Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What To Expect When You Run Your First Full Marathon (My Condura Skyway Marathon 2016 Journey)

I have been running for almost four years, joining races ranging from 3Km to 21 Km. It is a costly sport coupled with injuries associated with training or lack of it during races. And even if I had my share of running events, I am still not considered a seasoned runner. I have not joined any trail or mountain runs outside of Manila and BGC where the usual road races are held. I am not a member of any Running Group or trained in any Running Clinic so basically what little information I have on the sport was based on reading or stories heard along the road. However when you have been running for quite awhile, you eventually  meet people who share their experiences & knowledge simply because they want to pay things forward. Such kindness make it easy for one to come out of his shell and learn that the Running Community is not just all about running. It is about camaraderie, humility, honesty from all walks of life because they understand too well how it was when they were just starting.

But despite the encouragements and confidence one receives to join and run a full marathon, the final decision to do it still should come from yourself. In my case, a lot of things had to be considered before I took the plunge. While others, especially those who are young, single and have a stable job, decide too quickly, it took a lot of planning and preparation before I finally decided to say yes. Information and tips that I have learned from videos, reading and from other runners helped that I was able to apply these basic guidelines step by step.

Allow me to share them one by one:

Be prepared financially.

When one decides to run for a full marathon for the first time, one has to allot enough money not just for the registration but for the correct running gear, nutrition for training and other expenses on the race day itself. Though it is strictly advised not to wear anything new on race day to prevent injuries, I sort of deviated a little bit on that one because it was imperative that I buy a new pair of running shoes. My old Merrill trail shoes had been worn out due to the many weekend runs and races I had worn it since October 2014. In fact when I ran my last race which was RUN FOR THE ASPINS on December 2015. I could feel it loosening up. Being the over practical, spendthrift person that I am, I thought of using it again but that would also mean risking myself of injuries that I had no plan of getting. Thus the decision to buy a new pair. I have to admit it was not easy for me to let go of my hard earned money just for the registration and the new pair of shoes but when I learned from a fellow runner that ASICS which was one of the major sponsors for the CONDURA SKYWAY MARATHON gives free 42K & 21K registrations once you buy a pair of ASICS shoes, I immediately went to their Greenbelt 3 Store and signed up.

Talk about hitting two birds with one stone.

Caught on Candid Camera while on Long Slow Distance training

Train Properly.

A lot of seasoned runners join Marathons with limited training and still get to maintain their Personal Record (PR) and  finish the race injury free . These are the ones who started running in their early twenties,even in their thirties. The ones who never missed a run three to four times a week, sometimes more, who get enough amount of rest and sleep days before race day. There are those who have the endurance of joining races every Sunday be it a trail run, a half marathon road race, a mountain run or even an ultra marathon. These people are called Mamaws, short for Halimaw or Beasts in the Running Commuity. Obviously, running is a way of life to them, a sort of addiction that they long for despite the pain, the possibility of injury not to mention the money they spent in every race.

But for someone who never run a 42K race before, it is imperative to train four to six months before the said running event.That means one has to run at least three times a week, with long runs that last two or three hours done on Sundays or join races whether it be a short 10K race or a half marathon. In my case that was what I did. Since I have started, I had finished 6 half marathons, a couple of 15K races, and countless 10K  & weekend runs. I also had a couple of day climbs way back in April 2015 (Mount Batulao and Pico De Loro), joined Zumba, Definition and Yoga classes at Gold's Gym. I also never missed the chance to brisk walk from home to work and vice versa especially during traffic hours and rainy days. As far as endurance is concerned, it would appear that my body was fit enough to finish a full Marathon.

But despite the number of miles or kilometers I had ran, there was still the mandatory 32K that needed to be done each and every time one will join a full marathon. Since I never ran a 32K race ever, I was lucky enough to have met a seasoned runner who coached and guided me  on that one Sunday when we have trained at UP Oval in Diliman. A separate post will be written all about that Training Day.

Never under estimate the value of Nutrition, Sleep and Conditioning.

Months before the race, the right amount of food, sleep and mindset is very important when one finally decides to run a full Marathon. Runners must never slack on veggies and fruits especially bananas. Drink plenty of water and avoid junk food at all cost. Take multivitamins for added energy and stamina.

A lot of free spirited runners both young & old find it hard to shy away from eating junk food especially if they are stressed from work or they work in the evenings.The toxic environment plus the lack of sleep at work actually pushes the body to eat at unholy hours or skip meals so it can catch up on sleep. I know this from experience because I used to work in the evenings. Sad to say, lack of sleep and running does not go together. Some runners  may not agree with that because they are still young or believe that they are healthy because they have an active lifestyle. Sadly, even runners and Olympic athletes are not immune from illness. Being active does not mean you are healthy. The effects may not yet be felt by some, others may even choose to ignore them but time will come that bad eating habits and irregular sleep cycles will affect our bodies when we least expect it.

The right mindset is also very important when it comes to running your first full  Marathon. Training your body is just half of the preparation. Your mind should follow suit as well because no matter how well trained you are, your mind will also be tested come race day. Finishing many half Marathons or a couple of 32K races do not guarantee that everything will be okay because once you hit the 32 kilometer mark,that is when the body starts feeling the pain of non stop running and when the negative thoughts start to creep in. You will question why you joined the race in the first place where as some want to go home and leave the race unfinished. It is at this point that your mind must never give in to the pain your body is feeling and to focus on finishing what you have started.

I may have just ran one full Marathon but the wisdom I have gained from that decision is tenfold. Based on what I shared, coming to that final decision took years of conditioning and preparation. Impulsive decisions are no longer my cup of tea and gone are the days when I would do a thing due to peer pressure or prodding. Those years of running have taught me that our bodies are capable of endurance if it is taken cared of properly, that no task is too difficult as long as one finds enjoyment and fulfillment doing it.Needless to say, I have learned to respect not just the distance but the sport of running the same thing with the people who have chosen to take care of their health,find meaning in their lives and make a difference because of it.

(Photo Credits by FAB Running PH & shoes by ASICS )


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