Marathon Training Thoughts

All of a sudden this week it hit me.  It was Monday really but I realized…I’m 20 weeks out from my first marathon.  20 weeks ago I was enjoying life and Spring Break and hitting my first of two half marathon PR’s for the year.

Laughing at those signing up for Marine Corps full thinking…not me…not this year.

Now I’m 20 weeks away from running my first marathon?


I thought at first I wouldn’t change any of my training until after Labor Day (ie: The Rock and Rock Half Marathon-VA Beach).  I’m already running 70+ miles weekly with a somewhat weekly long run and a tempo run and most of the time some sort of race.  So I tend to have two quality speed workouts (I like to hope so) and a longer run.  (I deem anything longer than my daily 90 minutes…a longer run).

Thinking about that, I don’t really think that is the greatest of training plans.  I don’t know if that will give me time (in my pretend knowledge of marathons) to find a good pair of marathon shoes (racing flats aren’t apparently “the way to go”?), work on nutrition for longer runs and just nutrition in general.  I can pretty much get away with eating most things the night before a 5 or 10k.  (That time I ate a 1 pound steak the night before a XC 5k).  Half marathons I tend to watch what I eat the night before and I would venture to think a full marathon would be as important.

So for the summer I am hoping to do roughly 4 or 5 longer runs (possibly between 15-20…and they’ll have to early or strategically on a cooler day) working on what I think might work for me for the marathon.  Trying new gels, new shoes, ect.

My biggest obstacle: Has always been to stay injury free.   Last summer, I trained my ass off.  I ran 70-90 miles weekly, peeking at a 96 mile week.  I PRed in almost every distance while running 80 mile weeks.  I worked extremely hard and was very hopeful on going to cross country nationals but none of that mattered because I developed a cyst and was injured for 90% of the season.  I stayed injury free until the summer was over but not throughout fall and my first week in Oswego I started complaining that my foot felt weird…though not related to running, I was still injured and one must think it developed in my foot…there has to be some sort of correlation.

I am normally primed for an injury in the summer or fall (whether it’s a stress fracture on my 21st birthday or an overgrown cyst development) so I need to be cautious of that.  Very cautious.  If I can maintain an injury free state, I truly believe 75% of the battle is done for me.

So what am I really saying out of all this?

I guess you can’t really pretend to train for a marathon.  I mean I could but I do have a goal to finish under 3:10.  I would like to finish strongly at 3:10, not oh my god I’m never moving at 3:10.  I think it’s an overzealous goal for NYC and also for my first marathon but I think it’s a good goal for me.  I don’t know everything (or really that much) about training for a marathon but I’m excited to actual commit and say: I am Hollie.  I am training for a marathon…not I am Hollie…yeah I’m doing a marathon in the fall for fun.

Questions for you:

If you have run a marathon, what do you remember most about your first?

When was the last time you had a “oh geez, what did I get myself into moment”?

I’d say Monday when I realized how close the marathon really was…but I tend to have these moments (possibly not as deep) daily.


  1. I trained hard for my first. That was late 2011, early 2012. I ended up with PF, and had to have a cortisone shot just so that I could run it. Listen to your body. Then again, you are half my age, so you’ve got this. I still ended up with a 3:33:00 first marathon. Myrtle Beach 2012. Have run 4 since. Good luck!

  2. 20 weeks is plenty of time to do long runs and test all these things out. Be ready to experiment, but when you experiment, be ready for something to go horribly wrong and make sure you don’t freak out about it.

    I freak out over how close my races are and how unprepared I think I am all the time, but having a coach really helps me know that I’m getting in the work I need to without beating myself into the ground. Otherwise, I would bike 100 miles and run 20 every weekend and probably die 8 weeks out from an ironman. I know you aren’t big on having a coach, but I really think it can help if you have a specific goal and want an outside perspective on how to get there smartly.

    1. I want to get a coach, I really do but haven’t found the right person yet. Plus, I actually have some other factors going on in the near future and I’m not sure I want an online coach either. I know online works for a lot of people, but I have a few life factors I need to figure out before figuring out how to go about a coach.

      I’m waiting for the time I have a gel, stomach issue…I know I’m due for something to go haywire LOL.

  3. Loved this blog. I’m less than 7 weeks away from a 200 mile weekend ride and my longest to date is 62 miles… What did I get myself into?!

  4. My first marathon was terrible in every way. I got very sick the whole winter leading up to the race, and only got in one 20 mile run. I was a new runner, inexperienced, and still coughing dreadfully throughout the race. Then I had cramps. Just – the most painful 4 hours (yep, over 4!) of my life. It’s a miracle I ever went back to run another one! I never did get serious about training, but I knew to do more long runs and played with nutrition. I eventually cut over an hour off my time.

