|Image courtesy of Flickr, by Daniele Sartori|
Six weeks into my Hal Higdon marathon training schedule and I'm finding my life slowly consumed by either the actual ACT of running or the planning for the act of running. So I thought I'd give you my initial thoughts on the pros and cons of training for completing a 26.2 mile race, in case you ever thought you'd want to give it a go yourself.
1. My arms look amazing.
You'd think running was all about the legs but you'd be wrong. A lot of it is upper body, and your arms help propel you forward as you lag in energy. As a result, my arms are nearly as toned as when I was religiously practicing yoga x2 a week.
2. My abs are starting to look amazing.
See above, same thing - your core holds you up and you naturally tone your abs as you run, stabilizing your body and linking the top and bottom. But it's slower than the arms so I'm hoping I see more soon!
3. All of the cellulite I never admitted to having is gone.
No joke. The backs of my thighs are smooth and sleek all the way up to my bum. Now I don't have to admit it to myself at all, at least until post marathon when I stop running and the cottage cheese returns.
4. I have so much more energy.
I am much more alert at work these days, and no longer have sluggish slumps. And if I manage to drag myself out of bed to run before work, the energy levels are even higher. I may need to just permanently become a morning running person (... or not).
5. I am hungry all of the time.
As a foodie, there is nothing worse than not being hungry. Or feeling so full you might burst. Or, the worst situation, having to decline something delicious to fit into a dress (corollary: eat lots of delicious things and then NOT fit into a dress). Anyway, when you run 4x a week, you need to eat. A lot. I've noticed that if I eat just a salad for lunch, my run that evening will be harder than if I eat meat. I find I wake up ravenous. Don't get me wrong, cake does not help - nor do you lose weight if you keep on the desserts (I still have a little roll because I refuse to cut out ice cream) but running a lot really forces you into shifting your eating to fueling.
1. My feet are disgusting.
For real. Peeling, blisters, callouses... apparently, your feet build up callouses to protect fragile skin, so I shouldn't even get a pedicure because it will expose sensitive skin to trauma. I am going to treat myself to one in a few weeks, before I go to France for my friend's wedding, and then no more until post-race.
2. I sweat more.
It's a fact that the better your fitness level, the more readily you sweat. So the more I run, the more quickly my body starts sweating when I'm warm. So this past week when temperatures were around 30°C (86ish in F), I was sweaty all of the time. Ew.
3. We do a lot more clothes washes.
I only have 1 sports bra, and only a handful of running tops and shorts. And because of #2, they start to smell pretty quickly. So we have to wash them nearly every day, which means our washing machine is constantly running. This must be what it is like to have a child.
4. My skin is not so great.
#2 also means my face is sweaty a lot and i noticed I am getting a lot more little breakouts. My clay mask of choice isn't up to the job, I fear, and so I think I might have to look into something a bit stronger. Until then, I'm reminded of my 13 year old self.
5. Training is boring.
This is probably the worst. When you run 4 times a week, your 3 days off (and as Hal says, it's not 3 days off because 1 of those days is cross training so really you only have 2 days of rest) are spent enjoying not running. But you can't drink too much because you're always about to go running again. So Friday nights are dry, because first thing Saturday you're up and running your long run. Evening drinks during the week aren't much better because even short distances are hampered if you've had a few pints. And everyone knows that going to the pub and not drinking is lame. If you do, you end up talking about running the whole time. Boring. So I've become that person who is holier than thou and doesn't go out. It's really miserable when the days are long and nights are warm and all you want to do is sit in the garden of a pub and drink rosé. Sigh. We have a lot of plans on the weekends throughout August, traveling and seeing friends, and then September and October will be hibernating/running/detox months. Boring.
So there you go. Now you know the benefits and risks of taking the marathon plunge. I'll let you know if there are any new ones when I'm 2/3rds of the way through around the middle of September.