can I stop?”

So while running I thought to myself, “Allie, cut this negativity” and repeated “I CAN do this.”  I knew I had to stay mentally strong or else I’d crumble.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.

It was a deciding run. If I could get through it, I’d continue training. If I couldn’t, I’d defer. So I ran and ran and ran and I got to 8 miles and then I went for 10. I proved to myself that I really do want to (and CAN!) run this marathon in October.

It felt good. Not great, but good enough.

So that was it. It was decided. I was officially marathon training.

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I look back on my long runs from training for my first marathon with rose-colored glasses. Like I was just effortlessly floating through air. I have to remind myself that they probably sucked (they definitely sucked), I just don’t remember. Persevering through the suckage is a big part of marathon training, especially the long runs. It’s a mental battle as much as it is a physical one.

So much blabbing about running…more about yoga to come! Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend.

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