  5. Um, I ran my first marathon totally unprepared – I’m still not sure what possessed me to enter it. At the time I was running 70-80 miles a week with some gym and Body Pump time on top of that, but the kicker was that I’d never run over 14 miles at a time a month out from the race…so I did one 23 mile training run three weeks out and then just prayed I wouldn’t die during the race. I ended up with a 3:40 on a very challenging course, so it turned out okay in the end, but I was just about ready to collapse with nerves the night before. So yeah, I was one of ‘those’ idiots who just thought ‘hey, wouldn’t running a marathon be great?’ and didn’t train properly who I pretty much despise now. Oh well.

    I’ve seen plenty of people running marathons in lighter weight shoes/racers. Heck, I’ve seen at least ten guys wearing Vibrams to run a marathon, so everyone’s different when it comes to shoe choices. If you don’t have any element of hypermobility in your joints you might well be okay – I need scaffolding to keep my ankles in place 😛


  6. Nutrition has been the biggest obstacle for me. Made the stupid mistake of not eating before my last one, not realizing that you liver is depleted of glycogen overnight since your last meal. So I essentially started the race in a deficit, relying on muscle glycogen. I really like the book Endurance Sports Nutrition for all the science and tips for dealing with these issues.

  7. I like your new blog look :). I really can’t imagine running a marathon in racing flats (I can’t imagine running more than like 5 miles in the shoes I have for 5Ks/racing, really… well maybe a 10K but that would be IT). But, I don’t know what to tell you on that except maybe go to the running shoe store and see what they say.

    Having never done a marathon either, for what it’s worth, I think you’ll be fine. I mean you’re 20 weeks out and you have a GREAT training base. The main thing for almost all marathon runners is staying injury free and you are pretty good about listening to your body and taking off if you need it or just not running as hard, etc… I just hope it goes well for you!

  8. Your blog looks freaking awesome. And I love the pictures you chose. I have NO marathon experience, but I have had the “what did I get myself into” moment lately when I realized that coaching two teams is a freaking LOT. whatevs…I need the money!

  9. First of all, I knew you would kind of hit this point and I am happy for it. You’re a smart runner and I know you will do what it takes to get where you want to be. You are going to do amazing at NYC and I know you will train amazingly. Key is to experiment with what works for YOU. Some people eat differently than others, some run in flats and some in trainers… you need to try different things and focus on your own training and not what works for others. You have been as successful as you have (which is super successful) because you work hard, train smart, and play to your strengths…don’t change that… it’s admirable and will help you continue to set and achieve goals and keep furthering your running career.

    1. Awe thank you. After today, I’m a little more confident but still have a long ways to go. LOL and you know all the other stuff I have to think about between that too. 😉

  10. I have done one marathon – last year, only 8 weeks after running my first half (1:33). I figured if I did OK in the half, I would sign up for the full and just increase my long runs (maxed out my mileage with a 66 mile week). VERY naive plan, but it worked out extremely well and I ran a 3:10. The marathon was legitimately the most fun I’ve had racing, but going in I had never practiced with gels or anything and my longest run was a 20 miler. Like you’re planning to, I probably did four runs between 15 – 20 miles (16, 18, 20, and then 15 miles two weeks before the race). You will dominate this marathon and I have no doubt that you will be a lot closer to 3:00 or sub-3 based on your half time. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Diana for your words of encouragement. I am planning to do these runs before Labor day (I had originally decided that I wouldn’t do anything over 15 before Labor Day) but think this is best. I think 3:10 is my goal because it will be my first marathon but NYC is also not the easiest course. Maybe when I have a few races under my belt, I’ll be closer to 3:00. I hope so at least.

  11. I have those “omg what did I get myself into” moments every time my knee hurts during the day. Lol but, oh well, shit happens sometimes. I think if you keep doing what you think is best and reading about training and figuring out WHAT WILL WORK FOR YOU, you’ll be okay for the marathon. I would be nervous as all hell, but you have a lot of people who will give you pointers and things (like Laura) and you’ll probably be more prepared than most people!

  12. For some, the time goal may be a little too optimistic, but this is you we’re talking about. You have experience, you have the base mileage, you have the dedication … I say gun for 3:00 on the dot. 😉

  13. My first full was Richmond last fall and I really enjoyed it. I trained hard for it during the summer, but that paid off. The thing I remember the most was at the end of the race, the guy that had finished just ahead of me turned around and shook my hand and said “congratulations.” I didn’t even know him, but it felt like we were best friends. A wonderful shared experience.

  14. My first Marathon was London in 2007 and it was an unforgetable experience. I couldn’t believe I had finished and kept it together the whole way with no real bad patch. I will never ever forget the feeling I had when I turned the last corner on The Mall and saw the finish line, it was truly overwhelming for me.
    The last time I had a “what am I doing this for” moment was last month on the Lake Windermere Marathon when I went to pieces at the 19 mile mark. To be honest I have that thought during every Marathon I’ve done 🙂

  15. You have a good head on your shoulders, I think as long as you remind yourself you are injury prone (which you do!) you will make it through this beast! My last ugh wtf moment is just about weekly for me. I pushed my trail half to dec because I didn’t want to just eat the registration cost. Its in california though so I mean that’s a pricey trip and I may be kidding myself that I can complete that race 6 1/2 months after surgery. FINGERS CROSSED.

