How I trained for a marathon

FEBRUARY 27,2020

Let's face it...

Even thinking about training for a marathon is SCARY! Even for someone like me, who finds joy in running. It is a big commitment, one that comes with lots of awesome, enjoyable fun runs, and lots of monotonous, dreary runs. However many find that it is something that is entirely worth the work and hardship.

One of the biggest keys for me in starting this training block was finding a race to commit to, and a partner to commit to running with! I am super lucky to work somewhere where I have co-workers who I love to hang out with outside of work, and one of my co-workers and I got psyched to train for the Ft. Ebey Kettles marathon in January of 2020.

I'll be honest - this is what it looked like for most of my winter training in Seattle!

Tessa running up Rattlesnake Mountain on one of our long runs. So beautiful!

This was both of our first times training for a marathon, and ironically one of the biggest stopping blocks for us was that we both have so many other sports that we love. For this winter race, it happened to be that our love of skiing was going to get in the way. Or running was going to get in the way of skiing... whichever way you cut it, we were going to need to figure out our scheduling pretty well. We mainly drew our training plan from Hal Higdon's site, and most definitely used our cross training days as skiing days, and occasionally we would double up and run in the evening after a day of skiing. (Some of our rest days were used for skiing as well - oops!)

These key points helped me immensely in continuing to push during these 18 weeks of training:

  • Committing one day a week to always do a training run with someone else. Tessa and I ended up running every Tuesday after work. This helped me kick-start my training week and helped me stay accountable.

  • Run-commuting to work. This was honestly one of the best takeaways from this period of training. I LOVED running to work! It cut out the time it would take for me to commute to work anyway, gave me more scenic and interesting routes, and I arrived to work already feeling accomplished.

  • Getting out to the trails at least one day a week. Some days it was just Discovery Park (love that place so much), and other days we were able to get out to the Issy Alps like the picture to the left is from. But getting out on trails kept me sane and engaged.

  • Podcasts. All day. Every day. They were awesome at distracting from the monotonous runs.

There were so many awesome things I learned about myself and running during my training. Below are some key things to point out...

Gear I loved to run in :

  • My running vest was a Nathan Moxy - a race vest that I used on my run commutes, longer trail days, everything! I got it on the cheap, and made do. Next training session I am hoping to "graduate" to a bigger, more ultra-focused vest that actually fits my needs better, but hey - use what you can and just run!

  • My shoes were the Brooks Puregrit, and Pureflow. I loved them, however during these 18 weeks of training, I blew both of them out. Oops!

  • I had old models of the Brooks shoes, and their new revisions did not suit my needs. Bummer. I transitioned mid-training to the Topo Ultraventure, and have been liking them a lot!

  • When I run to work, I need a warm jacket for the walk/bus back home during these winter months. For this I packed my Feathered Friends Eos down jacket in my running vest every day, and it was freaking amazing to have that warmth.

  • For food on the run, I found myself really loving Honey Stinger gels - particularly the Vanilla and Ginsting flavors. I also fell in love with Noor dates and the good ol' english muffin with crunchy peanut butter.

Podcasts I fell in love with:

  • The Enormocast has always been a favorite, and will I think always be. Pretty dang climby, for all you strict runners.

  • Eat Clean Run Dirty, formerly known as the Sugarstride podcast is one that I found this past month and really fell in love with. Pretty strictly a trail and ultra runner's podcast!

  • Unladylike is a podcast that my co-worker turned me to. It isn't running or climbing focused, rather it is focused simply on ladies in the world and what badass things they're doing. Awesome conversations.

  • The Curious Climber is a new podcast focused on climbing that rocks my socks off. Hazel and Mina just chat about life with people who also happen to be climbers. Love it.

Places I loved to run:

  • Living and working in a city, it was inevitable that I would do a good amount of road running. Not as nice as trails, but that's the reality of living in a city. That said, I did a lot of runs on the Burke Gilman Trail and found that nice.

  • For my runs to work I would often pick a park destination to run thru, and then head on to work. Kerry park, Volunteer park, and the Arboretum were three of my favorite "run commute" parks. I even did one long one down to Seward park which was so nice!

  • Discovery Park is always an awesome place to trail run if you live in Seattle and can't quite get out to the Issy alps or other more remote trails.

  • Tiger, Squak and Cougar mountains are awesome places to trail run whether you are just dipping your toes in to the sport, or training hard. Pretty close to Seattle, well marked trails, and also lots to explore!

  • One trail that I happily stumbled upon was the Olalie trail near Rattlesnake Mountain, which happens to be an awesome, very runnable trail that still gains a good amount of elevation. It is a trail that shares traffic with mountain bikers also, so be aware of that. All the cyclists I ran into were super friendly.

I have always loved running, but committing to a schedule and just doing the work was so very rewarding. Having a plan was an experience that I am excited to continue in my life both with running, and now with climbing training as well. So what are ya waiting for?! As Shaia LeBeouf would say, "Yesterday you said tomorrow, so JUST DO IT!" If he can stand in front of a greenscreen and shout at a camera so confidentially, you can make a plan and commit to a goal confidentially.

So how did my Marathon go?! You can read about it the Ft. Ebey Kettles race here.

Written February 27, 2020 by Madelynn Scherrer