As mentioned in my first post, I am currently training for my third marathon. I will be running the Prince Edward County marathon in Picton, Ont on October 3rd. Since today was my last 32 km run (20 mile) before the marathon I thought I would write about some of the lessons I have learned while training for marathons.
My first marathon was the 2009 Ottawa marathon. for this marathon I used a training program that would hopefully see me finish in 3:45. My training went well. However, race day did not go as planned. First I slept through my alarm and ended up waking up later than planned. As a result I only had time to eat half a bagel before heading to the start line. My second mistake was to only drink Gatorade at the water stations. It did not take long before I started to not feel well. I developed a stomach cramp around 14-15 km into the marathon. Once the cramp started to subside I still did not feel well. In the end, I crossed the line in 4:07 and I felt nauseous.
In order to learn from this experience and better prepare myself for my second marathon I began training with other sports drinks like Eload http://www.medioncorp.com/e-load-snapshot-p136227 and Gu20 http://guenergy.com/products/gu-electrolyte-brew/ingredients-benefits as I find Gatorade to be too sweet. I experienced success with this approach in the months following the marathon as I was able to complete the 15 km Boilermaker in Utica, NY in 1:10 and the Army Race half-marathon in 1:39.
Once I started training for my second marathon I also tried a new approach to my 32 km training runs. I began waking myself up a few hours before the run in order to have a breakfast consisting of oatmeal, a bagel with peanut butter, a protein bar and a banana.
These two alterations to my approach to marathon training were beneficial during my second marathon, the 2010 Ottawa marathon. I felt more energetic and stronger going into this marathon than I did a year earlier. II also felt very strong for most of the race. In the end I was able to cross the line in 3:32.
Once again I learned another lesson as I completed a marathon. I ran most of this race on pace to finish between 3:15-3:20 as I was in between the pace bunnies for those paces. Unfortunately, once I reached 32 km I began experiencing cramping in my calf muscles causing me to slow my pace.
As I started training for the Prince Edward County marathon I did some research on muscle cramping. While there does not appear to be a definitive cause of cramping I did find out that dehydration and overexertion are potential causes. As a result, I have added mileage to my training program (I ran 415 km in August alone) and I started using Zone Caps http://www.medioncorp.com/what-are-zone-caps–p136182 on hotter days as well as for my long runs.
With only a few weeks to go now before my next marathon I will soon find out if these changes to my training will payoff!