New Series! Eating for a Marathon

Warning! This is going to get personal.

I’ve been running a lot this year. Many people took up running in March, as a way to get outside and exercise while gyms were closed. However, my running journey began in December. After a difficult and disappointing 2019 (including a death in the family) I decided I needed a new big goal to refocus my training. I had run my first marathon with my husband in 2018, but bad weather and inconsistent training meant a disappointing time. So I decided 2020 was the year I would tackle 42.2 Km properly, with 9 months of dedicated training.

Many things did not go well when I rant my first marathon in October 2018. Training had been inconsistent throughout the summer months (among other things, I took a trip to Canada) and my longest run before the race was only 24 Km. On the day it was cold, pouring with rain and quite windy. Our chosen race had a very dodgy route in the middle miles, including running next to busy roads with no pavement. From 30 Km in, we started taking longer and longer walk breaks. Needless to say, it was not a good time – in either sense of the word. The one bright spot is that we did, in fact, finish the race.

Knowing the beast that awaits and the number of things that can go wrong, I’ve set several goals this time around. To start, just finishing the race without walking (except where necessary, such as at busy aid stations) would be a step up. Secondly, to set a new personal best time – so anything under five and a half hours. Thirdly, should training go well and the weather co-operate on the day, to run the marathon in less than four and half hours. This last is a significant stretch as, at the beginning of January, I couldn’t even manage 5 Km at the pace I would have to sustain for 42 Km come October.

Strangely, going into lockdown in March produced some of the most consistent training I’ve ever had. With very few fixed time commitments  sticking to my marathon training plan became a way of scheduling my days. I also had more time to focus on recovery such as stretching and foam rolling, or even taking a nap if needed. As my runs got longer, I couldn’t help wondering how anyone does serious marathon training with a full-time job.

Of course, for me, part of getting my training right was getting my nutrition right. Even after years of successfully advising a variety of endurance athletes on their nutrition, the realities of doing it for myself produced some surprising insights. This is what I will be sharing in a new series of posts. Everything from eating for training and long runs, to carb loading and weight loss. Yes, this is nutrition for runners, but much of the information will apply to anyone who is active, whatever their goals.

Sadly, like so many others, the race I had registered for in October has now been cancelled. But having come this far, I still plan to run 42.2 Km on the day as planned. As Garmin is my witness, a marathon is going to happen!

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