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Note from Editor: Heather participated in this marathon on behalf of Best Buddies of Illinois. She was able to raise over $1,000 for their cause. If you would like to learn more about the Best Buddies program, visit their web site.

Running Background:

I consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run for fitness. I decided to run a marathon because I am not at all a runner, traditionally. But I started getting into running for exercise a few years ago. Then I began participating in short triathlons and road races for a couple of years, and enjoyed those. I broke my kneecap in February, earlier that year, and I was unable to really do much in the way of working out. And, then I fell out of the habit.

So, after feeling like I really needed to get back into shape in June, and with my doctor's permission, I signed up to run on behalf of Best Buddies of Illinois, as inspiration and to keep me motivated.

Training:

I trained for 4 months following a beginner's running schedule that I adapted to my needs. During my training I averaged 23 miles per week.

The best training advice I received was to be vigilant about hydrating every day (even days you have off) and don't over train. Rest on your rest days as hard as you train on your training days.

Race Day:

The 2006 Chicago Marathon was better than expected. The race was fantastic! The people cheering, and the energy was so much fun, and it kept you moving. Definitely a race worth doing!

It was pretty cold, so stopping and walking through water stops was more difficult than it was during normal training with legs tightening up, etc. The race was held later in the season than normal, so the colder weather was to be expected.

My only complaint was that there weren't enough portapotties during the race. They need more of them spread throughout the route.

Recovery:

My recovery wasn't bad. I took 2 Tablespoons of honey and two Advil immediately after the race. I was still sore the next day, but really not too bad.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Mizuno Running Shoes
Best shoes I've ever owned.
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Nike +iPod Sensor
So cool! Lance Armstrong comes on and congratulates you after your workout. Really, how cool is that?
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GU
Chocolate outrage and Vanilla Bean. Both almost tasty enough to have on your own. Just close your eyes and think frosting.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

If I can do it, you absolutely can do it. I used to run between a 9:30 and 10 minute mile before the injury-- but after my injury I was running a 12 minute mile -- and that was really a bummer. I used to not want to run. I was so out of shape I could barely run a mile. But, if you take it a 1/2 mile, or mile at a time, you can train yourself to run forever.

Plans to Run Another:

I'm planning to continue to run marathons/half marathons. I want to run the Paris Half Marathon.

I wouldn't have done anything for this marathon. I liked my training schedule. I think "less is more" schedules are the best.

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