#26by26 First Marathon Starting Point (Running a Marathon Before My Birthday)
26.2 Miles by my 26th Birthday
*This post briefly discusses eating disorders. Please do not read if you are sensitive to this content
A few weeks ago I read a book that basically knocked me off my feet. That book was “Shut Up and Run” by Robin Arzon. And her book emulated many of my previous thoughts about running. And because of her persona, I was in the middle of the book when I decided that I too want to run an ultramarathon. I’m not one for small goals. The ultra I found is for next Fall, because I’m aware it’s going to take me time to further build volume and technical trail experience. Anyways, those thoughts have been going on for awhile. But to jump back I’ve been running consistently for a few weeks and feeling great. I used to run about 35-40 miles per week, but that was 5 years ago!
Jumping back in has been rough. I’m significantly heavier than I was 5 years ago. In fact, I’m about 40lbs heavier than I was when I ran that previous volume. This summer was extremely stressful, and I regains about 20lbs of baby weight that I’ve lost. My BMI is now in the “overweight” range and that scares me. Frankly, it’s all got me in a pretty negative headspace. I’ve struggled with an eating disorder throughout my life, so when I saw a number on the scale at the doctor’s office, I nearly had a panic attack. My old habits wanted to creep in, so I decided to set a non-weight related goal. And that’s where this marathon came in. Then I realized the race I want to do is just before my 26th birthday, and thus #26by26 was born.
Current Physical Shape
Despite being now overweight, my physical shape is moderate to good. I consider my “long runs” to be 5 miles. Yea, that’s a lot shorter than 26.2 miles, and was just an average training run a few years ago, but it could be worse. 8 years ago I couldn’t even run one mile (even at a healthy weight range).
Also, Travis and I hiked 31 miles (over the course of three days) two weeks ago at Glacier National Park in Montana and we went much faster than the estimated pace, even in less than desirable weather.
I have awful core strength and upper body strength. I’m definitely going to prioritize my core to protect my back, and I’ll add in some lifting and cross training that includes upper body (aka, the rowing machine or swimming).
My flexibility on the other hand is great! I’ve kept up with yoga and I think it’s really helped running recovery.
Current Diet (As in, the Food I Eat)
I feel like the disctinction must be made. The word “diet” here simply means what I’m eating. And tbh, it’s bad. It’s really bad. Priorities shifted this summer to “get the MBA done” and really food went to the wayside. As a family, we’re eating out more than I’d like, especially fast food. I used to have fast food a handful of times per year. This summer it’s probably averaged twice a week. Yikes. That’s also super expensive! But admittedly, these shortcuts did make life easier with schooling. I’m okay with admitting that we had different priorities, but we’ve decided to make health a huge priority again.
Also, the irony is that as soon as I started to see a GI specialist, my eating habits got worse. Basically, I got hopeless about what I could and couldn’t eat…..so I just gave up. I left out tomatoes and chocolate, but otherwise stopped caring because it all seemed terrible. So really, I’ve got to get back to the medical recommendations I was given.
Training and Race Approach - Cross the Finish Line
Make no mistake, 8 weeks is considered a VERY short training time for a marathon. Many of the programs I’ve found have 5-6 mile runs as the standard run. Like I said, right now that’s my long run.
So to make things clear, my goal is to complete the marathon. Since this is the first one I’ll have done, it’s a PR no matter what. That means that I’m open to walking parts of it. My “stretch goal” is to run the whole thing, but I’ll be happy with a finisher medal and a tshirt. Because I know if I want to get back into races, then I need a baseline.
I will be using an online training program. My runs will likely be early in the AM alone, evenings with dogs, stroller running, or on a treadmill at the gym (childcare). There are tons available, but I’m also keeping things flexible.
Measures to Avoid Injury
I’m not an expert. But in my experience, ice and rest are essential. Books I’ve read and listened to also emphasize active recovery, so I’ll continue pilates and yoga. I also do loads of ankle rolls by spelling out the alphabet on each side. Thanks high school track. Also, I love my foam roller and will generally listen to my body. I had a significant running injury at age 19 so I am hyper-aware of how much that can set you back. Again, my goal here is to finish.the.race.
Cleaning Up My Diet
It’s odd to look back to when I was in top running shape. My eating was mostly vegetarian/vegan. Cooking meat used to physically disgust me. Not for ethical reasons, just seemed gross at the time. So my main sources of protein were eggs, chickpeas, and vegan protein powder. I ate a LOT of whole grains. SO much whole wheat spaghetti.
I’ve also eaten Paleo and been in good physical shape. Really, my goal is to cut out the fast food altogether, eat more greens, and be mindful of portions. Nothing crazy. I do believe that when I’m running my eating becomes more intuitive.
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Hi, my name is Rachel Smith. I’m a personal finance nerd, Aldi connoissuer, book lover, yoga enthusiast, and budgeting wiz. I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska but currently call Michigan home. I want to help people with their finances and eating healthy on a tight budget (no matter what your cost-of-living area is!)