  16. Give yourself a gift. The gift of an easy, fun race and a PR you can happily break at a later date. You are a very focused person and I’m sure you’ll want to kill it the first time out, but chasing a PR for years sucks! I’m still chasing my half marathon PR after three years and my full marathon PR for two years, mostly due to over-training injuries. Another thing you may consider is a ‘test’ marathon in the next month or two. Find a local, very small, low cost or free marathon and run that with no goals other than finishing. The kind of no-pressure run that you can stop, take a breather and think, ‘OK, this is what a marathon feels like at mile 22.’

    1. My first marathon will be NYC (if I don’t make it there this year…next year…the yer after…ect). I really don’t want to sign up for another but thank you for that. My only real goal is to finish and won’t be that concerned about the time honestly.

  17. Ok, I haven’t had a chance to read any blogs until today so don’t hate me for saying this if you’ve had it changed for awhile but I LOVE your new design! So clean and professional.

    I am SO incredibly excited about your first marathon!!!! I think it’s great that you have an ambitious goal, it will help pull you through your training when you question WTH you’ve gotten yourself into. The most memorable part of my first marathon was the fall leaves cascading around the runners as we ran through DC. It was a glorious experience and I’m so happy that you’re going experience the magic of 26.2 for yourself.

  18. Best of luck! I know you’re going to do well. All it takes is some self realization and motivation, then you’ll be off on the right foot. I’m training for my first half as we speak. I had the same epiphany, if you will, myself this past week, We can do it!

  19. Do people actually do marathons for fun? Because that seems somewhat masochistic to me. I still remember you saying that you’d never do a full marathon, and I have to admit that I was secretly just waiting for you to sign up for one 😛 You’re an amazing runner with such a good head on your shoulders. I can’t wait to see you rock NYC. And to help with those “WTF did I just get myself into?!” moments, just remember… if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.

  20. I think it’s awesome that you’re going big with your goal! The way I look at it is, if you hit that goal…GREAT. But even if you just finish, that’s freaking incredible too. Excited to see where your training takes you.

  21. I like this. A whole lot. I am like you, I never fuel for runs or fuel throughout. So that would be a big challenge for me as well. I wish I could give you more tips but heck, I have never done a marathon. You are going to rock it, I have no doubt.

  22. I am so proud of you for taking this on and taking it seriously. Have you been doing any reading into nutrition and shoes for marathons? I know a few people who have run them, and I would say nutrition is super important but I would also stick to being yourself because you seem to regulate really well. I think you can run into trouble if you focus to hard on not getting enough or not getting the right nutrients. But that being said it is definitely still important!

  23. so proud of you! you are going to kick butt no matter what! I would say just enjoy the moment, its your first! and that is awesome!

  24. Hey Hollikins! The morning of my 1st marathon.. no 1/2 way through my 1st marathon I was like dear lord what did I get myself into?!?! Its good that you are training, I don’t know if you ever gu/eat/drink during your half marathons but that is something you should definitely practice for your marathon because you WILL have to eat during it, even if you are a super fast person, its big endeavor and you need fuel. Plain and simple no way around it.
    So you should practice eating and not choking- it was a big accomplishment for me! haha but no matter what you do I know you’ll do great and have fun. Let me know how NYC was its definitely a marathon that I want to do someday, its supposed to be fantastic. And much flatter than Lake Placid!
    If you have any questions or want advice on anything him me up with a text!

  25. Reading about all of your marathon training and thoughts on it is getting me jazzed up to run one… eventually 🙂 It will be WAY down the road for me, but it will occur in time. As for you, I think you’re approaching this all just fine, and most importantly, are doing it smartly (<– that's a word right? It sounds so weird all of a sudden…) You have been through the injury thing which, as be both know, is a barrel of laughs (sarcasm).
    I really think you are going to rock this race and finish it not in the way you referred above as basically a death march to the end after getting nutzo tired. Nooope that won't happen woman!

  26. I love your “I’m not running a marathon for fun” line. You’re exactly like me, you don’t do things just to say you did it… You do it and do if big. Love this about you

  27. I am seriously so excited to track your marathon training! MOST bloggers I have read or previously and no longer read always have the main goal of hoping to just break 4 hours on their first marathon go-round. Then there’s you my friend. My original thoughts.. “Oh, she’s going to sub-3 that shit!” <—yep. still think that. 😉 🙂 I also liked your "not running a marathon for fun" line too. When training for my first marathon I wanted MORE than a finish. I wanted to hit a goal time. My goal was to break 4 (derp) ran a 3:53:xx. It was seriously one of the coolest days of my life. EXCITED FOR YOU!

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