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Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself a beginner runner and I primarily run for fitness.

Training:

I trained for 4 months following a 16-week beginner training program that did not incorporate much speed work. During my training I averaged 35 miles per week.

In terms of training advice, I learned to tune out the unsolicited advice from people who had never run a marathon before. You know who they are, the "I've run 5K's before, so I know what I'm talking about...Trust me!" Everyone has their own opinions and that's great, but for my own personal training effort I needed to focus on my goals and not accept outside influence from others. Most of my advice came from online resources and Runner's World Magazine.

Race Day:

The 2007 Marine Corps Marathon wasn't quite what I expected. I traveled to DC with two of my friends who I had trained with since the moment we said "Let's do it!" We were full of nerves and excitement but had no idea what we were in store for when we arrived on race day morning. It was massive! Very exciting and not to mention a bit frigid.

My initial goal was to try to finish in under 4:30, or even 4:00 if I felt really good. With so many people in the race it was difficult to maneuver at first. Looking back on it afterwards I discovered my one fatal mistake was the bobbing and weaving that I did to try to either get around people or make room so I wouldn't trip them or myself. This is something I've never done in training, so I paid the ultimate price around mile 20 when I ran into an injury I had never experience in any of my long training runs; Both my quads seized up making even the smallest step forward excruciatingly painful. I still had 6.2 miles to go. The other mistake I made was not taking the Advil from the nice little old ladies at mile 22. My mom taught me never to take candy from strangers, but I so wish I did! At the end my finish time was a ridiculous and embarrassing 5:17, but at that moment was I was overjoyed just to get across the finish line.

All in all I had an incredible experience in my first ever marathon and have learned things that will carry me to my next marathon. The MCM was unbelievable. I will definitely do it again!

Recovery:

My recovery was pretty rough. During the week following the marathon my Achilles flared up and prevented me from doing any sort of running for about two weeks. Once I thought the injury had recovered, I tried to run again only to see another flare up. It took a good six weeks for it to completely heal. To aid this recovery I would ice it every chance I could and had gone to see a sports physician who prescribed a set of stretches which seemed to help.

Tips/Words of Encouragement:

Having only completed one marathon and learning from that, a tip I would give to new runners is to do as many 5K and 10K races as you can during your training. This will help you get used to running with large masses of people and to avoid the mistake I ran into with the bobbing and weaving. Also, make sure you start at the coral that's right for you. If you're an impatient runner who wants to hit his comfy pace right away, don't start way in the back or you'll be spending a lot of time setting yourself up for injury.

Plans to Run Another:

Without a doubt I plan to run another marathon. I'm planning to run as many as I can before my body decides its had enough!

For my next marathon, I will incorporate tempo and interval training to help increase my overall speed and endurance. I will also pack some Advil. :)

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