How to run your first Marathon.
Let me first off say that I am not a runner, never have been nor do I think I will ever become one. To me a runner is someone who has practiced, trained and competed in running as a sport. I personally played a lot of sports that had running in them. Baseball, basketball and football. I ran track for a season my senior year in High School but strictly for the high jump when I was rehabbing my hand and couldn't throw a baseball. The most I ever ran at one time was 17 miles a month ago leading up to the marathon. Let me back track a few weeks and remind myself once again why I started training to run a race that just happened to be 26.2 miles long.
I broke my hand on October 14th during a high speed low rep 30 inch box jump. After realizing I wouldn't be able to pick up a barbell or string together muscle ups for a few weeks I decided to switch gears and challenge myself in an arena I was not used to. I personally must commit to a race, competition, event or something with a set date in order to train consistently for or I won't push myself or dedicate the time to training. So I signed up for the PF Changs Rock & Roll Marathon with a little under 96 days or 13 weeks or 3.1 months to train for it. Once my goal was set I knew I needed help accomplishing it so I found anEndurance coach with more experience than myself to guide me in the right direction, customize my programming and give me the nutrition and supplement advice I needed.
This Coach was Sean Nugent who not only guided me through the finish line but signed up and completed the race with me. Here is a sample month of Strength In Conditioning, time trials and long runs that Sean customized for me. Had I not had this advice I don't think race day would have been so easy for me. By no means was the race easy, the last 7 miles were HELL but the preparation, guidance and instructions given to me made the day of the race and the day's leading up to it feel as cool as the other side of the pillow.
Having spent the past 5 years training for Competitive FITness my only running has been warm ups and some 400 meters in workouts so Sean had me start off pretty easy in October with a 5k time trial. Then we added some distance 7 miles, then 9, then 12. A 10k time trial, a 15 miler and finishing my longest run with 17 miles. I continued to add some strength training in while keeping my legs fresh never running more than 25 miles in a week. After my cast came off I figured it was time to start lifting again and after one muscle up session I re-aggravated an old injury and re-tore my tricep. Which at this point wasn't a set back until the pain became intolerable whenever I ran. Eventually getting a series of Prolotherapy injections with zero down time and no set backs.The biggest take a away I have from running with and running without strength training is I felt weaker when I wasn't able to squat, press or pull. I lost a few pounds of muscle and allowed myself to eat more junk than normal. A deadly combination that I combated with my training for the marathon. Like most, the Holidays threw me a few lemons and then I got sick. Two days in bed, then another two days to fully recover. By this time I was 2 weeks out and was more preparing the mental side of the race than the physical. Here are a few bullet points that helped me finish my first marathon in a time of 3:53:50.
Equipment: Let's start with the priorities. You must have a great pair of running shoes. Something light, comfortable and not too new or old. I got my New Balance shoes sometime in December giving me two months to break them in. I found a watch that can count up and one I could easily read while running. Save your money for the better shoes and scratch the heart rate monitor, iPod, or tv remote controlled watch. "Simple is smart". Next a runners pack, something that holds fluid, a place for your phone, keys and some cash. I waited too late to find the right one and it took me a few miles to get it fitting the right way. From my own personal experience Camel Packs bounce too much and are better kept for trekking, hiking or trail runs. Underwear, socks a hat and sunglasses are no brainers but I must emphasize the importance of quality socks and draws. As a male I prefer skins or boxer briefs and a pair of low cut runners socks, something that draws sweat away from your foot. As far as shorts and shirts wear what's comfortable. Day of race conditions were perfect, starting at sunrise with a cool 55 degrees and finishing at 75 degrees by noon. I was able to strip off my pants and sweater right before the race and run in shorts and a t-shirt both were SICFIT of course. I had to let my crew know I was coming from a far.
Nutrition: Let's start with day of because this is such a fragile time for a runner and if you've heard it once you've heard it a thousand times "DON'T TRY SOMETHING NEW ON RACE DAY"! 5am I had white rice and bacon while drinking Gatorade and water. 6am a Lara bar (peanut butter and choclate) with water and 20 minutes before starting I had a couple BLOK chews that are actually quite tasty and are made with brown rice syrup and not corn syrup. Once the race started I had planned to eat (drink) a meal every 45 minutes. Meal 1 was a combination of powdered Gatorade and whey protein in a exchange of 2:1. Two parts carb + 1 part pro. Meal 2 was a starch carb alone that has a 3:1 ratio. After each meal I followed with a sip or 2 of water whatever I could swallow while running and breathing at the same time. We had dropped these containers at miles 6,12,18 and 21 with Volunteers assisting in handing them out and they were truly lifesavers. I never felt low on energy, sugar or carbs and with water and gatorade hand outs at every mile I was FUELED well for the race. My pre-race meals included sushi (white rice & fish) grass fed hamburger and sweet potato and a ton of Almond butter and apples. Coach Sean had drilled the importance of not dehydrating leading up to race day and I made sure I was drinking plenty of water and Gatorade all week long.
