A quick glance at the countdown timer I’ve set up on my homepage let’s me know I’ve got just over two weeks to go before running the Napa Valley Marathon. After all the weeks of training runs I only have two more double-digit mileage runs mixed in with some low mileage days before I toe the line in Calistoga. I’m anxious and excited, and I’m doing everything I can to avoid injury.
I still train alone, running in the evening on city sidewalks without music following the same mileage build-up schedule I used for the San Francisco Marathon last August. Even though I’ve only been running for a year and a half, I already have some ingrained habits. I always do the same stretches pre and post run; I carry water on runs of certain distances; and I eat the same flavor GU on all my long runs. Despite the seeming rigidity of my routine though, there have been some changes, and I’ve learned a lot about this sport and myself by connecting to other runners and listening to their advice. I’ve learned to “listen to my body” and incorporate more recovery time in order to minimize injury. I understand more about the importance of strengthening my core, and I’ll try to incorporate some of those stretches and exercises into my training. And perhaps most importantly I’m now more open to altering my mileage schedule if it allows me to participate in a race or run with others.
Running is a solitary pursuit, and training for my first marathon I was concerned with the possibility of receiving contradictory, confusing advice. So I kept to myself and didn’t even think about participating in marathon training classes or joining a running group. During this training period, though, I’ve received advice and encouragement from many other runners and athletes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the times I’ve taken the opportunity to run with others, and I’ve entertained the idea of joining a marathon training group. I still don’t own a heart rate monitor, and I don’t know a tempo run from a hill repeat, but as I scoot down the Silverado Trail in a couple of weeks I’ll be a different runner than the one I was only a few months ago, more open to the new experiences running provides.