Diary of a First Time Marathoner: The Plan

Goofy Challenge, January 9 - 10, 2016 - an ambitious way to become a first time marathoner
Goofy Challenge, January 9 – 10, 2016

Months have gone by since I registered for the Goofy Challenge in January.  In that time I haven’t really thought much at all about it.  I knew it was coming, I knew as a first time marathoner, eventually I’d have to train.  As the start of my official training approaches, its time to prepare!

Since this is going to be my first Marathon, preparing for such a task is certainly uncharted territory for me.  I’ve tried to think ahead and plan for the unknown.  Ultimately, I’ve accepted that there will be changes made on the fly.  Components added and subtracted.  Hopefully a good base plan and a set of goals will be a good starting point.  Here is a little insight to my plan, goals and how I came up with them…

Goals

Finish standing up and feeling good!  Enjoy each and every moment out there on the course!  I’m not trying to win my age group.  I’m not trying to maintain a PR Pace.  This race is all about the accomplishment of becoming a first time marathoner and living to tell the tale.  Oh, and staying ahead of the “Balloon Ladies“!

Picking the Right Training Plan

Goofy Challenge Training Plan - my plan of choice for becoming a first time marathoner
Goofy Challenge Training Plan

There are so many different training plans out there that its easy to overwhelm yourself trying to find the right one.  I wanted to reduce the stress throughout the training so I decided to choose a plan that I’m familiar with.  I’m going to use the same plan that I used for my first Half Marathon; Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk plan that is available here, via the runDisney site.  If you’re not familiar with Run-Walk, here is some good information about it.  It has been great for me and has allowed me to ENJOY running and IMPROVE at the same time… INJURY FREE!  As far as my intervals go, I tend to adjust on the fly depending on how I’m feeling.

Nutrition

That’s just a fancy way of saying, “I need to drop some pounds!”   I can admit I am NEVER going to be a perfect eater.  I love my craft beer, I enjoy a good BBQ and its hard to turn down a Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese Bagel!  However, with that being said, I need to drop the extra weight I’m running around with… a good 25 to 30 pounds of it!  My focus is going to be on making better decisions when I eat and limiting some things while eliminating others all together.  Enemy #1… FAST FOOD!  I work on the road a lot and its too easy to pull over and grab a burger and some fries.  This is going to be my toughest challenge but also I think the most beneficial.  Finally, I have to track my calories.  Having that visual is key for me.  It makes me think about everything that goes in my mouth for the day.  I use a readily available app called MyFitnessPal.  Easy to use and very informative.  It has been such a great tool for me in the past!

Hydration

Bottom line, I don’t drink enough water.  Not even close.  Actually, I can go a day hardly drinking ANYTHING at all!  I barely drink when I run.  I ran my first race, Tower of Terror 10-Miler, without stopping at a single water stop.  This habit needs to change!  From running and recovery to overall health, hydration is so important and easily overlooked.  I’m currently searching for an app now to track my water intake.  Until I find something I’m using the old method of monitoring the color of my pee…  anything but clear, time for another glass of water!

Cross-Training

Kayaking in Rehoboth Bay is great cross training for a first time marathoner
Kayaking in Rehoboth Bay

Running is great, however if I was to ONLY run for the next 6 months, lets just say I wouldn’t make it that long and definitely wouldn’t accomplish my goal of becoming a first time marathoner.  It’s important to mix it up, not only for your body, but for your mind.  Runners are often afraid of or overlook strength training.  I’ll tell you that I get bored in your standard gym.  I went and joined a gym in my area that has a wide variety of training options, including classes and a functional fitness room.   My focus will be core, not strength training, using the TRX suspension training.  And hey, I live at the beach so the summer is always filled with kayaking and swimming.  I’m also going to get the bike out of the garage and add that to my routine.

Education

One thing I’ve learned this past year is that there is always more to learn!  Each and every run, race or training, I learn something new.  I set two goals for myself for the next six months.  First is to listen to one topic-specific podcast a week.  The other is to read a book a month.  I really want to learn more about nutrition and core training so these are the two areas I’m going to be searching out.  Any suggestions, PLEASE let me know!

So that’s it, my plan of attack, for now.  Changes will be coming but I’m confident this gets me off to a good start.  My suggestion as you start to put your training plans together.

  1. Keep it simple.  Make sure its something that you will commit to and actually follow through on.  It’s easy to make a crazy plan but if you don’t execute, its just ideas on paper.  Run, eat, drink, cross train, read…  seems simple enough.
  2. Know yourself.  Think back to past training… what were your struggles?  What kept you motivated?  What things did you adjust?  Try to predict the future and plan accordingly.
  3. Be able to track yourself.  Whether its just yourself or against others, seeing results can be very motivational!
  4. HAVE FUN!  Lets be honest, 6 months is a long time to train for a race so far away!  Mix it up and try new things!  You don’t want to training to be a chore!

GOOD LUCK!  I know I’m going to need it!

Click here to read Mark’s entire journey to becoming a First Time Marathoner.

Mark Avis

About Author:

Mark started running in 2013 and earned his first medal at the 2014 Tower of Terror 10 Miler. He has since run a number of half marathons and is training for his first marathon at the 2016 runDisney Goofy Challenge.

6 thoughts on “Diary of a First Time Marathoner: The Plan

  1. Thanks for the suggestion, Helen! I picked this up on my Kindle yesterday and am going to start reading it tonight!

  2. May I suggest this as one of your monthly books: The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer. This isn’t a book on core or nutrition BUT it probably covers them both a little bit. It covers everything. It is my absolute favorite book about marathon running — it helps you wrap your mind around what you’re doing by telling you about “Marathon 101” class that was offered at University of Northern Iowa. It has a lot of personal stories about first time marathoners and tons of good advice on everything including the mental part of training. http://www.amazon.com/Non-Runners-Marathon-Trainer-David-Whitsett-ebook/dp/B006B7LSDY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436806182&sr=1-1&keywords=non+runners+guide+to+running+a+marathon&pebp=1436806183942&perid=0Q18ZF2SGNBTFNA1YRDH

    1. Helen, wanted to say thank you and let you know that I started reading this book. Been great so far and I think I’ll definitely find some great takeaways to apply to my training!

  3. Did you know you can track your water on My Fitness Pal? It’s an awesome app for tracking food, water, and exercise! Also my other advice/suggestion is when your runs get longer you should do them with friends. When I had 15-22 miles and ran with friends it made the time fly especially if that friend talks a lot!

    1. I use MyFitnessPal for food, Brittany but for water I want something more visual. Like a glass that fills up as I drink more water. And I hate running with you so stop trying! haha

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