Supplementation: I want to start out by saying nobody should be taking supplements unless they are living a 90/10 lifestyle. Meaning they eat clean 90% of the time and 10% of the time they don't. If your nutrition is dialed in taking suplements will raise your game. If it's not it will only slow you down and waste your money. So let's start with the priorities again. First off drink Gatorade a lot when you run long distance. I prefer the powdered stuff so I can make my own mixes. 1 scoop Gatorade during runs 10 miles or less. 1 scoop + 1 scoop protein for runs 10-15 miles long and anything over 15 miles I like 2:1 scoops of Gatorade + 1 scoop of protein powder giving me 60g of carbs + 25g of protein. Same formula I use for post workout when training for competitive as well. I always have and always will take fish oil 2x a day and vitamin c 1000mg + Vitamin D 7,000 units a day. After getting sick my friend told me to get some liquid multivitamin in my system and try to overload on minerals. I sucked on salt tabs during the race to help prevent cramping.
Once again DO NOT TRY A NEW DRINK, FOOD OR SUPPLEMENT ON RACE DAY.
Strategy: "Run your own race" WOW was this harder than it sounds. My first level of goals was to finish, my second was to finish in under 4 hours and my third was not to stop and walk. Check, check and check! But what happened when I felt good almost through me off my own pace. Call it the competitor in me but when I saw someone ahead of me in the distance I would set up to pass them. This was a great mental boost for me the first 10 miles, the second 10 it started to happen to me and by the final 6 miles I was getting passed alot by guys and gals young and old. Did I go to slow at the start? Too hard in the middle? I cramped up on mile 22 and 24 so bad I thought I was going to have to walk fortunately I was able to shuffle the steps out and keep going. This is something you just don't know until you test it out and with experience comes better results.
Companions: A part of me thrives on emotion and with each person I saw on the run it gave me a rejuvenated step. First up was the Wagners right around mile 10. Josh his wife and two kids were set up to the left of a water station and I locked eyes with them instantly. I had to run over and give them all a high 5. Not a great idea if you're trying to set a personal record but what the heck it was an awesome feeling to see some friends I haven't seen in a while. At mile 12 was the first food drop Elizabeth Z came out of nowhere which was actually a bus stop and handed me my first meal. Short but sweet it was enough to keep going. Because I listen to music and take notes on my long runs I actually called a friend who lives in Arcadia to see if he was home, no answer so I left a short voice mail and I was off. Mile 13 Steve C threw his hands in the air and I turned to give him a big shoulder bump witch actually hurt more than anything in the race so far becuase I had to switch directions and move laterally. Not very smart but once again the surprise scenery was awesome to have and it lit my fire for a few more miles.
At mile 16 my buddy Noah R called me, my bestir from Kindergartenwhen someone call's you and asks "What are you doing"? and your answer is "I'm running a Marathon". It has to be the coolest answer ever. I kept it short and carried on. Mile 18 running through Old Town Scottsdale was fun, a new energy and alot of scenery. Between the runners, friends, and families of all the runners Old Town was slamming. Next drop was Chris Canon and his lovely wife right at the switch back before heading back down to Tempe. Sean and I ran across from each other and a few minutes later I passed Kelley who was flying and deep in the ZONE.
Then I hit mile 20 and I thought I was home sweet home...... Not quite!!! These were by far the hardest, slowest most painful miles ever but I also knew it would soon be over. I planned to have my wife and kids meet me at mile 22 and give me some loving to get through the last few miles. A quick kiss and hug, they handed me my fuel and I was set..... Mile 23-25 were a blur. I remember cramping up, running up a hill and wondering where the HELL is the finish line. When I hit the home stretch I remembered what my client and freind Marc Lutz had said to me in years past. "Why run a marathon if you're going to stop before you reach the finish line"? These were words of wisdom to live by not just run for and they worked. I sprinted the final 400 meters gaining more and more energy from the crowd until I crossed the finish line and found my kids Kanon and Camille who are my biggest inspiration in life. They were more excited than I was as we hugged I looked for my teammates and placed my medal around my neck.
Thankful: I want to thank each and every volunteer who took a day out of their life to help runners like myself accomplish our goals. A big shout out to all of the fans most of whom I have never met who clapped, cheered and smiled for us. A special thanks to the personal friends of mine who stood by on a Sunday handing out liquid food Chris, Elizabeth, Bill, Jeff and my wife, Najla. Last but not least I want to give a huge hug to my Coach Sean Nugent for taking the bull by his horns and riding his ass into the ground. Your creation, commitment, leadership and balls are what makes you an amazing coach. Thank you for making me a runner and introducing me to the SPORT of Endurance. If your interested in running your first race either a 5k, half marathon or full at SICFIT Scottsdale we have the coaching, programming and education to give you the right prescription for your own individual needs.
Congratulations to all the runners from SICFIT Scottsdale who ran their own race. What do you guys want to accomplish next?
Bob Vossoughi 3:27:05
Kelly Villa 4:10:43
Luke Kayyem 3:53:50
Mark Disalvo 4:20:36
Sean Nugent 4:20:10
Dustin Anderson 1:59:27
Jeff Ciraulo 2:04:03
Justin Kimball 1:55:11
Marc Lutz 2:18:25
Valerie Raja 2:24:36