My First Marathon: Training Part I

Ever since I ran my first half marathon in 2018, I have had big plans for running the Twin Cities Marathon. Then, of course, life got in the way. In 2019, I had my hernia repair surgery and in 2020, society collapsed. So here we are in 2021 and I am (finally) registered to run my first marathon.

This weekend, we were officially 15 weeks out from race day. While I have been running pretty regularly all year, I really picked up and committed to training and consistent long runs at 18 weeks out (okay fine, I skipped week 17 because we went camping… so maybe it was at week 16? It all runs together). 

I guess for this to be helpful I should say a bit about where I stand fitness-wise. For several years now I have run every week, though consistency has not been my strong suit. My small weeks might include runs of only a few miles and my big weeks total around thirty-something miles. Before this, my longest run was 15 miles. Running 10-13 miles at a moderate pace is relatively standard for my long runs (when I actually do them). My speediest paces are in the 7-minute per mile range.

With this in mind, my goal is to finish the marathon, 26.2 miles, faster than an 8-minute mile pace. So I will be happy with anything under 3 hours, 29 minutes, and 45 seconds. I feel like this is a good goal because it is ambitious in that I know runners more experienced than I who are perfectly happy with 4-hour marathon times, nor am I pretending I can blow it out with a Boston Qualifier (sub-3-hours-ish). 

I think this is a very attainable goal, but I have never run anywhere near 26 miles, so I honestly have no idea what to expect. I will be more or less following the Mill City Running training plan, which will have one workout each week with various speed drills and one long run on the weekend. I think I can bump up my weekly distance to the 40-50 miles range as my mileage increases. Right now I am not incorporating any core or upper body training, which really needs to change quickly because I’m pretty sure the next 15 weeks are going to disappear faster than I want them to. 

This weekend I ran 18 miles – 3 miles further than I’ve ever gone in one run. The distance felt pretty good at a moderate pace so I am probably feeling a little too confident as I write this (not to mention still coming down off those endorphins). 

The fact that our dog, River, is now old enough to run with me is really going to help me keep up my miles. When it isn’t too hot (which is asking a lot, given the past few weeks) she and I have run up to seven miles together, which is a great distance for a standard daily run. I even ran this by our vet who fully cleared us to rack up the miles as long as I let River determine when to stop.

So away we go. I hope I feel this good about my progress the next time I check in.


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